A TRUE LOVER.
out of the fulness of her heart,
having made up her mind that she had been unjust to her lover,
wrote to him a letter full of penitence,
full of love,
telling him at great length all the details of her meeting with Mrs. Hurtle,
and bidding him come back to her,
and bring the brooch with him.
But this letter she had unfortunately addressed to the Beargarden,
as he had written to her from that club;
and partly through his own fault,
and partly through the demoralisation of that once perfect establishment,
the letter never reached his hands.
he returned to London he was justified in supposing that she had refused even to notice his appeal.
determined that he would still make further struggles.
to contend with many difficulties.
and Hetta's mother were,
all inimical to him.
though she had declared that she would not rage as a lioness,
could hardly be his friend in the matter.
Roger had repeatedly declared his determination to regard him as a traitor.
And Lady Carbury,
as he well knew,
had always been and always would be opposed to the match.
But Hetta had owned that she loved him,
had submitted to his caresses,
and had been proud of his admiration.
though he did not probably analyze very carefully the character of his beloved,
still felt instinctively that,
having so far prevailed with such a girl,
his prospects could not be altogether hopeless.
And yet how should he continue the struggle?
With what weapons should he carry on the fight?
The writing of letters is but a one-sided,
when the person to whom they are written will not answer them;
and the calling at a door at which the servant has been instructed to refuse a visitor admission,
--if not degrading,
--after a time.
But Hetta had written a second epistle,
--not to her lover,
but to one who received his letters with more regularity.
When she rashly and with precipitate wrath quarrelled with Paul Montague,
she at once communicated the fact to her mother,
and through her mother to her cousin Roger.
Though she would not recognise Roger as a lover,
she did acknowledge him to be the head of her family,
and her own special friend,
and entitled in some special way to know all that she herself did,
and all that was done in regard to her.
She therefore wrote to her cousin,
telling him that she had made a mistake about Paul,
that she was convinced that Paul had always behaved to her with absolute sincerity,
that Paul was the best,
and most ill-used of human beings.
In her enthusiasm she went on to declare that there could be no other chance of happiness for her in this world than that of becoming Paul's wife,
and to beseech her dearest friend and cousin Roger not to turn against her,
but to lend her an aiding hand.
There are those whom strong words in letters never affect at all,
hardly read them,
and take what they do read as meaning no more than half what is said.
But Roger Carbury was certainly not one of these.
As he sat on the garden wall at Carbury,
with his cousin's letter in his hand,
her words had their full weight with him.
He did not try to convince himself that all this was the verbiage of an enthusiastic girl,
who might soon be turned and trained to another mode of thinking by fitting admonitions.
To him now,
as he read and re-read Hetta's letter sitting on the wall,
there was not at any rate further hope for himself.
Though he was altogether unchanged himself,
though he was altogether incapable of change,
--though he could not rally himself sufficiently to look forward to even a passive enjoyment of life without the girl whom he had loved,
--yet he told himself what he believed to be the truth.
At last he owned directly and plainly that,
whether happy or unhappy,
he must do without her.
He had let time slip by with him too fast and too far before he had ventured to love.
He must now stomach his disappointment,
and make the best he could of such a broken,
ill-conditioned life as was left to him.
if he acknowledged this,
--and he did acknowledge it,
--in what fashion should he in future treat the man and woman who had reduced him so low?
At this moment his mind was tuned to high thoughts.
If it were possible he would be unselfish.
He could not,
bring himself to think with kindness of Paul Montague.
He could not say to himself that the man had not been treacherous to him,
nor could he forgive the man's supposed treason.
But he did tell himself very plainly that in comparison with Hetta the man was nothing to him.
It could hardly be worth his while to maintain a quarrel with the man if he were once able to assure Hetta that she,
as the wife of another man,
should still be dear to him as a friend might be dear.
He was well aware that such assurance,
must contain very much.
If it were to be so,
Hetta's child must take the name of Carbury,
and must be to him as his heir,
--as near as possible his own child.
In her favour he must throw aside that law of primogeniture which to him was so sacred that he had been hitherto minded to make Sir Felix his heir in spite of the absolute unfitness of the wretched young man.
All this must be changed,
should he be able to persuade himself to give his consent to the marriage.
In such case Carbury must be the home of the married couple,
as far as he could induce them to make it so.
There must be born the future infant to whose existence he was already looking forward with some idea that in his old age he might there find comfort.
In such case,
though he should never again be able to love Paul Montague in his heart of hearts,
he must live with him for her sake on affectionate terms.
He must forgive Hetta altogether,
--as though there had been no fault;
and he must strive to forgive the man's fault as best he might.
Struggling as he was to be generous,
passionately fond as he was of justice,
yet he did not know how to be just himself.
He could not see that he in truth had been to no extent ill-used.
And ever and again,
as he thought of the great prayer as to the forgiveness of trespasses,
he could not refrain from asking himself whether it could really be intended that he should forgive such trespass as that committed against him by Paul Montague!
when he rose from the wall he had resolved that Hetta should be pardoned entirely,
and that Paul Montague should be treated as though he were pardoned.
As for himself,
--the chances of the world had been unkind to him,
and he would submit to them!
Nevertheless he wrote no answer to Hetta's letter.
Perhaps he felt,
with some undefined but still existing hope,
that the writing of such a letter would deprive him of his last chance.
Hetta's letter to himself hardly required an immediate answer,
demand any answer.
She had simply told him that,
whereas she had for certain reasons quarrelled with the man she had loved,
she had now come to the conclusion that she would quarrel with him no longer.
She had asked for her cousin's assent to her own views,
as Roger felt,
was to be given rather by the discontinuance of opposition than by any positive action.
Roger's influence with her mother was the assistance which Hetta really wanted from him,
and that influence could hardly be given by the writing of any letter.
Thinking of all this,
Roger determined that he would again go up to London.
He would have the vacant hours of the journey in which to think of it all again,
and tell himself whether it was possible for him to bring his heart to agree to the marriage;
--and then he would see the people,
and perhaps learn something further from their manner and their words,
before he finally committed himself to the abandonment of his own hopes and the completion of theirs.
He went up to town,
and I do not know that those vacant hours served him much.
To a man not accustomed to thinking there is nothing in the world so difficult as to think.
After some loose fashion we turn over things in our mind and ultimately reach some decision,
guided probably by our feelings at the last moment rather than by any process of ratiocination;
--and then we think that we have thought.
But to follow out one argument to an end,
and then to found on the base so reached the commencement of another,
is not common to us.
Such a process was hardly within the compass of Roger's mind,
--who when he was made wretched by the dust,
and by a female who had a basket of objectionable provisions opposite to him,
almost forswore his charitable resolutions of the day before;
but who again,
as he walked lonely at night round the square which was near to his hotel,
looking up at the bright moon with a full appreciation of the beauty of the heavens,
asked himself what was he that he should wish to interfere with the happiness of two human beings much younger than himself,
and much fitter to enjoy the world.
But he had had a bath,
and had got rid of the dust,
and had eaten his dinner.
The next morning he was in Welbeck Street at an early hour.
When he knocked he had not made up his mind whether he would ask for Lady Carbury or her daughter,
and did at last inquire whether "the ladies" were at home.
The ladies were reported as being at home,
and he was at once shown into the drawing-room,
where Hetta was sitting.
She hurried up to him,
and he at once took her in his arms and kissed her.
He had never done such a thing before.
He had never even kissed her hand.
Though they were cousins and dear friends,
he had never treated her after that fashion.
Her instinct told her immediately that such a greeting from him was a sign of affectionate compliance with her wishes.
That this man should kiss her as her best and dearest relation,
as her most trusted friend,
as almost her brother,
was certainly to her no offence.
She could cling to him in fondest love,
--if he would only consent not to be her lover.
I am so glad to see you,"
escaping gently from his arms.
"I could not write an answer,
and so I came."
"You always do the kindest thing that can be done."
"I don't know.
I don't know that I can do anything now,
--kind or unkind.
It is all done without any aid from me.
you have been all the world to me."
"Do not reproach me,"
Why should I reproach you?
You have committed no fault.
I should not have come had I intended to reproach any one."
"I love you so much for saying that."
"Let it be as you wish it,
--if it must.
I have made up my mind to bear it,
and there shall be an end of it."
As he said this he took her by the hand,
and she put her head upon his shoulder and began to weep.
"And still you will be all the world to me,"
with his arm round her waist.
"As you will not be my wife,
you shall be my daughter."
"I will be your sister,
"My daughter rather.
You shall be all that I have in the world.
I will hurry to grow old that I may feel for you as the old feel for the young.
And if you have a child,
he must be my child."
As he thus spoke her tears were renewed.
"I have planned it all out in my mind,
If there be anything that I can do to add to your happiness,
I will do it.
You must believe this of me,
--that to make you happy shall be the only enjoyment of my life."
It had been hardly possible for her to tell him as yet that the man to whom he was thus consenting to surrender her had not even condescended to answer the letter in which she had told him to come back to her.
sobbing as she was,
overcome by the tenderness of her cousin's affection,
anxious to express her intense gratitude,
she did not know how first to mention the name of Paul Montague.
"Have you seen him?"
she said in a whisper.
--why should I have seen him?
It is not for his sake that I am here."
"But you will be his friend?"
"Your husband shall certainly be my friend;
the fault shall not be mine.
It shall all be forgotten,
--as nearly as such things may be forgotten.
But I had nothing to say to him till I had seen you."
At that moment the door was opened and Lady Carbury entered the room,
after her greeting with her cousin,
looked first at her daughter and then at Roger.
"I have come up,"
"to signify my adhesion to this marriage."
Lady Carbury's face fell very low.
"I need not speak again of what were my own wishes.
I have learned at last that it could not have been so."
"Why should you say so?"
exclaimed Lady Carbury.
but was unable to find words with which to go on with her prayer.
"I do not know that it need be so at all,"
continued Lady Carbury.
"I think it is very much in your own hands.
Of course it is not for me to press such an arrangement,
if it be not in accord with your own wishes."
"I look upon her as engaged to marry Paul Montague,"
"Not at all,"
said Lady Carbury.
cried Hetta boldly.
"It is so.
I am engaged to him."
"I beg to let your cousin know that it is not so with my consent,
as far as I can understand at present,
with the consent of Mr. Montague himself."
ejaculated Roger Carbury.
"The consent of Paul Montague!
I think I may take upon myself to say that there can be no doubt as to that."
"There has been a quarrel,"
said Lady Carbury.
"Surely he has not quarrelled with you,
"I wrote to him,
--and he has not answered me,"
said Hetta piteously.
Then Lady Carbury gave a full and somewhat coloured account of what had taken place,
while Roger listened with admirable patience.
"The marriage is on every account objectionable,"
she said at last.
"His means are precarious.
His conduct with regard to that woman has been very bad.
He has been sadly mixed up with that wretched man who destroyed himself.
when Henrietta has written to him without my sanction,
--in opposition to my express commands,
--he takes no notice of her.
sent him back a present that he made her,
and no doubt he has resented her doing so.
I trust that his resentment may be continued."
Hetta was now seated on a sofa hiding her face and weeping.
Roger stood perfectly still,
listening with respectful silence till Lady Carbury had spoken her last word.
And even then he was slow to answer,
considering what he might best say.
"I think I had better see him,"
as I imagine,
he has not received my cousin's letter,
that matter will be set at rest.
We must not take advantage of such an accident as that.
As to his income,
--that I think may be managed.
His connection with Mr. Melmotte was unfortunate,
but was due to no fault of his."
At this moment he could not but remember Lady Carbury's great anxiety to be closely connected with Melmotte,
but he was too generous to say a word on that head.
"I will see him,
and then I will come to you again."
Lady Carbury did not dare to tell him that she did not wish him to see Paul Montague.
She knew that if he really threw himself into the scale against her,
her opposition would weigh nothing.
He was too powerful in his honesty and greatness of character,
--and had been too often admitted by herself to be the guardian angel of the family,
--for her to stand against him.
But she still thought that had he persevered,
Hetta would have become his wife.
It was late that evening before Roger found Paul Montague,
who had only then returned from Liverpool with Fisker,
--whose subsequent doings have been recorded somewhat out of their turn.
"I don't know what letter you mean,"
"You wrote to her?"
"Certainly I wrote to her.
I wrote to her twice.
My last letter was one which I think she ought to have answered.
She had accepted me,
and had given me a right to tell my own story when she unfortunately heard from other sources the story of my journey to Lowestoft with Mrs. Hurtle."
Paul pleaded his own case with indignant heat,
not understanding at first that Roger had come to him on a friendly mission.
"She did answer your letter."
"I have not had a line from her;
--not a word!"
"She did answer your letter."
"What did she say to me?"
--you must ask her that."
"But if she will not see me?"
"She will see you.
I can tell you that.
And I will tell you this also;
--that she wrote to you as a girl writes to the lover whom she does wish to see."
"Is that true?"
"I am here especially to tell you that it is true.
I should hardly come on such a mission if there were a doubt.
You may go to her,
and need have nothing to fear,
it be the opposition of her mother."
"She is stronger than her mother,"
"I think she is.
And now I wish you to hear what I have to say."
sitting down suddenly.
Up to this moment Roger Carbury,
though he had certainly brought glad tidings,
had not communicated them as a joyous,
His face had been severe,
and the tone of his voice almost harsh;
remembering well the words of the last letter which his old friend had written him,
did not expect personal kindness.
Roger would probably say very disagreeable things to him,
which he must bear with all the patience which he could summon to his assistance.
"You know what my feelings have been,"
"and how deeply I have resented what I thought to be an interference with my affections.
But no quarrel between you and me,
whatever the rights of it may be --"
"I have never quarrelled with you,"
"If you will listen to me for a moment it will be better.
No anger between you and me,
let it arise as it might,
should be allowed to interfere with the happiness of her whom I suppose we both love better than all the rest of the world put together."
"And so do I;
--and so I always shall.
But she is to be your wife.
She shall be my daughter.
She shall have my property,
--or her child shall be my heir.
My house shall be her house,
--if you and she will consent to make it so.
You will not be afraid of me.
You know me,
too well for that.
You may now count on any assistance you could have from me were I a father giving you a daughter in marriage.
I do this because I will make the happiness of her life the chief object of mine.
Now good night.
Don't say anything about it at present.
By-and-by we shall be able to talk about these things with more equable temper."
Having so spoken he hurried out of the room,
leaving Paul Montague bewildered by the tidings which had been announced to him.
JOHN CRUMB'S VICTORY.
In the meantime great preparations were going on down in Suffolk for the marriage of that happiest of lovers,
John Crumb had been up to London,
had been formally reconciled to Ruby,
--who had submitted to his floury embraces,
not with the best grace in the world,
but still with a submission that had satisfied her future husband,
--had been intensely grateful to Mrs. Hurtle,
and almost munificent in liberality to Mrs. Pipkin,
to whom he presented a purple silk dress,
in addition to the cloak which he had given on a former occasion.
During this visit he had expressed no anger against Ruby,
and no indignation in reference to the baronite.
When informed by Mrs. Pipkin,
who hoped thereby to please him,
that Sir Felix was supposed to be still "all one mash of gore,"
he blandly smiled,
remarking that no man could be much the worse for a "few sich taps as them."
He only stayed a few hours in London,
but during these few hours he settled everything.
When Mrs. Pipkin suggested that Ruby should be married from her house,
he winked his eye as he declined the suggestion with thanks.
Daniel Ruggles was old,
under the influence of continued gin and water,
was becoming feeble.
John Crumb was of opinion that the old man should not be neglected,
and hinted that with a little care the five hundred pounds which had originally been promised as Ruby's fortune,
might at any rate be secured.
He was of opinion that the marriage should be celebrated in Suffolk,
--the feast being spread at Sheep's Acre farm,
if Dan Ruggles could be talked into giving it,
--and if not,
at his own house.
When both the ladies explained to him that this last proposition was not in strict accordance with the habits of the fashionable world,
John expressed an opinion that,
under the peculiar circumstances of his marriage,
the ordinary laws of the world might be suspended.
"It ain't jist like other folks,
after all as we've been through,"
--meaning probably to imply that having had to fight for his wife,
he was entitled to give a breakfast on the occasion if he pleased.
But whether the banquet was to be given by the bride's grandfather or by himself,
--he was determined that there should be a banquet,
and that he would bid the guests.
He invited both Mrs. Pipkin and Mrs. Hurtle,
and at last succeeded in inducing Mrs. Hurtle to promise that she would bring Mrs. Pipkin down to Bungay,
for the occasion.
Then it was necessary to fix the day,
and for this purpose it was of course essential that Ruby should be consulted.
During the discussion as to the feast and the bridegroom's entreaties that the two ladies would be present,
she had taken no part in the matter in hand.
She was brought up to be kissed,
and having been duly kissed she retired again among the children,
having only expressed one wish of her own,
that Joe Mixet might not have anything to do with the affair.
But the day could not be fixed without her,
and she was summoned.
Crumb had been absurdly impatient,
proposing next Tuesday,
--making his proposition on a Friday.
They could cook enough meat for all Bungay to eat by Tuesday,
and he was aware of no other cause for delay.
"That's out of the question,"
Ruby had said decisively,
and as the two elder ladies had supported her Mr. Crumb yielded with a good grace.
He did not himself appreciate the reasons given because,
as he remarked,
gowns can be bought ready made at any shop.
But Mrs. Pipkin told him with a laugh that he didn't know anything about it,
and when the 14th of August was named he only scratched his head and,
muttering something about Thetford fair,
agreed that he would,
yet once again,
allow love to take precedence of business.
If Tuesday would have suited the ladies as well he thought that he might have managed to combine the marriage and the fair,
but when Mrs. Pipkin told him that he must not interfere any further,
he yielded with a good grace.
He merely remained in London long enough to pay a friendly visit to the policeman who had locked him up,
and then returned to Suffolk,
revolving in his mind how glorious should be the matrimonial triumph which he had at last achieved.
Before the day arrived,
old Ruggles had been constrained to forgive his granddaughter,
and to give a general assent to the marriage.
When John Crumb,
with a sound of many trumpets,
informed all Bungay that he had returned victorious from London,
and that after all the ups and downs of his courtship Ruby was to become his wife on a fixed day,
all Bungay took his part,
and joined in a general attack upon Mr. Daniel Ruggles.
The cross-grained old man held out for a long time,
alleging that the girl was no better than she should be,
and that she had run away with the baronite.
But this assertion was met by so strong a torrent of contradiction,
that the farmer was absolutely driven out of his own convictions.
It is to be feared that many lies were told on Ruby's behalf by lips which had been quite ready a fortnight since to take away her character.
But it had become an acknowledged fact in Bungay that John Crumb was ready at any hour to punch the head of any man who should hint that Ruby Ruggles had,
at any period of her life,
done any act or spoken any word unbecoming a young lady;
and so strong was the general belief in John Crumb,
that Ruby became the subject of general eulogy from all male lips in the town.
And though perhaps some slight suspicion of irregular behaviour up in London might be whispered by the Bungay ladies among themselves,
still the feeling in favour of Mr. Crumb was so general,
and his constancy was so popular,
that the grandfather could not stand against it.
"I don't see why I ain't to do as I likes with my own,"
he said to Joe Mixet,
who went out to Sheep's Acre Farm as one of many deputations sent by the municipality of Bungay.
"She's your own flesh and blood,
said the baker.
--no more than she's a Pipkin.
She's taken up with Mrs. Pipkin jist because I hate the Pipkinses.
Let Mrs. Pipkin give
'em a breakfast."
"She is your own flesh and blood,
--and your name,
And she's going to be the respectable wife of a respectable man,
"I won't give
'em no breakfast;
said the farmer.
But he had yielded in the main when he allowed himself to base his opposition on one immaterial detail.
The breakfast was to be given at the King's Head,
though it was acknowledged on all sides that no authority could be found for such a practice,
it was known that the bill was to be paid by the bridegroom.
Nor would Mr. Ruggles pay the five hundred pounds down as in early days he had promised to do.
He was very clear in his mind that his undertaking on that head was altogether cancelled by Ruby's departure from Sheep's Acre.
When he was reminded that he had nearly pulled his granddaughter's hair out of her head,
and had thus justified her act of rebellion,
he did not contradict the assertion,
but implied that if Ruby did not choose to earn her fortune on such terms as those,
that was her fault.
It was not to be supposed that he was to give a girl,
who was after all as much a Pipkin as a Ruggles,
five hundred pounds for nothing.
in return for that night's somewhat harsh treatment of Ruby,
he did at last consent to have the money settled upon John Crumb at his death,
--an arrangement which both the lawyer and Joe Mixet thought to be almost as good as a free gift,
being both of them aware that the consumption of gin and water was on the increase.
was persuaded to receive Mrs. Pipkin and Ruby at the farm for the night previous to the marriage.
This very necessary arrangement was made by Mr. Mixet's mother,
a most respectable old lady,
who went out in a fly from the inn attired in her best black silk gown and an overpowering bonnet,
an old lady from whom her son had inherited his eloquence,
who absolutely shamed the old man into compliance,
till she had promised to send out the tea and white sugar and box of biscuits which were thought to be necessary for Mrs. Pipkin on the evening preceding the marriage.
A private sitting-room at the inn was secured for the special accommodation of Mrs. Hurtle,
--who was supposed to be a lady of too high standing to be properly entertained at Sheep's Acre Farm.
On the day preceding the wedding one trouble for a moment clouded the bridegroom's brow.
Ruby had demanded that Joe Mixet should not be among the performers,
and John Crumb,
with the urbanity of a lover,
had assented to her demand,
as silence can give consent.
And yet he felt himself unable to answer such interrogatories as the parson might put to him without the assistance of his friend,
although he devoted much study to the matter.
"You could come in behind like,
just as if I knew nothin' about it,"
"Don't you say a word of me,
and she won't say nothing,
you may be sure.
You ain't going to give in to all her cantraps that way,
John shook his head and rubbed the meal about on his forehead.
"It was only just something for her to say.
What have I done that she should object to me?"
"You didn't ever go for to --kiss her,
"What a one'er you are!
'a set her again me.
It is just because I stood up and spoke for you like a man that night at Sheep's Acre,
when her mind was turned the other way.
Don't you notice nothing about it.
When we're all in the church she won't go back because Joe Mixet's there.
I'll bet you a gallon,
she and I are the best friends in Bungay before six months are gone."
she must have a better friend than thee,
or I must know the reason why."
But John Crumb's heart was too big for jealousy,
and he agreed at last that Joe Mixet should be his best man,
undertaking to "square it all" with Ruby,
after the ceremony.
He met the ladies at the station and,
--was quite eloquent in his welcome to Mrs. Hurtle and Mrs. Pipkin.
To Ruby he said but little.
But he looked at her in her new hat,
and generally bright in subsidiary wedding garments,
with great delight.
"Ain't she bootiful now?"
he said aloud to Mrs. Hurtle on the platform,
to the great delight of half Bungay,
who had accompanied him on the occasion.
hearing her praises thus sung,
made a fearful grimace as she turned round to Mrs. Pipkin,
and whispered to her aunt,
so that those only who were within a yard or two could hear her;
"He is such a fool!"
Then he conducted Mrs. Hurtle in an omnibus up to the Inn,
and afterwards himself drove Mrs. Pipkin and Ruby out to Sheep's Acre;
in the performance of all which duties he was dressed in the green cutaway coat with brass buttons which had been expressly made for his marriage.
"Thou'rt come back then,
said the old man.
"I ain't going to trouble you long,
said the girl.
And this is Mrs. Pipkin?"
that's my name."
"I've heard your name.
I've heard your name,
and I don't know as I ever want to hear it again.
But they say as you've been kind to that girl as
'a been on the town only for that."
that ain't true,"
said Ruby with energy.
The old man made no rejoinder,
and Ruby was allowed to take her aunt up into the bedroom which they were both to occupy.
just you say,"
"how was it possible for any girl to live with an old man like that?"
you might always have gone to live with the young man instead when you pleased."
"You mean John Crumb."
"Of course I mean John Crumb,
"There ain't much to choose between
What one says is all spite;
and the other man says nothing at all."
said Mrs. Pipkin,
with solemnly persuasive voice,
"I hope you'll come to learn some day,
that a loving heart is better nor a fickle tongue,
--specially with vittels certain."
On the following morning the Bungay church bells rang merrily,
and half its population was present to see John Crumb made a happy man.
He himself went out to the farm and drove the bride and Mrs. Pipkin into the town,
expressing an opinion that no hired charioteer would bring them so safely as he would do himself;
nor did he think it any disgrace to be seen performing this task before his marriage.
He smiled and nodded at every one,
now and then pointing back with his whip to Ruby when he met any of his specially intimate friends,
as though he would have said,
I've got her at last in spite of all difficulties."
in her misery under this treatment,
would have escaped out of the cart had it been possible.
But now she was altogether in the man's hands and no escape was within her reach.
"What's the odds?"
said Mrs. Pipkin as they settled their bonnets in a room at the Inn just before they entered the church.
--you make me that angry I'm half minded to cuff you.
Ain't he fond o' you?
Ain't he got a house of his own?
Ain't he well to do all round?
I don't see nothing amiss in his manners.
He means what he says,
and I call that the best of good manners."
when she reached the church,
had been too completely quelled by outward circumstances to take any notice of Joe Mixet,
who was standing there,
with a splendid nosegay in his button-hole.
She certainly had no right on this occasion to complain of her husband's silence.
Whereas she could hardly bring herself to utter the responses in a voice loud enough for the clergyman to catch the familiar words,
he made his assertions so vehemently that they were heard throughout the whole building.
--take thee Ruby,
--to my wedded wife,
'ave and to
--from this day forrard,
--for better nor worser,
--for richer nor poorer --;"
and so on to the end.
And when he came to the "worldly goods" with which he endowed his Ruby,
he was very emphatic indeed.
Since the day had been fixed he had employed all his leisure-hours in learning the words by heart,
and would now hardly allow the clergyman to say them before him.
He thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony,
and would have liked to be married over and over again,
every day for a week,
had it been possible.
And then there came the breakfast,
to which he marshalled the way up the broad stairs of the inn at Bungay,
with Mrs. Hurtle on one arm and Mrs. Pipkin on the other.
He had been told that he ought to take his wife's arm on this occasion,
but he remarked that he meant to see a good deal of her in future,
and that his opportunities of being civil to Mrs. Hurtle and Mrs. Pipkin would be rare.
Thus it came to pass that,
in spite of all that poor Ruby had said,
she was conducted to the marriage-feast by Joe Mixet himself.
had forgotten the order which she had given in reference to the baker.
When desiring that she might see nothing more of Joe Mixet,
she had been in her pride;
--but now she was so tamed and quelled by the outward circumstances of her position,
that she was glad to have some one near her who knew how to behave himself.
you have my best wishes for your continued
said Joe Mixet in a whisper.
"It's very good of you to say so,
"He's a good
I dare say."
"You just be fond of him and stroke him down,
and make much of him,
and I'm blessed if you mayn't do a'most anything with him,
--all's one as a babby."
"A man shouldn't be all's one as a babby,
"And he don't drink hard,
but he works hard,
and go where he will he can hold his own."
Ruby said no more,
and soon found herself seated by her husband's side.
It certainly was wonderful to her that so many people should pay John Crumb so much respect,
and should seem to think so little of the meal and flour which pervaded his countenance.
After the breakfast,
or "bit of dinner,"
as John Crumb would call it,
Mr. Mixet of course made a speech.
"He had had the pleasure of knowing John Crumb for a great many years,
and the honour of being acquainted with Miss Ruby Ruggles,
--he begged all their pardons,
and should have said Mrs. John Crumb,
--ever since she was a child."
"That's a downright story,"
said Ruby in a whisper to Mrs. Hurtle.
"And he'd never known two young people more fitted by the gifts of nature to contribute to one another's
He had understood that Mars and Wenus always lived on the best of terms,
and perhaps the present company would excuse him if he likened this
'appy young couple to them two
'eathen gods and goddesses.
For Miss Ruby,
--Mrs. Crumb he should say,
--was certainly lovely as ere a Wenus as ever was;
and as for John Crumb,
he didn't believe that ever a Mars among
'em could stand again him.
He didn't remember just at present whether Mars and Wenus had any young family,
but he hoped that before long there would be any number of young Crumbs for the Bungay birds to pick up.
'Appy is the man as
'as his quiver full of
--and the woman too,
if you'll allow me to say so,
of which only a small sample can be given here,
was very much admired by the ladies and gentlemen present,
--with the single exception of poor Ruby,
who would have run away and locked herself in an inner chamber had she not been certain that she would be brought back again.
[Illustration: The happy bridegroom.]
In the afternoon John took his bride to Lowestoft,
and brought her back to all the glories of his own house on the following day.
His honeymoon was short,
but its influence on Ruby was beneficent.
When she was alone with the man,
knowing that he was her husband,
and thinking something of all that he had done to win her to be his wife,
she did learn to respect him.
give a fellow a buss,
--as though you meant it,"
when the first fitting occasion presented itself.
"It ain't nonsense to me,
I can tell you.
I'd sooner have a kiss from you than all the wine as ever was swallowed."
Then she did kiss him,
"as though she meant it;"
and when she returned with him to Bungay the next day,
she had made up her mind that she would endeavour to do her duty by him as his wife.
THE LONGESTAFFE MARRIAGES.
In another part of Suffolk,
not very far from Bungay,
there was a lady whose friends had not managed her affairs as well as Ruby's friends had done for Ruby.
Miss Georgiana Longestaffe in the early days of August was in a very miserable plight.
Her sister's marriage with Mr. George Whitstable was fixed for the first of September,
a day which in Suffolk is of all days the most sacred;
and the combined energies of the houses of Caversham and Toodlam were being devoted to that happy event.
Poor Georgey's position was in every respect wretched,
but its misery was infinitely increased by the triumph of those hymeneals.
It was but the other day that she had looked down from a very great height on her elder sister,
and had utterly despised the squire of Toodlam.
And at that time,
still so recent,
this contempt from her had been accepted as being almost reasonable.
Sophia had hardly ventured to rebel against it,
and Mr. Whitstable himself had been always afraid to encounter the shafts of irony with which his fashionable future sister-in-law attacked him.
But all that was now changed.
Sophia in her pride of place had become a tyrant,
and George Whitstable,
petted in the house with those sweetmeats which are always showered on embryo bridegrooms,
absolutely gave himself airs.
At this time Mr. Longestaffe was never at home.
Having assured himself that there was no longer any danger of the Brehgert alliance he had remained in London,
thinking his presence to be necessary for the winding up of Melmotte's affairs,
and leaving poor Lady Pomona to bear her daughter's ill-humour.
The family at Caversham consisted therefore of the three ladies,
and was enlivened by daily visits from Toodlam.
It will be owned that in this state of things there was very little consolation for Georgiana.
It was not long before she quarrelled altogether with her sister,
--to the point of absolutely refusing to act as bridesmaid.
The reader may remember that there had been a watch and chain,
and that two of the ladies of the family had expressed an opinion that these trinkets should be returned to Mr. Brehgert who had bestowed them.
But Georgiana had not sent them back when a week had elapsed since the receipt of Mr. Brehgert's last letter.
The matter had perhaps escaped Lady Pomona's memory,
but Sophia was happily alive to the honour of her family.
she said one morning in their mother's presence,
"don't you think Mr. Brehgert's watch ought to go back to him without any more delay?"
"What have you got to do with anybody's watch?
The watch wasn't given to you."
"I think it ought to go back.
When papa finds that it has been kept I'm sure he'll be very angry."
"It's no business of yours whether he's angry or not."
"If it isn't sent George will tell Dolly.
You know what would happen then."
This was unbearable!
That George Whitstable should interfere in her affairs,
--that he should talk about her watch and chain.
"I never will speak to George Whitstable again the longest day that ever I live,"
getting up from her chair.
don't say anything so horrible as that,"
exclaimed the unhappy mother.
"I do say it.
What has George Whitstable to do with me?
A miserably stupid fellow!
Because you've landed him,
you think he's to ride over the whole family."
"I think Mr. Brehgert ought to have his watch and chain back,"
"Certainly he ought,"
said Lady Pomona.
it must be sent back.
It really must,
--or I shall tell your papa."
on the same day,
Georgiana brought the watch and chain to her mother,
protesting that she had never thought of keeping them,
and explaining that she had intended to hand them over to her papa as soon as he should have returned to Caversham.
Lady Pomona was now empowered to return them,
and they were absolutely confided to the hands of the odious George Whitstable,
who about this time made a journey to London in reference to certain garments which he required.
though she was so far beaten,
kept up her quarrel with her sister.
She would not be bridesmaid.
She would never speak to George Whitstable.
And she would shut herself up on the day of the marriage.
She did think herself to be very hardly used.
What was there left in the world that she could do in furtherance of her future cause?
And what did her father and mother expect would become of her?
Marriage had ever been so clearly placed before her eyes as a condition of things to be achieved by her own efforts,
that she could not endure the idea of remaining tranquil in her father's house and waiting till some fitting suitor might find her out.
She had struggled and struggled,
--struggling still in vain,
--till every effort of her mind,
every thought of her daily life,
was pervaded by a conviction that as she grew older from year to year,
the struggle should be more intense.
The swimmer when first he finds himself in the water,
conscious of his skill and confident in his strength,
can make his way through the water with the full command of all his powers.
But when he begins to feel that the shore is receding from him,
that his strength is going,
that the footing for which he pants is still far beneath his feet,
--that there is peril where before he had contemplated no danger,
--then he begins to beat the water with strokes rapid but impotent,
and to waste in anxious gaspings the breath on which his very life must depend.
So it was with poor Georgey Longestaffe.
Something must be done at once,
or it would be of no avail.
Twelve years had been passed by her since first she plunged into the stream,
--the twelve years of her youth,
--and she was as far as ever from the bank;
if she believed her eyes.
She too must strike out with rapid efforts,
she would abandon herself and let the waters close over her head.
But immersed as she was here at Caversham,
how could she strike at all?
Even now the waters were closing upon her.
The sound of them was in her ears.
The ripple of the wave was already round her lips;
robbing her of breath.
--might not there be some last great convulsive effort which might dash her on shore,
even if it were upon a rock!
That ultimate failure in her matrimonial projects would be the same as drowning she never for a moment doubted.
It had never occurred to her to consider with equanimity the prospect of living as an old maid.
It was beyond the scope of her mind to contemplate the chances of a life in which marriage might be well if it came,
but in which unmarried tranquillity might also be well should that be her lot.
Nor could she understand that others should contemplate it for her.
No doubt the battle had been carried on for many years so much under the auspices of her father and mother as to justify her in thinking that their theory of life was the same as her own.
Lady Pomona had been very open in her teaching,
and Mr. Longestaffe had always given a silent adherence to the idea that the house in London was to be kept open in order that husbands might be caught.
And now when they deserted her in her real difficulty,
--when they first told her to live at Caversham all the summer,
and then sent her up to the Melmottes,
and after that forbade her marriage with Mr. Brehgert,
--it seemed to her that they were unnatural parents who gave her a stone when she wanted bread,
a serpent when she asked for a fish.
She had no friend left.
There was no one living who seemed to care whether she had a husband or not.
She took to walking in solitude about the park,
and thought of many things with a grim earnestness which had not hitherto belonged to her character.
she said one morning when all the care of the household was being devoted to the future comforts,
--chiefly in regard to linen,
--of Mrs. George Whitstable,
"I wonder whether papa has any intention at all about me."
"In what sort of way,
"In any way.
Does he mean me to live here for ever and ever?"
"I don't think he intends to have a house in town again."
"And what am I to do?"
"I suppose we shall stay here at Caversham."
"And I'm to be buried just like a nun in a convent,
--only that the nun does it by her own consent and I don't!
I won't stand it.
I won't indeed."
that that is nonsense.
You see company here,
just as other people do in the country;
--and as for not standing it,
I don't know what you mean.
As long as you are one of your papa's family of course you must live where he lives."
to hear you talk like that!
--It is horrible --horrible!
As if you didn't know!
As if you couldn't understand!
Sometimes I almost doubt whether papa does know,
and then I think that if he did he would not be so cruel.
But you understand it all as well as I do myself.
What is to become of me?
Is it not enough to drive me mad to be going about here by myself,
without any prospect of anything?
Should you have liked at my age to have felt that you had no chance of having a house of your own to live in?
Why didn't you,
let me marry Mr. Brehgert?"
As she said this she was almost eloquent with passion.
said Lady Pomona,
"that your papa wouldn't hear of it."
"I know that if you would have helped me I would have done it in spite of papa.
What right has he to domineer over me in that way?
Why shouldn't I have married the man if I chose?
I am old enough to know surely.
You talk now of shutting up girls in convents as being a thing quite impossible.
This is much worse.
Papa won't do anything to help me.
Why shouldn't he let me do something for myself?"
"You can't regret Mr. Brehgert!"
"Why can't I regret him?
I do regret him.
I'd have him to-morrow if he came.
Bad as it might be,
it couldn't be so bad as Caversham."
"You couldn't have loved him,
Who thinks about love nowadays?
I don't know any one who loves any one else.
You won't tell me that Sophy is going to marry that idiot because she loves him!
Did Julia Triplex love that man with the large fortune?
When you wanted Dolly to marry Marie Melmotte you never thought of his loving her.
I had got the better of all that kind of thing before I was twenty."
"I think a young woman should love her husband."
"It makes me sick,
to hear you talk in that way.
It does indeed.
When one has been going on for a dozen years trying to do something,
--and I have never had any secrets from you,
--then that you should turn round upon me and talk about love!
if you would help me I think I could still manage with Mr. Brehgert."
Lady Pomona shuddered.
"You have not got to marry him."
"It is too horrid."
"Who would have to put up with it?
I should have a house of my own at least,
and I should know what I had to expect for the rest of my life.
If I stay here I shall go mad,
"It is impossible."
"If you will stand to me,
I am sure it may be done.
I would write to him,
and say that you would see him."
I will never see him."
"He is a Jew!"
"What abominable prejudice;
--what wicked prejudice!
As if you didn't know that all that is changed now!
What possible difference can it make about a man's religion?
Of course I know that he is vulgar,
and has a lot of children.
But if I can put up with that,
I don't think that you and papa have a right to interfere.
As to his religion it cannot signify."
you make me very unhappy.
I am wretched to see you so discontented.
If I could do anything for you,
But I will not meddle about Mr. Brehgert.
I shouldn't dare to do so.
I don't think you know how angry your papa can be."
"I'm not going to let papa be a bugbear to frighten me.
What can he do?
I don't suppose he'll beat me.
And I'd rather he would than shut me up here.
As for you,
I don't think you care for me a bit.
Because Sophy is going to be married to that oaf,
you are become so proud of her that you haven't half a thought for anybody else."
"That's very unjust,
"I know what's unjust,
--and I know who's ill-treated.
I tell you fairly,
that I shall write to Mr. Brehgert and tell him that I am quite ready to marry him.
I don't know why he should be afraid of papa.
I don't mean to be afraid of him any more,
and you may tell him just what I say."
All this made Lady Pomona very miserable.
She did not communicate her daughter's threat to Mr. Longestaffe,
but she did discuss it with Sophia.
Sophia was of opinion that Georgiana did not mean it,
and gave two or three reasons for thinking so.
In the first place had she intended it she would have written her letter without saying a word about it to Lady Pomona.
And she certainly would not have declared her purpose of writing such letter after Lady Pomona had refused her assistance.
--Lady Pomona had received no former hint of the information which was now conveyed to her,
--Georgiana was in the habit of meeting the curate of the next parish almost every day in the park.
exclaimed Lady Pomona.
"She is walking with Mr. Batherbolt almost every day."
"But he is so very strict."
"It is true,
"And he's five years younger than she!
And he's got nothing but his curacy!
And he's a celibate!
I heard the bishop laughing at him because he called himself a celibate."
"It doesn't signify,
I know she is with him constantly.
Wilson has seen them,
--and I know it.
Perhaps papa could get him a living.
Dolly has a living of his own that came to him with his property."
"Dolly would be sure to sell the presentation,"
said Lady Pomona.
"Perhaps the bishop would do something,"
said the anxious sister,
"when he found that the man wasn't a celibate.
would be better than the Jew."
To this latter proposition Lady Pomona gave a cordial assent.
"Of course it is a come-down to marry a curate,
--but a clergyman is always considered to be decent."
The preparations for the Whitstable marriage went on without any apparent attention to the intimacy which was growing up between Mr. Batherbolt and Georgiana.
There was no room to apprehend anything wrong on that side.
Mr. Batherbolt was so excellent a young man,
and so exclusively given to religion,
even should Sophy's suspicion be correct,
he might be trusted to walk about the park with Georgiana.
Should he at any time come forward and ask to be allowed to make the lady his wife,
there would be no disgrace in the matter.
He was a clergyman and a gentleman,
--and the poverty would be Georgiana's own affair.
Mr. Longestaffe returned home only on the eve of his eldest daughter's marriage,
and with him came Dolly.
Great trouble had been taken to teach him that duty absolutely required his presence at his sister's marriage,
and he had at last consented to be there.
It is not generally considered a hardship by a young man that he should have to go into a good partridge country on the 1st of September,
and Dolly was an acknowledged sportsman.
he considered that he had made a great sacrifice to his family,
and he was received by Lady Pomona as though he were a bright example to other sons.
He found the house not in a very comfortable position,
for Georgiana still persisted in her refusal either to be a bridesmaid or to speak to Mr. Whitstable;
but still his presence,
which was very rare at Caversham,
gave some assistance: and,
as at this moment his money affairs had been comfortably arranged,
he was not called upon to squabble with his father.
It was a great thing that one of the girls should be married,
and Dolly had brought down an enormous china dog,
about five feet high,
as a wedding present,
which added materially to the happiness of the meeting.
Lady Pomona had determined that she would tell her husband of those walks in the park,
and of other signs of growing intimacy which had reached her ears;
--but this she would postpone until after the Whitstable marriage.
But at nine o'clock on the morning set apart for that marriage,
they were all astounded by the news that Georgiana had run away with Mr. Batherbolt.
She had been up before six.
He had met her at the park gate,
and had driven her over to catch the early train at Stowmarket.
Then it appeared,
that by degrees various articles of her property had been conveyed to Mr. Batherbolt's lodgings in the adjacent village,
so that Lady Pomona's fear that Georgiana would not have a thing to wear,
When the fact was first known it was almost felt,
in the consternation of the moment,
that the Whitstable marriage must be postponed.
But Sophia had a word to say to her mother on that head,
and she said it.
The marriage was not postponed.
At first Dolly talked of going after his younger sister,
and the father did dispatch various telegrams.
But the fugitives could not be brought back,
and with some little delay,
--which made the marriage perhaps uncanonical but not illegal,
--Mr. George Whitstable was made a happy man.
It need only be added that in about a month's time Georgiana returned to Caversham as Mrs. Batherbolt,
and that she resided there with her husband in much connubial bliss for the next six months.
At the end of that time they removed to a small living,
for the purchase of which Mr. Longestaffe had managed to raise the necessary money.
WHERE "THE WILD ASSES QUENCH THEIR THIRST."
We must now go back a little in our story,
--about three weeks,
--in order that the reader may be told how affairs were progressing at the Beargarden.
That establishment had received a terrible blow in the defection of Herr Vossner.
It was not only that he had robbed the club,
and robbed every member of the club who had ventured to have personal dealings with him.
Although a bad feeling in regard to him was no doubt engendered in the minds of those who had suffered deeply,
it was not that alone which cast an almost funereal gloom over the club.
The sorrow was in this,
--that with Herr Vossner all their comforts had gone.
Of course Herr Vossner had been a thief.
That no doubt had been known to them from the beginning.
A man does not consent to be called out of bed at all hours in the morning to arrange the gambling accounts of young gentlemen without being a thief.
No one concerned with Herr Vossner had supposed him to be an honest man.
But then as a thief he had been so comfortable that his absence was regretted with a tenderness almost amounting to love even by those who had suffered most severely from his rapacity.
Dolly Longestaffe had been robbed more outrageously than any other member of the club,
and yet Dolly Longestaffe had said since the departure of the purveyor that London was not worth living in now that Herr Vossner was gone.
In a week the Beargarden collapsed,
--as Germany would collapse for a period if Herr Vossner's great compatriot were suddenly to remove himself from the scene;
but as Germany would strive to live even without Bismarck,
so did the club make its new efforts.
But here the parallel must cease.
Germany no doubt would at last succeed,
but the Beargarden had received a blow from which it seemed that there was no recovery.
At first it was proposed that three men should be appointed as trustees,
--trustees for paying Vossner's debts,
trustees for borrowing more money,
trustees for the satisfaction of the landlord who was beginning to be anxious as to his future rent.
At a certain very triumphant general meeting of the club it was determined that such a plan should be arranged,
and the members assembled were unanimous.
It was at first thought that there might be a little jealousy as to the trusteeship.
The club was so popular and the authority conveyed by the position would be so great,
and C might feel aggrieved at seeing so much power conferred on D,
and F. When at the meeting above mentioned one or two names were suggested,
the final choice was postponed,
as a matter of detail to be arranged privately,
rather from this consideration than with any idea that there might be a difficulty in finding adequate persons.
But even the leading members of the Beargarden hesitated when the proposition was submitted to them with all its honours and all its responsibilities.
Lord Nidderdale declared from the beginning that he would have nothing to do with it,
--pleading his poverty openly.
Beauchamp Beauclerk was of opinion that he himself did not frequent the club often enough.
Mr. Lupton professed his inability as a man of business.
Lord Grasslough pleaded his father.
The club from the first had been sure of Dolly Longestaffe's services;
--for were not Dolly's pecuniary affairs now in process of satisfactory arrangement,
and was it not known by all men that his courage never failed him in regard to money?
But even he declined.
"I have spoken to Squercum,"
he said to the Committee,
"and Squercum won't hear of it.
Squercum has made inquiries and he thinks the club very shaky."
When one of the Committee made a remark as to Mr. Squercum which was not complimentary,
--insinuated indeed that Squercum without injustice might be consigned to the infernal deities,
--Dolly took the matter up warmly.
"That's all very well for you,
but if you knew the comfort of having a fellow who could keep you straight without preaching sermons at you you wouldn't despise Squercum.
I've tried to go alone and I find that does not answer.
Squercum's my coach,
and I mean to stick pretty close to him."
Then it came to pass that the triumphant project as to the trustees fell to the ground,
although Squercum himself advised that the difficulty might be lessened if three gentlemen could be selected who lived well before the world and yet had nothing to lose.
Whereupon Dolly suggested Miles Grendall.
But the Committee shook its heads,
not thinking it possible that the club could be re-established on a basis of three Miles Grendalls.
Then dreadful rumours were heard.
The Beargarden must surely be abandoned.
"It is such a pity,"
"because there never has been anything like it."
"Smoke all over the house!"
"No horrid nonsense about closing,"
"and no infernal old fogies wearing out the carpets and paying for nothing."
"Not a vestige of propriety,
or any beastly rules to be kept!
That's what I liked,"
"It's an old story,"
said Mr. Lupton,
"that if you put a man into Paradise he'll make it too hot to hold him.
That's what you've done here."
"What we ought to do,"
who was pervaded by a sense of his own good fortune in regard to Squercum,
"is to get some fellow like Vossner,
and make him tell us how much he wants to steal above his regular pay.
Then we could subscribe that among us.
I really think that might be done.
Squercum would find a fellow,
But Mr. Lupton was of opinion that the new Vossner might perhaps not know,
when thus consulted,
the extent of his own cupidity.
before the Whitstable marriage,
when it was understood that the club would actually be closed on the 12th August unless some new heaven-inspired idea might be forthcoming for its salvation,
and Dolly were hanging about the hall and the steps,
and drinking sherry and bitters preparatory to dinner,
when Sir Felix Carbury came round the neighbouring corner and,
in a creeping,
entered the hall door.
He had nearly recovered from his wounds,
though he still wore a bit of court plaster on his upper lip,
and had not yet learned to look or to speak as though he had not had two of his front teeth knocked out.
He had heard little or nothing of what had been done at the Beargarden since Vossner's defection.
It was now a month since he had been seen at the club.
His thrashing had been the wonder of perhaps half nine days,
but latterly his existence had been almost forgotten.
he had summoned courage to go down to his old haunt,
so completely had he been cowed by the latter circumstances of his life;
but he had determined that he would pluck up his courage,
and talk to his old associates as though no evil thing had befallen him.
He had still money enough to pay for his dinner and to begin a small rubber of whist.
If fortune should go against him he might glide into I.
--as others had done before,
so much to his cost.
Lord Grasslough whistled,
turned his back,
and walked up-stairs;
but Nidderdale and Dolly consented to have their hands shaken by the stranger.
"Thought you were out of town,"
"Haven't seen you for the last ever so long."
"I have been out of town,"
"down in Suffolk.
But I'm back now.
How are things going on here?"
"They're not going at all;
"Everything is smashed,"
"We shall all have to pay,
I don't know how much."
"Wasn't Vossner ever caught?"
asked the baronet.
--but he has caught us.
I don't know that there has ever been much idea of catching Vossner.
We close altogether next Monday,
and the furniture is to be gone to law for.
Flatfleece says it belongs to him under what he calls a deed of sale.
everything that everybody has seems to belong to Flatfleece.
He's always in and out of the club,
and has got the key of the cellar."
"That don't matter,"
"as Vossner took care that there shouldn't be any wine."
"He's got most of the forks and spoons,
and only lets us use what we have as a favour."
"I suppose one can get a dinner here?"
to-day you can,
and perhaps to-morrow."
"Isn't there any playing?"
asked Felix with dismay.
"I haven't seen a card this fortnight,"
"There hasn't been anybody to play.
Everything has gone to the dogs.
There has been the affair of Melmotte,
you do know all about that."
"Of course I know he poisoned himself."
"Of course that had effect,"
continuing his history.
"Though why fellows shouldn't play cards because another fellow like that takes poison,
I can't understand.
Last year the only day I managed to get down in February,
the hounds didn't come because some old cove had died.
What harm could our hunting have done him?
I call that rot."
"Melmotte's death was rather awful,"
"Not half so awful as having nothing to amuse one.
And now they say the girl is going to be married to Fisker.
I don't know how you and Nidderdale like that.
I never went in for her myself.
Squercum never seemed to see it."
"She's welcome for me,
and I dare say she couldn't do better with herself.
I was very fond of her;
--I'll be shot if I wasn't."
"And Carbury too,
If I'd really been fond of her I suppose it would have come off.
I should have had her safe enough to America,
if I'd cared about it."
This was Sir Felix's view of the matter.
"Come into the smoking-room,
"I can stand most things,
and I try to stand everything;
that fellow is such a cad that I cannot stand him.
You and I are bad enough,
--but I don't think we're so heartless as Carbury."
"I don't think I'm heartless at all,"
"I'm good-natured to everybody that is good-natured to me,
--and to a great many people who ain't.
I'm going all the way down to Caversham next week to see my sister married,
though I hate the place and hate marriages,
and if I was to be hung for it I couldn't say a word to the fellow who is going to be my brother-in-law.
But I do agree about Carbury.
It's very hard to be good-natured to him."
in the teeth of these adverse opinions Sir Felix managed to get his dinner-table close to theirs and to tell them at dinner something of his future prospects.
He was going to travel and see the world.
according to his own account,
completely run through London life and found that it was all barren.
"In life I've rung all changes through,
Run every pleasure down,
'Midst each excess of folly too,
And lived with half the town."
Sir Felix did not exactly quote the old song,
probably having never heard the words.
But that was the burden of his present story.
It was his determination to seek new scenes,
and in search of them to travel over the greater part of the known world.
"How jolly for you!"
"It will be a change,
"No end of a change.
Is any one going with you?"
I've got a travelling companion;
--a very pleasant fellow,
who knows a lot,
and will be able to coach me up in things.
There's a deal to be learned by going abroad,
"A sort of a tutor,"
--he is a clergyman.
Who told you?"
"It's only my inventive genius.
I should say that would be nice,
--travelling about Europe with a clergyman.
I shouldn't get enough advantage out of it to make it pay,
but I fancy it will just suit you."
"It's an expensive sort of thing;
--it does cost something.
But I've got so sick of this kind of life;
--and then that railway Board coming to an end,
and the club smashing up,
"Marie Melmotte marrying Fisker,"
if you will.
But I want a change,
and a change I mean to have.
I've seen this side of things,
and now I'll have a look at the other."
"Didn't you have a row in the street with some one the other day?"
This question was asked very abruptly by Lord Grasslough,
though he was sitting near them,
had not yet joined in the conversation,
and who had not before addressed a word to Sir Felix.
"We heard something about it,
but we never got the right story."
Nidderdale glanced across the table at Dolly,
and Dolly whistled.
Grasslough looked at the man he addressed as one does look when one expects an answer.
with whom Grasslough was dining,
also sat expectant.
Dolly and Nidderdale were both silent.
It was the fear of this that had kept Sir Felix away from the club.
as he had told himself,
was just the fellow to ask such a question,
But the question demanded an answer of some kind.
"a fellow attacked me in the street,
coming behind me when I had a girl with me.
He didn't get much the best of it though."
upon the whole,
you're right about going abroad."
"What business is it of yours?"
asked the baronet.
--as the club is being broken up,
I don't know that it is very much the business of any of us."
"I was speaking to my friends,
Lord Nidderdale and Mr. Longestaffe,
and not to you."
"I quite appreciate the advantage of the distinction,"
said Lord Grasslough,
"and am sorry for Lord Nidderdale and Mr. Longestaffe."
"What do you mean by that?"
said Sir Felix,
rising from his chair.
His present opponent was not horrible to him as had been John Crumb,
as men in clubs do not now often knock each others' heads or draw swords one upon another.
"Don't let's have a quarrel here,"
said Mr. Lupton.
"I shall leave the room if you do."
"If we must break up,
let us break up in peace and quietness,"
if there is to be a fight,
I'm good to go out with anybody,"
"When there's any beastly thing to be done,
I've always got to do it.
But don't you think that kind of thing is a little slow?"
"Who began it?"
said Sir Felix,
sitting down again.
Whereupon Lord Grasslough,
who had finished his dinner,
walked out of the room.
"That fellow is always wanting to quarrel."
"There's one comfort,
"It wants two men to make a quarrel."
said Sir Felix,
taking this as a friendly observation;
"and I'm not going to be fool enough to be one of them."
I meant it fast enough,"
said Grasslough afterwards up in the card-room.
The other men who had been together had quickly followed him,
leaving Sir Felix alone,
and they had collected themselves there not with the hope of play,
but thinking that they would be less interrupted than in the smoking-room.
"I don't suppose we shall ever any of us be here again,
and as he did come in I thought I would tell him my mind."
"What's the use of taking such a lot of trouble?"
"Of course he's a bad fellow.
Most fellows are bad fellows in one way or another."
"But he's bad all round,"
said the bitter enemy.
"And so this is to be the end of the Beargarden,"
said Lord Nidderdale with a peculiar melancholy.
"Dear old place!
I always felt it was too good to last.
I fancy it doesn't do to make things too easy;
--one has to pay so uncommon dear for them!
when you've got things easy,
then they get rowdy;
before you know where you are,
you find yourself among a lot of blackguards.
If one wants to keep one's self straight,
one has to work hard at it,
one way or the other.
I suppose it all comes from the fall of Adam."
and the Archbishop of Canterbury were rolled into one,
they couldn't have spoken with more wisdom,"
said Mr. Lupton.
"Live and learn,"
continued the young lord.
"I don't think anybody has liked the Beargarden so much as I have,
but I shall never try this kind of thing again.
I shall begin reading blue books to-morrow,
and shall dine at the Carlton.
Next session I shan't miss a day in the House,
and I'll bet anybody a fiver that I make a speech before Easter.
I shall take to claret at 20-s.- a dozen,
and shall go about London on the top of an omnibus."
"How about getting married?"
--that must be as it comes.
That's the governor's affair.
None of you fellows will believe me,
upon my word,
I liked that girl;
've stuck to her at last,
--only that there are some things a fellow can't do.
He was such a thundering scoundrel!"
After a while Sir Felix followed them up-stairs,
and entered the room as though nothing unpleasant had happened below.
"We can make up a rubber;
"I should say not,"
"I shall not play,"
said Mr. Lupton.
"There isn't a pack of cards in the house,"
Lord Grasslough didn't condescend to say a word.
Sir Felix sat down with his cigar in his mouth,
and the others continued to smoke in silence.
"I wonder what has become of Miles Grendall,"
asked Sir Felix.
But no one made any answer,
and they smoked on in silence.
"He hasn't paid me a shilling yet of the money he owes me."
Still there was not a word.
"And I don't suppose he ever will."
There was another pause.
"He is the biggest scoundrel I ever met,"
said Sir Felix.
"I know one as big,"
said Lord Grasslough,
at any rate,
There was another pause of a minute,
and then Sir Felix left the room muttering something as to the stupidity of having no cards;
--and so brought to an end his connection with his associates of the Beargarden.
From that time forth he was never more seen by them,
was never known.
The other men remained there till well on into the night,
although there was not the excitement of any special amusement to attract them.
It was felt by them all that this was the end of the Beargarden,
with a melancholy seriousness befitting the occasion,
they whispered sad things in low voices,
consoling themselves simply with tobacco.
"I never felt so much like crying in my life,"
as he asked for a glass of brandy-and-water at about midnight.
I'm going down to Caversham,
and I shouldn't wonder if I didn't drown myself."
How Mr. Flatfleece went to law,
and tried to sell the furniture,
and threatened everybody,
and at last singled out poor Dolly Longestaffe as his special victim;
and how Dolly Longestaffe,
by the aid of Mr. Squercum,
utterly confounded Mr. Flatfleece,
and brought that ingenious but unfortunate man,
with his wife and small family,
to absolute ruin,
the reader will hardly expect to have told to him in detail in this chronicle.
Mrs. HURTLE'S FATE.
Mrs. Hurtle had consented at the joint request of Mrs. Pipkin and John Crumb to postpone her journey to New York and to go down to Bungay and grace the marriage of Ruby Ruggles,
not so much from any love for the persons concerned,
not so much even from any desire to witness a phase of English life,
as from an irresistible tenderness towards Paul Montague.
She not only longed to see him once again,
but she could with difficulty bring herself to leave the land in which he was living.
There was no hope for her.
She was sure of that.
She had consented to relinquish him.
She had condoned his treachery to her,
--and for his sake had even been kind to the rival who had taken her place.
But still she lingered near him.
in all her very restricted intercourse with such English people as she met,
she never ceased to ridicule things English,
yet she dreaded a return to her own country.
In her heart of hearts she liked the somewhat stupid tranquillity of the life she saw,
comparing it with the rough tempests of her past days.
was less intellectual than any American woman she had ever known;
and she was quite sure that no human being so heavy,
and so incapable of two concurrent ideas as John Crumb had ever been produced in the United States;
she liked Mrs. Pipkin,
and almost loved John Crumb.
How different would her life have been could she have met a man who would have been as true to her as John Crumb was to his Ruby!
She loved Paul Montague with all her heart,
and she despised herself for loving him.
How weak he was;
how unable to seize glorious opportunities;
how swathed and swaddled by scruples and prejudices;
--how unlike her own countrymen in quickness of apprehension and readiness of action!
But yet she loved him for his very faults,
telling herself that there was something sweeter in his English manners than in all the smart intelligence of her own land.
The man had been false to her,
--false as hell;
had sworn to her and had broken his oath;
had ruined her whole life;
had made everything blank before her by his treachery!
But then she also had not been quite true with him.
She had not at first meant to deceive;
--nor had he.
They had played a game against each other;
with all the inferiority of his intellect to weigh him down,
--because he was a man.
She had much time for thinking,
and she thought much about these things.
He could change his love as often as he pleased,
and be as good a lover at the end as ever;
--whereas she was ruined by his defection.
He could look about for a fresh flower and boldly seek his honey;
whereas she could only sit and mourn for the sweets of which she had been rifled.
She was not quite sure that such mourning would not be more bitter to her in California than in Mrs. Pipkin's solitary lodgings at Islington.
"So he was Mr. Montague's partner,
--was he now?"
asked Mrs. Pipkin a day or two after their return from the Crumb marriage.
For Mr. Fisker had called on Mrs. Hurtle,
and Mrs. Hurtle had told Mrs. Pipkin so much.
"To my thinking now he's a nicer man than Mr. Montague."
Mrs. Pipkin perhaps thought that as her lodger had lost one partner she might be anxious to secure the other;
that it might be well to praise an American at the expense of an Englishman.
"There's no accounting for tastes,
"And that's true,
"Mr. Montague is a gentleman."
"I always did say that of him,
"And Mr. Fisker is --an American citizen."
Mrs. Hurtle when she said this was very far gone in tenderness.
said Mrs. Pipkin,
who did not in the least understand the meaning of her friend's last remark.
"Mr. Fisker came to me with tidings from San Francisco which I had not heard before,
and has offered to take me back with him."
Mrs. Pipkin's apron was immediately at her eyes.
"I must go some day,
"I suppose you must.
I couldn't hope as you'd stay here always.
I wish I could.
I never shall forget the comfort it's been.
There hasn't been a week without everything settled;
and most ladylike,
You seem to me,
just as though you had the bank in your pocket."
All this the poor woman said,
moved by her sorrow to speak the absolute truth.
"Mr. Fisker isn't in any way a special friend of mine.
But I hear that he will be taking other ladies with him,
and I fancy I might as well join the party.
It will be less dull for me,
and I shall prefer company just at present for many reasons.
We shall start on the first of September."
As this was said about the middle of August there was still some remnant of comfort for poor Mrs. Pipkin.
A fortnight gained was something;
and as Mr. Fisker had come to England on business,
and as business is always uncertain,
there might possibly be further delay.
Then Mrs. Hurtle made a further communication to Mrs. Pipkin,
though not spoken till the latter lady had her hand on the door,
the one thing which Mrs. Hurtle had desired to say.
I expect Mr. Montague to call to-morrow at eleven.
Just show him up when he comes."
She had feared that unless some such instructions were given,
there might be a little scene at the door when the gentleman came.
I'll see to it myself."
Then Mrs. Pipkin went away abashed,
--feeling that she had made a great mistake in preferring any other man to Mr. Montague,
recent difficulties were to be adjusted.
On the following morning Mrs. Hurtle dressed herself with almost more than her usual simplicity,
but certainly with not less than her usual care,
and immediately after breakfast seated herself at her desk,
nursing an idea that she would work as steadily for the next hour as though she expected no special visitor.
Of course she did not write a word of the task which she had prescribed to herself.
Of course she was disturbed in her mind,
though she had dictated to herself absolute quiescence.
She almost knew that she had been wrong even to desire to see him.
She had forgiven him,
and what more was there to be said?
She had seen the girl,
and had in some fashion approved of her.
Her curiosity had been satisfied,
and her love of revenge had been sacrificed.
She had no plan arranged as to what she would now say to him,
nor did she at this moment attempt to make a plan.
She could tell him that she was about to return to San Francisco with Fisker,
but she did not know that she had anything else to say.
Then came the knock at the door.
Her heart leaped within her,
and she made a last great effort to be tranquil.
She heard the steps on the stairs,
and then the door was opened and Mr. Montague was announced by Mrs. Pipkin herself.
quite conquered by a feeling of gratitude to her lodger,
did not once look in through the door,
nor did she pause a moment to listen at the keyhole.
"I thought you would come and see me once again before I went,"
said Mrs. Hurtle,
not rising from her sofa,
but putting out her hand to greet him.
"Sit there opposite,
so that we can look at one another.
I hope it has not been a trouble to you."
"Of course I came when you left word for me to do so."
"I certainly should not have expected it from any wish of your own."
"I should not have dared to come,
had you not bade me.
You know that."
"I know nothing of the kind;
--but as you are here we will not quarrel as to your motives.
Has Miss Carbury pardoned you as yet?
Has she forgiven your sins?"
"We are friends,
--if you mean that."
"Of course you are friends.
She only wanted to have somebody to tell her that somebody had maligned you.
It mattered not much who it was.
She was ready to believe any one who would say a good word for you.
Perhaps I wasn't just the person to do it,
but I believe even I was sufficient to serve the turn."
"Did you say a good word for me?"
replied Mrs. Hurtle.
"I will not boast that I did.
I do not want to tell you fibs at our last meeting.
I said nothing good of you.
What could I say of good?
But I told her what was quite as serviceable to you as though I had sung your virtues by the hour without ceasing.
I explained to her how very badly you had behaved to me.
I let her know that from the moment you had seen her,
you had thrown me to the winds."
"It was not so,
"What did that matter?
One does not scruple a lie for a friend,
I could not go into all the little details of your perfidies.
I could not make her understand during one short and rather agonizing interview how you had allowed yourself to be talked out of your love for me by English propriety even before you had seen her beautiful eyes.
There was no reason why I should tell her all my disgrace,
--anxious as I was to be of service.
as I put it,
she was sure to be better pleased.
But I did tell her how unwillingly you had spared me an hour of your company;
--what a trouble I had been to you;
--how you would have shirked me if you could!"
that is untrue."
"That wretched journey to Lowestoft was the great crime.
Mr. Roger Carbury,
who I own is poison to me --"
"You do not know him."
"Knowing him or not I choose to have my own opinion,
I say that he is poison to me,
and I say that he had so stuffed her mind with the flagrant sin of that journey,
with the peculiar wickedness of our having lived for two nights under the same roof,
with the awful fact that we had travelled together in the same carriage,
till that had become the one stumbling block on your path to happiness."
"He never said a word to her of our being there."
"Who did then?
But what matters?
She knew it;
as the only means of whitewashing you in her eyes,
I did tell her how cruel and how heartless you had been to me.
I did explain how the return of friendship which you had begun to show me,
had been frozen,
harder than Wenham ice,
by the appearance of Mr. Carbury on the sands.
Perhaps I went a little farther and hinted that the meeting had been arranged as affording you the easiest means of escape from me."
"You do not believe that."
"You see I had your welfare to look after;
and the baser your conduct had been to me,
the truer you were in her eyes.
Do I not deserve some thanks for what I did?
Surely you would not have had me tell her that your conduct to me had been that of a loyal,
I confessed to her my utter despair;
--I abased myself in the dust,
as a woman is abased who has been treacherously ill-used,
and has failed to avenge herself.
I knew that when she was sure that I was prostrate and hopeless she would be triumphant and contented.
I told her on your behalf how I had been ground to pieces under your chariot wheels.
And now you have not a word of thanks to give me!"
"Every word you say is a dagger."
"You know where to go for salve for such skin-deep scratches as I make.
Where am I to find a surgeon who can put together my crushed bones?
Do you not suppose that in thinking of you I have often thought of daggers?
Why have I not thrust one into your heart,
so that I might rescue you from the arms of this puny,
spiritless English girl?"
All this time she was still seated,
looking at him,
leaning forward towards him with her hands upon her brow.
I spit out my words to you,
like any common woman,
not because they will hurt you,
but because I know I may take that comfort,
such as it is,
without hurting you.
You are uneasy for a moment while you are here,
and I have a cruel pleasure in thinking that you cannot answer me.
But you will go from me to her,
and then will you not be happy?
When you are sitting with your arm round her waist,
and when she is playing with your smiles,
will the memory of my words interfere with your joy then?
Ask yourself whether the prick will last longer than the moment.
But where am I to go for happiness and joy?
Can you understand what it is to have to live only on retrospects?"
"I wish I could say a word to comfort you."
"You cannot say a word to comfort me,
unless you will unsay all that you have said since I have been in England.
I never expect comfort again.
I will not be cruel to the end.
I will tell you all that I know of my concerns,
even though my doing so should justify your treatment of me.
He is not dead."
"You mean Mr. Hurtle."
"Whom else should I mean?
And he himself says that the divorce which was declared between us was no divorce.
Mr. Fisker came here to me with tidings.
Though he is not a man whom I specially love,
--though I know that he has been my enemy with you,
--I shall return with him to San Francisco."
"I am told that he is taking Madame Melmotte with him,
and Melmotte's daughter."
"So I understand.
They are adventurers,
--as I am,
and I do not see why we should not suit each other."
"They say also that Fisker will marry Miss Melmotte."
"Why should I object to that?
I shall not be jealous of Mr. Fisker's attentions to the young lady.
But it will suit me to have some one to whom I can speak on friendly terms when I am back in California.
I may have a job of work to do there which will require the backing of some friends.
I shall be hand-and-glove with these people before I have travelled half across the ocean with them."
"I hope they will be kind to you,"
--but I will be kind to them.
I have conquered others by being kind,
but I have never had much kindness myself.
Did I not conquer you,
by being gentle and gracious to you?
how kind I was to that poor wretch,
till he lost himself in drink!
I used to think of better people,
perhaps of softer people,
of things that should be clean and sweet and gentle,
--of things that should smell of lavender instead of wild garlic.
I would dream of fair,
--of women who would be scared by seeing what I saw,
who would die rather than do what I did.
And then I met you,
and I said that my dreams should come true.
I ought to have known that it could not be so.
I did not dare quite to tell you all the truth.
I know I was wrong,
and now the punishment has come upon me.
--I suppose you had better say good-bye to me.
What is the good of putting it off?"
Then she rose from her chair and stood before him with her arms hanging listlessly by her side.
"God bless you,
putting out his hand to her.
"But he won't.
Why should he,
--if we are right in supposing that they who do good will be blessed for their good,
and those who do evil cursed for their evil?
I cannot do good.
I cannot bring myself now not to wish that you would return to me.
If you would come I should care nothing for the misery of that girl,
at least nothing now,
for the misery I should certainly bring upon you.
--will you have this back?"
As she asked this she took from out her bosom a small miniature portrait of himself which he had given her in New York,
and held it towards him.
"If you wish it I will,
"I would not part with it for all the gold in California.
Nothing on earth shall ever part me from it.
Should I ever marry another man,
--as I may do,
--he must take me and this together.
While I live it shall be next my heart.
As you know,
I have but little respect for the proprieties of life.
I do not see why I am to abandon the picture of the man I love because he becomes the husband of another woman.
Having once said that I love you I shall not contradict myself because you have deserted me.
I have loved you,
and do love you,
with my very heart of hearts."
So speaking she threw herself into his arms and covered his face with kisses.
"For one moment you shall not banish me.
For one short minute I will be here.
All this to him was simply agony,
--though as she had truly said it was an agony he would soon forget.
But to be told by a woman of her love,
--without being able even to promise love in return,
--to be so told while you are in the very act of acknowledging your love for another woman,
--carries with it but little of the joy of triumph.
He did not want to see her raging like a tigress,
as he had once thought might be his fate;
but he would have preferred the continuance of moderate resentment to this flood of tenderness.
Of course he stood with his arm round her waist,
and of course he returned her caresses;
but he did it with such stiff constraint that she at once felt how chill they were.
smiling through her bitter tears,
you are released now,
and not even my fingers shall ever be laid upon you again.
If I have annoyed you,
at this our last meeting,
you must forgive me."
--but you cut me to the heart."
"That we can hardly help;
When two persons have made fools of themselves as we have,
there must I suppose be some punishment.
Yours will never be heavy after I am gone.
I do not start till the first of next month because that is the day fixed by our friend,
and I shall remain here till then because my presence is convenient to Mrs. Pipkin;
but I need not trouble you to come to me again.
Indeed it will be better that you should not.
He took her by the hand,
and stood for a moment looking at her,
while she smiled and gently nodded her head at him.
Then he essayed to pull her towards him as though he would again kiss her.
But she repulsed him,
still smiling the while.
By that time she had recovered her hand and stood apart from him.
--and now go."
Then he turned round and left the room without uttering a word.
She stood still,
without moving a limb,
as she listened to his step down the stairs and to the opening and the closing of the door.
Then hiding herself at the window with the scanty drapery of the curtain she watched him as he went along the street.
When he had turned the corner she came back to the centre of the room,
stood for a moment with her arms stretched out towards the walls,
and then fell prone upon the floor.
She had spoken the very truth when she said that she had loved him with all her heart.
[Illlustration: Mrs. Hurtle at the window.]
But that evening she bade Mrs. Pipkin drink tea with her and was more gracious to the poor woman than ever.
When the obsequious but still curious landlady asked some question about Mr. Montague,
Mrs. Hurtle seemed to speak very freely on the subject of her late lover,
--and to speak without any great pain.
They had put their heads together,
and had found that the marriage would not be suitable.
Each of them preferred their own country,
and so they had agreed to part.
On that evening Mrs. Hurtle made herself more than usually pleasant,
having the children up into her room,
and giving them jam and bread-and-butter.
During the whole of the next fortnight she seemed to take a delight in doing all in her power for Mrs. Pipkin and her family.
She gave toys to the children,
and absolutely bestowed upon Mrs. Pipkin a new carpet for the drawing-room.
Then Mr. Fisker came and took her away with him to America;
and Mrs. Pipkin was left,
--a desolate but grateful woman.
"They do tell bad things about them Americans,"
she said to a friend in the street,
"and I don't pretend to know.
But for a lodger,
I only wish Providence would send me another just like the one I have lost.
She had that good nature about her she liked to see the bairns eating pudding just as if they was her own."
I think Mrs. Pipkin was right,
and that Mrs. Hurtle,
with all her faults,
was a good-natured woman.
MARIE MELMOTTE'S FATE.
In the meantime Marie Melmotte was living with Madame Melmotte in their lodgings up at Hampstead,
and was taking quite a new look out into the world.
Fisker had become her devoted servant,
--not with that old-fashioned service which meant making love,
but with perhaps a truer devotion to her material interests.
He had ascertained on her behalf that she was the undoubted owner of the money which her father had made over to her on his first arrival in England,
--and she also had made herself mistress of that fact with equal precision.
It would have astonished those who had known her six months since could they now have seen how excellent a woman of business she had become,
and how capable she was of making the fullest use of Mr. Fisker's services.
In doing him justice it must be owned that he kept nothing back from her of that which he learned,
probably feeling that he might best achieve success in his present project by such honesty,
the girl's own strength in discovering truth and falsehood.
"She's her father's own daughter,"
he said one day to Croll in Abchurch Lane;
though he had left Melmotte's employment when he found that his name had been forged,
had now returned to the service of the daughter in some undefined position,
and had been engaged to go with her and Madame Melmotte to New York.
He vas passionate,
and did lose his
and vas blow'd up vid bigness."
Whereupon Croll made an action as though he were a frog swelling himself to the dimensions of an ox.
"'E bursted himself,
'E vas a great man;
but the greater he grew he vas always less and less vise.
'E ate so much that he became too fat to see to eat his vittels."
It was thus that Herr Croll analyzed the character of his late master.
she is different.
She vill never eat too moch,
but vill see to eat alvays."
Thus too he analyzed the character of his young mistress.
At first things did not arrange themselves pleasantly between Madame Melmotte and Marie.
The reader will perhaps remember that they were in no way connected by blood.
Madame Melmotte was not Marie's mother,
in the eye of the law,
could Marie claim Melmotte as her father.
She was alone in the world,
absolutely without a relation,
not knowing even what had been her mother's name,
--not even knowing what was her father's true name,
as in the various biographies of the great man which were,
as a matter of course,
published within a fortnight of his death,
various accounts were given as to his birth,
and early history.
The general opinion seemed to be that his father had been a noted coiner in New York,
--an Irishman of the name of Melmody,
in one memoir,
the probability of the descent was argued from Melmotte's skill in forgery.
though she was thus isolated,
and now altogether separated from the lords and duchesses who a few weeks since had been interested in her career,
was the undoubted owner of the money,
--a fact which was beyond the comprehension of Madame Melmotte.
She could understand,
--and was delighted to understand,
--that a very large sum of money had been saved from the wreck,
and that she might therefore look forward to prosperous tranquillity for the rest of her life.
Though she never acknowledged so much to herself,
she soon learned to regard the removal of her husband as the end of her troubles.
But she could not comprehend why Marie should claim all the money as her own.
She declared herself to be quite willing to divide the spoil,
--and suggested such an arrangement both to Marie and to Croll.
Of Fisker she was afraid,
thinking that the iniquity of giving all the money to Marie originated with him,
in order that he might obtain it by marrying the girl.
who understood it all perfectly,
told her the story a dozen times,
--but quite in vain.
She made a timid suggestion of employing a lawyer on her own behalf,
and was only deterred from doing so by Marie's ready assent to such an arrangement.
Marie's equally ready surrender of any right she might have to a portion of the jewels which had been saved had perhaps some effect in softening the elder lady's heart.
She thus was in possession of a treasure of her own,
--though a treasure small in comparison with that of the younger woman;
and the younger woman had promised that in the event of her marriage she would be liberal.
It was distinctly understood that they were both to go to New York under Mr. Fisker's guidance as soon as things should be sufficiently settled to allow of their departure;
and Madame Melmotte was told,
about the middle of August,
that their places had been taken for the 3rd of September.
But nothing more was told her.
She did not as yet know whether Marie was to go out free or as the affianced bride of Hamilton Fisker.
And she felt herself injured by being left so much in the dark.
She herself was inimical to Fisker,
regarding him as a dark,
who would ultimately swallow up all that her husband had left behind him,
--and trusted herself entirely to Croll,
who was personally attentive to her.
going on to San Francisco.
Marie also had talked of crossing the American continent.
But Madame Melmotte was disposed to think that for her,
with her jewels,
and such share of the money as Marie might be induced to give her,
New York would be the most fitting residence.
Why should she drag herself across the continent to California?
Herr Croll had declared his purpose of remaining in New York.
Then it occurred to the lady that as Melmotte was a name which might be too well known in New York,
and which it therefore might be wise to change,
Croll would do as well as any other.
She and Herr Croll had known each other for a great many years,
of about the same age.
Croll had some money saved.
at any rate,
--and Croll would probably be able to get some portion of all that money,
which ought to be hers,
if his affairs were made to be identical with her own.
So she smiled upon Croll,
and whispered to him;
and when she had given Croll two glasses of Curaçoa,
--which comforter she kept in her own hands,
as safe-guarded almost as the jewels,
--then Croll understood her.
But it was essential that she should know what Marie intended to do.
Marie was anything but communicative,
and certainly was not in any way submissive.
she said one day,
asking the question in French,
without any preface or apology,
"are you going to be married to Mr. Fisker?"
"What makes you ask that?"
"It is so important I should know.
Where am I to live?
What am I to do?
What money shall I have?
Who will be a friend to me?
A woman ought to know.
You will marry Fisker if you like him.
Why cannot you tell me?"
"Because I do not know.
When I know I will tell you.
If you go on asking me till to-morrow morning I can say no more."
And this was true.
She did not know.
It certainly was not Fisker's fault that she should still be in the dark as to her own destiny,
for he had asked her often enough,
and had pressed his suit with all his eloquence.
But Marie had now been wooed so often that she felt the importance of the step which was suggested to her.
The romance of the thing was with her a good deal worn,
and the material view of matrimony had also been damaged in her sight.
She had fallen in love with Sir Felix Carbury,
and had assured herself over and over again that she worshipped the very ground on which he stood.
But she had taught herself this business of falling in love as a lesson,
rather than felt it.
After her father's first attempts to marry her to this and that suitor because of her wealth,
--attempts which she had hardly opposed amidst the consternation and glitter of the world to which she was suddenly introduced,
--she had learned from novels that it would be right that she should be in love,
and she had chosen Sir Felix as her idol.
The reader knows what had been the end of that episode in her life.
She certainly was not now in love with Sir Felix Carbury.
Then she had as it were relapsed into the hands of Lord Nidderdale,
--one of her early suitors,
--and had felt that as love was not to prevail,
and as it would be well that she should marry some one,
he might probably be as good as any other,
and certainly better than many others.
She had almost learned to like Lord Nidderdale and to believe that he liked her,
when the tragedy came.
Lord Nidderdale had been very good-natured,
--but he had deserted her at last.
She had never allowed herself to be angry with him for a moment.
It had been a matter of course that he should do so.
Her fortune was still large,
but not so large as the sum named in the bargain made.
And it was moreover weighted with her father's blood.
From the moment of her father's death she had never dreamed that he would marry her.
Why should he?
Her thoughts in reference to Sir Felix were bitter enough;
--but as against Nidderdale they were not at all bitter.
Should she ever meet him again she would shake hands with him and smile,
--if not pleasantly as she thought of the things which were past,
--at any rate with good humour.
But all this had not made her much in love with matrimony generally.
She had over a hundred thousand pounds of her own,
feeling conscious of her own power in regard to her own money,
knowing that she could do as she pleased with her wealth,
she began to look out into life seriously.
What could she do with her money,
and in what way would she shape her life,
should she determine to remain her own mistress?
Were she to refuse Fisker how should she begin?
He would then be banished,
and her only remaining friends,
the only persons whose names she would even know in her own country,
would be her father's widow and Herr Croll.
She already began to see Madame Melmotte's purport in reference to Croll,
and could not reconcile herself to the idea of opening an establishment with them on a scale commensurate with her fortune.
Nor could she settle in her own mind any pleasant position for herself as a single woman,
living alone in perfect independence.
She had opinions of women's rights,
--especially in regard to money;
and she entertained also a vague notion that in America a young woman would not need support so essentially as in England.
the idea of a fine house for herself in Boston,
--for in that case she would have to avoid New York as the chosen residence of Madame Melmotte,
--did not recommend itself to her.
As to Fisker himself,
--she certainly liked him.
He was not beautiful like Felix Carbury,
nor had he the easy good-humour of Lord Nidderdale.
She had seen enough of English gentlemen to know that Fisker was very unlike them.
But she had not seen enough of English gentlemen to make Fisker distasteful to her.
He told her that he had a big house at San Francisco,
and she certainly desired to live in a big house.
He represented himself to be a thriving man,
and she calculated that he certainly would not be here,
arranging her father's affairs,
were he not possessed of commercial importance.
She had contrived to learn that,
in the United States,
a married woman has greater power over her own money than in England,
and this information acted strongly in Fisker's favour.
On consideration of the whole subject she was inclined to think that she would do better in the world as Mrs. Fisker than as Marie Melmotte,
--if she could see her way clearly in the matter of her own money.
"I have got excellent berths,"
Fisker said to her one morning at Hampstead.
At these interviews,
which were devoted first to business and then to love,
Madame Melmotte was never allowed to be present.
"I am to be alone?"
There is a cabin for Madame Melmotte and the maid,
and a cabin for you.
Everything will be comfortable.
And there is another lady going,
--whom I think you will like."
"Has she a husband?"
"Not going with us,"
said Mr. Fisker evasively.
"But she has one?"
--but you had better not mention him.
He is not exactly all that a husband should be."
"Did she not come over here to marry some one else?"
--For Marie in the days of her sweet intimacy with Sir Felix Carbury had heard something of Mrs. Hurtle's story.
"There is a story,
and I dare say I shall tell you all about it some day.
But you may be sure I should not ask you to associate with any one you ought not to know."
--I can take care of myself."
I feel that quite strongly.
But what I meant to observe was this,
--that I certainly should not introduce a lady whom I aspire to make my own lady to any lady whom a lady oughtn't to know.
I hope I make myself understood,
"And perhaps I may go on to say that if I could go on board that ship as your accepted lover,
I could do a deal more to make you comfortable,
particularly when you land,
than just as a mere friend,
You can't doubt my heart."
"I don't see why I shouldn't.
Gentlemen's hearts are things very much to be doubted as far as I've seen
I don't think many of
'em at all."
you do not know the glorious west.
Your past experiences have been drawn from this effete and stone-cold country in which passion is no longer allowed to sway.
On those golden shores which the Pacific washes man is still true,
--and woman is still tender."
"Perhaps I'd better wait and see,
But this was not Mr. Fisker's view of the case.
There might be other men desirous of being true on those golden shores.
pleading his cause not without skill,
"the laws regulating woman's property there are just the reverse of those which the greediness of man has established here.
The wife there can claim her share of her husband's property,
but hers is exclusively her own.
America is certainly the country for women,
--and especially California."
--I shall find out all about it,
when I've been there a few months."
"But you would enter San Francisco,
under such much better auspices,
--if I may be allowed to say so,
--as a married lady or as a lady just going to be married."
"Ain't single ladies much thought of in California?"
"It isn't that.
you know what I mean."
"Let us go in for life together.
We've both done uncommon well.
I'm spending 30,000 dollars a year,
--at that rate,
--in my own house.
You'll see it all.
If we put them both together,
--what's yours and what's mine,
--we can put our foot out as far as about any one there,
"I don't know that I care about putting my foot out.
I've seen something of that already,
You shouldn't put your foot out farther than you can draw it in again."
"You needn't fear me as to that,
I shouldn't be able to touch a dollar of your money.
It would be such a triumph to go into Francisco as man and wife."
"I shouldn't think of being married till I had been there a while and looked about me."
"And seen the house!
--there's something in that.
The house is all there,
I can tell you.
I'm not a bit afraid but what you'll like the house.
But if we were engaged,
I could do every thing for you.
Where would you be,
going into San Francisco all alone?
I do admire you so much!"
I doubt whether this last assurance had much efficacy.
But the arguments with which it was introduced did prevail to a certain extent.
"I'll tell you how it must be then,"
"How shall it be?"
and as he asked the question he jumped up and put his arm round her waist.
"Not like that,
"It shall be in this way.
You may consider yourself engaged to me."
"I'm the happiest man on this continent,"
forgetting in his ecstasy that he was not in the United States.
"But if I find when I get to Francisco anything to induce me to change my mind,
I shall change it.
I like you very well,
but I'm not going to take a leap in the dark,
and I'm not going to marry a pig in a poke."
"There you're quite right,"
"You may give it out on board the ship that we're engaged,
and I'll tell Madame Melmotte the same.
She and Croll don't mean going any farther than New York."
"We needn't break our hearts about that;
"It don't much signify.
--I'll go on with Mrs. Hurtle,
if she'll have me."
"Too much delighted she'll be."
"And she shall be told we're engaged."
"But if I don't like it when I get to Frisco,
as you call it,
all the ropes in California shan't make me do it.
you may give me a kiss I suppose now if you care about it."
--or rather so far,
--Mr. Fisker and Marie Melmotte became engaged to each other as man and wife.
After that Mr. Fisker's remaining business in England went very smoothly with him.
It was understood up at Hampstead that he was engaged to Marie Melmotte,
--and it soon came to be understood also that Madame Melmotte was to be married to Herr Croll.
No doubt the father of the one lady and the husband of the other had died so recently as to make these arrangements subject to certain censorious objections.
But there was a feeling that Melmotte had been so unlike other men,
both in his life and in his death,
that they who had been concerned with him were not to be weighed by ordinary scales.
Nor did it much matter,
for the persons concerned took their departure soon after the arrangement was made,
and Hampstead knew them no more.
On the 3rd of September Madame Melmotte,
Hamilton K. Fisker,
and Herr Croll left Liverpool for New York;
and the three ladies were determined that they never would revisit a country of which their reminiscences certainly were not happy.
The writer of the present chronicle may so far look forward,
--carrying his reader with him,
--as to declare that Marie Melmotte did become Mrs. Fisker very soon after her arrival at San Francisco.
LADY CARBURY AND Mr. BROUNE.
When Sir Felix Carbury declared to his friends at the Beargarden that he intended to devote the next few months of his life to foreign travel,
and that it was his purpose to take with him a Protestant divine,
--as was much the habit with young men of rank and fortune some years since,
--he was not altogether lying.
There was indeed a sounder basis of truth than was usually to be found attached to his statements.
That he should have intended to produce a false impression was a matter of course,
--and nearly equally so that he should have made his attempt by asserting things which he must have known that no one would believe.
He was going to Germany,
and he was going in company with a clergyman,
and it had been decided that he should remain there for the next twelve months.
A representation had lately been made to the Bishop of London that the English Protestants settled in a certain commercial town in the north-eastern district of Prussia were without pastoral aid,
and the bishop had stirred himself in the matter.
A clergyman was found willing to expatriate himself,
but the income suggested was very small.
The Protestant English population of the commercial town in question,
was not liberal.
It had come to pass that the "Morning Breakfast Table" had interested itself in the matter,
having appealed for subscriptions after a manner not unusual with that paper.
The bishop and all those concerned in the matter had fully understood that if the "Morning Breakfast Table" could be got to take the matter up heartily,
the thing would be done.
The heartiness had been so complete that it had at last devolved upon Mr. Broune to appoint the clergyman;
as with all the aid that could be found,
the income was still small,
the Rev. Septimus Blake,
--a brand snatched from the burning of Rome,
--had been induced to undertake the maintenance and total charge of Sir Felix Carbury for a consideration.
Mr. Broune imparted to Mr. Blake all that there was to know about the baronet,
giving much counsel as to the management of the young man,
and specially enjoining on the clergyman that he should on no account give Sir Felix the means of returning home.
It was evidently Mr. Broune's anxious wish that Sir Felix should see as much as possible of German life,
at a comparatively moderate expenditure,
and under circumstances that should be externally respectable if not absolutely those which a young gentleman might choose for his own comfort or profit;
--but especially that those circumstances should not admit of the speedy return to England of the young gentleman himself.
Lady Carbury had at first opposed the scheme.
Terribly difficult as was to her the burden of maintaining her son,
she could not endure the idea of driving him into exile.
But Mr. Broune was very obstinate,
as she thought,
somewhat hard of heart.
"What is to be the end of it then?"
he said to her,
almost in anger.
For in those days the great editor,
when in presence of Lady Carbury,
differed very much from that Mr. Broune who used to squeeze her hand and look into her eyes.
His manner with her had become so different that she regarded him as quite another person.
She hardly dared to contradict him,
and found herself almost compelled to tell him what she really felt and thought.
"Do you mean to let him eat up everything you have to your last shilling,
and then go to the workhouse with him?"
you know how I am struggling!
Do not say such horrid things."
"It is because I know how you are struggling that I find myself compelled to say anything on the subject.
What hardship will there be in his living for twelve months with a clergyman in Prussia?
What can he do better?
What better chance can he have of being weaned from the life he is leading?"
"If he could only be married!"
Who is to marry him?
Why should any girl with money throw herself away upon him?"
"He is so handsome."
"What has his beauty brought him to?
you must let me tell you that all that is not only foolish but wrong.
If you keep him here you will help to ruin him,
and will certainly ruin yourself.
He has agreed to go;
--let him go."
She was forced to yield.
as Sir Felix had himself assented,
it was almost impossible that she should not do so.
Perhaps Mr. Broune's greatest triumph was due to the talent and firmness with which he persuaded Sir Felix to start upon his travels.
said Mr. Broune,
"has made up her mind that she will not absolutely beggar your sister and herself in order that your indulgence may be prolonged for a few months.
She cannot make you go to Germany of course.
But she can turn you out of her house,
unless you go,
she will do so."
"I don't think she ever said that,
--she has not said so.
But I have said it for her in her presence;
and she has acknowledged that it must necessarily be so.
You may take my word as a gentleman that it will be so.
If you take her advice £175 a year will be paid for your maintenance;
--but if you remain in England not a shilling further will be paid."
He had no money.
His last sovereign was all but gone.
Not a tradesman would give him credit for a coat or a pair of boots.
The key of the door had been taken away from him.
The very page treated him with contumely.
His clothes were becoming rusty.
There was no prospect of amusement for him during the coming autumn or winter.
He did not anticipate much excitement in Eastern Prussia,
but he thought that any change must be a change for the better.
to the proposition made by Mr. Broune,
was duly introduced to the Rev. Septimus Blake,
as he spent his last sovereign on a last dinner at the Beargarden,
explained his intentions for the immediate future to those friends at his club who would no doubt mourn his departure.
Mr. Blake and Mr. Broune between them did not allow the grass to grow under their feet.
Before the end of August Sir Felix,
with Mr. and Mrs. Blake and the young Blakes,
had embarked from Hull for Hamburgh,
--having extracted at the very hour of parting a last five-pound note from his foolish mother.
"It will be just enough to bring him home,"
said Mr. Broune with angry energy when he was told of this.
But Lady Carbury,
who knew her son well,
assured him that Felix would be restrained in his expenditure by no such prudence as such a purpose would indicate.
"It will be gone,"
"long before they reach their destination."
"Then why the deuce should you give it him?"
said Mr. Broune.
Mr. Broune's anxiety had been so intense that he had paid half a year's allowance in advance to Mr. Blake out of his own pocket.
he had paid various sums for Lady Carbury,
--so that that unfortunate woman would often tell herself that she was becoming subject to the great editor,
almost like a slave.
He came to her,
three or four times a week,
at about nine o'clock in the evening,
and gave her instructions as to all that she should do.
"I wouldn't write another novel if I were you,"
This was hard,
as the writing of novels was her great ambition,
and she had flattered herself that the one novel which she had written was good.
Mr. Broune's own critic had declared it to be very good in glowing language.
The "Evening Pulpit" had of course abused it,
--because it is the nature of the "Evening Pulpit" to abuse.
So she had argued with herself,
telling herself that the praise was all true,
whereas the censure had come from malice.
After that article in the "Breakfast Table,"
it did seem hard that Mr. Broune should tell her to write no more novels.
She looked up at him piteously but said nothing.
"I don't think you'd find it answer.
Of course you can do it as well as a great many others.
But then that is saying so little!"
"I thought I could make some money."
"I don't think Mr. Leadham would hold out to you very high hopes;
I think I would turn to something else."
"It is so very hard to get paid for what one does."
To this Mr. Broune made no immediate answer;
after sitting for a while,
almost in silence,
he took his leave.
On that very morning Lady Carbury had parted from her son.
She was soon about to part from her daughter,
and she was very sad.
She felt that she could hardly keep up that house in Welbeck Street for herself,
even if her means permitted it.
What should she do with herself?
Whither should she take herself?
Perhaps the bitterest drop in her cup had come from those words of Mr. Broune forbidding her to write more novels.
she was not a clever woman,
--not more clever than other women around her!
That very morning she had prided herself on her coming success as a novelist,
basing all her hopes on that review in the "Breakfast Table."
with that reaction of spirits which is so common to all of us,
she was more than equally despondent.
He would not thus have crushed her without a reason.
Though he was hard to her now,
--he who used to be so soft,
--he was very good.
It did not occur to her to rebel against him.
After what he had said,
of course there would be no more praise in the "Breakfast Table,"
equally of course,
no novel of hers could succeed without that.
The more she thought of him,
the more omnipotent he seemed to be.
The more she thought of herself,
the more absolutely prostrate she seemed to have fallen from those high hopes with which she had begun her literary career not much more than twelve months ago.
On the next day he did not come to her at all,
and she sat idle,
She could not interest herself in Hetta's coming marriage,
as that marriage was in direct opposition to one of her broken schemes.
She had not ventured to confess so much to Mr. Broune,
but she had in truth written the first pages of the first chapter of a second novel.
It was impossible now that she should even look at what she had written.
All this made her very sad.
She spent the evening quite alone;
for Hetta was staying down in Suffolk,
with her cousin's friend,
the bishop's wife;
and as she thought of her life past and her life to come,
with a broken light,
see something of the error of her ways,
after a fashion,
It was all "leather or prunello,"
as she said to herself;
--it was all vanity,
What real enjoyment had she found in anything?
She had only taught herself to believe that some day something would come which she would like;
--but she had never as yet in truth found anything to like.
It had all been in anticipation,
--but now even her anticipations were at an end.
Mr. Broune had sent her son away,
had forbidden her to write any more novels,
--and had been refused when he had asked her to marry him!
The next day he came to her as usual,
and found her still very wretched.
"I shall give up this house,"
"I can't afford to keep it;
and in truth I shall not want it.
I don't in the least know where to go,
but I don't think that it much signifies.
Any place will be the same to me now."
"I don't see why you should say that."
"What does it matter?"
"You wouldn't think of going out of London."
I suppose I had better go wherever I can live cheapest."
"I should be sorry that you should be settled where I could not see you,"
said Mr. Broune plaintively.
"So shall I,
You have been more kind to me than anybody.
But what am I to do?
If I stay in London I can live only in some miserable lodgings.
I know you will laugh at me,
and tell me that I am wrong;
but my idea is that I shall follow Felix wherever he goes,
so that I may be near him and help him when he needs help.
Hetta doesn't want me.
There is nobody else that I can do any good to."
"I want you,"
said Mr. Broune,
--that is so kind of you.
There is nothing makes one so good as goodness;
--nothing binds your friend to you so firmly as the acceptance from him of friendly actions.
You say you want me,
because I have so sadly wanted you.
When I go you will simply miss an almost daily trouble,
but where shall I find a friend?"
"When I said I wanted you,
I meant more than that,
Two or three months ago I asked you to be my wife.
if I understood you rightly,
because of your son's position.
That has been altered,
and therefore I ask you again.
I have quite convinced myself,
--not without some doubts,
for you shall know all;
I have quite convinced myself,
--that such a marriage will best contribute to my own happiness.
I do not think,
that it would mar yours."
This was said with so quiet a voice and so placid a demeanour,
that the words,
though they were too plain to be misunderstood,
hardly at first brought themselves home to her.
Of course he had renewed his offer of marriage,
but he had done so in a tone which almost made her feel that the proposition could not be an earnest one.
It was not that she believed that he was joking with her or paying her a poor insipid compliment.
When she thought about it at all,
she knew that it could not be so.
But the thing was so improbable!
Her opinion of herself was so poor,
she had become so sick of her own vanities and littlenesses and pretences,
that she could not understand that such a man as this should in truth want to make her his wife.
At this moment she thought less of herself and more of Mr. Broune than either perhaps deserved.
She sat silent,
quite unable to look him in the face,
while he kept his place in his arm-chair,
with his eyes intent on her countenance.
"what do you think of it?
I never loved you better than I did for refusing me before,
because I thought that you did so because it was not right that I should be embarrassed by your son."
"That was the reason,"
almost in a whisper.
"But I shall love you better still for accepting me now,
--if you will accept me."
The long vista of her past life appeared before her eyes.
The ambition of her youth which had been taught to look only to a handsome maintenance,
the cruelty of her husband which had driven her to run from him,
the further cruelty of his forgiveness when she returned to him;
the calumny which had made her miserable,
though she had never confessed her misery;
then her attempts at life in London,
her literary successes and failures,
and the wretchedness of her son's career;
--there had never been happiness,
or even comfort,
in any of it.
Even when her smiles had been sweetest her heart had been heaviest.
Could it be that now at last real peace should be within her reach,
and that tranquillity which comes from an anchor holding to a firm bottom?
Then she remembered that first kiss,
--or attempted kiss,
with a sort of pride in her own superiority,
she had told herself that the man was a susceptible old goose.
She certainly had not thought then that his susceptibility was of this nature.
Nor could she quite understand now whether she had been right then,
and that the man's feelings,
and almost his nature,
had since changed,
--or whether he had really loved her from first to last.
As he remained silent it was necessary that she should answer him.
"You can hardly have thought of it enough,"
"I have thought of it a good deal too.
I have been thinking of it for six months at least."
"There is so much against me."
"What is there against you?"
"They say bad things of me in India."
"I know all about that,"
replied Mr. Broune.
"I think I may say that I know all about that also."
"And then I have become so poor!"
"I am not proposing to myself to marry you for your money.
Luckily for me,
--I hope luckily for both of us,
--it is not necessary that I should do so."
"And then I seem so to have fallen through in everything.
I don't know what I've got to give to a man in return for all that you offer to give to me."
stretching out his right hand to her.
And there he sat with it stretched out,
--so that she found herself compelled to put her own into it,
or to refuse to do so with very absolute words.
Very slowly she put out her own,
and gave it to him without looking at him.
Then he drew her towards him,
and in a moment she was kneeling at his feet,
with her face buried on his knees.
Considering their ages perhaps we must say that their attitude was awkward.
They would certainly have thought so themselves had they imagined that any one could have seen them.
But how many absurdities of the kind are not only held to be pleasant,
but almost holy,
--as long as they remain mysteries inspected by no profane eyes!
It is not that Age is ashamed of feeling passion and acknowledging it,
--but that the display of it is,
without the graces of which Youth is proud,
and which Age regrets.
On that occasion there was very little more said between them.
He had certainly been in earnest,
and she had now accepted him.
As he went down to his office he told himself now that he had done the best,
not only for her but for himself also.
And yet I think that she had won him more thoroughly by her former refusal than by any other virtue.
as she sat alone,
late into the night,
became subject to a thorough reaction of spirit.
That morning the world had been a perfect blank to her.
There was no single object of interest before her.
Now everything was rose-coloured.
This man who had thus bound her to him,
who had given her such assured proofs of his affection and truth,
was one of the considerable ones of the world;
a man than whom few,
--so she now told herself,
--were greater or more powerful.
Was it not a career enough for any woman to be the wife of such a man,
to receive his friends,
and to shine with his reflected glory?
Whether her hopes were realised,
--as human hopes never are realised,
--how far her content was assured,
these pages cannot tell;
but they must tell that,
before the coming winter was over,
Lady Carbury became the wife of Mr. Broune,
in furtherance of her own resolve,
took her husband's name.
The house in Welbeck Street was kept,
and Mrs. Broune's Tuesday evenings were much more regarded by the literary world than had been those of Lady Carbury.
CHAPTER C. DOWN IN SUFFOLK.
It need hardly be said that Paul Montague was not long in adjusting his affairs with Hetta after the visit which he received from Roger Carbury.
Early on the following morning he was once more in Welbeck Street,
taking the brooch with him;
and though at first Lady Carbury kept up her opposition,
she did it after so weak a fashion as to throw in fact very little difficulty in his way.
Hetta understood perfectly that she was in this matter stronger than her mother and that she need fear nothing,
now that Roger Carbury was on her side.
"I don't know what you mean to live on,"
Lady Carbury said,
threatening future evils in a plaintive tone.
though in other language,
the assurance which the young lady made who declared that if her future husband would consent to live on potatoes,
she would be quite satisfied with the potato-peelings;
while Paul made some vague allusion to the satisfactory nature of his final arrangements with the house of Fisker,
"I don't see anything like an income,"
said Lady Carbury;
"but I suppose Roger will make it right.
He takes everything upon himself now it seems."
But this was before the halcyon day of Mr. Broune's second offer.
It was at any rate decided that they were to be married,
and the time fixed for the marriage was to be the following spring.
When this was finally arranged Roger Carbury,
who had returned to his own home,
conceived the idea that it would be well that Hetta should pass the autumn and if possible the winter also down in Suffolk,
so that she might get used to him in the capacity which he now aspired to fill;
and with that object he induced Mrs. Yeld,
the Bishop's wife,
to invite her down to the palace.
Hetta accepted the invitation and left London before she could hear the tidings of her mother's engagement with Mr. Broune.
Roger Carbury had not yielded in this matter,
--had not brought himself to determine that he would recognise Paul and Hetta as acknowledged lovers,
--without a fierce inward contest.
Two convictions had been strong in his mind,
both of which were opposed to this recognition,
--the first telling him that he would be a fitter husband for the girl than Paul Montague,
and the second assuring him that Paul had ill-treated him in such a fashion that forgiveness would be both foolish and unmanly.
though he was a religious man,
and one anxious to conform to the spirit of Christianity,
would not allow himself to think that an injury should be forgiven unless the man who did the injury repented of his own injustice.
As to giving his coat to the thief who had taken his cloak,
--he told himself that were he and others to be guided by that precept honest industry would go naked in order that vice and idleness might be comfortably clothed.
If any one stole his cloak he would certainly put that man in prison as soon as possible and not commence his lenience till the thief should at any rate affect to be sorry for his fault.
to his thinking,
Paul Montague had stolen his cloak,
and were he,
to give way in this matter of his love,
he would be giving Paul his coat also.
He was bound after some fashion to have Paul put into prison;
to bring him before a jury,
and to get a verdict against him,
so that some sentence of punishment might be at least pronounced.
How then could he yield?
And Paul Montague had shown himself to be very weak in regard to women.
It might be,
--no doubt it was true,
--that Mrs. Hurtle's appearance in England had been distressing to him.
But still he had gone down with her to Lowestoft as her lover,
to Roger's thinking,
a man who could do that was quite unfit to be the husband of Hetta Carbury.
He would himself tell no tales against Montague on that head.
Even when pressed to do so he had told no tale.
But not the less was his conviction strong that Hetta ought to know the truth,
and to be induced by that knowledge to reject her younger lover.
But then over these convictions there came a third,
--which told him that the girl loved the younger man and did not love him,
and that if he loved the girl it was his duty as a man to prove his love by doing what he could to make her happy.
As he walked up and down the walk by the moat,
with his hands clasped behind his back,
stopping every now and again to sit on the terrace wall,
mile after mile,
with his mind intent on the one idea,
--he schooled himself to feel that that,
and that only,
could be his duty.
What did love mean if not that?
What could be the devotion which men so often affect to feel if it did not tend to self-sacrifice on behalf of the beloved one?
A man would incur any danger for a woman,
would subject himself to any toil,
--would even die for her!
But if this were done simply with the object of winning her,
where was that real love of which sacrifice of self on behalf of another is the truest proof?
he resolved that the thing must be done.
though he had been bad to his friend,
was not all bad.
He was one who might become good in good hands.
was too firm of purpose and too honest of heart to buoy himself up into new hopes by assurances of the man's unfitness.
What right had he to think that he could judge of that better than the girl herself?
when many many miles had been walked,
he succeeded in conquering his own heart,
--though in conquering it he crushed it,
--and in bringing himself to the resolve that the energies of his life should be devoted to the task of making Mrs. Paul Montague a happy woman.
We have seen how he acted up to this resolve when last in London,
withdrawing at any rate all signs of anger from Paul Montague and behaving with the utmost tenderness to Hetta.
When he had accomplished that task of conquering his own heart and of assuring himself thoroughly that Hetta was to become his rival's wife,
more at ease and less troubled in his spirit than he had been during those months in which there had still been doubt.
The sort of happiness which he had once pictured to himself could certainly never be his.
That he would never marry he was quite sure.
Indeed he was prepared to settle Carbury on Hetta's eldest boy on condition that such boy should take the old name.
He would never have a child whom he could in truth call his own.
But if he could induce these people to live at Carbury,
or to live there for at least a part of the year,
so that there should be some life in the place,
he thought that he could awaken himself again,
and again take an interest in the property.
But as a first step to this he must learn to regard himself as an old man,
--as one who had let life pass by too far for the purposes of his own home,
and who must therefore devote himself to make happy the homes of others.
So thinking of himself and so resolving,
he had told much of his story to his friend the Bishop,
and as a consequence of those revelations Mrs. Yeld had invited Hetta down to the palace.
Roger felt that he had still much to say to his cousin before her marriage which could be said in the country much better than in town,
and he wished to teach her to regard Suffolk as the county to which she should be attached and in which she was to find her home.
The day before she came he was over at the palace with the pretence of asking permission to come and see his cousin soon after her arrival,
but in truth with the idea of talking about Hetta to the only friend to whom he had looked for sympathy in his trouble.
"As to settling your property on her or her children,"
said the Bishop,
"it is quite out of the question.
Your lawyer would not allow you to do it.
Where would you be if after all you were to marry?"
"I shall never marry."
"Very likely not,
--but yet you may.
How is a man of your age to speak with certainty of what he will do or what he will not do in that respect?
You can make your will,
doing as you please with your property;
--and the will,
can be revoked."
"I think you hardly understand just what I feel,"
"and I know very well that I am unable to explain it.
But I wish to act exactly as I would do if she were my daughter,
and as if her son,
if she had a son,
would be my natural heir."
if she were your daughter,
her son wouldn't be your natural heir as long as there was a probability or even a chance that you might have a son of your own.
A man should never put the power,
which properly belongs to him,
out of his own hands.
If it does properly belong to you it must be better with you than elsewhere.
I think very highly of your cousin,
and I have no reason to think otherwise than well of the gentleman whom she intends to marry.
But it is only human nature to suppose that the fact that your property is still at your own disposal should have some effect in producing a more complete observance of your wishes."
"I do not believe it in the least,
said Roger somewhat angrily.
"That is because you are so carried away by enthusiasm at the present moment as to ignore the ordinary rules of life.
There are not,
many fathers who have Regans and Gonerils for their daughters;
--but there are very many who may take a lesson from the folly of the old king.
'Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown,'
the fool said to him,
'when thou gav'st thy golden one away.'
I take it,
thinks that the fool was right."
The Bishop did so far succeed that Roger abandoned the idea of settling his property on Paul Montague's children.
But he was not on that account the less resolute in his determination to make himself and his own interests subordinate to those of his cousin.
When he came over,
two days afterwards,
to see her he found her in the garden,
and walked there with her for a couple of hours.
"I hope all our troubles are over now,"
he said smiling.
"You mean about Felix,"
As to Felix I think that Lady Carbury has done the best thing in her power.
No doubt she has been advised by Mr. Broune,
and Mr. Broune seems to be a prudent man.
And about your mother herself,
I hope that she may now be comfortable.
But I was not alluding to Felix and your mother.
I was thinking of you --and of myself."
"I hope that you will never have any troubles."
"I have had troubles.
I mean to speak very freely to you now,
I was nearly upset,
--what I suppose people call broken-hearted,
--when I was assured that you certainly would never become my wife.
I ought not to have allowed myself to get into such a frame of mind.
I should have known that I was too old to have a chance."
--it was not that."
--that and other things.
I should have known it sooner,
and have got over my misery quicker.
I should have been more manly and stronger.
though love is a wonderful incident in a man's life,
it is not that only that he is here for.
I have duties plainly marked out for me;
and as I should never allow myself to be withdrawn from them by pleasure,
so neither should I by sorrow.
But it is done now.
I have conquered my regrets,
and I can say with safety that I look forward to your presence and Paul's presence at Carbury as the source of all my future happiness.
I will make him welcome as though he were my brother,
and you as though you were my daughter.
All I ask of you is that you will not be chary of your presence there."
She only answered him by a close pressure on his arm.
"That is what I wanted to say to you.
You will teach yourself to regard me as your best and closest friend,
--as he on whom you have the strongest right to depend,
--except your husband."
"There is no teaching necessary for that,"
"As a daughter leans on a father I would have you lean on me,
You will soon come to find that I am very old.
I grow old quickly,
and already feel myself to be removed from everything that is young and foolish."
"You never were foolish."
"Nor young either,
I sometimes think.
But now you must promise me this.
You will do all that you can to induce him to make Carbury his residence."
"We have no plans as yet at all,
"Then it will be certainly so much the easier for you to fall into my plan.
Of course you will be married at Carbury?"
"What will mamma say?"
"She will come here,
and I am sure will enjoy it.
That I regard as settled.
let this be your home,
--so that you should learn really to care about and to love the place.
It will be your home really,
some of these days.
You will have to be Squire of Carbury yourself when I am gone,
till you have a son old enough to fill that exalted position."
With all his love to her and his good-will to them both,
he could not bring himself to say that Paul Montague should be Squire of Carbury.
please do not talk like that."
"But it is necessary,
I want you to know what my wishes are,
if it be possible,
I would learn what are yours.
My mind is quite made up as to my future life.
I do not wish to dictate to you,
--and if I did,
I could not dictate to Mr. Montague."
--pray do not call him Mr. Montague."
I will not;
--to Paul then.
There goes the last of my anger."
He threw his hands up as though he were scattering his indignation to the air.
"I would not dictate either to you or to him,
but it is right that you should know that I hold my property as steward for those who are to come after me,
and that the satisfaction of my stewardship will be infinitely increased if I find that those for whom I act share the interest which I shall take in the matter.
It is the only payment which you and he can make me for my trouble."
"There goes the last of my anger."]
His brow became a little black as he answered her.
"To a sister,"
he said very solemnly,
"I will not say a word against her brother;
but on that subject I claim a right to come to a decision on my own judgment.
It is a matter in which I have thought much,
I may say,
I have ideas,
on the matter,
which I need not pause to explain to you now.
If we are as much together as I hope we shall be,
come to understand them.
The disposition of a family property,
even though it be one so small as mine,
to my thinking,
a matter which a man should not make in accordance with his own caprices,
--or even with his own affections.
He owes a duty to those who live on his land,
and he owes a duty to his country.
though it may seem fantastic to say so,
I think he owes a duty to those who have been before him,
and who have manifestly wished that the property should be continued in the hands of their descendants.
These things are to me very holy.
In what I am doing I am in some respects departing from the theory of my life,
--but I do so under a perfect conviction that by the course I am taking I shall best perform the duties to which I have alluded.
I do not think,
that we need say any more about that."
He had spoken so seriously,
though she did not quite understand all that he had said,
she did not venture to dispute his will any further.
He did not endeavour to exact from her any promise,
but having explained his purposes,
kissed her as he would have kissed a daughter,
and then left her and rode home without going into the house.
Soon after that,
Paul Montague came down to Carbury,
and the same thing was said to him,
though in a much less solemn manner.
Paul was received quite in the old way.
Having declared that he would throw all anger behind him,
and that Paul should be again Paul,
he rigidly kept his promise,
whatever might be the cost to his own feelings.
As to his love for Hetta,
and his old hopes,
and the disappointment which had so nearly unmanned him,
he said not another word to his fortunate rival.
Montague knew it all,
but there was now no necessity that any allusion should be made to past misfortunes.
Roger indeed made a solemn resolution that to Paul he would never again speak of Hetta as the girl whom he himself had loved,
though he looked forward to a time,
probably many years hence,
when he might perhaps remind her of his fidelity.
But he spoke much of the land and of the tenants and the labourers,
of his own farm,
of the amount of the income,
and of the necessity of so living that the income might always be more than sufficient for the wants of the household.
When the spring came round,
Hetta and Paul were married by the Bishop at the parish church of Carbury,
and Roger Carbury gave away the bride.
All those who saw the ceremony declared that the squire had not seemed to be so happy for many a long year.
who was there with his wife,
--himself now one of Roger's tenants,
having occupied the land which had become vacant by the death of old Daniel Ruggles,
--declared that the wedding was almost as good fun as his own.
what a fool you are!"
Ruby said to her spouse,
when this opinion was expressed with rather a loud voice.
--"but not such a fool as to a' missed a having o' you."
it was I was the fool then,"
"We'll see about that when the bairn's born,"
Then Ruby held her tongue.
and Mr. Broune,
were also at Carbury,
--thus doing great honour to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Montague,
and showing by their presence that all family feuds were at an end.
Sir Felix was not there.
Happily up to this time Mr. Septimus Blake had continued to keep that gentleman as one of his Protestant population in the German town,
--no doubt not without considerable trouble to himself.