SIR FELIX IN HIS MOTHER'S HOUSE.
When all her friends were gone Lady Carbury looked about for her son,
--not expecting to find him,
for she knew how punctual was his nightly attendance at the Beargarden,
but still with some faint hope that he might have remained on this special occasion to tell her of his fortune.
She had watched the whispering,
had noticed the cool effrontery with which Felix had spoken,
--for without hearing the words she had almost known the very moment in which he was asking,
--and had seen the girl's timid face,
and eyes turned to the ground,
and the nervous twitching of her hands as she replied.
As a woman,
understanding such things,
who had herself been wooed,
who had at least dreamed of love,
she had greatly disapproved her son's manner.
if it might be successful,
if the girl would put up with love-making so slight as that,
and if the great Melmotte would accept in return for his money a title so modest as that of her son,
how glorious should her son be to her in spite of his indifference!
"I heard him leave the house before the Melmottes went,"
when the mother spoke of going up to her son's bedroom.
"He might have stayed to-night.
Do you think he asked her?"
"How can I say,
"I should have thought you would have been anxious about your brother.
I feel sure he did,
--and that she accepted him."
"If so I hope he will be good to her.
I hope he loves her."
"Why shouldn't he love her as well as any one else?
A girl need not be odious because she has money.
There is nothing disagreeable about her."
I do not know that she is especially attractive."
I don't see anybody specially attractive.
It seems to me you are quite indifferent about Felix."
"Do not say that,
"Yes you are.
You don't understand all that he might be with this girl's fortune,
and what he must be unless he gets money by marriage.
He is eating us both up."
"I would not let him do that,
"It's all very well to say that,
but I have some heart.
I love him.
I could not see him starve.
Think what he might be with £20,000 a-year!"
"If he is to marry for that only,
I cannot think that they will be happy."
"You had better go to bed,
You never say a word to comfort me in all my troubles."
Then Henrietta went to bed,
and Lady Carbury absolutely sat up the whole night waiting for her son,
in order that she might hear his tidings.
She went up to her room,
disembarrassed herself of her finery,
and wrapped herself in a white dressing-gown.
As she sat opposite to her glass,
relieving her head from its garniture of false hair,
she acknowledged to herself that age was coming on her.
She could hide the unwelcome approach by art,
--hide it more completely than can most women of her age;
there it was,
stealing on her with short grey hairs over her ears and around her temples,
with little wrinkles round her eyes easily concealed by unobjectionable cosmetics,
and a look of weariness round the mouth which could only be removed by that self-assertion of herself which practice had made always possible to her in company,
though it now so frequently deserted her when she was alone.
But she was not a woman to be unhappy because she was growing old.
like that of most of us,
was ever in the future,
--never reached but always coming.
had not looked for happiness to love and loveliness,
and need not therefore be disappointed on that score.
She had never really determined what it was that might make her happy,
--having some hazy aspiration after social distinction and literary fame,
in which was ever commingled solicitude respecting money.
But at the present moment her great fears and her great hopes were centred on her son.
She would not care how grey might be her hair,
or how savage might be Mr. Alf,
if her Felix were to marry this heiress.
On the other hand,
nothing that pearl-powder or the "Morning Breakfast Table" could do would avail anything,
unless he could be extricated from the ruin that now surrounded him.
So she went down into the dining-room,
that she might be sure to hear the key in the door,
even should she sleep,
and waited for him with a volume of French memoirs in her hand.
she might have gone to bed and have been duly called about her usual time,
for it was past eight and the full staring daylight shone into her room when Felix's cab brought him to the door.
The night had been very wretched to her.
She had slept,
and the fire had sunk nearly to nothing and had refused to become again comfortable.
She could not keep her mind to her book,
and while she was awake the time seemed to be everlasting.
And then it was so terrible to her that he should be gambling at such hours as these!
Why should he desire to gamble if this girl's fortune was ready to fall into his hands?
to risk his health,
the little money which at this moment of time might be so indispensable to his great project,
for the chance of winning something which in comparison with Marie Melmotte's money must be despicable!
But at last he came!
She waited patiently till he had thrown aside his hat and coat,
and then she appeared at the dining-room door.
She had studied her part for the occasion.
She would not say a harsh word,
and now she endeavoured to meet him with a smile.
"you up at this hour!"
His face was flushed,
and she thought that there was some unsteadiness in his gait.
She had never seen him tipsy,
and it would be doubly terrible to her if such should be his condition.
"I could not go to bed till I had seen you."
why should you want to see me?
I'll go to bed now.
There'll be plenty of time by-and-bye."
"Is anything the matter,
--what should be the matter?
There's been a gentle row among the fellows at the club;
I had to tell Grasslough a bit of my mind,
and he didn't like it.
I didn't mean that he should."
"There is not going to be any fighting,
--nothing so exciting as that.
Whether somebody may not have to kick somebody is more than I can say at present.
You must let me go to bed now,
for I am about used up."
"What did Marie Melmotte say to you?"
And he stood with his hand on the door as he answered her.
"And what did you say to her?"
do you think that a man is in a condition to talk about such stuff as that at eight o'clock in the morning,
when he has been up all night?"
"If you knew all that I suffer on your behalf you would speak a word to me,"
holding him by the arm,
and looking into his purple face and bloodshot eyes.
She was sure that he had been drinking.
She could smell it in his breath.
"I must go to the old fellow,
"She told you to go to her father?"
"As far as I remember,
that was about it.
he means to settle it as he likes.
I should say that it's ten to one against me."
Pulling himself away with some little roughness from his mother's hold,
he made his way up to his own bedroom,
occasionally stumbling against the stairs.
Then the heiress herself had accepted her son!
surely the thing might be done.
Lady Carbury recalled to mind her old conviction that a daughter may always succeed in beating a hard-hearted parent in a contention about marriage,
if she be well in earnest.
But then the girl must be really in earnest,
and her earnestness will depend on that of her lover.
In this case,
there was as yet no reason for supposing that the great man would object.
As far as outward signs went,
the great man had shown some partiality for her son.
No doubt it was Mr. Melmotte who had made Sir Felix a director of the great American Company.
Felix had also been kindly received in Grosvenor Square.
And then Sir Felix was Sir Felix,
--a real baronet.
Mr. Melmotte had no doubt endeavoured to catch this and that lord;
failing a lord,
why should he not content himself with a baronet?
Lady Carbury thought that her son wanted nothing but money to make him an acceptable suitor to such a father-in-law as Mr. Melmotte;
--not money in the funds,
not a real fortune,
not so many thousands a-year that could be settled;
--the man's own enormous wealth rendered this unnecessary;
--but such a one as Mr. Melmotte would not like outward palpable signs of immediate poverty.
There should be means enough for present sleekness and present luxury.
He must have a horse to ride,
and rings and coats to wear,
and bright little canes to carry,
and above all the means of making presents.
He must not be seen to be poor.
Chance had befriended him lately and had given him some ready money.
But if he went on gambling Chance would certainly take it all away again.
For aught that the poor mother knew,
Chance might have done so already.
And then again,
it was indispensable that he should abandon the habit of play --at any rate for the present,
while his prospects depended on the good opinions of Mr. Melmotte.
Of course such a one as Mr. Melmotte could not like gambling at a club,
however much he might approve of it in the City.
with such a preceptor to help him,
should not Felix learn to do his gambling on the Exchange,
or among the brokers,
or in the purlieus of the Bank?
Lady Carbury would at any rate instigate him to be diligent in his position as director of the Great Mexican Railway,
--which position ought to be the beginning to him of a fortune to be made on his own account.
But what hope could there be for him if he should take to drink?
Would not all hopes be over with Mr. Melmotte should he ever learn that his daughter's lover reached home and tumbled up-stairs to bed between eight and nine o'clock in the morning?
She watched for his appearance on the following day,
and began at once on the subject.
"Do you know,
I think I shall go down to your cousin Roger for Whitsuntide."
"To Carbury Manor!"
as he eat some devilled kidneys which the cook had been specially ordered to get for his breakfast.
"I thought you found it so dull that you didn't mean to go there any more."
"I never said so,
And now I have a great object."
"What will Hetta do?"
"Go too --why shouldn't she?"
I didn't know.
I thought that perhaps she mightn't like it."
"I don't see why she shouldn't like it.
everything can't give way to her."
"Has Roger asked you?"
but I'm sure he'd be pleased to have us if I proposed that we should all go."
"Not if I know it,
What on earth should I do at Carbury Manor?"
"Madame Melmotte told me last night that they were all going down to Caversham to stay three or four days with the Longestaffes.
She spoke of Lady Pomona as quite her particular friend."
that explains it all."
said Lady Carbury,
who had heard of Dolly Longestaffe,
and was not without some fear that this projected visit to Caversham might have some matrimonial purpose in reference to that delightful young heir.
"They say at the club that Melmotte has taken up old Longestaffe's affairs,
and means to put them straight.
There's an old property in Sussex as well as Caversham,
and they say that Melmotte is to have that himself.
There's some bother because Dolly,
who would do anything for anybody else,
won't join his father in selling.
So the Melmottes are going to Caversham!"
"Madame Melmotte told me so."
"And the Longestaffes are the proudest people in England."
"Of course we ought to be at Carbury Manor while they are there.
What can be more natural?
Everybody goes out of town at Whitsuntide;
and why shouldn't we run down to the family place?"
"All very natural if you can manage it,
"And you'll come?"
"If Marie Melmotte goes,
I'll be there at any rate for one day and night,"
His mother thought that,
the promise had been graciously made.
Mr. Adolphus Longestaffe,
the squire of Caversham in Suffolk,
and of Pickering Park in Sussex,
was closeted on a certain morning for the best part of an hour with Mr. Melmotte in Abchurch Lane,
had there discussed all his private affairs,
and was about to leave the room with a very dissatisfied air.
There are men,
--and old men too,
who ought to know the world,
--who think that if they can only find the proper Medea to boil the cauldron for them,
they can have their ruined fortunes so cooked that they shall come out of the pot fresh and new and unembarrassed.
These great conjurors are generally sought for in the City;
and in truth the cauldrons are kept boiling though the result of the process is seldom absolute rejuvenescence.
No greater Medea than Mr. Melmotte had ever been potent in money matters,
and Mr. Longestaffe had been taught to believe that if he could get the necromancer even to look at his affairs everything would be made right for him.
But the necromancer had explained to the squire that property could not be created by the waving of any wand or the boiling of any cauldron.
could put Mr. Longestaffe in the way of realising property without delay,
of changing it from one shape into another,
or could find out the real market value of the property in question;
but he could create nothing.
"You have only a life interest,
only a life interest.
That is customary with family estates in this country,
And therefore you can dispose of nothing else.
could join you,
and then you could sell either one estate or the other."
"There is no question of selling Caversham,
Lady Pomona and I reside there."
"Your son will not join you in selling the other place?"
"I have not directly asked him;
but he never does do anything that I wish.
I suppose you would not take Pickering Park on a lease for my life."
"I think not,
My wife would not like the uncertainty."
Then Mr. Longestaffe took his leave with a feeling of outraged aristocratic pride.
His own lawyer would almost have done as much for him,
and he need not have invited his own lawyer as a guest to Caversham,
--and certainly not his own lawyer's wife and daughter.
He had indeed succeeded in borrowing a few thousand pounds from the great man at a rate of interest which the great man's head clerk was to arrange,
and this had been effected simply on the security of the lease of a house in town.
There had been an ease in this,
an absence of that delay which generally took place between the expression of his desire for money and the acquisition of it,
--and this had gratified him.
But he was already beginning to think that he might pay too dearly for that gratification.
At the present moment,
Mr. Melmotte was odious to him for another reason.
He had condescended to ask Mr. Melmotte to make him a director of the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway,
--Adolphus Longestaffe of Caversham,
--had had his request refused!
Mr. Longestaffe had condescended very low.
"You have made Lord Alfred Grendall one!"
he had said in a complaining tone.
Then Mr. Melmotte explained that Lord Alfred possessed peculiar aptitudes for the position.
"I'm sure I could do anything that he does,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
Upon this Mr. Melmotte,
knitting his brows and speaking with some roughness,
replied that the number of directors required was completed.
Since he had had two duchesses at his house Mr. Melmotte was beginning to feel that he was entitled to bully any mere commoner,
especially a commoner who could ask him for a seat at his board.
Mr. Longestaffe was a tall,
with hair and whiskers carefully dyed,
whose clothes were made with great care,
though they always seemed to fit him too tightly,
and who thought very much of his personal appearance.
It was not that he considered himself handsome,
but that he was specially proud of his aristocratic bearing.
He entertained an idea that all who understood the matter would perceive at a single glance that he was a gentleman of the first water,
and a man of fashion.
He was intensely proud of his position in life,
thinking himself to be immensely superior to all those who earned their bread.
There were no doubt gentlemen of different degrees,
but the English gentleman of gentlemen was he who had land,
and family title-deeds,
and an old family place,
and family portraits,
and family embarrassments,
and a family absence of any useful employment.
He was beginning even to look down upon peers,
since so many men of much less consequence than himself had been made lords;
having stood and been beaten three or four times for his county,
he was of opinion that a seat in the House was rather a mark of bad breeding.
He was a silly man,
who had no fixed idea that it behoved him to be of use to any one;
he had compassed a certain nobility of feeling.
There was very little that his position called upon him to do,
but there was much that it forbad him to do.
It was not allowed to him to be close in money matters.
He could leave his tradesmen's bills unpaid till the men were clamorous,
but he could not question the items in their accounts.
He could be tyrannical to his servants,
but he could not make inquiry as to the consumption of his wines in the servants' hall.
He had no pity for his tenants in regard to game,
but he hesitated much as to raising their rent.
He had his theory of life and endeavoured to live up to it;
but the attempt had hardly brought satisfaction to himself or to his family.
At the present moment,
it was the great desire of his heart to sell the smaller of his two properties and disembarrass the other.
The debt had not been altogether of his own making,
and the arrangement would,
serve his whole family as well as himself.
It would also serve his son,
who was blessed with a third property of his own which he had already managed to burden with debt.
The father could not bear to be refused;
and he feared that his son would decline.
"But Adolphus wants money as much as any one,"
Lady Pomona had said.
He had shaken his head and pished and pshawed.
Women never could understand anything about money.
Now he walked down sadly from Mr. Melmotte's office and was taken in his brougham to his lawyer's chambers in Lincoln's Inn.
Even for the accommodation of those few thousand pounds he was forced to condescend to tell his lawyers that the title-deeds of his house in town must be given up.
Mr. Longestaffe felt that the world in general was very hard on him.
"What on earth are we to do with them?"
the eldest Miss Longestaffe,
to her mother.
"I do think it's a shame of papa,"
the second daughter.
"I certainly shan't trouble myself to entertain them."
"Of course you will leave them all on my hands,"
said Lady Pomona wearily.
"But what's the use of having them?"
"I can understand going to a crush at their house in town when everybody else goes.
One doesn't speak to them,
and need not know them afterwards.
As to the girl,
I'm sure I shouldn't remember her if I were to see her."
"It would be a fine thing if Adolphus would marry her,"
said Lady Pomona.
"Dolly will never marry anybody,"
"The idea of his taking the trouble of asking a girl to have him!
he won't come down to Caversham;
cart-ropes wouldn't bring him.
If that is to be the game,
it is quite hopeless."
"Why should Dolly marry such a creature as that?"
"Because everybody wants money,"
said Lady Pomona.
"I'm sure I don't know what your papa is to do,
or how it is that there never is any money for anything.
I don't spend it."
"I don't think that we do anything out of the way,"
"I haven't the slightest idea what papa's income is;
but if we're to live at all,
I don't know how we are to make a change."
"It's always been like this ever since I can remember,"
"and I don't mean to worry about it any more.
I suppose it's just the same with other people,
only one doesn't know it."
my dears --when we are obliged to have such people as these Melmottes!"
"As for that,
if we didn't have them somebody else would.
I shan't trouble myself about them.
I suppose it will only be for two days."
they're coming for a week!"
"Then papa must take them about the country,
I never did hear of anything so absurd.
What good can they do papa by being down there?"
"He is wonderfully rich,"
said Lady Pomona.
"But I don't suppose he'll give papa his money,"
"Of course I don't pretend to understand,
but I think there is more fuss about these things than they deserve.
If papa hasn't got money to live at home,
why doesn't he go abroad for a year?
The Sydney Beauchamps did that,
and the girls had quite a nice time of it in Florence.
It was there that Clara Beauchamp met young Lord Liffey.
I shouldn't at all mind that kind of thing,
but I think it quite horrible to have these sort of people brought down upon us at Caversham.
No one knows who they are,
or where they came from,
or what they'll turn to."
So spoke Georgiana,
who among the Longestaffes was supposed to have the strongest head,
and certainly the sharpest tongue.
This conversation took place in the drawing-room of the Longestaffes' family town-house in Bruton Street.
It was not by any means a charming house,
having but few of those luxuries and elegancies which have been added of late years to newly-built London residences.
It was gloomy and inconvenient,
with large drawing-rooms,
and very little accommodation for servants.
But it was the old family town-house,
having been inhabited by three or four generations of Longestaffes,
and did not savour of that radical newness which prevails,
and which was peculiarly distasteful to Mr. Longestaffe.
Queen's Gate and the quarters around were,
according to Mr. Longestaffe,
devoted to opulent tradesmen.
Even Belgrave Square,
though its aristocratic properties must be admitted,
still smelt of the mortar.
Many of those living there and thereabouts had never possessed in their families real family town-houses.
The old streets lying between Piccadilly and Oxford Street,
with one or two well-known localities to the south and north of these boundaries,
were the proper sites for these habitations.
When Lady Pomona,
instigated by some friend of high rank but questionable taste,
had once suggested a change to Eaton Square,
Mr. Longestaffe had at once snubbed his wife.
If Bruton Street wasn't good enough for her and the girls then they might remain at Caversham.
The threat of remaining at Caversham had been often made,
for Mr. Longestaffe,
proud as he was of his town-house,
from year to year,
very anxious to save the expense of the annual migration.
The girls' dresses and the girls' horses,
his wife's carriage and his own brougham,
his dull London dinner-parties,
and the one ball which it was always necessary that Lady Pomona should give,
made him look forward to the end of July,
with more dread than to any other period.
It was then that he began to know what that year's season would cost him.
But he had never yet been able to keep his family in the country during the entire year.
who as yet knew nothing of the Continent beyond Paris,
had signified their willingness to be taken about Germany and Italy for twelve months,
but had shown by every means in their power that they would mutiny against any intention on their father's part to keep them at Caversham during the London season.
Georgiana had just finished her strong-minded protest against the Melmottes,
when her brother strolled into the room.
Dolly did not often show himself in Bruton Street.
He had rooms of his own,
and could seldom even be induced to dine with his family.
His mother wrote to him notes without end,
--notes every day,
pressing invitations of all sorts upon him;
would he come and dine;
would he take them to the theatre;
would he go to this ball;
would he go to that evening-party?
These Dolly barely read,
and never answered.
He would open them,
thrust them into some pocket,
and then forget them.
Consequently his mother worshipped him;
and even his sisters,
who were at any rate superior to him in intellect,
treated him with a certain deference.
He could do as he liked,
and they felt themselves to be slaves,
bound down by the dulness of the Longestaffe regime.
His freedom was grand to their eyes,
and very enviable,
although they were aware that he had already so used it as to impoverish himself in the midst of his wealth.
"My dear Adolphus,"
said the mother,
"this is so nice of you."
"I think it is rather nice,"
submitting himself to be kissed.
whoever would have thought of seeing you?"
"Give him some tea,"
said his mother.
Lady Pomona was always having tea from four o'clock till she was taken away to dress for dinner.
"I'd sooner have soda and brandy,"
"My darling boy!"
"I didn't ask for it,
and I don't expect to get it;
indeed I don't want it.
I only said I'd sooner have it than tea.
Where's the governor?"
They all looked at him with wondering eyes.
There must be something going on more than they had dreamed of,
when Dolly asked to see his father.
"Papa went out in the brougham immediately after lunch,"
said Sophia gravely.
"I'll wait a little for him,"
taking out his watch.
"Do stay and dine with us,"
said Lady Pomona.
"I could not do that,
because I've got to go and dine with some fellow."
I believe you don't know where you're going,"
"My fellow knows.
At least he's a fool if he don't."
began Lady Pomona very seriously,
"I've got a plan and I want you to help me."
"I hope there isn't very much to do in it,
"We're all going to Caversham,
just for Whitsuntide,
and we particularly want you to come."
I couldn't do that."
"You haven't heard half.
Madame Melmotte and her daughter are coming."
"The d -- -- they are!"
"do remember where you are."
"Yes I will;
--and I'll remember too where I won't be.
I won't go to Caversham to meet old mother Melmotte."
"My dear boy,"
continued the mother,
"do you know that Miss Melmotte will have twenty --thousand --a year the day she marries;
and that in all probability her husband will some day be the richest man in Europe?"
"Half the fellows in London are after her,"
"Why shouldn't you be one of them?"
"She isn't going to stay in the same house with half the fellows in London,"
"If you've a mind to try it you'll have a chance which nobody else can have just at present."
"But I haven't any mind to try it.
Good gracious me;
it isn't at all in my way,
"I knew he wouldn't,"
"It would put everything so straight,"
said Lady Pomona.
"They'll have to remain crooked if nothing else will put them straight.
There's the governor.
I heard his voice.
Now for a row."
Then Mr. Longestaffe entered the room.
said Lady Pomona,
"here's Adolphus come to see us."
The father nodded his head at his son but said nothing.
"We want him to stay and dine,
but he's engaged."
"Though he doesn't know where,"
"My fellow knows;
--he keeps a book.
I've got a letter,
ever so long,
from those fellows in Lincoln's Inn.
They want me to come and see you about selling something;
so I've come.
It's an awful bore,
because I don't understand anything about it.
Perhaps there isn't anything to be sold.
If so I can go away again,
"You'd better come with me into the study,"
said the father.
"We needn't disturb your mother and sisters about business."
Then the squire led the way out of the room,
and Dolly followed,
making a woful grimace at his sisters.
The three ladies sat over their tea for about half-an-hour,
--not the result of the conference,
for with that they did not suppose that they would be made acquainted,
--but whatever signs of good or evil might be collected from the manner and appearance of the squire when he should return to them.
Dolly they did not expect to see again,
--probably for a month.
He and the squire never did come together without quarrelling,
and careless as was the young man in every other respect,
he had hitherto been obdurate as to his own rights in any dealings which he had with his father.
At the end of the half hour Mr. Longestaffe returned to the drawing-room,
and at once pronounced the doom of the family.
"we shall not return from Caversham to London this year."
He struggled hard to maintain a grand dignified tranquillity as he spoke,
but his voice quivered with emotion.
[Illustration: Then the squire led the way out of the room,
and Dolly followed.]
you don't mean it,"
said Lady Pomona.
"Of course papa doesn't mean it,"
said Georgiana rising to her feet.
"I mean it accurately and certainly,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
"We go to Caversham in about ten days,
and we shall not return from Caversham to London this year."
"Our ball is fixed,"
said Lady Pomona.
"Then it must be unfixed."
the master of the house left the drawing-room and descended to his study.
The three ladies,
when left to deplore their fate,
expressed their opinions as to the sentence which had been pronounced very strongly.
But the daughters were louder in their anger than was their mother.
"He can't really mean it,"
said Lady Pomona,
with tears in her eyes.
"He must unmean it again;
"Dolly has said something to him very rough,
and he resents it upon us.
Why did he bring us up at all if he means to take us down before the season has begun?"
"I wonder what Adolphus has said to him.
Your papa is always hard upon Adolphus."
"Dolly can take care of himself,"
"and always does do so.
Dolly does not care for us."
"Not a bit,"
"I'll tell you what you must do,
You mustn't stir from this at all.
You must give up going to Caversham altogether,
unless he promises to bring us back.
I won't stir,
--unless he has me carried out of the house."
I couldn't say that to him."
"Then I will.
To go and be buried down in that place for a whole year with no one near us but the rusty old bishop and Mr. Carbury,
who is rustier still.
I won't stand it.
There are some sort of things that one ought not to stand.
If you go down I shall stay up with the Primeros.
Mrs. Primero would have me I know.
It wouldn't be nice of course.
I don't like the Primeros.
I hate the Primeros.
--it's quite true;
I know that as well as you,
they are vulgar;
but not half so vulgar,
as your friend Madame Melmotte."
She is not a friend of mine."
"But you're going to have her down at Caversham.
I can't think what made you dream of going to Caversham just now,
knowing as you do how hard papa is to manage."
"Everybody has taken to going out of town at Whitsuntide,
everybody has not.
People understand too well the trouble of getting up and down for that.
The Primeros aren't going down.
I never heard of such a thing in all my life.
What does he expect is to become of us?
If he wants to save money why doesn't he shut Caversham up altogether and go abroad?
Caversham costs a great deal more than is spent in London,
and it's the dullest house,
in all England."
The family party in Bruton Street that evening was not very gay.
Nothing was being done,
and they sat gloomily in each other's company.
Whatever mutinous resolutions might be formed and carried out by the ladies of the family,
they were not brought forward on that occasion.
The two girls were quite silent,
and would not speak to their father,
and when he addressed them they answered simply by monosyllables.
Lady Pomona was ill,
and sat in a corner of a sofa,
wiping her eyes.
To her had been imparted up-stairs the purport of the conversation between Dolly and his father.
Dolly had refused to consent to the sale of Pickering unless half the produce of the sale were to be given to him at once.
When it had been explained to him that the sale would be desirable in order that the Caversham property might be freed from debt,
which Caversham property would eventually be his,
he replied that he also had an estate of his own which was a little mortgaged and would be the better for money.
The result seemed to be that Pickering could not be sold,
as a consequence of that,
Mr. Longestaffe had determined that there should be no more London expenses that year.
when they got up to go to bed,
bent over him and kissed his head,
as was their custom.
There was very little show of affection in the kiss.
"You had better remember that what you have to do in town must be done this week,"
They heard the words,
but marched in stately silence out of the room without deigning to notice them.
"I don't think it quite nice,
Of course if you have made up your mind to go,
I must go with you."
"What on earth can be more natural than that you should go to your own cousin's house?"
"You know what I mean,
"It's done now,
and I don't think there is anything at all in what you say."
This little conversation arose from Lady Carbury's announcement to her daughter of her intention of soliciting the hospitality of Carbury Manor for the Whitsun week.
It was very grievous to Henrietta that she should be taken to the house of a man who was in love with her,
even though he was her cousin.
But she had no escape.
She could not remain in town by herself,
nor could she even allude to her grievance to anyone but to her mother.
in order that she might be quite safe from opposition,
had posted the following letter to her cousin before she spoke to her daughter: --
MY DEAR ROGER,
We know how kind you are and how sincere,
and that if what I am going to propose doesn't suit you'll say so at once.
I have been working very hard,
--too hard indeed,
and I feel that nothing will do me so much real good as getting into the country for a day or two.
Would you take us for a part of Whitsun week?
We would come down on the 20th May and stay over the Sunday if you would keep us.
Felix says he would run down though he would not trouble you for so long a time as we talk of staying.
I'm sure you must have been glad to hear of his being put upon that Great American Railway Board as a Director.
It opens a new sphere of life to him,
and will enable him to prove that he can make himself useful.
I think it was a great confidence to place in one so young.
Of course you will say so at once if my little proposal interferes with any of your plans,
but you have been so very very kind to us that I have no scruple in making it.
Henrietta joins with me in kind love.
Your affectionate cousin,
There was much in this letter that disturbed and even annoyed Roger Carbury.
In the first place he felt that Henrietta should not be brought to his house.
Much as he loved her,
dear as her presence to him always was,
he hardly wished to have her at Carbury unless she would come with a resolution to be its future mistress.
In one respect he did Lady Carbury an injustice.
He knew that she was anxious to forward his suit,
and he thought that Henrietta was being brought to his house with that object.
He had not heard that the great heiress was coming into his neighbourhood,
and therefore knew nothing of Lady Carbury's scheme in that direction.
disgusted by the ill-founded pride which the mother expressed at her son's position as a director.
Roger Carbury did not believe in the Railway.
He did not believe in Fisker,
nor in Melmotte,
and certainly not in the Board generally.
Paul Montague had acted in opposition to his advice in yielding to the seductions of Fisker.
The whole thing was to his mind false,
Of what nature could be a Company which should have itself directed by such men as Lord Alfred Grendall and Sir Felix Carbury?
And then as to their great Chairman,
did not everybody know,
in spite of all the duchesses,
that Mr. Melmotte was a gigantic swindler?
Although there was more than one immediate cause for bitterness between them,
Roger loved Paul Montague well and could not bear with patience the appearance of his friend's name on such a list.
And now he was asked for warm congratulations because Sir Felix Carbury was one of the Board!
He did not know which to despise most,
Sir Felix for belonging to such a Board,
or the Board for having such a director.
"New sphere of life!"
he said to himself.
"The only proper sphere for them all would be Newgate!"
And there was another trouble.
He had asked Paul Montague to come to Carbury for this special week,
and Paul had accepted the invitation.
With the constancy,
which was perhaps his strongest characteristic,
he clung to his old affection for the man.
He could not bear the idea of a permanent quarrel,
though he knew that there must be a quarrel if the man interfered with his dearest hopes.
He had asked him down to Carbury intending that the name of Henrietta Carbury should not be mentioned between them;
--and now it was proposed to him that Henrietta Carbury should be at the Manor House at the very time of Paul's visit!
He made up his mind at once that he must tell Paul not to come.
He wrote his two letters at once.
That to Lady Carbury was very short.
He would be delighted to see her and Henrietta at the time named,
--and would be very glad should it suit Felix to come also.
He did not say a word about the Board,
or the young man's probable usefulness in his new sphere of life.
To Montague his letter was longer.
"It is always best to be open and true,"
"Since you were kind enough to say that you would come to me,
Lady Carbury has proposed to visit me just at the same time and to bring her daughter.
After what has passed between us I need hardly say that I could not make you both welcome here together.
It is not pleasant to me to have to ask you to postpone your visit,
but I think you will not accuse me of a want of hospitality towards you."
Paul wrote back to say that he was sure that there was no want of hospitality,
and that he would remain in town.
Suffolk is not especially a picturesque county,
nor can it be said that the scenery round Carbury was either grand or beautiful;
but there were little prettinesses attached to the house itself and the grounds around it which gave it a charm of its own.
The Carbury River,
though at no place is it so wide but that an active schoolboy might jump across it,
or rather creeps into the Waveney,
and in its course is robbed by a moat which surrounds Carbury Manor House.
The moat has been rather a trouble to the proprietors,
and especially so to Roger,
as in these days of sanitary considerations it has been felt necessary either to keep it clean with at any rate moving water in it,
or else to fill it up and abolish it altogether.
That plan of abolishing it had to be thought of and was seriously discussed about ten years since;
but then it was decided that such a proceeding would altogether alter the character of the house,
would destroy the gardens,
and would create a waste of mud all round the place which it would take years to beautify,
or even to make endurable.
And then an important question had been asked by an intelligent farmer who had long been a tenant on the property;
"Fill un oop;
sooner said than doone,
Where be the stoof to come from?"
had given up that idea,
and instead of abolishing his moat had made it prettier than ever.
The high road from Bungay to Beccles ran close to the house,
--so close that the gable ends of the building were separated from it only by the breadth of the moat.
not above a hundred yards in length,
led to the bridge which faced the front door.
The bridge was old,
with sundry architectural pretensions,
and guarded by iron gates in the centre,
were very rarely closed.
Between the bridge and the front door there was a sweep of ground just sufficient for the turning of a carriage,
and on either side of this the house was brought close to the water,
so that the entrance was in a recess,
or irregular quadrangle,
of which the bridge and moat formed one side.
At the back of the house there were large gardens screened from the road by a wall ten feet high,
in which there were yew trees and cypresses said to be of wonderful antiquity.
The gardens were partly inside the moat,
but chiefly beyond them,
and were joined by two bridges --a foot bridge and one with a carriage way,
--and there was another bridge at the end of the house furthest from the road,
leading from the back door to the stables and farmyard.
The house itself had been built in the time of Charles II.,
when that which we call Tudor architecture was giving way to a cheaper,
though perhaps more useful form.
But Carbury Manor House,
through the whole county,
had the reputation of being a Tudor building.
The windows were long,
and for the most part low,
made with strong mullions,
and still contained small,
for the squire had not as yet gone to the expense of plate glass.
There was one high bow window,
which belonged to the library,
and which looked out on to the gravel sweep,
at the left of the front door as you entered it.
All the other chief rooms faced upon the garden.
The house itself was built of a stone that had become buff,
or almost yellow with years,
and was very pretty.
It was still covered with tiles,
as were all the attached buildings.
It was only two stories high,
except at the end,
where the kitchens were placed and the offices,
which thus rose above the other part of the edifice.
The rooms throughout were low,
and for the most part long and narrow,
with large wide fire-places and deep wainscotings.
Taking it altogether,
one would be inclined to say,
that it was picturesque rather than comfortable.
Such as it was its owner was very proud of it,
--with a pride of which he never spoke to anyone,
which he endeavoured studiously to conceal,
but which had made itself known to all who knew him well.
The houses of the gentry around him were superior to his in material comfort and general accommodation,
but to none of them belonged that thoroughly established look of old county position which belonged to Carbury.
where the Primeros lived,
was the finest house in that part of the county,
but it looked as if it had been built within the last twenty years.
It was surrounded by new shrubs and new lawns,
by new walls and new outhouses,
and savoured of trade;
--so at least thought Roger Carbury,
though he never said the words.
Caversham was a very large mansion,
built in the early part of George III.'s reign,
when men did care that things about them should be comfortable,
but did not care that they should be picturesque.
There was nothing at all to recommend Caversham but its size.
the seat of the Hepworths,
as a park,
Carbury possessed nothing that could be called a park,
the enclosures beyond the gardens being merely so many home paddocks.
But the house of Eardly was ugly and bad.
The Bishop's palace was an excellent gentleman's residence,
but then that too was comparatively modern,
and had no peculiar features of its own.
Now Carbury Manor House was peculiar,
and in the eyes of its owner was pre-eminently beautiful.
It often troubled him to think what would come of the place when he was gone.
He was at present forty years old,
and was perhaps as healthy a man as you could find in the whole county.
Those around who had known him as he grew into manhood among them,
especially the farmers of the neighbourhood,
still regarded him as a young man.
They spoke of him at the country fairs as the young squire.
When in his happiest moods he could be almost a boy,
and he still had something of old-fashioned boyish reverence for his elders.
But of late there had grown up a great care within his breast,
--a care which does not often,
in these days bear so heavily on men's hearts as it used to do.
He had asked his cousin to marry him,
--having assured himself with certainty that he did love her better than any other woman,
--and she had declined.
She had refused him more than once,
and he believed her implicitly when she told him that she could not love him.
He had a way of believing people,
especially when such belief was opposed to his own interests,
and had none of that self-confidence which makes a man think that if opportunity be allowed him he can win a woman even in spite of herself.
But if it were fated that he should not succeed with Henrietta,
--so he felt assured,
--no marriage would now be possible to him.
In that case he must look out for an heir,
and could regard himself simply as a stop-gap among the Carburys.
In that case he could never enjoy the luxury of doing the best he could with the property in order that a son of his own might enjoy it.
Now Sir Felix was the next heir.
Roger was hampered by no entail,
and could leave every acre of the property as he pleased.
In one respect the natural succession to it by Sir Felix would generally be considered fortunate.
It had happened that a title had been won in a lower branch of the family,
and were this succession to take place the family title and the family property would go together.
No doubt to Sir Felix himself such an arrangement would seem to be the most proper thing in the world,
--as it would also to Lady Carbury were it not that she looked to Carbury Manor as the future home of another child.
But to all this the present owner of the property had very strong objections.
It was not only that he thought ill of the baronet himself,
--so ill as to feel thoroughly convinced that no good could come from that quarter,
--but he thought ill also of the baronetcy itself.
to his thinking,
had been altogether unjustifiable in accepting an enduring title,
knowing that he would leave behind him no property adequate for its support.
so thought Roger Carbury,
should be a rich man,
rich enough to grace the rank which he assumed to wear.
according to Roger's doctrine on such subjects,
could make no man a gentleman,
if improperly worn,
might degrade a man who would otherwise be a gentleman.
He thought that a gentleman,
born and bred,
acknowledged as such without doubt,
could not be made more than a gentleman by all the titles which the Queen could give.
With these old-fashioned notions Roger hated the title which had fallen upon a branch of his family.
He certainly would not leave his property to support the title which Sir Felix unfortunately possessed.
But Sir Felix was the natural heir,
and this man felt himself constrained,
almost as by some divine law,
to see that his land went by natural descent.
Though he was in no degree fettered as to its disposition,
he did not presume himself to have more than a life interest in the estate.
It was his duty to see that it went from Carbury to Carbury as long as there was a Carbury to hold it,
and especially his duty to see that it should go from his hands,
at his death,
unimpaired in extent or value.
There was no reason why he should himself die for the next twenty or thirty years,
--but were he to die Sir Felix would undoubtedly dissipate the acres,
and then there would be an end of Carbury.
But in such case he,
would at any rate have done his duty.
He knew that no human arrangements can be fixed,
let the care in making them be ever so great.
To his thinking it would be better that the estate should be dissipated by a Carbury than held together by a stranger.
He would stick to the old name while there was one to bear it,
and to the old family while a member of it was left.
So thinking he had already made his will,
leaving the entire property to the man whom of all others he most despised,
should he himself die without child.
In the afternoon of the day on which Lady Carbury was expected,
he wandered about the place thinking of all this.
How infinitely better it would be that he should have an heir of his own.
How wonderfully beautiful would the world be to him if at last his cousin would consent to be his wife!
How wearily insipid must it be if no such consent could be obtained from her.
And then he thought much of her welfare too.
In very truth he did not like Lady Carbury.
He saw through her character,
judging her with almost absolute accuracy.
The woman was affectionate,
seeking good things for others rather than for herself;
but she was essentially worldly,
believing that good could come out of evil,
that falsehood might in certain conditions be better than truth,
that shams and pretences might do the work of true service,
that a strong house might be built upon the sand!
It was lamentable to him that the girl he loved should be subjected to this teaching,
and live in an atmosphere so burdened with falsehood.
Would not the touch of pitch at last defile her?
In his heart of hearts he believed that she loved Paul Montague;
and of Paul himself he was beginning to fear evil.
What but a sham could be a man who consented to pretend to sit as one of a Board of Directors to manage an enormous enterprise with such colleagues as Lord Alfred Grendall and Sir Felix Carbury,
under the absolute control of such a one as Mr. Augustus Melmotte?
Was not this building a house upon the sand with a vengeance?
What a life it would be for Henrietta Carbury were she to marry a man striving to become rich without labour and without capital,
and who might one day be wealthy and the next a beggar,
--a city adventurer,
who of all men was to him the vilest and most dishonest?
He strove to think well of Paul Montague,
but such was the life which he feared the young man was preparing for himself.
Then he went into the house and wandered up through the rooms which the two ladies were to occupy.
As their host,
a host without a wife or mother or sister,
it was his duty to see that things were comfortable,
but it may be doubted whether he would have been so careful had the mother been coming alone.
In the smaller room of the two the hangings were all white,
and the room was sweet with May flowers;
and he brought a white rose from the hot-house,
and placed it in a glass on the dressing table.
Surely she would know who put it there.
Then he stood at the open window,
looking down upon the lawn,
gazing vacantly for half an hour,
till he heard the wheels of the carriage before the front door.
During that half hour he resolved that he would try again as though there had as yet been no repulse.
"YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THAT I AM HIS MOTHER."
"This is so kind of you,"
said Lady Carbury,
grasping her cousin's hand as she got out of the carriage.
"The kindness is on your part,"
"I felt so much before I dared to ask you to take us.
But I did so long to get into the country,
and I do so love Carbury.
And --and --"
"Where should a Carbury go to escape from London smoke,
but to the old house?
I am afraid Henrietta will find it dull."
said Hetta smiling.
"You ought to remember that I am never dull in the country."
"The bishop and Mrs. Yeld are coming here to dine to-morrow,
--and the Hepworths."
"I shall be so glad to meet the bishop once more,"
said Lady Carbury.
"I think everybody must be glad to meet him,
he is such a dear,
and his wife is just as good.
And there is another gentleman coming whom you have never seen."
"A new neighbour?"
--a new neighbour;
--Father John Barham,
who has come to Beccles as priest.
He has got a little cottage about a mile from here,
in this parish,
and does duty both at Beccles and Bungay.
I used to know something of his family."
"He is a gentleman then?"
"Certainly he is a gentleman.
He took his degree at Oxford,
and then became what we call a pervert,
and what I suppose they call a convert.
He has not got a shilling in the world beyond what they pay him as a priest,
which I take it amounts to about as much as the wages of a day labourer.
He told me the other day that he was absolutely forced to buy second-hand clothes."
said Lady Carbury,
holding up her hands.
"He didn't seem to be at all shocked at telling it.
We have got to be quite friends."
"Will the bishop like to meet him?"
"Why should not the bishop like to meet him?
I've told the bishop all about him,
and the bishop particularly wishes to know him.
He won't hurt the bishop.
But you and Hetta will find it very dull."
"I shan't find it dull,
"It was to escape from the eternal parties that we came down here,"
said Lady Carbury.
She had nevertheless been anxious to hear what guests were expected at the Manor House.
Sir Felix had promised to come down on Saturday,
with the intention of returning on Monday,
and Lady Carbury had hoped that some visiting might be arranged between Caversham and the Manor House,
so that her son might have the full advantage of his closeness to Marie Melmotte.
"I have asked the Longestaffes for Monday,"
"They are down here then?"
"I think they arrived yesterday.
There is always a flustering breeze in the air and a perturbation generally through the county when they come or go,
and I think I perceived the effects about four in the afternoon.
They won't come,
I dare say."
"They never do.
They have probably a house full of guests,
and they know that my accommodation is limited.
I've no doubt they'll ask us on Tuesday or Wednesday,
and if you like we will go."
"I know they are to have guests,"
said Lady Carbury.
"The Melmottes are coming to them."
as she made the announcement,
felt that her voice and countenance and self-possession were failing her,
and that she could not mention the thing as she would any matter that was indifferent to her.
"The Melmottes coming to Caversham!"
looking at Henrietta,
who blushed with shame as she remembered that she had been brought into her lover's house solely in order that her brother might have an opportunity of seeing Marie Melmotte in the country.
--Madame Melmotte told me.
I take it they are very intimate."
"Mr. Longestaffe ask the Melmottes to visit him at Caversham!"
"I should almost as soon have believed that I myself might have been induced to ask them here."
that Mr. Longestaffe does want a little pecuniary assistance."
"And he condescends to get it in this way!
I suppose it will make no difference soon whom one knows,
and whom one doesn't.
Things aren't as they were,
and never will be again.
Perhaps it's all for the better;
--I won't say it isn't.
But I should have thought that such a man as Mr. Longestaffe might have kept such another man as Mr. Melmotte out of his wife's drawing-room."
Henrietta became redder than ever.
Even Lady Carbury flushed up,
as she remembered that Roger Carbury knew that she had taken her daughter to Madame Melmotte's ball.
He thought of this himself as soon as the words were spoken,
and then tried to make some half apology.
"I don't approve of them in London,
but I think they are very much worse in the country."
Then there was a movement.
The ladies were shown into their rooms,
and Roger again went out into the garden.
He began to feel that he understood it all.
Lady Carbury had come down to his house in order that she might be near the Melmottes!
There was something in this which he felt it difficult not to resent.
It was for no love of him that she was there.
He had felt that Henrietta ought not to have been brought to his house;
but he could have forgiven that,
because her presence there was a charm to him.
He could have forgiven that,
even while he was thinking that her mother had brought her there with the object of disposing of her.
If it were so,
the mother's object would be the same as his own,
and such a manoeuvre he could pardon,
though he could not approve.
His self-love had to some extent been gratified.
But now he saw that he and his house had been simply used in order that a vile project of marrying two vile people to each other might be furthered!
As he was thinking of all this,
Lady Carbury came out to him in the garden.
She had changed her travelling dress,
and made herself pretty,
as she well knew how to do.
And now she dressed her face in her sweetest smiles.
was full of the Melmottes,
and she wished to explain to her stern,
unbending cousin all the good that might come to her and hers by an alliance with the heiress.
"I can understand,
taking his arm,
"that you should not like those people."
"I don't dislike them.
How should I dislike people that I never saw?
I dislike those who seek their society simply because they have the reputation of being rich."
not meaning you.
I don't dislike you,
as you know very well,
though I do dislike the fact that you should run after these people.
I was thinking of the Longestaffes then."
"Do you suppose,
that I run after them for my own gratification?
Do you think that I go to their house because I find pleasure in their magnificence;
or that I follow them down here for any good that they will do me?"
"I would not follow them at all."
"I will go back if you bid me,
but I must first explain what I mean.
You know my son's condition,
than he does himself."
Roger nodded assent to this,
but said nothing.
"What is he to do?
The only chance for a young man in his position is that he should marry a girl with money.
He is good-looking;
you can't deny that."
"Nature has done enough for him."
"We must take him as he is.
He was put into the army very young,
and was very young when he came into possession of his own small fortune.
He might have done better;
but how many young men placed in such temptations do well?
As it is,
he has nothing left."
"I fear not."
"And therefore is it not imperative that he should marry a girl with money?"
"I call that stealing a girl's money,
how hard you are!"
"A man must be hard or soft,
--which is best?"
"With women I think that a little softness has the most effect.
I want to make you understand this about the Melmottes.
It stands to reason that the girl will not marry Felix unless she loves him."
"But does he love her?"
"Why should he not?
Is a girl to be debarred from being loved because she has money?
Of course she looks to be married,
and why should she not have Felix if she likes him best?
Cannot you sympathize with my anxiety so to place him that he shall not be a disgrace to the name and to the family?"
"We had better not talk about the family,
"But I think so much about it."
"You will never get me to say that I think the family will be benefited by a marriage with the daughter of Mr. Melmotte.
I look upon him as dirt in the gutter.
in my old-fashioned way,
all his money,
if he has it,
can make no difference.
When there is a question of marriage people at any rate should know something of each other.
Who knows anything of this man?
Who can be sure that she is his daughter?"
"He would give her her fortune when she married."
it all comes to that.
Men say openly that he is an adventurer and a swindler.
No one pretends to think that he is a gentleman.
There is a consciousness among all who speak of him that he amasses his money not by honest trade,
but by unknown tricks,
--as does a card sharper.
He is one whom we would not admit into our kitchens,
much less to our tables,
on the score of his own merits.
But because he has learned the art of making money,
we not only put up with him,
but settle upon his carcase as so many birds of prey."
"Do you mean that Felix should not marry the girl,
even if they love each other?"
He shook his head in disgust,
feeling sure that any idea of love on the part of the young man was a sham and a pretence,
not only as regarded him,
but also his mother.
He could not quite declare this,
and yet he desired that she should understand that he thought so.
"I have nothing more to say about it,"
"Had it gone on in London I should have said nothing.
It is no affair of mine.
When I am told that the girl is in the neighbourhood,
at such a house as Caversham,
and that Felix is coming here in order that he may be near to his prey,
and when I am asked to be a party to the thing,
I can only say what I think.
Your son would be welcome to my house,
because he is your son and my cousin,
little as I approve his mode of life;
but I could have wished that he had chosen some other place for the work that he has on hand."
"If you wish it,
we will return to London.
I shall find it hard to explain to Hetta;
--but we will go."
I certainly do not wish that."
"But you have said such hard things!
How are we to stay?
You speak of Felix as though he were all bad."
She looked at him hoping to get from him some contradiction of this,
some kindly word;
but it was what he did think,
and he had nothing to say.
She could bear much.
She was not delicate as to censure implied,
or even expressed.
She had endured rough usage before,
and was prepared to endure more.
Had he found fault with herself,
or with Henrietta,
she would have put up with it,
for the sake of benefits to come,
--would have forgiven it the more easily because perhaps it might not have been deserved.
But for her son she was prepared to fight.
If she did not defend him,
"I am grieved,
that we should have troubled you with our visit,
but I think that we had better go.
You are very harsh,
and it crushes me."
"I have not meant to be harsh."
"You say that Felix is seeking for his --prey,
and that he is to be brought here to be near --his prey.
What can be more harsh than that?
At any rate,
you should remember that I am his mother."
"You should remember that I am his mother."]
She expressed her sense of injury very well.
Roger began to be ashamed of himself,
and to think that he had spoken unkind words.
And yet he did not know how to recall them.
"If I have hurt you,
I regret it much."
"Of course you have hurt me.
I think I will go in now.
How very hard the world is!
I came here thinking to find peace and sunshine,
and there has come a storm at once."
"You asked me about the Melmottes,
and I was obliged to speak.
You cannot think that I meant to offend you."
They walked on in silence till they had reached the door leading from the garden into the house,
and here he stopped her.
"If I have been over hot with you,
let me beg your pardon."
She smiled and bowed;
but her smile was not one of forgiveness;
and then she essayed to pass on into the house.
"Pray do not speak of going,
"I think I will go to my room now.
My head aches so that I can hardly stand."
It was late in the afternoon,
--and according to his daily custom he should have gone round to the offices to see his men as they came from their work,
but he stood still for a few moments on the spot where Lady Carbury had left him and went slowly across the lawn to the bridge and there seated himself on the parapet.
Could it really be that she meant to leave his house in anger and to take her daughter with her?
Was it thus that he was to part with the one human being in the world that he loved?
He was a man who thought much of the duties of hospitality,
feeling that a man in his own house was bound to exercise a courtesy towards his guests sweeter,
more gracious than the world required elsewhere.
And of all guests those of his own name were the best entitled to such courtesy at Carbury.
He held the place in trust for the use of others.
But if there were one among all others to whom the house should be a house of refuge from care,
not an abode of trouble,
on whose behalf were it possible he would make the very air softer,
and the flowers sweeter than their wont,
to whom he would declare,
were such words possible to his tongue,
that of him and of his house,
and of all things there she was the mistress,
whether she would condescend to love him or no,
--that one was his cousin Hetta.
And now he had been told by his guest that he had been so rough to her that she and her daughter must return to London!
And he could not acquit himself.
He knew that he had been rough.
He had said very hard words.
It was true that he could not have expressed his meaning without hard words,
nor have repressed his meaning without self-reproach.
But in his present mood he could not comfort himself by justifying himself.
She had told him that he ought to have remembered that Felix was her son;
and as she spoke she had acted well the part of an outraged mother.
His heart was so soft that though he knew the woman to be false and the son to be worthless,
he utterly condemned himself.
Look where he would there was no comfort.
When he had sat half-an-hour upon the bridge he turned towards the house to dress for dinner,
--and to prepare himself for an apology,
if any apology might be accepted.
At the door,
standing in the doorway as though waiting for him,
he met his cousin Hetta.
She had on her bosom the rose he had placed in her room,
and as he approached her he thought that there was more in her eyes of graciousness towards him than he had ever seen there before.
"mamma is so unhappy!"
"I fear that I have offended her."
"It is not that,
but that you should be so,
--so angry about Felix."
"I am vexed with myself that I have vexed her,
--more vexed than I can tell you."
"She knows how good you are."
I was very bad just now.
She was so offended with me that she talked of going back to London."
He paused for her to speak,
but Hetta had no words ready for the moment.
"I should be wretched indeed if you and she were to leave my house in anger."
"I do not think she will do that."
"I am not angry.
I should never dare to be angry with you.
I only wish that Felix would be better.
They say that young men have to be bad,
and that they do get to be better as they grow older.
He is something in the city now,
a director they call him,
and mamma thinks that the work will be of service to him."
Roger could express no hope in this direction or even look as though he approved of the directorship.
"I don't see why he should not try at any rate."
I only wish he were like you."
"Girls are so different,
It was not till late in the evening,
long after dinner,
that he made his apology in form to Lady Carbury;
but he did make it,
and at last it was accepted.
"I think I was rough to you,
talking about Felix,"
--"and I beg your pardon."
"You were energetic,
that was all."
"A gentleman should never be rough to a lady,
and a man should never be rough to his own guests.
I hope you will forgive me."
She answered him by putting out her hand and smiling on him;
and so the quarrel was over.
Lady Carbury understood the full extent of her triumph,
and was enabled by her disposition to use it thoroughly.
Felix might now come down to Carbury,
and go over from thence to Caversham,
and prosecute his wooing,
and the master of Carbury could make no further objection.
if he would come,
would not now be snubbed.
Roger would understand that he was constrained to courtesy by the former severity of his language.
Such points as these Lady Carbury never missed.
He understood it too,
and though he was soft and gracious in his bearing,
endeavouring to make his house as pleasant as he could to his two guests,
he felt that he had been cheated out of his undoubted right to disapprove of all connection with the Melmottes.
In the course of the evening there came a note,
--or rather a bundle of notes,
That addressed to Roger was in the form of a letter.
Lady Pomona was sorry to say that the Longestaffe party were prevented from having the pleasure of dining at Carbury Hall by the fact that they had a house full of guests.
Lady Pomona hoped that Mr. Carbury and his relatives,
Lady Pomona heard,
were with him at the Hall,
would do the Longestaffes the pleasure of dining at Caversham either on the Monday or Tuesday following,
as might best suit the Carbury plans.
That was the purport of Lady Pomona's letter to Roger Carbury.
Then there were cards of invitation for Lady Carbury and her daughter,
and also for Sir Felix.
as he read his own note,
handed the others over to Lady Carbury,
and then asked her what she would wish to have done.
The tone of his voice,
as he spoke,
grated on her ear,
as there was something in it of his former harshness.
But she knew how to use her triumph.
"I should like to go,"
"I certainly shall not go,"
"but there will be no difficulty whatever in sending you over.
You must answer at once,
because their servant is waiting."
"Monday will be best,"
" --that is,
if nobody is coming here."
"There will be nobody here."
"I suppose I had better say that I,
--and Felix will accept their invitation."
"I can make no suggestion,"
thinking how delightful it would be if Henrietta could remain with him;
how objectionable it was that Henrietta should be taken to Caversham to meet the Melmottes.
Poor Hetta herself could say nothing.
She certainly did not wish to meet the Melmottes,
nor did she wish to dine,
with her cousin Roger.
"That will be best,"
said Lady Carbury after a moment's thought.
"It is very good of you to let us go,
and to send us."
"Of course you will do here just as you please,"
But there was still that tone in his voice which Lady Carbury feared.
A quarter of an hour later the Caversham servant was on his way home with two letters,
--the one from Roger expressing his regret that he could not accept Lady Pomona's invitation,
and the other from Lady Carbury declaring that she and her son and daughter would have great pleasure in dining at Caversham on the Monday.
THE BISHOP AND THE PRIEST. The afternoon on which Lady Carbury arrived at her cousin's house had been very stormy.
Roger Carbury had been severe,
and Lady Carbury had suffered under his severity,
--or had at least so well pretended to suffer as to leave on Roger's mind a strong impression that he had been cruel to her.
She had then talked of going back at once to London,
and when consenting to remain,
had remained with a very bad feminine headache.
She had altogether carried her point,
but had done so in a storm.
The next morning was very calm.
That question of meeting the Melmottes had been settled,
and there was no need for speaking of them again.
Roger went out by himself about the farm,
immediately after breakfast,
having told the ladies that they could have the waggonnette when they pleased.
"I'm afraid you'll find it tiresome driving about our lanes,"
Lady Carbury assured him that she was never dull when left alone with books.
Just as he was starting he went into the garden and plucked a rose which he brought to Henrietta.
He only smiled as he gave it her,
and then went his way.
He had resolved that he would say nothing to her of his suit till Monday.
If he could prevail with her then he would ask her to remain with him when her mother and brother would be going out to dine at Caversham.
She looked up into his face as she took the rose and thanked him in a whisper.
She fully appreciated the truth,
and honesty of his character,
and could have loved him so dearly as her cousin if he would have contented himself with such cousinly love!
She was beginning,
within her heart,
to take his side against her mother and brother,
and to feel that he was the safest guide that she could have.
But how could she be guided by a lover whom she did not love?
"I am afraid,
we shall have a bad time of it here,"
said Lady Carbury.
"It will be so dull.
Your cousin is the best friend in all the world,
and would make as good a husband as could be picked out of all the gentlemen of England;
but in his present mood with me he is not a comfortable host.
What nonsense he did talk about the Melmottes!"
"I don't suppose,
that Mr. and Mrs. Melmotte can be nice people."
"Why shouldn't they be as nice as anybody else?
don't let us have any of that nonsense from you.
When it comes from the superhuman virtue of poor dear Roger it has to be borne,
but I beg that you will not copy him."
I think that is unkind."
"And I shall think it very unkind if you take upon yourself to abuse people who are able and willing to set poor Felix on his legs.
A word from you might undo all that we are doing."
If you have any influence with your brother you should use it in inducing him to hurry this on.
I am sure the girl is willing enough.
She did refer him to her father."
"Then why does he not go to Mr. Melmotte?"
"I suppose he is delicate about it on the score of money.
If Roger could only let it be understood that Felix is the heir to this place,
and that some day he will be Sir Felix Carbury of Carbury,
I don't think there would be any difficulty even with old Melmotte."
"How could he do that,
"If your cousin were to die as he is now,
it would be so.
Your brother would be his heir."
"You should not think of such a thing,
"Why do you dare to tell me what I am to think?
Am I not to think of my own son?
Is he not to be dearer to me than any one?
And what I say,
If Roger were to die to-morrow he would be Sir Felix Carbury of Carbury."
he will live and have a family.
Why should he not?"
"You say he is so old that you will not look at him."
"I never said so.
When we were joking,
I said he was old.
You know I did not mean that he was too old to get married.
Men a great deal older get married every day."
"If you don't accept him he will never marry.
He is a man of that kind,
--so stiff and stubborn and old-fashioned that nothing will change him.
He will go on boodying over it,
till he will become an old misanthrope.
If you would take him I would be quite contented.
You are my child as well as Felix.
But if you mean to be obstinate I do wish that the Melmottes should be made to understand that the property and title and name of the place will all go together.
It will be so,
and why should not Felix have the advantage?"
"Who is to say it?"
--that's where it is.
Roger is so violent and prejudiced that one cannot get him to speak rationally."
--you wouldn't suggest it to him;
--that this place is to go to --Felix,
when he --is dead!"
"It would not kill him a day sooner."
"You would not dare to do it,
"I would dare to do anything for my children.
But you need not look like that,
I am not going to say anything to him of the kind.
He is not quick enough to understand of what infinite service he might be to us without in any way hurting himself."
Henrietta would fain have answered that their cousin was quick enough for anything,
but was by far too honest to take part in such a scheme as that proposed.
and was silent.
There was no sympathy on the matter between her and her mother.
She was beginning to understand the tortuous mazes of manoeuvres in which her mother's mind had learned to work,
and to dislike and almost to despise them.
But she felt it to be her duty to abstain from rebukes.
In the afternoon Lady Carbury,
had herself driven into Beccles that she might telegraph to her son.
"You are to dine at Caversham on Monday.
Come on Saturday if you can.
She is there."
Lady Carbury had many doubts as to the wording of this message.
The female in the office might too probably understand who was the "She,"
who was spoken of as being at Caversham,
and might understand also the project,
and speak of it publicly.
But then it was essential that Felix should know how great and certain was the opportunity afforded to him.
He had promised to come on Saturday and return on Monday,
would too probably stick to his plan and throw over the Longestaffes and their dinner-party.
Again if he were told to come simply for the Monday,
he would throw over the chance of wooing her on the Sunday.
It was Lady Carbury's desire to get him down for as long a period as was possible,
and nothing surely would so tend to bring him and to keep him,
as a knowledge that the heiress was already in the neighbourhood.
Then she returned,
and shut herself up in her bedroom,
and worked for an hour or two at a paper which she was writing for the "Breakfast Table."
Nobody should ever accuse her justly of idleness.
as she walked by herself round and round the garden,
she revolved in her mind the scheme of a new book.
Whatever might happen she would persevere.
If the Carburys were unfortunate their misfortunes should come from no fault of hers.
Henrietta passed the whole day alone.
She did not see her cousin from breakfast till he appeared in the drawing-room before dinner.
But she was thinking of him during every minute of the day,
--how good he was,
how thoroughly entitled to demand at any rate kindness at her hand!
Her mother had spoken of him as of one who might be regarded as all but dead and buried,
simply because of his love for her.
Could it be true that his constancy was such that he would never marry unless she would take his hand?
She came to think of him with more tenderness than she had ever felt before,
she would not tell herself she loved him.
be her duty to give herself to him without loving him,
--because he was so good;
but she was sure that she did not love him.
In the evening the bishop came,
and his wife,
and the Hepworths of Eardly,
and Father John Barham,
the Beccles priest.
The party consisted of eight,
the best number for a mixed gathering of men and women at a dinner-table,
--especially if there be no mistress whose prerogative and duty it is to sit opposite to the master.
In this case Mr. Hepworth faced the giver of the feast,
the bishop and the priest were opposite to each other,
and the ladies graced the four corners.
though he spoke of such things to no one,
turned them over much in his mind,
believing it to be the duty of a host to administer in all things to the comfort of his guests.
In the drawing-room he had been especially courteous to the young priest,
introducing him first to the bishop and his wife,
and then to his cousins.
Henrietta watched him through the whole evening,
and told herself that he was a very mirror of courtesy in his own house.
She had seen it all before,
but she had never watched him as she now watched him since her mother had told her that he would die wifeless and childless because she would not be his wife and the mother of his children.
The bishop was a man sixty years of age,
very healthy and handsome,
with hair just becoming grey,
a kindly mouth,
and something of a double chin.
He was all but six feet high,
with a broad chest,
and legs which seemed to have been made for clerical breeches and clerical stockings.
He was a man of fortune outside his bishopric;
as he never went up to London,
and had no children on whom to spend his money,
he was able to live as a nobleman in the country.
He did live as a nobleman,
and was very popular.
Among the poor around him he was idolized,
and by such clergy of his diocese as were not enthusiastic in their theology either on the one side or on the other,
he was regarded as a model bishop.
By the very high and the very low,
--by those rather who regarded ritualism as being either heavenly or devilish,
--he was looked upon as a time-server,
because he would not put to sea in either of those boats.
He was an unselfish man,
who loved his neighbour as himself,
and forgave all trespasses,
and thanked God for his daily bread from his heart,
and prayed heartily to be delivered from temptation.
But I doubt whether he was competent to teach a creed,
--or even to hold one,
if it be necessary that a man should understand and define his creed before he can hold it.
Whether he was free from,
or whether he was scared by,
any inward misgivings,
who shall say?
If there were such he never whispered a word of them even to the wife of his bosom.
From the tone of his voice and the look of his eye,
you would say that he was unscathed by that agony which doubt on such a matter would surely bring to a man so placed.
And yet it was observed of him that he never spoke of his faith,
or entered into arguments with men as to the reasons on which he had based it.
He was diligent in preaching,
--moral sermons that were short,
He was never weary in furthering the welfare of his clergymen.
His house was open to them and to their wives.
The edifice of every church in his diocese was a care to him.
He laboured at schools,
and was zealous in improving the social comforts of the poor;
but he was never known to declare to man or woman that the human soul must live or die for ever according to its faith.
Perhaps there was no bishop in England more loved or more useful in his diocese than the Bishop of Elmham.
A man more antagonistic to the bishop than Father John Barham,
the lately appointed Roman Catholic priest at Beccles,
it would be impossible to conceive;
--and yet they were both eminently good men.
Father John was not above five feet nine in height,
but so thin,
so wasted in appearance,
unless when he stooped,
he was taken to be tall.
He had thick dark brown hair,
which was cut short in accordance with the usage of his Church;
but which he so constantly ruffled by the action of his hands,
it seemed to be wild and uncombed.
In his younger days,
when long locks straggled over his forehead,
he had acquired a habit,
while talking energetically,
of rubbing them back with his finger,
which he had not since dropped.
In discussions he would constantly push back his hair,
and then sit with his hand fixed on the top of his head.
He had a high,
enormous blue eyes,
cheeks very thin and hollow,
a handsome large mouth,
and a strong square chin.
He was utterly without worldly means,
except those which came to him from the ministry of his church,
and which did not suffice to find him food and raiment;
but no man ever lived more indifferent to such matters than Father John Barham.
He had been the younger son of an English country gentleman of small fortune,
had been sent to Oxford that he might hold a family living,
and on the eve of his ordination had declared himself a Roman Catholic.
His family had resented this bitterly,
but had not quarrelled with him till he had drawn a sister with him.
When banished from the house he had still striven to achieve the conversion of other sisters by his letters,
and was now absolutely an alien from his father's heart and care.
But of this he never complained.
It was a part of the plan of his life that he should suffer for his faith.
Had he been able to change his creed without incurring persecution,
his own conversion would not have been to him comfortable and satisfactory as it was.
He considered that his father,
as a Protestant,
--and in his mind Protestant and heathen were all the same,
--had been right to quarrel with him.
But he loved his father,
and was endless in prayer,
wearying his saints with supplications,
that his father might see the truth and be as he was.
To him it was everything that a man should believe and obey,
--that he should abandon his own reason to the care of another or of others,
and allow himself to be guided in all things by authority.
Faith being sufficient and of itself all in all,
moral conduct could be nothing to a man,
except as a testimony of faith;
for to him,
whose belief was true enough to produce obedience,
moral conduct would certainly be added.
The dogmas of his Church were to Father Barham a real religion;
and he would teach them in season and out of season,
always ready to commit himself to the task of proving their truth,
afraid of no enemy,
not even fearing the hostility which his perseverance would create.
He had but one duty before him,
--to do his part towards bringing over the world to his faith.
It might be that with the toil of his whole life he should convert but one;
that he should but half convert one;
that he should do no more than disturb the thoughts of one so that future conversion might be possible.
But even that would be work done.
He would sow the seed if it might be so;
but if it were not given to him to do that,
he would at any rate plough the ground.
He had come to Beccles lately,
and Roger Carbury had found out that he was a gentleman by birth and education.
Roger had found out also that he was very poor,
and had consequently taken him by the hand.
The young priest had not hesitated to accept his neighbour's hospitality,
having on one occasion laughingly protested that he should be delighted to dine at Carbury,
as he was much in want of a dinner.
He had accepted presents from the garden and the poultry yard,
declaring that he was too poor to refuse anything.
The apparent frankness of the man about himself had charmed Roger,
and the charm had not been seriously disturbed when Father Barham,
on one winter evening in the parlour at Carbury,
had tried his hand at converting his host.
"I have the most thorough respect for your religion,"
Roger had said;
"but it would not suit me."
The priest had gone on with his logic;
if he could not sow the seed he might plough the ground.
This had been repeated two or three times,
and Roger had begun to feel it to be disagreeable.
But the man was in earnest,
and such earnestness commanded respect.
And Roger was quite sure that though he might be bored,
he could not be injured by such teaching.
Then it occurred to him one day that he had known the Bishop of Elmham intimately for a dozen years,
and had never heard from the bishop's mouth,
--except when in the pulpit,
--a single word of religious teaching;
whereas this man,
who was a stranger to him,
divided from him by the very fact of his creed,
was always talking to him about his faith.
Roger Carbury was not a man given to much deep thinking,
but he felt that the bishop's manner was the pleasanter of the two.
Lady Carbury at dinner was all smiles and pleasantness.
No one looking at her,
or listening to her,
could think that her heart was sore with many troubles.
She sat between the bishop and her cousin,
and was skilful enough to talk to each without neglecting the other.
She had known the bishop before,
and had on one occasion spoken to him of her soul.
The first tone of the good man's reply had convinced her of her error,
and she never repeated it.
To Mr. Alf she commonly talked of her mind;
to Mr. Broune of her heart;
to Mr. Booker of her body --and its wants.
She was quite ready to talk of her soul on a proper occasion,
but she was much too wise to thrust the subject even on a bishop.
Now she was full of the charms of Carbury and its neighbourhood.
said the bishop,
"I think Suffolk is a very nice county;
and as we are only a mile or two from Norfolk,
I'll say as much for Norfolk too.
'It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest.'"
"I like a county in which there is something left of county feeling,"
said Lady Carbury.
"Staffordshire and Warwickshire,
Cheshire and Lancashire have become great towns,
and have lost all local distinctions."
"We still keep our name and reputation,"
said the bishop;
"But that was never deserved."
as other general epithets.
I think we are a sleepy people.
We've got no coal,
and no iron.
We have no beautiful scenery,
like the lake country,
--no rivers great for fishing,
--no hunting grounds,
like the shires."
pleaded Lady Carbury,
with pretty energy.
we have partridges,
and the herring fishery.
We shall do very well if too much is not expected of us.
We can't increase and multiply as they do in the great cities."
"I like this part of England so much the best for that very reason.
What is the use of a crowded population?"
"The earth has to be peopled,
said her ladyship,
with some little reverence added to her voice,
feeling that the bishop was probably adverting to a divine arrangement.
"The world must be peopled;
but for myself I like the country better than the town."
"So do I,"
"and I like Suffolk.
The people are hearty,
and radicalism is not quite so rampant as it is elsewhere.
The poor people touch their hats,
and the rich people think of the poor.
There is something left among us of old English habits."
"That is so nice,"
said Lady Carbury.
"Something left of old English ignorance,"
said the bishop.
"All the same I dare say we're improving,
like the rest of the world.
What beautiful flowers you have here,
At any rate,
we can grow flowers in Suffolk."
the bishop's wife,
was sitting next to the priest,
and was in truth somewhat afraid of her neighbour.
a little stauncher than her husband in Protestantism;
and though she was willing to admit that Mr. Barham might not have ceased to be a gentleman when he became a Roman Catholic priest,
she was not quite sure that it was expedient for her or her husband to have much to do with him.
Mr. Carbury had not taken them unawares.
Notice had been given that the priest was to be there,
and the bishop had declared that he would be very happy to meet the priest.
But Mrs. Yeld had had her misgivings.
She never ventured to insist on her opinion after the bishop had expressed his;
but she had an idea that right was right,
and wrong wrong,
--and that Roman Catholics were wrong,
and therefore ought to be put down.
And she thought also that if there were no priests there would be no Roman Catholics.
Mr. Barham was,
a man of good family,
which did make a difference.
Mr. Barham always made his approaches very gradually.
The taciturn humility with which he commenced his operations was in exact proportion to the enthusiastic volubility of his advanced intimacy.
Mrs. Yeld thought that it became her to address to him a few civil words,
and he replied to her with a shame-faced modesty that almost overcame her dislike to his profession.
She spoke of the poor of Beccles,
being very careful to allude only to their material position.
There was too much beer drunk,
and the young women would have finery.
Where did they get the money to buy those wonderful bonnets which appeared every Sunday?
Mr. Barham was very meek,
and agreed to everything that was said.
No doubt he had a plan ready formed for inducing Mrs. Yeld to have mass said regularly within her husband's palace,
but he did not even begin to bring it about on this occasion.
It was not till he made some apparently chance allusion to the superior church-attending qualities of "our people,"
that Mrs. Yeld drew herself up and changed the conversation by observing that there had been a great deal of rain lately.
When the ladies were gone the bishop at once put himself in the way of conversation with the priest,
and asked questions as to the morality of Beccles.
It was evidently Mr. Barham's opinion that "his people" were more moral than other people,
though very much poorer.
"But the Irish always drink,"
said Mr. Hepworth.
"Not so much as the English,
said the priest.
"And you are not to suppose that we are all Irish.
Of my flock the greater proportion are English."
"It is astonishing how little we know of our neighbours,"
said the bishop.
"Of course I am aware that there are a certain number of persons of your persuasion round about us.
I could give the exact number in this diocese.
But in my own immediate neighbourhood I could not put my hand upon any families which I know to be Roman Catholic."
"It is not,
because there are none."
"Of course not.
It is because,
as I say,
I do not know my neighbours."
here in Suffolk,
they must be chiefly the poor,"
said Mr. Hepworth.
"They were chiefly the poor who at first put their faith in our Saviour,"
said the priest.
"I think the analogy is hardly correctly drawn,"
said the bishop,
with a curious smile.
"We were speaking of those who are still attached to an old creed.
Our Saviour was the teacher of a new religion.
That the poor in the simplicity of their hearts should be the first to acknowledge the truth of a new religion is in accordance with our idea of human nature.
But that an old faith should remain with the poor after it has been abandoned by the rich is not so easily intelligible."
[Illustration: The bishop thinks that the priest's analogy is not correct.]
"The Roman population still believed,"
"when the patricians had learned to regard their gods as simply useful bugbears."
"The patricians had not ostensibly abandoned their religion.
The people clung to it thinking that their masters and rulers clung to it also."
"The poor have ever been the salt of the earth,
said the priest.
"That begs the whole question,"
said the bishop,
turning to his host,
and beginning to talk about a breed of pigs which had lately been imported into the palace styes.
Father Barham turned to Mr. Hepworth and went on with his argument,
or rather began another.
It was a mistake to suppose that the Catholics in the county were all poor.
There were the A -- --s and the B -- --s,
and the C -- --s and the D -- --s.
He knew all their names and was proud of their fidelity.
To him these faithful ones were really the salt of the earth,
who would some day be enabled by their fidelity to restore England to her pristine condition.
The bishop had truly said that of many of his neighbours he did not know to what Church they belonged;
but Father Barham,
though he had not as yet been twelve months in the county,
knew the name of nearly every Roman Catholic within its borders.
"Your priest is a very zealous man,"
said the bishop afterwards to Roger Carbury,
"and I do not doubt but that he is an excellent gentleman;
but he is perhaps a little indiscreet."
"I like him because he is doing the best he can according to his lights;
without any reference to his own worldly welfare."
"That is all very grand,
and I am perfectly willing to respect him.
But I do not know that I should care to talk very freely in his company."
"I am sure he would repeat nothing."
but he would always be thinking that he was going to get the best of me."
"I don't think it answers,"
said Mrs. Yeld to her husband as they went home.
"Of course I don't want to be prejudiced;
but Protestants are Protestants,
and Roman Catholics are Roman Catholics."
"You may say the same of Liberals and Conservatives,
but you wouldn't have them decline to meet each other."
"It isn't quite the same,
After all religion is religion."
"It ought to be,"
said the bishop.
"Of course I don't mean to put myself up against you,
but I don't know that I want to meet Mr. Barham again."
"I don't know that I do,
said the bishop;
"but if he comes in my way I hope I shall treat him civilly."
MARIE MELMOTTE HEARS A LOVE TALE.
On the following morning there came a telegram from Felix.
He was to be expected at Beccles on that afternoon by a certain train;
at Lady Carbury's request,
undertook to send a carriage to the station for him.
This was done,
but Felix did not arrive.
There was still another train by which he might come so as to be just in time for dinner if dinner were postponed for half an hour.
Lady Carbury with a tender look,
almost without speaking a word,
appealed to her cousin on behalf of her son.
He knit his brows,
as he always did,
but he assented.
Then the carriage had to be sent again.
Now carriages and carriage-horses were not numerous at Carbury.
The squire kept a waggonnette and a pair of horses which,
when not wanted for house use,
were employed about the farm.
He himself would walk home from the train,
leaving the luggage to be brought by some cheap conveyance.
He had already sent the carriage once on this day,
--and now sent it again,
Lady Carbury having said a word which showed that she hoped that this would be done.
But he did it with deep displeasure.
To the mother her son was Sir Felix,
entitled to special consideration because of his position and rank,
--because also of his intention to marry the great heiress of the day.
To Roger Carbury,
Felix was a vicious young man,
peculiarly antipathetic to himself,
to whom no respect whatever was due.
Nevertheless the dinner was put off,
and the waggonnette was sent.
But the waggonnette again came back empty.
That evening was spent by Roger,
in very much gloom.
About four in the morning the house was roused by the coming of the baronet.
Failing to leave town by either of the afternoon trains,
he had contrived to catch the evening mail,
and had found himself deposited at some distant town from which he had posted to Carbury.
Roger came down in his dressing-gown to admit him,
and Lady Carbury also left her room.
Sir Felix evidently thought that he had been a very fine fellow in going through so much trouble.
Roger held a very different opinion,
and spoke little or nothing.
said the mother,
"you have so terrified us!"
"I can tell you I was terrified myself when I found that I had to come fifteen miles across the country with a pair of old jades who could hardly get up a trot."
"But why didn't you come by the train you named?"
"I couldn't get out of the city,"
said the baronet with a ready lie.
"I suppose you were at the Board?"
To this Felix made no direct answer.
Roger knew that there had been no Board.
Mr. Melmotte was in the country and there could be no Board,
nor could Sir Felix have had business in the city.
It was sheer impudence,
into the bargain,
a downright lie.
The young man,
who was of himself so unwelcome,
who had come there on a project which he,
--who had now knocked him and his household up at four o'clock in the morning,
--had uttered no word of apology.
Roger muttered between his teeth.
Then he spoke aloud,
"You had better not keep your mother standing here.
I will show you your room."
said Sir Felix.
"I'm awfully sorry to disturb you all in this way.
I think I'll just take a drop of brandy and soda before I go to bed,
This was another blow to Roger.
"I doubt whether we have soda-water in the house,
and if we have,
I don't know where to get it.
I can give you some brandy if you will come with me."
He pronounced the word "brandy" in a tone which implied that it was a wicked,
It was a wretched work to Roger.
He was forced to go up-stairs and fetch a key in order that he might wait upon this cub,
He did it,
and the cub drank his brandy-and-water,
not in the least disturbed by his host's ill-humour.
As he went to bed he suggested the probability of his not showing himself till lunch on the following day,
and expressed a wish that he might have breakfast sent to him in bed.
"He is born to be hung,"
said Roger to himself as he went to his room,
--"and he'll deserve it."
On the following morning,
they all went to church,
Lady Carbury always went to church when she was in the country,
never when she was at home in London.
It was one of those moral habits,
like early dinners and long walks,
which suited country life.
And she fancied that were she not to do so,
the bishop would be sure to know it and would be displeased.
She liked the bishop.
She liked bishops generally;
and was aware that it was a woman's duty to sacrifice herself for society.
As to the purpose for which people go to church,
it had probably never in her life occurred to Lady Carbury to think of it.
On their return they found Sir Felix smoking a cigar on the gravel path,
close in front of the open drawing-room window.
said his cousin,
"take your cigar a little farther.
You are filling the house with tobacco."
--what a prejudice!"
said the baronet.
"Let it be so,
but still do as I ask you."
Sir Felix chucked the cigar out of his mouth on to the gravel walk,
whereupon Roger walked up to the spot and kicked the offending weed away.
This was the first greeting of the day between the two men.
After lunch Lady Carbury strolled about with her son,
instigating him to go over at once to Caversham.
"How the deuce am I to get there?"
"Your cousin will lend you a horse."
"He's as cross as a bear with a sore head.
He's a deal older than I am,
and a cousin and all that,
but I'm not going to put up with insolence.
If it were anywhere else I should just go into the yard and ask if I could have a horse and saddle as a matter of course."
"Roger has not a great establishment."
"I suppose he has a horse and saddle,
and a man to get it ready.
I don't want anything grand."
"He is vexed because he sent twice to the station for you yesterday."
"I hate the kind of fellow who is always thinking of little grievances.
Such a man expects you to go like clockwork,
and because you are not wound up just as he is,
he insults you.
I shall ask him for a horse as I would any one else,
and if he does not like it,
he may lump it."
About half an hour after this he found his cousin.
"Can I have a horse to ride over to Caversham this afternoon?"
"Our horses never go out on Sunday,"
Then he added,
after a pause,
"You can have it.
I'll give the order."
Sir Felix would be gone on Tuesday,
and it should be his own fault if that odious cousin ever found his way into Carbury House again!
So he declared to himself as Felix rode out of the yard;
but he soon remembered how probable it was that Felix himself would be the owner of Carbury.
And should it ever come to pass,
--as still was possible,
--that Henrietta should be the mistress of Carbury,
he could hardly forbid her to receive her brother.
He stood for a while on the bridge watching his cousin as he cantered away upon the road,
listening to the horse's feet.
The young man was offensive in every possible way.
Who does not know that ladies only are allowed to canter their friends' horses upon roads?
A gentleman trots his horse,
and his friend's horse.
Roger Carbury had but one saddle horse,
--a favourite old hunter that he loved as a friend.
And now this dear old friend,
whose legs probably were not quite so good as they once were,
was being galloped along the hard road by that odious cub!
"Soda and brandy!"
Roger exclaimed to himself almost aloud,
thinking of the discomfiture of that early morning.
"He'll die some day of delirium tremens in a hospital!"
Before the Longestaffes left London to receive their new friends the Melmottes at Caversham,
a treaty had been made between Mr. Longestaffe,
the strong-minded daughter.
The daughter on her side undertook that the guests should be treated with feminine courtesy.
This might be called the most-favoured-nation clause.
The Melmottes were to be treated exactly as though old Melmotte had been a gentleman and Madame Melmotte a lady.
In return for this the Longestaffe family were to be allowed to return to town.
But here again the father had carried another clause.
The prolonged sojourn in town was to be only for six weeks.
On the 10th of July the Longestaffes were to be removed into the country for the remainder of the year.
When the question of a foreign tour was proposed,
the father became absolutely violent in his refusal.
"In God's name where do you expect the money is to come from?"
When Georgiana urged that other people had money to go abroad,
her father told her that a time was coming in which she might think it lucky if she had a house over her head.
she took as having been said with poetical licence,
the same threat having been made more than once before.
The treaty was very clear,
and the parties to it were prepared to carry it out with fair honesty.
The Melmottes were being treated with decent courtesy,
and the house in town was not dismantled.
hardly ever in truth entertained but which had been barely suggested from one to another among the ladies of the family,
that Dolly should marry Marie Melmotte,
had been abandoned.
with all his vapid folly,
had a will of his own,
among his own family,
He was never persuaded to any course either by his father or mother.
Dolly certainly would not marry Marie Melmotte.
Therefore when the Longestaffes heard that Sir Felix was coming to the country,
they had no special objection to entertaining him at Caversham.
He had been lately talked of in London as the favourite in regard to Marie Melmotte.
Georgiana Longestaffe had a grudge of her own against Lord Nidderdale,
and was on that account somewhat well inclined towards Sir Felix's prospects.
Soon after the Melmottes' arrival she contrived to say a word to Marie respecting Sir Felix.
"There is a friend of yours going to dine here on Monday,
who was at the moment still abashed by the grandeur and size and general fashionable haughtiness of her new acquaintances,
made hardly any answer.
"I think you know Sir Felix Carbury,"
we know Sir Felix Carbury."
"He is coming down to his cousin's.
I suppose it is for your bright eyes,
as Carbury Manor would hardly be just what he would like."
"I don't think he is coming because of me,"
said Marie blushing.
She had once told him that he might go to her father,
which according to her idea had been tantamount to accepting his offer as far as her power of acceptance went.
Since that she had seen him,
but he had not said a word to press his suit,
as far as she knew,
had he said a word to Mr. Melmotte.
But she had been very rigorous in declining the attentions of other suitors.
She had made up her mind that she was in love with Felix Carbury,
and she had resolved on constancy.
But she had begun to tremble,
fearing his faithlessness.
"We had heard,"
"that he was a particular friend of yours."
And she laughed aloud,
with a vulgarity which Madame Melmotte certainly could not have surpassed.
on the Sunday afternoon,
found all the ladies out on the lawn,
and he also found Mr. Melmotte there.
At the last moment Lord Alfred Grendall had been asked,
--not because he was at all in favour with any of the Longestaffes,
but in order that he might be useful in disposing of the great Director.
Lord Alfred was used to him and could talk to him,
and might probably know what he liked to eat and drink.
Therefore Lord Alfred had been asked to Caversham,
and Lord Alfred had come,
having all his expenses paid by the great Director.
When Sir Felix arrived,
Lord Alfred was earning his entertainment by talking to Mr. Melmotte in a summer-house.
He had cool drink before him and a box of cigars,
but was probably thinking at the time how hard the world had been to him.
Lady Pomona was languid,
but not uncivil in her reception.
She was doing her best to perform her part of the treaty in reference to Madame Melmotte.
Sophia was walking apart with a certain Mr. Whitstable,
a young squire in the neighbourhood,
who had been asked to Caversham because as Sophia was now reputed to be twenty-eight,
--they who decided the question might have said thirty-one without falsehood,
--it was considered that Mr. Whitstable was good enough,
or at least as good as could be expected.
Sophia was handsome,
but with a big,
and had not quite succeeded in London.
Georgiana had been more admired,
and boasted among her friends of the offers which she had rejected.
Her friends on the other hand were apt to tell of her many failures.
Nevertheless she held her head up,
and had not as yet come down among the rural Whitstables.
At the present moment her hands were empty,
and she was devoting herself to such a performance of the treaty as should make it impossible for her father to leave his part of it unfulfilled.
For a few minutes Sir Felix sat on a garden chair making conversation to Lady Pomona and Madame Melmotte.
"for myself I don't much care for gardens;
but if one is to live in the country,
this is the sort of thing that one would like."
said Madame Melmotte,
repressing a yawn,
and drawing her shawl higher round her throat.
It was the end of May,
and the weather was very warm for the time of the year;
in her heart of hearts,
Madame Melmotte did not like sitting out in the garden.
"It isn't a pretty place;
but the house is comfortable,
and we make the best of it,"
said Lady Pomona.
"Plenty of glass,
said Sir Felix.
"If one is to live in the country,
I like that kind of thing.
Carbury is a very poor place."
There was offence in this;
--as though the Carbury property and the Carbury position could be compared to the Longestaffe property and the Longestaffe position.
Though dreadfully hampered for money,
the Longestaffes were great people.
"For a small place,"
said Lady Pomona,
"I think Carbury is one of the nicest in the county.
Of course it is not extensive."
said Sir Felix,
"you may say that,
It's like a prison to me with that moat round it."
Then he jumped up and joined Marie Melmotte and Georgiana.
glad to be released for a time from performance of the treaty,
was not long before she left them together.
She had understood that the two horses now in the running were Lord Nidderdale and Sir Felix;
and though she would not probably have done much to aid Sir Felix,
she was quite willing to destroy Lord Nidderdale.
Sir Felix had his work to do,
and was willing to do it,
--as far as such willingness could go with him.
The prize was so great,
and the comfort of wealth was so sure,
that even he was tempted to exert himself.
It was this feeling which had brought him into Suffolk,
and induced him to travel all night,
across dirty roads,
in an old cab.
For the girl herself he cared not the least.
It was not in his power really to care for anybody.
He did not dislike her much.
He was not given to disliking people strongly,
except at the moments in which they offended him.
He regarded her simply as the means by which a portion of Mr. Melmotte's wealth might be conveyed to his uses.
In regard to feminine beauty he had his own ideas,
and his own inclinations.
He was by no means indifferent to such attraction.
But Marie Melmotte,
from that point of view,
was nothing to him.
Such prettiness as belonged to her came from the brightness of her youth,
and from a modest shy demeanour joined to an incipient aspiration for the enjoyment of something in the world which should be her own.
arising within her bosom a struggle to be something in the world,
an idea that she,
could say something,
and have thoughts of her own,
if only she had some friend near her whom she need not fear.
Though still shy,
she was always resolving that she would abandon her shyness,
and already had thoughts of her own as to the perfectly open confidence which should exist between two lovers.
--and she was much alone,
--she would build castles in the air,
which were bright with art and love,
rather than with gems and gold.
The books she read,
poor though they generally were,
left something bright on her imagination.
She fancied to herself brilliant conversations in which she bore a bright part,
though in real life she had hitherto hardly talked to any one since she was a child.
Sir Felix Carbury,
had made her an offer.
She knew also,
or thought that she knew,
that she loved the man.
And now she was with him alone!
Now surely had come the time in which some one of her castles in the air might be found to be built of real materials.
"You know why I have come down here?"
"You know why I have come down here?"]
"To see your cousin."
I'm not particularly fond of my cousin,
who is a methodical stiff-necked old bachelor,
--as cross as the mischief."
he is disagreeable.
I didn't come down to see him,
I can tell you.
But when I heard that you were going to be here with the Longestaffes,
I determined to come at once.
I wonder whether you are glad to see me?"
"I don't know,"
who could not at once find that brilliancy of words with which her imagination supplied her readily enough in her solitude.
"Do you remember what you said to me that evening at my mother's?"
"Did I say anything?
I don't remember anything particular."
"Do you not?
Then I fear you can't think very much of me."
He paused as though he supposed that she would drop into his mouth like a cherry.
"I thought you told me that you would love me."
"Did you not?"
"I don't know what I said.
Perhaps if I said that,
I didn't mean it."
"Am I to believe that?"
"Perhaps you didn't mean it yourself."
I was quite in earnest.
There never was a fellow more in earnest than I was.
I've come down here on purpose to say it again."
"To say what?"
"Whether you'll accept me?"
"I don't know whether you love me well enough."
She longed to be told by him that he loved her.
He had no objection to tell her so,
without thinking much about it,
felt it to be a bore.
All that kind of thing was trash and twaddle.
He desired her to accept him;
and he would have wished,
were it possible,
that she should have gone to her father for his consent.
There was something in the big eyes and heavy jaws of Mr. Melmotte which he almost feared.
"Do you really love me well enough?"
"Of course I do.
I'm bad at making pretty speeches,
and all that,
but you know I love you."
I always liked you from the first moment I saw you.
I did indeed."
It was a poor declaration of love,
but it sufficed.
"Then I will love you,"
"I will with all my heart."
"There's a darling!"
"Shall I be your darling?
Indeed I will.
I may call you Felix now;
I hope you will love me.
I will so dote upon you.
You know a great many men have asked me to love them."
"I suppose so."
"But I have never,
never cared for one of them in the least;
--not in the least."
"You do care for me?"
She looked up into his beautiful face as she spoke,
and he saw that her eyes were swimming with tears.
He thought at the moment that she was very common to look at.
As regarded appearance only he would have preferred even Sophia Longestaffe.
There was indeed a certain brightness of truth which another man might have read in Marie's mingled smiles and tears,
but it was thrown away altogether upon him.
They were walking in some shrubbery quite apart from the house,
where they were unseen;
as in duty bound,
he put his arm round her waist and kissed her.
giving her face up to him;
"no one ever did it before."
He did not in the least believe her,
nor was the matter one of the slightest importance to him.
"Say that you will be good to me,
I will be so good to you."
"Of course I will be good to you."
"Men are not always good to their wives.
Papa is often very cross to mamma."
"I suppose he can be cross?"
He does not often scold me.
I don't know what he'll say when we tell him about this."
"But I suppose he intends that you shall be married?"
"He wanted me to marry Lord Nidderdale and Lord Grasslough,
but I hated them both.
I think he wants me to marry Lord Nidderdale again now.
He hasn't said so,
but mamma tells me.
But I never will;
"I hope not,
"You needn't be a bit afraid.
I would not do it if they were to kill me.
I hate him,
--and I do so love you."
Then she leaned with all her weight upon his arm and looked up again into his beautiful face.
"You will speak to papa;
"Will that be the best way?"
"I suppose so.
"I don't know whether Madame Melmotte ought not --"
"Oh dear no.
Nothing would induce her.
She is more afraid of him than anybody;
--more afraid of him than I am.
I thought the gentleman always did that."
"Of course I'll do it,"
said Sir Felix.
"I'm not afraid of him.
Why should I?
He and I are very good friends,
"I'm glad of that."
"He made me a Director of one of his companies the other day."
Perhaps he'll like you for a son-in-law."
"There's no knowing;
"I hope he will.
I shall like you for papa's son-in-law.
I hope it isn't wrong to say that.
say that you love me."
Then she put her face up towards his again.
"Of course I love you,"
not thinking it worth his while to kiss her.
"It's no good speaking to him here.
I suppose I had better go and see him in the city."
"He is in a good humour now,"
"But I couldn't get him alone.
It wouldn't be the thing to do down here."
"Not in the country,
--in another person's house.
Shall you tell Madame Melmotte?"
I shall tell mamma;
but she won't say anything to him.
Mamma does not care much about me.
But I'll tell you all that another time.
Of course I shall tell you everything now.
I never yet had anybody to tell anything to,
but I shall never be tired of telling you."
Then he left her as soon as he could,
and escaped to the other ladies.
Mr. Melmotte was still sitting in the summer-house,
and Lord Alfred was still with him,
smoking and drinking brandy and seltzer.
As Sir Felix passed in front of the great man he told himself that it was much better that the interview should be postponed till they were all in London.
Mr. Melmotte did not look as though he were in a good humour.
Sir Felix said a few words to Lady Pomona and Madame Melmotte.
he hoped to have the pleasure of seeing them with his mother and sister on the following day.
He was aware that his cousin was not coming.
He believed that his cousin Roger never did go any where like any one else.
he had not seen Mr. Longestaffe.
He hoped to have the pleasure of seeing him to-morrow.
Then he escaped,
and got on his horse,
and rode away.
"That's going to be the lucky man,"
said Georgiana to her mother,
"In what way lucky?"
"He is going to get the heiress and all the money.
What a fool Dolly has been!"
"I don't think it would have suited Dolly,"
said Lady Pomona.
why should not Dolly marry a lady?"
RUBY RUGGLES HEARS A LOVE TALE.
Miss Ruby Ruggles,
the granddaughter of old Daniel Ruggles,
of Sheep's Acre,
in the parish of Sheepstone,
close to Bungay,
received the following letter from the hands of the rural post letter-carrier on that Sunday morning;
--"A friend will be somewhere near Sheepstone Birches between four and five o'clock on Sunday afternoon."
There was not another word in the letter,
but Miss Ruby Ruggles knew well from whom it came.
Daniel Ruggles was a farmer,
who had the reputation of considerable wealth,
but who was not very well looked on in the neighbourhood as being somewhat of a curmudgeon and a miser.
His wife was dead;
--he had quarrelled with his only son,
whose wife was also dead,
and had banished him from his home;
--his daughters were married and away;
and the only member of his family who lived with him was his granddaughter Ruby.
And this granddaughter was a great trouble to the old man.
She was twenty-three years old,
and had been engaged to a prosperous young man at Bungay in the meal and pollard line,
to whom old Ruggles had promised to give £500 on their marriage.
But Ruby had taken it into her foolish young head that she did not like meal and pollard,
and now she had received the above very dangerous letter.
Though the writer had not dared to sign his name she knew well that it came from Sir Felix Carbury,
--the most beautiful gentleman she had ever set her eyes upon.
Poor Ruby Ruggles!
Living down at Sheep's Acre,
on the Waveney,
she had heard both too much and too little of the great world beyond her ken.
many glorious things to be seen which she would never see were she in these her early years to become the wife of John Crumb,
the dealer in meal and pollard at Bungay.
Therefore she was full of a wild joy,
half joy half fear,
when she got her letter;
punctually at four o'clock on that Sunday she was ensconced among the Sheepstone Birches,
so that she might see without much danger of being seen.
Poor Ruby Ruggles,
who was left to be so much mistress of herself at the time of her life in which she most required the kindness of a controlling hand!
Mr. Ruggles held his land,
or the greater part of it,
on what is called a bishop's lease,
Sheep's Acre Farm being a part of the property which did belong to the bishopric of Elmham,
and which was still set apart for its sustentation;
--but he also held a small extent of outlying meadow which belonged to the Carbury estate,
so that he was one of the tenants of Roger Carbury.
Those Sheepstone Birches,
at which Felix made his appointment,
belonged to Roger.
On a former occasion,
when the feeling between the two cousins was kinder than that which now existed,
Felix had ridden over with the landlord to call on the old man,
and had then first seen Ruby;
--and had heard from Roger something of Ruby's history up to that date.
It had then been just made known that she was to marry John Crumb.
Since that time not a word had been spoken between the men respecting the girl.
Mr. Carbury had heard,
that the marriage was either postponed or abandoned,
--but his growing dislike to the baronet had made it very improbable that there should be any conversation between them on the subject.
had probably heard more of Ruby Ruggles than her grandfather's landlord.
no condition of mind more difficult for the ordinarily well-instructed inhabitant of a city to realise than that of such a girl as Ruby Ruggles.
The rural day labourer and his wife live on a level surface which is comparatively open to the eye.
whether for good or evil,
--whether for food and drink to be honestly earned for themselves and children,
or for drink first,
to be come by either honestly or dishonestly,
if looked at at all,
And with the men of the Ruggles class one can generally find out what they would be at,
and in what direction their minds are at work.
But the Ruggles woman,
--especially the Ruggles young woman,
--is better educated,
has higher aspirations and a brighter imagination,
and is infinitely more cunning than the man.
If she be good-looking and relieved from the pressure of want,
her thoughts soar into a world which is as unknown to her as heaven is to us,
and in regard to which her longings are apt to be infinitely stronger than are ours for heaven.
Her education has been much better than that of the man.
She can read,
whereas he can only spell words from a book.
She can write a letter after her fashion,
whereas he can barely spell words out on a paper.
Her tongue is more glib,
and her intellect sharper.
But her ignorance as to the reality of things is much more gross than his.
By such contact as he has with men in markets,
in the streets of the towns he frequents,
and even in the fields,
he learns something unconsciously of the relative condition of his countrymen,
as to that which he does not learn,
his imagination is obtuse.
But the woman builds castles in the air,
To the young farmer the squire's daughter is a superior being very much out of his way.
To the farmer's daughter the young squire is an Apollo,
whom to look at is a pleasure,
--by whom to be looked at is a delight.
The danger for the most part is soon over.
The girl marries after her kind,
and then husband and children put the matter at rest for ever.
A mind more absolutely uninstructed than that of Ruby Ruggles as to the world beyond Suffolk and Norfolk it would be impossible to find.
But her thoughts were as wide as they were vague,
and as active as they were erroneous.
Why should she with all her prettiness,
and all her cleverness,
--with all her fortune to boot,
--marry that dustiest of all men,
before she had seen something of the beauties of the things of which she had read in the books which came in her way?
John Crumb was not bad-looking.
He was a sturdy,
--slow of speech but sure of his points when he had got them within his grip,
--fond of his beer but not often drunk,
and the very soul of industry at his work.
But though she had known him all her life she had never known him otherwise than dusty.
The meal had so gotten within his hair,
that it never came out altogether even on Sundays.
His normal complexion was a healthy pallor,
through which indeed some records of hidden ruddiness would make themselves visible,
but which was so judiciously assimilated to his hat and coat and waistcoat,
that he was more like a stout ghost than a healthy young man.
Nevertheless it was said of him that he could thrash any man in Bungay,
and carry two hundred weight of flour upon his back.
And Ruby also knew this of him,
--that he worshipped the very ground on which she trod.
she thought there might be something better than such worship;
when Felix Carbury came in her way,
with his beautiful oval face,
and his rich brown colour,
and his bright hair and lovely moustache,
she was lost in a feeling which she mistook for love;
and when he sneaked over to her a second and a third time,
she thought more of his listless praise than ever she had thought of John Crumb's honest promises.
though she was an utter fool,
she was not a fool without a principle.
She was miserably ignorant;
but she did understand that there was a degradation which it behoved her to avoid.
as the moths seem to think,
that she might fly into the flame and not burn her wings.
After her fashion she was pretty,
with long glossy ringlets,
which those about the farm on week days would see confined in curl-papers,
and large round dark eyes,
and a clear dark complexion,
in which the blood showed itself plainly beneath the soft brown skin.
She was strong,
--and had a will of her own which gave infinite trouble to old Daniel Ruggles,
Felix Carbury took himself two miles out of his way in order that he might return by Sheepstone Birches,
which was a little copse distant not above half a mile from Sheep's Acre farmhouse.
A narrow angle of the little wood came up to the road,
by which there was a gate leading into a grass meadow,
which Sir Felix had remembered when he made his appointment.
The road was no more than a country lane,
unfrequented at all times,
and almost sure to be deserted on Sundays.
He approached the gate in a walk,
and then stood awhile looking into the wood.
He had not stood long before he saw the girl's bonnet beneath a tree standing just outside the wood,
in the meadow,
but on the bank of the ditch.
Thinking for a moment what he would do about his horse,
he rode him into the field,
fastened him to a rail which ran down the side of the copse.
Then he sauntered on till he stood looking down upon Ruby Ruggles as she sat beneath the tree.
"I like your impudence,"
"in calling yourself a friend."
"Ain't I a friend,
"A pretty sort of friend,
When you was going away,
you was to be back at Carbury in a fortnight;
and that is,
ever so long ago now."
"But I wrote to you,
And the postman to know all as in
'em for anything anybody knows,
and grandfather to be almost sure to see
I don't call letters no good at all,
and I beg you won't write
'em any more."
"Did he see them?"
"No thanks to you if he didn't.
I don't know why you are come here,
--nor yet I don't know why I should come and meet you.
It's all just folly like."
"Because I love you;
--that's why I come;
And you have come because you love me;
Is not that about it?"
Then he threw himself on the ground beside her,
and got his arm round her waist.
It would boot little to tell here all that they said to each other.
The happiness of Ruby Ruggles for that half hour was no doubt complete.
She had her London lover beside her;
and though in every word he spoke there was a tone of contempt,
still he talked of love,
and made her promises,
and told her that she was pretty.
He probably did not enjoy it much;
he cared very little about her,
and carried on the liaison simply because it was the proper sort of thing for a young man to do.
He had begun to think that the odour of patchouli was unpleasant,
and that the flies were troublesome,
and the ground hard,
before the half hour was over.
She felt that she could be content to sit there for ever and to listen to him.
This was a realisation of those delights of life of which she had read in the thrice-thumbed old novels which she had gotten from the little circulating library at Bungay.
But what was to come next?
She had not dared to ask him to marry her,
--had not dared to say those very words;
and he had not dared to ask her to be his mistress.
There was an animal courage about her,
and an amount of strength also,
and a fire in her eye,
of which he had learned to be aware.
Before the half hour was over I think that he wished himself away;
--but when he did go,
he made a promise to see her again on the Tuesday morning.
Her grandfather would be at Harlestone market,
and she would meet him at about noon at the bottom of the kitchen garden belonging to the farm.
As he made the promise he resolved that he would not keep it.
He would write to her again,
and bid her come to him in London,
and would send her money for the journey.
"I suppose I am to be his wedded wife,"
said Ruby to herself,
as she crept away down from the road,
away also from her own home;
--so that on her return her presence should not be associated with that of the young man,
should any one chance to see the young man on the road.
"I'll never be nothing unless I'm that,"
she said to herself.
Then she allowed her mind to lose itself in expatiating on the difference between John Crumb and Sir Felix Carbury.
HETTA CARBURY HEARS A LOVE TALE.
"I have half a mind to go back to-morrow morning,"
Felix said to his mother that Sunday evening after dinner.
At that moment Roger was walking round the garden by himself,
and Henrietta was in her own room.
You are engaged to dine with the Longestaffes!"
"You could make any excuse you like about that."
"It would be the most uncourteous thing in the world.
The Longestaffes you know are the leading people in this part of the country.
No one knows what may happen.
If you should ever be living at Carbury,
how sad it would be that you should have quarrelled with them."
that Dolly Longestaffe is about the most intimate friend I have in the world."
"That does not justify you in being uncivil to the father and mother.
And you should remember what you came here for."
"What did I come for?"
"That you might see Marie Melmotte more at your ease than you can in their London house."
"That's all settled,"
said Sir Felix,
in the most indifferent tone that he could assume.
"As far as the girl is concerned.
I can't very well go to the old fellow for his consent down here."
"Do you mean to say,
that Marie Melmotte has accepted you?"
"I told you that before."
"My dear Felix.
In her joy the mother took her unwilling son in her arms and caressed him.
Here was the first step taken not only to success,
but to such magnificent splendour as should make her son to be envied by all young men,
and herself to be envied by all mothers in England!
you didn't tell me before.
But I am so happy.
Is she really fond of you?
I don't wonder that any girl should be fond of you."
"I can't say anything about that,
but I think she means to stick to it."
"If she is firm,
of course her father will give way at last.
Fathers always do give way when the girl is firm.
Why should he oppose it?"
"I don't know that he will."
"You are a man of rank,
with a title of your own.
I suppose what he wants is a gentleman for his girl.
I don't see why he should not be perfectly satisfied.
With all his enormous wealth a thousand a year or so can't make any difference.
And then he made you one of the Directors at his Board.
--it is almost too good to be true."
"I ain't quite sure that I care very much about being married,
pray don't say that.
Why shouldn't you like being married?
She is a very nice girl,
and we shall all be so fond of her!
Don't let any feeling of that kind come over you;
You will be able to do just what you please when once the question of her money is settled.
Of course you can hunt as often as you like,
and you can have a house in any part of London you please.
You must understand by this time how very disagreeable it is to have to get on without an established income."
"I quite understand that."
"If this were once done you would never have any more trouble of that kind.
There would be plenty of money for everything as long as you live.
It would be complete success.
I don't know how to say enough to you,
or to tell you how dearly I love you,
or to make you understand how well I think you have done it all."
Then she caressed him again,
and was almost beside herself in an agony of mingled anxiety and joy.
her beautiful boy,
who had lately been her disgrace and her great trouble because of his poverty,
should shine forth to the world as a baronet with £20,000 a year,
how glorious would it be!
She must have known,
--she did know,
how selfish a creature he was.
But her gratification at the prospect of his splendour obliterated the sorrow with which the vileness of his character sometimes oppressed her.
Were he to win this girl with all her father's money,
neither she nor his sister would be the better for it,
except in this,
that the burden of maintaining him would be taken from her shoulders.
But his magnificence would be established.
He was her son,
and the prospect of his fortune and splendour was sufficient to elate her into a very heaven of beautiful dreams.
"you really must stay and go to the Longestaffes' to-morrow.
It will only be one day.
--And now were you to run away --"
What nonsense you talk."
"If you were to start back to London at once I mean,
it would be an affront to her,
and the very thing to set Melmotte against you.
You should lay yourself out to please him;
--indeed you should."
said Sir Felix.
But nevertheless he allowed himself to be persuaded to remain.
The matter was important even to him,
and he consented to endure the almost unendurable nuisance of spending another day at the Manor House.
almost lost in delight,
did not know where to turn for sympathy.
If her cousin were not so stiff,
so wonderfully ignorant of the affairs of the world,
he would have at any rate consented to rejoice with her.
Though he might not like Felix,
as his mother admitted to herself,
had been rude to her cousin,
--he would have rejoiced for the sake of the family.
as it was,
she did not dare to tell him.
He would have received her tidings with silent scorn.
And even Henrietta would not be enthusiastic.
She felt that though she would have delighted to expatiate on this great triumph,
she must be silent at present.
It should now be her great effort to ingratiate herself with Mr. Melmotte at the dinner party at Caversham.
During the whole of that evening Roger Carbury hardly spoke to his cousin Hetta.
There was not much conversation between them till quite late,
when Father Barham came in for supper.
He had been over at Bungay among his people there,
and had walked back,
taking Carbury on the way.
"What did you think of our bishop?"
Roger asked him,
"Not much of him as a bishop.
I don't doubt that he makes a very nice lord,
and that he does more good among his neighbours than an average lord.
But you don't put power or responsibility into the hands of any one sufficient to make him a bishop."
"Nine-tenths of the clergy in the diocese would be guided by him in any matter of clerical conduct which might come before him."
"Because they know that he has no strong opinion of his own,
and would not therefore desire to dominate theirs.
Take any of your bishops that has an opinion,
--if there be one left,
--and see how far your clergy consent to his teaching!"
Roger turned round and took up his book.
He was already becoming tired of his pet priest.
He himself always abstained from saying a word derogatory to his new friend's religion in the man's hearing;
but his new friend did not by any means return the compliment.
Perhaps also Roger felt that were he to take up the cudgels for an argument he might be worsted in the combat,
as in such combats success is won by practised skill rather than by truth.
Henrietta was also reading,
and Felix was smoking elsewhere,
--wondering whether the hours would ever wear themselves away in that castle of dulness,
in which no cards were to be seen,
except at meal-times,
there was nothing to drink.
But Lady Carbury was quite willing to allow the priest to teach her that all appliances for the dissemination of religion outside his own church must be naught.
"I suppose our bishops are sincere in their beliefs,"
she said with her sweetest smile.
"I'm sure I hope so.
I have no possible reason to doubt it as to the two or three whom I have seen,
--nor indeed as to all the rest whom I have not seen."
"They are so much respected everywhere as good and pious men!"
"I do not doubt it.
Nothing tends so much to respect as a good income.
But they may be excellent men without being excellent bishops.
I find no fault with them,
but much with the system by which they are controlled.
Is it probable that a man should be fitted to select guides for other men's souls because he has succeeded by infinite labour in his vocation in becoming the leader of a majority in the House of Commons?"
said Lady Carbury,
who did not in the least understand the nature of the question put to her.
"And when you've got your bishop,
is it likely that a man should be able to do his duty in that capacity who has no power of his own to decide whether a clergyman under him is or is not fit for his duty?"
"The English people,
or some of them,
--that some being the richest,
the most powerful,
--like to play at having a Church,
though there is not sufficient faith in them to submit to the control of a Church."
"Do you think men should be controlled by clergymen,
"In matters of faith I do;
at least you make that profession.
You declare it to be your duty to submit yourself to your spiritual pastors and masters."
was for children,"
said Lady Carbury.
in the catechism,
'My good child.'"
"It is what you were taught as a child before you had made profession of your faith to a bishop,
in order that you might know your duty when you had ceased to be a child.
I quite agree,
that the matter,
as viewed by your Church,
is childish altogether,
and intended only for children.
As a rule,
adults with you want no religion."
"I am afraid that is true of a great many."
"It is marvellous to me that,
when a man thinks of it,
he should not be driven by very fear to the comforts of a safer faith,
he enjoy the security of absolute infidelity."
"That is worse than anything,"
said Lady Carbury with a sigh and a shudder.
"I don't know that it is worse than a belief which is no belief,"
said the priest with energy;
--"than a creed which sits so easily on a man that he does not even know what it contains,
and never asks himself as he repeats it,
whether it be to him credible or incredible."
"That is very bad,"
said Lady Carbury.
"We're getting too deep,
putting down the book which he had in vain been trying to read.
"I think it is so pleasant to have a little serious conversation on Sunday evening,"
said Lady Carbury.
The priest drew himself back into his chair and smiled.
He was quite clever enough to understand that Lady Carbury had been talking nonsense,
and clever enough also to be aware of the cause of Roger's uneasiness.
But Lady Carbury might be all the easier converted because she understood nothing and was fond of ambitious talking;
and Roger Carbury might possibly be forced into conviction by the very feeling which at present made him unwilling to hear arguments.
"I don't like hearing my Church ill-spoken of,"
"You wouldn't like me if I thought ill of it and spoke well of it,"
said the priest.
the less said the sooner mended,"
rising from his chair.
Upon this Father Barham took his departure and walked away to Beccles.
It might be that he had sowed some seed.
It might be that he had,
at any rate,
ploughed some ground.
Even the attempt to plough the ground was a good work which would not be forgotten.
The following morning was the time on which Roger had fixed for repeating his suit to Henrietta.
He had determined that it should be so,
and though the words had been almost on his tongue during that Sunday afternoon,
he had repressed them because he would do as he had determined.
He was conscious,
almost painfully conscious,
of a certain increase of tenderness in his cousin's manner towards him.
All that pride of independence,
which had amounted almost to roughness,
when she was in London,
seemed to have left her.
When he greeted her morning and night,
she looked softly into his face.
She cherished the flowers which he gave her.
He could perceive that if he expressed the slightest wish in any matter about the house she would attend to it.
There had been a word said about punctuality,
and she had become punctual as the hand of the clock.
There was not a glance of her eye,
nor a turn of her hand,
that he did not watch,
and calculate its effect as regarded himself.
But because she was tender to him and observant,
he did not by any means allow himself to believe that her heart was growing into love for him.
He thought that he understood the working of her mind.
She could see how great was his disgust at her brother's doings;
how fretted he was by her mother's conduct.
took part with him against those who were nearer to herself,
--she was kind to him.
It was thus he read it,
and he read it almost with exact accuracy.
he said after breakfast,
"come out into the garden awhile."
"Are not you going to the men?"
at any rate.
I do not always go to the men as you call it."
She put on her hat and tripped out with him,
knowing well that she had been summoned to hear the old story.
She had been sure,
as soon as she found the white rose in her room,
that the old story would be repeated again before she left Carbury;
up to this time,
she had hardly made up her mind what answer she would give to it.
That she could not take his offer,
she thought she did know.
She knew well that she loved the other man.
That other man had never asked her for her love,
but she thought that she knew that he desired it.
But in spite of all this there had in truth grown up in her bosom a feeling of tenderness towards her cousin so strong that it almost tempted her to declare to herself that he ought to have what he wanted,
simply because he wanted it.
He was so good,
that it almost seemed to her that she could not be justified in refusing him.
And she had gone entirely over to his side in regard to the Melmottes.
Her mother had talked to her of the charm of Mr. Melmotte's money,
till her very heart had been sickened.
There was nothing noble there;
as contrasted with that,
Roger's conduct and bearing were those of a fine gentleman who knew neither fear nor shame.
Should such a one be doomed to pine for ever because a girl could not love him,
--a man born to be loved,
if nobility and tenderness and truth were lovely!
"put your arm here."
She gave him her arm.
"I was a little annoyed last night by that priest.
I want to be civil to him,
and now he is always turning against me."
"He doesn't do any harm,
"He does do harm if he teaches you and me to think lightly of those things which we have been brought up to revere."
it isn't about love this time;
it's only about the Church.
"He ought not to say things before my guests as to our way of believing,
which I wouldn't under any circumstances say as to his.
I didn't quite like your hearing it."
"I don't think he'll do me any harm.
I'm not at all that way given.
I suppose they all do it.
It's their business."
I brought him here just because I thought it was a pity that a man born and bred like a gentleman should never see the inside of a comfortable house."
"I liked him;
--only I didn't like his saying stupid things about the bishop."
"And I like him."
Then there was a pause.
"I suppose your brother does not talk to you much about his own affairs."
"His own affairs,
Do you mean money?
He never says a word to me about money."
"I meant about the Melmottes."
not to me.
Felix hardly ever speaks to me about anything."
"I wonder whether she has accepted him."
"I think she very nearly did accept him in London."
"I can't quite sympathise with your mother in all her feelings about this marriage,
because I do not think that I recognise as she does the necessity of money."
"Felix is so disposed to be extravagant."
But I was going to say that though I cannot bring myself to say anything to encourage her about this heiress,
I quite recognise her unselfish devotion to his interests."
"Mamma thinks more of him than of anything,"
not in the least intending to accuse her mother of indifference to herself.
"I know it;
and though I happen to think myself that her other child would better repay her devotion,"
--this he said,
looking up to Hetta and smiling,
--"I quite feel how good a mother she is to Felix.
when she first came the other day we almost had a quarrel."
"I felt that there was something unpleasant."
"And then Felix coming after his time put me out.
I am getting old and cross,
or I should not mind such things."
"I think you are so good,
--and so kind."
As she said this she leaned upon his arm almost as though she meant to tell him that she loved him.
"I have been angry with myself,"
"and so I am making you my father confessor.
Open confession is good for the soul sometimes,
and I think that you would understand me better than your mother."
"I do understand you;
but don't think there is any fault to confess."
"You will not exact any penance?"
She only looked at him and smiled.
"I am going to put a penance on myself all the same.
I can't congratulate your brother on his wooing over at Caversham,
as I know nothing about it,
but I will express some civil wish to him about things in general."
"Will that be a penance?"
"If you could look into my mind you'd find that it would.
I'm full of fretful anger against him for half-a-dozen little frivolous things.
Didn't he throw his cigar on the path?
Didn't he lie in bed on Sunday instead of going to church?"
"But then he was travelling all the Saturday night."
"Whose fault was that?
But don't you see it is the triviality of the offence which makes the penance necessary.
Had he knocked me over the head with a pickaxe,
or burned the house down,
I should have had a right to be angry.
But I was angry because he wanted a horse on Sunday;
--and therefore I must do penance."
There was nothing of love in all this.
did not wish him to talk of love.
He was certainly now treating her as a friend,
--as a most intimate friend.
If he would only do that without making love to her,
how happy could she be!
But his determination still held good.
altering his tone altogether,
"I must speak about myself."
Immediately the weight of her hand upon his arm was lessened.
Thereupon he put his left hand round and pressed her arm to his.
"do not make any change towards me while I speak to you.
Whatever comes of it we shall at any rate be cousins and friends."
And now listen to me for I have much to say.
I will not tell you again that I love you.
You know it,
or else you must think me the vainest and falsest of men.
It is not only that I love you,
but I am so accustomed to concern myself with one thing only,
so constrained by the habits and nature of my life to confine myself to single interests,
that I cannot as it were escape from my love.
I am thinking of it always,
often despising myself because I think of it so much.
let a woman be ever so good,
--and you to me are all that is good,
--a man should not allow his love to dominate his intellect."
I calculate my chances within my own bosom almost as a man might calculate his chances of heaven.
I should like you to know me just as I am,
the weak and the strong together.
I would not win you by a lie if I could.
I think of you more than I ought to do.
I am sure,
--quite sure that you are the only possible mistress of this house during my tenure of it.
If I am ever to live as other men do,
and to care about the things which other men care for,
it must be as your husband."
--pray do not say that."
I think that I have a right to say it,
--and a right to expect that you should believe me.
I will not ask you to be my wife if you do not love me.
Not that I should fear aught for myself,
but that you should not be pressed to make a sacrifice of yourself because I am your friend and cousin.
But I think it is quite possible you might come to love me,
--unless your heart be absolutely given away elsewhere."
"What am I to say?"
"We each of us know of what the other is thinking.
If Paul Montague has robbed me of my love --?"
"Mr. Montague has never said a word."
"If he had,
I think he would have wronged me.
He met you in my house,
and I think must have known what my feelings were towards you."
"But he never has."
"We have been like brothers together,
--one brother being very much older than the other,
or like father and son.
I think he should place his hopes elsewhere."
"What am I to say?
If he have such hope he has not told me.
I think it almost cruel that a girl should be asked in that way."
I should not wish to be cruel to you.
Of course I know the way of the world in such matters.
I have no right to ask you about Paul Montague,
--no right to expect an answer.
But it is all the world to me.
You can understand that I should think you might learn to love even me,
if you loved no one else."
The tone of his voice was manly,
and at the same time full of entreaty.
His eyes as he looked at her were bright with love and anxiety.
She not only believed him as to the tale which he now told her;
but she believed in him altogether.
She knew that he was a staff on which a woman might safely lean,
trusting to it for comfort and protection in life.
In that moment she all but yielded to him.
Had he seized her in his arms and kissed her then,
I think she would have yielded.
She did all but love him.
She so regarded him that had it been some other woman that he craved,
she would have used every art she knew to have backed his suit,
and would have been ready to swear that any woman was a fool who refused him.
She almost hated herself because she was unkind to one who so thoroughly deserved kindness.
As it was she made him no answer,
but continued to walk beside him trembling.
"I thought I would tell it you all,
because I wish you to know exactly the state of my mind.
I would show you if I could all my heart and all my thoughts about yourself as in a glass case.
Do not coy your love for me if you can feel it.
When you know,
that a man's heart is set upon a woman as mine is set on you,
so that it is for you to make his life bright or dark,
for you to open or to shut the gates of his earthly Paradise,
I think you will be above keeping him in darkness for the sake of a girlish scruple."
"If ever there should come a time in which you can say it truly,
remember my truth to you and say it boldly.
I at least shall never change.
Of course if you love another man and give yourself to him,
it will be all over.
Tell me that boldly also.
I have said it all now.
God bless you,
my own heart's darling.
--I hope I may be strong enough through it all to think more of your happiness than of my own."
Then he parted from her abruptly,
taking his way over one of the bridges,
and leaving her to find her way into the house alone.
LADY POMONA'S DINNER PARTY.
Roger Carbury's half formed plan of keeping Henrietta at home while Lady Carbury and Sir Felix went to dine at Caversham fell to the ground.
It was to be carried out only in the event of Hetta's yielding to his prayer.
But he had in fact not made a prayer,
and Hetta had certainly yielded nothing.
When the evening came,
Lady Carbury started with her son and daughter,
and Roger was left alone.
In the ordinary course of his life he was used to solitude.
During the greater part of the year he would eat and drink and live without companionship;
so that there was to him nothing peculiarly sad in this desertion.
But on the present occasion he could not prevent himself from dwelling on the loneliness of his lot in life.
These cousins of his who were his guests cared nothing for him.
Lady Carbury had come to his house simply that it might be useful to her;
Sir Felix did not pretend to treat him with even ordinary courtesy;
and Hetta herself,
though she was soft to him and gracious,
was soft and gracious through pity rather than love.
On this day he had,
asked her for nothing;
but he had almost brought himself to think that she might give all that he wanted without asking.
when he told her of the greatness of his love,
and of its endurance,
she was simply silent.
When the carriage taking them to dinner went away down the road,
he sat on the parapet of the bridge in front of the house listening to the sound of the horses' feet,
and telling himself that there was nothing left for him in life.
If ever one man had been good to another,
he had been good to Paul Montague,
and now Paul Montague was robbing him of everything he valued in the world.
His thoughts were not logical,
nor was his mind exact.
The more he considered it,
the stronger was his inward condemnation of his friend.
He had never mentioned to anyone the services he had rendered to Montague.
In speaking of him to Hetta he had alluded only to the affection which had existed between them.
But he felt that because of those services his friend Montague had owed it to him not to fall in love with the girl he loved;
and he thought that if,
this had happened unawares,
Montague should have retired as soon as he learned the truth.
He could not bring himself to forgive his friend,
even though Hetta had assured him that his friend had never spoken to her of love.
He was sore all over,
and it was Paul Montague who made him sore.
Had there been no such man at Carbury when Hetta came there,
Hetta might now have been mistress of the house.
He sat there till the servant came to tell him that his dinner was on the table.
Then he crept in and ate,
--so that the man might not see his sorrow;
he sat with a book in his hand seeming to read.
But he read not a word,
for his mind was fixed altogether on his cousin Hetta.
"What a poor creature a man is,"
he said to himself,
"who is not sufficiently his own master to get over a feeling like this."
At Caversham there was a very grand party,
--as grand almost as a dinner party can be in the country.
There were the Earl and Countess of Loddon and Lady Jane Pewet from Loddon Park,
and the bishop and his wife,
and the Hepworths.
with the Carburys and the parson's family,
and the people staying in the house,
made twenty-four at the dinner table.
As there were fourteen ladies and only ten men,
the banquet can hardly be said to have been very well arranged.
But those things cannot be done in the country with the exactness which the appliances of London make easy;
and then the Longestaffes,
though they were decidedly people of fashion,
were not famous for their excellence in arranging such matters.
was lacking in exactness,
it was made up in grandeur.
There were three powdered footmen,
and in that part of the country Lady Pomona alone was served after this fashion;
and there was a very heavy butler,
whose appearance of itself was sufficient to give éclat to a family.
The grand saloon in which nobody ever lived was thrown open,
and sofas and chairs on which nobody ever sat were uncovered.
It was not above once in the year that this kind of thing was done at Caversham;
but when it was done,
nothing was spared which could contribute to the magnificence of the fête.
Lady Pomona and her two tall daughters standing up to receive the little Countess of Loddon and Lady Jane Pewet,
who was the image of her mother on a somewhat smaller scale,
while Madame Melmotte and Marie stood behind as though ashamed of themselves,
was a sight to see.
Then the Carburys came,
and then Mrs. Yeld with the bishop.
The grand room was soon fairly full;
but nobody had a word to say.
The bishop was generally a man of much conversation,
and Lady Loddon,
if she were well pleased with her listeners,
could talk by the hour without ceasing.
But on this occasion nobody could utter a word.
Lord Loddon pottered about,
making a feeble attempt,
in which he was seconded by no one.
Lord Alfred stood,
stroking his grey moustache with his hand.
That much greater man,
put his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat,
and was impassible.
The bishop saw at a glance the hopelessness of the occasion,
and made no attempt.
The master of the house shook hands with each guest as he entered,
and then devoted his mind to expectation of the next comer.
Lady Pomona and her two daughters were grand and handsome,
but weary and dumb.
In accordance with the treaty,
Madame Melmotte had been entertained civilly for four entire days.
It could not be expected that the ladies of Caversham should come forth unwearied after such a struggle.
When dinner was announced Felix was allowed to take in Marie Melmotte.
There can be no doubt but that the Caversham ladies did execute their part of the treaty.
They were led to suppose that this arrangement would be desirable to the Melmottes,
and they made it.
The great Augustus himself went in with Lady Carbury,
much to her satisfaction.
She also had been dumb in the drawing-room;
it would be her duty to exert herself.
"I hope you like Suffolk,"
I thank you.
--very nice place for a little fresh air."
--that's just it,
When the summer comes one does long so to see the flowers."
"We have better flowers in our balconies than any I see down here,"
said Mr. Melmotte.
--because you can command the floral tribute of the world at large.
What is there that money will not do?
It can turn a London street into a bower of roses,
and give you grottoes in Grosvenor Square."
"It's a very nice place,
"If you have got plenty of money,
"And if you have not,
it's the best place I know to get it.
Do you live in London,
He had quite forgotten Lady Carbury even if he had seen her at his house,
and with the dulness of hearing common to men,
had not picked up her name when told to take her out to dinner.
I live in London.
I have had the honour of being entertained by you there."
This she said with her sweetest smile.
So many do come,
that I don't always just remember."
"How should you,
--with all the world flocking round you?
I am Lady Carbury,
the mother of Sir Felix Carbury,
whom I think you will remember."
I know Sir Felix.
He's sitting there,
next to my daughter."
"I don't know much about that.
Young men don't get their happiness in that way now.
They've got other things to think of."
"He thinks so much of his business."
I didn't know,"
said Mr. Melmotte.
"He sits at the same Board with you,
--that's his business!"
said Mr. Melmotte,
with a grim smile.
Lady Carbury was very clever as to many things,
and was not ill-informed on matters in general that were going on around her;
but she did not know much about the city,
and was profoundly ignorant as to the duties of those Directors of whom,
from time to time,
she saw the names in a catalogue.
"I trust that he is diligent,
"and that he is aware of the great privilege which he enjoys in having the advantage of your counsel and guidance."
"He don't trouble me much,
and I don't trouble him much."
After this Lady Carbury said no more as to her son's position in the city.
She endeavoured to open various other subjects of conversation;
but she found Mr. Melmotte to be heavy on her hands.
After a while she had to abandon him in despair,
and give herself up to raptures in favour of Protestantism at the bidding of the Caversham parson,
who sat on the other side of her,
and who had been worked to enthusiasm by some mention of Father Barham's name.
Opposite to her,
or nearly so,
sat Sir Felix and his love.
"I have told mamma,"
Marie had whispered,
as she walked in to dinner with him.
She was now full of the idea so common to girls who are engaged,
--and as natural as it is common,
--that she might tell everything to her lover.
"Did she say anything?"
Then Marie had to take her place and arrange her dress before she could reply to him.
"As to her,
I suppose it does not matter what she says,
"She said a great deal.
She thinks that papa will think you are not rich enough.
Talk about something else,
or people will hear."
So much she had been able to say during the bustle.
Felix was not at all anxious to talk about his love,
and changed the subject very willingly.
"Have you been riding?"
I don't think there are horses here,
--not for visitors,
How did you get home?
Did you have any adventures?"
"None at all,"
remembering Ruby Ruggles.
"I just rode home quietly.
I go to town to-morrow."
"And we go on Wednesday.
Mind you come and see us before long."
This she said bringing her voice down to a whisper.
"Of course I shall.
I suppose I'd better go to your father in the city.
Does he go every day?"
He's back always about seven.
Sometimes he's good-natured enough when he comes back,
but sometimes he's very cross.
He's best just after dinner.
But it's so hard to get to him then.
Lord Alfred is almost always there;
and then other people come,
and they play cards.
I think the city will be best."
"You'll stick to it?"
--indeed I will.
Now that I've once said it nothing will ever turn me.
I think papa knows that."
Felix looked at her as she said this,
and thought that he saw more in her countenance than he had ever read there before.
Perhaps she would consent to run away with him;
being the only child,
she would certainly,
But if he were to run away with her and marry her,
and then find that she were not forgiven,
and that Melmotte allowed her to starve without a shilling of fortune,
where would he be then?
Looking at the matter in all its bearings,
considering among other things the trouble and the expense of such a measure,
he thought that he could not afford to run away with her.
After dinner he hardly spoke to her;
the room itself,
--the same big room in which they had been assembled before the feast,
--seemed to be ill-adapted for conversation.
Again nobody talked to anybody,
and the minutes went very heavily till at last the carriages were there to take them all home.
"They arranged that you should sit next to her,"
said Lady Carbury to her son,
as they were in the carriage.
I suppose that came naturally;
--one young man and one young woman,
"Those things are always arranged,
and they would not have done it unless they had thought that it would please Mr. Melmotte.
if you can bring it about."
"I shall if I can,
you needn't make a fuss about it."
You cannot wonder that I should be anxious.
You behaved beautifully to her at dinner;
I was so happy to see you together.
and God bless you!"
she said again,
as they were parting for the night.
"I shall be the happiest and the proudest mother in England if this comes about."
EVERYBODY GOES TO THEM.
When the Melmottes went from Caversham the house was very desolate.
The task of entertaining these people was indeed over,
and had the return to London been fixed for a certain near day,
there would have been comfort at any rate among the ladies of the family.
But this was so far from being the case that the Thursday and Friday passed without anything being settled,
and dreadful fears began to fill the minds of Lady Pomona and Sophia Longestaffe.
Georgiana was also impatient,
but she asserted boldly that treachery,
such as that which her mother and sister contemplated,
would not dare to propose it.
On each of these days,
--three or four times daily,
--hints were given and questions were asked,
but without avail.
Mr. Longestaffe would not consent to have a day fixed till he had received some particular letter,
and would not even listen to the suggestion of a day.
"I suppose we can go at any rate on Tuesday,"
Georgiana said on the Friday evening.
"I don't know why you should suppose anything of the kind,"
the father replied.
Poor Lady Pomona was urged by her daughters to compel him to name a day;
but Lady Pomona was less audacious in urging the request than her younger child,
and at the same time less anxious for its completion.
On the Sunday morning before they went to church there was a great discussion up-stairs.
The Bishop of Elmham was going to preach at Caversham church,
and the three ladies were dressed in their best London bonnets.
They were in their mother's room,
having just completed the arrangements of their church-going toilet.
It was supposed that the expected letter had arrived.
Mr. Longestaffe had certainly received a dispatch from his lawyer,
but had not as yet vouchsafed any reference to its contents.
He had been more than ordinarily silent at breakfast,
--so Sophia asserted,
--more disagreeable than ever.
The question had now arisen especially in reference to their bonnets.
"You might as well wear them,"
said Lady Pomona,
"for I am sure you will not be in London again this year."
"You don't mean it,
He looked like it when he put those papers back into his pocket.
I know what his face means so well."
"It is not possible,"
and he got us to have those horrid people because he promised."
if your father says that we can't go back,
I suppose we must take his word for it.
It is he must decide of course.
What he meant I suppose was,
that he would take us back if he could."
Was there to be treachery not only on the part of their natural adversary,
adversary though he was,
had bound himself to terms by a treaty,
but treachery also in their own camp!
what can we do?"
said Lady Pomona.
Georgiana was now going to speak out plainly.
"Make him understand that we are not going to be sat upon like that.
I'll do something,
if that's going to be the way of it.
If he treats me like that I'll run off with the first man that will take me,
let him be who it may."
"Don't talk like that,
unless you wish to kill me."
"I'll break his heart for him.
He does not care about us,
--not the least,
--whether we are happy or miserable;
but he cares very much about the family name.
I'll tell him that I'm not going to be a slave.
I'll marry a London tradesman before I'll stay down here."
The younger Miss Longestaffe was lost in passion at the prospect before her.
don't say such horrid things as that,"
pleaded her sister.
"It's all very well for you,
You've got George Whitstable."
"I haven't got George Whitstable."
and your fish is fried.
Dolly does just what he pleases,
and spends money as fast as he likes.
Of course it makes no difference to you,
where you are."
"You are very unjust,"
said Lady Pomona,
"and you say horrid things."
"I ain't unjust at all.
It doesn't matter to you.
And Sophy is the same as settled.
But I'm to be sacrificed!
How am I to see anybody down here in this horrid hole?
Papa promised and he must keep his word."
Then there came to them a loud voice calling to them from the hall.
"Are any of you coming to church,
or are you going to keep the carriage waiting all day?"
Of course they were all going to church.
They always did go to church when they were at Caversham;
and would more especially do so to-day,
because of the bishop and because of the bonnets.
They trooped down into the hall and into the carriage,
Lady Pomona leading the way.
Georgiana stalked along,
passing her father at the front door without condescending to look at him.
Not a word was spoken on the way to church,
or on the way home.
During the service Mr. Longestaffe stood up in the corner of his pew,
and repeated the responses in a loud voice.
In performing this duty he had been an example to the parish all his life.
The three ladies knelt on their hassocks in the most becoming fashion,
and sat during the sermon without the slightest sign either of weariness or of attention.
They did not collect the meaning of any one combination of sentences.
It was nothing to them whether the bishop had or had not a meaning.
Endurance of that kind was their strength.
Had the bishop preached for forty-five minutes instead of half an hour they would not have complained.
It was the same kind of endurance which enabled Georgiana to go on from year to year waiting for a husband of the proper sort.
She could put up with any amount of tedium if only the fair chance of obtaining ultimate relief were not denied to her.
But to be kept at Caversham all the summer would be as bad as hearing a bishop preach for ever!
After the service they came back to lunch,
and that meal also was eaten in silence.
When it was over the head of the family put himself into the dining-room arm-chair,
evidently meaning to be left alone there.
In that case he would have meditated upon his troubles till he went to sleep,
and would have thus got through the afternoon with comfort.
But this was denied to him.
The two daughters remained steadfast while the things were being removed;
and Lady Pomona,
though she made one attempt to leave the room,
returned when she found that her daughters would not follow her.
Georgiana had told her sister that she meant to "have it out" with her father,
and Sophia had of course remained in the room in obedience to her sister's behest.
When the last tray had been taken out,
don't you think you could settle now when we are to go back to town?
Of course we want to know about engagements and all that.
There is Lady Monogram's party on Wednesday.
We promised to be there ever so long ago."
"You had better write to Lady Monogram and say you can't keep your engagement."
"But why not,
We could go up on Wednesday morning."
"You can't do anything of the kind."
we should all like to have a day fixed,"
said Lady Pomona.
Then there was a pause.
in her present state of mind,
would have accepted some distant,
even some undefined time,
as a compromise.
"Then you can't have a day fixed,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
"How long do you suppose that we shall be kept here?"
in a low constrained voice.
"I do not know what you mean by being kept here.
This is your home,
and this is where you may make up your minds to live."
"But we are to go back?"
Georgiana stood by in silence,
and biding her time.
"You'll not return to London this season,"
said Mr. Longestaffe,
turning himself abruptly to a newspaper which he held in his hands.
"Do you mean that that is settled?"
said Lady Pomona.
"I mean to say that that is settled,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
Was there ever treachery like this!
The indignation in Georgiana's mind approached almost to virtue as she thought of her father's falseness.
She would not have left town at all but for that promise.
She would not have contaminated herself with the Melmottes but for that promise.
And now she was told that the promise was to be absolutely broken,
when it was no longer possible that she could get back to London,
--even to the house of the hated Primeros,
--without absolutely running away from her father's residence!
with affected calmness,
"you have simply and with premeditation broken your word to us."
"How dare you speak to me in that way,
you wicked child!"
"I am not a child,
as you know very well.
I am my own mistress,
"Then go and be your own mistress.
You dare to tell me,
that I have premeditated a falsehood!
If you tell me that again,
you shall eat your meals in your own room or not eat them in this house."
"Did you not promise that we should go back if we would come down and entertain these people?"
"I will not argue with a child,
insolent and disobedient as you are.
If I have anything to say about it,
I will say it to your mother.
It should be enough for you that I,
tell you that you have to live here.
Now go away,
and if you choose to be sullen,
go and be sullen where I shan't see you."
Georgiana looked round on her mother and sister and then marched majestically out of the room.
She still meditated revenge,
but she was partly cowed,
and did not dare in her father's presence to go on with her reproaches.
She stalked off into the room in which they generally lived,
and there she stood panting with anger,
breathing indignation through her nostrils.
[Illustration: She marched majestically out of the room.]
"And you mean to put up with it,
"What can we do,
"I will do something.
I'm not going to be cheated and swindled and have my life thrown away into the bargain.
I have always behaved well to him.
I have never run up bills without saying anything about them."
This was a cut at her elder sister,
who had once got into some little trouble of that kind.
"I have never got myself talked about with any body.
If there is anything to be done I always do it.
I have written his letters for him till I have been sick,
and when you were ill I never asked him to stay out with us after two or half-past two at the latest.
And now he tells me that I am to eat my meals up in my bedroom because I remind him that he distinctly promised to take us back to London!
Did he not promise,
"I understood so,
"You know he promised,
If I do anything now he must bear the blame of it.
I am not going to keep myself straight for the sake of the family,
and then be treated in that way."
"You do that for your own sake,
said her sister.
"It is more than you've been able to do for anybody's sake,"
alluding to a very old affair,
--to an ancient flirtation,
in the course of which the elder daughter had made a foolish and a futile attempt to run away with an officer of dragoons whose private fortune was very moderate.
Ten years had passed since that,
and the affair was never alluded to except in moments of great bitterness.
"I've kept myself as straight as you have,"
"It's easy enough to be straight,
when a person never cares for anybody,
and nobody cares for a person."
if you quarrel what am I to do?"
said their mother.
"It is I that have to suffer,"
"Does he expect me to find anybody here that I could take?
Poor George Whitstable is not much;
but there is nobody else at all."
"You may have him if you like,"
with a chuck of her head.
but I shouldn't like it at all.
I haven't come to that quite yet."
"You were talking of running away with somebody."
"I shan't run away with George Whitstable;
you may be sure of that.
I'll tell you what I shall do,
--I will write papa a letter.
I suppose he'll condescend to read it.
If he won't take me up to town himself,
he must send me up to the Primeros.
What makes me most angry in the whole thing is that we should have condescended to be civil to the Melmottes down in the country.
In London one does those things,
but to have them here was terrible!"
During that entire afternoon nothing more was said.
Not a word passed between them on any subject beyond those required by the necessities of life.
Georgiana had been as hard to her sister as to her father,
and Sophia in her quiet way resented the affront.
She was now almost reconciled to the sojourn in the country,
because it inflicted a fitting punishment on Georgiana,
and the presence of Mr. Whitstable at a distance of not more than ten miles did of course make a difference to herself.
Lady Pomona complained of a headache,
which was always an excuse with her for not speaking;
--and Mr. Longestaffe went to sleep.
Georgiana during the whole afternoon remained apart,
and on the next morning the head of the family found the following letter on his dressing-table;
MY DEAR PAPA,
I don't think you ought to be surprised because we feel that our going up to town is so very important to us.
If we are not to be in London at this time of the year we can never see anybody,
and of course you know what that must mean for me.
If this goes on about Sophia,
it does not signify for her,
though mamma likes London,
it is not of real importance.
But it is very,
very hard upon me.
It isn't for pleasure that I want to go up.
There isn't so very much pleasure in it.
But if I'm to be buried down here at Caversham,
I might just as well be dead at once.
If you choose to give up both houses for a year,
or for two years,
and take us all abroad,
I should not grumble in the least.
There are very nice people to be met abroad,
and perhaps things go easier that way than in town.
And there would be nothing for horses,
and we could dress very cheap and wear our old things.
I'm sure I don't want to run up bills.
But if you would only think what Caversham must be to me,
without any one worth thinking about within twenty miles,
you would hardly ask me to stay here.
You certainly did say that if we would come down here with those Melmottes we should be taken back to town,
and you cannot be surprised that we should be disappointed when we are told that we are to be kept here after that.
It makes me feel that life is so hard that I can't bear it.
I see other girls having such chances when I have none,
that sometimes I think I don't know what will happen to me.
This was the nearest approach which she dared to make in writing to that threat which she had uttered to her mother of running away with somebody.
I suppose that now it is useless for me to ask you to take us all back this summer,
--though it was promised;
but I hope you'll give me money to go up to the Primeros.
It would only be me and my maid.
Julia Primero asked me to stay with them when you first talked of not going up,
and I should not in the least object to reminding her,
only it should be done at once.
Their house in Queen's Gate is very large,
and I know they've a room.
They all ride,
and I should want a horse;
but there would be nothing else,
as they have plenty of carriages,
and the groom who rides with Julia would do for both of us.
Pray answer this at once,
Your affectionate daughter,
Mr. Longestaffe did condescend to read the letter.
though he had rebuked his mutinous daughter with stern severity,
was also to some extent afraid of her.
At a sudden burst he could stand upon his authority,
and assume his position with parental dignity;
but not the less did he dread the wearing toil of continued domestic strife.
He thought that upon the whole his daughter liked a row in the house.
there surely would not be so many rows.
He himself thoroughly hated them.
He had not any very lively interest in life.
He did not read much;
he did not talk much;
he was not specially fond of eating and drinking;
he did not gamble,
and he did not care for the farm.
To stand about the door and hall and public rooms of the clubs to which he belonged and hear other men talk politics or scandal,
was what he liked better than anything else in the world.
But he was quite willing to give this up for the good of his family.
He would be contented to drag through long listless days at Caversham,
and endeavour to nurse his property,
if only his daughter would allow it.
By assuming a certain pomp in his living,
which had been altogether unserviceable to himself and family,
by besmearing his footmen's heads,
and bewigging his coachmen,
though never achieving,
the grand ways of grander men than himself,
he had run himself into debt.
His own ambition had been a peerage,
and he had thought that this was the way to get it.
A separate property had come to his son from his wife's mother,
--some £2,000 or £3,000 a year,
magnified by the world into double its amount,
--and the knowledge of this had for a time reconciled him to increasing the burdens on the family estates.
He had been sure that Adolphus,
when of age,
would have consented to sell the Sussex property in order that the Suffolk property might be relieved.
But Dolly was now in debt himself,
and though in other respects the most careless of men,
was always on his guard in any dealings with his father.
He would not consent to the sale of the Sussex property unless half of the proceeds were to be at once handed to himself.
The father could not bring himself to consent to this,
while refusing it,
found the troubles of the world very hard upon him.
Melmotte had done something for him,
--but in doing this Melmotte was very hard and tyrannical.
when at Caversham,
had looked into his affairs,
and had told him very plainly that with such an establishment in the country he was not entitled to keep a house in town.
Mr. Longestaffe had then said something about his daughters,
--something especially about Georgiana,
--and Mr. Melmotte had made a suggestion.
when he read his daughter's appeal,
did feel for her,
in spite of his anger.
But if there was one man he hated more than another,
it was his neighbour Mr. Primero;
and if one woman,
it was Mrs. Primero.
whom Mr. Longestaffe regarded as quite an upstart,
and anything but a gentleman,
owed no man anything.
He paid his tradesmen punctually,
and never met the squire of Caversham without seeming to make a parade of his virtue in that direction.
He had spent many thousands for his party in county elections and borough elections,
and was now himself member for a metropolitan district.
He was a radical,
according to Mr. Longestaffe's view of his political conduct,
acted and voted on the radical side because there was nothing to be got by voting and acting on the other.
And now there had come into Suffolk a rumour that Mr. Primero was to have a peerage.
To others the rumour was incredible,
but Mr. Longestaffe believed it,
and to Mr. Longestaffe that belief was an agony.
A Baron Bundlesham just at his door,
and such a Baron Bundlesham,
would be more than Mr. Longestaffe could endure.
It was quite impossible that his daughter should be entertained in London by the Primeros.
But another suggestion had been made.
Georgiana's letter had been laid on her father's table on the Monday morning.
On the following morning,
when there could have been no intercourse with London by letter,
Lady Pomona called her younger daughter to her,
and handed her a note to read.
"Your papa has this moment given it me.
Of course you must judge for yourself."
This was the note;
MY DEAR Mr. LONGESTAFFE,
As you seem determined not to return to London this season,
perhaps one of your young ladies would like to come to us.
Mrs. Melmotte would be delighted to have Miss Georgiana for June and July.
she need only give Mrs. Melmotte a day's notice.
as soon as her eye had glanced down the one side of note paper on which this invitation was written,
looked up for the date.
It was without a date,
she felt sure,
been left in her father's hands to be used as he might think fit.
She breathed very hard.
Both her father and mother had heard her speak of these Melmottes,
and knew what she thought of them.
There was an insolence in the very suggestion.
But at the first moment she said nothing of that.
"Why shouldn't I go to the Primeros?"
"Your father will not hear of it.
He dislikes them especially."
"And I dislike the Melmottes.
I dislike the Primeros of course,
but they are not so bad as the Melmottes.
That would be dreadful."
"You must judge for yourself,
"It is that,
--or staying here?"
"I think so,
"If papa chooses I don't know why I am to mind.
It will be awfully disagreeable,
"She seemed to be very quiet."
She was quiet here because she was afraid of us.
She isn't yet used to be with people like us.
She'll get over that if I'm in the house with her.
And then she is,
so frightfully vulgar!
She must have been the very sweeping of the gutters.
Did you not see it,
She could not even open her mouth,
she was so ashamed of herself.
I shouldn't wonder if they turned out to be something quite horrid.
They make me shudder.
Was there ever anything so dreadful to look at as he is?"
"Everybody goes to them,"
said Lady Pomona.
"The Duchess of Stevenage has been there over and over again,
and so has Lady Auld Reekie.
Everybody goes to their house."
"But everybody doesn't go and live with them.
--to have to sit down to breakfast every day for ten weeks with that man and that woman!"
"Perhaps they'll let you have your breakfast up-stairs."
"But to have to go out with them;
--walking into the room after her!
Only think of it!"
"But you are so anxious to be in London,
"Of course I am anxious.
What other chance have I,
I am so tired of it!
Papa talks of pleasure.
If papa had to work half as hard as I do,
I wonder what he'd think of it.
I suppose I must do it.
I know it will make me so ill that I shall almost die under it.
And papa to propose it,
who has always been so proud of everything,
--who used to think so much of being with the right set."
"Things are changed,
said the anxious mother.
"Indeed they are when papa wants me to go and stay with people like that.
the apothecary in Bungay is a fine gentleman compared with Mr. Melmotte,
and his wife is a fine lady compared with Madame Melmotte.
But I'll go.
If papa chooses me to be seen with such people it is not my fault.
There will be no disgracing one's self after that.
I don't believe in the least that any decent man would propose to a girl in such a house,
and you and papa must not be surprised if I take some horrid creature from the Stock Exchange.
Papa has altered his ideas;
I had better alter mine."
Georgiana did not speak to her father that night,
but Lady Pomona informed Mr. Longestaffe that Mr. Melmotte's invitation was to be accepted.
She herself would write a line to Madame Melmotte,
and Georgiana would go up on the Friday following.
"I hope she'll like it,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
The poor man had no intention of irony.
It was not in his nature to be severe after that fashion.
But to poor Lady Pomona the words sounded very cruel.
How could any one like to live in a house with Mr. and Madame Melmotte!
On the Friday morning there was a little conversation between the two sisters,
just before Georgiana's departure to the railway station,
which was almost touching.
She had endeavoured to hold up her head as usual,
but had failed.
The thing that she was going to do cowed her even in the presence of her sister.
I do so envy you staying here."
"But it was you who were so determined to be in London."
I was determined,
and am determined.
I've got to get myself settled somehow,
and that can't be done down here.
But you are not going to disgrace yourself."
"There's no disgrace in it,
I believe the man to be a swindler and a thief;
and I believe her to be anything low that you can think of.
As to their pretensions to be gentlefolk,
it is monstrous.
The footmen and housemaids would be much better."
"Then don't go,
"I must go.
It's the only chance that is left.
If I were to remain down here everybody would say that I was on the shelf.
You are going to marry Whitstable,
and you'll do very well.
It isn't a big place,
but there's no debt on it,
and Whitstable himself isn't a bad sort of fellow."
"Of course he hasn't much to say for himself,
for he's always at home.
But he is a gentleman."
"That he certainly is."
"As for me I shall give over caring about gentlemen now.
The first man that comes to me with four or five thousand a year,
I'll take him,
though he'd come out of Newgate or Bedlam.
And I shall always say it has been papa's doing."
And so Georgiana Longestaffe went up to London and stayed with the Melmottes.
LORD NIDDERDALE'S MORALITY.
It was very generally said in the city about this time that the Great South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway was the very best thing out.
It was known that Mr. Melmotte had gone into it with heart and hand.
There were many who declared,
--with gross injustice to the Great Fisker,
--that the railway was Melmotte's own child,
that he had invented it,
and floated it;
but it was not the less popular on that account.
A railway from Salt Lake City to Mexico no doubt had much of the flavour of a castle in Spain.
Our far-western American brethren are supposed to be imaginative.
Mexico has not a reputation among us for commercial security,
or that stability which produces its four,
or six per cent.
with the regularity of clockwork.
But there was the Panama railway,
a small affair which had paid twenty-five per cent.;
and there was the great line across the continent to San Francisco,
in which enormous fortunes had been made.
It came to be believed that men with their eyes open might do as well with the Great South Central as had ever been done before with other speculations,
and this belief was no doubt founded on Mr. Melmotte's partiality for the enterprise.
Mr. Fisker had "struck
'ile" when he induced his partner,
to give him a note to the great man.
Paul Montague himself,
who cannot be said to have been a man having his eyes open,
in the city sense of the word,
could not learn how the thing was progressing.
At the regular meetings of the Board,
which never sat for above half an hour,
two or three papers were read by Miles Grendall.
Melmotte himself would speak a few slow words,
intended to be cheery,
and always indicative of triumph,
and then everybody would agree to everything,
somebody would sign something,
and the "Board" for that day would be over.
To Paul Montague this was very unsatisfactory.
More than once or twice he endeavoured to stay the proceedings,
not as disapproving,
but "simply as desirous of being made to understand;"
but the silent scorn of his chairman put him out of countenance,
and the opposition of his colleagues was a barrier which he was not strong enough to overcome.
Lord Alfred Grendall would declare that he "did not think all that was at all necessary."
with whom Montague had now become intimate at the Beargarden,
would nudge him in the ribs and bid him hold his tongue.
Mr. Cohenlupe would make a little speech in fluent but broken English,
assuring the Committee that everything was being done after the approved city fashion.
after the first two meetings,
was never there.
And thus Paul Montague,
with a sorely burdened conscience,
was carried along as one of the Directors of the Great South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway Company.
I do not know whether the burden was made lighter to him or heavier,
by the fact that the immediate pecuniary result was certainly very comfortable.
The Company had not yet been in existence quite six weeks,
--or at any rate Melmotte had not been connected with it above that time,
--and it had already been suggested to him twice that he should sell fifty shares at £112 10-s-.
He did not even yet know how many shares he possessed,
but on both occasions he consented to the proposal,
and on the following day received a cheque for £625,
--that sum representing the profit over and above the original nominal price of £100 a share.
The suggestion was made to him by Miles Grendall,
and when he asked some questions as to the manner in which the shares had been allocated,
he was told that all that would be arranged in accordance with the capital invested and must depend on the final disposition of the Californian property.
"But from what we see,
"I don't think you have anything to fear.
You seem to be about the best in of them all.
Melmotte wouldn't advise you to sell out gradually,
if he didn't look upon the thing as a certain income as far as you are concerned."
Paul Montague understood nothing of all this,
and felt that he was standing on ground which might be blown from under his feet at any moment.
and what he feared might be the dishonesty,
of the whole thing,
made him often very miserable.
In those wretched moments his conscience was asserting itself.
But again there were times in which he also was almost triumphant,
and in which he felt the delight of his wealth.
Though he was snubbed at the Board when he wanted explanations,
he received very great attention outside the board-room from those connected with the enterprise.
Melmotte had asked him to dine two or three times.
Mr. Cohenlupe had begged him to go down to his little place at Rickmansworth,
--an entreaty with which Montague had not as yet complied.
Lord Alfred was always gracious to him,
and Nidderdale and Carbury were evidently anxious to make him one of their set at the club.
Many other houses became open to him from the same source.
Though Melmotte was supposed to be the inventor of the railway,
it was known that Fisker,
and Montague were largely concerned in it,
and it was known also that Paul Montague was one of the Montagues named in that firm.
both in the City and the West End,
seemed to think that he knew all about it,
and treated him as though some of the manna falling from that heaven were at his disposition.
There were results from this which were not unpleasing to the young man.
He only partially resisted the temptation;
and though determined at times to probe the affair to the bottom,
was so determined only at times.
The money was very pleasant to him.
The period would now soon arrive before which he understood himself to be pledged not to make a distinct offer to Henrietta Carbury;
and when that period should have been passed,
it would be delightful to him to know that he was possessed of property sufficient to enable him to give a wife a comfortable home.
In all his aspirations,
and in all his fears,
he was true to Hetta Carbury,
and made her the centre of his hopes.
had Hetta known everything,
it may be feared that she would have at any rate endeavoured to dismiss him from her heart.
There was considerable uneasiness in the bosoms of others of the Directors,
and a disposition to complain against the Grand Director,
arising from a grievance altogether different from that which afflicted Montague.
Neither had Sir Felix Carbury nor Lord Nidderdale been invited to sell shares,
and consequently neither of them had received any remuneration for the use of their names.
They knew well that Montague had sold shares.
He was quite open on the subject,
and had told Felix,
whom he hoped some day to regard as his brother-in-law,
exactly what shares he had sold,
and for how much;
--and the two men had endeavoured to make the matter intelligible between themselves.
The original price of the shares being £100 each,
and £12 10-s.- a share having been paid to Montague as the premium,
it was to be supposed that the original capital was re-invested in other shares.
But each owned to the other that the matter was very complicated to him,
and Montague could only write to Hamilton K. Fisker at San Francisco asking for explanation.
As yet he had received no answer.
But it was not the wealth flowing into Montague's hands which embittered Nidderdale and Carbury.
They understood that he had really brought money into the concern,
and was therefore entitled to take money out of it.
Nor did it occur to them to grudge Melmotte his more noble pickings,
for they knew how great a man was Melmotte.
Of Cohenlupe's doings they heard nothing;
but he was a regular city man,
and had probably supplied funds.
Cohenlupe was too deep for their inquiry.
But they knew that Lord Alfred had sold shares,
and had received the profit;
and they knew also how utterly impossible it was that Lord Alfred should have produced capital.
If Lord Alfred Grendall was entitled to plunder,
why were not they?
And if their day for plunder had not yet come,
why had Lord Alfred's?
And if there was so much cause to fear Lord Alfred that it was necessary to throw him a bone,
why should not they also make themselves feared?
Lord Alfred passed all his time with Melmotte,
as these young men said,
become Melmotte's head valet,
--and therefore had to be paid.
But that reason did not satisfy the young men.
"You haven't sold any shares;
This question Sir Felix asked Lord Nidderdale at the club.
Nidderdale was constant in his attendance at the Board,
and Felix was not a little afraid that he might be jockied also by him.
"Not a share."
"Nor got any profits?"
"Not a shilling of any kind.
As far as money is concerned my only transaction has been my part of the expense of Fisker's dinner."
"What do you get then,
by going into the city?"
asked Sir Felix.
"I'm blessed if I know what I get.
I suppose something will turn up some day."
"In the meantime,
there are our names.
And Grendall is making a fortune out of it."
"Poor old duffer,"
said his lordship.
"If he's doing so well,
I think Miles ought to be made to pay up something of what he owes.
I think we ought to tell him that we shall expect him to have the money ready when that bill of Vossner's comes round."
let's tell him that.
Will you do it?"
"Not that it will be the least good.
It would be quite unnatural to him to pay anything."
"Fellows used to pay their gambling debts,"
said Sir Felix,
who was still in funds,
and who still held a considerable assortment of I.
"They don't now,
--unless they like it.
How did a fellow manage before,
if he hadn't got it?"
"He went smash,"
said Sir Felix,
"and disappeared and was never heard of any more.
It was just the same as if he'd been found cheating.
I believe a fellow might cheat now and nobody'd say anything!"
said Lord Nidderdale.
"What's the use of being beastly ill-natured?
I'm not very good at saying my prayers,
but I do think there's something in that bit about forgiving people.
Of course cheating isn't very nice: and it isn't very nice for a fellow to play when he knows he can't pay;
but I don't know that it's worse than getting drunk like Dolly Longestaffe,
or quarrelling with everybody as Grasslough does,
--or trying to marry some poor devil of a girl merely because she's got money.
I believe in living in glass houses,
but I don't believe in throwing stones.
Do you ever read the Bible,
"Read the Bible!
I used to do."
"I often think I shouldn't have been the first to pick up a stone and pitch it at that woman.
Live and let live;
--that's my motto."
"But you agree that we ought to do something about these shares?"
said Sir Felix,
thinking that this doctrine of forgiveness might be carried too far.
I'll let old Grendall live with all my heart;
but then he ought to let me live too.
who's to bell the cat?"
"It's no good our going to old Grendall,"
said Lord Nidderdale,
who had some understanding in the matter,
"nor yet to young Grendall.
The one would only grunt and say nothing,
and the other would tell every lie that came into his head.
The cat in this matter I take to be our great master,
This little meeting occurred on the day after Felix Carbury's return from Suffolk,
and at a time at which,
as we know,
it was the great duty of his life to get the consent of old Melmotte to his marriage with Marie Melmotte.
In doing that he would have to put one bell on the cat,
and he thought that for the present that was sufficient.
In his heart of hearts he was afraid of Melmotte.
as he knew very well,
Nidderdale was intent on the same object.
was a very queer fellow.
That talking about the Bible,
and the forgiving of trespasses,
was very queer;
and that allusion to the marrying of heiresses very queer indeed.
He knew that Nidderdale wanted to marry the heiress,
and Nidderdale must also know that he wanted to marry her.
And yet Nidderdale was indelicate enough to talk about it!
And now the man asked who should bell the cat!
"You go there oftener than I do,
and perhaps you could do it best,"
said Sir Felix.
"To the Board."
"But you're always at his house.
He'd be civil to me,
because I'm a lord: but then,
for the same reason,
he'd think I was the bigger fool of the two."
"I don't see that at all,"
said Sir Felix.
"I ain't afraid of him,
if you mean that,"
continued Lord Nidderdale.
"He's a wretched old reprobate,
and I don't doubt but he'd skin you and me if he could make money off our carcasses.
But as he can't skin me,
I'll have a shy at him.
On the whole I think he rather likes me,
because I've always been on the square with him.
If it depended on him,
I should have the girl to-morrow."
Sir Felix did not at all mean to doubt his friend's assertion,
but felt it hard to answer so very strange a statement.
"But then she don't want me,
and I ain't quite sure that I want her.
Where the devil would a fellow find himself if the money wasn't all there?"
Lord Nidderdale then sauntered away,
leaving the baronet in a deep study of thought as to such a condition of things as that which his lordship had suggested.
Where the --mischief would he,
Sir Felix Carbury,
if he were to marry the girl,
and then to find that the money was not all there?
On the following Friday,
which was the Board day,
Nidderdale went to the great man's offices in Abchurch Lane,
and so contrived that he walked with the great man to the Board meeting.
Melmotte was always very gracious in his manner to Lord Nidderdale,
but had never,
up to this moment,
had any speech with his proposed son-in-law about business.
"I wanted just to ask you something,"
said the lord,
hanging on the chairman's arm.
"Anything you please,
"Don't you think that Carbury and I ought to have some shares to sell?"
--if you ask me."
--I didn't know.
But why shouldn't we as well as the others?"
"Have you and Sir Felix put any money into it?"
if you come to that,
I don't suppose we have.
How much has Lord Alfred put into it?"
"-I- have taken shares for Lord Alfred,"
putting very heavy emphasis on the personal pronoun.
"If it suits me to advance money to Lord Alfred Grendall,
I suppose I may do so without asking your lordship's consent,
or that of Sir Felix Carbury."
I don't want to make inquiry as to what you do with your money."
"I'm sure you don't,
we won't say anything more about it.
You wait awhile,
and you'll find it will come all right.
If you've got a few thousand pounds loose,
and will put them into the concern,
of course you can sell;
if the shares are up,
can sell at a profit.
It's presumed just at present that,
at some early day,
you'll qualify for your directorship by doing so,
and till that is done,
the shares are allocated to you,
but cannot be transferred to you."
said Lord Nidderdale,
pretending to understand all about it.
"If things go on as we hope they will between you and Marie,
you can have pretty nearly any number of shares that you please;
if your father consents to a proper settlement."
"I hope it'll all go smooth,
I'm ever so much obliged to you,
and I'll explain it all to Carbury."