THE CITY ROAD.
The statement made by Ruby as to her connection with Mrs. Pipkin was quite true.
Ruby's father had married a Pipkin whose brother had died leaving a widow behind him at Islington.
The old man at Sheep's Acre farm had greatly resented this marriage,
had never spoken to his daughter-in-law,
--or to his son after the marriage,
and had steeled himself against the whole Pipkin race.
When he undertook the charge of Ruby he had made it matter of agreement that she should have no intercourse with the Pipkins.
This agreement Ruby had broken,
corresponding on the sly with her uncle's widow at Islington.
When therefore she ran away from Suffolk she did the best she could with herself in going to her aunt's house.
Mrs. Pipkin was a poor woman,
and could not offer a permanent home to Ruby;
but she was good-natured,
and came to terms.
Ruby was to be allowed to stay at any rate for a month,
and was to work in the house for her bread.
But she made it a part of her bargain that she should be allowed to go out occasionally.
Mrs. Pipkin immediately asked after a lover.
"I'm all right,"
If the lover was what he ought to be,
had he not better come and see her?
This was Mrs. Pipkin's suggestion.
Mrs. Pipkin thought that scandal might in this way be avoided.
"That's as it may be,
Then she told all the story of John Crumb: --how she hated John Crumb;
how resolved she was that nothing should make her marry John Crumb.
And she gave her own account of that night on which John Crumb and Mr. Mixet ate their supper at the farm,
and of the manner in which her grandfather had treated her because she would not have John Crumb.
Mrs. Pipkin was a respectable woman in her way,
always preferring respectable lodgers if she could get them;
--but bound to live.
She gave Ruby very good advice.
Of course if she was "dead-set" against John Crumb,
that was one thing!
But then there was nothing a young woman should look to so much as a decent house over her head,
"What's all the love in the world,
if a man can't do for you?"
Ruby declared that she knew somebody who could do for her,
and could do very well for her.
She knew what she was about,
and wasn't going to be put off it.
Mrs. Pipkin's morals were good wearing morals,
but she was not strait-laced.
If Ruby chose to manage in her own way about her lover she must.
Mrs. Pipkin had an idea that young women in these days did have,
and would have,
and must have more liberty than was allowed when she was young.
The world was being changed very fast.
Mrs. Pipkin knew that as well as others.
And therefore when Ruby went to the theatre once and again,
--by herself as far as Mrs. Pipkin knew,
but probably in company with her lover,
--and did not get home till past midnight,
Mrs. Pipkin said very little about it,
attributing such novel circumstances to the altered condition of her country.
She had not been allowed to go to the theatre with a young man when she had been a girl,
--but that had been in the earlier days of Queen Victoria,
fifteen years ago,
before the new dispensation had come.
Ruby had never yet told the name of her lover to Mrs. Pipkin,
having answered all inquiries by saying that she was all right.
Sir Felix's name had never even been mentioned in Islington till Paul Montague had mentioned it.
She had been managing her own affairs after her own fashion,
--not altogether with satisfaction,
but still without interruption;
but now she knew that interference would come.
Mr. Montague had found her out,
and had told her grandfather's landlord.
The Squire would be after her,
and then John Crumb would come,
accompanied of course by Mr. Mixet,
--and after that,
as she said to herself on retiring to the couch which she shared with two little Pipkins,
"the fat would be in the fire."
"Who do you think was at our place yesterday?"
said Ruby one evening to her lover.
They were sitting together at a music-hall,
which pleasantly combined the allurements of the gin-palace,
and the ball-room,
trenching hard on those of other places.
Sir Felix was smoking,
as he himself called it,
with a Tom-and-Jerry hat,
and a blue silk cravat,
and a green coat.
Ruby thought it was charming.
Felix entertained an idea that were his West End friends to see him in this attire they would not know him.
He was smoking,
and had before him a glass of hot brandy and water,
which was common to himself and Ruby.
He was enjoying life.
She was half-ashamed of herself,
and yet supported by a feeling that it was a grand thing to have got rid of restraints,
and be able to be with her young man.
The Miss Longestaffes were allowed to sit and dance and walk about with their young men,
--when they had any.
Why was she to be given up to a great mass of stupid dust like John Crumb,
without seeing anything of the world?
But yet as she sat sipping her lover's brandy and water between eleven and twelve at the music-hall in the City Road,
she was not altogether comfortable.
She saw things which she did not like to see.
And she heard things which she did not like to hear.
And her lover,
though he was beautiful,
--was not all that a lover should be.
She was still a little afraid of him,
and did not dare as yet to ask him for the promise which she expected him to make to her.
Her mind was set upon --marriage,
but the word had hardly passed between them.
To have his arm round her waist was heaven to her!
Could it be possible that he and John Crumb were of the same order of human beings?
But how was this to go on?
Even Mrs. Pipkin made disagreeable allusions,
and she could not live always with Mrs. Pipkin,
coming out at nights to drink brandy and water and hear music with Sir Felix Carbury.
She was glad therefore to take the first opportunity of telling her lover that something was going to happen.
"Who do you suppose was at our place yesterday?"
Sir Felix changed colour,
thinking of Marie Melmotte,
thinking that perhaps some emissary from Marie Melmotte had been there;
perhaps Didon herself.
He was amusing himself during these last evenings of his in London;
but the business of his life was about to take him to New York.
That project was still being elaborated.
He had had an interview with Didon,
and nothing was wanting but the money.
Didon had heard of the funds which had been intrusted by him to Melmotte,
and had been very urgent with him to recover them.
though his body was not unfrequently present,
late in the night,
at the City Road Music-Hall,
his mind was ever in Grosvenor Square.
"Who was it,
"A friend of the Squire's,
a Mr. Montague.
I used to see him about in Bungay and Beccles."
"Do you know him,
He's a member of our club,
and I see him constantly in the city --and I know him at home."
"Is he nice?"
--that depends on what you call nice.
He's a prig of a fellow."
"He's got a lady friend where I live."
"The devil he has!"
Sir Felix of course had heard of Roger Carbury's suit to his sister,
and of the opposition to this suit on the part of Hetta,
which was supposed to have been occasioned by her preference for Paul Montague.
"Who is she,
--she's a Mrs. Hurtle.
Such a stunning woman!
Aunt says she's an American.
She's got lots of money."
"Is Montague going to marry her?"
"Oh dear yes.
It's all arranged.
Mr. Montague comes quite regular to see her;
--not so regular as he ought,
When gentlemen are fixed as they're to be married,
they never are regular afterwards.
I wonder whether it'll be the same with you?"
"Wasn't John Crumb regular,
"Bother John Crumb!
That wasn't none of my doings.
he'd been regular enough,
if I'd let him;
he'd been like clockwork,
--only the slowest clock out.
But Mr. Montague has been and told the Squire as he saw me.
He told me so himself.
The Squire's coming about John Crumb.
I know that.
What am I to tell him,
"Tell him to mind his own business.
He can't do anything to you."
--he can't do nothing.
I ain't done nothing wrong,
and he can't send for the police to have me took back to Sheep's Acre.
But he can talk,
--and he can look.
I ain't one of those,
as don't mind about their characters,
--so don't you think it.
Shall I tell him as I'm with you?"
What would you say that for?"
"I didn't know.
I must say something."
"Tell him you're nothing to him."
"But aunt will be letting on about my being out late o'nights;
I know she will.
And who am I with?
He'll be asking that."
"Your aunt does not know?"
--I've told nobody yet.
But it won't do to go on like that,
You don't want it to go on always like that;
"It's very jolly,
"It ain't jolly for me.
I like to be with you.
But I have to mind them brats all the day,
and to be doing the bedrooms.
And that's not the worst of it."
"What is the worst of it?"
"I'm pretty nigh ashamed of myself.
And now Ruby burst out into tears.
"Because I wouldn't have John Crumb,
I didn't mean to be a bad girl.
Nor yet I won't.
But what'll I do,
if everybody turns again me?
Aunt won't go on for ever in this way.
She said last night that --"
"Bother what she says!"
Felix was not at all anxious to hear what aunt Pipkin might have to say upon such an occasion.
"She's right too.
Of course she knows there's somebody.
She ain't such a fool as to think that I'm out at these hours to sing psalms with a lot of young women.
She says that whoever it is ought to speak out his mind.
--that's what she says.
And she's right.
A girl has to mind herself,
though she's ever so fond of a young man."
Sir Felix sucked his cigar and then took a long drink of brandy and water.
Having emptied the beaker before him,
he rapped for the waiter and called for another.
He intended to avoid the necessity of making any direct reply to Ruby's importunities.
He was going to New York very shortly,
and looked on his journey thither as an horizon in his future beyond which it was unnecessary to speculate as to any farther distance.
He had not troubled himself to think how it might be with Ruby when he was gone.
He had not even considered whether he would or would not tell her that he was going,
before he started.
It was not his fault that she had come up to London.
She was an "awfully jolly girl,"
and he liked the feeling of the intrigue better perhaps than the girl herself.
But he assured himself that he wasn't going to give himself any "d -- --d trouble."
The idea of John Crumb coming up to London in his wrath had never occurred to him,
--or he would probably have hurried on his journey to New York instead of delaying it,
as he was doing now.
"Let's go in and have a dance,"
Ruby was very fond of dancing,
--perhaps liked it better than anything in the world.
It was heaven to her to be spinning round the big room with her lover's arm tight round her waist,
with one hand in his and her other hanging over his back.
She loved the music,
and loved the motion.
Her ear was good,
and her strength was great,
and she never lacked breath.
She could spin along and dance a whole room down,
and feel at the time that the world could have nothing to give better worth having than that;
--and such moments were too precious to be lost.
She went and danced,
resolving as she did so that she would have some answer to her question before she left her lover on that night.
"And now I must go,"
she said at last.
"You'll see me as far as the Angel,
Of course he was ready to see her as far as the Angel.
"What am I to say to the Squire?"
"And what am I to say to aunt?"
"Say to her?
Just say what you have said all along."
"I've said nothing all along,
--just to oblige you,
I must say something.
A girl has got herself to mind.
What have you got to say to me,
He was silent for about a minute,
meditating his answer.
"If you bother me I shall cut it,
Can't you wait till I am ready to say something?"
"Waiting will be the ruin o' me,
if I wait much longer.
Where am I to go,
if Mrs. Pipkin won't have me no more?"
"I'll find a place for you."
"You find a place!
that won't do.
I've told you all that before.
I'd sooner go into service,
"Go back to John Crumb."
"John Crumb has more respect for me nor you.
He'd make me his wife to-morrow,
and only be too happy."
"I didn't tell you to come away from him,"
said Sir Felix.
You told me as I was to come up to London when I saw you at Sheepstone Beeches;
And you told me you loved me;
And that if I wanted anything you'd get it done for me;
"So I will.
What do you want?
I can give you a couple of sovereigns,
if that's what it is."
"No it isn't;
--and I won't have your money.
I'd sooner work my fingers off.
I want you to say whether you mean to marry me.
As to the additional lie which Sir Felix might now have told,
that would have been nothing to him.
He was going to New York,
and would be out of the way of any trouble;
and he thought that lies of that kind to young women never went for anything.
didn't believe them,
but liked to be able to believe afterwards that they had been deceived.
It wasn't the lie that stuck in his throat,
but the fact that he was a baronet.
It was in his estimation "confounded impudence" on the part of Ruby Ruggles to ask to be his wife.
He did not care for the lie,
but he did not like to seem to lower himself by telling such a lie as that at her dictation.
I don't ever mean to marry.
It's the greatest bore out.
I know a trick worth two of that."
She stopped in the street and looked at him.
This was a state of things of which she had never dreamed.
She could imagine that a man should wish to put it off,
but that he should have the face to declare to his young woman that he never meant to marry at all,
was a thing that she could not understand.
What business had such a man to go after any young woman?
"And what do you mean that I'm to do,
"Just go easy,
and not make yourself a bother."
"Not make myself a bother!
but I will;
I'm to be carrying on with you,
and nothing to come of it;
but for you to tell me that you don't mean to marry,
never at all!
"Don't you see lots of old bachelors about,
"Of course I does.
There's the Squire.
But he don't come asking girls to keep him company."
"That's more than you know,
"If he did he'd marry her out of hand,
--because he's a gentleman.
That's what he is,
every inch of him.
He never said a word to a girl,
--not to do her any harm,
and Ruby began to cry.
"You mustn't come no further now,
and I'll never see you again --never!
I think you're the falsest young man,
and the basest,
and the lowest-minded that I ever heard tell of.
I know there are them as don't keep their words.
Things turn up,
and they can't.
Or they gets to like others better;
or there ain't nothing to live on.
But for a young man to come after a young woman,
and then say,
as he never means to marry at all,
is the lowest-spirited fellow that ever was.
I never read of such a one in none of the books.
You go your way,
and I'll go mine."
In her passion she was as good as her word,
and escaped from him,
running all the way to her aunt's door.
There was in her mind a feeling of anger against the man,
which she did not herself understand,
in that he would incur no risk on her behalf.
He would not even make a lover's easy promise,
in order that the present hour might be made pleasant.
Ruby let herself into her aunt's house,
and cried herself to sleep with a child on each side of her.
On the next day Roger called.
She had begged Mrs. Pipkin to attend the door,
and had asked her to declare,
should any gentleman ask for Ruby Ruggles,
that Ruby Ruggles was out.
Mrs. Pipkin had not refused to do so;
having heard sufficient of Roger Carbury to imagine the cause which might possibly bring him to the house,
and having made up her mind that Ruby's present condition of independence was equally unfavourable to the lodging-house and to Ruby herself,
she determined that the Squire,
if he did come,
should see the young lady.
When therefore Ruby was called into the little back parlour and found Roger Carbury there,
she thought that she had been caught in a trap.
She had been very cross all the morning.
Though in her rage she had been able on the previous evening to dismiss her titled lover,
and to imply that she never meant to see him again,
when the remembrance of the loss came upon her amidst her daily work,
--when she could no longer console herself in her drudgery by thinking of the beautiful things that were in store for her,
and by flattering herself that though at this moment she was little better than a maid of all work in a lodging-house,
the time was soon coming in which she would bloom forth as a baronet's bride,
--now in her solitude she almost regretted the precipitancy of her own conduct.
Could it be that she would never see him again;
--that she would dance no more in that gilded bright saloon?
And might it not be possible that she had pressed him too hard?
A baronet of course would not like to be brought to book,
as she could bring to book such a one as John Crumb.
--that he should have said never;
--that he would never marry!
Looking at it in any light,
she was very unhappy,
and this coming of the Squire did not serve to cure her misery.
Roger was very kind to her,
taking her by the hand,
and bidding her sit down,
and telling her how glad he was to find that she was comfortably settled with her aunt.
"We were all alarmed,
when you went away without telling anybody where you were going."
'd been that cruel to me that I couldn't tell him."
"He wanted you to keep your word to an old friend of yours."
"To pull me all about by the hairs of my head wasn't the way to make a girl keep her word;
That's what he did,
--and Sally Hockett,
who is there,
I've been good to grandfather,
whatever I may have been to John Crumb;
and he shouldn't have treated me like that.
'd like to be pulled about the room by the hairs of her head,
and she with her things all off,
just getting into bed."
The Squire had no answer to make to this.
That old Ruggles should be a violent brute under the influence of gin and water did not surprise him.
And the girl,
when driven away from her home by such usage,
had not done amiss in coming to her aunt.
But Roger had already heard a few words from Mrs. Pipkin as to Ruby's late hours,
had heard also that there was a lover,
and knew very well who that lover was.
He also was quite familiar with John Crumb's state of mind.
John Crumb was a gallant,
loving fellow who might be induced to forgive everything,
if Ruby would only go back to him;
but would certainly persevere,
after some slow fashion of his own,
and "see the matter out,"
as he would say himself,
if she did not go back.
"As you found yourself obliged to run away,"
"I'm glad that you should be here;
but you don't mean to stay here always?"
"I don't know,"
"You must think of your future life.
You don't want to be always your aunt's maid."
"It would be very odd if you did,
when you may be the wife of such a man as Mr. Crumb."
Everybody is going on about Mr. Crumb.
I don't like Mr. Crumb,
and I never will like him."
"Now look here,
I have come to speak to you very seriously,
and I expect you to hear me.
Nobody can make you marry Mr. Crumb,
unless you please."
"But I fear you have given him up for somebody else,
who certainly won't marry you,
and who can only mean to ruin you."
"Nobody won't ruin me,"
"A girl has to look to herself,
and I mean to look to myself."
"I'm glad to hear you say so,
but being out at night with such a one as Sir Felix Carbury is not looking to yourself.
That means going to the devil head foremost."
"I ain't a going to the devil,"
sobbing and blushing.
"But you will,
if you put yourself into the hands of that young man.
He's as bad as bad can be.
He's my own cousin,
and yet I'm obliged to tell you so.
He has no more idea of marrying you than I have;
but were he to marry you,
he could not support you.
He is ruined himself,
and would ruin any young woman who trusted him.
I'm almost old enough to be your father,
and in all my experience I never came across so vile a young man as he is.
He would ruin you and cast you from him without a pang of remorse.
He has no heart in his bosom;
Ruby had now given way altogether,
and was sobbing with her apron to her eyes in one corner of the room.
"That's what Sir Felix Carbury is,"
said the Squire,
standing up so that he might speak with the more energy,
and talk her down more thoroughly.
"And if I understand it rightly,"
"it is for a vile thing such as he,
that you have left a man who is as much above him in character,
as the sun is above the earth.
You think little of John Crumb because he does not wear a fine coat."
"I don't care about any man's coat,"
"but John hasn't ever a word to say,
was it ever so."
"I don't care about any man's coat."]
"Words to say!
what do words matter?
He loves you.
He loves you after that fashion that he wants to make you happy and respectable,
not to make you a bye-word and a disgrace."
Ruby struggled hard to make some opposition to the suggestion,
but found herself to be incapable of speech at the moment.
"He thinks more of you than of himself,
and would give you all that he has.
What would that other man give you?
If you were once married to John Crumb,
would any one then pull you by the hairs of your head?
Would there be any want then,
or any disgrace?"
"There ain't no disgrace,
"No disgrace in going about at midnight with such a one as Felix Carbury?
You are not a fool,
and you know that it is disgraceful.
If you are not unfit to be an honest man's wife,
go back and beg that man's pardon."
"John Crumb's pardon!
if you knew how highly I respect that man,
and how lowly I think of the other;
how I look on the one as a noble fellow,
and regard the other as dust beneath my feet,
you would perhaps change your mind a little."
Her mind was being changed.
His words did have their effect,
though the poor girl struggled against the conviction that was borne in upon her.
She had never expected to hear any one call John Crumb noble.
But she had never respected any one more highly than Squire Carbury,
and he said that John Crumb was noble.
Amidst all her misery and trouble she still told herself that it was but a dusty,
--and also a dumb nobility.
"I'll tell you what will take place,"
"Mr. Crumb won't put up with this you know."
"He can't do nothing to me,
"That's true enough.
Unless it be to take you in his arms and press you to his heart,
he wants to do nothing to you.
Do you think he'd injure you if he could?
You don't know what a man's love really means,
But he could do something to somebody else.
How do you think it would be with Felix Carbury,
if they two were in a room together and nobody else by?"
"John's mortial strong,
"If two men have equal pluck,
strength isn't much needed.
One is a brave man,
and the other --a coward.
Which do you think is which?"
"He's your own cousin,
and I don't know why you should say everything again him."
"You know I'm telling you the truth.
You know it as well as I do myself;
--and you're throwing yourself away,
and throwing the man who loves you over,
--for such a fellow as that!
Go back to him,
and beg his pardon."
"I never will;
"I've spoken to Mrs. Pipkin,
and while you're here she will see that you don't keep such hours any longer.
You tell me that you're not disgraced,
and yet you are out at midnight with a young blackguard like that!
I've said what I've got to say,
and I'm going away.
But I'll let your grandfather know."
"Grandfather don't want me no more."
"And I'll come again.
If you want money to go home,
I will let you have it.
Take my advice at least in this;
--do not see Sir Felix Carbury any more."
Then he took his leave.
If he had failed to impress her with admiration for John Crumb,
he had certainly been efficacious in lessening that which she had entertained for Sir Felix.
THE COMING ELECTION.
The very greatness of Mr. Melmotte's popularity,
the extent of the admiration which was accorded by the public at large to his commercial enterprise and financial sagacity,
created a peculiar bitterness in the opposition that was organised against him at Westminster.
As the high mountains are intersected by deep valleys,
as puritanism in one age begets infidelity in the next,
as in many countries the thickness of the winter's ice will be in proportion to the number of the summer musquitoes,
so was the keenness of the hostility displayed on this occasion in proportion to the warmth of the support which was manifested.
As the great man was praised,
so also was he abused.
As he was a demi-god to some,
so was he a fiend to others.
And indeed there was hardly any other way in which it was possible to carry on the contest against him.
From the moment in which Mr. Melmotte had declared his purpose of standing for Westminster in the Conservative interest,
an attempt was made to drive him down the throats of the electors by clamorous assertions of his unprecedented commercial greatness.
It seemed that there was but one virtue in the world,
--and that Melmotte was its prophet.
that the orators and writers of the day intended all Westminster to believe that Melmotte treated his great affairs in a spirit very different from that which animates the bosoms of merchants in general.
He had risen above any feeling of personal profit.
His wealth was so immense that there was no longer place for anxiety on that score.
He already possessed,
--so it was said,
--enough to found a dozen families,
and he had but one daughter!
But by carrying on the enormous affairs which he held in his hands,
he would be able to open up new worlds,
to afford relief to the oppressed nationalities of the over-populated old countries.
He had seen how small was the good done by the Peabodys and the Bairds,
resolving to lend no ear to charities and religions,
was intent on projects for enabling young nations to earn plentiful bread by the moderate sweat of their brows.
He was the head and front of the railway which was to regenerate Mexico.
It was presumed that the contemplated line from ocean to ocean across British America would become a fact in his hands.
It was he who was to enter into terms with the Emperor of China for farming the tea-fields of that vast country.
He was already in treaty with Russia for a railway from Moscow to Khiva.
He had a fleet,
--or soon would have a fleet of emigrant ships,
--ready to carry every discontented Irishman out of Ireland to whatever quarter of the globe the Milesian might choose for the exercise of his political principles.
It was known that he had already floated a company for laying down a submarine wire from Penzance to Point de Galle,
round the Cape of Good Hope,
in the event of general wars,
England need be dependent on no other country for its communications with India.
And then there was the philanthropic scheme for buying the liberty of the Arabian fellahs from the Khedive of Egypt for thirty millions sterling,
--the compensation to consist of the concession of a territory about four times as big as Great Britain in the lately annexed country on the great African lakes.
It may have been the case that some of these things were as yet only matters of conversation,
--speculations as to which Mr. Melmotte's mind and imagination had been at work,
rather than his pocket or even his credit;
but they were all sufficiently matured to find their way into the public press,
and to be used as strong arguments why Melmotte should become member of Parliament for Westminster.
All this praise was of course gall to those who found themselves called upon by the demands of their political position to oppose Mr. Melmotte.
You can run down a demi-god only by making him out to be a demi-devil.
These very persons,
the leading Liberals of the leading borough in England as they called themselves,
would perhaps have cared little about Melmotte's antecedents had it not become their duty to fight him as a Conservative.
Had the great man found at the last moment that his own British politics had been liberal in their nature,
these very enemies would have been on his committee.
It was their business to secure the seat.
And as Melmotte's supporters began the battle with an attempt at what the Liberals called "bounce,"
--to carry the borough with a rush by an overwhelming assertion of their candidate's virtues,
--the other party was driven to make some enquiries as to that candidate's antecedents.
They quickly warmed to the work,
and were not less loud in exposing the Satan of speculation,
than had been the Conservatives in declaring the commercial Jove.
Emissaries were sent to Paris and Francfort,
and the wires were used to Vienna and New York.
It was not difficult to collect stories,
--true or false;
and some quiet men,
who merely looked on at the game,
expressed an opinion that Melmotte might have wisely abstained from the glories of Parliament.
Nevertheless there was at first some difficulty in finding a proper Liberal candidate to run against him.
The nobleman who had been elevated out of his seat by the death of his father had been a great Whig magnate,
whose family was possessed of immense wealth and of popularity equal to its possessions.
One of that family might have contested the borough at a much less expense than any other person,
--and to them the expense would have mattered but little.
But there was no such member of it forthcoming.
Lord This and Lord That,
--and the Honourable This and the Honourable That,
sons of other cognate Lords,
--already had seats which they were unwilling to vacate in the present state of affairs.
There was but one other session for the existing Parliament;
and the odds were held to be very greatly in Melmotte's favour.
Many an outsider was tried,
but the outsiders were either afraid of Melmotte's purse or his influence.
Lord Buntingford was asked,
and he and his family were good old Whigs.
But he was nephew to Lord Alfred Grendall,
first cousin to Miles Grendall,
and abstained on behalf of his relatives.
An overture was made to Sir Damask Monogram,
who certainly could afford the contest.
But Sir Damask did not see his way.
Melmotte was a working bee,
while he was a drone,
--and he did not wish to have the difference pointed out by Mr. Melmotte's supporters.
he preferred his yacht and his four-in-hand.
At last a candidate was selected,
whose nomination and whose consent to occupy the position created very great surprise in the London world.
The press had of course taken up the matter very strongly.
The "Morning Breakfast Table" supported Mr. Melmotte with all its weight.
There were people who said that this support was given by Mr. Broune under the influence of Lady Carbury,
and that Lady Carbury in this way endeavoured to reconcile the great man to a marriage between his daughter and Sir Felix.
But it is more probable that Mr. Broune saw,
--or thought that he saw,
--which way the wind sat,
and that he supported the commercial hero because he felt that the hero would be supported by the country at large.
In praising a book,
or putting foremost the merits of some official or military claimant,
or writing up a charity,
--in some small matter of merely personal interest,
--the Editor of the "Morning Breakfast Table" might perhaps allow himself to listen to a lady whom he loved.
But he knew his work too well to jeopardize his paper by such influences in any matter which might probably become interesting to the world of his readers.
There was a strong belief in Melmotte.
The clubs thought that he would be returned for Westminster.
The dukes and duchesses fêted him.
--even the city was showing a wavering disposition to come round.
Bishops begged for his name on the list of promoters of their pet schemes.
Royalty without stint was to dine at his table.
Melmotte himself was to sit at the right hand of the brother of the Sun and of the uncle of the Moon,
and British Royalty was to be arranged opposite,
so that every one might seem to have the place of most honour.
How could a conscientious Editor of a "Morning Breakfast Table,"
seeing how things were going,
do other than support Mr. Melmotte?
In fair justice it may be well doubted whether Lady Carbury had exercised any influence in the matter.
But the "Evening Pulpit" took the other side.
Now this was the more remarkable,
the more sure to attract attention,
inasmuch as the "Evening Pulpit" had never supported the Liberal interest.
As was said in the first chapter of this work,
the motto of that newspaper implied that it was to be conducted on principles of absolute independence.
Had the "Evening Pulpit,"
like some of its contemporaries,
lived by declaring from day to day that all Liberal elements were godlike,
and all their opposites satanic,
as a matter of course the same line of argument would have prevailed as to the Westminster election.
But as it had not been so,
the vigour of the "Evening Pulpit" on this occasion was the more alarming and the more noticeable,
--so that the short articles which appeared almost daily in reference to Mr. Melmotte were read by everybody.
Now they who are concerned in the manufacture of newspapers are well aware that censure is infinitely more attractive than eulogy,
--but they are quite as well aware that it is more dangerous.
No proprietor or editor was ever brought before the courts at the cost of ever so many hundred pounds,
--which if things go badly may rise to thousands,
--because he had attributed all but divinity to some very poor specimen of mortality.
No man was ever called upon for damages because he had attributed grand motives.
It might be well for politics and literature and art,
--and for truth in general,
if it was possible to do so.
But a new law of libel must be enacted before such salutary proceedings can take place.
Censure on the other hand is open to very grave perils.
Let the Editor have been ever so conscientious,
ever so beneficent,
--even ever so true,
--let it be ever so clear that what he has written has been written on behalf of virtue,
and that he has misstated no fact,
exaggerated no fault,
never for a moment been allured from public to private matters,
--and he may still be in danger of ruin.
A very long purse,
or else a very high courage is needed for the exposure of such conduct as the "Evening Pulpit" attributed to Mr. Melmotte.
The paper took up this line suddenly.
After the second article Mr. Alf sent back to Mr. Miles Grendall,
who in the matter was acting as Mr. Melmotte's secretary,
the ticket of invitation for the dinner,
with a note from Mr. Alf stating that circumstances connected with the forthcoming election for Westminster could not permit him to have the great honour of dining at Mr. Melmotte's table in the presence of the Emperor of China.
Miles Grendall showed the note to the dinner committee,
without consultation with Mr. Melmotte,
it was decided that the ticket should be sent to the Editor of a thorough-going Conservative journal.
This conduct on the part of the "Evening Pulpit" astonished the world considerably;
but the world was more astonished when it was declared that Mr. Ferdinand Alf himself was going to stand for Westminster on the Liberal interest.
Various suggestions were made.
Some said that as Mr. Alf had a large share in the newspaper,
and as its success was now an established fact,
he himself intended to retire from the laborious position which he filled,
and was therefore free to go into Parliament.
Others were of opinion that this was the beginning of a new era in literature,
of a new order of things,
and that from this time forward editors would frequently be found in Parliament,
if editors were employed of sufficient influence in the world to find constituencies.
Mr. Broune whispered confidentially to Lady Carbury that the man was a fool for his pains,
and that he was carried away by pride.
said Mr. Broune,
"but he never had ballast."
Lady Carbury shook her head.
She did not want to give up Mr. Alf if she could help it.
He had never said a civil word of her in his paper;
--but still she had an idea that it was well to be on good terms with so great a power.
She entertained a mysterious awe for Mr. Alf,
--much in excess of any similar feeling excited by Mr. Broune,
in regard to whom her awe had been much diminished since he had made her an offer of marriage.
Her sympathies as to the election of course were with Mr. Melmotte.
She believed in him thoroughly.
She still thought that his nod might be the means of making Felix,
--or if not his nod,
then his money without the nod.
"I suppose he is very rich,"
speaking to Mr. Broune respecting Mr. Alf.
"I dare say he has put by something.
But this election will cost him £10,000;
--and if he goes on as he is doing now,
he had better allow another £10,000 for action for libel.
They've already declared that they will indict the paper."
"Do you believe about the Austrian Insurance Company?"
This was a matter as to which Mr. Melmotte was supposed to have retired from Paris not with clean hands.
"I don't believe the
'Evening Pulpit' can prove it,
--and I'm sure that they can't attempt to prove it without an expense of three or four thousand pounds.
That's a game in which nobody wins but the lawyers.
I wonder at Alf.
I should have thought that he would have known how to get all said that he wanted to have said without running with his head into the lion's mouth.
He has been so clever up to this!
God knows he has been bitter enough,
but he has always sailed within the wind."
Mr. Alf had a powerful committee.
By this time an animus in regard to the election had been created strong enough to bring out the men on both sides,
and to produce heat,
when otherwise there might only have been a warmth or possibly frigidity.
The Whig Marquises and the Whig Barons came forward,
and with them the liberal professional men,
and the tradesmen who had found that party to answer best,
and the democratical mechanics.
If Melmotte's money did not,
utterly demoralise the lower class of voters,
there would still be a good fight.
And there was a strong hope that,
under the ballot,
Melmotte's money might be taken without a corresponding effect upon the voting.
It was found upon trial that Mr. Alf was a good speaker.
And though he still conducted the "Evening Pulpit,"
he made time for addressing meetings of the constituency almost daily.
And in his speeches he never spared Melmotte.
had a greater reverence for mercantile grandeur than himself.
But let them take care that the grandeur was grand.
How great would be the disgrace to such a borough as that of Westminster if it should find that it had been taken in by a false spirit of speculation and that it had surrendered itself to gambling when it had thought to do honour to honest commerce.
connected as of course it was,
with the articles in the paper,
was regarded as very open speaking.
And it had its effect.
Some men began to say that Melmotte had not been known long enough to deserve confidence in his riches,
and the Lord Mayor was already beginning to think that it might be wise to escape the dinner by some excuse.
Melmotte's committee was also very grand.
If Alf was supported by Marquises and Barons,
he was supported by Dukes and Earls.
But his speaking in public did not of itself inspire much confidence.
He had very little to say when he attempted to explain the political principles on which he intended to act.
After a little he confined himself to remarks on the personal attacks made on him by the other side,
and even in doing that was reiterative rather than diffusive.
Let them prove it.
He defied them to prove it.
Englishmen were too great,
--the men of Westminster especially were a great deal too high-minded to pay any attention to such charges as these till they were proved.
Then he began again.
Let them prove it.
Such accusations as these were mere lies till they were proved.
He did not say much himself in public as to actions for libel,
--but assurances were made on his behalf to the electors,
especially by Lord Alfred Grendall and his son,
that as soon as the election was over all speakers and writers would be indicted for libel,
who should be declared by proper legal advice to have made themselves liable to such action.
The "Evening Pulpit" and Mr. Alf would of course be the first victims.
The dinner was fixed for Monday,
July the 8th.
The election for the borough was to be held on Tuesday the 9th.
It was generally thought that the proximity of the two days had been arranged with the view of enhancing Melmotte's expected triumph.
But such in truth was not the case.
It had been an accident,
and an accident that was distressing to some of the Melmottites.
There was much to be done about the dinner,
--which could not be omitted;
and much also as to the election,
--which was imperative.
The two Grendalls,
father and son,
found themselves to be so driven that the world seemed for them to be turned topsey-turvey.
The elder had in old days been accustomed to electioneering in the interest of his own family,
and had declared himself willing to make himself useful on behalf of Mr. Melmotte.
But he found Westminster to be almost too much for him.
He was called here and sent there,
till he was very near rebellion.
"If this goes on much longer I shall cut it,"
he said to his son.
"Think of me,
said the son.
"I have to be in the city four or five times a week."
"You've a regular salary."
you've done pretty well for that.
What's my salary to the shares you've had?
The thing is;
--will it last?"
"There are a good many who say that Melmotte will burst up."
"I don't believe it,"
said Lord Alfred.
"They don't know what they're talking about.
There are too many in the same boat to let him burst up.
It would be the bursting up of half London.
But I shall tell him after this that he must make it easier.
He wants to know who's to have every ticket for the dinner,
and there's nobody to tell him except me.
And I've got to arrange all the places,
and nobody to help me except that fellow from the Herald's office.
I don't know about people's rank.
Which ought to come first: a director of the bank or a fellow who writes books?"
Miles suggested that the fellow from the Herald's office would know all about that,
and that his father need not trouble himself with petty details.
"And you shall come to us for three days,
--after it's over,"
said Lady Monogram to Miss Longestaffe;
a proposition to which Miss Longestaffe acceded,
but not by any means as though a favour had been conferred upon her.
Now the reason why Lady Monogram had changed her mind as to inviting her old friend,
and thus threw open her hospitality for three whole days to the poor young lady who had disgraced herself by staying with the Melmottes,
was as follows.
Miss Longestaffe had the disposal of two evening tickets for Madame Melmotte's grand reception;
and so greatly had the Melmottes risen in general appreciation,
that Lady Monogram had found that she was bound,
on behalf of her own position in society,
to be present on that occasion.
It would not do that her name should not be in the printed list of the guests.
Therefore she had made a serviceable bargain with her old friend Miss Longestaffe.
She was to have her two tickets for the reception,
and Miss Longestaffe was to be received for three days as a guest by Lady Monogram.
It had also been conceded that at any rate on one of these nights Lady Monogram should take Miss Longestaffe out with her,
and that she should herself receive company on another.
There was perhaps something slightly painful at the commencement of the negotiation;
but such feelings soon fade away,
and Lady Monogram was quite a woman of the world.
Mr. MELMOTTE IS PRESSED FOR TIME.
About this time,
a fortnight or nearly so before the election,
Mr. Longestaffe came up to town and saw Mr. Melmotte very frequently.
He could not go into his own house,
as he had let that for a month to the great financier,
nor had he any establishment in town;
but he slept at an hotel and lived at the Carlton.
He was quite delighted to find that his new friend was an honest Conservative,
and he himself proposed the honest Conservative at the club.
There was some idea of electing Mr. Melmotte out of hand,
but it was decided that the club could not go beyond its rule,
and could only admit Mr. Melmotte out of his regular turn as soon as he should occupy a seat in the House of Commons.
who was becoming somewhat arrogant,
was heard to declare that if the club did not take him when he was willing to be taken,
it might do without him.
If not elected at once,
he should withdraw his name.
So great was his prestige at this moment with his own party that there were some,
Mr. Longestaffe among the number,
who pressed the thing on the committee.
Mr. Melmotte was not like other men.
It was a great thing to have Mr. Melmotte in the party.
Mr. Melmotte's financial capabilities would in themselves be a tower of strength.
Rules were not made to control the club in a matter of such importance as this.
A noble lord,
one among seven who had been named as a fit leader of the Upper House on the Conservative side in the next session,
was asked to take the matter up;
and men thought that the thing might have been done had he complied.
But he was old-fashioned,
and the club for the time lost the honour of entertaining Mr. Melmotte.
It may be remembered that Mr. Longestaffe had been anxious to become one of the directors of the Mexican Railway,
and that he was rather snubbed than encouraged when he expressed his wish to Mr. Melmotte.
Like other great men,
Mr. Melmotte liked to choose his own time for bestowing favours.
Since that request was made the proper time had come,
and he had now intimated to Mr. Longestaffe that in a somewhat altered condition of things there would be a place for him at the Board,
and that he and his brother directors would be delighted to avail themselves of his assistance.
The alliance between Mr. Melmotte and Mr. Longestaffe had become very close.
The Melmottes had visited the Longestaffes at Caversham.
Georgiana Longestaffe was staying with Madame Melmotte in London.
The Melmottes were living in Mr. Longestaffe's town house,
having taken it for a month at a very high rent.
Mr. Longestaffe now had a seat at Mr. Melmotte's board.
And Mr. Melmotte had bought Mr. Longestaffe's estate at Pickering on terms very favourable to the Longestaffes.
It had been suggested to Mr. Longestaffe by Mr. Melmotte that he had better qualify for his seat at the Board by taking shares in the Company to the amount of --perhaps two or three thousand pounds,
and Mr. Longestaffe had of course consented.
There would be no need of any transaction in absolute cash.
The shares could of course be paid for out of Mr. Longestaffe's half of the purchase money for Pickering Park,
and could remain for the present in Mr. Melmotte's hands.
To this also Mr. Longestaffe had consented,
not quite understanding why the scrip should not be made over to him at once.
It was a part of the charm of all dealings with this great man that no ready money seemed ever to be necessary for anything.
Great purchases were made and great transactions apparently completed without the signing even of a cheque.
Mr. Longestaffe found himself to be afraid even to give a hint to Mr. Melmotte about ready money.
In speaking of all such matters Melmotte seemed to imply that everything necessary had been done,
when he had said that it was done.
Pickering had been purchased and the title-deeds made over to Mr. Melmotte;
but the £80,000 had not been paid,
--had not been absolutely paid,
though of course Mr. Melmotte's note assenting to the terms was security sufficient for any reasonable man.
The property had been mortgaged,
though not heavily,
and Mr. Melmotte had no doubt satisfied the mortgagee;
but there was still a sum of £50,000 to come,
of which Dolly was to have one half and the other was to be employed in paying off Mr. Longestaffe's debts to tradesmen and debts to the bank.
It would have been very pleasant to have had this at once,
--but Mr. Longestaffe felt the absurdity of pressing such a man as Mr. Melmotte,
and was partly conscious of the gradual consummation of a new æra in money matters.
"If your banker is pressing you,
refer him to me,"
Mr. Melmotte had said.
As for many years past we have exchanged paper instead of actual money for our commodities,
so now it seemed that,
under the new Melmotte régime,
an exchange of words was to suffice.
But Dolly wanted his money.
idle as he was,
foolish as he was,
dissipated as he was and generally indifferent to his debts,
liked to have what belonged to him.
It had all been arranged.
£5,000 would pay off all his tradesmen's debts and leave him comfortably possessed of money in hand,
while the other £20,000 would make his own property free.
There was a charm in this which awakened even Dolly,
and for the time almost reconciled him to his father's society.
But now a shade of impatience was coming over him.
He had actually gone down to Caversham to arrange the terms with his father,
--and had in fact made his own terms.
His father had been unable to move him,
and had consequently suffered much in spirit.
Dolly had been almost triumphant,
--thinking that the money would come on the next day,
or at any rate during the next week.
Now he came to his father early in the morning,
--at about two o'clock,
--to enquire what was being done.
He had not as yet been made blessed with a single ten-pound note in his hand,
as the result of the sale.
"Are you going to see Melmotte,
he asked somewhat abruptly.
--I'm to be with him to-morrow,
and he is to introduce me to the Board."
"You're going in for that,
Do they pay anything?"
"I believe not."
"Nidderdale and young Carbury belong to it.
It's a sort of Beargarden affair."
"A bear-garden affair,
"I mean the club.
We had them all there for dinner one day,
and a jolly dinner we gave them.
Miles Grendall and old Alfred belong to it.
I don't think they'd go in for it,
if there was no money going.
I'd make them fork out something if I took the trouble of going all that way."
"I think that perhaps,
you hardly understand these things."
I don't understand much about business,
What I want to understand is,
when Melmotte is going to pay up this money."
"I suppose he'll arrange it with the banks,"
said the father.
"I beg that he won't arrange my money with the banks,
You'd better tell him not.
A cheque upon his bank which I can pay in to mine is about the best thing going.
You'll be in the city to-morrow,
and you'd better tell him.
If you don't like,
I'll get Squercum to do it."
Mr. Squercum was a lawyer whom Dolly had employed of late years much to the annoyance of his parent.
Mr. Squercum's name was odious to Mr. Longestaffe.
"I beg you'll do nothing of the kind.
It will be very foolish if you do;
"Then he'd better pay up,
like anybody else,"
said Dolly as he left the room.
The father knew the son,
and was quite sure that Squercum would have his finger in the pie unless the money were paid quickly.
When Dolly had taken an idea into his head,
no power on earth,
--no power at least of which the father could avail himself,
--would turn him.
On that same day Melmotte received two visits in the city from two of his fellow directors.
At the time he was very busy.
Though his electioneering speeches were neither long nor pithy,
still he had to think of them beforehand.
Members of his Committee were always trying to see him.
Orders as to the dinner and the preparation of the house could not be given by Lord Alfred without some reference to him.
And then those gigantic commercial affairs which were enumerated in the last chapter could not be adjusted without much labour on his part.
His hands were not empty,
but still he saw each of these young men,
--for a few minutes.
"My dear young friend,
what can I do for you?"
he said to Sir Felix,
not sitting down,
so that Sir Felix also should remain standing.
"About that money,
my dear fellow?
You see that a good many money matters pass through my hands."
"The thousand pounds I gave you for shares.
If you don't mind,
and as the shares seem to be a bother,
I'll take the money back."
"It was only the other day you had £200,"
showing that he could apply his memory to small transactions when he pleased.
--and you might as well let me have the £800."
"I've ordered the shares;
--gave the order to my broker the other day."
"Then I'd better take the shares,"
said Sir Felix,
feeling that it might very probably be that day fortnight before he could start for New York.
"Could I get them,
"My dear fellow,
I really think you hardly calculate the value of my time when you come to me about such an affair as this."
"I'd like to have the money or the shares,"
said Sir Felix,
who was not specially averse to quarrelling with Mr. Melmotte now that he had resolved upon taking that gentleman's daughter to New York in direct opposition to his written promise.
Their quarrel would be so thoroughly internecine when the departure should be discovered,
that any present anger could hardly increase its bitterness.
What Felix thought of now was simply his money,
and the best means of getting it out of Melmotte's hands.
"You're a spendthrift,"
"and I'm afraid a gambler.
I suppose I must give you £200 more on account."
Sir Felix could not resist the touch of ready money,
and consented to take the sum offered.
As he pocketed the cheque he asked for the name of the brokers who were employed to buy the shares.
But here Melmotte demurred.
"you are only entitled to shares for £600 pounds now.
I will see that the thing is put right."
So Sir Felix departed with £200 only.
Marie had said that she could get £200.
Perhaps if he bestirred himself and wrote to some of Miles's big relations he could obtain payment of a part of that gentleman's debt to him.
Sir Felix going down the stairs in Abchurch Lane met Paul Montague coming up.
on the spur of the moment,
thought that he would "take a rise" as he called it out of Montague.
"What's this I hear about a lady at Islington?"
"Who has told you anything about a lady at Islington?"
"A little bird.
There are always little birds about telling of ladies.
I'm told that I'm to congratulate you on your coming marriage."
"Then you've been told an infernal falsehood,"
said Montague passing on.
He paused a moment and added,
"I don't know who can have told you,
but if you hear it again,
I'll trouble you to contradict it."
As he was waiting in Melmotte's outer room while the Duke's nephew went in to see whether it was the great man's pleasure to see him,
he remembered whence Carbury must have heard tidings of Mrs. Hurtle.
Of course the rumour had come through Ruby Ruggles.
Miles Grendall brought out word that the great man would see Mr. Montague;
but he added a caution.
"He's awfully full of work just now,
--you won't forget that;
Montague assured the duke's nephew that he would be concise,
and was shown in.
"I should not have troubled you,"
"only that I understood that I was to see you before the Board met."
It was quite necessary,
--only you see I am a little busy.
If this d -- --d dinner were over I shouldn't mind.
It's a deal easier to make a treaty with an Emperor,
than to give him a dinner;
I can tell you that.
--let me see.
--I was proposing that you should go out to Pekin?"
I've so many things running in my head!
--if you'll say when you're ready to start,
we'll draw up something of instructions.
You'd know better,
than we can tell you what to do.
You'll see Fisker,
You and Fisker will manage it.
The chief thing will be a cheque for the expenses;
We must get that passed at the next Board."
Mr. Melmotte had been so quick that Montague had been unable to interrupt him.
"There need be no trouble about that,
as I have made up my mind that it would not be fit that I should go."
There had been a shade of doubt on Montague's mind,
till the tone in which Melmotte had spoken of the embassy grated on his ears.
The reference to the expenses disgusted him altogether.
--even did I see my way to do any good in America my duties here would not be compatible with the undertaking."
"I don't see that at all.
What duties have you got here?
What good are you doing the Company?
If you do stay,
I hope you'll be unanimous;
--or perhaps you intend to go out.
If that's it,
I'll look to your money.
I think I told you that before."
is what I should prefer."
I'll arrange it.
Sorry to lose you,
isn't Mr. Goldsheiner waiting to see me?"
"You're a little too quick,
"A man with my business on his hands is bound to be quick,
"But I must be precise.
I cannot tell you as a fact that I shall withdraw from the Board till I receive the advice of a friend with whom I am consulting.
I hardly yet know what my duty may be."
"I'll tell you,
what can not be your duty.
It cannot be your duty to make known out of that Board-room any of the affairs of the Company which you have learned in that Board-room.
It cannot be your duty to divulge the circumstances of the Company or any differences which may exist between Directors of the Company,
to any gentleman who is a stranger to the Company.
It cannot be your duty --."
On matters such as that I think that I can see my own way.
I have been in fault in coming in to the Board without understanding what duties I should have to perform --."
"Very much in fault,
I should say,"
whose arrogance in the midst of his inflated glory was overcoming him.
"But in reference to what I may or may not say to any friend,
or how far I should be restricted by the scruples of a gentleman,
I do not want advice from you."
I can't ask you to stay,
because a partner from the house of Todd,
and Goldsheiner is waiting to see me,
about matters which are rather more important than this of yours."
Montague had said what he had to say,
On the following day,
three-quarters of an hour before the meeting of the Board of Directors,
old Mr. Longestaffe called in Abchurch Lane.
He was received very civilly by Miles Grendall,
and asked to sit down.
Mr. Melmotte quite expected him,
and would walk with him over to the offices of the railway,
and introduce him to the Board.
with some shyness,
intimated his desire to have a few moments conversation with the chairman before the Board met.
Fearing his son,
especially fearing Squercum,
he had made up his mind to suggest that the little matter about Pickering Park should be settled.
Miles assured him that the opportunity should be given him,
but that at the present moment the chief secretary of the Russian Legation was with Mr. Melmotte.
Either the chief secretary was very tedious with his business,
or else other big men must have come in,
for Mr. Longestaffe was not relieved till he was summoned to walk off to the Board five minutes after the hour at which the Board should have met.
He thought that he could explain his views in the street;
but on the stairs they were joined by Mr. Cohenlupe,
and in three minutes they were in the Board-room.
Mr. Longestaffe was then presented,
and took the chair opposite to Miles Grendall.
Montague was not there,
but had sent a letter to the secretary explaining that for reasons with which the chairman was acquainted he should absent himself from the present meeting.
"I know all about it.
I'm not sure but that Mr. Montague's retirement from among us may be an advantage.
He could not be made to understand that unanimity in such an enterprise as this is essential.
I am confident that the new director whom I have had the pleasure of introducing to you to-day will not sin in the same direction."
Then Mr. Melmotte bowed and smiled very sweetly on Mr. Longestaffe.
Mr. Longestaffe was astonished to find how soon the business was done,
and how very little he had been called on to do.
Miles Grendall had read something out of a book which he had been unable to follow.
Then the chairman had read some figures.
Mr. Cohenlupe had declared that their prosperity was unprecedented;
--and the Board was over.
When Mr. Longestaffe explained to Miles Grendall that he still wished to speak to Mr. Melmotte,
Miles explained to him that the chairman had been obliged to run off to a meeting of gentlemen connected with the interior of Africa,
which was now being held at the Cannon Street Hotel.
ROGER CARBURY AND HIS TWO FRIENDS.
Roger Carbury having found Ruby Ruggles,
and having ascertained that she was at any rate living in a respectable house with her aunt,
returned to Carbury.
He had given the girl his advice,
and had done so in a manner that was not altogether ineffectual.
He had frightened her,
and had also frightened Mrs. Pipkin.
He had taught Mrs. Pipkin to believe that the new dispensation was not yet so completely established as to clear her from all responsibility as to her niece's conduct.
Having done so much,
and feeling that there was no more to be done,
he returned home.
It was out of the question that he should take Ruby with him.
In the first place she would not have gone.
--had she gone,
--he would not have known where to bestow her.
For it was now understood throughout Bungay,
--and the news had spread to Beccles,
--that old Farmer Ruggles had sworn that his granddaughter should never again be received at Sheep's Acre Farm.
The squire on his return home heard all the news from his own housekeeper.
John Crumb had been at the farm and there had been a fierce quarrel between him and the old man.
The old man had called Ruby by every name that is most distasteful to a woman,
and John had stormed and had sworn that he would have punched the old man's head but for his age.
He wouldn't believe any harm of Ruby,
--or if he did he was ready to forgive that harm.
But as for the Baro-nite;
--the Baro-nite had better look to himself!
Old Ruggles had declared that Ruby should never have a shilling of his money;
--whereupon Crumb had anathematised old Ruggles and his money too,
telling him that he was an old hunx,
and that he had driven the girl away by his cruelty.
Roger at once sent over to Bungay for the dealer in meal,
who was with him early on the following morning.
"Did ye find her,
I found her.
She's living with her aunt,
--look at that."
"You knew she had an aunt of that name up in London."
I knew'd it,
I a' heard tell of Mrs. Pipkin,
but I never see'd her."
"I wonder it did not occur to you that Ruby would go there."
John Crumb scratched his head,
as though acknowledging the shortcoming of his own intellect.
"Of course if she was to go to London it was the proper thing for her to do."
"I knew she'd do the thing as was right.
I said that all along.
Darned if I didn't.
You ask Mixet,
--him as is baker down Bardsey Lane.
I allays guv' it her that she'd do the thing as was right.
But how about she and the Baro-nite?"
Roger did not wish to speak of the Baronet just at present.
"I suppose the old man down here did ill use her?"
--there ain't no manner of doubt o' that.
Dragged her about awful;
--as he ought to be took up,
only for the rumpus like.
D'ye think she's see'd the Baro-nite since she's been in Lon'on,
"I think she's a good girl,
if you mean that."
"I'm sure she be.
I don't want none to tell me that,
it's better to me nor a ten pun' note to hear you say so.
I allays had a leaning to you,
but I'll more nor lean to you,
I've said all through she was good,
and if e'er a man in Bungay said she warn't --;
I was there,
"I hope nobody has said so."
"You can't stop them women,
There ain't no dropping into them.
she shall come and be missus of my house to-morrow,
'll it matter her then what they say?
--did ye hear if the Baro-nite had been a' hanging about that place?"
"He goes a hanging about;
He don't come out straight forrard,
and tell a girl as he loves her afore all the parish.
There ain't one in Bungay,
nor yet in Mettingham,
nor yet in all the Ilketsals and all the Elmhams,
as don't know as I'm set on Ruby Ruggles.
Huggery-Muggery is pi'son to me,
"We all know that when you've made up your mind,
you have made up your mind."
It's made up ever so as to Ruby.
What sort of a one is her aunt now,
"She keeps lodgings;
--a very decent sort of a woman I should say."
"She won't let the Baro-nite come there?"
who felt that he was hardly dealing sincerely with this most sincere of mealmen.
Hitherto he had shuffled off every question that had been asked him about Felix,
though he knew that Ruby had spent many hours with her fashionable lover.
"Mrs. Pipkin won't let him come there."
"If I was to give her a ge'own now,
--or a blue cloak;
--them lodging-house women is mostly hard put to it;
--or a chest of drawers like,
for her best bedroom,
wouldn't that make her more o' my side,
"I think she'll try to do her duty without that."
"They do like things the like o' that;
any ways I'll go up,
arter Sax'nam market,
and see how things is lying."
"I wouldn't go just yet,
if I were you.
She hasn't forgotten the scene at the farm yet."
"I said nothing as warn't as kind as kind."
"But her own perversity runs in her own head.
If you had been unkind she could have forgiven that;
but as you were good-natured and she was cross,
she can't forgive that."
John Crumb again scratched his head,
and felt that the depths of a woman's character required more gauging than he had yet given to it.
"And to tell you the truth,
I think that a little hardship up at Mrs. Pipkin's will do her good."
"Don't she have a bellyful o' vittels?"
asked John Crumb,
with intense anxiety.
"I don't quite mean that.
I dare say she has enough to eat.
But of course she has to work for it with her aunt.
She has three or four children to look after."
"That moight come in handy by-and-by;
said John Crumb grinning.
"As you say,
she'll be learning something that may be useful to her in another sphere.
Of course there is a good deal to do,
and I should not be surprised if she were to think after a bit that your house in Bungay was more comfortable than Mrs. Pipkin's kitchen in London."
"My little back parlour;
And I've got a four-poster,
most as big as any in Bungay."
"I am sure you have everything comfortable for her,
and she knows it herself.
Let her think about all that,
--and do you go and tell her again in a month's time.
She'll be more willing to settle matters then than she is now."
"Mrs. Pipkin will allow nothing of that."
"Girls is so
Ruby is awful
It makes me feel as though I had two hun'erd weight o' meal on my stomach,
lying awake o' nights and thinking as how he is,
--pulling of her about!
If I thought that she'd let him --;
I'd swing for it,
They'd have to make an eend o' me at Bury,
if it was that way.
They would then."
Roger assured him again and again that he believed Ruby to be a good girl,
and promised that further steps should be taken to induce Mrs. Pipkin to keep a close watch upon her niece.
John Crumb made no promise that he would abstain from his journey to London after Saxmundham fair;
but left the squire with a conviction that his purpose of doing so was shaken.
He was still however resolved to send Mrs. Pipkin the price of a new blue cloak,
and declared his purpose of getting Mixet to write the letter and enclose the money order.
John Crumb had no delicacy as to declaring his own deficiency in literary acquirements.
He was able to make out a bill for meal or pollards,
but did little beyond that in the way of writing letters.
This happened on a Saturday morning,
and on that afternoon Roger Carbury rode over to Lowestoft,
to a meeting there on church matters at which his friend the bishop presided.
After the meeting was over he dined at the inn with half a dozen clergymen and two or three neighbouring gentlemen,
and then walked down by himself on to the long strand which has made Lowestoft what it is.
It was now just the end of June,
and the weather was delightful;
--but people were not as yet flocking to the sea-shore.
Every shopkeeper in every little town through the country now follows the fashion set by Parliament and abstains from his annual holiday till August or September.
The place therefore was by no means full.
Here and there a few of the townspeople,
who at a bathing place are generally indifferent to the sea,
were strolling about;
and another few,
indifferent to fashion,
had come out from the lodging-houses and from the hotel,
which had been described as being small and insignificant,
--and making up only a hundred beds.
whose house was not many miles distant from Lowestoft,
was fond of the sea-shore,
and always came to loiter there for a while when any cause brought him into the town.
Now he was walking close down upon the marge of the tide,
--so that the last little roll of the rising water should touch his feet,
--with his hands joined behind his back,
and his face turned down towards the shore,
when he came upon a couple who were standing with their backs to the land,
looking forth together upon the waves.
He was close to them before he saw them,
and before they had seen him.
Then he perceived that the man was his friend Paul Montague.
Leaning on Paul's arm a lady stood,
dressed very simply in black,
with a dark straw hat on her head;
--very simple in her attire,
but yet a woman whom it would be impossible to pass without notice.
The lady of course was Mrs. Hurtle.
Paul Montague had been a fool to suggest Lowestoft,
but his folly had been natural.
It was not the first place he had named;
but when fault had been found with others,
he had fallen back upon the sea sands which were best known to himself.
Lowestoft was just the spot which Mrs. Hurtle required.
When she had been shown her room,
and taken down out of the hotel on to the strand,
she had declared herself to be charmed.
She acknowledged with many smiles that of course she had had no right to expect that Mrs. Pipkin should understand what sort of place she needed.
But Paul would understand,
--and had understood.
"I think the hotel charming,"
"I don't know what you mean by your fun about the American hotels,
but I think this quite gorgeous,
and the people so civil!"
Hotel people always are civil before the crowds come.
Of course it was impossible that Paul should return to London by the mail train which started about an hour after his arrival.
He would have reached London at four or five in the morning,
and have been very uncomfortable.
The following day was Sunday,
and of course he promised to stay till Monday.
Of course he had said nothing in the train of those stern things which he had resolved to say.
Of course he was not saying them when Roger Carbury came upon him;
but was indulging in some poetical nonsense,
some probably very trite raptures as to the expanse of the ocean,
and the endless ripples which connected shore with shore.
as she leaned with friendly weight upon his arm,
indulged also in moonshine and romance.
Though at the back of the heart of each of them there was a devouring care,
still they enjoyed the hour.
We know that the man who is to be hung likes to have his breakfast well cooked.
And so did Paul like the companionship of Mrs. Hurtle because her attire,
because the colour glowed in her dark face;
because of the brightness of her eyes,
and the happy sharpness of her words,
and the dangerous smile which played upon her lips.
He liked the warmth of her close vicinity,
and the softness of her arm,
and the perfume from her hair,
--though he would have given all that he possessed that she had been removed from him by some impassable gulf.
As he had to be hanged,
--and this woman's continued presence would be as bad as death to him,
--he liked to have his meal well dressed.
He certainly had been foolish to bring her to Lowestoft,
and the close neighbourhood of Carbury Manor;
--and now he felt his folly.
As soon as he saw Roger Carbury he blushed up to his forehead,
and then leaving Mrs. Hurtle's arm he came forward,
and shook hands with his friend.
"It is Mrs. Hurtle,"
"I must introduce you,"
and the introduction was made.
Roger took off his hat and bowed,
but he did so with the coldest ceremony.
who was quick enough at gathering the minds of people from their looks,
was just as cold in her acknowledgment of the courtesy.
In former days she had heard much of Roger Carbury,
and surmised that he was no friend to her.
"I did not know that you were thinking of coming to Lowestoft,"
said Roger in a voice that was needlessly severe.
But his mind at the present moment was severe,
and he could not hide his mind.
[Illustration: The sands at Lowestoft.]
"I was not thinking of it.
Mrs. Hurtle wished to get to the sea,
and as she knew no one else here in England,
I brought her."
"Mr. Montague and I have travelled so many miles together before now,"
"that a few additional will not make much difference."
"Do you stay long?"
asked Roger in the same voice.
"I go back probably on Monday,"
"As I shall be here a whole week,
and shall not speak a word to any one after he has left me,
he has consented to bestow his company on me for two days.
Will you join us at dinner,
--I have dined."
I will leave you with your friend.
though it will be very slight,
will take longer than yours.
We dine you know in twenty minutes.
I wish you could get your friend to join us."
Mrs. Hurtle tripped back across the sand towards the hotel.
"Is this wise?"
demanded Roger in a voice that was almost sepulchral,
as soon as the lady was out of hearing.
"You may well ask that,
Nobody knows the folly of it so thoroughly as I do."
"Then why do you do it?
Do you mean to marry her?"
"Is it honest then,
or like a gentleman,
that you should be with her in this way?
Does she think that you intend to marry her?"
"I have told her that I would not.
I have told her --."
Then he stopped.
He was going on to declare that he had told her that he loved another woman,
but he felt that he could hardly touch that matter in speaking to Roger Carbury.
"What does she mean then?
Has she no regard for her own character?"
"I would explain it to you all,
if I could.
But you would never have the patience to hear me."
"I am not naturally impatient."
"But this would drive you mad.
I wrote to her assuring her that it must be all over.
Then she came here and sent for me.
Was I not bound to go to her?"
--to go to her and repeat what you had said in your letter."
"I did do so.
I went with that very purpose,
and did repeat it."
"Then you should have left her."
but you do not understand.
She begged that I would not desert her in her loneliness.
We have been so much together that I could not desert her."
"I certainly do not understand that,
You have allowed yourself to be entrapped into a promise of marriage;
for reasons which we will not go into now but which we both thought to be adequate,
you resolved to break your promise,
thinking that you would be justified in doing so.
But nothing can justify you in living with the lady afterwards on such terms as to induce her to suppose that your old promise holds good."
"She does not think so.
She cannot think so."
"Then what must she be,
to be here with you?
And what must you be,
to be here,
with such a one as she is?
I don't know why I should trouble you or myself about it.
People live now in a way that I don't comprehend.
If this be your way of living,
I have no right to complain."
"For God's sake,
do not speak in that way.
It sounds as though you meant to throw me over."
"I should have said that you had thrown me over.
You come down here to this hotel,
where we are both known,
with this lady whom you are not going to marry;
--and I meet you,
just by chance.
Had I known it,
of course I could have turned the other way.
But coming on you by accident,
as I did,
how am I not to speak to you?
And if I speak,
what am I to say?
Of course I think that the lady will succeed in marrying you."
"And that such a marriage will be your destruction.
Doubtless she is good-looking."
And you must remember that the manners of her country are not as the manners of this country."
"Then if I marry at all,"
with all his prejudice expressed strongly in his voice,
"I trust I may not marry a lady of her country.
She does not think that she is to marry you,
and yet she comes down here and stays with you.
I don't believe it.
I believe you,
but I don't believe her.
She is here with you in order that she may marry you.
She is cunning and strong.
You are foolish and weak.
Believing as I do that marriage with her would be destruction,
I should tell her my mind,
--and leave her."
Paul at the moment thought of the gentleman in Oregon,
and of certain difficulties in leaving.
"That's what I should do.
You must go in now,
and eat your dinner."
"I may come to the hall as I go back home?"
"Certainly you may come if you please,"
Then he bethought himself that his welcome had not been cordial.
"I mean that I shall be delighted to see you,"
marching away along the strand.
Paul did go into the hotel,
and did eat his dinner.
In the meantime Roger Carbury marched far away along the strand.
In all that he had said to Montague he had spoken the truth,
or that which appeared to him to be the truth.
He had not been influenced for a moment by any reference to his own affairs.
And yet he feared,
he almost knew,
that this man,
--who had promised to marry a strange American woman and who was at this very moment living in close intercourse with the woman after he had told her that he would not keep his promise,
--was the chief barrier between himself and the girl that he loved.
As he had listened to John Crumb while John spoke of Ruby Ruggles,
he had told himself that he and John Crumb were alike.
With an honest,
heart-felt desire they both panted for the companionship of a fellow-creature whom each had chosen.
And each was to be thwarted by the make-believe regard of unworthy youth and fatuous good looks!
by dogged perseverance and indifference to many things,
would probably be successful at last.
But what chance was there of success for him?
as soon as want or hardship told upon her,
would return to the strong arm that could be trusted to provide her with plenty and comparative ease.
But Hetta Carbury,
if once her heart had passed from her own dominion into the possession of another,
would never change her love.
It was possible,
--that her heart was still vacillating.
Roger thought that he knew that at any rate she had not as yet declared her love.
If she were now to know,
--if she could now learn,
--of what nature was the love of this other man;
if she could be instructed that he was living alone with a lady whom not long since he had promised to marry,
--if she could be made to understand this whole story of Mrs. Hurtle,
would not that open her eyes?
Would she not then see where she could trust her happiness,
by so trusting it,
she would certainly be shipwrecked!
said Roger to himself,
hitting at the stones on the beach with his stick.
Then he got his horse and rode back to Carbury Manor.
Mrs. HURTLE AT LOWESTOFT.
When Paul got down into the dining-room Mrs. Hurtle was already there,
and the waiter was standing by the side of the table ready to take the cover off the soup.
She was radiant with smiles and made herself especially pleasant during dinner,
but Paul felt sure that everything was not well with her.
Though she smiled,
and talked and laughed,
there was something forced in her manner.
He almost knew that she was only waiting till the man should have left the room to speak in a different strain.
And so it was.
As soon as the last lingering dish had been removed,
and when the door was finally shut behind the retreating waiter,
she asked the question which no doubt had been on her mind since she had walked across the strand to the hotel.
"Your friend was hardly civil;
"Do you mean that he should have come in?
I have no doubt it was true that he had dined."
"I am quite indifferent about his dinner,
--but there are two ways of declining as there are of accepting.
I suppose he is on very intimate terms with you?"
"Then his want of courtesy was the more evidently intended for me.
In point of fact he disapproves of me.
Is not that it?"
To this question Montague did not feel himself called upon to make any immediate answer.
"I can well understand that it should be so.
An intimate friend may like or dislike the friend of his friend,
But unless there be strong reason he is bound to be civil to his friend's friend,
when accident brings them together.
You have told me that Mr. Carbury was your beau ideal of an English gentleman."
"So he is."
"Then why didn't he behave as such?"
and Mrs. Hurtle again smiled.
"Did not you yourself feel that you were rebuked for coming here with me,
when he expressed surprise at your journey?
Has he authority over you?"
"Of course he has not.
What authority could he have?"
I do not know.
He may be your guardian.
In this safe-going country young men perhaps are not their own masters till they are past thirty.
I should have said that he was your guardian,
and that he intended to rebuke you for being in bad company.
I dare say he did after I had gone."
This was so true that Montague did not know how to deny it.
Nor was he sure that it would be well that he should deny it.
The time must come,
and why not now as well as at any future moment?
He had to make her understand that he could not join his lot with her,
--chiefly indeed because his heart was elsewhere,
a reason on which he could hardly insist because she could allege that she had a prior right to his heart;
--but also because her antecedents had been such as to cause all his friends to warn him against such a marriage.
So he plucked up courage for the battle.
"It was nearly that,"
There are many,
--and probably the greater portion of my readers will be among the number,
--who will declare to themselves that Paul Montague was a poor creature,
in that he felt so great a repugnance to face this woman with the truth.
His folly in falling at first under the battery of her charms will be forgiven him.
unwise as it was,
and his subsequent determination to break his engagement,
will be pardoned.
and perhaps some men also,
will feel that it was natural that he should have been charmed,
natural that he should have expressed his admiration in the form which unmarried ladies expect from unmarried men when any such expression is to be made at all;
--natural also that he should endeavour to escape from the dilemma when he found the manifold dangers of the step which he had proposed to take.
will be hard upon him because of his breach of faith to Mrs. Hurtle.
But they will be very hard on him on the score of his cowardice,
In social life we hardly stop to consider how much of that daring spirit which gives mastery comes from hardness of heart rather than from high purpose,
or true courage.
The man who succumbs to his wife,
the mother who succumbs to her daughter,
the master who succumbs to his servant,
is as often brought to servility by a continual aversion to the giving of pain,
by a softness which causes the fretfulness of others to be an agony to himself,
--as by any actual fear which the firmness of the imperious one may have produced.
There is an inner softness,
a thinness of the mind's skin,
an incapability of seeing or even thinking of the troubles of others with equanimity,
which produces a feeling akin to fear;
but which is compatible not only with courage,
but with absolute firmness of purpose,
when the demand for firmness arises so strongly as to assert itself.
With this man it was not really that.
He feared the woman;
--or at least such fears did not prevail upon him to be silent;
but he shrank from subjecting her to the blank misery of utter desertion.
After what had passed between them he could hardly bring himself to tell her that he wanted her no further and to bid her go.
But that was what he had to do.
And for that his answer to her last question prepared the way.
"It was nearly that,"
"Mr. Carbury did take it upon himself to rebuke you for showing yourself on the sands at Lowestoft with such a one as I am?"
"He knew of the letter which I wrote to you."
"You have canvassed me between you?"
"Of course we have.
Is that unnatural?
Would you have had me be silent about you to the oldest and the best friend I have in the world?"
I would not have had you be silent to your oldest and best friend.
I presume you would declare your purpose.
But I should not have supposed you would have asked his leave.
When I was travelling with you,
I thought you were a man capable of managing your own actions.
I had heard that in your country girls sometimes hold themselves at the disposal of their friends,
--but I did not dream that such could be the case with a man who had gone out into the world to make his fortune."
Paul Montague did not like it.
The punishment to be endured was being commenced.
"Of course you can say bitter things,"
"Is it my nature to say bitter things?
Have I usually said bitter things to you?
When I have hung round your neck and have sworn that you should be my God upon earth,
was that bitter?
I am alone and I have to fight my own battles.
A woman's weapon is her tongue.
Say but one word to me,
as you know how to say it,
and there will be soon an end to that bitterness.
What shall I care for Mr. Carbury,
except to make him the cause of some innocent joke,
if you will speak but that one word?
And think what it is I am asking.
Do you remember how urgent were once your own prayers to me;
--how you swore that your happiness could only be secured by one word of mine?
Though I loved you,
There were considerations of money,
which have now vanished.
But I spoke it,
--because I loved you,
and because I believed you.
Give me that which you swore you had given before I made my gift to you."
"I cannot say that word."
"Do you mean that,
I am to be thrown off like an old glove?
I have had many dealings with men and have found them to be false,
But I have met nothing like that.
No man has ever dared to treat me like that.
No man shall dare."
"I wrote to you."
"Wrote to me;
And I was to take that as sufficient!
No. I think but little of my life and have but little for which to live.
But while I do live I will travel over the world's surface to face injustice and to expose it,
before I will put up with it.
You wrote to me!
Heaven and earth;
--I can hardly control myself when I hear such impudence!"
She clenched her fist upon the knife that lay on the table as she looked at him,
and raising it,
dropped it again at a further distance.
"Wrote to me!
Could any mere letter of your writing break the bond by which we were bound together?
Had not the distance between us seemed to have made you safe would you have dared to write that letter?
The letter must be unwritten.
It has already been contradicted by your conduct to me since I have been in this country."
"I am sorry to hear you say that."
"Am I not justified in saying it?"
"I hope not.
When I first saw you I told you everything.
If I have been wrong in attending to your wishes since,
I regret it."
"This comes from your seeing your master for two minutes on the beach.
You are acting now under his orders.
No doubt he came with the purpose.
Had you told him you were to be here?"
"His coming was an accident."
"It was very opportune at any rate.
--what have you to say to me?
Or am I to understand that you suppose yourself to have said all that is required of you?
Perhaps you would prefer that I should argue the matter out with your --friend,
"What has to be said,
I believe I can say myself."
"Say it then.
Or are you so ashamed of it,
that the words stick in your throat?"
"There is some truth in that.
I am ashamed of it.
I must say that which will be painful,
and which would not have been to be said,
had I been fairly careful."
Then he paused.
"Don't spare me,"
"I know what it all is as well as though it were already told.
I know the lies with which they have crammed you at San Francisco.
You have heard that up in Oregon --I shot a man.
That is no lie.
I brought him down dead at my feet."
Then she paused,
and rose from her chair,
and looked at him.
"Do you wonder that that is a story that a woman should hesitate to tell?
But not from shame.
Do you suppose that the sight of that dying wretch does not haunt me?
that I do not daily hear his drunken screech,
and see him bound from the earth,
and then fall in a heap just below my hand?
But did they tell you also that it was thus alone that I could save myself,
--and that had I spared him,
I must afterwards have destroyed myself?
If I were wrong,
why did they not try me for his murder?
Why did the women flock around me and kiss the very hems of my garments?
In this soft civilization of yours you know nothing of such necessity.
A woman here is protected,
--unless it be from lies."
"It was not that only,"
they told you other things,"
still standing over him.
"They told you of quarrels with my husband.
I know the lies,
and who made them,
Did I conceal from you the character of my former husband?
Did I not tell you that he was a drunkard and a scoundrel?
How should I not quarrel with such a one?
you can hardly know what my life has been."
"They told me that --you fought him."
--I was always fighting him.
What are you to do but to fight cruelty,
and fight falsehood,
and fight fraud and treachery,
--when they come upon you and would overwhelm you but for fighting?
You have not been fool enough to believe that fable about a duel?
I did stand once,
and guarded my bedroom door from him,
and told him that he should only enter it over my body.
He went away to the tavern and I did not see him for a week afterwards.
That was the duel.
And they have told you that he is not dead."
--they have told me that."
"Who has seen him alive?
I never said to you that I had seen him dead.
How should I?"
"There would be a certificate."
--in the back of Texas;
--five hundred miles from Galveston!
And what would it matter to you?
I was divorced from him according to the law of the State of Kansas.
Does not the law make a woman free here to marry again,
--and why not with us?
I sued for a divorce on the score of cruelty and drunkenness.
He made no appearance,
and the Court granted it me.
Am I disgraced by that?"
"I heard nothing of the divorce."
"I do not remember.
When we were talking of these old days before,
you did not care how short I was in telling my story.
You wanted to hear little or nothing then of Caradoc Hurtle.
Now you have become more particular.
I told you that he was dead,
--as I believed myself,
and do believe.
Whether the other story was told or not I do not know."
"It was not told."
"Then it was your own fault,
--because you would not listen.
And they have made you believe I suppose that I have failed in getting back my property?"
"I have heard nothing about your property but what you yourself have said unasked.
I have asked no question about your property."
"You are welcome.
At last I have made it again my own.
what else is there?
I think I have been open with you.
Is it because I protected myself from drunken violence that I am to be rejected?
Am I to be cast aside because I saved my life while in the hands of a reprobate husband,
and escaped from him by means provided by law;
--or because by my own energy I have secured my own property?
If I am not to be condemned for these things,
then say why am I condemned."
She had at any rate saved him the trouble of telling the story,
but in doing so had left him without a word to say.
She had owned to shooting the man.
it certainly may be necessary that a woman should shoot a man --especially in Oregon.
As to the duel with her husband,
--she had half denied and half confessed it.
He presumed that she had been armed with a pistol when she refused Mr. Hurtle admittance into the nuptial chamber.
As to the question of Hurtle's death,
--she had confessed that perhaps he was not dead.
--as she had asked,
--why should not a divorce for the purpose in hand be considered as good as a death?
He could not say that she had not washed herself clean;
from the story as told by herself,
what man would wish to marry her?
She had seen so much of drunkenness,
had become so handy with pistols,
and had done so much of a man's work,
that any ordinary man might well hesitate before he assumed to be her master.
"I do not condemn you,"
"At any rate,
do not lie,"
"If you tell me that you will not be my husband,
you do condemn me.
Is it not so?"
"I will not lie if I can help it.
I did ask you to be my wife --"
How often before I consented?"
"It matters little;
at any rate,
till you did consent.
I have since satisfied myself that such a marriage would be miserable for both of us."
you can speak of me as you please and think of me as you please.
I can hardly defend myself."
with whatever result,
I know that I shall now be acting for the best in declaring that I will not become --your husband."
"You will not?"
She was still standing,
and stretched out her right hand as though again to grasp something.
He also now rose from his chair.
"If I speak with abruptness it is only to avoid a show of indecision.
I will not."
what have I done that it should be my lot to meet man after man false and cruel as this!
You tell me to my face that I am to bear it!
Who is the jade that has done it?
Has she money?
Or is it that you are afraid to have by your side a woman who can speak for herself,
--and even act for herself if some action be necessary?
Perhaps you think that I am --old."
He was looking at her intently as she spoke,
and it did seem to him that many years had been added to her face.
It was full of lines round the mouth,
and the light play of drollery was gone,
and the colour was fixed,
--and her eyes seemed to be deep in her head.
--is it that you want a younger wife?"
"You know it is not."
How should any one know anything from a liar?
From what you tell me I know nothing.
I have to gather what I can from your character.
I see that you are a coward.
It is that man that came to you,
and who is your master,
that has forced you to this.
Between me and him you tremble,
and are a thing to be pitied.
As for knowing what you would be at,
from anything that you would say,
--that is impossible.
Once again I have come across a mean wretch.
--that men should be so vile,
and think themselves masters of the world!
My last word to you is,
that you are --a liar.
Now for the present you can go.
Ten minutes since,
had I had a weapon in my hand I should have shot another man."
as he looked round the room for his hat,
could not but think that perhaps Mrs. Hurtle might have had some excuse.
It seemed at any rate to be her custom to have a pistol with her,
for his comfort,
she had left it in her bedroom on the present occasion.
"I will say good-bye to you,"
when he had found his hat.
"Say no such thing.
Tell me that you have triumphed and got rid of me.
Pluck up your spirits,
if you have any,
and show me your joy.
Tell me that an Englishman has dared to ill-treat an American woman.
--were you not afraid to indulge yourself."
He was now standing in the doorway,
and before he escaped she gave him an imperative command.
"I shall not stay here now,"
she said --"I shall return on Monday.
I must think of what you have said,
and must resolve what I myself will do.
I shall not bear this without seeking a means of punishing you for your treachery.
I shall expect you to come to me on Monday."
He closed the door as he answered her.
"I do not see that it will serve any purpose."
"It is for me,
to judge of that.
I suppose you are not so much a coward that you are afraid to come to me.
I shall come to you;
and you may be assured that I shall not be too timid to show myself and to tell my story."
He ended by saying that if she desired it he would wait upon her,
but that he would not at present fix a day.
On his return to town he would write to her.
When he was gone she went to the door and listened awhile.
Then she closed it,
and turning the lock,
stood with her back against the door and with her hands clasped.
After a few moments she ran forward,
and falling on her knees,
buried her face in her hands upon the table.
Then she gave way to a flood of tears,
and at last lay rolling upon the floor.
Was this to be the end of it?
Should she never know rest;
--never have one draught of cool water between her lips?
Was there to be no end to the storms and turmoils and misery of her life?
In almost all that she had said she had spoken the truth,
though doubtless not all the truth,
--as which among us would in giving the story of his life?
She had endured violence,
and had been violent.
She had been schemed against,
and had schemed.
She had fitted herself to the life which had befallen her.
But in regard to money,
she had been honest and she had been loving of heart.
With her heart of hearts she had loved this young Englishman;
after all her scheming,
all her daring,
with all her charms,
this was to be the end of it!
what a journey would this be which she must now make back to her own country,
But the strongest feeling which raged within her bosom was that of disappointed love.
Full as had been the vials of wrath which she had poured forth over Montague's head,
violent as had been the storm of abuse with which she had assailed him,
there had been after all something counterfeited in her indignation.
But her love was no counterfeit.
At any moment if he would have returned to her and taken her in his arms,
she would not only have forgiven him but have blessed him also for his kindness.
She was in truth sick at heart of violence and rough living and unfeminine words.
When driven by wrongs the old habit came back upon her.
But if she could only escape the wrongs,
if she could find some niche in the world which would be bearable to her,
free from harsh treatment,
she could pour forth all the genuine kindness of her woman's nature,
she thought she could put away violence and be gentle as a young girl.
When she first met this Englishman and found that he took delight in being near her,
she had ventured to hope that a haven would at last be open to her.
But the reek of the gunpowder from that first pistol shot still clung to her,
and she now told herself again,
as she had often told herself before,
that it would have been better for her to have turned the muzzle against her own bosom.
After receiving his letter she had run over on what she had told herself was a vain chance.
Though angry enough when that letter first reached her,
with that force of character which marked her,
declared to herself that such a resolution on his part was natural.
In marrying her he must give up all his old allies,
all his old haunts.
The whole world must be changed to him.
She knew enough of herself,
and enough of Englishwomen,
to be sure that when her past life should be known,
as it would be known,
she would be avoided in England.
With all the little ridicule she was wont to exercise in speaking of the old country there was ever mixed,
as is so often the case in the minds of American men and women,
an almost envious admiration of English excellence.
To have been allowed to forget the past and to live the life of an English lady would have been heaven to her.
who was sometimes scorned and sometimes feared in the eastern cities of her own country,
whose name had become almost a proverb for violence out in the far West,
--how could she dare to hope that her lot should be so changed for her?
She had reminded Paul that she had required to be asked often before she had consented to be his wife;
but she did not tell him that that hesitation had arisen from her own conviction of her own unfitness.
But it had been so.
Circumstances had made her what she was.
Circumstances had been cruel to her.
But she could not now alter them.
as she came to believe in his love,
as she lost herself in love for him,
she told herself that she would be changed.
almost known that it could not be so.
But this man had relatives,
had property in her own country.
Though she could not be made happy in England,
might not a prosperous life be opened for him in the far West?
Then had risen the offer of that journey to Mexico with much probability that work of no ordinary kind might detain him there for years.
With what joy would she have accompanied him as his wife!
For that at any rate she would have been fit.
She was conscious,
--perhaps too conscious,
of her own beauty.
That at any rate,
had not deserted her.
She was hardly aware that time was touching it.
And she knew herself to be clever,
capable of causing happiness,
and mirth and comfort.
She had the qualities of a good comrade --which are so much in a woman.
She knew all this of herself.
If he and she could be together in some country in which those stories of her past life would be matter of indifference,
could she not make him happy?
But what was she that a man should give up everything and go away and spend his days in some half-barbarous country for her alone?
She knew it all and was hardly angry with him in that he had decided against her.
But treated as she had been she must play her game with such weapons as she possessed.
It was consonant with her old character,
it was consonant with her present plans that she should at any rate seem to be angry.
Sitting there alone late into the night she made many plans,
but the plan that seemed best to suit the present frame of her mind was the writing of a letter to Paul bidding him adieu,
sending him her fondest love,
and telling him that he was right.
She did write the letter,
but wrote it with a conviction that she would not have the strength to send it to him.
The reader may judge with what feeling she wrote the following words: --
You are right and I am wrong.
Our marriage would not have been fitting.
I do not blame you.
I attracted you when we were together;
but you have learned and have learned truly that you should not give up your life for such attractions.
If I have been violent with you,
You will acknowledge that I have suffered.
Always know that there is one woman who will love you better than any one else.
I think too that you will love me even when some other woman is by your side.
God bless you,
and make you happy.
Write me the shortest,
shortest word of adieu.
Not to do so would make you think yourself heartless.
But do not come to me.
W. H. This she wrote on a small slip of paper,
and then having read it twice,
she put it into her pocket-book.
She told herself that she ought to send it;
but told herself as plainly that she could not bring herself to do so.
It was early in the morning before she went to bed but she had admitted no one into the room after Montague had left her.
when he escaped from her presence,
roamed out on to the sea-shore,
and then took himself to bed,
having ordered a conveyance to take him to Carbury Manor early in the morning.
At breakfast he presented himself to the squire.
"I have come earlier than you expected,"
Are you going back to Lowestoft?"
Then he told the whole story.
Roger expressed his satisfaction,
recalling however the pledge which he had given as to his return.
"Let her follow you,
and bear it,"
"Of course you must suffer the effects of your own imprudence."
On that evening Paul Montague returned to London by the mail train,
being sure that he would thus avoid a meeting with Mrs. Hurtle in the railway-carriage.
RUBY A PRISONER.
Ruby had run away from her lover in great dudgeon after the dance at the Music Hall,
and had declared that she never wanted to see him again.
But when reflection came with the morning her misery was stronger than her wrath.
What would life be to her now without her lover?
When she escaped from her grandfather's house she certainly had not intended to become nurse and assistant maid-of-all-work at a London lodging-house.
The daily toil she could endure,
and the hard life,
as long as she was supported by the prospect of some coming delight.
A dance with Felix at the Music Hall,
though it were three days distant from her,
would so occupy her mind that she could wash and dress all the children without complaint.
Mrs. Pipkin was forced to own to herself that Ruby did earn her bread.
But when she had parted with her lover almost on an understanding that they were never to meet again,
things were very different with her.
And perhaps she had been wrong.
A gentleman like Sir Felix did not of course like to be told about marriage.
If she gave him another chance,
perhaps he would speak.
At any rate she could not live without another dance.
And so she wrote him a letter.
Ruby was glib enough with her pen,
though what she wrote will hardly bear repeating.
She underscored all her loves to him.
She underscored the expression of her regret if she had vexed him.
She did not want to hurry a gentleman.
But she did want to have another dance at the Music Hall.
Would he be there next Saturday?
Sir Felix sent her a very short reply to say that he would be at the Music Hall on the Tuesday.
As at this time he proposed to leave London on the Wednesday on his way to New York,
he was proposing to devote his very last night to the companionship of Ruby Ruggles.
Mrs. Pipkin had never interfered with her niece's letters.
It is certainly a part of the new dispensation that young women shall send and receive letters without inspection.
But since Roger Carbury's visit Mrs. Pipkin had watched the postman,
and had also watched her niece.
For nearly a week Ruby said not a word of going out at night.
She took the children for an airing in a broken perambulator,
nearly as far as Holloway,
with exemplary care,
and washed up the cups and saucers as though her mind was intent upon them.
But Mrs. Pipkin's mind was intent on obeying Mr. Carbury's behests.
She had already hinted something as to which Ruby had made no answer.
It was her purpose to tell her and to swear to her most solemnly,
--should she find her preparing herself to leave the house after six in the evening,
--that she should be kept out the whole night,
having a purpose equally clear in her own mind that she would break her oath should she be unsuccessful in her effort to keep Ruby at home.
But on the Tuesday,
when Ruby went up to her room to deck herself,
a bright idea as to a better precaution struck Mrs. Pipkin's mind.
Ruby had been careless,
--had left her lover's scrap of a note in an old pocket when she went out with the children,
and Mrs. Pipkin knew all about it.
It was nine o'clock when Ruby went up-stairs,
--and then Mrs. Pipkin locked both the front door and the area gate.
Mrs. Hurtle had come home on the previous day.
"You won't be wanting to go out to-night;
said Mrs. Pipkin,
knocking at her lodger's door.
Mrs. Hurtle declared her purpose of remaining at home all the evening.
"If you should hear words between me and my niece,
don't you mind,
"I hope there's nothing wrong,
"She'll be wanting to go out,
and I won't have it.
It isn't right;
She's a good girl;
but they've got such a way nowadays of doing just as they pleases,
that one doesn't know what's going to come next."
Mrs. Pipkin must have feared downright rebellion when she thus took her lodger into her confidence.
Ruby came down in her silk frock,
as she had done before,
and made her usual little speech.
"I'm just going to step out,
for a little time to-night.
I've got the key,
and I'll let myself in quite quiet."
said Mrs. Pipkin.
"Won't let yourself in,
if you go out.
If you go out to-night you'll stay out.
That's all about it.
If you go out to-night you won't come back here any more.
I won't have it,
and it isn't right that I should.
You're going after that young man that they tell me is the greatest scamp in all England."
"They tell you lies then,
No girl is going out any more at nights out of my house;
so that's all about it.
If you had told me you was going before,
you needn't have gone up and bedizened yourself.
For now it's all to take off again."
Ruby could hardly believe it.
She had expected some opposition,
--what she would have called a few words;
but she had never imagined that her aunt would threaten to keep her in the streets all night.
It seemed to her that she had bought the privilege of amusing herself by hard work.
Nor did she believe now that her aunt would be as hard as her threat.
"I've a right to go if I like,"
"That's as you think.
You haven't a right to come back again,
I've worked for you a deal harder than the girl down-stairs,
and I don't want no wages.
I've a right to go out,
and a right to come back;
--and go I shall."
"You'll be no better than you should be,
if you do."
"Am I to work my very nails off,
and push that perambulator about all day till my legs won't carry me,
--and then I ain't to go out,
not once in a week?"
"Not unless I know more about it,
I won't have you go and throw yourself into the gutter;
--not while you're with me."
"Who's throwing themselves into the gutter?
I've thrown myself into no gutter.
I know what I'm about."
"There's two of us that way,
--for I know what I'm about."
"I shall just go then."
And Ruby walked off towards the door.
"You won't get out that way,
for the door's locked;
--and the area gate.
You'd better be said,
and just take your things off."
Poor Ruby for the moment was struck dumb with mortification.
Mrs. Pipkin had given her credit for more outrageous perseverance than she possessed,
and had feared that she would rattle at the front door,
or attempt to climb over the area gate.
She was a little afraid of Ruby,
not feeling herself justified in holding absolute dominion over her as over a servant.
And though she was now determined in her conduct,
--being fully resolved to surrender neither of the keys which she held in her pocket,
--still she feared that she might so far collapse as to fall away into tears,
should Ruby be violent.
But Ruby was crushed.
Her lover would be there to meet her,
and the appointment would be broken by her!
"let me go just this once."
--it ain't proper."
"You don't know what you're a' doing of,
You'll ruin me,
Dear Aunt Pipkin,
I'll never ask again,
if you don't like."
Mrs. Pipkin had not expected this,
and was almost willing to yield.
But Mr. Carbury had spoken so very plainly!
"It ain't the thing,
and I won't do it."
"And I'm to be --a prisoner!
What have I done to be --a prisoner?
I don't believe as you've any right to lock me up."
"I've a right to lock my own doors."
"Then I shall go away to-morrow."
"I can't help that,
The door will be open to-morrow,
if you choose to go out."
"Then why not open it to-night?
Where's the difference?"
But Mrs. Pipkin was stern,
in a flood of tears,
took herself up to her garret.
Mrs. Pipkin knocked at Mrs. Hurtle's door again.
"She's gone to bed,"
"I'm glad to hear it.
There wasn't any noise about it;
"Not as I expected,
But she was put out a bit.
I've been a girl too,
and used to like a bit of outing as well as any one,
--and a dance too;
only it was always when mother knew.
She ain't got a mother,
and as good as no father.
And she's got it into her head that she's that pretty that a great gentleman will marry her."
"She is pretty!"
"But what's beauty,
It's no more nor skin deep,
as the scriptures tell us.
And what'd a grand gentleman see in Ruby to marry her?
She says she'll leave to-morrow."
"And where will she go?"
After this gentleman,
--and you know what that means!
You're going to be married yourself,
"We won't mind about that now,
'll be your second,
and you know how these things are managed.
'll marry her because she runs after him.
Girls as knows what they're about should let the gentlemen run after them.
That's my way of looking at it."
"Don't you think they should be equal in that respect?"
"Anyways the girls shouldn't let on as they are running after the gentlemen.
A gentleman goes here and he goes there,
and he speaks up free,
In my time,
girls usen't to do that.
added Mrs. Pipkin,
thinking of the new dispensation.
"I suppose girls do speak for themselves more than they did formerly."
"A deal more,
You hear them talk of spooning with this fellow,
and spooning with that fellow,
--and that before their very fathers and mothers!
When I was young we used to do it,
--only not like that."
"You did it on the sly."
"I think we got married quicker than they do,
When the gentlemen had to take more trouble they thought more about it.
But if you wouldn't mind speaking to Ruby to-morrow,
she'd listen to you when she wouldn't mind a word I said to her.
I don't want her to go away from this,
out into the street,
till she knows where she's to go to,
As for going to her young man,
--that's just walking the streets."
Mrs. Hurtle promised that she would speak to Ruby,
though when making the promise she could not but think of her unfitness for the task.
She knew nothing of the country.
She had not a single friend in it,
but Paul Montague;
--and she had run after him with as little discretion as Ruby Ruggles was showing in running after her lover.
Who was she that she should take upon herself to give advice to any female?
She had not sent her letter to Paul,
but she still kept it in her pocket-book.
At some moments she thought that she would send it;
and at others she told herself that she would never surrender this last hope till every stone had been turned.
It might still be possible to shame him into a marriage.
She had returned from Lowestoft on the Monday,
and had made some trivial excuse to Mrs. Pipkin in her mildest voice.
The place had been windy,
and too cold for her;
--and she had not liked the hotel.
Mrs. Pipkin was very glad to see her back again.
SIR FELIX MAKES HIMSELF READY.
when he promised to meet Ruby at the Music Hall on the Tuesday,
was under an engagement to start with Marie Melmotte for New York on the Thursday following,
and to go down to Liverpool on the Wednesday.
There was no reason,
why he should not enjoy himself to the last,
and he would say a parting word to poor little Ruby.
The details of his journey were settled between him and Marie,
with no inconsiderable assistance from Didon,
in the garden of Grosvenor Square,
on the previous Sunday,
--where the lovers had again met during the hours of morning service.
Sir Felix had been astonished at the completion of the preparations which had been made.
"Mind you go by the 5 p.m. train,"
"That will take you into Liverpool at 10.15.
There's an hotel at the railway-station.
Didon has got our tickets under the names of Madame and Mademoiselle Racine.
We are to have one cabin between us.
You must get yours to-morrow.
She has found out that there is plenty of room."
"I'll be all right."
"Pray don't miss the train that afternoon.
Somebody would be sure to suspect something if we were seen together in the same train.
We leave at 7 a.m. I shan't go to bed all night,
so as to be sure to be in time.
--he's the man,
--will start a little earlier in the cab with my heavy box.
What do you think is in it?"
but what clothes?
--my wedding dresses.
Think of that!
What a job to get them and nobody to know anything about it except Didon and Madame Craik at the shop in Mount Street!
They haven't come yet,
but I shall be there whether they come or not.
And I shall have all my jewels.
I'm not going to leave them behind.
They'll go off in our cab.
We can get the things out behind the house into the mews.
Then Didon and I follow in another cab.
Nobody ever is up before near nine,
and I don't think we shall be interrupted."
"If the servants were to hear."
"I don't think they'd tell.
But if I was to be brought back again,
I should only tell papa that it was no good.
He can't prevent me marrying."
"Won't your mother find out?"
"She never looks after anything.
I don't think she'd tell if she knew.
Papa leads her such a life!
I hope you won't be like that."
--And she looked up into his face,
and thought that it would be impossible that he should be.
"I'm all right,"
feeling very uncomfortable at the time.
This great effort of his life was drawing very near.
There had been a pleasurable excitement in talking of running away with the great heiress of the day,
but now that the deed had to be executed,
--and executed after so novel and stupendous a fashion,
he almost wished that he had not undertaken it.
It must have been much nicer when men ran away with their heiresses only as far as Gretna Green.
And even Goldsheiner with Lady Julia had nothing of a job in comparison with this which he was expected to perform.
And then if they should be wrong about the girl's fortune!
He almost repented.
He did repent,
but he had not the courage to recede.
"How about money though?"
he said hoarsely.
"You have got some?"
"I have just the two hundred pounds which your father paid me,
and not a shilling more.
I don't see why he should keep my money,
and not let me have it back."
and she put her hand into her pocket.
"I told you I thought I could get some.
There is a cheque for two hundred and fifty pounds.
I had money of my own enough for the tickets."
"And whose is this?"
taking the bit of paper with much trepidation.
"It is papa's cheque.
Mamma gets ever so many of them to carry on the house and pay for things.
But she gets so muddled about it that she doesn't know what she pays and what she doesn't."
Felix looked at the cheque and saw that it was payable to House or Bearer,
and that it was signed by Augustus Melmotte.
"If you take it to the bank you'll get the money,"
"Or shall I send Didon,
and give you the money on board the ship?"
Felix thought over the matter very anxiously.
If he did go on the journey he would much prefer to have the money in his own pocket.
He liked the feeling of having money in his pocket.
Perhaps if Didon were entrusted with the cheque she also would like the feeling.
But then might it not be possible that if he presented the cheque himself he might be arrested for stealing Melmotte's money?
"I think Didon had better get the money,"
"and bring it to me to-morrow,
at four o'clock in the afternoon,
to the club."
If the money did not come he would not go down to Liverpool,
nor would he be at the expense of his ticket for New York.
"I'm so much in the City that they might know me at the bank."
To this arrangement Marie assented and took back the cheque.
"And then I'll come on board on Thursday morning,"
"without looking for you."
--without looking for us.
And don't know us even till we are out at sea.
Won't it be fun when we shall be walking about on the deck and not speaking to one another!
--what do you think?
Didon has found out that there is to be an American clergyman on board.
I wonder whether he'd marry us."
"Of course he will."
"Won't that be jolly?
I wish it was all done.
directly it's done,
and when we get to New York,
we'll telegraph and write to papa,
and we'll be ever so penitent and good;
Of course he'll make the best of it."
"But he's so savage;
"When there's anything to get;
--or just at the moment.
But I don't think he minds afterwards.
He's always for making the best of everything;
--misfortunes and all.
Things go wrong so often that if he was to go on thinking of them always they'd be too many for anybody.
It'll be all right in a month's time.
I wonder how Lord Nidderdale will look when he hears that we've gone off.
I should so like to see him.
He never can say that I've behaved bad to him.
We were engaged,
but it was he broke it.
Do you know,
that though we were engaged to be married,
and everybody knew it,
he never once kissed me!"
Felix at this moment almost wished that he had never done so.
As to what the other man had done,
he cared nothing at all.
Then they parted with the understanding that they were not to see each other again till they met on board the boat.
All arrangements were made.
But Felix was determined that he would not stir in the matter unless Didon brought him the full sum of £250;
and he almost thought,
and indeed hoped,
that she would not.
Either she would be suspected at the bank and apprehended,
or she would run off with the money on her own account when she got it;
--or the cheque would have been missed and the payment stopped.
Some accident would occur,
and then he would be able to recede from his undertaking.
He would do nothing till after Monday afternoon.
Should he tell his mother that he was going?
His mother had clearly recommended him to run away with the girl,
and must therefore approve of the measure.
His mother would understand how great would be the expense of such a trip,
and might perhaps add something to his stock of money.
He determined that he would tell his mother;
if Didon should bring him full change for the cheque.
He walked into the Beargarden exactly at four o'clock on the Monday,
and there he found Didon standing in the hall.
His heart sank within him as he saw her.
Now must he certainly go to New York.
She made him a little curtsey,
and without a word handed him an envelope,
soft and fat with rich enclosures.
He bade her wait a moment,
and going into a little waiting-room counted the notes.
The money was all there;
--the full sum of £250.
He must certainly go to New York.
"C'est tout en règle?"
said Didon in a whisper as he returned to the hall.
Sir Felix nodded his head,
and Didon took her departure.
he must go now.
He had Melmotte's money in his pocket,
and was therefore bound to run away with Melmotte's daughter.
It was a great trouble to him as he reflected that Melmotte had more of his money than he had of Melmotte's.
And now how should he dispose of his time before he went?
Gambling was too dangerous.
Even he felt that.
Where would he be were he to lose his ready money?
He would dine that night at the club,
and in the evening go up to his mother.
On the Tuesday he would take his place for New York in the City,
and would spend the evening with Ruby at the Music Hall.
On the Wednesday,
he would start for Liverpool,
--according to his instructions.
He felt annoyed that he had been so fully instructed.
But should the affair turn out well nobody would know that.
All the fellows would give him credit for the audacity with which he had carried off the heiress to America.
At ten o'clock he found his mother and Hetta in Welbeck Street --"What;
exclaimed Lady Carbury.
are you not?"
Then he threw himself into a chair.
"would you mind coming into the other room?"
Lady Carbury of course went with him.
"I've got something to tell you,"
clasping her hands together.
From his manner she thought that it was good news.
Money had in some way come into his hands,
--or at any rate a prospect of money.
"That's as may be,"
and then he paused.
"Don't keep me in suspense,
"The long and the short of it is that I'm going to take Marie off."
"You said you thought it was the right thing to do;
--and therefore I'm going to do it.
The worst of it is that one wants such a lot of money for this kind of thing."
I wouldn't tell you till I had arranged everything.
I've had it in my mind for the last fortnight."
"And how is it to be?
I hope it may succeed."
"It was your own idea,
We're going to;
--where do you think?"
"How can I think?
"You say that just because Goldsheiner went there.
That wouldn't have done at all for us.
We're going to --New York."
"To New York!
But when will you be married?"
"There will be a clergyman on board.
It's all fixed.
I wouldn't go without telling you."
I wish you hadn't told me."
You don't mean to say it wasn't you that put me up to it.
I've got to get my things ready."
if you tell me that you are going on a journey,
I will have your clothes got ready for you.
When do you start?"
"For New York!
We must get some things ready-made.
how will it be if he does not forgive her?"
He attempted to laugh.
"When I spoke of such a thing as possible he had not sworn then that he would never give her a shilling."
"They always say that."
"You are going to risk it?"
"I am going to take your advice."
This was dreadful to the poor mother.
"There is money settled on her."
"Settled on whom?"
--money which he can't get back again."
"She doesn't know;
--but a great deal;
enough for them all to live upon if things went amiss with them."
"But that's only a form,
That money can't be her own,
to give to her husband."
"Melmotte will find that it is,
unless he comes to terms.
That's the pull we've got over him.
Marie knows what she's about.
She's a great deal sharper than any one would take her to be.
What can you do for me about money,
"I have none,
"I thought you'd be sure to help me,
as you wanted me so much to do it."
"That's not true,
I didn't want you to do it.
I am so sorry that that word ever passed my mouth!
I have no money.
There isn't £20 at the bank altogether."
"They would let you overdraw for £50 or £60."
"I will not do it.
I will not starve myself and Hetta.
You had ever so much money only lately.
I will get some things for you,
and pay for them as I can if you cannot pay for them after your marriage;
--but I have not money to give you."
"That's a blue look out,"
turning himself in his chair,
--"just when £60 or £70 might make a fellow for life!
You could borrow it from your friend Broune."
"I will do no such thing,
£50 or £60 would make very little difference in the expense of such a trip as this.
I suppose you have some money?"
But I'm so short that any little thing would help me."
Before the evening was over she absolutely did give him a cheque for £30,
although she had spoken the truth in saying that she had not so much at her banker's.
After this he went back to his club,
although he himself understood the danger.
He could not bear the idea of going to bed quietly at home at half-past ten.
He got into a cab,
and was very soon up in the card-room.
He found nobody there,
and went to the smoking-room,
where Dolly Longestaffe and Miles Grendall were sitting silently together,
with pipes in their mouths.
waking suddenly into life.
"Now we can have a game at three-handed loo."
not for me,"
said Sir Felix.
"I hate three-handed loo."
"I don't think I'll play to-night,
I hate three fellows sticking down together."
Miles sat silent,
smoking his pipe,
conscious of the baronet's dislike to play with him.
And Sir Felix in his most friendly tone whispered into his enemy's ear a petition that some of the I.
O. U.'s might be converted into cash.
"'Pon my word,
I must ask you to wait till next week,"
"It's always waiting till next week with you,"
said Sir Felix,
getting up and standing with his back to the fire-place.
There were other men in the room,
and this was said so that every one should hear it.
"I wonder whether any fellow would buy these for five shillings in the pound?"
And he held up the scraps of paper in his hand.
He had been drinking freely before he went up to Welbeck Street,
and had taken a glass of brandy on re-entering the club.
"Don't let's have any of that kind of thing down here,"
"If there is to be a row about cards,
let it be in the card-room."
"I won't say a word about the matter down here.
It isn't the proper thing."
"Come up into the card-room,
said Sir Felix,
getting up from his chair.
"It seems to me that it makes no difference to you,
what room you're in.
and Dolly Longestaffe shall come and hear what you say."
But Miles Grendall objected to this arrangement.
He was not going up into the card-room that night,
as no one was going to play.
He would be there to-morrow,
and then if Sir Felix Carbury had anything to say,
he could say it.
"How I do hate a row!"
"One has to have rows with one's own people,
but there ought not to be rows at a club."
"He likes a row,
"I should like my money,
if I could get it,"
said Sir Felix,
walking out of the room.
On the next day he went into the City,
and changed his mother's cheque.
This was done after a little hesitation.
The money was given to him,
but a gentleman from behind the desks begged him to remind Lady Carbury that she was overdrawing her account.
said Sir Felix,
as he pocketed the notes,
"I'm sure she was unaware of it."
Then he paid for his passage from Liverpool to New York under the name of Walter Jones,
and felt as he did so that the intrigue was becoming very deep.
This was on Tuesday.
He dined again at the club,
and in the evening went to the Music Hall.
There he remained from ten till nearly twelve,
very angry at the non-appearance of Ruby Ruggles.
As he smoked and drank in solitude,
he almost made up his mind that he had intended to tell her of his departure for New York.
Of course he would have done no such thing.
should she ever complain on that head he would have his answer ready.
He had devoted his last night in England to the purpose of telling her,
and she had broken her appointment.
Everything would now be her fault.
Whatever might happen to her she could not blame him.
Having waited till he was sick of the Music Hall,
--for a music hall without ladies' society must be somewhat dull,
--he went back to his club.
He was very cross,
as brave as brandy could make him,
and well inclined to expose Miles Grendall if he could find an opportunity.
Up in the card-room he found all the accustomed men,
--with the exception of Miles Grendall.
and one or two others were there.
at any rate,
comfort in the idea of playing without having to encounter the dead weight of Miles Grendall.
Ready money was on the table,
--and there was none of the peculiar Beargarden paper flying about.
Indeed the men at the Beargarden had become sick of paper,
and there had been formed a half-expressed resolution that the play should be somewhat lower,
but the payments punctual.
O. U.'s had been nearly all converted into money,
--with the assistance of Herr Vossner,
--excepting those of Miles Grendall.
The resolution mentioned did not refer back to Grendall's former indebtedness,
but was intended to include a clause that he must in future pay ready money.
Nidderdale had communicated to him the determination of the committee.
"Bygones are bygones,
but you really must stump up,
Miles had declared that he would "stump up."
But on this occasion Miles was absent.
At three o'clock in the morning,
Sir Felix had lost over a hundred pounds in ready money.
On the following night about one he had lost a further sum of two hundred pounds.
The reader will remember that he should at that time have been in the hotel at Liverpool.
But Sir Felix,
as he played on in the almost desperate hope of recovering the money which he so greatly needed,
remembered how Fisker had played all night,
and how he had gone off from the club to catch the early train for Liverpool,
and how he had gone on to New York without delay.
CHAPTER L. THE JOURNEY TO LIVERPOOL.
as she had promised,
sat up all night,
as did also the faithful Didon.
I think that to Marie the night was full of pleasure,
--or at any rate of pleasurable excitement.
With her door locked,
she packed and unpacked and repacked her treasures,
--having more than once laid out on the bed the dress in which she purposed to be married.
She asked Didon her opinion whether that American clergyman of whom they had heard would marry them on board,
and whether in that event the dress would be fit for the occasion.
Didon thought that the man,
if sufficiently paid,
would marry them,
and that the dress would not much signify.
She scolded her young mistress very often during the night for what she called nonsense;
but was true to her,
and worked hard for her.
They determined to go without food in the morning,
so that no suspicion should be raised by the use of cups and plates.
They could get refreshment at the railway-station.
At six they started.
Robert went first with the big boxes,
having his ten pounds already in his pocket,
--and Marie and Didon with smaller luggage followed in a second cab.
No one interfered with them and nothing went wrong.
The very civil man at Euston Square gave them their tickets,
and even attempted to speak to them in French.
They had quite determined that not a word of English was to be spoken by Marie till the ship was out at sea.
At the station they got some very bad tea and almost uneatable food,
--but Marie's restrained excitement was so great that food was almost unnecessary to her.
They took their seats without any impediment,
--and then they were off.
During a great part of the journey they were alone,
and then Marie gabbled to Didon about her hopes and her future career,
and all the things she would do;
--how she had hated Lord Nidderdale;
after she had been awed into accepting him,
he had given her no token of love;
--"pas un baiser!"
Didon suggested that such was the way with English lords.
She herself had preferred Lord Nidderdale,
but had been willing to join in the present plan,
--as she said,
from devoted affection to Marie.
Marie went on to say that Nidderdale was ugly,
and that Sir Felix was as beautiful as the morning.
who was really disgusted that such considerations should prevail.
Didon had learned in some indistinct way that Lord Nidderdale would be a marquis and would have a castle,
whereas Sir Felix would never be more than Sir Felix,
of his own,
would never have anything at all.
She had striven with her mistress,
but her mistress liked to have a will of her own.
Didon no doubt had thought that New York,
with £50 and other perquisites in hand,
might offer her a new career.
She had therefore yielded,
but even now could hardly forbear from expressing disgust at the folly of her mistress.
Marie bore it with imperturbable good humour.
She was running away,
--and was running to a distant continent,
--and her lover would be with her!
She gave Didon to understand that she cared nothing for marquises.
As they drew near to Liverpool Didon explained that they must still be very careful.
It would not do for them to declare at once their destination on the platform,
--so that every one about the station should know that they were going on board the packet for New York.
They had time enough.
They must leisurely look for the big boxes and other things,
and need say nothing about the steam packet till they were in a cab.
Marie's big box was directed simply "Madame Racine,
Passenger to Liverpool;"
--so also was directed a second box,
nearly as big,
which was Didon's property.
Didon declared that her anxiety would not be over till she found the ship moving under her.
Marie was sure that all their dangers were over,
--if only Sir Felix was safe on board.
Sir Felix was at this moment in Welbeck Street,
striving to find temporary oblivion for his distressing situation and loss of money,
and some alleviation for his racking temples,
beneath the bedclothes.
When the train ran into the station at Liverpool the two women sat for a few moments quite quiet.
They would not seek remark by any hurry or noise.
The door was opened,
and a well-mannered porter offered to take their luggage.
Didon handed out the various packages,
keeping however the jewel-case in her own hands.
She left the carriage first,
and then Marie.
But Marie had hardly put her foot on the platform,
before a gentleman addressed her,
touching his hat,
are Miss Melmotte."
Marie was struck dumb,
but said nothing.
Didon immediately became voluble in French.
the young lady was not Miss Melmotte;
the young lady was Mademoiselle Racine,
She was Madame Racine.
What was Melmotte?
They knew nothing about Melmottes.
Would the gentleman kindly allow them to pass on to their cab?
are Miss Melmotte."]
But the gentleman would by no means kindly allow them to pass on to their cab.
With the gentleman was another gentleman,
--who did not seem to be quite so much of a gentleman;
not far in the distance Didon quickly espied a policeman,
who did not at present connect himself with the affair,
but who seemed to have his time very much at command,
and to be quite ready if he were wanted.
Didon at once gave up the game,
--as regarded her mistress.
"I am afraid I must persist in asserting that you are Miss Melmotte,"
said the gentleman,
"and that this other --person is your servant,
You speak English,
Marie declared that she spoke French.
"And English too,"
said the gentleman.
"I think you had better make up your minds to go back to London.
I will accompany you."
nous sommes perdues!"
plucking up her courage for the moment,
asserted the legality of her own position and of that of her mistress.
They had both a right to come to Liverpool.
They had both a right to get into the cab with their luggage.
Nobody had a right to stop them.
They had done nothing against the laws.
Why were they to be stopped in this way?
What was it to anybody whether they called themselves Melmotte or Racine?
The gentleman understood the French oratory,
but did not commit himself to reply in the same language.
"You had better trust yourself to me;
you had indeed,"
said the gentleman.
Then the gentleman spoke in a very low voice.
"A cheque has been changed which you took from your father's house.
No doubt your father will pardon that when you are once with him.
But in order that we may bring you back safely we can arrest you on the score of the cheque,
--if you force us to do so.
We certainly shall not let you go on board.
If you will travel back to London with me,
you shall be subjected to no inconvenience which can be avoided."
There was certainly no help to be found anywhere.
It may be well doubted whether upon the whole the telegraph has not added more to the annoyances than to the comforts of life,
and whether the gentlemen who spent all the public money without authority ought not to have been punished with special severity in that they had injured humanity,
rather than pardoned because of the good they had produced.
Who is benefited by telegrams?
The newspapers are robbed of all their old interest,
and the very soul of intrigue is destroyed.
when she heard her fate,
would certainly have gladly hanged Mr. Scudamore.
When the gentleman had made his speech,
she offered no further opposition.
Looking into Didon's face and bursting into tears,
she sat down on one of the boxes.
But Didon became very clamorous on her own behalf,
--and her clamour was successful.
"Who was going to stop her?
What had she done?
Why should not she go where she pleased?
Did anybody mean to take her up for stealing anybody's money?
If anybody did,
that person had better look to himself.
She knew the law.
She would go where she pleased."
So saying she began to tug the rope of her box as though she intended to drag it by her own force out of the station.
The gentleman looked at his telegram,
--looked at another document which he now held in his hand,
should it be wanted.
Elise Didon had been accused of nothing that brought her within the law.
The gentleman in imperfect French suggested that Didon had better return with her mistress.
But Didon clamoured only the more.
she would go to New York.
She would go wherever she pleased,
--all the world over.
Nobody should stop her.
Then she addressed herself in what little English she could command to half-a-dozen cabmen who were standing round and enjoying the scene.
They were to take her trunk at once.
She had money and she could pay.
She started off to the nearest cab,
and no one stopped her.
"But the box in her hand is mine,"
not forgetting her trinkets in her misery.
Didon surrendered the jewel-case,
and ensconced herself in the cab without a word of farewell;
and her trunk was hoisted on to the roof.
Then she was driven away out of the station,
--and out of our story.
She had a first-class cabin all to herself as far as New York,
but what may have been her fate after that it matters not to us to enquire.
We who know how recreant a knight Sir Felix had proved himself,
who are aware that had Miss Melmotte succeeded in getting on board the ship she would have passed an hour of miserable suspense,
looking everywhere for her lover,
and would then at last have been carried to New York without him,
may congratulate her on her escape.
we who know his character better than she did,
may still hope in her behalf that she may be ultimately saved from so wretched a marriage.
But to her her present position was truly miserable.
She would have to encounter an enraged father;
--when should she see her lover again?
What would be his feelings when he should find himself on his way to New York without his love!
But in one matter she made up her mind steadfastly.
She would be true to him!
They might chop her in pieces!
--she had said it before,
and she would say it again.
doubt on her mind from time to time,
whether one course might not be better even than constancy.
If she could contrive to throw herself out of the carriage and to be killed,
--would not that be the best termination to her present disappointment?
Would not that be the best punishment for her father?
But how then would it be with poor Felix?
"After all I don't know that he cares for me,"
she said to herself,
thinking over it all.
The gentleman was very kind to her,
not treating her at all as though she were disgraced.
As they got near town he ventured to give her a little advice.
"Put a good face on it,"
"and don't be cast down."
"I don't mean."
"Your mother will be delighted to have you back again."
"I don't think that mamma cares.
I'd do it again to-morrow if I had the chance."
The gentleman looked at her,
not having expected so much determination.
Why is a girl to be made to marry to please any one but herself?
And it's very mean saying that I stole the money.
I always take what I want,
and papa never says anything about it."
"Two hundred and fifty pounds is a large sum,
"It is nothing in our house.
It isn't about the money.
It's because papa wants me to marry another man;
--and I won't.
It was downright mean to send and have me taken up before all the people."
"You wouldn't have come back if he hadn't done that."
"Of course I wouldn't,"
The gentleman had telegraphed up to Grosvenor Square while on the journey,
and at Euston Square they were met by one of the Melmotte carriages.
Marie was to be taken home in the carriage,
and the box was to follow in a cab;
--to follow at some interval so that Grosvenor Square might not be aware of what had taken place.
very soon knew all about it.
"And are you to come?"
speaking to the gentleman.
The gentleman replied that he had been requested to see Miss Melmotte home.
"All the people will wonder who you are,"
said Marie laughing.
Then the gentleman thought that Miss Melmotte would be able to get through her troubles without much suffering.
When she got home she was hurried up at once to her mother's room,
--and there she found her father,
"This is your game,
looking down at her.
You made me do it."
"You fool you!
You were going to New York,
To this she vouchsafed no reply.
"As if I hadn't found out all about it.
Who was going with you?"
"If you have found out all about it,
"Of course I know;
--but you don't know all about it,
you little idiot."
"No doubt I'm a fool and an idiot.
You always say so."
"Where do you suppose Sir Felix Carbury is now?"
Then she opened her eyes and looked at him.
"An hour ago he was in bed at his mother's house in Welbeck Street."
"I don't believe it,
You'll find it true.
If you had gone to New York,
you'd have gone alone.
If I'd known at first that he had stayed behind,
I think I'd have let you go."
"I'm sure he didn't stay behind."
"If you contradict me,
I'll box your ears,
He is in London at this moment.
What has become of the woman that went with you?"
"She's gone on board the ship."
"And where is the money you took from your mother?"
Marie was silent.
"Who got the cheque changed?"
"And has she got the money?"
"Have you got it?"
"Did you give it to Sir Felix Carbury?"
"Then I'll be hanged if I don't prosecute him for stealing it."
don't do that;
--pray don't do that.
He didn't steal it.
I only gave it him to take care of for us.
He'll give it you back again."
"I shouldn't wonder if he lost it at cards,
and therefore didn't go to Liverpool.
Will you give me your word that you'll never attempt to marry him again if I don't prosecute him?"
"Unless you do that I shall go to a magistrate at once."
"I don't believe you can do anything to him.
He didn't steal it.
I gave it to him."
"Will you promise me?"
What's the good of promising when I should only break it.
Why can't you let me have the man I love?
What's the good of all the money if people don't have what they like?"
"All the money!
--What do you know about the money?
and he took her by the arm.
"I've been very good to you.
You've had your share of everything that has been going;
--carriages and horses,
bracelets and brooches,
silks and gloves,
and every thing else."
He held her very hard and shook her as he spoke.
"Let me go,
you hurt me.
I never asked for such things.
I don't care a straw about bracelets and brooches."
"What do you care for?"
"Only for somebody to love me,"
"You'll soon have nobody to love you,
if you go on this fashion.
You've had everything done for you,
and if you don't do something for me in return,
by G -- -- you shall have a hard time of it.
If you weren't such a fool you'd believe me when I say that I know more than you do."
"You can't know better than me what'll make me happy."
"Do you think only of yourself?
If you'll marry Lord Nidderdale you'll have a position in the world which nothing can take from you."
"Then I won't,"
said Marie firmly.
Upon this he shook her till she cried,
and calling for Madame Melmotte desired his wife not to let the girl for one minute out of her presence.
The condition of Sir Felix was I think worse than that of the lady with whom he was to have run away.
He had played at the Beargarden till four in the morning and had then left the club,
on the breaking-up of the card-table,
intoxicated and almost penniless.
During the last half hour he had made himself very unpleasant at the club,
saying all manner of harsh things of Miles Grendall;
it was almost impossible to say things too hard,
had they been said in a proper form and at a proper time.
He declared that Grendall would not pay his debts,
that he had cheated when playing loo,
--as to which Sir Felix appealed to Dolly Longestaffe;
and he ended by asserting that Grendall ought to be turned out of the club.
They had a desperate row.
Dolly of course had said that he knew nothing about it,
and Lord Grasslough had expressed an opinion that perhaps more than one person ought to be turned out.
At four o'clock the party was broken up and Sir Felix wandered forth into the streets,
with nothing more than the change of a ten pound note in his pocket.
All his luggage was lying in the hall of the club,
and there he left it.
There could hardly have been a more miserable wretch than Sir Felix wandering about the streets of London that night.
Though he was nearly drunk,
he was not drunk enough to forget the condition of his affairs.
There is an intoxication that makes merry in the midst of affliction;
--and there is an intoxication that banishes affliction by producing oblivion.
But again there is an intoxication which is conscious of itself though it makes the feet unsteady,
and the voice thick,
and the brain foolish;
and which brings neither mirth nor oblivion.
Sir Felix trying to make his way to Welbeck Street and losing it at every turn,
feeling himself to be an object of ridicule to every wanderer,
and of dangerous suspicion to every policeman,
got no good at all out of his intoxication.
What had he better do with himself?
He fumbled in his pocket,
and managed to get hold of his ticket for New York.
Should he still make the journey?
Then he thought of his luggage,
and could not remember where it was.
as he steadied himself against a letter-post,
he was able to call to mind that his portmanteaus were at the club.
By this time he had wandered into Marylebone Lane,
but did not in the least know where he was.
But he made an attempt to get back to his club,
and stumbled half down Bond Street.
Then a policeman enquired into his purposes,
and when he said that he lived in Welbeck Street,
walked back with him as far as Oxford Street.
Having once mentioned the place where he lived,
he had not strength of will left to go back to his purpose of getting his luggage and starting for Liverpool.
Between six and seven he was knocking at the door in Welbeck Street.
He had tried his latch-key,
but had found it inefficient.
As he was supposed to be at Liverpool,
the door had in fact been locked.
At last it was opened by Lady Carbury herself.
He had fallen more than once,
and was soiled with the gutter.
Most of my readers will not probably know how a man looks when he comes home drunk at six in the morning;
but they who have seen the thing will acknowledge that a sorrier sight can not meet a mother's eye than that of a son in such a condition.
"It'sh all up,"
"What has happened,
and be d -- -- to it!
The old shap'sh stopped ush."
Drunk as he was,
he was able to lie.
At that moment the "old shap" was fast asleep in Grosvenor Square,
altogether ignorant of the plot;
joyful with excitement,
was getting into the cab in the mews.
"Bettersh go to bed."
And so he stumbled up-stairs by daylight,
the wretched mother helping him.
She took off his clothes for him and his boots,
and having left him already asleep,
she went down to her own room,
a miserable woman.
WHICH SHALL IT BE?
Paul Montague reached London on his return from Suffolk early on the Monday morning,
and on the following day he wrote to Mrs. Hurtle.
As he sat in his lodgings,
thinking of his condition,
he almost wished that he had taken Melmotte's offer and gone to Mexico.
He might at any rate have endeavoured to promote the railway earnestly,
and then have abandoned it if he found the whole thing false.
In such case of course he would never have seen Hetta Carbury again;
as things were,
of what use to him was his love,
--of what use to him or to her?
The kind of life of which he dreamed,
such a life in England as was that of Roger Carbury,
as such life would be,
if Roger had a wife whom he loved,
seemed to be far beyond his reach.
Nobody was like Roger Carbury!
Would it not be well that he should go away,
as he went,
write to Hetta and bid her marry the best man that ever lived in the world?
But the journey to Mexico was no longer open to him.
He had repudiated the proposition and had quarrelled with Melmotte.
It was necessary that he should immediately take some further step in regard to Mrs. Hurtle.
Twice lately he had gone to Islington determined that he would see that lady for the last time.
Then he had taken her to Lowestoft,
and had been equally firm in his resolution that he would there put an end to his present bonds.
Now he had promised to go again to Islington;
--and was aware that if he failed to keep his promise,
she would come to him.
In this way there would never be an end to it.
He would certainly go again,
as he had promised,
--if she should still require it;
but he would first try what a letter would do,
--a plain unvarnished tale.
Might it still be possible that a plain tale sent by post should have sufficient efficacy?
This was his plain tale as he now told it.
MY DEAR Mrs. HURTLE,
I promised that I would go to you again in Islington,
and so I will,
if you still require it.
But I think that such a meeting can be of no service to either of us.
What is to be gained?
I do not for a moment mean to justify my own conduct.
It is not to be justified.
When I met you on our journey hither from San Francisco,
I was charmed with your genius,
and your character.
They are now what I found them to be then.
But circumstances have made our lives and temperaments so far different,
that I am certain that,
were we married,
we should not make each other happy.
Of course the fault was mine;
but it is better to own that fault,
and to take all the blame,
--and the evil consequences,
let them be what they may,
to be shot,
like the gentleman in Oregon,
than to be married with the consciousness that even at the very moment of the ceremony,
such marriage will be a matter of sorrow and repentance.
As soon as my mind was made up on this I wrote to you.
I can not,
--I dare not,
--blame you for the step you have since taken.
But I can only adhere to the resolution I then expressed.
The first day I saw you here in London you asked me whether I was attached to another woman.
I could answer you only by the truth.
But I should not of my own accord have spoken to you of altered affections.
It was after I had resolved to break my engagement with you that I first knew this girl.
It was not because I had come to love her that I broke it.
I have no grounds whatever for hoping that my love will lead to any results.
I have now told you as exactly as I can the condition of my mind.
If it were possible for me in any way to compensate the injury I have done you,
--or even to undergo retribution for it,
--I would do so.
But what compensation can be given,
or what retribution can you exact?
I think that our further meeting can avail nothing.
you wish me to come again,
I will come for the last time,
--because I have promised.
Your most sincere friend,
as she read this,
was torn in two ways.
All that Paul had written was in accordance with the words written by herself on a scrap of paper which she still kept in her own pocket.
fairly transcribed on a sheet of note-paper,
would be the most generous and the fittest answer she could give.
And she longed to be generous.
She had all a woman's natural desire to sacrifice herself.
But the sacrifice which would have been most to her taste would have been of another kind.
Had she found him ruined and penniless she would have delighted to share with him all that she possessed.
Had she found him a cripple,
or miserably struck with some disease,
she would have stayed by him and have nursed him and given him comfort.
Even had he been disgraced she would have fled with him to some far country and have pardoned all his faults.
No sacrifice would have been too much for her that would have been accompanied by a feeling that he appreciated all that she was doing for him,
and that she was loved in return.
But to sacrifice herself by going away and never more being heard of,
was too much for her!
What woman can endure such sacrifice as that?
To give up not only her love,
but her wrath also;
--that was too much for her!
The idea of being tame was terrible to her.
Her life had not been very prosperous,
but she was what she was because she had dared to protect herself by her own spirit.
should she succumb and be trodden on like a worm?
Should she be weaker even than an English girl?
Should she allow him to have amused himself with her love,
to have had "a good time,"
and then to roam away like a bee,
while she was so dreadfully scorched,
so mutilated and punished!
Had not her whole life been opposed to the theory of such passive endurance?
She took out the scrap of paper and read it;
in spite of all,
she felt that there was a feminine softness in it that gratified her.
--she could not send it.
She could not even copy the words.
And so she gave play to all her strongest feelings on the other side,
--being in truth torn in two directions.
Then she sat herself down to her desk,
and with rapid words,
and flashing thoughts,
wrote as follows: --
I have suffered many injuries,
but of all injuries this is the worst and most unpardonable,
--and the most unmanly.
Surely there never was such a coward,
never so false a liar.
The poor wretch that I destroyed was mad with liquor and was only acting after his kind.
Even Caradoc Hurtle never premeditated such wrong as this.
--you are to bind yourself to me by the most solemn obligation that can join a man and a woman together,
and then tell me,
--when they have affected my whole life,
--that they are to go for nothing,
because they do not suit your view of things?
On thinking over it,
you find that an American wife would not make you so comfortable as some English girl;
--and therefore it is all to go for nothing!
I have no brother,
no man near me;
--or you would not dare to do this.
You can not but be a coward.
You talk of compensation!
Do you mean money?
You do not dare to say so,
but you must mean it.
It is an insult the more.
But as to retribution;
You shall suffer retribution.
I desire you to come to me,
--according to your promise,
--and you will find me with a horsewhip in my hand.
I will whip you till I have not a breath in my body.
And then I will see what you will dare to do;
--whether you will drag me into a court of law for the assault.
You shall come.
And now you know the welcome you shall find.
I will buy the whip while this is reaching you,
and you shall find that I know how to choose such a weapon.
I call upon you to come.
But should you be afraid and break your promise,
I will come to you.
I will make London too hot to hold you;
--and if I do not find you I will go with my story to every friend you have.
I have now told you as exactly as I can the condition of my mind.
Having written this she again read the short note,
and again gave way to violent tears.
But on that day she sent no letter.
On the following morning she wrote a third,
and sent that.
This was the third letter: --
W. H. This letter duly reached Paul Montague at his lodgings.
He started immediately for Islington.
He had now no desire to delay the meeting.
He had at any rate taught her that his gentleness towards her,
his going to the play with her,
and drinking tea with her at Mrs. Pipkin's,
and his journey with her to the sea,
were not to be taken as evidence that he was gradually being conquered.
He had declared his purpose plainly enough at Lowestoft,
--and plainly enough in his last letter.
She had told him down at the hotel,
that had she by chance have been armed at the moment,
she would have shot him.
She could arm herself now if she pleased;
--but his real fear had not lain in that direction.
The pang consisted in having to assure her that he was resolved to do her wrong.
The worst of that was now over.
The door was opened for him by Ruby,
who by no means greeted him with a happy countenance.
It was the second morning after the night of her imprisonment;
and nothing had occurred to alleviate her woe.
At this very moment her lover should have been in Liverpool,
but he was,
abed in Welbeck Street.
she's at home,"
with a baby in her arms and a little child hanging on to her dress.
"Don't pull so,
is Sir Felix still in London?"
Ruby had written to Sir Felix the very night of her imprisonment,
but had not as yet received any reply.
whose mind was altogether intent on his own troubles,
declared that at present he knew nothing about Sir Felix,
and was then shown into Mrs. Hurtle's room.
[Illustration: The door was opened for him by Ruby.]
"So you have come,"
without rising from her chair.
"Of course I came,
when you desired it."
"I don't know why you should.
My wishes do not seem to affect you much.
Will you sit down there,"
pointing to a seat at some distance from herself.
"So you think it would be best that you and I should never see each other again?"
She was very calm;
but it seemed to him that the quietness was assumed,
and that at any moment it might be converted into violence.
He thought that there was that in her eye which seemed to foretell the spring of the wild-cat.
"I did think so certainly.
What more can I say?"
Her voice was very low.
"Why should a gentleman trouble himself to say any more,
--than that he has changed his mind?
Why make a fuss about such little things as a woman's life,
or a woman's heart?"
Then she paused.
"And having come,
in consequence of my unreasonable request,
of course you are wise to hold your peace."
"I came because I promised."
"But you did not promise to speak;
"What would you have me say?"
Am I to be so weak as to tell you now what I would have you say?
Suppose you were to say,
'I am a gentleman,
and a man of my word,
and I repent me of my intended perfidy,'
do you not think you might get your release that way?
Might it not be possible that I should reply that as your heart was gone from me,
your hand might go after it;
--that I scorned to be the wife of a man who did not want me?"
As she asked this she gradually raised her voice,
and half lifted herself in her seat,
stretching herself towards him.
"You might indeed,"
not well knowing what to say.
"But I should not.
I at least will be true.
I should take you,
--still take you;
with a confidence that I should yet win you to me by my devotion.
I have still some kindness of feeling towards you,
--none to that woman who is I suppose younger than I,
and a maid."
She still looked as though she expected a reply,
but there was nothing to be said in answer to this.
"Now that you are going to leave me,
is there any advice you can give me,
as to what I shall do next?
I have given up every friend in the world for you.
I have no home.
Mrs. Pipkin's room here is more my home than any other spot on the earth.
I have all the world to choose from,
but no reason whatever for a choice.
I have my property.
What shall I do with it,
If I could die and be no more heard of,
you should be welcome to it."
There was no answer possible to all this.
The questions were asked because there was no answer possible.
"You might at any rate advise me.
you are in some degree responsible,
--are you not,
--for my loneliness?"
But you know that I cannot answer your questions."
"You cannot wonder that I should be somewhat in doubt as to my future life.
As far as I can see,
I had better remain here.
I do good at any rate to Mrs. Pipkin.
She went into hysterics yesterday when I spoke of leaving her.
would starve in our country,
and I shall be desolate in this."
Then she paused,
and there was absolute silence for a minute.
"You thought my letter very short;
did you not?"
all you had to say."
I did have much more to say.
That was the third letter I wrote.
Now you shall see the other two.
I wrote three,
and had to choose which I would send you.
I fancy that yours to me was easier written than either one of mine.
You had no doubts,
I had many doubts.
I could not send them all by post,
But you may see them all now.
There is one.
You may read that first.
While I was writing it,
I was determined that that should go."
Then she handed him the sheet of paper which contained the threat of the horsewhip.
"I am glad you did not send that,"
"I meant it."
"But you have changed your mind?"
"Is there anything in it that seems to you to be unreasonable?
Speak out and tell me."
"I am thinking of you,
not of myself."
"Think of me,
Is there anything said there which the usage to which I have been subjected does not justify?"
"You ask me questions which I cannot answer.
I do not think that under any provocation a woman should use a horsewhip."
"It is certainly more comfortable for gentlemen,
--who amuse themselves,
--that women should have that opinion.
upon my word,
I don't know what to say about that.
As long as there are men to fight for women,
it may be well to leave the fighting to the men.
But when a woman has no one to help her,
is she to bear everything without turning upon those who ill-use her?
Shall a woman be flayed alive because it is unfeminine in her to fight for her own skin?
What is the good of being --feminine,
as you call it?
Have you asked yourself that?
That men may be attracted,
I should say.
But if a woman finds that men only take advantage of her assumed weakness,
shall she not throw it off?
If she be treated as prey,
shall she not fight as a beast of prey?
--it is so unfeminine!
had thought of that.
The charm of womanly weakness presented itself to my mind in a soft moment,
--and then I wrote this other letter.
You may as well see them all."
And so she handed him the scrap which had been written at Lowestoft,
and he read that also.
He could hardly finish it,
because of the tears which filled his eyes.
having mastered its contents,
he came across the room and threw himself on his knees at her feet,
"I have not sent it,
"I only show it you that you may see how my mind has been at work."
"It hurts me more than the other,"
I would not hurt you,
--not at this moment.
Sometimes I feel that I could tear you limb from limb,
so great is my disappointment,
so ungovernable my rage!
--why should I be such a victim?
Why should life be an utter blank to me,
while you have everything before you?
you have seen them all.
Which will you have?"
"I cannot now take that other as the expression of your mind."
"But it will be when you have left me;
--and was when you were with me at the sea-side.
And it was so I felt when I got your first letter in San Francisco.
Why should you kneel there?
You do not love me.
A man should kneel to a woman for love,
not for pardon."
But though she spoke thus,
she put her hand upon his forehead,
and pushed back his hair,
and looked into his face.
"I wonder whether that other woman loves you.
I do not want an answer,
I suppose you had better go."
She took his hand and pressed it to her breast.
"Tell me one thing.
When you spoke of --compensation,
did you mean --money?"
"I hope not;
--I hope not that.
You shall be troubled no more with Winifrid Hurtle."
She took the sheet of paper which contained the threat of the horsewhip and tore it into scraps.
"And am I to keep the other?"
"No. For what purpose would you have it?
To prove my weakness?
That also shall be destroyed."
But she took it and restored it to her pocket-book.
This parting will not bear a farewell.
and let there be no other word spoken."
And so he went.
As soon as the front door was closed behind him she rang the bell and begged Ruby to ask Mrs. Pipkin to come to her.
as soon as the woman had entered the room;
"everything is over between me and Mr. Montague."
She was standing upright in the middle of the room,
and as she spoke there was a smile on her face.
"Lord a' mercy,"
said Mrs. Pipkin,
holding up both her hands.
"As I have told you that I was to be married to him,
I think it right now to tell you that I'm not going to be married to him."
"And why not?
--and he such a nice young man,
--and quiet too."
"As to the why not,
I don't know that I am prepared to speak about that.
But it is so.
I was engaged to him."
"I'm well sure of that,
"And now I'm no longer engaged to him.
and you going down to Lowestoft with him,
Mrs. Pipkin could not bear to think that she should hear no more of such an interesting story.
"We did go down to Lowestoft together,
and we both came back,
And there's an end of it."
"I'm sure it's not your fault,
When a marriage is to be,
and doesn't come off,
it never is the lady's fault."
"There's an end of it,
If you please,
we won't say anything more about it."
"And are you going to leave,
said Mrs. Pipkin,
prepared to have her apron up to her eyes at a moment's notice.
Where should she get such another lodger as Mrs. Hurtle,
--a lady who not only did not inquire about victuals,
but who was always suggesting that the children should eat this pudding or finish that pie,
and who had never questioned an item in a bill since she had been in the house!
"We'll say nothing about that yet,
Then Mrs. Pipkin gave utterance to so many assurances of sympathy and help that it almost seemed that she was prepared to guarantee to her lodger another lover in lieu of the one who was now dismissed.
THE RESULTS OF LOVE AND WINE.
and even five o'clock still found Sir Felix Carbury in bed on that fatal Thursday.
More than once or twice his mother crept up to his room,
but on each occasion he feigned to be fast asleep and made no reply to her gentle words.
But his condition was one which only admits of short snatches of uneasy slumber.
From head to foot,
he was sick and ill and sore,
and could find no comfort anywhere.
To lie where he was,
trying by absolute quiescence to soothe the agony of his brows and to remember that as long as he lay there he would be safe from attack by the outer world,
was all the solace within his reach.
Lady Carbury sent the page up to him,
and to the page he was awake.
The boy brought him tea.
He asked for soda and brandy;
but there was none to be had,
and in his present condition he did not dare to hector about it till it was procured for him.
The world surely was now all over to him.
He had made arrangements for running away with the great heiress of the day,
and had absolutely allowed the young lady to run away without him.
The details of their arrangement had been such that she absolutely would start upon her long journey across the ocean before she could find out that he had failed to keep his appointment.
Melmotte's hostility would be incurred by the attempt,
and hers by the failure.
Then he had lost all his money,
He had induced his poor mother to assist in raising a fund for him,
--and even that was gone.
He was so cowed that he was afraid even of his mother.
And he could remember something,
but no details,
of some row at the club,
--but still with a conviction on his mind that he had made the row.
--when would he summon courage to enter the club again?
When could he show himself again anywhere?
All the world would know that Marie Melmotte had attempted to run off with him,
and that at the last moment he had failed her.
What lie could he invent to cover his disgrace?
And his clothes!
All his things were at the club;
--or he thought that they were,
not being quite certain whether he had not made some attempt to carry them off to the Railway Station.
He had heard of suicide.
If ever it could be well that a man should cut his own throat,
surely the time had come for him now.
But as this idea presented itself to him he simply gathered the clothes around him and tried to sleep.
The death of Cato would hardly have for him persuasive charms.
Between five and six his mother again came up to him,
and when he appeared to sleep,
stood with her hand upon his shoulder.
There must be some end to this.
He must at any rate be fed.
had been sitting all day,
--thinking of it.
As regarded her son himself,
his condition told his story with sufficient accuracy.
What might be the fate of the girl she could not stop to enquire.
She had not heard all the details of the proposed scheme;
but she had known that Felix had proposed to be at Liverpool on the Wednesday night,
and to start on Thursday for New York with the young lady;
and with the view of aiding him in his object she had helped him with money.
She had bought clothes for him,
and had been busy with Hetta for two days preparing for his long journey,
--having told some lie to her own daughter as to the cause of her brother's intended journey.
He had not gone,
but had come,
drunk and degraded,
back to the house.
She had searched his pockets with less scruple than she had ever before felt,
and had found his ticket for the vessel and the few sovereigns which were left to him.
About him she could read the riddle plainly.
He had stayed at his club till he was drunk,
and had gambled away all his money.
When she had first seen him she had asked herself what further lie she should now tell to her daughter.
At breakfast there was instant need for some story.
"Mary says that Felix came back this morning,
and that he has not gone at all,"
The poor woman could not bring herself to expose the vices of the son to her daughter.
She could not say that he had stumbled into the house drunk at six o'clock.
Hetta no doubt had her own suspicions.
he has come back,"
said Lady Carbury,
broken-hearted by her troubles.
"It was some plan about the Mexican railway I believe,
and has broken through.
He is very unhappy and not well.
I will see to him."
After that Hetta had said nothing during the whole day.
about an hour before dinner,
Lady Carbury was standing by her son's bedside,
determined that he should speak to her.
--"speak to me,
--I know that you are awake."
and turned himself away from her,
further under the bedclothes.
"You must get up for your dinner.
It is near six o'clock."
he said at last.
"What is the meaning of this,
You must tell me.
It must be told sooner or later.
I know you are unhappy.
You had better trust your mother."
"I am so sick,
"You will be better up.
What were you doing last night?
What has come of it all?
Where are your things?"
"At the club.
--You had better leave me now,
and let Sam come up to me."
Sam was the page.
"I will leave you presently;
you must tell me about this.
What has been done?"
"It hasn't come off."
"But how has it not come off?"
"I didn't get away.
What's the good of asking?"
"You said this morning when you came in,
that Mr. Melmotte had discovered it."
Then I suppose he has.
I wish I could die.
I don't see what's the use of anything.
I won't get up to dinner.
I'd rather stay here."
"You must have something to eat,
"Sam can bring it me.
Do let him get me some brandy and water.
I'm so faint and sick with all this that I can hardly bear myself.
I can't talk now.
If he'll get me a bottle of soda water and some brandy,
I'll tell you all about it then."
"Where is the money,
"I paid it for the ticket,"
with both his hands up to his head.
Then his mother again left him with the understanding that he was to be allowed to remain in bed till the next morning;
but that he was to give her some further explanation when he had been refreshed and invigorated after his own prescription.
The boy went out and got him soda water and brandy,
and meat was carried up to him,
and then he did succeed for a while in finding oblivion from his misery in sleep.
"Is he ill,
"Had you not better send for a doctor?"
He will be better to-morrow."
I think you would be happier if you would tell me everything."
said Lady Carbury,
bursting out into tears.
What's the good of asking?
It is all misery and wretchedness.
There is nothing to tell,
--except that I am ruined."
"Has he done anything,
"No. What should he have done?
How am I to know what he does?
He tells me nothing.
Don't talk about it any more.
--how much better it would be to be childless!"
do you mean me?"
rushing across the room,
and throwing herself close to her mother's side on the sofa.
say that you do not mean me."
"It concerns you as well as me and him.
I wish I were childless."
do not be cruel to me!
Am I not good to you?
Do I not try to be a comfort to you?"
"Then marry your cousin,
who is a good man,
and who can protect you.
at any rate,
find a home for yourself,
and a friend for us.
You are not like Felix.
You do not get drunk and gamble,
--because you are a woman.
But you are stiff-necked,
and will not help me in my trouble."
"Shall I marry him,
without loving him?"
Have I been able to love?
Do you see much of what you call love around you?
Why should you not love him?
He is a gentleman,
and a good man,
of a sweet nature,
whose life would be one effort to make yours happy.
You think that Felix is very bad."
"I have never said so."
"But ask yourself whether you do not give as much pain,
seeing what you could do for us if you would.
But it never occurs to you to sacrifice even a fantasy for the advantage of others."
Hetta retired from her seat on the sofa,
and when her mother again went up-stairs she turned it all over in her mind.
Could it be right that she should marry one man when she loved another?
Could it be right that she should marry at all,
for the sake of doing good to her family?
whom she might marry if she would,
--who did in truth worship the ground on which she trod,
she well knew,
all that her mother had said.
And he was more than that.
Her mother had spoken of his soft heart,
and his sweet nature.
But Hetta knew also that he was a man of high honour and a noble courage.
In such a condition as was hers now he was the very friend whose advice she could have asked,
--had he not been the very lover who was desirous of making her his wife.
Hetta felt that she could sacrifice much for her mother.
if she had it,
she could have given,
though she left herself penniless.
her very heart's treasure,
as she thought,
she could give.
She could doom herself to poverty,
and heart-rending regrets for her mother's sake.
But she did not know how she could give herself into the arms of a man she did not love.
"Can I marry the man I do not love?"]
"I don't know what there is to explain,"
said Felix to his mother.
She had asked him why he had not gone to Liverpool,
whether he had been interrupted by Melmotte himself,
whether news had reached him from Marie that she had been stopped,
--as might have been possible,
--Marie had changed her own mind.
But he could not bring himself to tell the truth,
or any story bordering on the truth.
"It didn't come off,"
"and of course that knocked me off my legs.
I did take some champagne when I found how it was.
A fellow does get cut up by that kind of thing.
I heard it at the club,
--that the whole thing was off.
I can't explain anything more.
And then I was so mad,
I can't tell what I was after.
I did get the ticket.
There it is.
That shows I was in earnest.
I spent the £30 in getting it.
I suppose the change is there.
Don't take it,
for I haven't another shilling in the world."
Of course he said nothing of Marie's money,
or of that which he had himself received from Melmotte.
And as his mother had heard nothing of these sums she could not contradict what he said.
She got from him no further statement,
but she was sure that there was a story to be told which would reach her ears sooner or later.
about nine o'clock,
Mr. Broune called in Welbeck Street.
He very often did call now,
coming up in a cab,
staying for a cup of tea,
and going back in the same cab to the office of his newspaper.
Since Lady Carbury had,
abstained from accepting his offer,
Mr. Broune had become almost sincerely attached to her.
There was certainly between them now more of the intimacy of real friendship than had ever existed in earlier days.
He spoke to her more freely about his own affairs,
and even she would speak to him with some attempt at truth.
There was never between them now even a shade of love-making.
She did not look into his eyes,
nor did he hold her hand.
As for kissing her,
--he thought no more of it than of kissing the maid-servant.
But he spoke to her of the things that worried him,
--the unreasonable exactions of proprietors,
and the perilous inaccuracy of contributors.
He told her of the exceeding weight upon his shoulders,
under which an Atlas would have succumbed.
And he told her something too of his triumphs;
--how he had had this fellow bowled over in punishment for some contradiction,
and that man snuffed out for daring to be an enemy.
And he expatiated on his own virtues,
his justice and clemency.
--if men and women only knew his good nature and his patriotism;
--how he had spared the rod here,
how he had made the fortune of a man there,
how he had saved the country millions by the steadiness of his adherence to some grand truth!
Lady Carbury delighted in all this and repaid him by flattery,
and little confidences of her own.
Under his teaching she had almost made up her mind to give up Mr. Alf.
Of nothing was Mr. Broune more certain than that Mr. Alf was making a fool of himself in regard to the Westminster election and those attacks on Melmotte.
"The world of London generally knows what it is about,"
said Mr. Broune,
"and the London world believes Mr. Melmotte to be sound.
I don't pretend to say that he has never done anything that he ought not to do.
I am not going into his antecedents.
But he is a man of wealth,
and Alf will get the worst of it."
Under such teaching as this,
Lady Carbury was almost obliged to give up Mr. Alf.
Sometimes they would sit in the front room with Hetta,
to whom also Mr. Broune had become attached;
but sometimes Lady Carbury would be in her own sanctum.
On this evening she received him there,
and at once poured forth all her troubles about Felix.
On this occasion she told him everything,
and almost told him everything truly.
He had already heard the story.
"The young lady went down to Liverpool,
and Sir Felix was not there."
"He could not have been there.
He has been in bed in this house all day.
Did she go?"
"So I am told;
--and was met at the station by the senior officer of the police at Liverpool,
who brought her back to London without letting her go down to the ship at all.
She must have thought that her lover was on board;
--probably thinks so now.
I pity her."
"How much worse it would have been,
had she been allowed to start,"
said Lady Carbury.
that would have been bad.
She would have had a sad journey to New York,
and a sadder journey back.
Has your son told you anything about money?"
"They say that the girl entrusted him with a large sum which she had taken from her father.
If that be so he certainly ought to lose no time in restoring it.
It might be done through some friend.
I would do it for that matter.
If it be so,
--to avoid unpleasantness,
--it should be sent back at once.
It will be for his credit."
This Mr. Broune said with a clear intimation of the importance of his advice.
It was dreadful to Lady Carbury.
She had no money to give back,
as she was well aware,
had her son.
She had heard nothing of any money.
What did Mr. Broune mean by a large sum?
"That would be dreadful,"
"Had you not better ask him about it?"
Lady Carbury was again in tears.
She knew that she could not hope to get a word of truth from her son.
"What do you mean by a large sum?"
"Two or three hundred pounds,
"I have not a shilling in the world,
Then it all came out,
--the whole story of her poverty,
as it had been brought about by her son's misconduct.
She told him every detail of her money affairs from the death of her husband,
and his will,
up to the present moment.
"He is eating you up,
Lady Carbury thought that she was nearly eaten up already,
but she said nothing.
"You must put a stop to this."
"You must rid yourself of him.
It is dreadful to say so,
but it must be done.
You must not see your daughter ruined.
Find out what money he got from Miss Melmotte and I will see that it is repaid.
That must be done;
--and we will then try to get him to go abroad.
--do not contradict me.
We can talk of the money another time.
I must be off now,
as I have stayed too long.
Do as I bid you.
Make him tell you,
and send me word down to the office.
If you could do it early to-morrow,
that would be best.
God bless you."
And so he hurried off.
Early on the following morning a letter from Lady Carbury was put into Mr. Broune's hands,
giving the story of the money as far as she had been able to extract it from Sir Felix.
Sir Felix declared that Mr. Melmotte had owed him £600,
and that he had received £250 out of this from Miss Melmotte,
--so that there was still a large balance due to him.
Lady Carbury went on to say that her son had at last confessed that he had lost this money at play.
The story was fairly true;
but Lady Carbury in her letter acknowledged that she was not justified in believing it because it was told to her by her son.