Mr. Alf's central committee-room was in Great George Street,
and there the battle was kept alive all the day.
It had been decided,
as the reader has been told,
that no direct advantage should be taken of that loud blast of accusation which had been heard throughout the town on the previous afternoon.
There had not been sufficient time for inquiry as to the truth of that blast.
If there were just ground for the things that had been said,
Mr. Melmotte would no doubt soon be in gaol,
or would be --wanted.
Many had thought that he would escape as soon as the dinner was over,
and had been disappointed when they heard that he had been seen walking down towards his own committee-room on the following morning.
Others had been told that at the last moment his name would be withdrawn,
--and a question arose as to whether he had the legal power to withdraw his name after a certain hour on the day before the ballot.
An effort was made to convince a portion of the electors that he had withdrawn,
or would have withdrawn,
or should have withdrawn.
When Melmotte was at Covent Garden,
a large throng of men went to Whitehall Place with the view of ascertaining the truth.
He certainly had made no attempt at withdrawal.
They who propagated this report certainly damaged Mr. Alf's cause.
A second reaction set in,
and there grew a feeling that Mr. Melmotte was being ill-used.
Those evil things had been said of him,
--many at least so declared,
--not from any true motive,
but simply to secure Mr. Alf's return.
Tidings of the speech in Covent Garden were spread about at the various polling places,
and did good service to the so-called Conservative cause.
Mr. Alf's friends,
hearing all this,
instigated him also to make a speech.
Something should be said,
if only that it might be reported in the newspapers,
to show that they had behaved with generosity,
instead of having injured their enemy by false attacks.
Whatever Mr. Alf might say,
he might at any rate be sure of a favourable reporter.
About two o'clock in the day,
Mr. Alf did make a speech,
--and a very good speech it was,
if correctly reported in the "Evening Pulpit."
Mr. Alf was a clever man,
ready at all points,
with all his powers immediately at command,
he did make a good speech.
But in this speech,
in which we may presume that it would be his intention to convince the electors that they ought to return him to Parliament,
of the two candidates,
he was the fittest to represent their views,
he did not say a word as to his own political ideas,
a word that could be accepted as manifesting his own fitness for the place which it was his ambition to fill.
He contented himself with endeavouring to show that the other man was not fit;
--and that he and his friends,
though solicitous of proving to the electors that Mr. Melmotte was about the most unfit man in the world,
had been guilty of nothing shabby in their manner of doing so.
"comes before you as a Conservative,
and has told us,
by the mouths of his friends,
--for he has not favoured us with many words of his own,
--that he is supported by the whole Conservative party.
That party is not my party,
but I respect it.
are these Conservative supporters?
We have heard,
till we are sick of it,
of the banquet which Mr. Melmotte gave yesterday.
I am told that very few of those whom he calls his Conservative friends could be induced to attend that banquet.
It is equally notorious that the leading merchants of the City refused to grace the table of this great commercial prince.
I say that the leaders of the Conservative party have at last found their candidate out,
have repudiated him;
--and are seeking now to free themselves from the individual shame of having supported the candidature of such a man by remaining in their own houses instead of clustering round the polling booths.
Go to Mr. Melmotte's committee-room and inquire if those leading Conservatives be there.
and see whether they are walking with him in the streets,
or standing with him in public places,
or taking the air with him in the parks.
I respect the leaders of the Conservative party;
but they have made a mistake in this matter,
and they know it."
Then he ended by alluding to the rumours of yesterday.
"to say anything against the personal character of a political opponent,
which I am not in a position to prove.
I make no allusion,
and have made no allusion,
to reports which were circulated yesterday about him,
and which I believe were originated in the City.
They may be false or they may be true.
As I know nothing of the matter,
I prefer to regard them as false,
and I recommend you to do the same.
But I declared to you long before these reports were in men's mouths,
that Mr. Melmotte was not entitled by his character to represent you in parliament,
and I repeat that assertion.
A great British merchant,
do you think,
should a man be known in this city before that title be accorded to him?
Who knew aught of this man two years since,
it be some one who had burnt his wings in trafficking with him in some continental city?
Ask the character of this great British merchant in Hamburg and Vienna;
ask it in Paris;
--ask those whose business here has connected them with the assurance companies of foreign countries,
and you will be told whether this is a fit man to represent Westminster in the British parliament!"
There was much more yet;
but such was the tone of the speech which Mr. Alf made with the object of inducing the electors to vote for himself.
At two or three o'clock in the day,
nobody knew how the matter was going.
It was supposed that the working-classes were in favour of Melmotte,
partly from their love of a man who spends a great deal of money,
partly from the belief that he was being ill-used,
from that occult sympathy which is felt for crime,
when the crime committed is injurious to the upper classes.
Masses of men will almost feel that a certain amount of injustice ought to be inflicted on their betters,
so as to make things even,
and will persuade themselves that a criminal should be declared to be innocent,
because the crime committed has had a tendency to oppress the rich and pull down the mighty from their seats.
Some few years since,
the basest calumnies that were ever published in this country,
uttered by one of the basest men that ever disgraced the country,
for the most part,
at men of whose characters and services the country was proud,
were received with a certain amount of sympathy by men not themselves dishonest,
because they who were thus slandered had received so many good things from Fortune,
that a few evil things were thought to be due to them.
There had not as yet been time for the formation of such a feeling generally,
in respect of Mr. Melmotte.
But there was a commencement of it.
It had been asserted that Melmotte was a public robber.
Whom had he robbed?
Not the poor.
There was not a man in London who caused the payment of a larger sum in weekly wages than Mr. Melmotte.
About three o'clock,
the editor of the "Morning Breakfast Table" called on Lady Carbury.
"What is it all about?"
as soon as her friend was seated.
There had been no time for him to explain anything at Madame Melmotte's reception,
and Lady Carbury had as yet failed in learning any certain news of what was going on.
"I don't know what to make of it,"
said Mr. Broune.
"There is a story abroad that Mr. Melmotte has forged some document with reference to a purchase he made,
--and hanging on to that story are other stories as to moneys that he has raised.
I should say that it was simply an electioneering trick,
and a very unfair trick,
were it not that all his own side seem to believe it."
"Do you believe it?"
--I could answer almost any question sooner than that."
"Then he can't be rich at all."
"Even that would not follow.
He has such large concerns in hand that he might be very much pressed for funds,
and yet be possessed of immense wealth.
Everybody says that he pays all his bills."
"Will he be returned?"
"From what we hear,
we think not.
I shall know more about it in an hour or two.
At present I should not like to have to publish an opinion;
but were I forced to bet,
I would bet against him.
Nobody is doing anything for him.
There can be no doubt that his own party are ashamed of him.
As things used to be,
this would have been fatal to him at the day of election;
with the ballot,
it won't matter so much.
If I were a candidate,
I think I would go to bed on the last day,
and beg all my committee to do the same as soon as they had put in their voting papers."
"I am glad Felix did not go to Liverpool,"
said Lady Carbury.
"It would not have made much difference.
She would have been brought back all the same.
They say Lord Nidderdale still means to marry her."
"I saw him talking to her last night."
"There must be an immense amount of property somewhere.
No one doubts that he was rich when he came to England two years ago,
and they say everything has prospered that he has put his hand to since.
The Mexican Railway shares had fallen this morning,
but they were at £15 premium yesterday morning.
He must have made an enormous deal out of that."
But Mr. Broune's eloquence on this occasion was chiefly displayed in regard to the presumption of Mr. Alf.
"I shouldn't think him such a fool if he had announced his resignation of the editorship when he came before the world as a candidate for parliament.
But a man must be mad who imagines that he can sit for Westminster and edit a London daily paper at the same time."
"Has it never been done?"
by the editor of such a paper as the
How is a man who sits in parliament himself ever to pretend to discuss the doings of parliament with impartiality?
But Alf believes that he can do more than anybody else ever did,
and he'll come to the ground.
Where's Felix now?"
"Do not ask me,"
said the poor mother.
"Is he doing anything?"
"He lies in bed all day,
and is out all night."
"But that wants money."
She only shook her head.
"You do not give him any?"
"I have none to give."
"I should simply take the key of the house from him,
--or bolt the door if he will not give it up."
"And be in bed,
and listen while he knocks,
--knowing that he must wander in the streets if I refuse to let him in?
A mother cannot do that,
A child has such a hold upon his mother.
When her reason has bade her to condemn him,
her heart will not let her carry out the sentence."
Mr. Broune never now thought of kissing Lady Carbury;
but when she spoke thus,
he got up and took her hand,
as she pressed his hand,
had no fear that she would be kissed.
The feeling between them was changed.
Melmotte dined at home that evening with no company but that of his wife and daughter.
Latterly one of the Grendalls had almost always joined their party when they did not dine out.
it was an understood thing,
that Miles Grendall should dine there always,
unless he explained his absence by some engagement,
--so that his presence there had come to be considered as a part of his duty.
Not unfrequently "Alfred" and Miles would both come,
as Melmotte's dinners and wines were good,
and occasionally the father would take the son's place,
--but on this day they were both absent.
Madame Melmotte had not as yet said a word to any one indicating her own apprehension of any evil.
But not a person had called to-day,
--the day after the great party,
--and even she,
though she was naturally callous in such matters,
had begun to think that she was deserted.
become so used to the presence of the Grendalls,
that she now missed their company.
She thought that on this day,
of all days,
when the world was balloting for her husband at Westminster,
they would both have been with him to discuss the work of the day.
"Is not Mr. Grendall coming?"
as she took her seat at the table.
he is not,"
"Nor Lord Alfred?"
"Nor Lord Alfred."
Melmotte had returned home much comforted by the day's proceedings.
No one had dared to say a harsh word to his face.
Nothing further had reached his ears.
After leaving the bank he had gone back to his office,
and had written letters,
--just as if nothing had happened;
as far as he could judge,
his clerks had plucked up courage.
One of them,
about five o'clock,
came into him with news from the west,
and with second editions of the evening papers.
The clerk expressed his opinion that the election was going well.
judging from the papers,
one of which was supposed to be on his side and the other of course against him,
thought that his affairs altogether were looking well.
The Westminster election had not the foremost place in his thoughts;
but he took what was said on that subject as indicating the minds of men upon the other matter.
He read Alf's speech,
and consoled himself with thinking that Mr. Alf had not dared to make new accusations against him.
All that about Hamburgh and Vienna and Paris was as old as the hills,
and availed nothing.
His whole candidature had been carried in the face of that.
"I think we shall do pretty well,"
he said to the clerk.
His very presence in Abchurch Lane of course gave confidence.
when he came home,
something of the old arrogance had come back upon him,
and he could swagger at any rate before his wife and servants.
"Nor Lord Alfred,"
he said with scorn.
Then he added more.
"The father and son are two d -- -- curs."
This of course frightened Madame Melmotte,
and she joined this desertion of the Grendalls to her own solitude all the day.
"Is there anything wrong,
she said afterwards,
creeping up to him in the back parlour,
and speaking in French.
"What do you call wrong?"
"I don't know;
--but I seem to be afraid of something."
"I should have thought you were used to that kind of feeling by this time."
"Then there is something."
"Don't be a fool.
There is always something.
There is always much.
You don't suppose that this kind of thing can be carried on as smoothly as the life of an old maid with £400 a year paid quarterly in advance."
"Shall we have to --move again?"
"How am I to tell?
You haven't much to do when we move,
and may get plenty to eat and drink wherever you go.
Does that girl mean to marry Lord Nidderdale?"
Madame Melmotte shook her head.
"What a poor creature you must be when you can't talk her out of a fancy for such a reprobate as young Carbury.
If she throws me over,
I'll throw her over.
I'll flog her within an inch of her life if she disobeys me.
You tell her that I say so."
"Then he may flog me,"
when so much of the conversation was repeated to her that evening.
"Papa does not know me if he thinks that I'm to be made to marry a man by flogging."
No such attempt was at any rate made that night,
for the father and husband did not again see his wife or daughter.
Early the next day a report was current that Mr. Alf had been returned.
The numbers had not as yet been counted,
or the books made up;
--but that was the opinion expressed.
All the morning newspapers,
including the "Breakfast Table,"
repeated this report,
--but each gave it as the general opinion on the matter.
The truth would not be known till seven or eight o'clock in the evening.
The Conservative papers did not scruple to say that the presumed election of Mr. Alf was owing to a sudden declension in the confidence originally felt in Mr. Melmotte.
The "Breakfast Table,"
which had supported Mr. Melmotte's candidature,
gave no reason,
and expressed more doubt on the result than the other papers.
"We know not how such an opinion forms itself,"
the writer said;
--"but it seems to have been formed.
As nothing as yet is really known,
or can be known,
we express no opinion of our own upon the matter."
Mr. Melmotte again went into the City,
and found that things seemed to have returned very much into their usual grooves.
The Mexican Railway shares were low,
and Mr. Cohenlupe was depressed in spirits and unhappy;
--but nothing dreadful had occurred or seemed to be threatened.
If nothing dreadful did occur,
the railway shares would probably recover,
or nearly recover,
In the course of the day,
Melmotte received a letter from Messrs.
Slow and Bideawhile,
certainly contained no comfort;
--but there was comfort to be drawn even from that letter,
by reason of what it did not contain.
The letter was unfriendly in its tone and peremptory.
It had come evidently from a hostile party.
It had none of the feeling which had hitherto prevailed in the intercourse between these two well-known Conservative gentlemen,
Mr. Adolphus Longestaffe and Mr. Augustus Melmotte.
But there was no allusion in it to forgery;
no question of criminal proceedings;
no hint at aught beyond the not unnatural desire of Mr. Longestaffe and Mr. Longestaffe's son to be paid for the property at Pickering which Mr. Melmotte had purchased.
"We have to remind you,"
said the letter,
in continuation of paragraphs which had contained simply demands for the money,
"that the title-deeds were delivered to you on receipt by us of authority to that effect from the Messrs.
father and son,
on the understanding that the purchase-money was to be at once paid to us by you.
We are informed that the property has been since mortgaged by you.
We do not state this as a fact.
But the information,
whether true or untrue,
forces upon us the necessity of demanding that you should at once pay to us the purchase-money,
--or else return to us the title-deeds of the estate."
which was signed Slow and Bideawhile,
declared positively that the title-deeds had been given up on authority received by them from both the Longestaffes,
--father and son.
Now the accusation brought against Melmotte,
as far as he could as yet understand it,
was that he had forged the signature to the young Mr. Longestaffe's letter.
Slow and Bideawhile were therefore on his side.
As to the simple debt,
he cared little comparatively about that.
Many fine men were walking about London who owed large sums of money which they could not pay.
As he was sitting at his solitary dinner this evening,
--for both his wife and daughter had declined to join him,
saying that they had dined early,
--news was brought to him that he had been elected for Westminster.
He had beaten Mr. Alf by something not much less than a thousand votes.
It was very much to be member for Westminster.
So much had at any rate been achieved by him who had begun the world without a shilling and without a friend,
--almost without education!
Much as he loved money,
and much as he loved the spending of money,
and much as he had made and much as he had spent,
no triumph of his life had been so great to him as this.
Brought into the world in a gutter,
without father or mother,
with no good thing ever done for him,
he was now a member of the British Parliament,
and member for one of the first cities in the empire.
Ignorant as he was he understood the magnitude of the achievement,
and dismayed as he was as to his present position,
still at this moment he enjoyed keenly a certain amount of elation.
Of course he had committed forgery;
--of course he had committed robbery.
for he had been cheating and forging and stealing all his life.
Of course he was in danger of almost immediate detection and punishment.
He hardly hoped that the evil day would be very much longer protracted,
and yet he enjoyed his triumph.
Whatever they might do,
quick as they might be,
they could hardly prevent his taking his seat in the House of Commons.
Then if they sent him to penal servitude for life,
they would have to say that they had so treated the member for Westminster!
He drank a bottle of claret,
and then got some brandy-and-water.
In such troubles as were coming upon him now,
he would hardly get sufficient support from wine.
He knew that he had better not drink;
he had better not drink,
supposing the world to be free to him for his own work and his own enjoyment.
But if the world were no longer free to him,
if he were really coming to penal servitude and annihilation,
--then why should he not drink while the time lasted?
An hour of triumphant joy might be an eternity to a man,
if the man's imagination were strong enough to make him so regard his hour.
He therefore took his brandy-and-water freely,
and as he took it he was able to throw his fears behind him,
and to assure himself that,
he might even yet escape from his bondages.
--he would drink no more.
This he said to himself as he filled another beaker.
He would work instead.
He would put his shoulder to the wheel,
and would yet conquer his enemies.
It would not be so easy to convict a member for Westminster,
--especially if money were spent freely.
Was he not the man who,
at his own cost,
had entertained the Emperor of China?
Would not that be remembered in his favour?
Would not men be unwilling to punish the man who had received at his own table all the Princes of the land,
and the Prime Minister,
and all the Ministers?
To convict him would be a national disgrace.
He fully realised all this as he lifted the glass to his mouth,
and puffed out the smoke in large volumes through his lips.
But money must be spent!
--money must be had!
Cohenlupe certainly had money.
Though he squeezed it out of the coward's veins he would have it.
At any rate,
he would not despair.
There was a fight to be fought yet,
and he would fight it to the end.
Then he took a deep drink,
with careful and almost solemn steps,
he made his way up to his bed.
MISS LONGESTAFFE WRITES HOME.
when she left Madame Melmotte's house after that entertainment of Imperial Majesty which had been to her of so very little avail,
was not in a good humour.
who had himself affected to laugh at the whole thing,
but who had been in truth as anxious as his wife to see the Emperor in private society,
put her ladyship and Miss Longestaffe into the carriage without a word,
and rushed off to his club in disgust.
The affair from beginning to end,
including the final failure,
had been his wife's doing.
He had been made to work like a slave,
and had been taken against his will to Melmotte's house,
and had seen no Emperor and shaken hands with no Prince!
"They may fight it out between them now like the Kilkenny cats."
That was his idea as he closed the carriage-door on the two ladies,
--thinking that if a larger remnant were left of one cat than of the other that larger remnant would belong to his wife.
"What a horrid affair!"
said Lady Monogram.
"Did anybody ever see anything so vulgar?"
This was at any rate unreasonable,
for whatever vulgarity there may have been,
Lady Monogram had seen none of it.
"I don't know why you were so late,"
Why it's not yet twelve.
I don't suppose it was eleven when we got into the Square.
Anywhere else it would have been early."
"You knew they did not mean to stay long.
It was particularly said so.
I really think it was your own fault."
"My own fault.
--I don't doubt that.
I know it was my own fault,
to have had anything to do with it.
And now I have got to pay for it."
"What do you mean by paying for it,
"You know what I mean very well.
Is your friend going to do us the honour of coming to us to-morrow night?"
She could not have declared in plainer language how very high she thought the price to be which she had consented to give for those ineffective tickets.
"If you mean Mr. Brehgert,
he is coming.
You desired me to ask him,
and I did so."
The truth is,
when people get into different sets,
they'd better stay where they are.
It's no good trying to mix things."
Lady Monogram was so angry that she could not control her tongue.
Miss Longestaffe was ready to tear herself with indignation.
That she should have been brought to hear insolence such as this from Julia Triplex,
the daughter of Adolphus Longestaffe of Caversham and Lady Pomona;
who was considered to have lived in quite the first London circle!
But she could hardly get hold of fit words for a reply.
She was almost in tears,
and was yet anxious to fight rather than weep.
But she was in her friend's carriage,
and was being taken to her friend's house,
was to be entertained by her friend all the next day,
and was to see her lover among her friend's guests.
"I wonder what has made you so ill-natured,"
she said at last.
"You didn't use to be like that."
"It's no good abusing me,"
said Lady Monogram.
"Here we are,
and I suppose we had better get out,
--unless you want the carriage to take you anywhere else."
Then Lady Monogram got out and marched into the house,
and taking a candle went direct to her own room.
Miss Longestaffe followed slowly to her own chamber,
and having half undressed herself,
dismissed her maid and prepared to write to her mother.
The letter to her mother must be written.
Mr. Brehgert had twice proposed that he should,
in the usual way,
go to Mr. Longestaffe,
who had been backwards and forwards in London,
and was there at the present moment.
Of course it was proper that Mr. Brehgert should see her father,
as she had told him,
she preferred that he should postpone his visit for a day or two.
She was now agonized by many doubts.
Those few words about "various sets" and the "mixing of things" had stabbed her to the very heart,
--as had been intended.
Mr. Brehgert was rich.
That was a certainty.
But she already repented of what she had done.
If it were necessary that she should really go down into another and a much lower world,
a world composed altogether of Brehgerts,
would it avail her much to be the mistress of a gorgeous house?
She had known,
and had revelled in the exclusiveness of county position.
Caversham had been dull,
and there had always been there a dearth of young men of the proper sort;
but it had been a place to talk of,
and to feel satisfied with as a home to be acknowledged before the world.
Her mother was dull,
and her father pompous and often cross;
but they were in the right set,
--miles removed from the Brehgerts and Melmottes,
--until her father himself had suggested to her that she should go to the house in Grosvenor Square.
She would write one letter to-night;
but there was a question in her mind whether the letter should be written to her mother telling her the horrid truth,
--or to Mr. Brehgert begging that the match should be broken off.
I think she would have decided on the latter had it not been that so many people had already heard of the match.
The Monograms knew it,
and had of course talked far and wide.
The Melmottes knew it,
and she was aware that Lord Nidderdale had heard it.
It was already so far known that it was sure to be public before the end of the season.
Each morning lately she had feared that a letter from home would call upon her to explain the meaning of some frightful rumours reaching Caversham,
or that her father would come to her and with horror on his face demand to know whether it was indeed true that she had given her sanction to so abominable a report.
And there were other troubles.
She had just spoken to Madame Melmotte this evening,
having met her late hostess as she entered the drawing-room,
and had felt from the manner of her reception that she was not wanted back again.
She had told her father that she was going to transfer herself to the Monograms for a time,
not mentioning the proposed duration of her visit,
and Mr. Longestaffe,
in his ambiguous way,
had expressed himself glad that she was leaving the Melmottes.
She did not think that she could go back to Grosvenor Square,
although Mr. Brehgert desired it.
Since the expression of Mr. Brehgert's wishes she had perceived that ill-will had grown up between her father and Mr. Melmotte.
She must return to Caversham.
They could not refuse to take her in,
though she had betrothed herself to a Jew!
If she decided that the story should be told to her mother it would be easier to tell it by letter than by spoken words,
face to face.
But then if she wrote the letter there would be no retreat,
--and how should she face her family after such a declaration?
She had always given herself credit for courage,
and now she wondered at her own cowardice.
Even Lady Monogram,
her old friend Julia Triplex,
had trampled upon her.
Was it not the business of her life,
in these days,
to do the best she could for herself,
and would she allow paltry considerations as to the feelings of others to stand in her way and become bugbears to affright her?
Who sent her to Melmotte's house?
Was it not her own father?
Then she sat herself square at the table,
and wrote to her mother,
--dating her letter for the following morning: --
MY DEAR MAMMA,
I am afraid you will be very much astonished by this letter,
and perhaps disappointed.
I have engaged myself to Mr. Brehgert,
a member of a very wealthy firm in the City,
I may as well tell you the worst at once.
Mr. Brehgert is a Jew.
This last word she wrote very rapidly,
determined that there should be no lack of courage apparent in the letter.
He is a very wealthy man,
and his business is about banking and what he calls finance.
I understand they are among the most leading people in the City.
He lives at present at a very handsome house at Fulham.
I don't know that I ever saw a place more beautifully fitted up.
I have said nothing to papa,
nor has he;
but he says he will be willing to satisfy papa perfectly as to settlements.
He has offered to have a house in London if I like,
--and also to keep the villa at Fulham or else to have a place somewhere in the country.
Or I may have the villa at Fulham and a house in the country.
No man can be more generous than he is.
He has been married before,
and has a family,
and now I think I have told you all.
I suppose you and papa will be very much dissatisfied.
I hope papa won't refuse his consent.
It can do no good.
I am not going to remain as I am now all my life,
and there is no use waiting any longer.
It was papa who made me go to the Melmottes,
who are not nearly so well placed as Mr. Brehgert.
Everybody knows that Madame Melmotte is a Jewess,
and nobody knows what Mr. Melmotte is.
It is no good going on with the old thing when everything seems to be upset and at sixes and sevens.
If papa has got to be so poor that he is obliged to let the house in town,
one must of course expect to be different from what we were.
I hope you won't mind having me back the day after to-morrow,
--that is to-morrow,
There is a party here to-night,
and Mr. Brehgert is coming.
But I can't stay longer with Julia,
who doesn't make herself nice,
and I do not at all want to go back to the Melmottes.
I fancy that there is something wrong between papa and Mr. Melmotte.
Send the carriage to meet me by the 2.30 train from London,
don't scold when you see me,
or have hysterics,
or anything of that sort.
Of course it isn't all nice,
but things have got so that they never will be nice again.
I shall tell Mr. Brehgert to go to papa on Wednesday.
Your affectionate daughter,
G. When the morning came she desired the servant to take the letter away and have it posted,
so that the temptation to stop it might no longer be in her way.
About one o'clock on that day Mr. Longestaffe called at Lady Monogram's.
The two ladies had breakfasted up-stairs,
and had only just met in the drawing-room when he came in.
Georgiana trembled at first,
but soon perceived that her father had as yet heard nothing of Mr. Brehgert.
She immediately told him that she proposed returning home on the following day.
"I am sick of the Melmottes,"
"And so am I,"
said Mr. Longestaffe,
with a serious countenance.
"We should have been delighted to have had Georgiana to stay with us a little longer,"
said Lady Monogram;
"but we have but the one spare bedroom,
and another friend is coming."
who knew both these statements to be false,
declared that she wouldn't think of such a thing.
"We have a few friends coming to-night,
and I hope you'll come in and see Georgiana."
Mr. Longestaffe hummed and hawed and muttered something,
as old gentlemen always do when they are asked to go out to parties after dinner.
"Mr. Brehgert will be here,"
continued Lady Monogram with a peculiar smile.
The name was not at first familiar to Mr. Longestaffe.
Lady Monogram looked at her friend.
"I hope I'm not revealing any secret."
"I don't understand anything about it,"
said Mr. Longestaffe.
who is Mr. Brehgert?"
He had understood very much.
He had been quite certain from Lady Monogram's manner and words,
and also from his daughter's face,
that Mr. Brehgert was mentioned as an accepted lover.
Lady Monogram had meant that it should be so,
and any father would have understood her tone.
As she said afterwards to Sir Damask,
she was not going to have that Jew there at her house as Georgiana Longestaffe's accepted lover without Mr. Longestaffe's knowledge.
"My dear Georgiana,"
"I supposed your father knew all about it."
"I know nothing.
I hate a mystery.
I insist upon knowing.
Who is Mr. Brehgert,
"Mr. Brehgert is a --very wealthy gentleman.
That is all I know of him.
you will be glad to be alone with your father."
And Lady Monogram left the room.
Was there ever cruelty equal to this!
But now the poor girl was forced to speak,
--though she could not speak as boldly as she had written.
I wrote to mamma this morning,
and Mr. Brehgert was to come to you to-morrow."
"Do you mean that you are engaged to marry him?"
"What Mr. Brehgert is he?"
"He is a merchant."
"You can't mean the fat Jew whom I've met with Mr. Melmotte;
--a man old enough to be your father!"
The poor girl's condition now was certainly lamentable.
The fat Jew,
old enough to be her father,
was the very man she did mean.
She thought that she would try to brazen it out with her father.
But at the present moment she had been so cowed by the manner in which the subject had been introduced that she did not know how to begin to be bold.
She only looked at him as though imploring him to spare her.
"Is the man a Jew?"
demanded Mr. Longestaffe,
with as much thunder as he knew how to throw into his voice.
"He is that fat man?"
"And nearly as old as I am?"
--not nearly as old as you are.
He is fifty."
"And a Jew?"
He again asked the horrid question,
and again threw in the thunder.
On this occasion she condescended to make no further reply.
"If you do,
you shall do it as an alien from my house.
I certainly will never see him.
Tell him not to come to me,
for I certainly will not speak to him.
You are degraded and disgraced;
but you shall not degrade and disgrace me and your mother and sister."
"It was you,
who told me to go to the Melmottes."
"That is not true.
I wanted you to stay at Caversham.
an old fat Jew!
Heavens and earth!
that it should be possible that you should think of it!
--that used to take such pride in yourself!
Have you written to your mother?"
"It will kill her.
It will simply kill her.
And you are going home to-morrow?"
"I wrote to say so."
"And there you must remain.
I suppose I had better see the man and explain to him that it is utterly impossible.
Heavens on earth;
An old fat Jew!
I will take you down home myself to-morrow.
What have I done that I should be punished by my children in this way?"
The poor man had had rather a stormy interview with Dolly that morning.
"You had better leave this house to-day,
and come to my hotel in Jermyn Street."
I can't do that."
"Why can't you do it?
You can do it,
and you shall do it.
I will not have you see him again.
I will see him.
If you do not promise me to come,
I will send for Lady Monogram and tell her that I will not permit you to meet Mr. Brehgert at her house.
I do wonder at her.
An old fat Jew!"
putting up both his hands,
walked about the room in despair.
She did consent,
knowing that her father and Lady Monogram between them would be too strong for her.
She had her things packed up,
and in the course of the afternoon allowed herself to be carried away.
She said one word to Lady Monogram before she went.
"Tell him that I was called away suddenly."
I thought your papa would not like it."
The poor girl had not spirit sufficient to upbraid her friend;
nor did it suit her now to acerbate an enemy.
For the moment,
she must yield to everybody and everything.
She spent a lonely evening with her father in a dull sitting-room in the hotel,
hardly speaking or spoken to,
and the following day she was taken down to Caversham.
She believed that her father had seen Mr. Brehgert on the morning of that day;
--but he said no word to her,
nor did she ask him any question.
That was on the day after Lady Monogram's party.
Early in the evening,
just as the gentlemen were coming up from the dining-room,
apparelled with much elegance,
made his appearance.
Lady Monogram received him with a sweet smile.
"has left me and gone to her father."
said Lady Monogram,
bowing her head,
and then attending to other persons as they arrived.
Nor did she condescend to speak another word to Mr. Brehgert,
or to introduce him even to her husband.
He stood for about ten minutes inside the drawing-room,
leaning against the wall,
and then he departed.
No one had spoken a word to him.
But he was an even-tempered,
When Miss Longestaffe was his wife things would no doubt be different;
--or else she would probably change her acquaintance.
"SO SHALL BE MY ENMITY."
"You shall be troubled no more with Winifrid Hurtle."
So Mrs. Hurtle had said,
speaking in perfect good faith to the man whom she had come to England with the view of marrying.
And then when he had said good-bye to her,
putting out his hand to take hers for the last time,
she declined that.
she had said;
"this parting will bear no farewell."
Having left her after that fashion Paul Montague could not return home with very high spirits.
Had she insisted on his taking that letter with the threat of the horsewhip as the letter which she intended to write to him,
--that letter which she had shown him,
owning it to be the ebullition of her uncontrolled passion,
and had then destroyed,
--he might at any rate have consoled himself with thinking that,
however badly he might have behaved,
her conduct had been worse than his.
He could have made himself warm and comfortable with anger,
and could have assured himself that under any circumstances he must be right to escape from the clutches of a wild cat such as that.
But at the last moment she had shown that she was no wild cat to him.
She had melted,
and become soft and womanly.
In her softness she had been exquisitely beautiful;
and as he returned home he was sad and dissatisfied with himself.
He had destroyed her life for her,
had created a miserable episode in it which could hardly be obliterated.
She had said that she was all alone,
and had given up everything to follow him,
--and he had believed her.
Was he to do nothing for her now?
She had allowed him to go,
and after her fashion had pardoned him the wrong he had done her.
But was that to be sufficient for him,
--so that he might now feel inwardly satisfied at leaving her,
and make no further inquiry as to her fate?
Could he pass on and let her be as the wine that has been drunk,
--as the hour that has been enjoyed,
--as the day that is past?
But what could he do?
He had made good his own escape.
He had resolved that,
let her be woman or wild cat,
he would not marry her,
and in that he knew he had been right.
as now declared by herself,
unfitted her for such a marriage.
Were he to return to her he would be again thrusting his hand into the fire.
But his own selfish coldness was hateful to him when he thought that there was nothing to be done but to leave her desolate and lonely in Mrs. Pipkin's lodgings.
During the next three or four days,
while the preparations for the dinner and the election were going on,
he was busy in respect to the American railway.
He again went down to Liverpool,
and at Mr. Ramsbottom's advice prepared a letter to the board of directors,
in which he resigned his seat,
and gave his reasons for resigning it;
adding that he should reserve to himself the liberty of publishing his letter,
should at any time the circumstances of the railway company seem to him to make such a course desirable.
He also wrote a letter to Mr. Fisker,
begging that gentleman to come to England,
and expressing his own wish to retire altogether from the firm of Fisker,
and Montague upon receiving the balance of money due to him,
--a payment which must,
be a matter of small moment to his two partners,
as he had been informed,
they had enriched themselves by the success of the railway company in San Francisco.
When he wrote these letters at Liverpool the great rumour about Melmotte had not yet sprung up.
He returned to London on the day of the festival,
and first heard of the report at the Beargarden.
There he found that the old set had for the moment broken itself up.
Sir Felix Carbury had not been heard of for the last four or five days,
--and then the whole story of Miss Melmotte's journey,
of which he had read something in the newspapers,
was told to him.
"We think that Carbury has drowned himself,"
said Lord Grasslough,
"and I haven't heard of anybody being heartbroken about it."
Lord Nidderdale had hardly been seen at the club.
"He's taken up the running with the girl,"
said Lord Grasslough.
"What he'll do now,
If I was at it,
I'd have the money down in hard cash before I went into the church.
He was there at the party yesterday,
talking to the girl all the night;
--a sort of thing he never did before.
Nidderdale is the best fellow going,
but he was always an ass."
Nor had Miles Grendall been seen in the club for three days.
"We've got into a way of play the poor fellow doesn't like,"
said Lord Grasslough;
"and then Melmotte won't let him out of his sight.
He has taken to dine there every day."
This was said during the election,
--on the very day on which Miles deserted his patron;
and on that evening he did dine at the club.
Paul Montague also dined there,
and would fain have heard something from Grendall as to Melmotte's condition;
but the secretary,
if not faithful in all things,
was faithful at any rate in his silence.
Though Grasslough talked openly enough about Melmotte in the smoking-room Miles Grendall said never a word.
On the next day,
early in the afternoon,
almost without a fixed purpose,
Montague strolled up to Welbeck Street,
and found Hetta alone.
"Mamma has gone to her publisher's,"
"She is writing so much now that she is always going there.
Who has been elected,
Paul knew nothing about the election,
and cared very little.
At that time,
the election had not been decided.
"I suppose it will make no difference to you whether your chairman be in Parliament or not?"
Paul said that Melmotte was no longer a chairman of his.
"Are you out of it altogether,
--as far as it lay within his power to be out of it,
he was out of it.
He did not like Mr. Melmotte,
nor believe in him.
Then with considerable warmth he repudiated all connection with the Melmotte party,
expressing deep regret that circumstances had driven him for a time into that alliance.
"Then you think that Mr. Melmotte is --?"
"Just a scoundrel;
"You heard about Felix?"
"Of course I heard that he was to marry the girl,
and that he tried to run off with her.
I don't know much about it.
They say that Lord Nidderdale is to marry her now."
"I think not,
"I hope not,
for his sake.
At any rate,
your brother is well out of it."
"Do you know that she loves Felix?
There is no pretence about that.
I do think she is good.
The other night at the party she spoke to me."
"You went to the party,
--I could not refuse to go when mamma chose to take me.
And when I was there she spoke to me about Felix.
I don't think she will marry Lord Nidderdale.
--I do pity her.
Think what a downfall it will be if anything happens."
But Paul Montague had certainly not come there with the intention of discussing Melmotte's affairs,
nor could he afford to lose the opportunity which chance had given him.
He was off with one love,
and now he thought that he might be on with the other.
"I am thinking more of myself than of her,
--or even of Felix."
"I suppose we all do think more of ourselves than of other people,"
who knew from his voice at once what it was in his mind to do.
--but I am not thinking of myself only.
I am thinking of myself,
In all my thoughts of myself I am thinking of you too."
"I do not know why you should do that."
you must know that I love you."
Of course she knew it.
And of course she thought that he was equally sure of her love.
Had he chosen to read signs that ought to have been plain enough to him,
could he have doubted her love after the few words that had been spoken on that night when Lady Carbury had come in with Roger and interrupted them?
She could not remember exactly what had been said;
but she did remember that he had spoken of leaving England for ever in a certain event,
and that she had not rebuked him;
--and she remembered also how she had confessed her own love to her mother.
had known nothing of that confession;
but he must have known that he had her heart!
So at least she thought.
She had been working some morsel of lace,
as ladies do when ladies wish to be not quite doing nothing.
She had endeavoured to ply her needle,
while he was speaking to her,
but now she allowed her hands to fall into her lap.
She would have continued to work at the lace had she been able,
but there are times when the eyes will not see clearly,
and when the hands will hardly act mechanically.
say a word to me.
Can it be so?
Look at me for one moment so as to let me know."
Her eyes had turned downwards after her work.
"If Roger is dearer to you than I am,
I will go at once."
"Roger is very dear to me."
"Do you love him as I would have you love me?"
She paused for a time,
knowing that his eyes were fixed upon her,
and then she answered the question in a low voice,
but very clearly.
--"not like that."
"Can you love me like that?"
He put out both his arms as though to take her to his breast should the answer be such as he longed to hear.
She raised her hand towards him,
as if to keep him back,
and left it with him when he seized it.
"Is it mine?"
"If you want it."
Then he was at her feet in a moment,
kissing her hands and her dress,
looking up into her face with his eyes full of tears,
ecstatic with joy as though he had really never ventured to hope for such success.
I have never wanted anything but that with real desire.
Since I first saw you this has been my only dream of happiness.
And now it is my own."
She was very quiet,
but full of joy.
Now that she had told him the truth she did not coy her love.
Having once spoken the word she did not care how often she repeated it.
She did not think that she could ever have loved anybody but him,
--even if he had not been fond of her.
As to Roger,
it was not the same thing.
"He is as good as gold,"
--"ever so much better than you are,
stroking his hair with her hand and looking into his eyes.
"Better than anybody I have ever known,"
said Montague with all his energy.
"I think he is;
that is not everything.
I suppose we ought to love the best people best;
but I don't,
You must love me best,
but I won't be called good.
I do not know why it has been so.
Do you know,
I have sometimes thought I would do as he would have me,
out of sheer gratitude.
I did not know how to refuse such a trifling thing to one who ought to have everything that he wants."
"Where should I have been?"
Somebody else would have made you happy.
But do you know,
I think he will never love any one else.
I ought not to say so,
because it seems to be making so much of myself.
But I feel it.
He is not so young a man,
and yet I think that he never was in love before.
He almost told me so once,
and what he says is true.
There is an unchanging way with him that is awful to think of.
He said that he never could be happy unless I would do as he would have me,
--and he made me almost believe even that.
He speaks as though every word he says must come true in the end.
I love you so dearly,
--but I almost think that I ought to have obeyed him."
Paul Montague of course had very much to say in answer to this.
Among the holy things which did exist to gild this every-day unholy world,
love was the holiest.
It should be soiled by no falsehood,
should know nothing of compromises,
should admit no excuses,
should make itself subject to no external circumstances.
If Fortune had been so kind to him as to give him her heart,
poor as his claim might be,
she could have no right to refuse him the assurance of her love.
And though his rival were an angel,
he could have no shadow of a claim upon her,
--seeing that he had failed to win her heart.
It was very well said,
--at least so Hetta thought,
--and she made no attempt at argument against him.
But what was to be done in reference to poor Roger?
She had spoken the word now,
whether for good or bad,
she had given herself to Paul Montague.
Even though Roger should have to walk disconsolate to the grave,
it could not now be helped.
But would it not be right that it should be told?
"Do you know I almost feel that he is like a father to me,"
leaning on her lover's shoulder.
Paul thought it over for a few minutes,
and then said that he would himself write to Roger.
do you know,
I doubt whether he will ever speak to me again."
"I cannot believe that."
"There is a sternness about him which it is very hard to understand.
He has taught himself to think that as I met you in his house,
and as he then wished you to be his wife,
I should not have ventured to love you.
How could I have known?"
"That would be unreasonable."
"He is unreasonable --about that.
It is not reason with him.
He always goes by his feelings.
Had you been engaged to him --"
you never could have spoken to me like this."
"But he will never look at it in that way;
--and he will tell me that I have been untrue to him and ungrateful."
"If you think,
listen to me.
If it be so I must bear it.
It will be a great sorrow,
but it will be as nothing to that other sorrow,
had that come upon me.
I will write to him,
and his answer will be all scorn and wrath.
Then you must write to him afterwards.
I think he will forgive you,
but he will never forgive me."
Then they parted,
she having promised that she would tell her mother directly Lady Carbury came home,
and Paul undertaking to write to Roger that evening.
And he did,
with infinite difficulty,
and much trembling of the spirit.
Here is his letter: --
MY DEAR ROGER,
I think it right to tell you at once what has occurred to-day.
I have proposed to Miss Carbury and she has accepted me.
You have long known what my feelings were,
and I have also known yours.
I have known,
that Miss Carbury has more than once declined to take your offer.
Under these circumstances I cannot think that I have been untrue to friendship in what I have done,
or that I have proved myself ungrateful for the affectionate kindness which you have always shown me.
I am authorised by Hetta to say that,
had I never spoken to her,
it must have been the same to you.
This was hardly a fair representation of what had been said,
but the writer,
looking back upon his interview with the lady,
thought that it had been implied.
I should not say so much by way of excusing myself,
but that you once said,
that should such a thing occur there must be a division between us ever after.
If I thought that you would adhere to that threat,
I should be very unhappy and Hetta would be miserable.
if a man loves he is bound to tell his love,
and to take the chance.
You would hardly have thought it manly in me if I had abstained.
take a day or two before you answer this,
and do not banish us from your heart if you can help it.
Your affectionate friend,
Roger Carbury did not take a single day,
--or a single hour to answer the letter.
He received it at breakfast,
and after rushing out on the terrace and walking there for a few minutes,
he hurried to his desk and wrote his reply.
As he did so,
his whole face was red with wrath,
and his eyes were glowing with indignation.
There is an old French saying that he who makes excuses is his own accuser.
You would not have written as you have done,
had you not felt yourself to be false and ungrateful.
You knew where my heart was,
and there you went and undermined my treasure,
and stole it away.
You have destroyed my life,
and I will never forgive you.
You tell me not to banish you both from my heart.
How dare you join yourself with her in speaking of my feelings!
She will never be banished from my heart.
She will be there morning,
and as is and will be my love to her,
so shall be my enmity to you.
It was hardly a letter for a Christian to write;
in those parts Roger Carbury had the reputation of being a good Christian.
Henrietta told her mother that morning,
immediately on her return.
Mr. Paul Montague has been here."
"He always comes here when I am away,"
said Lady Carbury.
"That has been an accident.
He could not have known that you were going to Messrs.
Leadham and Loiter's."
"I'm not so sure of that,
you must have told him yourself,
and I don't think you knew till just before you were going.
what does it matter?
He has been here,
and I have told him --"
"You have not accepted him?"
"Without even asking me?"
I will not marry him without asking you.
How was I not to tell him when he asked me whether I --loved him?"
How is it possible you should marry him?
Whatever he had got was in that affair of Melmotte's,
and that has gone to the dogs.
He is a ruined man,
and for aught I know may be compromised in all Melmotte's wickedness."
do not say that!"
"But I do say it.
It is hard upon me.
I did think that you would try to comfort me after all this trouble with Felix.
But you are as bad as he is;
for you have not been thrown into temptation like that poor boy!
And you will break your cousin's heart.
I feel for him;
--he that has been so true to us!
But you think nothing of that."
"I think very much of my cousin Roger."
"And how do you show it;
--or your love for me?
There would have been a home for us all.
Now we must starve,
you have been worse to me even than Felix."
Then Lady Carbury,
in her passion,
burst out of the room,
and took herself to her own chamber.
SIR FELIX PROTECTS HIS SISTER.
Up to this period of his life Sir Felix Carbury had probably felt but little of the punishment due to his very numerous shortcomings.
He had spent all his fortune;
he had lost his commission in the army;
he had incurred the contempt of everybody that had known him;
he had forfeited the friendship of those who were his natural friends,
and had attached to him none others in their place;
he had pretty nearly ruined his mother and sister;
to use his own language,
he had always contrived "to carry on the game."
He had eaten and drunk,
and diverted himself generally after the fashion considered to be appropriate to young men about town.
He had kept up till now.
But now there seemed to him to have come an end to all things.
When he was lying in bed in his mother's house he counted up all his wealth.
He had a few pounds in ready money,
he still had a little roll of Mr. Miles Grendall's notes of hand,
amounting perhaps to a couple of hundred pounds,
--and Mr. Melmotte owed him £600.
But where was he to turn,
and what was he to do with himself?
Gradually he learned the whole story of the journey to Liverpool,
--how Marie had gone there and had been sent back by the police,
how Marie's money had been repaid to Mr. Melmotte by Mr. Broune,
and how his failure to make the journey to Liverpool had become known.
He was ashamed to go to his club.
He could not go to Melmotte's house.
He was ashamed even to show himself in the streets by day.
He was becoming almost afraid even of his mother.
Now that the brilliant marriage had broken down,
and seemed to be altogether beyond hope,
now that he had to depend on her household for all his comforts,
he was no longer able to treat her with absolute scorn,
--nor was she willing to yield as she had yielded.
One thing only was clear to him.
He must realise his possessions.
With this view he wrote both to Miles Grendall and to Melmotte.
To the former he said he was going out of town,
--probably for some time,
and he must really ask for a cheque for the amount due.
He went on to remark that he could hardly suppose that a nephew of the Duke of Albury was unable to pay debts of honour to the amount of £200;
--but that if such was the case he would have no alternative but to apply to the Duke himself.
The reader need hardly be told that to this letter Mr. Grendall vouchsafed no answer whatever.
In his letter to Mr. Melmotte he confined himself to one matter of business in hand.
He made no allusion whatever to Marie,
or to the great man's anger,
or to his seat at the board.
He simply reminded Mr. Melmotte that there was a sum of £600 still due to him,
and requested that a cheque might be sent to him for that amount.
Melmotte's answer to this was not altogether unsatisfactory,
though it was not exactly what Sir Felix had wished.
A clerk from Mr. Melmotte's office called at the house in Welbeck Street,
and handed to Felix railway scrip in the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway to the amount of the sum claimed,
--insisting on a full receipt for the money before he parted with the scrip.
The clerk went on to explain,
on behalf of his employer,
that the money had been left in Mr. Melmotte's hands for the purpose of buying these shares.
who was glad to get anything,
signed the receipt and took the scrip.
This took place on the day after the balloting at Westminster,
when the result was not yet known,
--and when the shares in the railway were very low indeed.
Sir Felix had asked as to the value of the shares at the time.
The clerk professed himself unable to quote the price,
--but there were the shares if Sir Felix liked to take them.
Of course he took them;
--and hurrying off into the City found that they might perhaps be worth about half the money due to him.
The broker to whom he showed them could not quite answer for anything.
--the scrip had been very high;
but there was a panic.
They might recover,
they might go to nothing.
Sir Felix cursed the Great Financier aloud,
and left the scrip for sale.
That was the first time that he had been out of the house before dark since his little accident.
But he was chiefly tormented in these days by the want of amusement.
He had so spent his life hitherto that he did not know how to get through a day in which no excitement was provided for him.
He never read.
Thinking was altogether beyond him.
And he had never done a day's work in his life.
He could lie in bed.
He could eat and drink.
He could smoke and sit idle.
He could play cards;
and could amuse himself with women,
--the lower the culture of the women,
the better the amusement.
Beyond these things the world had nothing for him.
Therefore he again took himself to the pursuit of Ruby Ruggles.
Poor Ruby had endured a very painful incarceration at her aunt's house.
She had been wrathful and had stormed,
swearing that she would be free to come and go as she pleased.
Free to go,
Mrs. Pipkin told her that she was;
--but not free to return if she went out otherwise than as she,
"Am I to be a slave?"
and almost upset the perambulator which she had just dragged in at the hall door.
Then Mrs. Hurtle had taken upon herself to talk to her,
and poor Ruby had been quelled by the superior strength of the American lady.
But she was very unhappy,
finding that it did not suit her to be nursemaid to her aunt.
After all John Crumb couldn't have cared for her a bit,
or he would have come to look after her.
While she was in this condition Sir Felix came to Mrs. Pipkin's house,
and asked for her at the door.
It happened that Mrs. Pipkin herself had opened the door,
in her fright and dismay at the presence of so pernicious a young man in her own passage,
had denied that Ruby was in the house.
But Ruby had heard her lover's voice,
and had rushed up and thrown herself into his arms.
Then there had been a great scene.
Ruby had sworn that she didn't care for her aunt,
didn't care for her grandfather,
or for Mrs. Hurtle,
or for John Crumb,
--or for any person or anything.
She cared only for her lover.
Then Mrs. Hurtle had asked the young man his intentions.
Did he mean to marry Ruby?
Sir Felix had said that he "supposed he might as well some day."
--shouting in triumph as though an offer had been made to her with the completest ceremony of which such an event admits.
Mrs. Pipkin had been very weak.
Instead of calling in the assistance of her strong-minded lodger,
she had allowed the lovers to remain together for half-an-hour in the dining-room.
I do not know that Sir Felix in any way repeated his promise during that time,
but Ruby was probably too blessed with the word that had been spoken to ask for such renewal.
"There must be an end of this,"
said Mrs. Pipkin,
coming in when the half-hour was over.
Then Sir Felix had gone,
promising to come again on the following evening.
"You must not come here,
said Mrs. Pipkin,
"unless you puts it in writing."
Sir Felix made no answer.
As he went home he congratulated himself on the success of his adventure.
Perhaps the best thing he could do when he had realised the money for the shares would be to take Ruby for a tour abroad.
The money would last for three or four months,
--and three or four months ahead was almost an eternity.
That afternoon before dinner he found his sister alone in the drawing-room.
Lady Carbury had gone to her own room after hearing the distressing story of Paul Montague's love,
and had not seen Hetta since.
Hetta was melancholy,
thinking of her mother's hard words,
--thinking perhaps of Paul's poverty as declared by her mother,
and of the ages which might have to wear themselves out before she could become his wife;
but still tinting all her thoughts with a rosy hue because of the love which had been declared to her.
She could not but be happy if he really loved her.
--as she had told him that she loved him,
--would be true to him through everything!
In her present mood she could not speak of herself to her brother,
but she took the opportunity of making good the promise which Marie Melmotte had extracted from her.
She gave him some short account of the party,
and told him that she had talked with Marie.
"I promised to give you a message,"
"It's all of no use now,"
"But I must tell you what she said.
that she really loves you."
"But what's the good of it?
A man can't marry a girl when all the policemen in the country are dodging her."
"She wants you to let her know what,
--what you intend to do.
If you mean to give her up,
I think you should tell her."
"How can I tell her?
I don't suppose they would let her receive a letter."
"Shall I write to her;
--or shall I see her?"
"Just as you like.
I don't care."
you are very heartless."
"I don't suppose I'm much worse than other men;
--or for the matter of that,
worse than a great many women either.
You all of you here put me up to marry her."
"I never put you up to it."
And now because it did not go off all serene,
I am to hear nothing but reproaches.
Of course I never cared so very much about her."
that is so shocking!"
"Awfully shocking I dare say.
You think I am as black as the very mischief,
and that sugar wouldn't melt in other men's mouths.
Other men are just as bad as I am,
--and a good deal worse too.
You believe that there is nobody on earth like Paul Montague."
but said nothing.
She was not yet in a condition to boast of her lover before her brother,
but she did,
in very truth,
believe that but few young men were as true-hearted as Paul Montague.
"I suppose you'd be surprised to hear that Master Paul is engaged to marry an American widow living at Islington."
"Mr. Montague --engaged --to marry --an American widow!
I don't believe it."
"You'd better believe it if it's any concern of yours,
for it's true.
And it's true too that he travelled about with her for ever so long in the United States,
and that he had her down with him at the hotel at Lowestoft about a fortnight ago.
There's no mistake about it."
"I don't believe it,"
feeling that to say even as much as that was some relief to her.
It could not be true.
It was impossible that the man should have come to her with such a lie in his mouth as that.
Though the words astounded her,
though she felt faint,
almost as though she would fall in a swoon,
yet in her heart of hearts she did not believe it.
Surely it was some horrid joke,
--or perhaps some trick to divide her from the man she loved.
how dare you say things so wicked as that to me?"
"What is there wicked in it?
If you have been fool enough to become fond of the man,
it is only right you should be told.
He is engaged to marry Mrs. Hurtle,
and she is lodging with one Mrs. Pipkin in Islington.
I know the house,
and could take you there to-morrow,
and show you the woman.
"that's where she is;"
--and he wrote Mrs. Hurtle's name down on a scrap of paper.
"It is not true,"
rising from her seat,
and standing upright.
"I am engaged to Mr. Montague,
and I am sure he would not treat me in that way."
he shall answer it to me,"
"If he has done that,
it is time that I should interfere.
As true as I stand here,
he is engaged to marry a woman called Mrs. Hurtle whom he constantly visits at that place in Islington."
"I do not believe it,"
repeating the only defence for her lover which was applicable at the moment.
this is beyond a joke.
Will you believe it if Roger Carbury says it's true?
I know you'd believe anything fast enough against me,
if he told you."
"Roger Carbury will not say so?"
"Have you the courage to ask him?
I say he will say so.
He knows all about it,
--and has seen the woman."
"How can you know?
Has Roger told you?"
"I do know,
and that's enough.
I will make this square with Master Paul.
He shall answer to me.
But my mother must manage you.
She will not scruple to ask Roger,
and she will believe what Roger tells her."
"I do not believe a word of it,"
leaving the room.
But when she was alone she was very wretched.
There must be some foundation for such a tale.
Why should Felix have referred to Roger Carbury?
And she did feel that there was something in her brother's manner which forbade her to reject the whole story as being altogether baseless.
So she sat upon her bed and cried,
and thought of all the tales she had heard of faithless lovers.
And yet why should the man have come to her,
not only with soft words of love,
but asking her hand in marriage,
if it really were true that he was in daily communication with another woman whom he had promised to make his wife?
Nothing on the subject was said at dinner.
Hetta with difficulty to herself sat at the table,
and did not speak.
Lady Carbury and her son were nearly as silent.
Soon after dinner Felix slunk away to some music hall or theatre in quest probably of some other Ruby Ruggles.
Then Lady Carbury,
who had now been told as much as her son knew,
again attacked her daughter.
Very much of the story Felix had learned from Ruby.
Ruby had of course learned that Paul was engaged to Mrs. Hurtle.
Mrs. Hurtle had at once declared the fact to Mrs. Pipkin,
and Mrs. Pipkin had been proud of the position of her lodger.
Ruby had herself seen Paul Montague at the house,
and had known that he had taken Mrs. Hurtle to Lowestoft.
And it had also become known to the two women,
the aunt and her niece,
that Mrs. Hurtle had seen Roger Carbury on the sands at Lowestoft.
Thus the whole story with most of its details,
--not quite with all,
--had come round to Lady Carbury's ears.
"What he has told you,
Much as I disapprove of Mr. Montague,
you do not suppose that I would deceive you."
"How can he know,
"He does know.
I cannot explain to you how.
He has been at the same house."
"Has he seen her?"
"I do not know that he has,
but Roger Carbury has seen her.
If I write to him you will believe what he says?"
"Don't do that,
Don't write to him."
"But I shall.
Why should I not write if he can tell me?
If this other man is a villain am I not bound to protect you?
Of course Felix is not steady.
If it came only from him you might not credit it.
And he has not seen her.
If your cousin Roger tells you that it is true,
--tells me that he knows the man is engaged to marry this woman,
then I suppose you will be contented."
"Satisfied that what we tell you is true."
"I shall never be contented again.
If that is true,
I will never believe anything.
It can't be true.
I suppose there is something,
but it can't be that."
The story was not altogether displeasing to Lady Carbury,
though it pained her to see the agony which her daughter suffered.
But she had no wish that Paul Montague should be her son-in-law,
and she still thought that if Roger would persevere he might succeed.
On that very night before she went to bed she wrote to Roger,
and told him the whole story.
"you know that there is such a person as Mrs. Hurtle,
and if you know also that Mr. Montague has promised to make her his wife,
of course you will tell me."
Then she declared her own wishes,
thinking that by doing so she could induce Roger Carbury to give such real assistance in this matter that Paul Montague would certainly be driven away.
Who could feel so much interest in doing this as Roger,
or who be so closely acquainted with all the circumstances of Montague's life?
"what my wishes are about Hetta,
and how utterly opposed I am to Mr. Montague's interference.
If it is true,
as Felix says,
that he is at the present moment entangled with another woman,
he is guilty of gross insolence;
and if you know all the circumstances you can surely protect us,
--and also yourself."
MISS MELMOTTE DECLARES HER PURPOSE.
Poor Hetta passed a very bad night.
The story she had heard seemed to be almost too awful to be true,
--even about any one else.
The man had come to her,
and had asked her to be his wife,
--and yet at that very moment was living in habits of daily intercourse with another woman whom he had promised to marry!
his courtship with her had been so graceful,
and yet so long continued!
Though he had been slow in speech,
she had known since their first meeting how he regarded her!
The whole state of his mind had,
she had thought,
been visible to her,
--had been intelligible,
He had been aware of her friends' feeling,
and had therefore hesitated.
He had kept himself from her because he had owed so much to friendship.
And yet his love had not been the less true,
and had not been less dear to poor Hetta.
She had waited,
sure that it would come,
--having absolute confidence in his honour and love.
And now she was told that this man had been playing a game so base,
and at the same time so foolish,
that she could find not only no excuse but no possible cause for it.
It was not like any story she had heard before of man's faithlessness.
Though she was wretched and sore at heart she swore to herself that she would not believe it.
She knew that her mother would write to Roger Carbury,
--but she knew also that nothing more would be said about the letter till the answer should come.
Nor could she turn anywhere else for comfort.
She did not dare to appeal to Paul himself.
As regarded him,
for the present she could only rely on the assurance,
which she continued to give herself,
that she would not believe a word of the story that had been told her.
But there was other wretchedness besides her own.
She had undertaken to give Marie Melmotte's message to her brother.
She had done so,
and she must now let Marie have her brother's reply.
That might be told in a very few words --"Everything is over!"
But it had to be told.
"I want to call upon Miss Melmotte,
if you'll let me,"
she said to her mother at breakfast.
"Why should you want to see Miss Melmotte?
I thought you hated the Melmottes?"
"I don't hate them,
I certainly don't hate her.
I have a message to take to her,
"A message --from Felix."
"It is an answer from him.
She wanted to know if all that was over.
Of course it is over.
Whether he said so or not,
it would be so.
They could never be married now;
in Lady Carbury's mind,
was no longer even desirable.
was beginning to disbelieve in the Melmotte wealth,
and did quite disbelieve that that wealth would come to her son,
even should he succeed in marrying the daughter.
It was impossible that Melmotte should forgive such offence as had now been committed.
"It is out of the question,"
like everything else with us,
has been a wretched failure.
You can go,
if you please.
Felix is under no obligation to them,
and has taken nothing from them.
I should much doubt whether the girl will get anybody to take her now.
You can't go alone,
Lady Carbury added.
But Hetta said that she did not at all object to going alone as far as that.
It was only just over Oxford Street.
So she went out and made her way into Grosvenor Square.
She had heard,
but at the time remembered nothing,
of the temporary migration of the Melmottes to Bruton Street.
as she approached the house,
that there was a confusion there of carts and workmen,
But she went on,
and rang the bell at the door,
which was wide open.
Within the hall the pilasters and trophies,
the wreaths and the banners,
which three or four days since had been built up with so much trouble,
were now being pulled down and hauled away.
And amidst the ruins Melmotte himself was standing.
He was now a member of Parliament,
and was to take his place that night in the House.
at any rate,
should prevent that.
It might be but for a short time;
--but it should be written in the history of his life that he had sat in the British House of Commons as member for Westminster.
At the present moment he was careful to show himself everywhere.
It was now noon,
and he had already been into the City.
At this moment he was talking to the contractor for the work,
--having just propitiated that man by a payment which would hardly have been made so soon but for the necessity which these wretched stories had entailed upon him of keeping up his credit for the possession of money.
Hetta timidly asked one of the workmen whether Miss Melmotte was there.
"Do you want my daughter?"
said Melmotte coming forward,
and just touching his hat.
"She is not living here at present."
--I remember now,"
"May I be allowed to tell her who was asking after her?"
At the present moment Melmotte was not unreasonably suspicious about his daughter.
"I am Miss Carbury,"
said Hetta in a very low voice.
--the sister of Sir Felix Carbury?"
There was something in the tone of the man's voice which grated painfully on Hetta's ears,
--but she answered the question.
--Sir Felix's sister!
May I be permitted to ask whether --you have any business with my daughter?"
The story was a hard one to tell,
with all the workmen around her,
in the midst of the lumber,
with the coarse face of the suspicious man looking down upon her;
but she did tell it very simply.
She had come with a message from her brother.
There had been something between her brother and Miss Melmotte,
and her brother had felt that it would be best that he should acknowledge that it must be all over.
"I wonder whether that is true,"
looking at her out of his great coarse eyes,
with his eyebrows knit,
with his hat on his head and his hands in his pockets.
not knowing how,
at the moment,
to repudiate the suspicion expressed,
there has been a deal of falsehood and double dealing.
Sir Felix has behaved infamously;
--by G -- --,
A day or two before my daughter started,
he gave me a written assurance that the whole thing was over,
and now he sends you here.
How am I to know what you are really after?"
"I have come because I thought I could do some good,"
trembling with anger and fear.
"I was speaking to your daughter at your party."
you were there;
It may be as you say,
but how is one to tell?
When one has been deceived like that,
one is apt to be suspicious,
Here was one who had spent his life in lying to the world,
and who was in his very heart shocked at the atrocity of a man who had lied to him!
"You are not plotting another journey to Liverpool;
To this Hetta could make no answer.
The insult was too much,
she did not know how to give him back scorn for scorn.
At last he proposed to take her across to Bruton Street himself,
and at his bidding she walked by his side.
"May I hear what you say to her?"
"If you suspect me,
I had better not see her at all.
It is only that there may no longer be any doubt."
"You can say it all before me."
--I could not do that.
But I have told you,
and you can say it for me.
If you please,
I think I will go home now."
But Melmotte knew that his daughter would not believe him on such a subject.
This girl she probably would believe.
And though Melmotte himself found it difficult to trust anybody,
he thought that there was more possible good than evil to be expected from the proposed interview.
you shall see her,"
"I don't suppose she's such a fool as to try that kind of thing again."
Then the door in Bruton Street was opened,
repenting her mission,
found herself almost pushed into the hall.
She was bidden to follow Melmotte up-stairs,
and was left alone in the drawing-room,
as she thought,
for a long time.
Then the door was slowly opened and Marie crept into the room.
"this is so good of you,
--so good of you!
I do so love you for coming to me!
You said you would love me.
will you not?"
sitting down by the stranger,
took her hand and encircled her waist.
"Mr. Melmotte has told you why I have come."
I don't know.
I never believe what papa says to me."
To poor Hetta such an announcement as this was horrible.
"We are at daggers drawn.
He thinks I ought to do just what he tells me,
as though my very soul were not my own.
I won't agree to that;
Hetta had not come there to preach disobedience,
but could not fail to remember at the moment that she was not disposed to obey her mother in an affair of the same kind.
"What does he say,
Hetta's message was to be conveyed in three words,
and when those were told,
there was nothing more to be said.
"It must all be over,
"Is that his message,
Hetta nodded her head.
"Is that all?"
"What more can I say?
The other night you told me to bid him send you word.
And I thought he ought to do so.
I gave him your message,
and I have brought back the answer.
has no income of his own;
--nothing at all."
"But I have,"
said Marie with eagerness.
"But your father --"
"It does not depend upon papa.
If papa treats me badly,
I can give it to my husband.
I know I can.
If I can venture,
"I think it is impossible."
Nothing should be impossible.
All the people that one hears of that are really true to their loves never find anything impossible.
Does he love me,
It all depends on that.
That's what I want to know."
but Hetta could not answer the question.
"You must know about your brother.
Don't you know whether he does love me?
If you know I think you ought to tell me."
Hetta was still silent.
"Have you nothing to say?"
"Miss Melmotte --" began poor Hetta very slowly.
"Call me Marie.
You said you would love me;
--did you not?
I don't even know what your name is."
"My name is --Hetta."
--that's short for something.
But it's very pretty.
I have no brother,
And I'll tell you,
though you must not tell anybody again;
--I have no real mother.
Madame Melmotte is not my mamma,
though papa chooses that it should be thought so."
All this she whispered,
with rapid words,
almost into Hetta's ear.
"And papa is so cruel to me!
He beats me sometimes."
The new friend,
round whom Marie still had her arm,
shuddered as she heard this.
"But I never will yield a bit for that.
When he boxes and thumps me I always turn and gnash my teeth at him.
Can you wonder that I want to have a friend?
Can you be surprised that I should be always thinking of my lover?
--if he doesn't love me,
what am I to do then?"
"I don't know what I am to say,"
ejaculated Hetta amidst her sobs.
Whether the girl was good or bad,
to be sought or to be avoided,
there was so much tragedy in her position that Hetta's heart was melted with sympathy.
"I wonder whether you love anybody,
and whether he loves you,"
Hetta certainly had not come there to talk of her own affairs,
and made no reply to this.
"I suppose you won't tell me about yourself."
"I wish I could tell you something for your own comfort."
"He will not try again,
"I am sure he will not."
"I wonder what he fears.
I should fear nothing,
Why should not we walk out of the house,
and be married any way?
Nobody has a right to stop me.
Papa could only turn me out of his house.
I will venture if he will."
It seemed to Hetta that even listening to such a proposition amounted to falsehood,
--to that guilt of which Mr. Melmotte had dared to suppose that she could be capable.
"I cannot listen to it.
Indeed I cannot listen to it.
My brother is sure that he cannot --cannot --"
"Cannot love me,
Say it out,
if it is true."
"It is true,"
There came over the face of the other girl a stern hard look,
as though she had resolved at the moment to throw away from her all soft womanly things.
And she relaxed her hold on Hetta's waist.
I do not mean to be cruel,
but you ask me for the truth."
"Men are not,
"I suppose not,"
said Marie slowly.
"What liars they are,
Why should he tell me lies like that?
Why should he break my heart?
That other man never said that he loved me.
Did he never love me,
Hetta could hardly say that her brother was incapable of such love as Marie expected,
but she knew that it was so.
"It is better that you should think of him no more."
"Are you like that?
If you had loved a man and told him of it,
and agreed to be his wife and done as I have,
could you bear to be told to think of him no more,
--just as though you had got rid of a servant or a horse?
I won't love him.
--I'll hate him.
But I must think of him.
I'll marry that other man to spite him,
when he finds that we are rich,
he'll be broken-hearted."
"You should try to forgive him,
Do not tell him that I forgive him.
I command you not to tell him that.
that I hate him,
and that if I ever meet him,
I will look at him so that he shall never forget it.
--you do not know what I could do.
--did he tell you to say that he did not love me?"
"I wish I had not come,"
"I am glad you have come.
It was very kind.
I don't hate you.
Of course I ought to know.
But did he say that I was to be told that he did not love me?"
--he did not say that."
"Then how do you know?
What did he say?"
"That it was all over."
"Because he is afraid of papa.
Are you sure he does not love me?"
"I am sure."
"Then he is a brute.
Tell him that I say that he is a false-hearted liar,
and that I trample him under my foot."
Marie as she said this thrust her foot upon the ground as though that false one were in truth beneath it,
--and spoke aloud,
as though regardless who might hear her.
"I despise him;
They are all bad,
but he is the worst of all.
Papa beats me,
but I can bear that.
Mamma reviles me and I can bear that.
He might have beaten me and reviled me,
and I could have borne it.
But to think that he was a liar all the time;
--that I can't bear."
Then she burst into tears.
Hetta kissed her,
tried to comfort her,
and left her sobbing on the sofa.
Later in the day,
two or three hours after Miss Carbury had gone,
who had not shown herself at luncheon,
walked into Madame Melmotte's room,
and thus declared her purpose.
"You can tell papa that I will marry Lord Nidderdale whenever he pleases."
She spoke in French and very rapidly.
On hearing this Madame Melmotte expressed herself to be delighted.
"will be very glad to hear that you have thought better of this at last.
Lord Nidderdale is,
I am sure,
a very good young man."
boiling over with passion as she spoke.
"I'll marry Lord Nidderdale,
or that horrid Mr. Grendall who is worse than all the others,
or his old fool of a father,
--or the sweeper at the crossing,
--or the black man that waits at table,
or anybody else that he chooses to pick up.
I don't care who it is the least in the world.
But I'll lead him such a life afterwards!
I'll make Lord Nidderdale repent the hour he saw me!
You may tell papa."
having thus entrusted her message to Madame Melmotte,
Marie left the room.
MELMOTTE IN PARLIAMENT.
Melmotte did not return home in time to hear the good news that day,
--good news as he would regard it,
when told to him it should be accompanied by all the extraneous additions with which Marie had communicated her purpose to Madame Melmotte.
It was nothing to him what the girl thought of the marriage,
--if the marriage could now be brought about.
had cause for vexation,
if not for anger.
If Marie had consented a fortnight since he might have so hurried affairs that Lord Nidderdale might by this time have been secured.
Now there might be,
through the folly of his girl and the villany of Sir Felix Carbury.
Were he once the father-in-law of the eldest son of a marquis,
he thought he might almost be safe.
Even though something might be all but proved against him,
--which might come to certain proof in less august circumstances,
--matters would hardly be pressed against a Member for Westminster whose daughter was married to the heir of the Marquis of Auld Reekie!
So many persons would then be concerned!
Of course his vexation with Marie had been great.
Of course his wrath against Sir Felix was unbounded.
The seat for Westminster was his.
He was to be seen to occupy it before all the world on this very day.
But he had not as yet heard that his daughter had yielded in reference to Lord Nidderdale.
There was considerable uneasiness felt in some circles as to the manner in which Melmotte should take his seat.
When he was put forward as the Conservative candidate for the borough a good deal of fuss had been made with him by certain leading politicians.
It had been the manifest intention of the party that his return,
if he were returned,
should be hailed as a great Conservative triumph,
and be made much of through the length and the breadth of the land.
He was returned,
--but the trumpets had not as yet been sounded loudly.
On a sudden,
within the space of forty-eight hours,
the party had become ashamed of their man.
who was to introduce him to the House?
But with this feeling of shame on one side,
there was already springing up an idea among another class that Melmotte might become as it were a Conservative tribune of the people,
--that he might be the realization of that hitherto hazy mixture of Radicalism and old-fogyism,
of which we have lately heard from a political master,
whose eloquence has been employed in teaching us that progress can only be expected from those whose declared purpose is to stand still.
The new farthing newspaper,
was already putting Melmotte forward as a political hero,
preaching with reference to his commercial transactions the grand doctrine that magnitude in affairs is a valid defence for certain irregularities.
though he may exterminate tribes in carrying out his projects,
cannot be judged by the same law as a young lieutenant who may be punished for cruelty to a few negroes.
"The Mob" thought that a good deal should be overlooked in a Melmotte,
and that the philanthropy of his great designs should be allowed to cover a multitude of sins.
I do not know that the theory was ever so plainly put forward as it was done by the ingenious and courageous writer in "The Mob;"
but in practice it has commanded the assent of many intelligent minds.
though he was not where he had been before that wretched Squercum had set afloat the rumours as to the purchase of Pickering,
was able to hold his head much higher than on the unfortunate night of the great banquet.
He had replied to the letter from Messrs.
Slow and Bideawhile,
by a note written in the ordinary way in the office,
and only signed by himself.
In this he merely said that he would lose no time in settling matters as to the purchase of Pickering.
Slow and Bideawhile were of course anxious that things should be settled.
They wanted no prosecution for forgery.
To make themselves clear in the matter,
and their client,
--and if possible to take some wind out of the sails of the odious Squercum;
--this would suit them best.
They were prone to hope that for his own sake Melmotte would raise the money.
If it were raised there would be no reason why that note purporting to have been signed by Dolly Longestaffe should ever leave their office.
They still protested their belief that it did bear Dolly's signature.
They had various excuses for themselves.
It would have been useless for them to summon Dolly to their office,
as they knew from long experience that Dolly would not come.
The very letter written by themselves,
--as a suggestion,
--and given to Dolly's father,
had come back to them with Dolly's ordinary signature,
sent to them,
--as they believed,
--with other papers by Dolly's father.
What justification could be clearer?
But still the money had not been paid.
That was the fault of Longestaffe senior.
But if the money could be paid,
that would set everything right.
Squercum evidently thought that the money would not be paid,
and was ceaseless in his intercourse with Bideawhile's people.
He charged Slow and Bideawhile with having delivered up the title-deeds on the authority of a mere note,
and that a note with a forged signature.
He demanded that the note should be impounded.
On the receipt by Mr. Bideawhile of Melmotte's rather curt reply Mr. Squercum was informed that Mr. Melmotte had promised to pay the money at once,
but that a day or two must be allowed.
Mr. Squercum replied that on his client's behalf he should open the matter before the Lord Mayor.
But in this way two or three days had passed without any renewal of the accusation before the public,
and Melmotte had in a certain degree recovered his position.
The Beauclerks and the Luptons disliked and feared him as much as ever,
but they did not quite dare to be so loud and confident in condemnation as they had been.
It was pretty well known that Mr. Longestaffe had not received his money,
--and that was a condition of things tending greatly to shake the credit of a man living after Melmotte's fashion.
But there was no crime in that.
No forgery was implied by the publication of any statement to that effect.
father and son,
might probably have been very foolish.
Whoever expected anything but folly from either?
And Slow and Bideawhile might have been very remiss in their duty.
It was astonishing,
some people said,
what things attorneys would do in these days!
But they who had expected to see Melmotte behind the bars of a prison before this,
and had regulated their conduct accordingly,
now imagined that they had been deceived.
Had the Westminster triumph been altogether a triumph it would have become the pleasant duty of some popular Conservative to express to Melmotte the pleasure he would have in introducing his new political ally to the House.
In such case Melmotte himself would have been walked up the chamber with a pleasurable ovation and the thing would have been done without trouble to him.
But now this was not the position of affairs.
Though the matter was debated at the Carlton,
no such popular Conservative offered his services.
"I don't think we ought to throw him over,"
Mr. Beauclerk said.
Sir Orlando Drought,
quite a leading Conservative,
suggested that as Lord Nidderdale was very intimate with Mr. Melmotte he might do it.
But Nidderdale was not the man for such a performance.
He was a very good fellow and everybody liked him.
He belonged to the House because his father had territorial influence in a Scotch county;
--but he never did anything there,
and his selection for such a duty would be a declaration to the world that nobody else would do it.
"It wouldn't hurt you,
said Mr. Beauclerk.
"Not at all,"
"but I also,
am a young man and of no use,
--and a great deal too bashful."
who knew but little about it,
went down to the House at four o'clock,
somewhat cowed by want of companionship,
but carrying out his resolution that he would be stopped by no phantom fears,
--that he would lose nothing by want of personal pluck.
He knew that he was a Member,
and concluded that if he presented himself he would be able to make his way in and assume his right.
But here again fortune befriended him.
The very leader of the party,
the very founder of that new doctrine of which it was thought that Melmotte might become an apostle and an expounder,
as the reader may remember,
had undertaken to be present at the banquet when his colleagues were dismayed and untrue to him,
and who kept his promise and sat there almost in solitude,
--he happened to be entering the House,
as his late host was claiming from the door-keeper the fruition of his privilege.
"You had better let me accompany you,"
said the Conservative leader,
with something of chivalry in his heart.
And so Mr. Melmotte was introduced to the House by the head of his party!
When this was seen many men supposed that the rumours had been proved to be altogether false.
Was not this a guarantee sufficient to guarantee any man's respectability?
Lord Nidderdale saw his father in the lobby of the House of Lords that afternoon and told him what had occurred.
The old man had been in a state of great doubt since the day of the dinner party.
He was aware of the ruin that would be incurred by a marriage with Melmotte's daughter,
if the things which had been said of Melmotte should be proved to be true.
But he knew also that if his son should now recede,
there must be an end of the match altogether;
--and he did not believe the rumours.
He was fully determined that the money should be paid down before the marriage was celebrated;
but if his son were to secede now,
of course no money would be forthcoming.
He was prepared to recommend his son to go on with the affair still a little longer.
"Old Cure tells me he doesn't believe a word of it,"
said the father.
Cure was the family lawyer of the Marquises of Auld Reekie.
"There's some hitch about Dolly Longestaffe's money,
said the son.
"What's that to us if he has our money ready?
I suppose it isn't always easy even for a man like that to get a couple of hundred thousand together.
I know I've never found it easy to get a thousand.
If he has borrowed a trifle from Longestaffe to make up the girl's money,
I shan't complain.
You stand to your guns.
There's no harm done till the parson has said the word."
"You couldn't let me have a couple of hundred;
suggested the son.
replied the father with a very determined aspect.
"I'm awfully hard up."
"So am I."
Then the old man toddled into his own chamber,
and after sitting there ten minutes went away home.
Lord Nidderdale also got quickly through his legislative duties and went to the Beargarden.
There he found Grasslough and Miles Grendall dining together,
and seated himself at the next table.
They were full of news.
"You've heard it,
said Miles in an awful whisper.
"I believe he doesn't know!"
said Lord Grasslough.
you're in a mess like some others."
"What's up now?"
"Only fancy that they shouldn't have known down at the House!
Vossner has bolted!"
dropping the spoon with which he was just going to eat his soup.
Lord Nidderdale looked round the room and became aware of the awful expression of dismay which hung upon the features of all the dining members.
"Bolted by George!
He has sold all our acceptances to a fellow in Great Marlbro' that's called
"I know him,"
said Nidderdale shaking his head.
"I should think so,"
said Miles ruefully.
"A bottle of champagne!"
appealing to the waiter in almost a humble voice,
feeling that he wanted sustenance in this new trouble that had befallen him.
beaten almost to the ground by an awful sense of the condition of the club,
whispered to him the terrible announcement that there was not a bottle of champagne in the house.
"Good G -- --,"
exclaimed the unfortunate nobleman.
Miles Grendall shook his head.
Grasslough shook his head.
"Not a bottle of champagne in the house."]
said another young lord from the table on the other side.
Then the waiter,
still speaking with suppressed and melancholy voice,
suggested that there was some port left.
It was now the middle of July.
There had been a few bottles of brandy,
but they had been already consumed.
"Send out and get some brandy,"
said Nidderdale with rapid impetuosity.
But the club was so reduced in circumstances that he was obliged to take silver out of his pocket before he could get even such humble comfort as he now demanded.
Then Lord Grasslough told the whole story as far as it was known.
Herr Vossner had not been seen since nine o'clock on the preceding evening.
The head waiter had known for some weeks that heavy bills were due.
It was supposed that three or four thousand pounds were owing to tradesmen,
who now professed that the credit had been given,
not to Herr Vossner but to the club.
And the numerous acceptances for large sums which the accommodating purveyor held from many of the members had all been sold to Mr. Flatfleece.
Mr. Flatfleece had spent a considerable portion of the day at the club,
and it was now suggested that he and Herr Vossner were in partnership.
At this moment Dolly Longestaffe came in.
Dolly had been at the club before and had heard the story,
--but had gone at once to another club for his dinner when he found that there was not even a bottle of wine to be had.
"Here's a go,"
"One thing atop of another!
There'll be nothing left for anybody soon.
Is that brandy you're drinking,
There was none here when I left."
"Had to send round the corner for it,
to the public."
"We shall be sending round the corner for a good many things now.
Does anybody know anything of that fellow Melmotte?"
"He's down in the House,
as big as life,"
"He's all right I think."
"I wish he'd pay me my money then.
That fellow Flatfleece was here,
and he showed me notes of mine for about £1,500!
I write such a beastly hand that I never know whether I've written it or not.
a fellow can't eat and drink £1,500 in less than six months!"
"There's no knowing what you can do,
said Lord Grasslough.
"He's paid some of your card money,
"I don't think he ever did.
Carbury had a lot of my I.
O. U.'s while that was going on,
but I got the money for that from old Melmotte.
How is a fellow to know?
If any fellow writes D. Longestaffe,
am I obliged to pay it?
Everybody is writing my name!
How is any fellow to stand that kind of thing?
Do you think Melmotte's all right?"
Nidderdale said that he did think so.
"I wish he wouldn't go and write my name then.
That's a sort of thing that a man should be left to do for himself.
I suppose Vossner is a swindler;
I know a worse than Vossner."
With that he turned on his heels and went into the smoking-room.
after he was gone,
there was silence at the table,
for it was known that Lord Nidderdale was to marry Melmotte's daughter.
In the meantime a scene of a different kind was going on in the House of Commons.
Melmotte had been seated on one of the back Conservative benches,
and there he remained for a considerable time unnoticed and forgotten.
The little emotion that had attended his entrance had passed away,
and Melmotte was now no more than any one else.
At first he had taken his hat off,
as soon as he observed that the majority of members were covered,
he put it on again.
Then he sat motionless for an hour,
looking round him and wondering.
He had never hitherto been even in the gallery of the House.
The place was very much smaller than he had thought,
and much less tremendous.
The Speaker did not strike him with the awe which he had expected,
and it seemed to him that they who spoke were talking much like other people in other places.
For the first hour he hardly caught the meaning of a sentence that was said,
nor did he try to do so.
One man got up very quickly after another,
some of them barely rising on their legs to say the few words that they uttered.
It seemed to him to be a very common-place affair,
--not half so awful as those festive occasions on which he had occasionally been called upon to propose a toast or to return thanks.
Then suddenly the manner of the thing was changed,
and one gentleman made a long speech.
Melmotte by this time,
weary of observing,
had begun to listen,
and words which were familiar to him reached his ears.
The gentleman was proposing some little addition to a commercial treaty and was expounding in very strong language the ruinous injustice to which England was exposed by being tempted to use gloves made in a country in which no income tax was levied.
Melmotte listened to his eloquence caring nothing about gloves,
and very little about England's ruin.
But in the course of the debate which followed,
a question arose about the value of money,
and of the conversion of shillings into francs and dollars.
About this Melmotte really did know something and he pricked up his ears.
It seemed to him that a gentleman whom he knew very well in the city,
--and who had maliciously stayed away from his dinner,
--one Mr. Brown,
who sat just before him on the same side of the House,
and who was plodding wearily and slowly along with some pet fiscal theory of his own,
understood nothing at all of what he was saying.
Here was an opportunity for himself!
Here was at his hand the means of revenging himself for the injury done him,
and of showing to the world at the same time that he was not afraid of his city enemies!
It required some courage certainly,
--this attempt that suggested itself to him of getting upon his legs a couple of hours after his first introduction to parliamentary life.
But he was full of the lesson which he was now ever teaching himself.
Nothing should cow him.
Whatever was to be done by brazen-faced audacity he would do.
It seemed to be very easy,
and he saw no reason why he should not put that old fool right.
He knew nothing of the forms of the House;
--was more ignorant of them than an ordinary schoolboy;
--but on that very account felt less trepidation than might another parliamentary novice.
Mr. Brown was tedious and prolix;
though he thought much of his project and had almost told himself that he would do the thing,
was still doubting,
Mr. Brown sat down.
There did not seem to be any particular end to the speech,
nor had Melmotte followed any general thread of argument.
But a statement had been made and repeated,
as Melmotte thought,
a fundamental error in finance;
and he longed to set the matter right.
At any rate he desired to show the House that Mr. Brown did not know what he was talking about,
--because Mr. Brown had not come to his dinner.
When Mr. Brown was seated,
nobody at once rose.
The subject was not popular,
and they who understood the business of the House were well aware that the occasion had simply been one on which two or three commercial gentlemen,
having crazes of their own,
should be allowed to ventilate them.
The subject would have dropped;
--but on a sudden the new member was on his legs.
Now it was probably not in the remembrance of any gentleman there that a member had got up to make a speech within two or three hours of his first entry into the House.
And this gentleman was one whose recent election had been of a very peculiar kind.
It had been considered by many of his supporters that his name should be withdrawn just before the ballot;
by others that he would be deterred by shame from showing himself even if he were elected;
and again by another party that his appearance in Parliament would be prevented by his disappearance within the walls of Newgate.
But here he was,
not only in his seat,
but on his legs!
The favourable grace,
the air of courteous attention,
which is always shown to a new member when he first speaks,
was extended also to Melmotte.
There was an excitement in the thing which made gentlemen willing to listen,
and a consequent hum,
almost of approbation.
As soon as Melmotte was on his legs,
found that everybody was silent with the intent of listening to him,
a good deal of his courage oozed out of his fingers' ends.
to his thinking,
had by no means been august while Mr. Brown had been toddling through his speech,
now became awful.
He caught the eyes of great men fixed upon him,
--of men who had not seemed to him to be at all great as he had watched them a few minutes before,
yawning beneath their hats.
poor as his speech had been,
--and had perhaps made three or four such speeches every year for the last fifteen years.
Melmotte had not dreamed of putting two words together.
He had thought,
as far as he had thought at all,
that he could rattle off what he had to say just as he might do it when seated in his chair at the Mexican Railway Board.
But there was the Speaker,
and those three clerks in their wigs,
and the mace,
--and worse than all,
the eyes of that long row of statesmen opposite to him!
His position was felt by him to be dreadful.
He had forgotten even the very point on which he had intended to crush Mr. Brown.
But the courage of the man was too high to allow him to be altogether quelled at once.
The hum was prolonged;
and though he was red in the face,
and utterly confused,
he was determined to make a dash at the matter with the first words which would occur to him.
"Mr. Brown is all wrong,"
He had not even taken off his hat as he rose.
Mr. Brown turned slowly round and looked up at him.
whom he could not exactly hear,
touching him behind,
suggested that he should take off his hat.
There was a cry of order,
which of course he did not understand.
nodding his head,
and frowning angrily at poor Mr. Brown.
[Illustration: Melmotte in Parliament.]
"The honourable member,"
said the Speaker,
with the most good-natured voice which he could assume,
"is not perhaps as yet aware that he should not call another member by his name.
He should speak of the gentleman to whom he alluded as the honourable member for Whitechapel.
And in speaking he should address,
not another honourable member,
but the chair."
"You should take your hat off,"
said the good-natured gentleman behind.
In such a position how should any man understand so many and such complicated instructions at once,
and at the same time remember the gist of the argument to be produced?
He did take off his hat,
and was of course made hotter and more confused by doing so.
"What he said was all wrong,"
"and I should have thought a man out of the City,
like Mr. Brown,
ought to have known better."
Then there were repeated calls of order,
and a violent ebullition of laughter from both sides of the House.
The man stood for a while glaring around him,
summoning his own pluck for a renewal of his attack on Mr. Brown,
determined that he would be appalled and put down neither by the ridicule of those around him,
nor by his want of familiarity with the place;
but still utterly unable to find words with which to carry on the combat.
"I ought to know something about it,"
said Melmotte sitting down and hiding his indignation and his shame under his hat.
"We are sure that the honourable member for Westminster does understand the subject,"
said the leader of the House,
"and we shall be very glad to hear his remarks.
The House I am sure will pardon ignorance of its rules in so young a member."
But Mr. Melmotte would not rise again.
He had made a great effort,
and had at any rate exhibited his courage.
Though they might all say that he had not displayed much eloquence,
they would be driven to admit that he had not been ashamed to show himself.
He kept his seat till the regular stampede was made for dinner,
and then walked out with as stately a demeanour as he could assume.
that was plucky!"
taking his friend's arm in the lobby.
"I don't see any pluck in it.
That old fool Brown didn't know what he was talking about,
and I wanted to tell them so.
They wouldn't let me do it,
and there's an end of it.
It seems to me to be a stupid sort of a place."
"Has Longestaffe's money been paid?"
said Cohenlupe opening his black eyes while he looked up into his friend's face.
"Don't you trouble your head about Longestaffe,
or his money either,"
getting into his brougham;
"do you leave Mr. Longestaffe and his money to me.
I hope you are not such a fool as to be scared by what the other fools say.
When men play such a game as you and I are concerned in,
they ought to know better than to be afraid of every word that is spoken."
said Cohenlupe apologetically.
"You don't suppose that I am afraid of anything."
But at that moment Mr. Cohenlupe was meditating his own escape from the dangerous shores of England,
and was trying to remember what happy country still was left in which an order from the British police would have no power to interfere with the comfort of a retired gentleman such as himself.
That evening Madame Melmotte told her husband that Marie was now willing to marry Lord Nidderdale;
--but she did not say anything as to the crossing-sweeper or the black footman,
nor did she allude to Marie's threat of the sort of life she would lead her husband.
SIR FELIX MEDDLES WITH MANY MATTERS.
There is no duty more certain or fixed in the world than that which calls upon a brother to defend his sister from ill-usage;
at the same time,
in the way we live now,
no duty is more difficult,
and we may say generally more indistinct.
The ill-usage to which men's sisters are most generally exposed is one which hardly admits of either protection or vengeance,
--although the duty of protecting and avenging is felt and acknowledged.
We are not allowed to fight duels,
and that banging about of another man with a stick is always disagreeable and seldom successful.
A John Crumb can do it,
and come out of the affair exulting;
but not a Sir Felix Carbury,
even if the Sir Felix of the occasion have the requisite courage.
There is a feeling,
when a girl has been jilted,
is the proper term,
--after the gentleman has had the fun of making love to her for an entire season,
and has perhaps even been allowed privileges as her promised husband,
that the less said the better.
The girl does not mean to break her heart for love of the false one,
and become the tragic heroine of a tale for three months.
It is her purpose again to
--trick her beams,
and with new-spangled ore Flame in the forehead of the morning sky.
Though this one has been false,
as were perhaps two or three before,
still the road to success is open.
Uno avulso non deficit alter.
But if all the notoriety of cudgels and cutting whips be given to the late unfortunate affair,
the difficulty of finding a substitute will be greatly increased.
The brother recognises his duty,
and prepares for vengeance.
The injured one probably desires that she may be left to fight her own little battles alone.
he shall answer it to me,"
Sir Felix had said very grandly,
when his sister had told him that she was engaged to a man who was,
as he thought he knew,
engaged also to marry another woman.
was gross ill-usage,
and opportunity at any rate for threats.
No money was required and no immediate action,
--and Sir Felix could act the fine gentleman and the dictatorial brother at very little present expense.
who ought perhaps to have known her brother more thoroughly,
was fool enough to believe him.
On the day but one following,
no answer had as yet come from Roger Carbury,
--nor could as yet have come.
But Hetta's mind was full of her trouble,
and she remembered her brother's threat.
Felix had forgotten that he had made a threat,
had thought no more of the matter since his interview with his sister.
"you won't mention that to Mr. Montague!"
about that woman,
Indeed I shall.
A man who does that kind of thing ought to be crushed;
if he does it to you,
he shall be crushed."
"I want to tell you,
If it is so,
I will see him no more."
"If it is so!
I tell you I know it."
"Mamma has written to Roger.
At least I feel sure she has."
"What has she written to him for?
What has Roger Carbury to do with our affairs?"
"Only you said he knew!
If he says so,
if you and he both say that he is to marry that woman,
--I will not see Mr. Montague again.
Pray do not go to him.
If such a misfortune does come,
it is better to bear it and to be silent.
What good can be done?"
"Leave that to me,"
said Sir Felix,
walking out of the room with much fraternal bluster.
Then he went forth,
and at once had himself driven to Paul Montague's lodgings.
Had Hetta not been foolish enough to remind him of his duty,
he would not now have undertaken the task.
remembered as he went that duels were things of the past,
and that even fists and sticks are considered to be out of fashion.
assuming all the dignity of demeanour that his late sorrows had left to him,
"I believe I am right in saying that you are engaged to marry that American lady,
"Then let me tell you that you were never more wrong in your life.
What business have you with Mrs. Hurtle?"
"When a man proposes to my sister,
I think I've a great deal of business,"
said Sir Felix.
I admit that fully.
If I answered you roughly,
I beg your pardon.
Now as to the facts.
I am not going to marry Mrs. Hurtle.
I suppose I know how you have heard her name;
--but as you have heard it,
I have no hesitation in telling you so much.
As you know where she is to be found you can go and ask her if you please.
On the other hand,
it is the dearest wish of my heart to marry your sister.
I trust that will be enough for you."
"You were engaged to Mrs. Hurtle?"
"My dear Carbury,
I don't think I'm bound to tell you all the details of my past life.
At any rate,
I don't feel inclined to do so in answer to hostile questions.
I dare say you have heard enough of Mrs. Hurtle to justify you,
as your sister's brother,
in asking me whether I am in any way entangled by a connection with her.
I tell you that I am not.
If you still doubt,
I refer you to the lady herself.
I do not think I am called on to go;
and beyond that I won't go,
--at any rate,
Sir Felix still blustered,
and made what capital he could out of his position as a brother;
but he took no steps towards positive revenge.
said the other,
"I wish to regard you as a brother;
and if I am rough to you,
it is only because you are rough to me."
Sir Felix was now in that part of town which he had been accustomed to haunt,
--for the first time since his misadventure,
plucking up his courage,
resolved that he would turn into the Beargarden.
He would have a glass of sherry,
and face the one or two men who would as yet be there,
and in this way gradually creep back to his old habits.
But when he arrived there,
the club was shut up.
"What the deuce is Vossner about?"
pulling out his watch.
It was nearly five o'clock.
He rang the bell,
and knocked at the door,
feeling that this was an occasion for courage.
One of the servants,
in what we may call private clothes,
after some delay,
drew back the bolts,
and told him the astounding news;
--The club was shut up!
"Do you mean to say I can't come in?"
said Sir Felix.
The man certainly did mean to tell him so,
for he opened the door no more than a foot,
and stood in that narrow aperture.
Mr. Vossner had gone away.
There had been a meeting of the Committee,
and the club was shut up.
Whatever further information rested in the waiter's bosom he declined to communicate to Sir Felix Carbury.
The wrong that was done him filled the young baronet's bosom with indignation.
He had intended,
he assured himself,
to dine at his club,
to spend the evening there sportively,
to be pleasant among his chosen companions.
And now the club was shut up,
and Vossner had gone away!
What business had the club to be shut up?
What right had Vossner to go away?
Had he not paid his subscription in advance?
Throughout the world,
the more wrong a man does,
the more indignant is he at wrong done to him.
Sir Felix almost thought that he could recover damages from the whole Committee.
He went direct to Mrs. Pipkin's house.
When he made that half promise of marriage in Mrs. Pipkin's hearing,
he had said that he would come again on the morrow.
This he had not done;
but of that he thought nothing.
Such breaches of faith,
when committed by a young man in his position,
require not even an apology.
He was admitted by Ruby herself,
who was of course delighted to see him.
"Who do you think is in town?"
but though he came here ever so smart,
I wouldn't so much as speak to him,
except to tell him to go away."
when he heard the name,
felt an uncomfortable sensation creep over him.
"I don't know I'm sure what he should come after me for,
and me telling him as plain as the nose on his face that I never want to see him again."
"He's not of much account,"
said the baronet.
"He would marry me out and out immediately,
if I'd have him,"
who perhaps thought that her honest old lover should not be spoken of as being altogether of no account.
"And he has everything comfortable in the way of furniture,
and all that.
And they do say he's ever so much money in the bank.
But I detest him,"
shaking her pretty head,
and inclining herself towards her aristocratic lover's shoulder.
This took place in the back parlour,
before Mrs. Pipkin had ascended from the kitchen prepared to disturb so much romantic bliss with wretched references to the cold outer world.
"if things is square,
of course you're welcome to see my niece."
"And what if they're round,
said the gallant,
or round either,
so long as they're honest."
"Ruby and I are both honest;
I want to take her out to dinner,
She shall be back before late;
she shall indeed."
Ruby inclined herself still more closely towards his shoulder.
get your hat and change your dress,
and we'll be off.
I've ever so many things to tell you."
Ever so many things to tell her!
They must be to fix a day for the marriage,
and to let her know where they were to live,
and to settle what dress she should wear,
--and perhaps to give her the money to go and buy it!
Ever so many things to tell her!
She looked up into Mrs. Pipkin's face with imploring eyes.
Surely on such an occasion as this an aunt would not expect that her niece should be a prisoner and a slave.
"Have it been put in writing,
Sir Felix Carbury?"
demanded Mrs. Pipkin with cruel gravity.
Mrs. Hurtle had given it as her decided opinion that Sir Felix would not really mean to marry Ruby Ruggles unless he showed himself willing to do so with all the formality of a written contract.
"Writing be bothered,"
said Sir Felix.
"That's all very well,
Writing do bother,
But when a gentleman has intentions,
a bit of writing shows it plainer nor words.
Ruby don't go no where to dine unless you puts it into writing."
exclaimed the wretched Ruby.
"What do you think I'm going to do with her?"
asked Sir Felix.
"If you want to make her your wife,
put it in writing.
And if it be as you don't,
just say so,
and walk away,
"I shall go,"
"I'm not going to be kept here a prisoner for any one.
I can go when I please.
and I'll be down in a minute."
with a nimble spring,
and began to change her dress without giving herself a moment for thought.
"She don't come back no more here,
said Mrs. Pipkin,
in her most solemn tones.
"She ain't nothing to me,
no more than she was my poor dear husband's sister's child.
There ain't no blood between us,
and won't be no disgrace.
But I'd be loth to see her on the streets."
"Then why won't you let me bring her back again?"
"'Cause that'd be the way to send her there.
You don't mean to marry her."
To this Sir Felix said nothing.
"You're not thinking of that.
It's just a bit of sport,
--and then there she is,
an old shoe to be chucked away,
just a rag to be swept into the dust-bin.
I've seen scores of
and I'd sooner a child of mine should die in a workus',
or be starved to death.
But it's all nothing to the likes o' you."
"I haven't done her any harm,"
said Sir Felix,
"Then go away,
and don't do her any.
That's Mrs. Hurtle's door open.
You go and speak to her.
She can talk a deal better nor me."
"Mrs. Hurtle hasn't been able to manage her own affairs very well."
"Mrs. Hurtle's a lady,
and a widow,
and one as has seen the world."
As she spoke,
Mrs. Hurtle came downstairs,
and an introduction,
after some rude fashion,
was effected between her and Sir Felix.
Mrs. Hurtle had heard often of Sir Felix Carbury,
and was quite as certain as Mrs. Pipkin that he did not mean to marry Ruby Ruggles.
In a few minutes Felix found himself alone with Mrs. Hurtle in her own room.
He had been anxious to see the woman since he had heard of her engagement with Paul Montague,
and doubly anxious since he had also heard of Paul's engagement with his sister.
It was not an hour since Paul himself had referred him to her for corroboration of his own statement.
"Sir Felix Carbury,"
"I am afraid you are doing that poor girl no good,
and are intending to do her none."
It did occur to him very strongly that this could be no affair of Mrs. Hurtle's,
and that he,
as a man of position in society,
was being interfered with in an unjustifiable manner.
Aunt Pipkin wasn't even an aunt;
but who was Mrs. Hurtle?
"Would it not be better that you should leave her to become the wife of a man who is really fond of her?"
He could already see something in Mrs. Hurtle's eye which prevented his at once bursting into wrath;
--but who was Mrs. Hurtle,
that she should interfere with him?
"Upon my word,
"I'm very much obliged to you,
but I don't quite know to what I owe the honour of your --your --"
"Interference you mean."
"I didn't say so,
but perhaps that's about it."
"I'd interfere to save any woman that God ever made,"
said Mrs. Hurtle with energy.
"We're all apt to wait a little too long,
because we're ashamed to do any little good that chance puts in our way.
You must go and leave her,
"I suppose she may do as she pleases about that."
"Do you mean to make her your wife?"
asked Mrs. Hurtle sternly.
"Does Mr. Paul Montague mean to make you his wife?"
rejoined Sir Felix with an impudent swagger.
He had struck the blow certainly hard enough,
and it had gone all the way home.
She had not surmised that he would have heard aught of her own concerns.
She only barely connected him with that Roger Carbury who,
was Paul's great friend,
and she had as yet never heard that Hetta Carbury was the girl whom Paul loved.
Had Paul so talked about her that this young scamp should know all her story?
She thought awhile,
--she had to think for a moment,
--before she could answer him.
"I do not see,"
with a faint attempt at a smile,
"that there is any parallel between the two cases.
at any rate,
am old enough to take care of myself.
Should he not marry me,
I am as I was before.
Will it be so with that poor girl if she allows herself to be taken about the town by you at night?"
She had desired in what she said to protect Ruby rather than herself.
What could it matter whether this young man was left in a belief that she was,
or that she was not,
about to be married?
"If you'll answer me,
I'll answer you,"
said Sir Felix.
"Does Mr. Montague mean to make you his wife?"
"It does not concern you to know,"
flashing upon him.
"The question is insolent."
"It does concern me,
--a great deal more than anything about Ruby can concern you.
And as you won't answer me,
I won't answer you."
that girl's fate will be upon your head."
"I know all about that,"
said the baronet.
"And the young man who has followed her up to town will probably know where to find you,"
added Mrs. Hurtle.
To such a threat as this,
no answer could be made,
and Sir Felix left the room.
At any rate,
John Crumb was not there at present.
And were there not policemen in London?
And what additional harm would be done to John Crumb,
or what increase of anger engendered in that true lover's breast,
by one additional evening's amusement?
Ruby had danced with him so often at the Music Hall that John Crumb could hardly be made more bellicose by the fact of her dining with him on this evening.
When he descended,
he found Ruby in the hall,
"You don't come in here again to-night,"
said Mrs. Pipkin,
thumping the little table which stood in the passage,
"if you goes out of that there door with that there young man."
"Then I shall,"
said Ruby linking herself on to her lover's arm.
said Mrs. Pipkin;
"after all I've done for you,
just as one as though you were my own flesh and blood."
"I've worked for it,
"You send for your things to-morrow,
for you don't come in here no more.
You ain't nothing to me no more nor no other girl.
've saved you,
if you'd but a' let me.
As for you,"
--and she looked at Sir Felix,
--"only because I've lodgings to let,
and because of the lady upstairs,
I'd shake you that well,
you'd never come here no more after poor girls."
I do not think that she need have feared any remonstrance from Mrs. Hurtle,
even had she put her threat into execution.
thinking that he had had enough of Mrs. Pipkin and her lodger,
left the house with Ruby on his arm.
For the moment,
Ruby had been triumphant,
and was happy.
She did not stop to consider whether her aunt would or would not open her door when she should return tired,
and perhaps repentant.
She was on her lover's arm,
in her best clothes,
and going to have a dinner given to her.
And her lover had told her that he had ever so many things,
--ever so many things to say to her!
But she would ask no impertinent questions in the first hour of her bliss.
It was so pleasant to walk with him up to Pentonville;
--so joyous to turn into a gay enclosure,
half public-house and half tea-garden;
so pleasant to hear him order the good things,
which in his company would be so nice!
Who cannot understand that even an urban Rosherville must be an Elysium to those who have lately been eating their meals in all the gloom of a small London underground kitchen?
There we will leave Ruby in her bliss.
At about nine that evening John Crumb called at Mrs. Pipkin's,
and was told that Ruby had gone out with Sir Felix Carbury.
He hit his leg a blow with his fist,
and glared out of his eyes.
"He'll have it hot some day,"
said John Crumb.
He was allowed to remain waiting for Ruby till midnight,
with a sorrowful heart,
he took his departure.
JOHN CRUMB FALLS INTO TROUBLE.
It was on a Friday evening,
an inauspicious Friday,
that poor Ruby Ruggles had insisted on leaving the security of her Aunt Pipkin's house with her aristocratic and vicious lover,
in spite of the positive assurance made to her by Mrs. Pipkin that if she went forth in such company she should not be allowed to return.
"Of course you must let her in,"
Mrs. Hurtle had said soon after the girl's departure.
Whereupon Mrs. Pipkin had cried.
She knew her own softness too well to suppose it to be possible that she could keep the girl out in the streets all night;
but yet it was hard upon her,
that she should be so troubled.
"We usen't to have our ways like that when I was young,"
What was to be the end of it?
Was she to be forced by circumstances to keep the girl always there,
let the girl's conduct be what it might?
Nevertheless she acknowledged that Ruby must be let in when she came back.
about nine o'clock,
John Crumb came;
and the latter part of the evening was more melancholy even than the first.
It was impossible to conceal the truth from John Crumb.
Mrs. Hurtle saw the poor man and told the story in Mrs. Pipkin's presence.
said Mrs. Hurtle.
"She is that,
And it was along wi' the baro-nite she went?"
"It was so,
--perhaps I shall catch him some of these days;
--went to dinner wi' him,
Didn't she have no dinner here?"
Then Mrs. Pipkin spoke up with a keen sense of offence.
Ruby Ruggles had had as wholesome a dinner as any young woman in London,
--a bullock's heart and potatoes,
--just as much as ever she had pleased to eat of it.
Mrs. Pipkin could tell Mr. Crumb that there was "no starvation nor yet no stint in her house."
John Crumb immediately produced a very thick and admirably useful blue cloth cloak,
which he had brought up with him to London from Bungay,
as a present to the woman who had been good to his Ruby.
He assured her that he did not doubt that her victuals were good and plentiful,
and went on to say that he had made bold to bring her a trifle out of respect.
It was some little time before Mrs. Pipkin would allow herself to be appeased;
--but at last she permitted the garment to be placed on her shoulders.
But it was done after a melancholy fashion.
There was no smiling consciousness of the bestowal of joy on the countenance of the donor as he gave it,
no exuberance of thanks from the recipient as she received it.
declared it to be perfect;
--but the occasion was one which admitted of no delight.
"It's very good of you,
to think of an old woman like me,
--particularly when you've such a deal of trouble with a young
"It's like the smut in the wheat,
or the d'sease in the
--it has to be put up with,
Is she very partial,
to that young baro-nite?"
This question was asked of Mrs. Hurtle.
"Just a fancy for the time,
said the lady.
"They never thinks as how their fancies may well-nigh half kill a man!"
Then he was silent for awhile,
sitting back in his chair,
not moving a limb,
with his eyes fastened on Mrs. Pipkin's ceiling.
Mrs. Hurtle had some work in her hand,
and sat watching him.
The man was to her an extraordinary being,
so unlike her own countrymen,
--willing to endure so much,
and at the same time so warm in his affections!
"Sir Felix Carbury!"
"I'll Sir Felix him some of these days.
If it was only dinner,
wouldn't she be back afore this,
"I suppose they've gone to some place of amusement,"
said Mrs. Hurtle.
said John Crumb in a low voice.
"She's that mad after dancing as never was,"
said Mrs. Pipkin.
"And where is it as
getting up from his chair,
and stretching himself.
It was evident to both the ladies that he was beginning to think that he would follow Ruby to the music hall.
Neither of them answered him,
and then he sat down again.
'em dance all night at them places,
"They do pretty nearly all that they oughtn't to do,"
said Mrs. Pipkin.
John Crumb raised one of his fists,
brought it down heavily on the palm of his other hand,
and then again sat silent for awhile.
"I never knowed as she was fond o' dancing,"
"I'd a had dancing for her down at Bungay,
--just as ready as anything.
it's the dancing she's after,
or the baro-nite?"
This was another appeal to Mrs. Hurtle.
"I suppose they go together,"
said the lady.
Then there was another long pause,
at the end of which poor John Crumb burst out with some violence.
'ad I ever dun to him?
Did I ever interfere wi' him?
But I wull.
I wouldn't wonder but I'll swing for this at Bury!"
don't talk like that,"
said Mrs. Pipkin.
"Mr. Crumb is a little disturbed,
but he'll get over it presently,"
said Mrs. Hurtle.
"She's a nasty slut to go and treat a young man as she's treating you,"
said Mrs. Pipkin.
--she ain't nasty,"
said the lover.
"But she's crou'll --horrid crou'll.
It's no more use my going down about meal and pollard,
and she up here with that baro-nite,
no more nor nothin'!
When I handles it I don't know whether its middlings nor nothin' else.
If I was to twist his neck,
would you take it on yourself to say as I was wrong?"
"I'd sooner hear that you had taken the girl away from him,"
said Mrs. Hurtle.
"I could pretty well eat him,
--that's what I could.
Half past eleven;
She must come some time,
who did not want to burn candles all night long,
declared that she could give no assurance on that head.
If Ruby did come,
on that night,
But Mrs. Pipkin thought that it would be better to get up and let her in than to sit up for her.
Poor Mr. Crumb did not at once take the hint,
and remained there for another half-hour,
but waiting with the hope that Ruby might come.
But when the clock struck twelve he was told that he must go.
Then he slowly collected his limbs and dragged them out of the house.
"That young man is a good fellow,"
said Mrs. Hurtle as soon as the door was closed.
"A deal too good for Ruby Ruggles,"
said Mrs. Pipkin.
"And he can maintain a wife.
Mr. Carbury says as he's as well to do as any tradesman down in them parts."
Mrs. Hurtle disliked the name of Mr. Carbury,
and took this last statement as no evidence in John Crumb's favour.
"I don't know that I think better of the man for having Mr. Carbury's friendship,"
"Mr. Carbury ain't any way like his cousin,
"I don't think much of any of the Carburys,
It seems to me that everybody here is either too humble or too overbearing.
Nobody seems content to stand firm on his own footing and interfere with nobody else."
This was all Greek to poor Mrs. Pipkin.
"I suppose we may as well go to bed now.
When that girl comes and knocks,
of course we must let her in.
If I hear her,
I'll go down and open the door for her."
Mrs. Pipkin made very many apologies to her lodger for the condition of her household.
She would remain up herself to answer the door at the first sound,
so that Mrs. Hurtle should not be disturbed.
She would do her best to prevent any further annoyance.
She trusted Mrs. Hurtle would see that she was endeavouring to do her duty by the naughty wicked girl.
And then she came round to the point of her discourse.
She hoped that Mrs. Hurtle would not be induced to quit the rooms by these disagreeable occurrences.
"I don't mind saying it now,
but your being here is ever so much to me.
I ain't nothing to depend on,
and them as is any good is so hard to get!"
The poor woman hardly understood Mrs. Hurtle,
as a lodger,
was certainly peculiar.
She cared nothing for disturbances,
and rather liked than otherwise the task of endeavouring to assist in the salvation of Ruby.
Mrs. Hurtle begged that Mrs. Pipkin would go to bed.
She would not be in the least annoyed by the knocking.
Another half-hour had thus been passed by the two ladies in the parlour after Crumb's departure.
Then Mrs. Hurtle took her candle and had ascended the stairs half way to her own sitting-room,
when a loud double knock was heard.
She immediately joined Mrs. Pipkin in the passage.
The door was opened,
and there stood Ruby Ruggles,
and two policemen!
Ruby rushed in,
and casting herself on to one of the stairs began to throw her hands about,
and to howl piteously.
"Laws a mercy;
what is it?"
asked Mrs. Pipkin.
"He's been and murdered him!"
He's been and murdered him!"
"This young woman is living here;
asked one of the policemen.
"She is living here,"
said Mrs. Hurtle.
But now we must go back to the adventures of John Crumb after he had left the house.
He had taken a bedroom at a small inn close to the Eastern Counties Railway Station which he was accustomed to frequent when business brought him up to London,
and thither he proposed to himself to return.
At one time there had come upon him an idea that he would endeavour to seek Ruby and his enemy among the dancing saloons of the metropolis;
and he had asked a question with that view.
But no answer had been given which seemed to aid him in his project,
and his purpose had been abandoned as being too complex and requiring more intelligence than he gave himself credit for possessing.
So he had turned down a street with which he was so far acquainted as to know that it would take him to the Islington Angel,
--where various roads meet,
and whence he would know his way eastwards.
He had just passed the Angel,
and the end of Goswell Road,
and was standing with his mouth open,
trying to make certain of himself that he would not go wrong,
thinking that he would ask a policeman whom he saw,
and hesitating because he feared that the man would want to know his business.
of a sudden,
he heard a woman scream,
and knew that it was Ruby's voice.
The sound was very near him,
but in the glimmer of the gaslight he could not quite see whence it came.
He stood still,
putting his hand up to scratch his head under his hat,
--trying to think what,
in such an emergency,
it would be well that he should do.
Then he heard the voice distinctly,
and after that a scream.
Then there were further words.
"It's no good --I won't."
At last he was able to make up his mind.
He rushed after the sound,
and turning down a passage to the right which led back into Goswell Road,
saw Ruby struggling in a man's arms.
She had left the dancing establishment with her lover;
and when they had come to the turn of the passage,
there had arisen a question as to her further destiny for the night.
though she well remembered Mrs. Pipkin's threats,
was minded to try her chance at her aunt's door.
Sir Felix was of opinion that he could make a preferable arrangement for her;
and as Ruby was not at once amenable to his arguments he had thought that a little gentle force might avail him.
He had therefore dragged Ruby into the passage.
The unfortunate one!
That so ill a chance should have come upon him in the midst of his diversion!
He had swallowed several tumblers of brandy and water,
and was therefore brave with reference to that interference of the police,
the fear of which might otherwise have induced him to relinquish his hold of Ruby's arm when she first raised her voice.
But what amount of brandy and water would have enabled him to persevere,
could he have dreamed that John Crumb was near him?
On a sudden he found a hand on his coat,
and he was swung violently away,
and brought with his back against the railings so forcibly as to have the breath almost knocked out of his body.
But he could hear Ruby's exclamation,
"If it isn't John Crumb!"
Then there came upon him a sense of coming destruction,
as though the world for him were all over;
collapsing throughout his limbs,
he slunk down upon the ground.
said John Crumb.
But the baronet thought it better to cling to the ground.
"You sholl get up,"
taking him by the collar of his coat and lifting him.
he's a-going to have it,"
Whereupon Ruby screamed at the top of her voice,
with a shriek very much louder than that which had at first attracted John Crumb's notice.
"Don't hit a man when he's down,"
said the baronet,
pleading as though for his life.
--"but I'll hit a fellow when
Sir Felix was little more than a child in the man's arms.
John Crumb raised him,
and catching him round the neck with his left arm,
--getting his head into chancery as we used to say when we fought at school,
--struck the poor wretch some half-dozen times violently in the face,
not knowing or caring exactly where he hit him,
but at every blow obliterating a feature.
And he would have continued had not Ruby flown at him and rescued Sir Felix from his arms.
"He's about got enough of it,"
said John Crumb as he gave over his work.
Then Sir Felix fell again to the ground,
"I know'd he'd have to have it,"
said John Crumb.
Ruby's screams of course brought the police,
one arriving from each end of the passage on the scene of action at the same time.
And now the cruellest thing of all was that Ruby in the complaints which she made to the policemen said not a word against Sir Felix,
but was as bitter as she knew how to be in her denunciations of John Crumb.
It was in vain that John endeavoured to make the man understand that the young woman had been crying out for protection when he had interfered.
Ruby was very quick of speech and John Crumb was very slow.
Ruby swore that nothing so horrible,
so bloodthirsty had ever been done before.
Sir Felix himself when appealed to could say nothing.
He could only moan and make futile efforts to wipe away the stream of blood from his face when the men stood him up leaning against the railings.
though he endeavoured to make the policemen comprehend the extent of the wickedness of the young baronet,
would not say a word against Ruby.
He was not even in the least angered by her denunciations of himself.
As he himself said sometimes afterwards,
he had "dropped into the baro-nite" just in time,
having been successful in this,
felt no wrath against Ruby for having made such an operation necessary.
There was soon a third policeman on the spot,
and a dozen other persons,
haunters of the street by night,
and houseless wanderers,
casuals who at this season of the year preferred the pavements to the poor-house wards.
They all took part against John Crumb.
Why had the big man interfered between the young woman and her young man?
Two or three of them wiped Sir Felix's face,
and dabbed his eyes,
and proposed this and the other remedy.
Some thought that he had better be taken straight to an hospital.
One lady remarked that he was "so mashed and mauled" that she was sure he would never "come to" again.
A precocious youth remarked that he was "all one as a dead
A cabman observed that he had "'ad it awful
To all these criticisms on his condition Sir Felix himself made no direct reply,
but he intimated his desire to be carried away somewhere,
though he did not much care whither.
At last the policemen among them decided upon a course of action.
They had learned by the united testimony of Ruby and Crumb that Sir Felix was Sir Felix.
He was to be carried in a cab by one constable to Bartholomew Hospital,
who would then take his address so that he might be produced and bound over to prosecute.
Ruby should be even conducted to the address she gave,
--not half a mile from the spot on which they now stood,
--and be left there or not according to the account which might be given of her.
John Crumb must be undoubtedly locked up in the station-house.
He was the offender;
--for aught that any of them yet knew,
No one said a good word for him.
He hardly said a good word for himself,
and certainly made no objection to the treatment that had been proposed for him.
he was buoyed up inwardly by the conviction that he had thoroughly thrashed his enemy.
Thus it came to pass that the two policemen with John Crumb and Ruby came together to Mrs. Pipkin's door.
Ruby was still loud with complaints against the ruffian who had beaten her lover,
had killed her loved one.
She threatened the gallows,
and perpetual imprisonment,
and an action for damages amidst her lamentations.
But from Mrs. Hurtle the policemen did manage to learn something of the truth.
--the girl lived there and was --respectable.
This man whom they had arrested was respectable also,
and was the girl's proper lover.
The other man who had been beaten was undoubtedly the owner of a title;
but he was not respectable,
and was only the girl's improper lover.
And John Crumb's name was given.
"I'm John Crumb of Bungay,"
"and I ain't afeared of nothin' nor nobody.
And I ain't a been a drinking;
In course I've mauled
And I meaned it.
That ere young woman is engaged to be my wife."
"But she is,"
persisted John Crumb.
I never will,"
John Crumb turned upon her a look of love,
and put his hand on his heart.
Whereupon the senior policeman said that he saw at a glance how it all was,
but that Mr. Crumb had better come along with him,
--just for the present.
To this arrangement the unfortunate hero from Bungay made not the slightest objection.
said Mrs. Hurtle,
"if that young man doesn't conquer you at last you can't have a heart in your bosom."
"Indeed and I have then,
and I don't mean to give it him if it's ever so.
He's been and killed Sir Felix."
Mrs. Hurtle in a whisper to Mrs. Pipkin expressed a wicked wish that it might be so.
After that the three women all went to bed.
Roger Carbury when he received the letter from Hetta's mother desiring him to tell her all that he knew of Paul Montague's connection with Mrs. Hurtle found himself quite unable to write a reply.
He endeavoured to ask himself what he would do in such a case if he himself were not personally concerned.
What advice in this emergency would he give to the mother and what to the daughter,
were he himself uninterested?
He was sure that,
as Hetta's cousin and acting as though he were Hetta's brother,
he would tell her that Paul Montague's entanglement with that American woman should have forbidden him at any rate for the present to offer his hand to any other lady.
He thought that he knew enough of all the circumstances to be sure that such would be his decision.
He had seen Mrs. Hurtle with Montague at Lowestoft,
and had known that they were staying together as friends at the same hotel.
He knew that she had come to England with the express purpose of enforcing the fulfilment of an engagement which Montague had often acknowledged.
He knew that Montague made frequent visits to her in London.
been told by Montague himself that,
let the cost be what it might,
the engagement should be and in fact had been broken off.
He thoroughly believed the man's word,
but put no trust whatever in his firmness.
he had no reason whatever for supposing that Mrs. Hurtle had consented to be abandoned.
what elder brother would allow a daughter or a sister to become engaged to a man embarrassed by such difficulties?
He certainly had counselled Montague to rid himself of the trammels by which he had surrounded himself;
--but not on that account could he think that the man in his present condition was fit to engage himself to another woman.
All this was clear to Roger Carbury.
But then it had been equally clear to him that he could not,
as a man of honour,
assist his own cause by telling a tale,
--which tale had become known to him as the friend of the man against whom it would have to be told.
He had resolved upon that as he left Montague and Mrs. Hurtle together upon the sands at Lowestoft.
But what was he to do now?
The girl whom he loved had confessed her love for the other man,
who in seeking the girl's love,
had been as he thought so foul a traitor to himself!
That he would hold himself as divided from the man by a perpetual and undying hostility he had determined.
That his love for the woman would be equally perpetual he was quite sure.
Already there were floating across his brain ideas of perpetuating his name in the person of some child of Hetta's,
--but with the distinct understanding that he and the child's father should never see each other.
No more than twenty-four hours had intervened between the receipt of Paul's letter and that from Lady Carbury,
--but during those four-and-twenty hours he had almost forgotten Mrs. Hurtle.
The girl was gone from him,
and he thought only of his own loss and of Paul's perfidy.
Then came the direct question as to which he was called upon for a direct answer.
Did he know anything of facts relating to the presence of a certain Mrs. Hurtle in London which were of a nature to make it inexpedient that Hetta should accept Paul Montague as her betrothed lover?
Of course he did.
The facts were all familiar to him.
But how was he to tell the facts?
In what words was he to answer such a letter?
If he told the truth as he knew it how was he to secure himself against the suspicion of telling a story against his rival in order that he might assist himself,
or at any rate,
punish the rival?
As he could not trust himself to write an answer to Lady Carbury's letter he determined that he would go to London.
If he must tell the story he could tell it better face to face than by any written words.
So he made the journey,
arrived in town late in the evening,
and knocked at the door in Welbeck Street between ten and eleven on the morning after the unfortunate meeting which took place between Sir Felix and John Crumb.
The page when he opened the door looked as a page should look when the family to which he is attached is suffering from some terrible calamity.
"My lady" had been summoned to the hospital to see Sir Felix who was,
--as the page reported,
--in a very bad way indeed.
The page did not exactly know what had happened,
but supposed that Sir Felix had lost most of his limbs by this time.
Miss Carbury was up-stairs;
and would no doubt see her cousin,
was in a very bad condition;
and dreadfully put about.
That poor Hetta should be "put about" with her brother in the hospital and her lover in the toils of an abominable American woman was natural enough.
"What's this about Felix?"
The new trouble always has precedence over those which are of earlier date.
I am so glad to see you.
Felix did not come home last night,
and this morning there came a man from the hospital in the city to say that he is there."
"What has happened to him?"
said Hetta whimpering.
Then she told the story as far as she knew it.
The messenger from the hospital had declared that the young man was in no danger and that none of his bones were broken,
but that he was terribly bruised about the face,
that his eyes were in a frightful condition,
sundry of his teeth knocked out,
and his lips cut open.
the messenger had gone on to say,
the house surgeon had seen no reason why the young gentleman should not be taken home.
"And mamma has gone to fetch him,"
"That's John Crumb,"
Hetta had never heard of John Crumb,
and simply stared into her cousin's face.
"You have not been told about John Crumb?
--you would not hear of him."
"Why should John Crumb beat Felix like that?"
that women are the cause of most troubles that occur in the world."
The girl blushed up to her eyes,
as though the whole story of Felix's sin and folly had been told to her.
"If it be as I suppose,"
"John Crumb has considered himself to be aggrieved and has thus avenged himself."
"Did you --know of him before?"
He is a neighbour of mine and was in love with a girl,
with all his heart;
and he would have made her his wife and have been good to her.
He had a home to offer her,
and is an honest man with whom she would have been safe and respected and happy.
Your brother saw her and,
though he knew the story,
though he had been told by myself that this honest fellow had placed his happiness on the girl's love,
I suppose he thought that such a pretty thing as this girl was too good for John Crumb."
"But Felix has been going to marry Miss Melmotte!"
It used to be the way,
--to be off with the old love before you are on with the new;
but that seems to be all changed now.
Such fine young fellows as there are now can be in love with two at once.
That I fear is what Felix has thought;
--and now he has been punished."
"You know all about it then?"
--I don't know.
But I think it has been so.
I do know that John Crumb had threatened to do this thing,
and I felt sure that sooner or later he would be as good as his word.
If it has been so,
who is to blame him?"
Hetta as she heard the story hardly knew whether her cousin,
in his manner of telling the story,
was speaking of that other man,
of that stranger of whom she had never heard,
or of himself.
He would have made her his wife and have been good to her.
He had a home to offer her.
He was an honest man with whom she would have been safe and respected and happy!
He had looked at her while speaking as though it were her own case of which he spoke.
when he talked of the old-fashioned way,
of being off with the old love before you are on with the new,
had he not alluded to Paul Montague and this story of the American woman?
it was not for Hetta to notice it by words.
He must speak more plainly than that before she could be supposed to know that he alluded to her own condition.
"It is very shocking,"
One is shocked at it all.
I pity your mother,
and I pity you."
"It seems to me that nothing ever will be happy for us,"
She was longing to be told something of Mrs. Hurtle,
but she did not as yet dare to ask the question.
"I do not know whether to wait for your mother or not,"
said he after a short pause.
"Pray wait for her if you are not very busy."
"I came up only to see her,
but perhaps she would not wish me to be here when she brings Felix back to the house."
"Indeed she will.
She would like you always to be here when there are troubles.
I wish you could tell me."
"Tell you what?"
"She has written to you;
--has she not?"
she has written to me."
"And about me?"
Mr. Montague has written to me also."
"He told me that he would,"
"Did he tell you of my answer?"
--he has told me of no answer.
I have not seen him since."
"You do not think that it can have been very kind,
I also have something of the feeling of John Crumb,
though I shall not attempt to show it after the same fashion."
"Did you not say the girl had promised to love that man?"
"I did not say so;
--but she had promised.
there is a difference.
The girl then was fickle and went back from her word.
You never have done that.
I am not justified in thinking even a hard thought of you.
I have never harboured a hard thought of you.
It is not you that I reproach.
--he has been if possible more false than Felix."
how has he been false?"
Still he was not wishful to tell her the story of Mrs. Hurtle.
The treachery of which he was speaking was that which he had thought had been committed by his friend towards himself.
"He should have left the place and never have come near you,"
"when he found how it was likely to be with him.
He owed it to me not to take the cup of water from my lips."
How was she to tell him that the cup of water never could have touched his lips?
And yet if this were the only falsehood of which he had to tell,
she was bound to let him know that it was so.
That horrid story of Mrs. Hurtle;
--she would listen to that if she could hear it.
She would be all ears for that.
But she could not admit that her lover had sinned in loving her.
she said --"it would have been the same."
"You may think so.
You may feel it.
You may know it.
I at any rate will not contradict you when you say that it must have been so.
But he didn't feel it.
He didn't know it.
He was to me as a younger brother,
--and he has robbed me of everything.
what you mean.
I should never have succeeded!
My happiness would have been impossible if Paul had never come home from America.
I have told myself so a hundred times,
but I cannot therefore forgive him.
And I won't forgive him,
Whether you are his wife,
or another man's,
or whether you are Hetta Carbury on to the end,
my feeling to you will be the same.
While we both live,
you must be to me the dearest creature living.
My hatred to him --"
do not say hatred."
"My hostility to him can make no difference in my feeling to you.
I tell you that should you become his wife you will still be my love.
As to not coveting,
--how is a man to cease to covet that which he has always coveted?
But I shall be separated from you.
Should I be dying,
then I should send for you.
You are the very essence of my life.
I have no dream of happiness otherwise than as connected with you.
He might have my whole property and I would work for my bread,
if I could only have a chance of winning you to share my toils with me."
But still there was no word of Mrs. Hurtle.
"I have given it all away now.
It cannot be given twice."
"If he were unworthy would your heart never change?"
"I think --never.
is he unworthy?"
"How can you trust me to answer such a question?
He is my enemy.
He has been ungrateful to me as one man hardly ever is to another.
He has turned all my sweetness to gall,
all my flowers to bitter weeds;
he has choked up all my paths.
And now you ask me whether he is unworthy!
I cannot tell you."
"If you thought him worthy you would tell me,"
getting up and taking him by the arm.
--I will tell you nothing.
Go to some one else,
not to me;"
and he tried with gentleness but tried ineffectually to disengage himself from her hold.
if you knew him to be good you would tell me,
--because you yourself are so good.
Even though you hated him you would say so.
It would not be you to leave a false impression even against your enemies.
I ask you because,
however it may be with you,
I know I can trust you.
I can be nothing else to you,
but I love you as a sister loves,
and I come to you as a sister comes to a brother.
He has my heart.
--is there any reason why he should not also have my hand?"
"And you will tell me nothing?
You will not try to save me though you know that I am in danger?
Who is --Mrs. Hurtle?"
"Have you asked him?"
"I had not heard her name when he parted from me.
I did not even know that such a woman lived.
Is it true that he has promised to marry her?
Felix told me of her,
and told me also that you knew.
But I cannot trust Felix as I would trust you.
And mamma says that it is so;
--but mamma also bids me ask you.
There is such a woman?"
"There is such a woman certainly."
"And she has been,
--a friend of Paul's?"
"Whatever be the story,
you shall not hear it from me.
I will say neither evil nor good of the man except in regard to his conduct to myself.
Send for him and ask him to tell you the story of Mrs. Hurtle as it concerns himself.
I do not think he will lie,
but if he lies you will know that he is lying."
"And that is all?"
"All that I can say,
You ask me to be your brother;
but I cannot put myself in the place of your brother.
I tell you plainly that I am your lover,
and shall remain so.
Your brother would welcome the man whom you would choose as your husband.
I can never welcome any husband of yours.
I think if twenty years were to pass over us,
and you were still Hetta Carbury,
I should still be your lover,
--though an old one.
What is now to be done about Felix,
--what can be done?
I think sometimes that it will break mamma's heart."
"Your mother makes me angry by her continual indulgence."
"But what can she do?
You would not have her turn him into the street?"
"I do not know that I would not.
For a time it might serve him perhaps.
Here is the cab.
Here they are.
you had better go down and let your mother know that I am here.
They will perhaps take him up to bed,
so that I need not see him."
Hetta did as she was bid,
and met her mother and her brother in the hall.
Felix having the full use of his arms and legs was able to descend from the cab,
and hurry across the pavement into the house,
without speaking a word to his sister,
hid himself in the dining-room.
His face was strapped up with plaister so that not a feature was visible;
and both his eyes were swollen and blue;
part of his beard had been cut away,
and his physiognomy had altogether been so treated that even the page would hardly have known him.
"Roger is up-stairs,
said Hetta in the hall.
"Has he heard about Felix;
--has he come about that?"
"He has heard only what I have told him.
He has come because of your letter.
He says that a man named Crumb did it."
"Then he does know.
Who can have told him?
He always knows everything.
what am I to do?
Where shall I go with this wretched boy?"
"Is he hurt,
--of course he is hurt;
The brute tried to kill him.
They say that he will be dreadfully scarred for ever.
--what am I to do with him?
What am I to do with myself and you?"
On this occasion Roger was saved from the annoyance of any personal intercourse with his cousin Felix.
The unfortunate one was made as comfortable as circumstances would permit in the parlour,
and Lady Carbury then went up to her cousin in the drawing-room.
She had learned the truth with some fair approach to accuracy,
though Sir Felix himself had of course lied as to every detail.
There are some circumstances so distressing in themselves as to make lying almost a necessity.
When a young man has behaved badly about a woman,
when a young man has been beaten without returning a blow,
when a young man's pleasant vices are brought directly under a mother's eyes,
what can he do but lie?
How could Sir Felix tell the truth about that rash encounter?
But the policeman who had brought him to the hospital had told all that he knew.
The man who had thrashed the baronet had been called Crumb,
and the thrashing had been given on the score of a young woman called Ruggles.
So much was known at the hospital,
and so much could not be hidden by any lies which Sir Felix might tell.
And when Sir Felix swore that a policeman was holding him while Crumb was beating him,
no one believed him.
In such cases the liar does not expect to be believed.
He knows that his disgrace will be made public,
and only hopes to be saved from the ignominy of declaring it with his own words.
"What am I to do with him?"
Lady Carbury said to her cousin.
"It is no use telling me to leave him.
I can't do that.
I know he is bad.
I know that I have done much to make him what he is."
As she said this the tears were running down her poor worn cheeks.
"But he is my child.
What am I to do with him now?"
This was a question which Roger found it almost impossible to answer.
If he had spoken his thoughts he would have declared that Sir Felix had reached an age at which,
if a man will go headlong to destruction,
he must go headlong to destruction.
Thinking as he did of his cousin he could see no possible salvation for him.
"Perhaps I should take him abroad,"
"Would he be better abroad than here?"
"He would have less opportunity for vice,
and fewer means of running you into debt."
as she turned this counsel in her mind,
thought of all the hopes which she had indulged,
--her literary aspirations,
her Tuesday evenings,
her desire for society,
and her Bookers,
her pleasant drawing-room,
and the determination which she had made that now in the afternoon of her days she would become somebody in the world.
Must she give it all up and retire to the dreariness of some French town because it was no longer possible that she should live in London with such a son as hers?
There seemed to be a cruelty in this beyond all cruelties that she had hitherto endured.
This was harder even than those lies which had been told of her when almost in fear of her life she had run from her husband's house.
But yet she must do even this if in no other way she and her son could be together.
"I suppose it would be so.
I only wish that I might die,
so that were an end of it."
"He might go out to one of the Colonies,"
--be sent away that he might kill himself with drink in the bush,
and so be got rid of.
I have heard of that before.
Wherever he goes I shall go."
As the reader knows,
Roger Carbury had not latterly held this cousin of his in much esteem.
He knew her to be worldly and he thought her to be unprincipled.
at this moment,
her exceeding love for the son whom she could no longer pretend to defend,
wiped out all her sins.
He forgot the visit made to Carbury under false pretences,
and the Melmottes,
and all the little tricks which he had detected,
in his appreciation of an affection which was pure and beautiful.
"If you like to let your house for a period,"
"mine is open to you."
"You shall take him there.
I am all alone in the world.
I can make a home for myself at the cottage.
It is empty now.
If you think that would save you you can try it for six months."
"And turn you out of your own house?
I cannot do that.
--what is to be done about Hetta?"
Hetta herself had retreated,
leaving Roger and her mother alone together,
feeling sure that there would be questions asked and answered in her absence respecting Mrs. Hurtle,
which her presence would prevent.
She wished it could have been otherwise --that she might have been allowed to hear it all herself --as she was sure that the story coming through her mother would not savour so completely of unalloyed truth as if told to her by her cousin Roger.
"Hetta can be trusted to judge for herself,"
"How can you say that when she has just accepted this young man?
Is it not true that he is even now living with an American woman whom he has promised to marry?"
--that is not true."
"What is true,
Is he not engaged to the woman?"
Roger hesitated a moment.
"I do not know that even that is true.
When last he spoke to me about it he declared that the engagement was at an end.
I have told Hetta to ask himself.
Let her tell him that she has heard of this woman from you,
and that it behoves her to know the truth.
I do not love him,
He has no longer any place in my friendship.
But I think that if Hetta asks him simply what is the nature of his connexion with Mrs. Hurtle,
he will tell her the truth."
Roger did not again see Hetta before he left the house,
nor did he see his cousin Felix at all.
He had now done all that he could do by his journey up to London,
and he returned on that day back to Carbury.
Would it not be better for him,
in spite of the protestations which he had made,
to dismiss the whole family from his mind?
There could be no other love for him.
He must be desolate and alone.
But he might then save himself from a world of cares,
and might gradually teach himself to live as though there were no such woman as Hetta Carbury in the world.
He would not allow himself to believe that this could be right.
The very fact of his love made it a duty to him,
--made it almost the first of his duties,
--to watch over the interests of her he loved and of those who belonged to her.
But among those so belonging he did not recognise Paul Montague.
When Marie Melmotte assured Sir Felix Carbury that her father had already endowed her with a large fortune which could not be taken from her without her own consent,
she spoke no more than the truth.
She knew of the matter almost as little as it was possible that she should know.
As far as reticence on the subject was compatible with the object he had in view Melmotte had kept from her all knowledge of the details of the arrangement.
But it had been necessary when the thing was done to explain,
or to pretend to explain,
and Marie's memory and also her intelligence had been strong beyond her father's anticipation.
He was deriving a very considerable income from a large sum of money which he had invested in foreign funds in her name,
and had got her to execute a power of attorney enabling him to draw this income on her behalf.
This he had done fearing shipwreck in the course which he meant to run,
and resolved that,
let circumstances go as they might,
there should still be left enough to him of the money which he had realised to enable him to live in comfort and luxury,
should he be doomed to live in obscurity,
or even in infamy.
He had sworn to himself solemnly that under no circumstances would he allow this money to go back into the vortex of his speculations,
and hitherto he had been true to his oath.
Though bankruptcy and apparent ruin might be imminent he would not bolster up his credit by the use of this money even though it might appear at the moment that the money would be sufficient for the purpose.
If such a day should come,
with that certain income,
he would make himself happy,
or at any rate luxurious,
in whatever city of the world might know least of his antecedents,
and give him the warmest welcome on behalf of his wealth.
Such had been his scheme of life.
But he had failed to consider various circumstances.
His daughter might be untrue to him,
or in the event of her marriage might fail to release his property,
--or it might be that the very money should be required to dower his daughter.
Or there might come troubles on him so great that even the certainty of a future income would not enable him to bear them.
at this present moment,
his mind was tortured by great anxiety.
Were he to resume this property it would more than enable him to pay all that was due to the Longestaffes.
It would do that and tide him for a time over some other difficulties.
Now in regard to the Longestaffes themselves,
he certainly had no desire to depart from the rule which he had made for himself,
on their behalf.
Were it necessary that a crash should come they would be as good creditors as any other.
But then he was painfully alive to the fact that something beyond simple indebtedness was involved in that transaction.
He had with his own hand traced Dolly Longestaffe's signature on the letter which he had found in old Mr. Longestaffe's drawer.
He had found it in an envelope,
addressed by the elder Mr. Longestaffe to Messrs.
Slow and Bideawhile,
and he had himself posted this letter in a pillar-box near to his own house.
In the execution of this manoeuvre,
circumstances had greatly befriended him.
He had become the tenant of Mr. Longestaffe's house,
and at the same time had only been the joint tenant of Mr. Longestaffe's study,
--so that Mr. Longestaffe's papers were almost in his very hands.
To pick a lock was with him an accomplishment long since learned.
But his science in that line did not go so far as to enable him to replace the bolt in its receptacle.
He had picked a lock,
had found the letter prepared by Mr. Bideawhile with its accompanying envelope,
and had then already learned enough of the domestic circumstances of the Longestaffe family to feel assured that unless he could assist the expedition of this hitherto uncompleted letter by his own skill,
the letter would never reach its intended destination.
In all this fortune had in some degree befriended him.
The circumstances being as they were it was hardly possible that the forgery should be discovered.
Even though the young man were to swear that the signature was not his,
even though the old man were to swear that he had left that drawer properly locked with the unsigned letter in it,
still there could be no evidence.
People might think.
People might speak.
People might feel sure.
And then a crash would come.
But there would still be that ample fortune on which to retire and eat and drink and make merry for the rest of his days.
Then there came annoying complications in his affairs.
What had been so easy in reference to that letter which Dolly Longestaffe never would have signed,
was less easy but still feasible in another matter.
Under the joint pressure of immediate need,
and increasing audacity it had been done.
Then the rumours that were spread abroad,
--which to Melmotte were serious indeed,
at any rate in reference to Dolly Longestaffe,
the very thing that had been done.
Now if that,
or the like of that,
were brought actually home to him,
if twelve jurymen could be got to say that he had done that thing,
of what use then would be all that money?
When that fear arose,
then there arose also the question whether it might not be well to use the money to save him from such ruin,
if it might be so used.
No doubt all danger in that Longestaffe affair might be bought off by payment of the price stipulated for the Pickering property.
Neither would Dolly Longestaffe nor Squercum,
of whom Mr. Melmotte had already heard,
concern himself in this matter if the money claimed were paid.
But then the money would be as good as wasted by such a payment,
as he firmly believed,
no sufficient evidence could be produced to prove the thing which he had done.
But the complications were so many!
Perhaps in his admiration for the country of his adoption Mr. Melmotte had allowed himself to attach higher privileges to the British aristocracy than do in truth belong to them.
He did in his heart believe that could he be known to all the world as the father-in-law of the eldest son of the Marquis of Auld Reekie he would become,
not really free of the law,
but almost safe from its fangs in regard to such an affair as this.
He thought he could so use the family with which he would be connected as to force from it that protection which he would need.
And then again,
if he could tide over this bad time,
how glorious would it be to have a British Marquis for his son-in-law!
Like many others he had failed altogether to enquire when the pleasure to himself would come,
or what would be its nature.
But he did believe that such a marriage would add a charm to his life.
Now he knew that Lord Nidderdale could not be got to marry his daughter without the positive assurance of absolute property,
but he did think that the income which might thus be transferred with Marie,
though it fell short of that which had been promised,
might suffice for the time;
and he had already given proof to the Marquis's lawyer that his daughter was possessed of the property in question.
there was another complication which had arisen within the last few days and which had startled Mr. Melmotte very much indeed.
On a certain morning he had sent for Marie to the study and had told her that he should require her signature in reference to a deed.
She had asked him what deed.
He had replied that it would be a document regarding money and reminded her that she had signed such a deed once before,
telling her that it was all in the way of business.
It was not necessary that she should ask any more questions as she would be wanted only to sign the paper.
Then Marie astounded him,
not merely by showing him that she understood a great deal more of the transaction than he had thought,
--but also by a positive refusal to sign anything at all.
The reader may understand that there had been many words between them.
It is that you may have the money to do what you like with.
You have been so unkind to me about Sir Felix Carbury that I won't do it.
If I ever marry the money will belong to my husband!"
His breath almost failed him as he listened to these words.
He did not know whether to approach her with threats,
or with blows.
Before the interview was over he had tried all three.
He had told her that he could and would put her in prison for conduct so fraudulent.
He besought her not to ruin her parent by such monstrous perversity.
And at last he took her by both arms and shook her violently.
But Marie was quite firm.
He might cut her to pieces;
but she would sign nothing.
"I suppose you thought Sir Felix would have had the entire sum,"
said the father with deriding scorn.
"And he would;
--if he had the spirit to take it,"
This was another reason for sticking to the Nidderdale plan.
He would no doubt lose the immediate income,
but in doing so he would secure the Marquis.
He was therefore induced,
on weighing in his nicest-balanced scales the advantages and disadvantages,
to leave the Longestaffes unpaid and to let Nidderdale have the money.
Not that he could make up his mind to such a course with any conviction that he was doing the best for himself.
The dangers on all sides were very great!
But at the present moment audacity recommended itself to him,
and this was the boldest stroke.
Marie had now said that she would accept Nidderdale,
--or the sweep at the crossing.
On Monday morning,
--it was on the preceding Thursday that he had made his famous speech in Parliament,
--one of the Bideawhiles had come to him in the City.
He had told Mr. Bideawhile that all the world knew that just at the present moment money was very "tight" in the City.
"We are not asking for payment of a commercial debt,"
said Mr. Bideawhile,
"but for the price of a considerable property which you have purchased."
Mr. Melmotte had suggested that the characteristics of the money were the same,
let the sum in question have become due how it might.
Then he offered to make the payment in two bills at three and six months' date,
with proper interest allowed.
But this offer Mr. Bideawhile scouted with indignation,
demanding that the title-deeds might be restored to them.
"You have no right whatever to demand the title-deeds,"
"You can only claim the sum due,
and I have already told you how I propose to pay it."
Mr. Bideawhile was nearly beside himself with dismay.
In the whole course of his business,
in all the records of the very respectable firm to which he belonged,
there had never been such a thing as this.
Of course Mr. Longestaffe had been the person to blame,
--so at least all the Bideawhiles declared among themselves.
He had been so anxious to have dealings with the man of money that he had insisted that the title-deeds should be given up.
But then the title-deeds had not been his to surrender.
The Pickering estate had been the joint property of him and his son.
The house had been already pulled down,
and now the purchaser offered bills in lieu of the purchase money!
"Do you mean to tell me,
that you have not got the money to pay for what you have bought,
and that nevertheless the title-deeds have already gone out of your hands?"
"I have property to ten times the value,
twenty times the value,
thirty times the value,"
said Melmotte proudly;
"but you must know I should think by this time that a man engaged in large affairs cannot always realise such a sum as eighty thousand pounds at a day's notice."
Mr. Bideawhile without using language that was absolutely vituperative gave Mr. Melmotte to understand that he thought that he and his client had been robbed,
and that he should at once take whatever severest steps the law put in his power.
As Mr. Melmotte shrugged his shoulders and made no further reply,
Mr. Bideawhile could only take his departure.
although he was bound to be staunch to his own client,
and to his own house in opposition to Mr. Squercum,
nevertheless was becoming doubtful in his own mind as to the genuineness of the letter which Dolly was so persistent in declaring that he had not signed.
Mr. Longestaffe himself,
who was at any rate an honest man,
had given it as his opinion that Dolly had not signed the letter.
His son had certainly refused to sign it once,
and as far as he knew could have had no opportunity of signing it since.
He was all but sure that he had left the letter under lock and key in his own drawer in the room which had latterly become Melmotte's study as well as his own.
on entering the room in Melmotte's presence,
--their friendship at the time having already ceased,
--he found that his drawer was open.
This same Mr. Bideawhile was with him at the time.
"Do you mean to say that I have opened your drawer?"
said Mr. Melmotte.
Mr. Longestaffe had become very red in the face and had replied by saying that he certainly made no such accusation,
but as certainly he had not left the drawer unlocked.
He knew his own habits and was sure that he had never left that drawer open in his life.
"Then you must have changed the habits of your life on this occasion,"
said Mr. Melmotte with spirit.
Mr. Longestaffe would trust himself to no other word within the house,
when they were out in the street together,
he assured the lawyer that certainly that drawer had been left locked,
and that to the best of his belief the letter unsigned had been left within the drawer.
Mr. Bideawhile could only remark that it was the most unfortunate circumstance with which he had ever been concerned.
The marriage with Nidderdale would upon the whole be the best thing,
if it could only be accomplished.
The reader must understand that though Mr. Melmotte had allowed himself considerable poetical licence in that statement as to property thirty times as great as the price which he ought to have paid for Pickering,
still there was property.
The man's speculations had been so great and so wide that he did not really know what he owned,
or what he owed.
But he did know that at the present moment he was driven very hard for large sums.
His chief trust for immediate money was in Cohenlupe,
in whose hands had really been the manipulation of the shares of the Mexican railway.
He had trusted much to Cohenlupe,
--more than it had been customary with him to trust to any man.
Cohenlupe assured him that nothing could be done with the railway shares at the present moment.
They had fallen under the panic almost to nothing.
Now in the time of his trouble Melmotte wanted money from the great railway,
but just because he wanted money the great railway was worth nothing.
Cohenlupe told him that he must tide over the evil hour,
--or rather over an evil month.
It was at Cohenlupe's instigation that he had offered the two bills to Mr. Bideawhile.
"He must take the bills sooner or later."
On the Monday afternoon Melmotte met Lord Nidderdale in the lobby of the House.
"Have you seen Marie lately?"
Nidderdale had been assured that morning,
by his father's lawyer,
in his father's presence,
that if he married Miss Melmotte at present he would undoubtedly become possessed of an income amounting to something over £5,000 a year.
He had intended to get more than that,
--and was hardly prepared to accept Marie at such a price;
but then there probably would be more.
No doubt there was a difficulty about Pickering.
Melmotte certainly had been raising money.
But this might probably be an affair of a few weeks.
Melmotte had declared that Pickering should be made over to the young people at the marriage.
His father had recommended him to get the girl to name a day.
The marriage could be broken off at the last day if the property were not forthcoming.
"I'm going up to your house almost immediately,"
"You'll find the women at tea to a certainty between five and six,"