Evan Harrington, complete
Part 7 out of 11
Now came a pause, as if he had sworn to take his rest: now the room shook
and the windows rattled.
'One 'd think, really, his bed was a frying-pan, and him a live fish in
it,' said the landlady. 'Oh--there, again! My goodness! have he got a
The thought was alarming. Mrs. Mel joined in:
'Or a ------'
'Don't! don't, my dear!' she was cut short. 'Oh! one o' them little
things 'd be ruin to me. To think o' that! Hark at him! It must be.
And what's to do? I 've sent the maids to bed. We haven't a man. If I
was to go and knock at his door, and ask?'
'Better try and get him to be quiet somehow.'
'Ah! I dare say I shall make him fire out fifty times worse.'
Mrs. Hawkshaw stipulated that Mrs. Mel should stand by her, and the two
women went up-stairs and stood at Old Tom's door. There they could hear
him fuming and muttering imprecations, and anon there was an interval of
silence, and then the room was shaken, and the cursings recommenced.
'It must be a fight he 's having with a flea,' said the landlady. 'Oh!
pray heaven, it is a flea. For a flea, my dear-gentlemen may bring that
theirselves; but a b-----, that's a stationary, and born of a bed.
Don't you hear? The other thing 'd give him a minute's rest; but a
flea's hop-hop-off and on. And he sound like an old gentleman worried by
a flea. What are you doing?'
Mrs. Mel had knocked at the door. The landlady waited breathlessly for
the result. It appeared to have quieted Old Tom.
'What's the matter?' said Mrs. Mel, severely.
The landlady implored her to speak him fair, and reflect on the desperate
things he might attempt.
'What's the matter? Can anything be done for you?'
Mr. Tom Cogglesby's reply comprised an insinuation so infamous regarding
women when they have a solitary man in their power, that it cannot be
placed on record.
'Is anything the matter with your bed?'
'Anything? Yes; anything is the matter, ma'am. Hope twenty live geese
inside it's enough-eh? Bed, do you call it? It's the rack! It's
damnation! Bed? Ha!'
After delivering this, he was heard stamping up and down the room.
'My very best bed!' whispered the landlady. 'Would it please you, sir,
to change--I can give you another?'
'I'm not a man of experiments, ma'am-'specially in strange houses.'
'So very, very sorry!'
'What the deuce!' Old Tom came close to the door. 'You whimpering! You
put a man in a beast of a bed--you drive him half mad--and then begin to
blubber! Go away.'
'I am so sorry, sir!'
'If you don't go away, ma'am, I shall think your intentions are
'Oh, my goodness!' cried poor Mrs. Hawkshaw. 'What can one do with him?'
Mrs. Mel put Mrs. Hawkshaw behind her.
'Are you dressed?' she called out.
In this way Mrs. Mel tackled Old Tom. He was told that should he consent
to cover himself decently, she would come into his room and make his bed
comfortable. And in a voice that dispersed armies of innuendoes, she
bade him take his choice, either to rest quiet or do her bidding.
Had Old Tom found his master at last, and in one of the hated sex?
Breathlessly Mrs. Hawkshaw waited his answer, and she was an astonished
woman when it came.
'Very well, ma'am. Wait a couple of minutes. Do as you like.'
On their admission to the interior of the chamber, Old Tom was exhibited
in his daily garb, sufficiently subdued to be civil and explain the cause
of his discomfort. Lumps in his bed: he was bruised by them. He
supposed he couldn't ask women to judge for themselves--they'd be
shrieking--but he could assure them he was blue all down his back.
Mrs. Mel and Mrs. Hawkshaw turned the bed about, and punched it, and
'Ha!' went Old Tom, 'what's the good of that? That's just how I found
it. Moment I got into bed geese began to put up their backs.'
Mrs. Mel seldom indulged in a joke, and then only when it had a
proverbial cast. On the present occasion, the truth struck her forcibly,
and she said:
'One fool makes many, and so, no doubt, does one goose.'
Accompanied by a smile the words would have seemed impudent; but spoken
as a plain fact, and with a grave face, it set Old Tom blinking like a
small boy ten minutes after the whip.
'Now,' she pursued, speaking to him as to an old child, 'look here. This
is how you manage. Knead down in the middle of the bed. Then jump into
the hollow. Lie there, and you needn't wake till morning.'
Old Tom came to the side of the bed. He had prepared himself for a
wretched night, an uproar, and eternal complaints against the house, its
inhabitants, and its foundations; but a woman stood there who as much as
told him that digging his fist into the flock and jumping into the hole--
into that hole under his, eyes--was all that was wanted! that he had
been making a noise for nothing, and because he had not the wit to hit on
a simple contrivance! Then, too, his jest about the geese--this woman
had put a stop to that! He inspected the hollow cynically. A man might
instruct him on a point or two: Old Tom was not going to admit that a
'Oh, very well; thank you, ma'am; that's your idea. I'll try it. Good
'Good night,' returned Mrs. Mel. 'Don't forget to jump into the middle.'
'Head foremost, ma'am?'
'As you weigh,' said Mrs. Mel, and Old Tom trumped his lips, silenced if
not beaten. Beaten, one might almost say, for nothing more was heard of
him that night.
He presented himself to Mrs. Mel after breakfast next morning.
'Slept well, ma'am.'
'Oh! then you did as I directed you,' said Mrs. Mel.
'Those chops, too, very good. I got through 'em.'
'Eating, like scratching, only wants a beginning,' said Mrs. Mel.
'Ha! you've got your word, then, as well as everybody else. Where's
your Dandy this morning, ma'am?'
'Locked up. You ought to be ashamed to give that poor beast liquor. He
won't get fresh air to-day.'
'Ha! May I ask you where you're going to-day, ma'am?'
'I am going to Beckley.'
'So am I, ma'am. What d' ye say, if we join company. Care for
'I want a conveyance of some sort,' returned Mrs. Mel.
'Object to a donkey, ma'am?'
'Not if he's strong and will go.'
'Good,' said Old Tom; and while he spoke a donkey-cart stopped in front
of the Dolphin, and a well-dressed man touched his hat.
'Get out of that damned bad habit, will you?' growled Old Tom. What do
you mean by wearing out the brim o' your hat in that way? Help this
Mrs. Mel helped herself to a part of the seat.
'We are too much for the donkey,' she said.
'Ha, that's right. What I have, ma'am, is good. I can't pretend to
horses, but my donkey's the best. Are you going to cry about him?'
'No. When he's tired I shall either walk or harness you,' said Mrs. Mel.
This was spoken half-way down the High Street of Fallow field. Old Tom
looked full in her face, and bawled out:
'Deuce take it. Are you a woman?'
'I have borne three girls and one boy,' said Mrs. Mel.
'What sort of a husband?'
'He is dead.'
'Ha! that's an opening, but 'tain't an answer. I'm off to Beckley on a
marriage business. I 'm the son of a cobbler, so I go in a donkey-cart.
No damned pretences for me. I'm going to marry off a young tailor to a
gal he's been playing the lord to. If she cares for him she'll take him:
if not, they're all the luckier, both of 'em.'
'What's the tailor's name?' said Mrs. Mel.
'You are a woman,' returned Old Tom. 'Now, come, ma'am, don't you feel
ashamed of being in a donkeycart?'
'I 'm ashamed of men, sometimes,' said Mrs. Mel; 'never of animals.'
''Shamed o' me, perhaps.'
'I don't know you.'
'Ha! well! I'm a man with no pretences. Do you like 'em? How have you
brought up your three girls and one boy? No pretences--eh?'
Mrs. Mel did not answer, and Old Tom jogged the reins and chuckled, and
asked his donkey if he wanted to be a racer.
'Should you take me for a gentleman, ma'am?'
'I dare say you are, sir, at heart. Not from your manner of speech.'
'I mean appearances, ma'am.'
'I judge by the disposition.'
'You do, ma'am? Then, deuce take it, if you are a woman, you 're -----'
Old Tom had no time to conclude.
A great noise of wheels, and a horn blown, caused them both to turn their
heads, and they beheld a curricle descending upon them vehemently, and a
fashionably attired young gentleman straining with all his might at the
reins. The next instant they were rolling on the bank. About twenty
yards ahead the curricle was halted and turned about to see the extent of
the mischief done.
'Pardon, a thousand times, my worthy couple,' cried the sonorous Mr.
Raikes. 'What we have seen we swear not to divulge. Franco and Fred--
'We swear!' exclaimed this couple.
But suddenly the cheeks of Mr. John Raikes flushed. He alighted from the
box, and rushing up to Old Tom, was shouting, 'My bene--'
'Do you want my toe on your plate?' Old Tom stopped him with.
The mysterious words completely changed the aspect of Mr. John Raikes.
He bowed obsequiously and made his friend Franco step down and assist in
the task of reestablishing the donkey, who fortunately had received no
EXHIBITS ROSE'S GENERALSHIP; EVAN'S PERFORMANCE ON THE SECOND FIDDLE;
AND THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THE COUNTESS
We left Rose and Evan on their way to Lady Jocelyn. At the library-door
Rose turned to him, and with her chin archly lifted sideways, said:
'I know what you feel; you feel foolish.'
Now the sense of honour, and of the necessity of acting the part it
imposes on him, may be very strong in a young man; but certainly, as a
rule, the sense of ridicule is more poignant, and Evan was suffering
horrid pangs. We none of us like to play second fiddle. To play second
fiddle to a young woman is an abomination to us all. But to have to
perform upon that instrument to the darling of our hearts--would we not
rather die? nay, almost rather end the duet precipitately and with
violence. Evan, when he passed Drummond into the house, and quietly
returned his gaze, endured the first shock of this strange feeling.
There could be no doubt that he was playing second fiddle to Rose. And
what was he about to do? Oh, horror! to stand like a criminal, and say,
or worse, have said for him, things to tip the ears with fire! To tell
the young lady's mother that he had won her daughter's love, and meant--
what did he mean? He knew not. Alas! he was second fiddle; he could
only mean what she meant. Evan loved Rose deeply and completely, but
noble manhood was strong in him. You may sneer at us, if you please,
ladies. We have been educated in a theory, that when you lead off with
the bow, the order of Nature is reversed, and it is no wonder therefore,
that, having stript us of one attribute, our fine feathers moult, and the
majestic cock-like march which distinguishes us degenerates. You unsex
us, if I may dare to say so. Ceasing to be men, what are we? If we are
to please you rightly, always allow us to play First.
Poor Evan did feel foolish. Whether Rose saw it in his walk, or had a
loving feminine intuition of it, and was aware of the golden rule I have
just laid down, we need not inquire. She hit the fact, and he could only
stammer, and bid her open the door.
'No,' she said, after a slight hesitation, 'it will be better that I
should speak to Mama alone, I see. Walk out on the lawn, dear, and wait
for me. And if you meet Drummond, don't be angry with him. Drummond is
very fond of me, and of course I shall teach him to be fond of you. He
only thinks . . . what is not true, because he does not know you. I
do thoroughly, and there, you see, I give you my hand.'
Evan drew the dear hand humbly to his lips. Rose then nodded meaningly,
and let her eyes dwell on him, and went in to her mother to open the
Could it be that a flame had sprung up in those grey eyes latterly? Once
they were like morning before sunrise. How soft and' warm and tenderly
transparent they could now be! Assuredly she loved him. And he, beloved
by the noblest girl ever fashioned, why should he hang his head, and
shrink at the thought of human faces, like a wretch doomed to the
pillory? He visioned her last glance, and lightning emotions of pride
and happiness flashed through his veins. The generous, brave heart!
Yes, with her hand in his, he could stand at bay--meet any fate. Evan
accepted Rose because he believed in her love, and judged it by the
strength of his own; her sacrifice of her position he accepted, because
in his soul he knew he should have done no less. He mounted to the level
of her nobleness, and losing nothing of the beauty of what she did, it
was not so strange to him.
Still there was the baleful reflection that he was second fiddle to his
beloved. No harmony came of it in his mind. How could he take an
initiative? He walked forth on the lawn, where a group had gathered
under the shade of a maple, consisting of Drummond Forth, Mrs. Evremonde,
Mrs. Shorne, Mr. George Uplift, Seymour Jocelyn, and Ferdinand Laxley.
A little apart Juliana Bonner was walking with Miss Carrington. Juliana,
when she saw him, left her companion, and passing him swiftly, said,
'Follow me presently into the conservatory.'
Evan strolled near the group, and bowed to Mrs. Shorne, whom he had not
seen that morning.
The lady's acknowledgement of his salute was constrained, and but a shade
on the side of recognition. They were silent till he was out of earshot.
He noticed that his second approach produced the same effect. In the
conservatory Juliana was awaiting him.
'It is not to give you roses I called you here, Mr. Harrington,' she
'Not if I beg one?' he responded.
'Ah! but you do not want them from . . . It depends on the person.'
'Pluck this,' said Evan, pointing to a white rose.
She put her fingers to the stem.
What folly!' she cried, and turned from it.
'Are you afraid that I shall compromise you?' asked Evan.
'You care for me too little for that.'
'My dear Miss Bonner!'
'How long did you know Rose before you called her by her Christian name?'
Evan really could not remember, and was beginning to wonder what he had
been called there for. The little lady had feverish eyes and fingers,
and seemed to be burning to speak, but afraid.
'I thought you had gone,' she dropped her voice, 'without wishing me
'I certainly should not do that, Miss Bonner.'
'Formal!' she exclaimed, half to herself. 'Miss Bonner thanks you. Do
you think I wish you to stay? No friend of yours would wish it. You do
not know the selfishness--brutal!--of these people of birth, as they call
'I have met with nothing but kindness here,' said Evan.
'Then go while you can feel that,' she answered; 'for it cannot last
another hour. Here is the rose.' She broke it from the stem and handed
it to him. 'You may wear that, and they are not so likely to call you an
adventurer, and names of that sort. I am hardly considered a lady by
An adventurer! The full meaning of the phrase struck Evan's senses when
he was alone. Miss Bonner knew something of his condition, evidently.
Perhaps it was generally known, and perhaps it was thought that he had
come to win Rose for his worldly advantage! The idea was overwhelmingly
new to him. Up started self-love in arms. He would renounce her.
It is no insignificant contest when love has to crush self-love utterly.
At moments it can be done. Love has divine moments. There are times
also when Love draws part of his being from self-love, and can find no
support without it.
But how could he renounce her, when she came forth to him,--smiling,
speaking freshly and lightly, and with the colour on her cheeks which
showed that she had done her part? How could he retract a step?
'I have told Mama, Evan. That's over. She heard it first from me.'
'Dear Evan, if you are going to be sensitive, I'll run away. You that
fear no danger, and are the bravest man I ever knew! I think you are
really trembling. She will speak to Papa, and then--and then, I suppose,
they will both ask you whether you intend to give me up, or no. I'm
afraid you'll do the former.'
'Your mother--Lady Jocelyn listened to you, Rose? You told her all?'
'And what does she think of me?'
'Thinks you very handsome and astonishing, and me very idiotic and
natural, and that there is a great deal of bother in the world, and that
my noble relatives will lay the blame of it on her. No, dear, not all
that; but she talked very sensibly to me, and kindly. You know she is
called a philosopher: nobody knows how deep-hearted she is, though. My
mother is true as steel. I can't separate the kindness from the sense,
or I would tell you all she said. When I say kindness, I don't mean any
"Oh, my child," and tears, and kisses, and maundering, you know. You
mustn't mind her thinking me a little fool. You want to know what she
thinks of you. She said nothing to hurt you, Evan, and we have gained
ground so far, and now we'll go and face our enemies. Uncle Mel expects
to hear about your appointment, in a day or two, and----'
'Oh, Rose!' Evan burst out.
'What is it?'
'Why must I owe everything to you?'
'Why, dear? Why, because, if you do, it's very much better than your
owing it to anybody else. Proud again?'
Not proud: only second fiddle.
'You know, dear Evan, when two people love, there is no such thing as
owing between them.'
'Rose, I have been thinking. It is not too late. I love you, God knows!
I did in Portugal: I do now--more and more. But Oh, my bright angel!' he
ended the sentence in his breast.
Evan sounded down the meaning of his 'but.' Stripped of the usual
heroics, it was, 'what will be thought of me?' not a small matter to any
of us. He caught a distant glimpse of the little bit of bare
selfishness, and shrank from it.
'Too late,' cried Rose. 'The battle has commenced now, and, Mr.
Harrington, I will lean on your arm, and be led to my dear friends
yonder. Do they think that I am going to put on a mask to please them?
Not for anybody! What they are to know they may as well know at once.'
She looked in Evan's face.
'Do you hesitate?'
He felt the contrast between his own and hers; between the niggard spirit
of the beggarly receiver, and the high bloom of the exalted giver.
Nevertheless, he loved her too well not to share much of her nature, and
wedding it suddenly, he said:
'Rose; tell me, now. If you were to see the place where I was born,
could you love me still?'
'If you were to hear me spoken of with contempt--'
'Who dares?' cried Rose. 'Never to me!'
'Contempt of what I spring from, Rose. Names used . . . Names are
used . . .'
'Tush!--names!' said Rose, reddening. 'How cowardly that is! Have you
finished? Oh, faint heart! I suppose I'm not a fair lady, or you
wouldn't have won me. Now, come. Remember, Evan, I conceal nothing; and
if anything makes you wretched here, do think how I love you.'
In his own firm belief he had said everything to arrest her in her
course, and been silenced by transcendent logic. She thought the same.
Rose made up to the conclave under the maple.
The voices hushed as they approached.
'Capital weather,' said Rose. 'Does Harry come back from London
to-morrow--does anybody know?'
'Not aware,' Laxley was heard to reply.
'I want to speak a word to you, Rose,' said Mrs. Shorne.
'With the greatest pleasure, my dear aunt': and Rose walked after her.
'My dear Rose,' Mrs. Shorne commenced, 'your conduct requires that I
should really talk to you most seriously. You are probably not aware of
what you are doing: Nobody likes ease and natural familiarity more than I
do. I am persuaded it is nothing but your innocence. You are young to
the world's ways, and perhaps a little too headstrong, and vain.'
'Conceited and wilful,' added Rose.
'If you like the words better. But I must say--I do not wish to trouble
your father--you know he cannot bear worry--but I must say, that if you
do not listen to me, he must be spoken to.'
'Why not Mama?'
'I should naturally select my brother first. No doubt you understand
'Any distant allusion to Mr. Harrington?'
'Pertness will not avail you, Rose.'
'So you want me to do secretly what I am doing openly?'
'You must and shall remember you are a Jocelyn, Rose.'
'Only half, my dear aunt!'
'And by birth a lady, Rose.'
'And I ought to look under my eyes, and blush, and shrink, whenever I
come near a gentleman, aunt!'
'Ah! my dear. No doubt you will do what is most telling. Since you
have spoken of this Mr. Harrington, I must inform you that I have it on
certain authority from two or three sources, that he is the son of a
small shopkeeper at Lymport.'
Mrs. Shorne watched the effect she had produced.
'Indeed, aunt?' cried Rose. 'And do you know this to be true?'
'So when you talk of gentlemen, Rose, please be careful whom you
'I mustn't include poor Mr. Harrington? Then my Grandpapa Bonner is out
of the list, and such numbers of good worthy men?'
Mrs. Shorne understood the hit at the defunct manufacturer. She said:
'You must most distinctly give me your promise, while this young
adventurer remains here--I think it will not be long--not to be
compromising yourself further, as you now do. Or--indeed I must--I shall
let your parents perceive that such conduct is ruin to a young girl in
your position, and certainly you will be sent to Elburne House for the
Rose lifted her hands, crying: 'Ye Gods!--as Harry says. But I'm very
much obliged to you, my dear aunt. Concerning Mr. Harrington,
wonderfully obliged. Son of a small-----! Is it a t-t-tailor, aunt?'
'It is--I have heard.'
'And that is much worse. Cloth is viler than cotton! And don't they
call these creatures sn-snips? Some word of that sort?'
'It makes little difference what they are called.'
'Well, aunt, I sincerely thank you. As this subject seems to interest
you, go and see Mama, now. She can tell you a great deal more: and, if
you want her authority, come back to me.'
Rose then left her aunt in a state of extreme indignation. It was a
clever move to send Mrs. Shorne to Lady Jocelyn. They were antagonistic,
and, rational as Lady Jocelyn was, and with her passions under control,
she was unlikely to side with Mrs. Shorne.
Now Rose had fought against herself, and had, as she thought, conquered.
In Portugal Evan's half insinuations had given her small suspicions,
which the scene on board the Jocasta had half confirmed: and since she
came to communicate with her own mind, she bore the attack of all that
rose against him, bit by bit. She had not been too blind to see the
unpleasantness of the fresh facts revealed to her. They did not change
her; on the contrary, drew her to him faster--and she thought she had
completely conquered whatever could rise against him. But when Juliana
Bonner told her that day that Evan was not only the son of the thing,
but the thing himself, and that his name could be seen any day in
Lymport, and that he had come from the shop to Beckley, poor Rosey had a
sick feeling that almost sank her. For a moment she looked back wildly
to the doors of retreat. Her eyes had to feed on Evan, she had to taste
some of the luxury of love, before she could gain composure, and then her
arrogance towards those she called her enemies did not quite return.
'In that letter you told me all--all--all, Evan?'
'Oh, why did I miss it!'
'Would it give you pleasure?'
She feared to speak, being tender as a mother to his sensitiveness. The
expressive action of her eyebrows sufficed. She could not bear
concealment, or doubt, or a shadow of dishonesty; and he, gaining force
of soul to join with hers, took her hands and related the contents of the
letter fully. She was pale when he had finished. It was some time
before she was able to get free from the trammels of prejudice, but when
she did, she did without reserve, saying: 'Evan, there is no man who
would have done so much.' These little exaltations and generosities bind
lovers tightly. He accepted the credit she gave him, and at that we need
not wonder. It helped him further to accept herself, otherwise could he
--his name known to be on a shop-front--have aspired to her still? But,
as an unexampled man, princely in soul, as he felt, why, he might kneel
to Rose Jocelyn. So they listened to one another, and blinded the world
by putting bandages on their eyes, after the fashion of little boys and
Meantime the fair being who had brought these two from the ends of the
social scale into this happy tangle, the beneficent Countess, was
wretched. When you are in the enemy's country you are dependent on the
activity and zeal of your spies and scouts, and the best of these--Polly
Wheedle, to wit--had proved defective, recalcitrant even. And because a
letter had been lost in her room! as the Countess exclaimed to herself,
though Polly gave her no reasons. The Countess had, therefore, to rely
chiefly upon personal observation, upon her intuitions, upon her
sensations in the proximity of the people to whom she was opposed; and
from these she gathered that she was, to use the word which seemed
fitting to her, betrayed. Still to be sweet, still to smile and to
amuse,--still to give her zealous attention to the business of the
diplomatist's Election, still to go through her church-services devoutly,
required heroism; she was equal to it, for she had remarkable courage;
but it was hard to feel no longer at one with Providence. Had not
Providence suggested Sir Abraham to her? killed him off at the right
moment in aid of her? And now Providence had turned, and the assistance
she had formerly received from that Power, and given thanks for so
profusely, was the cause of her terror. It was absolutely as if she had
been borrowing from a Jew, and were called upon to pay fifty-fold
'Evan!' she writes in a gasp to Harriet. 'We must pack up and depart.
Abandon everything. He has disgraced us all, and ruined himself.
Impossible that we can stay for the pic-nic. We are known, dear.
Think of my position one day in this house! Particulars when I embrace
you. I dare not trust a letter here. If Evan had confided in me! He is
impenetrable. He will be low all his life, and I refuse any more to
sully myself in attempting to lift him. For Silva's sake I must
positively break the connection. Heaven knows what I have done for this
boy, and will support me in the feeling that I have done enough. My
conscience at least is safe.'
Like many illustrious Generals, the Countess had, for the hour, lost
heart. We find her, however, the next day, writing:
'Oh! Harriet! what trials for sisterly affection! Can I possibly--
weather the gale, as the old L---- sailors used to say? It is dreadful.
I fear I am by duty bound to stop on. Little Bonner thinks Evan quite a
duke's son, has been speaking to her Grandmama, and to-day, this morning,
the venerable old lady quite as much as gave me to understand that an
union between our brother and her son's child would sweetly gratify her,
and help her to go to her rest in peace. Can I chase that spark of
comfort from one so truly pious? Dearest Juliana! I have anticipated
Evan's feeling for her, and so she thinks his conduct cold. Indeed, I
told her, point blank, he loved her. That, you know, is different from
saying, dying of love, which would have been an untruth. But, Evan, of
course! No getting him! Should Juliana ever reproach me, I can assure
the child that any man is in love with any woman--which is really the
case. It is, you dear humdrum! what the dictionary calls "nascent."
I never liked the word, but it stands for a fact.'
The Countess here exhibits the weakness of a self-educated intelligence.
She does not comprehend the joys of scholarship in her employment of
Latinisms. It will be pardoned to her by those who perceive the profound
piece of feminine discernment which precedes it.
'I do think I shall now have courage to stay out the pic-nic,' she
continues. 'I really do not think all is known. Very little can be
known, or I am sure I could not feel as I do. It would burn me up.
George Up--- does not dare; and his most beautiful lady-love had far
better not. Mr. Forth may repent his whispers. But, Oh! what Evan may
do! Rose is almost detestable. Manners, my dear? Totally deficient!
'An ally has just come. Evan's good fortune is most miraculous. His low
friend turns out to be a young Fortunatus; very original, sparkling, and
in my hands to be made much of. I do think he will--for he is most
zealous--he will counteract that hateful Mr. Forth, who may soon have
work enough. Mr. Raikes (Evan's friend) met a mad captain in Fallow
field! Dear Mr. Raikes is ready to say anything; not from love of
falsehood, but because he is ready to think it. He has confessed to me
that Evan told him! Louisa de Saldar has changed his opinion, and much
impressed this eccentric young gentleman. Do you know any young girl who
wants a fortune, and would be grateful?
'Dearest! I have decided on the pic-nic. Let your conscience be clear,
and Providence cannot be against you. So I feel. Mr. Parsley spoke very
beautifully to that purpose last Sunday in the morning service. A little
too much through his nose, perhaps; but the poor young man's nose is a
great organ, and we will not cast it in his teeth more than nature has
done. I said so to my diplomatist, who was amused. If you are
sparklingly vulgar with the English, you are aristocratic. Oh! what
principle we women require in the thorny walk of life. I can show you a
letter when we meet that will astonish humdrum. Not so diplomatic as the
writer thought! Mrs. Melville (sweet woman!) must continue to practise
civility; for a woman who is a wife, my dear, in verity she lives in a
glass house, and let her fling no stones. "Let him who is without sin."
How beautiful that Christian sentiment! I hope I shall be pardoned, but
it always seems to me that what we have to endure is infinitely worse
than any other suffering, for you find no comfort for the children of
T----s in Scripture, nor any defence of their dreadful position.
Robbers, thieves, Magdalens! but, no! the unfortunate offspring of that
class are not even mentioned: at least, in my most diligent perusal of
the Scriptures, I never lighted upon any remote allusion; and we know the
Jews did wear clothing. Outcasts, verily! And Evan could go, and write
--but I have no patience with him. He is the blind tool of his mother,
and anybody's puppet.'
The letter concludes, with horrid emphasis:
'The Madre in Beckley! Has sent for Evan from a low public-house! I
have intercepted the messenger. Evan closeted with Sir Franks. Andrew's
horrible old brother with Lady Jocelyn. The whole house, from garret to
kitchen, full of whispers!'
A prayer to Providence closes the communication.
TOM COGGLESEY'S PROPOSITION
The appearance of a curricle and a donkey-cart within the gates of
Beckley Court, produced a sensation among the men of the lower halls,
and a couple of them rushed out, with the left calf considerably in
advance, to defend the house from violation. Toward the curricle they
directed what should have been a bow, but was a nod. Their joint
attention was then given to the donkey-cart, in which old Tom Cogglesby
sat alone, bunchy in figure, bunched in face, his shrewd grey eyes
twinkling under the bush of his eyebrows.
'Oy, sir--you! my man!' exclaimed the tallest of the pair, resolutely.
'This won't do. Don't you know driving this sort of conveyance slap
along the gravel 'ere, up to the pillars, 's unparliamentary? Can't be
allowed. Now, right about!'
This address, accompanied by a commanding elevation of the dexter hand,
seemed to excite Mr. Raikes far more than Old Tom. He alighted from his
perch in haste, and was running up to the stalwart figure, crying,
'Fellow!' when, as you tell a dog to lie down, Old Tom called out, 'Be
quiet, Sir!' and Raikes halted with prompt military obedience.
The sight of the curricle acting satellite to the donkey-cart staggered
the two footmen.
'Are you lords?' sang out Old Tom.
A burst of laughter from the friends of Mr. Raikes, in the curricle,
helped to make the powdered gentlemen aware of a sarcasm, and one with no
little dignity replied that they were not lords.
'Oh! Then come and hold my donkey.'
Great irresolution was displayed at the injunction, but having consulted
the face of Mr. Raikes, one fellow, evidently half overcome by what was
put upon him, with the steps of Adam into exile, descended to the gravel,
and laid his hand on the donkey's head.
'Hold hard!' cried Old Tom. 'Whisper in his ear. He'll know your
'May I have the felicity of assisting you to terra firma?' interposed Mr.
Raikes, with the bow of deferential familiarity.
'Done that once too often,' returned Old Tom, jumping out. 'There.
What's the fee? There's a crown for you that ain't afraid of a live
donkey; and there 's a sixpenny bit for you that are--to keep up your
courage; and when he's dead you shall have his skin--to shave by.'
'Excellent!' shouted Raikes.
'Thomas!' he addressed a footman, 'hand in my card. Mr. John Feversham
'And tell my lady, Tom Cogglesby's come,' added the owner of that name.
We will follow Tom Cogglesby, as he chooses to be called.
Lady Jocelyn rose on his entering the library, and walking up to him,
encountered him with a kindly full face.
'So I see you at last, Tom?' she said, without releasing his hand; and
Old Tom mounted patches of red in his wrinkled cheeks, and blinked, and
betrayed a singular antiquated bashfulness, which ended, after a mumble
of 'Yes, there he was, and he hoped her ladyship was well,' by his
seeking refuge in a chair, where he sat hard, and fixed his attention on
the leg of a table.
'Well, Tom, do you find much change in me?' she was woman enough to
He was obliged to look up.
'Can't say I do, my lady.'
'Don't you see the grey hairs, Tom?'
'Better than a wig,' rejoined he.
Was it true that her ladyship had behaved rather ill to Old Tom in her
youth? Excellent women have been naughty girls, and young Beauties will
have their train. It is also very possible that Old Tom had presumed
upon trifles, and found it difficult to forgive her his own folly.
'Preferable to a wig? Well, I would rather see you with your natural
thatch. You're bent, too. You look as if you had kept away from Beckley
a little too long.'
'Told you, my lady, I should come when your daughter was marriageable.'
'Oho! that's it? I thought it was the Election!
'Election be ------ hem!--beg pardon, my lady.'
'Swear, Tom, if it relieves you. I think it bad to check an oath or a
'I 'm come to see you on business, my lady, or I shouldn't have troubled
'You 'll see I don't bear any, my lady.'
'Ah! if you had only sworn roundly twenty-five years ago, what a much
younger man you would have been! and a brave capital old friend whom I
should not have missed all that time.'
'Come!' cried Old Tom, varying his eyes rapidly between her ladyship's
face and the floor, 'you acknowledge I had reason to.'
'Mais, cela va sans dire.'
'Cobblers' sons ain't scholars, my lady.'
'And are not all in the habit of throwing their fathers in our teeth, I
Old Tom wriggled in his chair. 'Well, my lady, I'm not going to make a
fool of myself at my time o' life. Needn't be alarmed now. You've got
the bell-rope handy and a husband on the premises.'
Lady Jocelyn smiled, stood up, and went to him. 'I like an honest fist,'
she said, taking his. 'We 're not going to be doubtful friends, and we
won't snap and snarl. That's for people who're independent of wigs, Tom.
I find, for my part, that a little grey on the top of any head cools the
temper amazingly. I used to be rather hot once.'
'You could be peppery, my lady.'
'Now I'm cool, Tom, and so must you be; or, if you fight, it must be in
my cause, as you did when you thrashed that saucy young carter. Do you
'If you'll sit ye down, my lady, I'll just tell you what I'm come for,'
said Old Tom, who plainly showed that he did remember, and was alarmingly
softened by her ladyship's retention of the incident.
Lady Jocelyn returned to her place.
'You've got a marriageable daughter, my lady?'
'I suppose we may call her so,' said Lady Jocelyn, with a composed glance
at the ceiling.
''Gaged to be married to any young chap?'
'You must put the question to her, Tom.'
'Ha! I don't want to see her.'
At this Lady Jocelyn looked slightly relieved. Old Tom continued.
'Happen to have got a little money--not so much as many a lord's got,
I dare say; such as 'tis, there 'tis. Young fellow I know wants a wife,
and he shall have best part of it. Will that suit ye, my lady?'
Lady Jocelyn folded her hands. 'Certainly; I've no objection. What it
has to do with me I can't perceive.'
'Ahem!' went Old Tom. 'It won't hurt your daughter to be married now,
'Oh! my daughter is the destined bride of your "young fellow,"' said
Lady Jocelyn. 'Is that how it's to be?'
'She'--Old Tom cleared his throat 'she won't marry a lord, my lady; but
she--'hem--if she don't mind that--'ll have a deuced sight more hard cash
than many lord's son 'd give her, and a young fellow for a husband, sound
in wind and limb, good bone and muscle, speaks grammar and two or three
'Stop!' cried Lady Jocelyn. 'I hope this is not a prize young man? If
he belongs, at his age, to the unco quid, I refuse to take him for a son-
in-law, and I think Rose will, too.'
Old Tom burst out vehemently: 'He's a damned good young fellow, though he
isn't a lord.'
'Well,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'I 've no doubt you're in earnest, Tom. It 's
curious, for this morning Rose has come to me and given me the first
chapter of a botheration, which she declares is to end in the common rash
experiment. What is your "young fellow's" name? Who is he? What is
'Won't take my guarantee, my lady?'
'Rose--if she marries--must have a name, you know?'
Old Tom hit his knee. 'Then there's a pill for ye to swallow, for he
ain't the son of a lord.'
'That's swallowed, Tom. What is he?'
'He's the son of a tradesman, then, my lady.' And Old Tom watched her to
note the effect he had produced.
'More 's the pity,' was all she remarked.
'And he 'll have his thousand a year to start with; and he's a tailor, my
Her ladyship opened her eyes.
'Harrington's his name, my lady. Don't know whether you ever heard of
Lady Jocelyn flung herself back in her chair. 'The queerest thing I ever
met!' said she.
'Thousand a year to start with,' Old Tom went on, 'and if she marries--
I mean if he marries her, I'll settle a thousand per ann. on the first
baby-boy or gal.'
'Hum! Is this gross collusion, Mr. Tom?' Lady Jocelyn inquired.
'What does that mean?'
'Have you spoken of this before to any one?'
'I haven't, my lady. Decided on it this morning. Hem! you got a son,
too. He's fond of a young gal, or he ought to be. I'll settle him when
I've settled the daughter.'
'Harry is strongly attached to a dozen, I believe,' said his mother.
'Well, Tom, we'll think of it. I may as well tell you: Rose has just
been here to inform me that this Mr. Harrington has turned her head, and
that she has given her troth, and all that sort of thing. I believe such
was not to be laid to my charge in my day.'
'You were open enough, my lady,' said Old Tom. 'She's fond of the young
fellow? She'll have a pill to swallow! poor young woman!'
Old Tom visibly chuckled. Lady Jocelyn had a momentary temptation to
lead him out, but she did not like the subject well enough to play with
'Apparently Rose has swallowed it,' she said.
'Goose, shears, cabbage, and all!' muttered Old Tom. 'Got a stomach!--
she knows he's a tailor, then? The young fellow told her? He hasn't
been playing the lord to her?'
'As far as he's concerned, I think he has been tolerably honest, Tom, for
a man and a lover.'
'And told her he was born and bound a tailor?'
'Rose certainly heard it from him.'
Slapping his knee, Old Tom cried: 'Bravo!' For though one part of his
nature was disappointed, and the best part of his plot disarranged, he
liked Evan's proceeding and felt warm at what seemed to him Rose's scorn
'She must be a good gal, my lady. She couldn't have got it from t' other
side. Got it from you. Not that you--'
'No,' said Lady Jocelyn, apprehending him. 'I'm afraid I have no
Republican virtues. I 'm afraid I should have rejected the pill. Don't
be angry with me,' for Old Tom looked sour again; 'I like birth and
position, and worldly advantages, and, notwithstanding Rose's pledge of
the instrument she calls her heart, and in spite of your offer, I shall,
I tell you honestly, counsel her to have nothing to do with--'
'Anything less than lords,' Old Tom struck in. 'Very well. Are you
going to lock her up, my lady?'
'No. Nor shall I whip her with rods.'
'Leave her free to her choice?'
'She will have my advice. That I shall give her. And I shall take care
that before she makes a step she shall know exactly what it leads to.
Her father, of course, will exercise his judgement.' (Lady Jocelyn said
this to uphold the honour of Sir Franks, knowing at the same time
perfectly well that he would be wheedled by Rose.) 'I confess I like this
Mr. Harrington. But it's a great misfortune for him to have had a
notorious father. A tailor should certainly avoid fame, and this young
man will have to carry his father on his back. He 'll never throw the
great Mel off.'
Tom Cogglesby listened, and was really astonished at her ladyship's calm
reception of his proposal.
'Shameful of him! shameful!' he muttered perversely: for it would have
made him desolate to have had to change his opinion of her ladyship after
cherishing it, and consoling himself with it, five-and-twenty years.
Fearing the approach of softness, he prepared to take his leave.
'Now--your servant, my lady. I stick to my word, mind: and if your
people here are willing, I--I 've got a candidate up for Fall'field--
I'll knock him down, and you shall sneak in your Tory. Servant, my
Old Tom rose to go. Lady Jocelyn took his hand cordially, though she
could not help smiling at the humility of the cobbler's son in his manner
of speaking of the Tory candidate.
'Won't you stop with us a few days?'
'I 'd rather not, I thank ye.'
'Won't you see Rose?'
'I won't. Not till she's married.'
'Well, Tom, we're friends now?'
'Not aware I've ever done you any harm, my lady.'
'Look me in the face.'
The trial was hard for him. Though she had been five-and-twenty years a
wife, she was still very handsome: but he was not going to be melted, and
when the perverse old fellow obeyed her, it was with an aspect of
resolute disgust that would have made any other woman indignant. Lady
'Why, Tom, your brother Andrew's here, and makes himself comfortable with
us. We rode by Brook's farm the other day. Do you remember Copping's
pond--how we dragged it that night? What days we had!'
Old Tom tugged once or twice at his imprisoned fist, while these youthful
frolics of his too stupid self and the wild and beautiful Miss Bonner
were being recalled.
'I remember!' he said savagely, and reaching the door hurled out: 'And I
remember the Bull-dogs, too! servant, my lady.' With which he effected a
retreat, to avoid a ringing laugh he heard in his ears.
Lady Jocelyn had not laughed. She had done no more than look and smile
kindly on the old boy. It was at the Bull-dogs, a fall of water on the
borders of the park, that Tom Cogglesby, then a hearty young man, had
been guilty of his folly: had mistaken her frank friendliness for a
return of his passion, and his stubborn vanity still attributed her
rejection of his suit to the fact of his descent from a cobbler, or,
as he put it, to her infernal worship of rank.
'Poor old Tom!' said her ladyship, when alone. 'He 's rough at the rind,
but sound at the core.' She had no idea of the long revenge Old Tom
cherished, and had just shaped into a plot to be equal with her for the
PRELUDE TO AN ENGAGEMENT
Money was a strong point with the Elburne brood. The Jocelyns very
properly respected blood; but being, as Harry, their youngest
representative, termed them, poor as rats, they were justified in
considering it a marketable stuff; and when they married they married for
money. The Hon. Miss Jocelyn had espoused a manufacturer, who failed in
his contract, and deserved his death. The diplomatist, Melville, had not
stepped aside from the family traditions in his alliance with Miss Black,
the daughter of a bold bankrupt, educated in affluence; and if he touched
nothing but L5000 and some very pretty ringlets, that was not his fault.
Sir Franks, too, mixed his pure stream with gold. As yet, however, the
gold had done little more than shine on him; and, belonging to
expectancy, it might be thought unsubstantial. Beckley Court was in the
hands of Mrs. Bonner, who, with the highest sense of duty toward her only
living child, was the last to appreciate Lady Jocelyn's entire absence of
demonstrative affection, and severely reprobated her daughter's
philosophic handling of certain serious subjects. Sir Franks, no doubt,
came better off than the others; her ladyship brought him twenty thousand
pounds, and Harry had ten in the past tense, and Rose ten in the future;
but living, as he had done, a score of years anticipating the demise of
an incurable invalid, he, though an excellent husband and father, could
scarcely be taught to imagine that the Jocelyn object of his bargain was
attained. He had the semblance of wealth, without the personal glow
which absolute possession brings. It was his habit to call himself a
poor man, and it was his dream that Rose should marry a rich one. Harry
was hopeless. He had been his Grandmother's pet up to the years of
adolescence: he was getting too old for any prospect of a military career
he had no turn for diplomacy, no taste for any of the walks open to blood
and birth, and was in headlong disgrace with the fountain of goodness at
Beckley Court, where he was still kept in the tacit understanding that,
should Juliana inherit the place, he must be at hand to marry her
instantly, after the fashion of the Jocelyns. They were an injured
family; for what they gave was good, and the commercial world had not
behaved honourably to them. Now, Ferdinand Laxley was just the match for
Rose. Born to a title and fine estate, he was evidently fond of her, and
there had been a gentle hope in the bosom of Sir Franks that the family
fatality would cease, and that Rose would marry both money and blood.
From this happy delusion poor Sir Franks was awakened to hear that his
daughter had plighted herself to the son of a tradesman: that, as the
climax to their evil fate, she who had some blood and some money of her
own--the only Jocelyn who had ever united the two--was desirous of
wasting herself on one who had neither. The idea was so utterly opposed
to the principles Sir Franks had been trained in, that his intellect
could not grasp it. He listened to his sister, Mrs. Shorne: he listened
to his wife; he agreed with all they said, though what they said was
widely diverse: he consented to see and speak to Evan, and he did so, and
was much the most distressed. For Sir Franks liked many things in life,
and hated one thing alone--which was 'bother.' A smooth world was his
delight. Rose knew this, and her instruction to Evan was: 'You cannot
give me up--you will go, but you cannot give me up while I am faithful to
you: tell him that.' She knew that to impress this fact at once on the
mind of Sir Franks would be a great gain; for in his detestation of
bother he would soon grow reconciled to things monstrous: and hearing the
same on both sides, the matter would assume an inevitable shape to him.
Mr. Second Fiddle had no difficulty in declaring the eternity of his
sentiments; but he toned them with a despair Rose did not contemplate,
and added also his readiness to repair, in any way possible, the evil
done. He spoke of his birth and position. Sir Franks, with a
gentlemanly delicacy natural to all lovers of a smooth world, begged him
to see the main and the insurmountable objection. Birth was to be
desired, of course, and position, and so forth: but without money how can
two young people marry? Evan's heart melted at this generous way of
putting it. He said he saw it, he had no hope: he would go and be
forgotten: and begged that for any annoyance his visit might have caused
Sir Franks and Lady Jocelyn, they would pardon him. Sir Franks shook him
by the hand, and the interview ended in a dialogue on the condition of
the knees of Black Lymport, and on horseflesh in Portugal and Spain.
Following Evan, Rose went to her father and gave him a good hour's
excitement, after which the worthy gentleman hurried for consolation to
Lady Jocelyn, whom he found reading a book of French memoirs, in her
usual attitude, with her feet stretched out and her head thrown back, as
in a distant survey of the lively people screening her from a troubled
world. Her ladyship read him a piquant story, and Sir Franks capped it
with another from memory; whereupon her ladyship held him wrong in one
turn of the story, and Sir Franks rose to get the volume to verify, and
while he was turning over the leaves, Lady Jocelyn told him incidentally
of old Tom Cogglesby's visit and proposal. Sir Franks found the passage,
and that her ladyship was right, which it did not move her countenance to
'Ah!' said he, finding it no use to pretend there was no bother in the
world, 'here's a pretty pickle! Rose says she will have that fellow.'
'Hum!' replied her ladyship. 'And if she keeps her mind a couple of
years, it will be a wonder.'
'Very bad for her this sort of thing--talked about,' muttered Sir Franks.
'Ferdinand was just the man.'
'Well, yes; I suppose it's her mistake to think brains an absolute
requisite,' said Lady Jocelyn, opening her book again, and scanning down
Sir Franks, being imitative, adopted a similar refuge, and the talk
between them was varied by quotations and choice bits from the authors
they had recourse to. Both leaned back in their chairs, and spoke with
their eyes on their books.
'Julia's going to write to her mother,' said he.
'Very filial and proper,' said she.
'There'll be a horrible hubbub, you know, Emily.'
'Most probably. I shall get the blame; 'cela se concoit'.'
'Young Harrington goes the day after to-morrow. Thought it better not to
pack him off in a hurry.'
'And just before the pic-nic; no, certainly. I suppose it would look
'How are we to get rid of the Countess?'
'Eh? This Bautru is amusing, Franks; but he's nothing to Vandy. 'Homme
incomparable!' On the whole I find Menage rather dull. The Countess?
what an accomplished liar that woman is! She seems to have stepped out
of Tallemant's Gallery. Concerning the Countess, I suppose you had
better apply to Melville.'
'Where the deuce did this young Harrington get his breeding from?'
'He comes of a notable sire.'
'Yes, but there's no sign of the snob in him.'
'And I exonerate him from the charge of "adventuring" after Rose. George
Uplift tells me--I had him in just now--that the mother is a woman of
mark and strong principle. She has probably corrected the too luxuriant
nature of Mel in her offspring. That is to say in this one. 'Pour les
autres, je ne dis pas'. Well, the young man will go; and if Rose chooses
to become a monument of constancy, we can do nothing. I shall give my
advice; but as she has not deceived me, and she is a reasonable being, I
shan't interfere. Putting the case at the worst, they will not want
money. I have no doubt Tom Cogglesby means what he says, and will do it.
So there we will leave the matter till we hear from Elburne House.'
Sir Franks groaned at the thought.
'How much does he offer to settle on them?' he asked.
'A thousand a year on the marriage, and the same amount to the first
child. I daresay the end would be that they would get all.'
Sir Franks nodded, and remained with one eye-brow pitiably elevated above
the level of the other.
'Anything but a tailor!' he exclaimed presently, half to himself.
'There is a prejudice against that craft,' her ladyship acquiesced.
'Beranger--let me see--your favourite Frenchman, Franks, wasn't it his
father?--no, his grandfather. "Mon pauvre et humble grand-pyre," I
think, was a tailor. Hum! the degrees of the thing, I confess, don't
affect me. One trade I imagine to be no worse than another.'
'Ferdinand's allowance is about a thousand,' said Sir Franks,
'And won't be a farthing more till he comes to the title,' added her
'Well,' resumed Sir Franks, 'it's a horrible bother!'
His wife philosophically agreed with him, and the subject was dropped.
Lady Jocelyn felt with her husband, more than she chose to let him know,
and Sir Franks could have burst into anathemas against fate and
circumstances, more than his love of a smooth world permitted. He,
however, was subdued by her calmness; and she, with ten times the weight
of brain, was manoeuvred by the wonderful dash of General Rose Jocelyn.
For her ladyship, thinking, 'I shall get the blame of all this,' rather
sided insensibly with the offenders against those who condemned them
jointly; and seeing that Rose had been scrupulously honest and
straightforward in a very delicate matter, this lady was so constituted
that she could not but applaud her daughter in her heart. A worldly
woman would have acted, if she had not thought, differently; but her
ladyship was not a worldly woman.
Evan's bearing and character had, during his residence at Beckley Court,
become so thoroughly accepted as those of a gentleman, and one of their
own rank, that, after an allusion to the origin of his breeding, not a
word more was said by either of them on that topic. Besides, Rose had
dignified him by her decided conduct.
By the time poor Sir Franks had read himself into tranquillity, Mrs.
Shorne, who knew him well, and was determined that he should not enter
upon his usual negociations with an unpleasantness: that is to say, to
forget it, joined them in the library, bringing with her Sir John Loring
and Hamilton Jocelyn. Her first measure was to compel Sir Franks to put
down his book. Lady Jocelyn subsequently had to do the same.
'Well, what have you done, Franks?' said Mrs. Shorne.
'Done?' answered the poor gentleman. 'What is there to be done? I've
spoken to young Harrington.'
'Spoken to him! He deserves horsewhipping! Have you not told him to
quit the house instantly?'
Lady Jocelyn came to her husband's aid: 'It wouldn't do, I think, to kick
him out. In the first place, he hasn't deserved it.'
'Not deserved it, Emily!--the commonest, low, vile, adventuring
'In the second place,' pursued her ladyship, 'it's not adviseable to do
anything that will make Rose enter into the young woman's sublimities.
It 's better not to let a lunatic see that you think him stark mad, and
the same holds with young women afflicted with the love-mania. The sound
of sense, even if they can't understand it, flatters them so as to keep
them within bounds. Otherwise you drive them into excesses best
'Really, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne, 'you speak almost, one would say, as
an advocate of such unions.'
'You must know perfectly well that I entirely condemn them,' replied her
ladyship, who had once, and once only, delivered her opinion of the
nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Shorne.
In self-defence, and to show the total difference between the cases, Mrs.
Shorne interjected: 'An utterly penniless young adventurer!'
'Oh, no; there's money,' remarked Sir Franks.
'Money is there?' quoth Hamilton, respectfully.
'And there's wit,' added Sir John, 'if he has half his sister's talent.'
'Astonishing woman!' Hamilton chimed in; adding, with a shrug,
'Well, we don't want him to resemble his sister,' said Lady Jocelyn.
'I acknowledge she's amusing.'
'Amusing, Emily!' Mrs. Shorne never encountered her sister-in-law's
calmness without indignation. 'I could not rest in the house with such a
person, knowing her what she is. A vile adventuress, as I firmly
believe. What does she do all day with your mother? Depend upon it, you
will repent her visit in more ways than one.'
'A prophecy?' asked Lady Jocelyn, smiling.
On the grounds of common sense, on the grounds of propriety, and
consideration of what was due to themselves, all agreed to condemn the
notion of Rose casting herself away on Evan. Lady Jocelyn agreed with
Mrs. Shorne; Sir Franks with his brother, and Sir John. But as to what
they were to do, they were divided. Lady Jocelyn said she should not
prevent Rose from writing to Evan, if she had the wish to do so.
'Folly must come out,' said her ladyship. 'It's a combustible material.
I won't have her health injured. She shall go into the world more. She
will be presented at Court, and if it's necessary to give her a dose or
two to counteract her vanity, I don't object. This will wear off, or,
'si c'est veritablement une grande passion, eh bien' we must take what
Providence sends us.'
'And which we might have prevented if we had condescended to listen to
the plainest worldly wisdom,' added Mrs. Shorne.
'Yes,' said Lady Jocelyn, equably, 'you know, you and I, Julia, argue
from two distinct points. Girls may be shut up, as you propose. I don't
think nature intended to have them the obverse of men. I 'm sure their
mothers never designed that they should run away with footmen, riding-
masters, chance curates, as they occasionally do, and wouldn't if they
had points of comparison. My opinion is that Prospero was just saved by
the Prince of Naples being wrecked on his island, from a shocking mis-
alliance between his daughter and the son of Sycorax. I see it clearly.
Poetry conceals the extreme probability, but from what I know of my sex,
I should have no hesitation in turning prophet also, as to that.'
What could Mrs. Shorne do with a mother who talked in this manner?
Mrs. Melville, when she arrived to take part in the conference, which
gradually swelled to a family one, was equally unable to make Lady
Jocelyn perceive that her plan of bringing up Rose was, in the present
result of it, other than unlucky.
Now the two Generals--Rose Jocelyn and the Countess de Saldar--
had brought matters to this pass; and from the two tactical extremes:
the former by openness and dash; the latter by subtlety, and her own
interpretations of the means extended to her by Providence. I will not
be so bold as to state which of the two I think right. Good and evil
work together in this world. If the Countess had not woven the tangle,
and gained Evan time, Rose would never have seen his blood,--never have
had her spirit hurried out of all shows and forms and habits of thought,
up to the gates of existence, as it were, where she took him simply as
God created him and her, and clave to him. Again, had Rose been secret,
when this turn in her nature came, she would have forfeited the strange
power she received from it, and which endowed her with decision to say
what was in her heart, and stamp it lastingly there. The two Generals
were quite antagonistic, but no two, in perfect ignorance of one
another's proceedings, ever worked so harmoniously toward the main
result. The Countess was the skilful engineer: Rose the General of
cavalry. And it did really seem that, with Tom Cogglesby and his
thousands in reserve, the victory was about to be gained. The male
Jocelyns, an easy race, decided that, if the worst came to the worst, and
Rose proved a wonder, there was money, which was something.
But social prejudice was about to claim its champion. Hitherto there had
been no General on the opposite side. Love, aided by the Countess, had
engaged an inert mass. The champion was discovered in the person of the
provincial Don Juan, Mr. Harry Jocelyn. Harry had gone on a mysterious
business of his own to London. He returned with a green box under his
arm, which, five minutes after his arrival, was entrusted to Conning, in
company with a genial present for herself, of a kind not perhaps so fit
for exhibition; at least they both thought so, for it was given in the
shades. Harry then went to pay his respects to his mother, who received
him with her customary ironical tolerance. His father, to whom he was an
incarnation of bother, likewise nodded to him and gave him a finger.
Duty done, Harry looked round him for pleasure, and observed nothing but
glum faces. Even the face of John Raikes was, heavy. He had been
hovering about the Duke and Miss Current for an hour, hoping the Countess
would come and give him a promised introduction. The Countess stirred
not from above, and Jack drifted from group to group on the lawn, and
grew conscious that wherever he went he brought silence with him. His
isolation made him humble, and when Harry shook his hand, and said he
remembered Fallow field and the fun there, Mr. Raikes thanked him.
Harry made his way to join his friend Ferdinand, and furnished him with
the latest London news not likely to appear in the papers. Laxley was
distant and unamused. From the fact, too, that Harry was known to be the
Countess's slave, his presence produced the same effect in the different
circles about the grounds, as did that of John Raikes. Harry began to
yawn and wish very ardently for his sweet lady. She, however, had too
fine an instinct to descend.
An hour before dinner, Juliana sent him a message that she desired to see
'Jove! I hope that girl's not going to be blowing hot again,' sighed the
He had nothing to fear from Juliana. The moment they were alone she
asked him, 'Have you heard of it?'
Harry shook his head and shrugged.
'They haven't told you? Rose has engaged herself to Mr. Harrington, a
tradesman, a tailor!'
'Pooh! have you got hold of that story?' said Harry. 'But I'm sorry for
old Ferdy. He was fond of Rosey. Here's another bother!'
'You don't believe me, Harry?'
Harry was mentally debating whether, in this new posture of affairs, his
friend Ferdinand would press his claim for certain moneys lent.
'Oh, I believe you,' he said. 'Harrington has the knack with you women.
Why, you made eyes at him. It was a toss-up between you and Rosey once.'
Juliana let this accusation pass.
'He is a tradesman. He has a shop in Lymport, I tell you, Harry, and his
name on it. And he came here on purpose to catch Rose. And now he has
caught her, he tells her. And his mother is now at one of the village
inns, waiting to see him. Go to Mr. George Uplift; he knows the family.
Yes, the Countess has turned your head, of course; but she has schemed,
and schemed, and told such stories--God forgive her!'
The girl had to veil her eyes in a spasm of angry weeping.
'Oh, come! Juley!' murmured her killing cousin. Harry boasted an
extraordinary weakness at the sight of feminine tears. 'I say! Juley!
you know if you begin crying I'm done for, and it isn't fair.'
He dropped his arm on her waist to console her, and generously declared
to her that he always had been, very fond of her. These scenes were not
foreign to the youth. Her fits of crying, from which she would burst in
a frenzy of contempt at him, had made Harry say stronger things; and the
assurances of profound affection uttered in a most languid voice will
sting the hearts of women.
Harry still went on with his declarations, heating them rapidly, so as to
bring on himself the usual outburst and check. She was longer in coming
to it this time, and he had a horrid fear, that instead of dismissing him
fiercely, and so annulling his words, the strange little person was going
to be soft and hold him to them. There were her tears, however, which
she could not stop.
'Well, then, Juley, look. I do, upon my honour, yes--there, don't cry
any more--I do love you.'
Harry held his breath in awful suspense. Juliana quietly disengaged her
waist, and looking at him, said, 'Poor Harry! You need not lie any more
to please me.'
Such was Harry's astonishment, that he exclaimed,
'It isn't a lie! I say, I do love you.' And for an instant he thought
and hoped that he did love her.
'Well, then, Harry, I don't love you,' said Juliana; which revealed to
our friend that he had been mistaken in his own emotions. Nevertheless,
his vanity was hurt when he saw she was sincere, and he listened to her,
a moody being. This may account for his excessive wrath at Evan
Harrington after Juliana had given him proofs of the truth of what she
But the Countess was Harrington's sister! The image of the Countess swam
before him. Was it possible? Harry went about asking everybody he met.
The initiated were discreet; those who had the whispers were open. A
bare truth is not so convincing as one that discretion confirms. Harry
found the detestable news perfectly true.
'Stop it by all means if you can,' said his father.
'Yes, try a fall with Rose,' said his mother.
'And I must sit down to dinner to-day with a confounded fellow, the son
of a tailor, who's had the impudence to make love to my sister!' cried
Harry. 'I'm determined to kick him out of the house!--half.'
'To what is the modification of your determination due?' Lady Jocelyn
inquired, probably suspecting the sweet and gracious person who divided
Her ladyship treated her children as she did mankind generally, from her
intellectual eminence. Harry was compelled to fly from her cruel shafts.
He found comfort with his Aunt Shorne, and she as much as told Harry that
he was the head of the house, and must take up the matter summarily. It
was expected of him. Now was the time for him to show his manhood.
Harry could think of but one way to do that.
'Yes, and if I do--all up with the old lady,' he said, and had to explain
that his Grandmama Bonner would never leave a penny to a fellow who had
fought a duel.
'A duel!' said Mrs. Shorne. 'No, there are other ways. Insist upon his
renouncing her. And Rose--treat her with a high hand, as becomes you.
Your mother is incorrigible, and as for your father, one knows him of
old. This devolves upon you. Our family honour is in your hands,
Considering Harry's reputation, the family honour must have got low:
Harry, of course, was not disposed to think so. He discovered a great
deal of unused pride within him, for which he had hitherto not found an
agreeable vent. He vowed to his aunt that he would not suffer the
disgrace, and while still that blandishing olive-hued visage swam before
his eyes, he pledged his word to Mrs. Shorne that he would come to an
understanding with Harrington that night.
'Quietly,' said she. 'No scandal, pray.'
'Oh, never mind how I do it,' returned Harry, manfully. 'How am I to do
it, then?' he added, suddenly remembering his debt to Evan.
Mrs. Shorne instructed him how to do it quietly, and without fear of
scandal. The miserable champion replied that it was very well for her
to tell him to say this and that, but--and she thought him demented--
he must, previous to addressing Harrington in those terms, have money.
'Money!' echoed the lady. 'Money!'
'Yes, money!' he iterated doggedly, and she learnt that he had borrowed a
sum of Harrington, and the amount of the sum.
It was a disastrous plight, for Mrs. Shorne was penniless.
She cited Ferdinand Laxley as a likely lender.
'Oh, I'm deep with him already,' said Harry, in apparent dejection.
'How dreadful are these everlasting borrowings of yours!' exclaimed his
aunt, unaware of a trifling incongruity in her sentiments. 'You must
speak to him without--pay him by-and-by. We must scrape the money
together. I will write to your grandfather.'
'Yes; speak to him! How can I when I owe him? I can't tell a fellow
he's a blackguard when I owe him, and I can't speak any other way.
I ain't a diplomatist. Dashed if I know what to do!'
'Juliana,' murmured his aunt.
'Can't ask her, you know.'
Mrs. Shorne combated the one prominent reason for the objection: but
there were two. Harry believed that he had exhausted Juliana's treasury.
Reproaching him further for his wastefulness, Mrs. Shorne promised him
the money should be got, by hook or by crook, next day.
'And you will speak to this Mr. Harrington to-night, Harry? No allusion
to the loan till you return it. Appeal to his sense of honour.'
The dinner-bell assembled the inmates of the house. Evan was not among
them. He had gone, as the Countess said aloud, on a diplomatic mission
to Fallow field, with Andrew Cogglesby. The truth being that he had
finally taken Andrew into his confidence concerning the letter, the
annuity, and the bond. Upon which occasion Andrew had burst into a
laugh, and said he could lay his hand on the writer of the letter.
'Trust Old Tom for plots, Van! He'll blow you up in a twinkling, the
cunning old dog! He pretends to be hard--he 's as soft as I am, if it
wasn't for his crotchets. We'll hand him back the cash, and that's
ended. And--eh? what a dear girl she is! Not that I'm astonished.
My Harry might have married a lord--sit at top of any table in the land!
And you're as good as any man.
That's my opinion. But I say she's a wonderful girl to see it.'
Chattering thus, Andrew drove with the dear boy into Fallow field. Evan
was still in his dream. To him the generous love and valiant openness of
Rose, though they were matched in his own bosom, seemed scarcely human.
Almost as noble to him were the gentlemanly plainspeaking of Sir Franks
and Lady Jocelyn's kind commonsense. But the more he esteemed them, the
more unbounded and miraculous appeared the prospect of his calling their
daughter by the sacred name, and kneeling with her at their feet. Did
the dear heavens have that in store for him? The horizon edges were
Harry looked about under his eye-lids for Evan, trying at the same time
to compose himself for the martyrdom he had to endure in sitting at table
with the presumptuous fellow. The Countess signalled him to come within
the presence. As he was crossing the room, Rose entered, and moved to
meet him, with: 'Ah, Harry! back again! Glad to see you.'
Harry gave her a blunt nod, to which she was inattentive.
'What!' whispered the Countess, after he pressed the tips of her fingers.
'Have you brought back the grocer?'
Now this was hard to stand. Harry could forgive her her birth, and pass
it utterly by if she chose to fall in love with him; but to hear the
grocer mentioned, when he knew of the tailor, was a little too much, and
what Harry felt his ingenuous countenance was accustomed to exhibit. The
Countess saw it. She turned her head from him to the diplomatist, and he
had to remain like a sentinel at her feet. He did not want to be thanked
for the green box: still he thought she might have favoured him with one
of her much-embracing smiles:
In the evening, after wine, when he was warm, and had almost forgotten
the insult to his family and himself, the Countess snubbed him. It was
unwise on her part, but she had the ghastly thought that facts were
oozing out, and were already half known. She was therefore sensitive
tenfold to appearances; savage if one failed to keep up her lie to her,
and was guilty of a shadow of difference of behaviour. The pic-nic over,
our General would evacuate Beckley Court, and shake the dust off her
shoes, and leave the harvest of what she had sown to Providence. Till
then, respect, and the honours of war! So the Countess snubbed him, and
he being full of wine, fell into the hands of Juliana, who had witnessed
the little scene.
'She has made a fool of others as well as of you,' said Juliana.
'How has she?' he inquired.
'Never mind. Do you want to make her humble and crouch to you?'
'I want to see Harrington,' said Harry.
'He will not return to-night from Fallow field. He has gone there to get
Mr. Andrew Cogglesby's brother to do something for him. You won't have
such another chance of humbling them both--both! I told you his mother
is at an inn here. The Countess has sent Mr. Harrington to Fallow field
to be out of the way, and she has told her mother all sorts of
'How do you know all that?' quoth Harry. 'By Jove, Juley! talk about
plotters! No keeping anything from you, ever!'
'Never mind. The mother is here. She must be a vulgar woman. Oh! if
you could manage, Harry, to get this woman to come--you could do it so
easily! while they are at the pie-nic tomorrow. It would have the best
effect on Rose. She would then understand! And the Countess!'
'I could send the old woman a message!' cried Harry, rushing into the
scheme, inspired by Juliana's fiery eyes. 'Send her a sort of message to
say where we all were.'
'Let her know that her son is here, in some way,' Juley resumed.
'And, egad! what an explosion!' pursued Harry. 'But, suppose--'
'No one shall know, if you leave it to me-if you do just as I tell you,
Harry. You won't be treated as you were this evening after that, if you
bring down her pride. And, Harry, I hear you want money--I can give you
'You're a perfect trump, Juley!' exclaimed her enthusiastic cousin.
'But, no; I can't take it. I must kiss you, though.'
He put a kiss upon her cheek. Once his kisses had left a red waxen
stamp; she was callous to these compliments now.
'Will you do what I advise you to-morrow?' she asked.
After a slight hesitation, during which the olive-hued visage flitted
faintly in the distances of his brain, Harry said:
'It 'll do Rose good, and make Harrington cut. Yes! I declare I will.'
Then they parted. Juliana went to her bed-room, and flung herself upon
the bed hysterically. As the tears came thick and fast, she jumped up to
lock the door, for this outrageous habit of crying had made her
contemptible in the eyes of Lady Jocelyn, and an object of pity to Rose.
Some excellent and noble natures cannot tolerate disease, and are
mystified by its ebullitions. It was very sad to see the slight thin
frame grasped by those wan hands to contain the violence of the frenzy
that possessed her! the pale, hapless face rigid above the torment in
her bosom! She had prayed to be loved like other girls, and her
readiness to give her heart in return had made her a by-word in the
house. She went to the window and leaned out on the casement, looking
towards Fallowfield over the downs, weeping bitterly, with a hard shut
mouth. One brilliant star hung above the ridge, and danced on her tears.
'Will he forgive me?' she murmured. 'Oh, my God! I wish we were dead
Her weeping ceased, and she closed the window, and undressed as far away
from the mirror as she could get; but its force was too much for her, and
drew her to it. Some undefined hope had sprung in her suddenly. With
nervous slow steps she approached the glass, and first brushing back the
masses of black hair from her brow, looked as for some new revelation.
Long and anxiously she perused her features: the wide bony forehead; the
eyes deep-set and rounded with the scarlet of recent tears, the thin
nose-sharp as the dead; the weak irritable mouth and sunken cheeks. She
gazed like a spirit disconnected from what she saw. Presently a sort of
forlorn negative was indicated by the motion of her head.
'I can pardon him,' she said, and sighed. 'How could he love such a
THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS. PART I
At the South-western extremity of the park, with a view extending over
wide meadows and troubled mill waters, yellow barn-roofs and weather-gray
old farm-walls, two grassy mounds threw their slopes to the margin of the
stream. Here the bull-dogs held revel. The hollow between the slopes
was crowned by a bending birch, which rose three-stemmed from the root,
and hung a noiseless green shower over the basin of green it shadowed.
Beneath it the interminable growl sounded pleasantly; softly shot the
sparkle of the twisting water, and you might dream things half-fulfilled.
Knots of fern were about, but the tops of the mounds were firm grass,
evidently well rolled, and with an eye to airy feet. Olympus one
eminence was called, Parnassus the other. Olympus a little overlooked
Parnassus, but Parnassus was broader and altogether better adapted for
the games of the Muses. Round the edges of both there was a well-trimmed
bush of laurel, obscuring only the feet of the dancers from the observing
gods. For on Olympus the elders reclined. Great efforts had
occasionally been made to dispossess and unseat them, and their security
depended mainly on a hump in the middle of the mound which defied the
Watteau-like groups were already couched in the shade. There were ladies
of all sorts: town-bred and country-bred: farmers' daughters and
daughters of peers: for this pic-nic, as Lady Jocelyn, disgusting the
Countess, would call it, was in reality a 'fete champetre', given
annually, to which the fair offspring of the superior tenants were
invited the brothers and fathers coming to fetch them in the evening.
It struck the eye of the Countess de Saldar that Olympus would be a
fitting throne for her, and a point whence her shafts might fly without
fear of a return. Like another illustrious General at Salamanca, she
directed a detachment to take possession of the height. Courtly Sir John
Loring ran up at once, and gave the diplomatist an opportunity to thank
her flatteringly for gaining them two minutes to themselves. Sir John
waved his handkerchief in triumph, welcoming them under an awning where
carpets and cushions were spread, and whence the Countess could eye the
field. She was dressed ravishingly; slightly in a foreign style, the
bodice being peaked at the waist, as was then the Portuguese persuasion.
The neck, too, was deliciously veiled with fine lace--and thoroughly
veiled, for it was a feature the Countess did not care to expose to the
vulgar daylight. Off her gentle shoulders, as it were some fringe of
cloud blown by the breeze this sweet lady opened her bosom to, curled a
lovely black lace scarf: not Caroline's. If she laughed, the tinge of
mourning lent her laughter new charms. If she sighed, the exuberant
array of her apparel bade the spectator be of good cheer. Was she witty,
men surrendered reason and adored her. Only when she entered the
majestic mood, and assumed the languors of greatness, and recited musky
anecdotes of her intimacy with it, only then did mankind, as represented
at Beckley Court, open an internal eye and reflect that it was wonderful
in a tailor's daughter. And she felt that mankind did so reflect. Her
instincts did not deceive her. She knew not how much was known; in the
depths of her heart she kept low the fear that possibly all might be
known; and succeeding in this, she said to herself that probably nothing
was known after all. George Uplift, Miss Carrington, and Rose, were the
three she abhorred. Partly to be out of their way, and to be out of the
way of chance shots (for she had heard names of people coming that
reminded her of Dubbins's, where, in past days, there had been on one
awful occasion a terrific discovery made), the Countess selected Olympus
for her station. It was her last day, and she determined to be happy.
Doubtless, she was making a retreat, but have not illustrious Generals
snatched victory from their pursuers? Fair, then, sweet, and full of
grace, the Countess moved. As the restless shifting of colours to her
motions was the constant interchange of her semisorrowful manner and
ready archness. Sir John almost capered to please her, and the
diplomatist in talking to her forgot his diplomacy and the craft of his
It was the last day also of Caroline and the Duke. The Countess clung to
Caroline and the Duke more than to Evan and Rose. She could see the
first couple walking under an avenue of limes, and near them that young
man or monkey, Raikes, as if in ambush. Twice they passed him, and twice
he doffed his hat and did homage.
'A most singular creature!' exclaimed the Countess. 'It is my constant
marvel where my brother discovered such a curiosity. Do notice him.'
'That man? Raikes?' said the diplomatist. 'Do you know he is our rival?
Harry wanted an excuse for another bottle last night, and proposed the
"Member" for Fallowfield. Up got this Mr. Raikes and returned thanks.'
'Yes?' the Countess negligently interjected in a way she had caught from
'Cogglesby's nominee, apparently.'
'I know it all,' said the Countess. 'We need have no apprehension. He
is docile. My brother-in-law's brother, you see, is most eccentric. We
can manage him best through this Mr. Raikes, for a personal application
would be ruin. He quite detests our family, and indeed all the
Melville's mouth pursed, and he looked very grave.
Sir John remarked: 'He seems like a monkey just turned into a man.'
'And doubtful about the tail,' added the Countess.
The image was tolerably correct, but other causes were at the bottom of
the air worn by John Raikes. The Countess had obtained an invitation for
him, with instructions that he should come early, and he had followed
them so implicitly that the curricle was flinging dust on the hedges
between Fallow field and Beckley but an hour or two after the chariot of
Apollo had mounted the heavens, and Mr. Raikes presented himself at the
breakfast table. Fortunately for him the Countess was there. After the
repast she introduced him to the Duke: and he bowed to the Duke, and the
Duke bowed to him: and now, to instance the peculiar justness in the mind
of Mr. Raikes, he, though he worshipped a coronet and would gladly have
recalled the feudal times to a corrupt land, could not help thinking that
his bow had beaten the Duke's and was better. He would rather not have
thought so, for it upset his preconceptions and threatened a revolution
in his ideas. For this reason he followed the Duke, and tried, if
possible, to correct, or at least chasten the impressions he had of
possessing a glaring advantage over the nobleman. The Duke's second
notice of him was hardly a nod. 'Well!' Mr. Raikes reflected, 'if this
is your Duke, why, egad! for figure and style my friend Harrington beats
him hollow.' And Raikes thought he knew who could conduct a conversation
with superior dignity and neatness. The torchlight of a delusion was
extinguished in him, but he did not wander long in that gloomy cavernous
darkness of the disenchanted, as many of us do, and as Evan had done,
when after a week at Beckley Court he began to examine of what stuff his
brilliant father, the great Mel, was composed. On the contrary, as the
light of the Duke dwindled, Raikes gained in lustre. 'In fact,' he said,
'there's nothing but the title wanting.' He was by this time on a level
with the Duke in his elastic mind.
Olympus had been held in possession by the Countess about half an hour,
when Lady Jocelyn mounted it, quite unconscious that she was scaling a
fortified point. The Countess herself fired off the first gun at her.
'It has been so extremely delightful up alone here, Lady Jocelyn: to look
at everybody below! I hope many will not intrude on us!'
'None but the dowagers who have breath to get up,' replied her ladyship,
panting. 'By the way, Countess, you hardly belong to us yet. You
'Indeed, I do not.'
'Oh, then you are in your right place. A dowager is a woman who doesn't
dance: and her male attendant is--what is he? We will call him a fogy.'
Lady Jocelyn directed a smile at Melville and Sir John, who both
protested that it was an honour to be the Countess's fogy.
Rose now joined them, with Laxley morally dragged in her wake.
'Another dowager and fogy!' cried the Countess, musically. 'Do you not
dance, my child?'
'Not till the music strikes up,' rejoined Rose. 'I suppose we shall have
to eat first.'
'That is the Hamlet of the pic-nic play, I believe,' said her mother.
'Of course you dance, don't you, Countess?' Rose inquired, for the sake
of amiable conversation.
The Countess's head signified: 'Oh, no! quite out of the question': she
held up a little bit of her mournful draperies, adding: 'Besides, you,
dear child, know your company, and can select; I do not, and cannot do
so. I understand we have a most varied assembly!'
Rose shut her eyes, and then looked at her mother. Lady Jocelyn's face
was undisturbed; but while her eyes were still upon the Countess, she
drew her head gently back, imperceptibly. If anything, she was admiring
the lady; but Rose could be no placid philosophic spectator of what was
to her a horrible assumption and hypocrisy. For the sake of him she
loved, she had swallowed a nauseous cup bravely. The Countess was too
much for her. She felt sick to think of being allied to this person.
She had a shuddering desire to run into the ranks of the world, and hide
her head from multitudinous hootings. With a pang of envy she saw her
friend Jenny walking by the side of William Harvey, happy, untried,
unoffending: full of hope, and without any bitter draughts to swallow!
Aunt Bel now came tripping up gaily.
'Take the alternative, 'douairiere or demoiselle'?' cried Lady Jocelyn.
'We must have a sharp distinction, or Olympus will be mobbed.'
'Entre les deux, s'il vous plait,' responded Aunt Bel. 'Rose, hurry
down, and leaven the mass. I see ten girls in a bunch. It's shocking.
Ferdinand, pray disperse yourself. Why is it, Emily, that we are always
in excess at pic-nics? Is man dying out?'
'From what I can see,' remarked Lady Jocelyn, 'Harry will be lost to his
species unless some one quickly relieves him. He's already half eaten up
by the Conley girls. Countess, isn't it your duty to rescue him?'
The Countess bowed, and murmured to Sir John:
'I fear my fascinations, Lady Jocelyn, may not compete with those fresh
'Ha! ha! "fresh young persons,"' laughed Sir John for the ladies in
question were romping boisterously with Mr. Harry.
The Countess inquired for the names and condition of the ladies, and was
told that they sprang from Farmer Conley, a well-to-do son of the soil,
who farmed about a couple of thousand acres between Fallow field and
Beckley, and bore a good reputation at the county bank.
'But I do think,' observed the Countess, 'it must indeed be pernicious
for any youth to associate with that class of woman. A deterioration of
Rose looked at her mother again. She thought 'Those girls would scorn to
marry a tradesman's son!'
The feeling grew in Rose that the Countess lowered and degraded her. Her
mother's calm contemplation of the lady was more distressing than if she
had expressed the contempt Rose was certain, according to her young
ideas, Lady Jocelyn must hold.
Now the Countess had been considering that she would like to have a word
or two with Mr. Harry, and kissing her fingers to the occupants of
Olympus, and fixing her fancy on the diverse thoughts of the ladies and
gentlemen, deduced from a rapturous or critical contemplation of her
figure from behind, she descended the slope.
Was it going to be a happy day? The well-imagined opinions of the
gentleman on her attire and style, made her lean to the affirmative; but
Rose's demure behaviour, and something--something would come across her
hopes. She had, as she now said to herself, stopped for the pic-nic,
mainly to give Caroline a last opportunity of binding the Duke to visit
the Cogglesby saloons in London. Let Caroline cleverly contrive this,
as she might, without any compromise, and the stay at Beckley Court would
be a great gain. Yes, Caroline was still with the Duke; they were
talking earnestly. The Countess breathed a short appeal to Providence
that Caroline might not prove a fool. Overnight she had said to
Caroline: 'Do not be so English. Can one not enjoy friendship with a
nobleman without wounding one's conscience or breaking with the world?
My dear, the Duke visiting you, you cow that infamous Strike of yours.
He will be utterly obsequious! I am not telling you to pass the line.
The contrary. But we continentals have our grievous reputation because
we dare to meet as intellectual beings, and defy the imputation that
ladies and gentlemen are no better than animals.'
It sounded very lofty to Caroline, who, accepting its sincerity, replied:
'I cannot do things by halves. I cannot live a life of deceit. A life
of misery--not deceit.'
Whereupon, pitying her poor English nature, the Countess gave her advice,
and this advice she now implored her familiars to instruct or compel
Caroline to follow.
The Countess's garment was plucked at. She beheld little Dorothy Loring
glancing up at her with the roguish timidity of her years.
'May I come with you?' asked the little maid, and went off into a
prattle: 'I spent that five shillings--I bought a shilling's worth of
sweet stuff, and nine penn'orth of twine, and a shilling for small wax
candles to light in my room when I'm going to bed, because I like plenty
of light by the looking-glass always, and they do make the room so hot!
My Jane declared she almost fainted, but I burnt them out! Then I only
had very little left for a horse to mount my doll on; and I wasn't going
to get a screw, so I went to Papa, and he gave me five shillings. And,
oh, do you know, Rose can't bear me to be with you. Jealousy, I suppose,
for you're very agreeable. And, do you know, your Mama is coming to-day?
I've got a Papa and no Mama, and you've got a Mama and no Papa. Isn't it
funny? But I don't think so much of it, as you 're grown up. Oh, I'm
quite sure she is coming, because I heard Harry telling Juley she was,
and Juley said it would be so gratifying to you.'
A bribe and a message relieved the Countess of Dorothy's attendance on
What did this mean? Were people so base as to be guilty of hideous plots
in this house? Her mother coming! The Countess's blood turned deadly
chill. Had it been her father she would not have feared, but her mother
was so vilely plain of speech; she never opened her mouth save to deliver
facts: which was to the Countess the sign of atrocious vulgarity.
But her mother had written to say she would wait for Evan in Fallow
field! The Countess grasped at straws. Did Dorothy hear that? And if
Harry and Juliana spoke of her mother, what did that mean? That she was
hunted, and must stand at bay!
'Oh, Papa! Papa! why did you marry a Dawley?' she exclaimed, plunging to
what was, in her idea, the root of the evil.
She had no time for outcries and lamentations. It dawned on her that
this was to be a day of battle. Where was Harry? Still in the midst of
the Conley throng, apparently pooh-poohing something, to judge by the
twist of his mouth.
The Countess delicately signed for him to approach her. The extreme
delicacy of the signal was at least an excuse for Harry to perceive
nothing. It was renewed, and Harry burst into a fit of laughter at some
fun of one of the Conley girls. The Countess passed on, and met Juliana
pacing by herself near the lower gates of the park. She wished only to
see how Juliana behaved. The girl looked perfectly trustful, as much so
as when the Countess was pouring in her ears the tales of Evan's growing
but bashful affection for her.
'He will soon be here,' whispered the Countess. 'Has he told you he will
come by this entrance?'
'No,' replied Juliana.
'You do not look well, sweet child.'
'I was thinking that you did not, Countess?'
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