Evan Harrington, complete
Part 9 out of 11
But was not Rose involved in him, and part of him? Had he not sworn
never to renounce her? What was this but a betrayal?
Go on, young man: fight your fight. The little imps pluck at you: the
big giant assails you: the seductions of the soft-mouthed siren are not
wanting. Slacken the knot an instant, and they will all have play. And
the worst is, that you may be wrong, and they may be right! For is it,
can it be proper for you to stain the silvery whiteness of your skin by
plunging headlong into yonder pitch-bath? Consider the defilement!
Contemplate your hideous aspect on issuing from that black baptism!
As to the honour of your family, Mr. Evan Harrington, pray, of what sort
of metal consists the honour of a tailor's family?
One little impertinent imp ventured upon that question on his own
account. The clever beast was torn back and strangled instantaneously by
his experienced elders, but not before Evan's pride had answered him.
Exalted by Love, he could dread to abase himself and strip off his
glittering garments; lowered by the world, he fell back upon his innate
Yes, he was called on to prove it; he was on his way to prove it.
Surrendering his dearest and his best, casting aside his dreams, his
desires, his aspirations, for this stern duty, he at least would know
that he made himself doubly worthy of her who abandoned him, and the
world would scorn him by reason of his absolute merit. Coming to this
point, the knot of his resolve tightened again; he hugged it with the
furious zeal of a martyr.
Religion, the lack of which in him the Countess deplored, would have
guided him and silenced the internal strife. But do not despise a virtue
purely Pagan. The young who can act readily up to the Christian light
are happier, doubtless: but they are led, they are passive: I think they
do not make such capital Christians subsequently. They are never in such
danger, we know; but some in the flock are more than sheep. The heathen
ideal it is not so very easy to attain, and those who mount from it to
the Christian have, in my humble thought, a firmer footing.
So Evan fought his hard fight from the top of the stairs to the bottom.
A Pagan, which means our poor unsupported flesh, is never certain of his
victory. Now you will see him kneeling to his Gods, and anon drubbing
them; or he makes them fight for him, and is complacent at the issue.
Evan had ceased to pick his knot with one hand and pull it with the
other: but not finding Lady Jocelyn below, and hearing that she had
retired for the night, he mounted the stairs, and the strife recommenced
from the bottom to the top. Strange to say, he was almost unaware of any
struggle going on within him. The suggestion of the foolish little imp
alone was loud in the heart of his consciousness; the rest hung more in
his nerves than in his brain. He thought: 'Well, I will speak it out to
her in the morning'; and thought so sincerely, while an ominous sigh of
relief at the reprieve rose from his over-burdened bosom.
Hardly had the weary deep breath taken flight, when the figure of Lady
Jocelyn was seen advancing along the corridor, with a lamp in her hand.
She trod heavily, in a kind of march, as her habit was; her large fully-
open grey eyes looking straight ahead. She would have passed him, and he
would have let her pass, but seeing the unusual pallor on her face, his
love for this lady moved him to step forward and express a hope that she
had no present cause for sorrow.
Hearing her mother's name, Lady Jocelyn was about to return a
conventional answer. Recognizing Evan, she said:
'Ah! Mr. Harrington! Yes, I fear it's as bad as it can be. She can
scarcely outlive the night.'
Again he stood alone: his chance was gone. How could he speak to her in
her affliction? Her calm sedate visage had the beauty of its youth, when
lighted by the animation that attends meetings or farewells. In her bow
to Evan, he beheld a lovely kindness more unique, if less precious, than
anything he had ever seen on the face of Rose. Half exultingly, he
reflected that no opportunity would be allowed him now to teach that
noble head and truest of human hearts to turn from him: the clear-eyed
morrow would come: the days of the future would be bright as other days!
Wrapped in the comfort of his cowardice, he started to see Lady Jocelyn
advancing to him again.
'Mr. Harrington,' she said, 'Rose tells me you leave us early in the
morning. I may as well shake your hand now. We part very good friends.
I shall always be glad to hear of you.'
Evan pressed her hand, and bowed. 'I thank you, madam,' was all he could
'It will be better if you don't write to Rose.'
Her tone was rather that of a request than an injunction.
'I have no right to do so, my lady.'
'She considers that you have: I wish her to have, a fair trial.'
His voice quavered. The philosophic lady thought it time to leave him.
'So good-bye. I can trust you without extracting a promise. If you ever
have need of a friend, you know you are at liberty to write to me.'
'You are tired, my lady?' He put this question more to dally with what he
ought to be saying.
'Tolerably. Your sister, the Countess, relieves me in the night. I
fancy my mother finds her the better nurse of the two.'
Lady Jocelyn's face lighted in its gracious pleasant way, as she just
inclined her head: but the mention of the Countess and her attendance on
Mrs. Bonner had nerved Evan: the contrast of her hypocrisy and vile
scheming with this most open, noble nature, acted like a new force within
him. He begged Lady Jocelyn's permission to speak with her in private.
Marking his fervid appearance, she looked at him seriously.
'Is it really important?'
'I cannot rest, madam, till it is spoken.'
'I mean, it doesn't pertain to the delirium? We may sleep upon that.'
He divined her sufficiently to answer: 'It concerns a piece of injustice
done by you, madam, and which I can help you to set right.'
Lady Jocelyn stared somewhat. 'Follow me into my dressing-room,' she
said, and led the way.
Escape was no longer possible. He was on the march to execution, and
into the darkness of his brain danced John Raikes, with his grotesque
tribulations. It was the harsh savour of reality that conjured up this
flighty being, who probably never felt a sorrow or a duty. The farce
Jack lived was all that Evan's tragic bitterness could revolve, and
seemed to be the only light in his mind. You might have seen a smile on
his mouth when he was ready to ask for a bolt from heaven to crush him.
'Now,' said her ladyship, and he found that the four walls enclosed them,
'what have I been doing?'
She did not bid him be seated. Her brevity influenced him to speak to
'You have dismissed Mr. Laxley, my lady: he is innocent.'
'How do you know that?'
'Because,'--a whirl of sensations beset the wretched youth, 'because I am
His words had run ahead of his wits; and in answer to Lady Jocelyn's
singular exclamation he could but simply repeat them.
Her head drew back; her face was slightly raised; she looked, as he had
seen her sometimes look at the Countess, with a sort of speculative
'And why do you come to tell me?'
'For the reason that I cannot allow you to be unjust, madam.'
'What on earth was your motive?'
Evan stood silent, flinching from her frank eyes.
'Well, well, well!' Her ladyship dropped into a chair, and thumped her
There was lawyer's blood in Lady Jocelyn's veins she had the judicial
mind. A confession was to her a confession. She tracked actions up to a
motive; but one who came voluntarily to confess needed no sifting. She
had the habit of treating things spoken as facts.
'You absolutely wrote that letter to Mrs. Evremonde's husband!'
Evan bowed, to avoid hearing his own lie.
'You discovered his address and wrote to him, and imitated Mr. Laxley's
handwriting, to effect the purpose you may have had?'
Her credulity did require his confirmation of it, and he repeated: ' It
is my deed.'
'Hum! And you sent that premonitory slip of paper to her?'
'To Mrs. Evremonde?'
'Somebody else was the author of that, perhaps?'
'It is all on me.'
'In that case, Mr. Harrington, I can only say that it's quite right you
should quit this house to-morrow morning.'
Her ladyship commenced rocking in her chair, and then added: 'May I ask,
have you madness in your family? No? Because when one can't discern a
motive, it's natural to ascribe certain acts to madness. Had Mrs.
Evremonde offended you? or Ferdinand--but one only hears of such
practices towards fortunate rivals, and now you have come to undo what
you did! I must admit, that taking the monstrousness of the act and the
inconsequence of your proceedings together, the whole affair becomes more
incomprehensible to me than it was before. Would it be unpleasant to you
to favour me with explanations?'
She saw the pain her question gave him, and, passing it, said:
'Of course you need not be told that Rose must hear of this?'
'Yes,' said Evan, 'she must hear it.'
'You know what that 's equivalent to? But, if you like, I will not speak
to her till you, have left us.'
'Instantly,' cried Evan. 'Now-to-night! I would not have her live a
minute in a false estimate of me.'
Had Lady Jocelyn's intellect been as penetrating as it was masculine, she
would have taken him and turned him inside out in a very short time; for
one who would bear to see his love look coldly on him rather than endure
a minute's false estimate of his character, and who could yet stoop to
concoct a vile plot, must either be mad or simulating the baseness for
some reason or other. She perceived no motive for the latter, and she
held him to be sound in the head, and what was spoken from the mouth she
accepted. Perhaps, also, she saw in the complication thus offered an
escape for Rose, and was the less inclined to elucidate it herself. But
if her intellect was baffled, her heart was unerring. A man proved
guilty of writing an anonymous letter would not have been allowed to
stand long in her room. She would have shown him to the door of the
house speedily; and Evan was aware in his soul that he had not fallen
materially in her esteem. He had puzzled and confused her, and partly
because she had the feeling that this young man was entirely trustworthy,
and because she never relied on her feelings, she let his own words
condemn him, and did not personally discard him. In fact, she was a
veritable philosopher. She permitted her fellows to move the world on as
they would, and had no other passions in the contemplation of the show
than a cultured audience will usually exhibit.
'Strange,--most strange! I thought I was getting old!' she said, and
eyed the culprit as judges generally are not wont to do. 'It will be a
shock to Rose. I must tell you that I can't regret it. I would not have
employed force with her, but I should have given her as strong a taste of
the world as it was in my power to give. Girls get their reason from
society. But, come! if you think you can make your case out better to
her, you shall speak to her first yourself.'
'No, my lady,' said Evan, softly.
'You would rather not?'
'I could not.'
'But, I suppose, she'll want to speak to you when she knows it.'
'I can take death from her hands, but I cannot slay myself.'
The language was natural to his condition, though the note was pitched
high. Lady Jocelyn hummed till the sound of it was over, and an idea
striking her, she said:
'Ah, by the way, have you any tremendous moral notions?'
'I don't think I have, madam.'
'People act on that mania sometimes, I believe. Do you think it an
outrage on decency for a wife to run away from a mad husband whom they
won't shut up, and take shelter with a friend? Is that the cause? Mr.
Forth is an old friend of mine. I would trust my daughter with him in a
desert, and stake my hand on his honour.'
'Oh, Lady Jocelyn!' cried Evan. 'Would to God you might ever have said
that of me! Madam, I love you. I shall never see you again. I shall
never meet one to treat me so generously. I leave you, blackened in
character--you cannot think of me without contempt. I can never hope
that this will change. But, for your kindness let me thank you.'
And as speech is poor where emotion is extreme--and he knew his own to be
especially so--he took her hand with petitioning eyes, and dropping on
one knee, reverentially kissed it.
Lady Jocelyn was human enough to like to be appreciated. She was a
veteran Pagan, and may have had the instinct that a peculiar virtue in
this young one was the spring of his conduct. She stood up and said:
'Don't forget that you have a friend here.'
The poor youth had to turn his head from her.
'You wish that I should tell Rose what you have told me at once, Mr.
'Yes, my lady; I beg that you will do so.'
And the queer look Lady Jocelyn had been wearing dimpled into absolute
wonder. A stranger to Love's cunning, she marvelled why he should desire
to witness the scorn Rose would feel for him.
'If she's not asleep, then, she shall hear it now,' said her ladyship.
'You understand that it will be mentioned to no other person.'
'Except to Mr. Laxley, madam, to whom I shall offer the satisfaction he
may require. But I will undertake that.'
'Just as you think proper on that matter,' remarked her philosophical
ladyship, who held that man was a fighting animal, and must not have his
She lighted him part of the way, and then turned off to Rose's chamber.
Would Rose believe it of him? Love combated his dismal foreboding.
Strangely, too, now that he had plunged into his pitch-bath, the guilt
seemed to cling to him, and instead of hoping serenely, or fearing
steadily, his spirit fell in a kind of abject supplication to Rose, and
blindly trusted that she would still love even if she believed him base.
In his weakness he fell so low as to pray that she might love that
crawling reptile who could creep into a house and shrink from no vileness
to win her.
The light of morning was yet cold along the passages of the house when
Polly Wheedle, hurrying to her young mistress, met her loosely dressed
and with a troubled face.
'What 's the matter, Polly? I was coming to you.'
'O, Miss Rose! and I was coming to you. Miss Bonner's gone back to her
convulsions again. She's had them all night. Her hair won't last till
thirty, if she keeps on giving way to temper, as I tell her: and I know
that from a barber.'
'Tush, you stupid Polly! Does she want to see me?'
'You needn't suspect that, Miss. But you quiet her best, and I thought
I'd come to you. But, gracious!'
Rose pushed past her without vouchsafing any answer to the look in her
face, and turned off to Juliana's chamber, where she was neither welcomed
nor repelled. Juliana said she was perfectly well, and that Polly was
foolishly officious: whereupon Rose ordered Polly out of the room, and
said to Juliana, kindly: 'You have not slept, dear, and I have not
either. I am so unhappy.'
Whether Rose intended by this communication to make Juliana eagerly
attentive, and to distract her from her own affair, cannot be said, but
something of the effect was produced.
'You care for him, too,' cried Rose, impetuously. 'Tell me, Juley: do
you think him capable of any base action? Do you think he would do what
any gentleman would be ashamed to own? Tell me.'
Juliana looked at Rose intently, but did not reply.
Rose jumped up from the bed. 'You hesitate, Juley? What? Could you
Young women after a common game are shrewd. Juliana may have seen that
Rose was not steady on the plank she walked, and required support.
'I don't know,' she said, turning her cheek to her pillow.
'What an answer!' Rose exclaimed. 'Have you no opinion? What did you
say yesterday? It's silent as the grave with me: but if you do care for
him, you must think one thing or the other.'
'I suppose not, then--no,' said Juliana.
Repeating the languid words bitterly, Rose continued:
'What is it to love without having faith in him you love? You make my
Juliana caught the implied taunt, and said, fretfully:
'I'm ill. You're so passionate. You don't tell me what it is. How can
I answer you?'
'Never mind,' said Rose, moving to the door, wondering why she had spoken
at all: but when Juliana sprang forward, and caught her by the dress to
stop her, and with a most unwonted outburst of affection, begged of her
to tell her all, the wound in Rose's breast began to bleed, and she was
glad to speak.
'Juley, do you-can you believe that he wrote that letter which poor
Ferdinand was--accused of writing?'
Juliana appeared to muse, and then responded: 'Why should he do such a
'O my goodness, what a girl!' Rose interjected.
'Well, then, to please you, Rose, of course I think he is too
'You do think so, Juley? But if he himself confessed it--what then?
You would not believe him, would you?'
'Oh, then I can't say. Why should he condemn himself?'
'But you would know--you would know that he was a man to suffer death
rather than be guilty of the smallest baseness. His birth--what is
that!' Rose filliped her fingers: 'But his acts--what he is himself you
would be sure of, would you not? Dear Juley! Oh, for heaven's sake,
speak out plainly to me.'
A wily look had crept over Juliana's features.
'Certainly,' she said, in a tone that belied it, and drawing Rose to her
bosom, the groan she heard there was passing sweet to her.
'He has confessed it to Mama,' sobbed Rose. 'Why did he not come to me
first? He has confessed it--the abominable thing has come out of his own
mouth. He went to her last night . . .'
Juliana patted her shoulders regularly as they heaved. When words were
intelligible between them, Juliana said:
'At least, dear, you must admit that he has redeemed it.'
'Redeemed it? Could he do less?' Rose dried her eyes vehemently, as if
the tears shamed her. 'A man who could have let another suffer for his
crime--I could never have lifted my head again. I think I would have cut
off this hand that plighted itself to him! As it is, I hardly dare look
at myself. But you don't think it, dear? You know it to be false!
'Why should Mr. Harrington confess it?' said Juliana.
'Oh, don't speak his name!' cried Rose.
Her cousin smiled. 'So many strange things happen,' she said, and
'Don't sigh: I shall think you believe it!' cried Rose. An appearance of
constrained repose was assumed. Rose glanced up, studied for an instant,
and breathlessly uttered: 'You do, you do believe it, Juley?'
For answer, Juliana hugged her with much warmth, and recommenced the
'I dare say it's a mistake,' she remarked. ' He may have been jealous of
Ferdinand. You know I have not seen the letter. I have only heard of
it. In love, they say, you ought to excuse . . . And the want of
religious education! His sister . . .'
Rose interrupted her with a sharp shudder. Might it not be possible that
one who had the same blood as the Countess would stoop to a momentary
How changed was Rose from the haughty damsel of yesterday!
'Do you think my lover could tell a lie?' 'He--would not love me long if
These phrases arose and rang in Juliana's ears while she pursued the task
of comforting the broken spirit that now lay prone on the bed, and now
impetuously paced the room. Rose had come thinking the moment Juliana's
name was mentioned, that here was the one to fortify her faith in Evan:
one who, because she loved, could not doubt him. She moaned in a terror
of distrust, loathing her cousin: not asking herself why she needed
support. And indeed she was too young for much clear self-questioning,
and her blood was flowing too quickly for her brain to perceive more than
one thing at a time.
'Does your mother believe it?' said Juliana, evading a direct assault.
'Mama? She never doubts what you speak,' answered Rose, disconsolately.
Whereat Juliana looked most grave, and Rose felt that it was hard to
She had grown very cold and calm, and Juliana had to be expansive
'Believe nothing, dear, till you hear it from his own lips. If he can
look in your face and say that he did it . . . well, then! But of
course he cannot. It must be some wonderful piece of generosity to his
'So I thought, Juley! so I thought,' cried Rose, at the new light, and
Juliana smiled contemptuously, and the light flickered and died, and all
was darker than before in the bosom of Rose. She had borne so much that
this new drop was poison.
'Of course it must be that, if it is anything,' Juliana pursued. 'You
were made to be happy, Rose. And consider, if it is true, people of very
low birth, till they have lived long with other people, and if they have
no religion, are so very likely to do things. You do not judge them as
you do real gentlemen, and one must not be too harsh--I only wish to
prepare you for the worst.'
A dim form of that very idea had passed through Rose, giving her small
'Let him tell you with his own lips that what he has told your mother is
true, and then, and not till then, believe him,' Juliana concluded, and
they kissed kindly, and separated. Rose had suddenly lost her firm step,
but no sooner was Juliana alone than she left the bed, and addressed her
visage to the glass with brightening eyes, as one who saw the glimmer of
young hope therein.
'She love him! Not if he told me so ten thousand times would I believe
it! and before he has said a syllable she doubts him. Asking me in that
frantic way! as if I couldn't see that she wanted me to help her to her
faith in him, as she calls it. Not name his name? Mr. Harrington! I
may call him Evan: some day!'
Half-uttered, half-mused, the unconscious exclamations issued from her,
and for many a weary day since she had dreamed of love, and studied that
which is said to attract the creature, she had not been so glowingly
elated or looked so much farther in the glass than its pale reflection.
Cold through the night the dark-fringed stream had whispered under Evan's
eyes, and the night breeze voiced 'Fool, fool!' to him, not without a
distant echo in his heart. By symbols and sensations he knew that Rose
was lost to him. There was no moon: the water seemed aimless, passing on
carelessly to oblivion. Now and then, the trees stirred and talked, or a
noise was heard from the pastures. He had slain the life that lived in
them, and the great glory they were to bring forth, and the end to which
all things moved. Had less than the loss of Rose been involved, the
young man might have found himself looking out on a world beneath notice,
and have been sighing for one more worthy of his clouded excellence but
the immense misery present to him in the contemplation of Rose's sad
restrained contempt, saved him from the silly elation which is the last,
and generally successful, struggle of human nature in those who can so
far master it to commit a sacrifice. The loss of that brave high young
soul-Rose, who had lifted him out of the mire with her own white hands:
Rose, the image of all that he worshipped: Rose, so closely wedded to him
that to be cut away from her was to fall like pallid clay from the
soaring spirit: surely he was stunned and senseless when he went to utter
the words to her mother! Now that he was awake, and could feel his self-
inflicted pain, he marvelled at his rashness and foolishness, as perhaps
numerous mangled warriors have done for a time, when the battle-field was
cool, and they were weak, and the uproar of their jarred nerves has beset
them, lying uncherished.
By degrees he grew aware of a little consolatory touch, like the point of
a needle, in his consciousness. Laxley would certainly insult him! In
that case he would not refuse to fight him. The darkness broke and
revealed this happy prospect, and Evan held to it an hour, and could
hardly reject it when better thoughts conquered. For would it not be
sweet to make the strength of his arm respected? He took a stick, and
ran his eye musingly along the length, trifling with it grimly. The
great Mel had been his son's instructor in the chivalrous science of
fence, and a maitre d'armes in Portugal had given him polish. In Mel's
time duels with swords had been occasionally fought, and Evan looked on
the sword as the weapon of combat. Face to face with his adversary--what
then were birth or position? Action!--action! he sighed for it, as I
have done since I came to know that his history must be morally
developed. A glow of bitter pleasure exalted him when, after hot
passages, and parryings and thrusts, he had disarmed Ferdinand Laxley,
and bestowing on him his life, said: 'Accept this worthy gift of the son
of a tailor!' and he wiped his sword, haply bound up his wrist, and
stalked off the ground, the vindicator of man's natural dignity. And
then he turned upon himself with laughter, discovering a most wholesome
power, barely to be suspected in him yet; but of all the children of
glittering Mel and his solid mate, Evan was the best mixed compound of
He put the stick back in its corner and eyed his wrist, as if he had
really just gone through the pretty scene he had just laughed at. It was
nigh upon reality, for it suggested the employment of a handkerchief, and
he went to a place and drew forth one that had the stain of his blood on
it, and the name of Rose at one end. The beloved name was half-blotted
by the dull-red mark, and at that sight a strange tenderness took hold of
Evan. His passions became dead and of old date. This, then, would be
his for ever! Love, for whom earth had been too small, crept exultingly
into a nut-shell. He clasped the treasure on his breast, and saw a life
beyond his parting with her.
Strengthened thus, he wrote by the morning light to Laxley. The letter
was brief, and said simply that the act of which Laxley had been accused,
Evan Harrington was responsible for. The latter expressed regret that
Laxley should have fallen under a false charge, and, at the same time,
indicated that if Laxley considered himself personally aggrieved, the
writer was at his disposal.
A messenger had now to be found to convey it to the village-inn. Footmen
were stirring about the house, and one meeting Evan close by his door,
observed with demure grin, that he could not find the gentleman's nether-
garments. The gentleman, it appeared, was Mr. John Raikes, who according
to report, had been furnished with a bed at the house, because of a
discovery, made at a late period over-night, that farther the gentleman
could not go. Evan found him sleeping soundly. How much the poor youth
wanted a friend! Fortune had given him instead a born buffoon; and it is
perhaps the greatest evil of a position like Evan's, that, with cultured
feelings, you are likely to meet with none to know you. Society does not
mix well in money-pecking spheres. Here, however, was John Raikes, and
Evan had to make the best of him.
'Eh?' yawned Jack, awakened; 'I was dreaming I was Napoleon Bonaparte's
'I want you to be mine for half-an-hour,' said Evan.
Without replying, the distinguished officer jumped out of bed at a bound,
mounted a chair, and peered on tip-toe over the top, from which, with a
glance of self-congratulation, he pulled the missing piece of apparel,
sighed dejectedly as he descended, while he exclaimed:
'Safe! but no distinction can compensate a man for this state of
intolerable suspicion of everybody. I assure you, Harrington, I wouldn't
be Napoleon himself--and I have always been his peculiar admirer--to live
and be afraid of my valet! I believe it will develop cancer sooner or
later in me. I feel singular pains already. Last night, after crowning
champagne with ale, which produced a sort of French Revolution in my
interior--by the way, that must have made me dream of Napoleon last
night, with my lower members in revolt against my head, I had to sit and
cogitate for hours on a hiding-place for these-call them what you will.
Depend upon it, Harrington, this world is no such funny affair as we
'Then it is true, that you could let a man play pranks on you,' said
Evan. 'I took it for one of your jokes.'
'Just as I can't believe that you're a tailor,' returned Jack. 'It 's
not a bit more extraordinary.'
'But, Jack, if you cause yourself to be contemptible----'
'Contemptible!' cried Jack. 'This is not the tone I like. Contemptible!
why it's my eccentricity among my equals. If I dread the profane vulgar,
that only proves that I'm above them. Odi, etc. Besides, Achilles had
his weak point, and egad, it was when he faced about! By Jingo! I wish
I'd had that idea yesterday. I should have behaved better.'
Evan could see that the creature was beginning to rely desperately on his
'Come,' he said, 'be a man to-day. Throw off your motley. When I met
you that night so oddly, you had been acting like a worthy fellow, trying
to earn your bread in the best way you could--'
'And precisely because I met you, of all men, I've been going round and
round ever since,' said Jack. 'A clown or pantaloon would have given me
balance. Say no more. You couldn't help it. We met because we were the
Sighing, 'What a jolly old inn!' Raikes rolled himself over in the
sheets, and gave two or three snug jolts indicative of his determination
to be comfortable while he could.
'Do you intend to carry on this folly, Jack?'
'Say, sacrifice,' was the answer. 'I feel it as much as you possibly
could, Mr. Harrington. Hear the facts,' Jack turned round again. 'Why
did I consent to this absurdity? Because of my ambition. That old
fellow, whom I took to be a clerk of Messrs. Grist, said: "You want to
cut a figure in the world--you're armed now." A sort of Fortunatus's
joke. It was his way of launching me. But did he think I intended this
for more than a lift? I his puppet? He, sir, was my tool! Well, I
came. All my efforts were strained to shorten the period of penance. I
had the best linen, and put on captivating manners. I should undoubtedly
have won some girl of station, and cast off my engagement like an old
suit, but just mark!--now mark how Fortune tricks us! After the pic-nic
yesterday, the domestics of the house came to clear away, and the band
being there, I stopped them and bade them tune up, and at the same time
seizing the maid Wheedle, away we flew. We danced, we whirled, we
twirled. Ale upon this! My head was lost. "Why don't it last for
ever?" says I. "I wish it did," says she. The naivete enraptured me.
"Oooo!" I cried, hugging her, and then, you know, there was no course
open to a man of honour but to offer marriage and make a lady of her.
I proposed: she accepted me, and here I am, eternally tied to this
accurst insignia, if I'm to keep my promise! Isn't that a sacrifice,
friend H.? There's no course open to me. The poor girl is madly in
love. She called me a "rattle!" As a gentleman, I cannot recede.'
Evan got up and burst into damnable laughter at this burlesque of
himself. Telling the fellow the service he required, and receiving a
groaning assurance that the letter should, without loss of time, be
delivered in proper style, the egoist, as Jack heartily thought him, fell
behind his; knitted brows, and, after musing abstractedly, went forth to
light upon his fate.
But a dread of meeting had seized both Rose and Evan. She had exhausted
her first sincerity of unbelief in her interview with Juliana: and he had
begun to consider what he could say to her. More than the three words 'I
did it,' would not be possible; and if she made him repeat them, facing
her truthful eyes, would he be man enough to strike her bared heart
twice? And, ah! the sullen brute he must seem, standing before her
dumb, hearing her sigh, seeing her wretched effort not to show how
unwillingly her kind spirit despised him. The reason for the act--she
would ask for that! Rose would not be so philosophic as her mother. She
would grasp at every chance to excuse the deed. He cried out against his
scheming sister in an agony, and while he did so, encountered Miss
Carrington and Miss. Bonner in deep converse. Juliana pinched her arm,,
whereupon Miss Carrington said: 'You look merry this morning, Mr.
Harrington': for he was unawares smiling at the image of himself in the
mirror of John Raikes. That smile, transformed to a chuckling grimace,
travelled to Rose before they met.
Why did she not come to him?
A soft voice at his elbow made his blood stop. It was Caroline. She
kissed him, answering his greeting: ' Is it good morning?'
'Certainly,' said he. 'By the way, don't forget that the coach leaves
'My darling Evan! you make me so happy. For it was really a mistaken
sense of honour. For what can at all excuse a falsehood, you know,
Caroline took his arm, and led him into the sun, watching his face at
times. Presently she said: 'I want just to be assured that you thought
more wisely than when you left us last night.'
'More wisely?' Evan turned to her with a playful smile.
'My dear brother! you did not do what you said you would do?'
'Have you ever known me not to do what I said I would do?'
'Evan! Good heaven! you did it? Then how can you remain here an
instant? Oh, no, no!--say no, darling!'
'Where is Louisa?' he inquired.
'She is in her room. She will never appear at breakfast, if she knows
'Perhaps more solitude would do her good,' said Evan.
'Remember, if this should prove true, think how you punish her!'
On that point Evan had his own opinion.
'Well, I shall never have to punish you in this way, my love, he said
fondly, and Caroline dropped her eyelids.
'Don't think that I am blaming her,' he added, trying to feel as honestly
as he spoke. 'I was mad to come here. I see it all now. Let us keep to
our place. We are all the same before God till we disgrace ourselves.'
Possibly with that sense of shame which some young people have who are
not professors of sounding sentences, or affected by missionary zeal,
when they venture to breathe the holy name, Evan blushed, and walked on
humbly silent. Caroline murmured: 'Yes, yes! oh, brother!' and her
figure drew to him as if for protection. Pale, she looked up.
'Shall you always love me, Evan?'
'Whom else have I to love?'
'But always--always? Under any circumstances?'
'More and more, dear. I always have, and shall. I look to you now. I
have no home but in your heart now.'
She was agitated, and he spoke warmly to calm her.
The throb of deep emotion rang in her rich voice. 'I will live any life
to be worthy of your love, Evan,' and she wept.
To him they were words and tears without a history.
Nothing further passed between them. Caroline went to the Countess: Evan
waited for Rose. The sun was getting high. The face of the stream
glowed like metal. Why did she not come? She believed him guilty from
the mouth of another? If so, there was something less for him to lose.
And now the sacrifice he had made did whisper a tale of mortal
magnificence in his ears: feelings that were not his noblest stood up
exalted. He waited till the warm meadow-breath floating past told that
the day had settled into heat, and then he waited no more, but quietly
walked into the house with the strength of one who has conquered more
than human scorn.
THE RETREAT FROM BECKLEY
Never would the Countess believe that brother of hers, idiot as by nature
he might be, and heir to unnumbered epithets, would so far forget what
she had done for him, as to drag her through the mud for nothing: and so
she told Caroline again and again, vehemently.
It was about ten minutes before the time for descending to the breakfast-
table. She was dressed, and sat before the glass, smoothing her hair,
and applying the contents of a pot of cold cream to her forehead between-
whiles. With perfect sincerity she repeated that she could not believe
it. She had only trusted Evan once since their visit to Beckley; and
that this once he should, when treated as a man, turn traitor to
their common interests, and prove himself an utter baby, was a piece of
nonsense her great intelligence indignantly rejected.
'Then, if true,' she answered Caroline's assurances finally, 'if true, he
is not his father's son!'
By which it may be seen that she had indeed taken refuge in the Castle of
Negation against the whole army of facts.
'He is acting, Carry. He is acting the ideas of his ridiculous empty
'No,' said Caroline, mournfully, 'he is not. I have never known Evan to
'Then you must forget the whipping he once had from his mother--little
dolt! little selfish pig! He obtains his reputation entirely from his
abominable selfishness, and then stands tall, and asks us to admire him.
He bursts with vanity. But if you lend your credence to it, Carry, how,
in the name of goodness, are you to appear at the breakfast?
'I was going to ask you whether you would come,' said Caroline, coldly.
'If I can get my hair to lie flat by any means at all, of course!'
returned the Countess. 'This dreadful horrid country pomade! Why did we
not bring a larger stock of the Andalugian Regenerator? Upon my honour,
my dear, you use a most enormous quantity; I must really tell you that.'
Conning here entered to say that Mr. Evan had given orders for the boxes
to be packed and everything got ready to depart by half-past eleven
o'clock, when the fly would call for them and convey them to Fallow field
in time to meet the coach for London.
The Countess turned her head round to Caroline like an astonished
'Given orders!' she interjected.
'I have very little to get ready,' remarked Caroline.
'Be so good as to wait outside the door one instant,' said the Countess
to Conning, with particular urbanity.
Conning heard a great deal of vigorous whispering within, and when
summoned to re-appear, a note was handed to her to convey to Mr.
Harrington immediately. He was on the lawn; read it, and wrote back
three hasty lines in pencil.
'Louisa. You have my commands to quit this house, at the hour named,
this day. You will go with me. E. H.'
Conning was again requested to wait outside the Countess's door. She was
the bearer of another note. Evan read it likewise; tore it up, and said
that there was no answer.
The Castle of Negation held out no longer. Ruthless battalions poured
over the walls, blew up the Countess's propriety, made frightful ravages
in her complexion. Down fell her hair.
'You cannot possibly go to breakfast,' said Caroline.
'I must! I must!' cried the Countess. 'Why, my dear, if he has done it-
wretched creature! don't you perceive that, by withholding our
presences, we become implicated with him?' And the Countess, from a
burst of frenzy, put this practical question so shrewdly, that Caroline's
wits succumbed to her.
'But he has not done it; he is acting!' she pursued, restraining her
precious tears for higher purposes, as only true heroines can. 'Thinks
to frighten me into submission!'
'Do you not think Evan is right in wishing us to leave, after--after--'
Caroline humbly suggested.
'Say, before my venerable friend has departed this life,' the Countess
took her up. 'No, I do not. If he is a fool, I am not. No, Carry: I do
not jump into ditches for nothing. I will have something tangible for
all that I have endured. We are now tailors in this place, remember.
If that stigma is affixed to us, let us at least be remunerated for it.
Caroline's own hard struggle demanded all her strength yet she appeared
to hesitate. 'You will surely not disobey Evan, Louisa?'
'Disobey?' The Countess amazedly dislocated the syllables. 'Why, the boy
will be telling you next that he will not permit the Duke to visit you!
Just your English order of mind, that cannot--brutes!--conceive of
friendship between high-born men and beautiful women. Beautiful as you
truly are, Carry, five years more will tell on you. But perhaps my
dearest is in a hurry to return to her Maxwell? At least he thwacks
Caroline's arm was taken. The Countess loved an occasional rhyme when a
point was to be made, and went off nodding and tripping till the time for
stateliness arrived, near the breakfast-room door. She indeed was
acting. At the bottom of her heart there was a dismal rage of passions:
hatred of those who would or might look tailor in her face: terrors
concerning the possible re-visitation of the vengeful Sir Abraham: dread
of Evan and the efforts to despise him: the shocks of many conflicting
elements. Above it all her countenance was calmly, sadly sweet: even as
you may behold some majestic lighthouse glimmering over the tumult of a
An unusual assemblage honoured the breakfast that morning. The news of
Mrs. Bonner's health was more favourable. How delighted was the Countess
to hear that! Mrs. Bonner was the only firm ground she stood on there,
and after receiving and giving gentle salutes, she talked of Mrs. Bonner,
and her night-watch by the sick bed, in a spirit of doleful hope. This
passed off the moments till she could settle herself to study faces.
Decidedly, every lady present looked glum, with the single exception of
Miss Current. Evan was by Lady Jocelyn's side. Her ladyship spoke to
him; but the Countess observed that no one else did. To herself,
however, the gentlemen were as attentive as ever. Evan sat three chairs
distant from her.
If the traitor expected his sister to share in his disgrace, by noticing
him, he was in error. On the contrary, the Countess joined the
conspiracy to exclude him, and would stop a mild laugh if perchance he
looked up. Presently Rose entered. She said 'Good morning' to one or
two, and glided into a seat.
That Evan was under Lady Jocelyn's protection soon became generally
apparent, and also that her ladyship was angry: an exhibition so rare
with her that it was the more remarked. Rose could see that she was a
culprit in her mother's eyes. She glanced from Evan to her. Lady
Jocelyn's mouth shut hard. The girl's senses then perceived the
something that was afloat at the table; she thought with a pang of
horror: 'Has Juliana told?' Juliana smiled on her; but the aspect of Mrs.
Shorne, and of Miss Carrington, spoke for their knowledge of that which
must henceforth be the perpetual reproof to her headstrong youth.
'At what hour do you leave us?' said Lady Jocelyn to Evan.
'When I leave the table, my lady. The fly will call for my sisters at
'There is no necessity for you to start in advance?'
'I am going over to see my mother.'
Rose burned to speak to him now. Oh! why had she delayed! Why had she
swerved from her good rule of open, instant explanations? But Evan's
heart was stern to his love. Not only had she, by not coming, shown her
doubt of him,--she had betrayed him!
Between the Countess, Melville, Sir John, and the Duke, an animated
dialogue was going on, over which Miss Current played like a lively iris.
They could not part with the Countess. Melville said he should be left
stranded, and numerous pretty things were uttered by other gentlemen: by
the women not a word. Glancing from certain of them lingeringly to her
admirers, the Countess smiled her thanks, and then Andrew, pressed to
remain, said he was willing and happy, and so forth; and it seemed that
her admirers had prevailed over her reluctance, for the Countess ended
her little protests with a vanquished bow. Then there was a gradual
rising from table. Evan pressed Lady Jocelyn's hand, and turning from
her bent his head to Sir Franks, who, without offering an exchange of
cordialities, said, at arm's length: 'Good-bye, sir.' Melville also gave
him that greeting stiffly. Harry was perceived to rush to the other end
of the room, in quest of a fly apparently. Poor Caroline's heart ached
for her brother, to see him standing there in the shadow of many faces.
But he was not left to stand alone. Andrew quitted the circle of Sir
John, Seymour Jocelyn, Mr. George Uplift, and others, and linked his arm
to Evan's. Rose had gone. While Evan looked for her despairingly to say
his last word and hear her voice once more, Sir Franks said to his wife:
'See that Rose keeps up-stairs.'
'I want to speak to her,' was her ladyship's answer, and she moved to the
Evan made way for her, bowing.
'You will be ready at half-past eleven, Louisa,' he said, with calm
distinctness, and passed from that purgatory.
Now honest Andrew attributed the treatment Evan met with to the exposure
of yesterday. He was frantic with democratic disgust.
'Why the devil don't they serve me like that; eh? 'Cause I got a few
coppers! There, Van! I'm a man of peace; but if you'll call any man of
'em out I'll stand your second--'pon my soul, I will. They must be
cowards, so there isn't much to fear. Confound the fellows, I tell 'em
every day I'm the son of a cobbler, and egad, they grow civiller. What
do they mean? Are cobblers ranked over tailors?'
'Perhaps that's it,' said Evan.
'Hang your gentlemen!' Andrew cried.
'Let us have breakfast first,' uttered a melancholy voice near them in
'Jack!' said Evan. 'Where have you been?'
'I didn't know the breakfast-room,' Jack returned, 'and the fact is, my
spirits are so down, I couldn't muster up courage to ask one of the
footmen. I delivered your letter. Nothing hostile took place. I bowed
fiercely to let him know what he might expect. That generally stops it.
You see, I talk prose. I shall never talk anything else!'
Andrew recommenced his jests of yesterday with Jack. The latter bore
them patiently, as one who had endured worse.
'She has rejected me!' he whispered to Evan. 'Talk of the ingratitude of
women! Ten minutes ago I met her. She perked her eyebrows at me!--tried
to run away. "Miss Wheedle": I said. "If you please, I 'd rather not,"
says she. To cut it short, the sacrifice I made to her was the cause.
It's all over the house. She gave the most excruciating hint. Those
low-born females are so horribly indelicate. I stood confounded.
Commending his new humour, Evan persuaded him to breakfast immediately,
and hunger being one of Jack's solitary incitements to a sensible course
of conduct, the disconsolate gentleman followed its dictates. 'Go with
him, Andrew,' said Evan. 'He is here as my friend, and may be made
'Yes, yes,--ha! ha! I'll follow the poor chap,' said Andrew. 'But what
is it all about? Louisa won't go, you know. Has the girl given you up
because she saw your mother, Van? I thought it was all right. Why the
deuce are you running away?'
'Because I've just seen that I ought never to have come, I suppose,' Evan
replied, controlling the wretched heaving of his chest.
'But Louisa won't go, Van.'
'Understand, my dear Andrew, that I know it to be quite imperative. Be
ready yourself with Caroline. Louisa will then make her choice. Pray
help me in this. We must not stay a minute more than is necessary in
'It's an awful duty,' breathed Andrew, after a pause. 'I see nothing but
hot water at home. Why--but it's no use asking questions. My love to
your mother. I say, Van,--now isn't Lady Jocelyn a trump?'
'God bless her!' said Evan. And the moisture in Andrew's eyes affected
'She's the staunchest piece of woman-goods I ever--I know a hundred cases
'I know one, and that 's enough,' said Evan.
Not a sign of Rose! Can Love die without its dear farewell on which it
feeds, away from the light, dying by bits? In Evan's heart Love seemed
to die, and all the pangs of a death were there as he trod along the
gravel and stepped beneath the gates of Beckley Court.
Meantime the gallant Countess was not in any way disposed to retreat on
account of Evan's defection. The behaviour toward him at the breakfast-
table proved to her that he had absolutely committed his egregious folly,
and as no General can have concert with a fool, she cut him off from her
affections resolutely. Her manifest disdain at his last speech, said as
much to everybody present. Besides, the lady was in her element here,
and compulsion is required to make us relinquish our element. Lady
Jocelyn certainly had not expressly begged of her to remain: the Countess
told Melville so, who said that if she required such an invitation she
should have it, but that a guest to whom they were so much indebted, was
bound to spare them these formalities.
'What am I to do?'
The Countess turned piteously to the diplomatist's wife.
She answered, retiringly: 'Indeed I cannot say.'
Upon this, the Countess accepted Melville's arm, and had some thoughts of
punishing the woman.
They were seen parading the lawn. Mr. George Uplift chuckled singularly.
'Just the old style,' he remarked, but corrected the inadvertence with a
'hem!' committing himself more shamefully the instant after. 'I'll wager
she has the old Dip. down on his knee before she cuts.'
'Bet can't be taken,' observed Sir John Loring. 'It requires a spy.'
Harry, however, had heard the remark, and because he wished to speak to
her, let us hope, and reproach her for certain things when she chose to
be disengaged, he likewise sallied out, being forlorn as a youth whose
sweet vanity is much hurt.
The Duke had paired off with Mrs. Strike. The lawn was fair in sunlight
where they walked. The air was rich with harvest smells, and the scent
of autumnal roses. Caroline was by nature luxurious and soft. The
thought of that drilled figure to which she was returning in bondage, may
have thrown into bright relief the polished and gracious nobleman who
walked by her side, shadowing forth the chances of a splendid freedom.
Two lovely tears fell from her eyes. The Duke watched them quietly.
'Do you know, they make me jealous?' he said.
Caroline answered him with a faint smile.
'Reassure me, my dear lady; you are not going with your brother this
'Your Grace, I have no choice!'
'May I speak to you as your warmest friend? From what I hear, it
appears to be right that your brother should not stay. To the best of my
ability I will provide for him: but I sincerely desire to disconnect you
from those who are unworthy of you. Have you not promised to trust in
me? Pray, let me be your guide.'
Caroline replied to the heart of his words: 'I dare not.'
'What has changed you?'
'I am not changed, but awakened,' said Caroline.
The Duke paced on in silence.
'Pardon me if I comprehend nothing of such a change,' he resumed.
'I asked you to sacrifice much; all that I could give in return I
offered. Is it the world you fear?'
'What is the world to such as I am?'
'Can you consider it a duty to deliver yourself bound to that man again?'
'Heaven pardon me, my lord, I think of that too little!'
The Duke's next question: 'Then what can it be?' stood in his eyes.
'Oh!' Caroline's touch quivered on his arm, 'Do not suppose me frivolous,
ungrateful, or--or cowardly. For myself you have offered more happiness
than I could have hoped for. To be allied to one so generous, I could
bear anything. Yesterday you had my word: give it me back to-day!'
Very curiously the Duke gazed on her, for there was evidence of internal
torture across her forehead.
'I may at least beg to know the cause for this request?'
She quelled some throbbing in her bosom. 'Yes.'
He waited, and she said: 'There is one--if I offended him, I could not
live. If now I followed my wishes, he would lose his faith in the last
creature that loves him. He is unhappy. I could bear what is called
disgrace, my lord--I shudder to say it--I could sin against heaven; but I
dare not do what would make him despise me.'
She was trembling violently; yet the nobleman, in his surprise, could not
forbear from asking who this person might be, whose influence on her
righteous actions was so strong.
'It is my brother, my lord,' she said.
Still more astonished, 'Your brother!' the Duke exclaimed. 'My dearest
lady, I would not wound you; but is not this a delusion? We are so
placed that we must speak plainly. Your brother I have reason to feel
sure is quite unworthy of you.'
'Unworthy? My brother Evan? Oh! he is noble, he is the best of men!'
'And how, between yesterday and to-day, has he changed you?'
'It is that yesterday I did not know him, and to-day I do.'
Her brother, a common tradesman, a man guilty of forgery and the utmost
baseness--all but kicked out of the house! The Duke was too delicate to
press her further. Moreover, Caroline had emphasized the 'yesterday' and
'to-day,' showing that the interval which had darkened Evan to everybody
else, had illumined him to her. He employed some courtly eloquence,
better unrecorded; but if her firm resolution perplexed him, it threw a
strange halo round the youth from whom it sprang.
The hour was now eleven, and the Countess thought it full time to retire
to her entrenchment in Mrs. Bonner's chamber. She had great things still
to do: vast designs were in her hand awaiting the sanction of Providence.
Alas! that little idle promenade was soon to be repented. She had joined
her sister, thinking it safer to have her upstairs till they were quit of
Evan. The Duke and the diplomatist loitering in the rear, these two fair
women sailed across the lawn, conscious, doubtless, over all their
sorrows and schemes, of the freight of beauty they carried.
What meant that gathering on the steps? It was fortuitous, like
everything destined to confound us. There stood Lady Jocelyn with Andrew,
fretting his pate. Harry leant against a pillar, Miss Carrington, Mrs.
Shorne, and Mrs. Melville, supported by Mr. George Uplift, held
watchfully by. Juliana, with Master Alec and Miss Dorothy, were in the
Why did our General see herself cut off from her stronghold, as by a
hostile band? She saw it by that sombre light in Juliana's eyes, which
had shown its ominous gleam whenever disasters were on the point of
Turning to Caroline, she said: 'Is there a back way?'
Too late! Andrew called.
'Come along, Louisa, Just time, and no more. Carry, are you packed?'
This in reality was the first note of the retreat from Beckley; and
having blown it, the hideous little trumpeter burst into scarlet
perspirations, mumbling to Lady Jocelyn: 'Now, my lady, mind you stand by
The Countess walked straight up to him.
'Dear Andrew! this sun is too powerful for you. I beg you, withdraw
into the shade of the house.'
She was about to help him with all her gentleness.
'Yes, yes. All right, Louisa rejoined Andrew. 'Come, go and pack. The
fly 'll be here, you know--too late for the coach, if you don't mind, my
lass. Ain't you packed yet?'
The horrible fascination of vulgarity impelled the wretched lady to
answer: 'Are we herrings?' And then she laughed, but without any
'I am now going to dear Mrs. Bonner,' she said, with a tender glance at
'My mother is sleeping,' her ladyship remarked.
'Come, Carry, my darling!' cried Andrew.
Caroline looked at her sister. The Countess divined Andrew's shameful
'I was under an engagement to go and canvass this afternoon,' she said.
'Why, my dear Louisa, we've settled that in here this morning,' said
Andrew. 'Old Tom only stuck up a puppet to play with. We've knocked him
over, and march in victorious--eh, my lady?'
'Oh!' exclaimed the Countess, 'if Mr. Raikes shall indeed have listened
to my inducements!'
'Deuce a bit of inducements!' returned Andrew. 'The fellow's ashamed of
himself-ha! ha! Now then, Louisa.'
While they talked, Juliana had loosed Dorothy and Alec, and these imps
were seen rehearsing a remarkable play, in which the damsel held forth a
hand and the cavalier advanced and kissed it with a loud smack, being at
the same time reproached for his lack of grace.
'You are so English!' cried Dorothy, with perfect languor, and a
malicious twitter passed between two or three. Mr. George spluttered
The Countess observed the performance. Not to convert the retreat into a
total rout, she, with that dark flush which was her manner of blushing,
took formal leave of Lady Jocelyn, who, in return, simply said: 'Good-
bye, Countess.' Mrs. Strike's hand she kindly shook.
The few digs and slaps and thrusts at gloomy Harry and prim Miss
Carrington and boorish Mr. George, wherewith the Countess, torn with
wrath, thought it necessary to cover her retreat, need not be told. She
struck the weak alone: Juliana she respected. Masterly tactics, for they
showed her power, gratified her vengeance, and left her unassailed. On
the road she had Andrew to tear to pieces. O delicious operation! And O
shameful brother to reduce her to such joys! And, O Providence! may a
poor desperate soul, betrayed through her devotion, unremunerated for her
humiliation and absolute hard work, accuse thee? The Countess would have
liked to. She felt it to be the instigation of the devil, and decided to
remain on the safe side still.
Happily for Evan, she was not ready with her packing by half-past eleven.
It was near twelve when he, pacing in front of the inn, observed Polly
Wheedle, followed some yards in the rear by John Raikes, advancing
towards him. Now Polly had been somewhat delayed by Jack's persecutions,
and Evan declining to attend to the masked speech of her mission, which
directed him to go at once down a certain lane in the neighbourhood of
the park, some minutes were lost.
'Why, Mr. Harrington,' said Polly, 'it's Miss Rose: she's had leave from
her Ma. Can you stop away, when it's quite proper?'
Evan hesitated. Before he could conquer the dark spirit, lo, Rose
appeared, walking up the village street. Polly and her adorer fell back.
Timidly, unlike herself, Rose neared him.
'I have offended you, Evan. You would not come to me: I have come to
'I am glad to be able to say good-bye to you, Rose,' was his pretty
Could she have touched his hand then, the blood of these lovers rushing
to one channel must have made all clear. At least he could hardly have
struck her true heart with his miserable lie. But that chance was lost
they were in the street, where passions have no play.
'Tell me, Evan,--it is not true.'
He, refining on his misery, thought, She would not ask it if she trusted
me: and answered her: 'You have heard it from your mother, Rose.'
'But I will not believe it from any lips but yours, Evan. Oh, speak,
It pleased him to think: How could one who loved me believe it even then?
He said: 'It can scarcely do good to make me repeat it, Rose.'
And then, seeing her dear bosom heave quickly, he was tempted to fall on
his knees to her with a wild outcry of love. The chance was lost. The
inexorable street forbade it.
There they stood in silence, gasping at the barrier that divided them.
Suddenly a noise was heard. 'Stop! stop!' cried the voice of John
Raikes. 'When a lady and gentleman are talking together, sir, do you
lean your long ears over them--ha?'
Looking round, Evan beheld Laxley a step behind, and Jack rushing up to
him, seizing his collar, and instantly undergoing ignominious prostration
for his heroic defence of the privacy of lovers.
'Stand aside'; said Laxley, imperiously. 'Rosey so you've come for me.
Take my arm. You are under my protection.'
Another forlorn 'Is it true?' Rose cast toward Evan with her eyes. He
wavered under them.
'Did you receive my letter?' he demanded of Laxley.
'I decline to hold converse with you,' said Laxley, drawing Rose's hand
on his arm.
'You will meet me to-day or to-morrow?'
'I am in the habit of selecting my own company.'
Rose disengaged her hand. Evan grasped it. No word of farewell was
uttered. Her mouth moved, but her eyes were hard shut, and nothing save
her hand's strenuous pressure, equalling his own, told that their parting
had been spoken, the link violently snapped.
Mr. John Raikes had been picked up and pulled away by Polly. She now
rushed to Evan: 'Good-bye, and God bless you, dear Mr. Harrington. I'll
find means of letting you know how she is. And he shan't have her,
Rose was walking by Laxley's side, but not leaning on his arm. Evan
blessed her for this. Ere she was out of sight the fly rolled down the
street. She did not heed it, did not once turn her head. Ah, bitter
When Love is hurt, it is self-love that requires the opiate. Conning
gave it him in the form of a note in a handwriting not known to him. It
'I do not believe it, and nothing will ever make me.
Evan could not forget these words. They coloured his farewell to
Beckley: the dear old downs, the hopgardens, the long grey farms walled
with clipped yew, the home of his lost love! He thought of them through
weary nights when the ghostly image with the hard shut eyelids and the
quivering lips would rise and sway irresolutely in air till a shape out
of the darkness extinguished it. Pride is the God of Pagans. Juliana
had honoured his God. The spirit of Juliana seemed to pass into the body
of Rose, and suffer for him as that ghostly image visibly suffered.
IN WHICH WE HAVE TO SEE IN THE DARK
So ends the fourth act of our comedy.
After all her heroism and extraordinary efforts, after, as she feared,
offending Providence--after facing Tailordom--the Countess was rolled
away in a dingy fly unrewarded even by a penny, for what she had gone
through. For she possessed eminently the practical nature of her sex;
and though she would have scorned, and would have declined to handle coin
so base, its absence was upbraidingly mentioned in her spiritual
outcries. Not a penny!
Nor was there, as in the miseries of retreat she affected indifferently
to imagine, a Duke fished out of the ruins of her enterprise, to wash the
mud off her garments and edge them with radiance. Caroline, it became
clear to her, had been infected by Evan's folly. Caroline, she
subsequently learnt, had likewise been a fool. Instead of marvelling at
the genius that had done so much in spite of the pair of fools that were
the right and left wing of her battle array, the simple-minded lady wept.
She wanted success, not genius. Admiration she was ever ready to forfeit
Nor did she say to the tailors of earth: 'Weep, for I sought to
emancipate you from opprobrium by making one of you a gentleman; I fought
for a great principle and have failed.' Heroic to the end, she herself
shed all the tears; took all the sorrow
Where was consolation? Would any Protestant clergyman administer comfort
to her? Could he? might he do so? He might listen, and quote texts; but
he would demand the harsh rude English for everything; and the Countess's
confessional thoughts were all innuendoish, aerial; too delicate to live
in our shameless tongue. Confession by implication, and absolution; she
could know this to be what she wished for, and yet not think it. She
could see a haven of peace in that picture of the little brown box with
the sleekly reverend figure bending his ear to the kneeling Beauty
outside, thrice ravishing as she half-lifts the veil of her sins and her
visage!--yet she started alarmed to hear it whispered that the fair
penitent was the Countess de Saldar; urgently she prayed that no
disgraceful brother might ever drive her to that!
Never let it be a Catholic priest!--she almost fashioned her petition
into words. Who was to save her? Alas! alas! in her dire distress--
in her sense of miserable pennilessness, she clung to Mr. John Raikes, of
the curricle, the mysteriously rich young gentleman; and on that picture,
with Andrew roguishly contemplating it, and Evan, with feelings regarding
his sister that he liked not to own, the curtain commiseratingly drops.
As in the course of a stream you come upon certain dips, where, but here
and there, a sparkle or a gloom of the full flowing water is caught
through deepening foliage, so the history that concerns us wanders out of
day for a time, and we must violate the post and open written leaves to
mark the turn it takes.
First we have a letter from Mr. Goren to Mrs. Mel, to inform her that her
son has arrived and paid his respects to his future instructor in the
branch of science practised by Mr. Goren.
'He has arrived at last,' says the worthy tradesman. 'His appearance in
the shop will be highly gentlemanly, and when he looks a little more
pleasing, and grows fond of it, nothing will be left to be desired. The
ladies, his sisters, have not thought proper to call. I had hopes of the
custom of Mr. Andrew Cogglesby. Of course you wish him to learn
Mrs. Mel writes back, thanking Mr. Goren, and saying that 'she had shown
the letter to inquiring creditors, and that she does wish her son to
learn his business from the root. This produces a second letter from Mr.
Goren, which imparts to her that at the root of the tree, of tailoring
the novitiate must sit no less than six hours a day with his legs crossed
and doubled under him, cheerfully plying needle and thread; and that,
without this probation, to undergo which the son resolutely objects, all
hope of his climbing to the top of the lofty tree, and viewing mankind
from an eminence, must be surrendered.
'If you do not insist, my dear Mrs. Harrington, I tell you candidly, your
son may have a shop, but he will be no tailor.'
Mrs. Mel understands her son and his state of mind well enough not to
insist, and is resigned to the melancholy consequence.
Then Mr. Goren discovers an extraordinary resemblance between Evan and
his father: remarking merely that the youth is not the gentleman his
father was in a shop, while he admits, that had it been conjoined to
business habits, he should have envied his departed friend.
He has soon something fresh to tell; and it is that young Mr. Harrington
is treating him cavalierly. That he should penetrate the idea or
appreciate the merits of Mr. Goren's Balance was hardly to be expected at
present: the world did not, and Mr. Goren blamed no young man for his
ignorance. Still a proper attendance was requisite. Mr. Goren thought
it very singular that young Mr. Harrington should demand all the hours of
the day for his own purposes, up to half-past four. He found it
difficult to speak to him as a master, and begged that Mrs. Harrington
would, as a mother.
The reply of Mrs. Mel is dashed with a trifle of cajolery. She has heard
from her son, and seeing that her son takes all that time from his right
studies, to earn money wherewith to pay debts of which Mr. Goren is
cognizant, she trusts that their oldest friend will overlook it.
Mr. Goren rejoins that he considers that he need not have been excluded
from young Mr. Harrington's confidence. Moreover, it is a grief to him
that the young gentleman should refrain from accepting any of his
suggestions as to the propriety of requesting some, at least, of his rich
and titled acquaintance to confer on him the favour of their patronage.
'Which they would not repent,' adds Mr. Goren, 'and might learn to be
very much obliged to him for, in return for kindnesses extended to him.'
Notwithstanding all my efforts, you see, the poor boy is thrust into the
shop. There he is, without a doubt. He sleeps under Mr. Goren's roof:
he (since one cannot be too positive in citing the punishment of such a
Pagan) stands behind a counter: he (and, oh! choke, young loves, that
have hovered around him! shrink from him in natural horror, gentle
ladies!) handles the shears. It is not my fault. He would be a Pagan.
If you can think him human enough still to care to know how he feels it,
I must tell you that he feels it hardly-at all. After a big blow, a very
little one scarcely counts. What are outward forms and social ignominies
to him whose heart has been struck to the dust? His Gods have fought for
him, and there he is! He deserves no pity.
But he does not ask it of you, the callous Pagan! Despise him, if you
please, and rank with the Countess, who despises him most heartily.
Dipping further into the secrets of the post, we discover a brisk
correspondence between Juliana Bonner and Mrs. Strike.
'A thousand thanks to you, my dear Miss Bonner,' writes the latter lady.
'The unaffected interest you take in my brother touches me deeply. I
know him to be worthy of your good opinion. Yes, I will open my heart to
you, dearest Juliana; and it shall, as you wish, be quite secret between
us. Not to a soul!
'He is quite alone. My sisters Harriet and Louisa will not see him, and
I can only do so by stealth. His odd other little friend sometimes
drives me out on Sundays, to a place where I meet him; and the Duke of
Belfield kindly lends me his carriage. Oh, that we might never part!
I am only happy with him!
'Ah, do not doubt him, Juliana, for anything he does! You say, that now
the Duke has obtained for him the Secretaryship to my husband's Company,
he should not thing, and you do not understand why. I will tell you.
Our poor father died in debt, and Evan receives money which enables him
by degrees to liquidate these debts, on condition that he consents to be
what I dislike as much as you can. He bears it; you can have no idea of
his pride! He is too proud to own to himself that it debases him--too
proud to complain. It is a tangle--a net that drags him down to it but
whatever he is outwardly, he is the noblest human being in the world to
me, and but for him, oh, what should I be? Let me beg you to forgive it,
if you can. My darling has no friends. Is his temper as sweet as ever?
I can answer that. Yes, only he is silent, and looks--when you look into
his eyes--colder, as men look when they will not bear much from other
'He has not mentioned her name. I am sure she has not written.
'Pity him, and pray for him.'
Juliana then makes a communication, which draws forth the following:--
'Mistress of all the Beckley property-dearest, dearest Juliana! Oh! how
sincerely I congratulate you! The black on the letter alarmed me so, I
could hardly open it, my fingers trembled so; for I esteem you all at
Beckley; but when I had opened and read it, I was recompensed. You say
you are sorry for Rose. But surely what your Grandmama has done is quite
right. It is just, in every sense. But why am I not to tell Evan? I am
certain it would make him very happy, and happiness of any kind he needs
so much! I will obey you, of course, but I cannot see why. Do you know,
my dear child, you are extremely mysterious, and puzzle me. Evan takes a
pleasure in speaking of you. You and Lady Jocelyn are his great themes.
Why is he to be kept ignorant of your good fortune? The spitting of
blood is bad. You must winter in a warm climate. I do think that London
is far better for you in the late Autumn than Hampshire. May I ask my
sister Harriet to invite you to reside with her for some weeks? Nothing,
I know, would give her greater pleasure.'
Juliana answers this--
'If you love me--I sometimes hope that you do--but the feeling of being
loved is so strange to me that I can only believe it at times--but,
Caroline--there, I have mustered up courage to call you by your Christian
name at last--Oh, dear Caroline! if you do love me, do not tell Mr.
Harrington. I go on my knees to you to beg you not to tell him a word.
I have no reasons indeed not any; but I implore you again never even to
hint that I am anything but the person he knew at Beckley.
'Rose has gone to Elburne House, where Ferdinand, her friend, is to meet
her. She rides and sings the same, and keeps all her colour.
'She may not, as you imagine, have much sensibility. Perhaps not enough.
I am afraid that Rose is turning into a very worldly woman!
'As to what you kindly say about inviting me to London, I should like it,
and I am my own mistress. Do you know, I think I am older than your
brother! I am twenty-three. Pray, when you write, tell me if he is
older than that. But should I not be a dreadful burden to you?
Sometimes I have to keep to my chamber whole days and days. When that
happens now, I think of you entirely. See how I open my heart to you.
You say that you do to me. I wish I could really think it.'
A postscript begs Caroline 'not to forget about the ages.'
In this fashion the two ladies open their hearts, and contrive to read
one another perfectly in their mutual hypocrisies.
Some letters bearing the signatures of Mr. John Raikes, and Miss Polly
Wheedle, likewise pass. Polly inquires for detailed accounts of the
health and doings of Mr. Harrington. Jack replies with full particulars
of her own proceedings, and mild corrections of her grammar. It is to be
noted that Polly grows much humbler to him on paper, which being
instantly perceived by the mercurial one, his caressing condescension to
her is very beautiful. She is taunted with Mr. Nicholas Frim, and
answers, after the lapse of a week, that the aforesaid can be nothing to
her, as he 'went in a passion to church last Sunday and got married.'
It appears that they had quarrelled, 'because I danced with you that
night.' To this Mr. Raikes rejoins in a style that would be signified by
'ahem!' in language, and an arrangement of the shirt collar before the
looking-glass, in action.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
After a big blow, a very little one scarcely counts
Because he stood so high with her now he feared the fall
Hope which lies in giving men a dose of hysterics
If I love you, need you care what anybody else thinks
Pride is the God of Pagans
Read one another perfectly in their mutual hypocrisies
Refuge in the Castle of Negation against the whole army of facts
Speech is poor where emotion is extreme
The power to give and take flattery to any amount
What a stock of axioms young people have handy
When Love is hurt, it is self-love that requires the opiate
Wrapped in the comfort of his cowardice
You accuse or you exonerate--Nobody can be half guilty
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XXXIX. IN THE DOMAIN OF TAILORDOM
XL. IN WHICH THE COUNTESS STILL SCENTS GAME
XLI. REVEALS AN ABOMINABLE PLOT OF THE BROTHERS COGGLESBY
XLIV. CONTAINS A WARNING TO ALL CONSPIRATORS
XLV. IN WHICH THE SHOP BECOMES THE CENTRE OF ATTRACTION
XLVI. A LOVER'S PARTING
XLVII. A YEAR LATER THE COUNTESS DE SALDAR DE SANCORVO TO HER
IN THE DOMAIN OF TAILORDOM
There was peace in Mr. Goren's shop. Badgered Ministers, bankrupt
merchants, diplomatists with a headache--any of our modern grandees under
difficulties, might have envied that peace over which Mr. Goren presided:
and he was an enviable man. He loved his craft, he believed that he had
not succeeded the millions of antecedent tailors in vain; and, excepting
that trifling coquetry with shirt-fronts, viz., the red crosses, which a
shrewd rival had very soon eclipsed by representing nymphs triangularly
posed, he devoted himself to his business from morning to night; as rigid
in demanding respect from those beneath him, as he was profuse in
lavishing it on his patrons. His public boast was, that he owed no man
a farthing; his secret comfort, that he possessed two thousand pounds in
the Funds. But Mr. Goren did not stop here. Behind these external
characteristics he nursed a passion. Evan was astonished and pleased to
find in him an enthusiastic fern-collector. Not that Mr. Harrington
shared the passion, but the sight of these brown roots spread out,
ticketed, on the stained paper, after supper, when the shutters were up
and the house defended from the hostile outer world; the old man poring
over them, and naming this and that spot where, during his solitary
Saturday afternoon and Sunday excursions, he had lighted on the rare
samples exhibited this contrast of the quiet evening with the sordid day
humanized Mr. Goren to him. He began to see a spirit in the rigid
tradesman not so utterly dissimilar to his own, and he fancied that he,
too, had a taste for ferns. Round Beckley how they abounded!
He told Mr. Goren so, and Mr. Goren said:
'Some day we'll jog down there together, as the saying goes.'
Mr. Goren spoke of it as an ordinary event, likely to happen in the days
to come: not as an incident the mere mention of which, as being probable,
stopped the breath and made the pulses leap.
For now Evan's education taught him to feel that he was at his lowest
degree. Never now could Rose stoop to him. He carried the shop on his
back. She saw the brand of it on his forehead. Well! and what was Rose
to him, beyond a blissful memory, a star that he had once touched? Self-
love kept him strong by day, but in the darkness of night came his
misery; wakening from tender dreams, he would find his heart sinking
under a horrible pressure, and then the fair fresh face of Rose swam over
him; the hours of Beckley were revived; with intolerable anguish he saw
that she was blameless--that he alone was to blame. Yet worse was it
when his closed eyelids refused to conjure up the sorrowful lovely
nightmare, and he lay like one in a trance, entombed-wretched Pagan!
feeling all that had been blindly; when the Past lay beside him like a
corpse that he had slain.
These nightly torments helped him to brave what the morning brought.
Insensibly also, as Time hardened his sufferings, Evan asked himself what
the shame of his position consisted in. He grew stiff-necked. His Pagan
virtues stood up one by one to support him. Andrew, courageously evading
the interdict that forbade him to visit Evan, would meet him by
appointment at City taverns, and flatly offered him a place in the
Brewery. Evan declined it, on the pretext that, having received Old
Tom's money for the year, he must at least work out that term according
to the conditions. Andrew fumed and sneered at Tailordom. Evan said
that there was peace in Mr. Goren's shop. His sharp senses discerned in
Andrew's sneer a certain sincerity, and he revolted against it. Mr John
Raikes, too, burlesqued Society so well, that he had the satisfaction of
laughing at his enemy occasionally. The latter gentleman was still a
pensioner, flying about town with the Countess de Saldar, in deadly fear
lest that fascinating lady should discover the seat of his fortune;
happy, notwithstanding. In the mirror of Evan's little world, he beheld
the great one from which he was banished.
Now the dusk of a winter's afternoon was closing over London, when a
carriage drew up in front of Mr. Goren's shop, out of which, to Mr.
Goren's chagrin, a lady stepped, with her veil down. The lady entered,
and said that she wished to speak to Mr. Harrington. Mr. Goren made way
for her to his pupil; and was amazed to see her fall into his arms, and
hardly gratified to hear her say: 'Pardon me, darling, for coming to you
in this place.'
Evan asked permission to occupy the parlour.
'My place,' said Mr. Goren, with humble severity, over his spectacles,
'is very poor. Such as it is, it is at the lady's service.'
Alone with her, Evan was about to ease his own feelings by remarking to
the effect that Mr. Goren was human like the rest of us, but Caroline
cried, with unwonted vivacity:
'Yes, yes, I know; but I thought only of you. I have such news for you!
You will and must pardon my coming--that's my first thought, sensitive
darling that you are!' She kissed him fondly. 'Juliana Bonner is in
town, staying with us!'
'Is that your news?' asked Evan, pressing her against his breast.
'No, dear love--but still! You have no idea what her fortune--
Mrs. Bonner has died and left her--but I mustn't tell you. Oh, my
darling! how she admires you! She--she could recompense you; if you
would! We will put that by, for the present. Dear! the Duke has begged
you, through me, to accept--I think it 's to be a sort of bailiff to his
estates--I don't know rightly. It's a very honourable post, that
gentlemen take: and the income you are to have, Evan, will be near a
thousand a year. Now, what do I deserve for my news?'
She put up her mouth for another kiss, out of breath.
'True?' looked Evan's eyes.
'True!' she said, smiling, and feasting on his bewilderment.
After the bubbling in his brain had a little subsided, Evan breathed as a
man on whom fresh air is blown. Were not these tidings of release? His
ridiculous pride must nevertheless inquire whether Caroline had been
begging this for him.
'No, dear--indeed!' Caroline asserted with more than natural vehemence.
'It's something that you yourself have done that has pleased him. I
don't know what. Only he says, he believes you are a man to be trusted
with the keys of anything--and so you are. You are to call on him to-
morrow. Will you?'
While Evan was replying, her face became white. She had heard the
Major's voice in the shop. His military step advanced, and Caroline,
exclaiming, 'Don't let me see him!' bustled to a door. Evan nodded, and
she slipped through. The next moment he was facing the stiff marine.
'Well, young man,' the Major commenced, and, seating himself, added, 'be
seated. I want to talk to you seriously, sir. You didn't think fit to
wait till I had done with the Directors today. You're devilishly out in
your discipline, whatever you are at two and two. I suppose there's no
fear of being intruded on here? None of your acquaintances likely to be
introducing themselves to me?'
'There is not one that I would introduce to you,' said Evan.
The Major nodded a brief recognition of the compliment, and then,
throwing his back against the chair, fired out: 'Come, sir, is this your
In military phrase, Evan now changed front. His first thought had been
that the Major had come for his wife. He perceived that he himself was
the special object of his visitation.
'I must ask you what you allude to,' he answered.
'You are not at your office, but you will speak to me as if there was
some distinction between us,' said the Major. 'My having married your
sister does not reduce me to the ranks, I hope.'
The Major drummed his knuckles on the table, after this impressive
'Hem!' he resumed. 'Now, sir, understand, before you speak a word, that
I can see through any number of infernal lies. I see that you're
prepared for prevarication. By George! it shall come out of you, if I
get it by main force. The Duke compelled me to give you that appointment
in my Company. Now, sir, did you, or did you not, go to him and
deliberately state to him that you believed the affairs of the Company to
be in a bad condition--infamously handled, likely to involve his honour
as a gentleman? I ask you, sir, did you do this, or did you not do it?'
Evan waited till the sharp rattle of the Major's close had quieted.
'If I am to answer the wording of your statement, I may say that I did
'Very good; very good; that will do. Are you aware that the Duke has
sent in his resignation as a Director of our Company?'
'I hear of it first from you.'
'Confound your familiarity!' cried the irritable officer, rising. 'Am I
always to be told that I married your sister? Address me, sir, as
becomes your duty.'
Evan heard the words 'beggarly tailor' mumbled 'out of the gutters,' and
'cursed connection.' He stood in the attitude of attention, while the
'Now, young man, listen to these facts. You came to me this day last
week, and complained that you did not comprehend some of our transactions
and affairs. I explained them to your damned stupidity. You went away.
Three days after that, you had an interview with the Duke. Stop, sir!
What the devil do you mean by daring to speak while I am speaking? You
saw the Duke, I say. Now, what took place at that interview?'
The Major tried to tower over Evan powerfully, as he put this query.
They were of a common height, and to do so, he had to rise on his toes,
so that the effect was but momentary.
'I think I am not bound to reply,' said Evan.
'Very well, sir; that will do.' The Major's fingers were evidently
itching for an absent rattan. 'Confess it or not, you are dismissed from
your post. Do you hear? You are kicked in the street. A beggarly
tailor you were born, and a beggarly tailor you will die.'
'I must beg you to stop, now,' said Evan. 'I told you that I was not
bound to reply: but I will. If you will sit down, Major Strike, you
shall hear what you wish to know.'
This being presently complied with, though not before a glare of the
Major's eyes had shown his doubt whether it might not be construed into
insolence, Evan pursued:
'I came to you and informed you that I could not reconcile the cash-
accounts of the Company, and that certain of the later proceedings
appeared to me to jeopardize its prosperity. Your explanations did not
satisfy me. I admit that you enjoined me to be silent. But the Duke,
as a Director, had as strong a right to claim me as his servant, and when
he questioned me as to the position of the Company, I told him what I
thought, just as I had told you.'
'You told him we were jobbers and swindlers, sir!'
'The Duke inquired of me whether I would, under the circumstances, while
proceedings were going on which I did not approve of, take the
responsibility of allowing my name to remain--'
'Ha! ha! ha!' the Major burst out. This was too good a joke. The name
of a miserable young tailor!' Go on, sir, go on!' He swallowed his
laughter like oil on his rage.
'I have said sufficient.'
Jumping up, the Major swore by the Lord, that he had said sufficient.
'Now, look you here, young man.' He squared his finger before Evan,
eyeing him under a hard frown, 'You have been playing your game again,
as you did down at that place in Hampshire. I heard of it--deserved to
be shot, by heaven! You think you have got hold of the Duke, and you
throw me over. You imagine, I dare say, that I will allow my wife to be
talked about to further your interests--you self-seeking young dog! As
long as he lent the Company his name, I permitted a great many things.
Do you think me a blind idiot, sir? But now she must learn to be
satisfied with people who 've got no titles, or carriages, and who can't
give hundred guinea compliments. You're all of a piece-a set of . . .'
The Major paused, for half a word was on his mouth which had drawn
lightning to Evan's eyes.
Not to be baffled, he added: 'But look you, sir. I may be ruined.
I dare say the Company will go to the dogs--every ass will follow a Duke.
But, mark, this goes on no more. I will be no woman's tally. Mind, sir,
I take excellent care that you don't traffic in your sister!'
The Major delivered this culminating remark with a well-timed deflection
of his forefinger, and slightly turned aside when he had done.
You might have seen Evan's figure rocking, as he stood with his eyes
steadily levelled on his sister's husband.
The Major, who, whatever he was, was physically no coward, did not fail
to interpret the look, and challenge it.
Evan walked to the door, opened it, and said, between his teeth, 'You
must go at once.'
'Eh, sir, eh? what's this?' exclaimed the warrior but the door was open,
Mr. Goren was in the shop; the scandal of an assault in such a house, and
the consequent possibility of his matrimonial alliance becoming bruited
in the newspapers, held his arm after it had given an involuntary jerk.
He marched through with becoming dignity, and marched out into the
street; and if necks unelastic and heads erect may be taken as the sign
of a proud soul and of nobility of mind, my artist has the Major for his
Evan displayed no such a presence. He returned to the little parlour,
shut and locked the door to the shop, and forgetting that one was near,
sat down, covered his eyes, and gave way to a fit of tearless sobbing.
With one foot in the room Caroline hung watching him. A pain that she
had never known wrung her nerves. His whole manhood seemed to be shaken,
as if by regular pulsations of intensest misery. She stood in awe of the
sight till her limbs failed her, and then staggering to him she fell on
her knees, clasping his, passionately kissing them.
IN WHICH THE COUNTESS STILL SCENTS GAME
Mr. Raikes and his friend Frank Remand, surnamed Franko, to suit the
requirements of metre, in which they habitually conversed, were walking
arm-in-arm along the drive in Society's Park on a fine frosty Sunday
afternoon of midwinter. The quips and jokes of Franko were lively, and
he looked into the carriages passing, as if he knew that a cheerful
countenance is not without charms for their inmates. Raikes' face, on
the contrary, was barren and bleak. Being of that nature that when a pun
was made he must perforce outstrip it, he fell into Franko's humour from
time to time, but albeit aware that what he uttered was good, and by
comparison transcendent, he refused to enjoy it. Nor when Franko started
from his arm to declaim a passage, did he do other than make limp efforts
to unite himself to Franko again. A further sign of immense depression
in him was that instead of the creative, it was the critical faculty he
exercised, and rather than reply to Franko in his form of speech, he
scanned occasional lines and objected to particular phrases. He had
clearly exchanged the sanguine for the bilious temperament, and was fast
stranding on the rocky shores of prose. Franko bore this very well, for
he, like Raikes in happier days, claimed all the glances of lovely woman
as his own, and on his right there flowed a stream of Beauties. At last
he was compelled to observe: 'This change is sudden: wherefore so
downcast? With tigrine claw thou mangiest my speech, thy cheeks are like
December's pippin, and thy tongue most sour!'
'Then of it make a farce!' said Raikes, for the making of farces was
Franko's profession. 'Wherefore so downcast! What a line! There!
let's walk on. Let us the left foot forward stout advance. I care not
for the herd.'
''Tis love!' cried Franko.
'Ay, an' it be!' Jack gloomily returned.
'For ever cruel is the sweet Saldar?'
Raikes winced at this name.
'A truce to banter, Franko!' he said sternly: but the subject was opened,
and the wound.
'Love!' he pursued, mildly groaning. 'Suppose you adored a fascinating
woman, and she knew--positively knew--your manly weakness, and you saw
her smiling upon everybody, and she told you to be happy, and egad, when
you came to reflect, you found that after three months' suit you were
nothing better than her errand-boy? A thing to boast of, is it not,
'Love's yellow-fever, jealousy, methinks,' Franko commenced in reply; but
Raikes spat at the emphasized word.
'Jealousy!--who's jealous of clergymen and that crew? Not I, by Pluto!
I carried five messages to one fellow with a coat-tail straight to his
heels, last week. She thought I should drive my curricle--I couldn't
afford an omnibus! I had to run. When I returned to her I was dirty.
She made remarks!'
'Thy sufferings are severe--but such is woman!' said Franko. 'Gad, it's
a good idea, though.' He took out a note-book and pencilled down a point
or two. Raikes watched the process sardonically.
'My tragedy is, then, thy farce!' he exclaimed. 'Well, be it so! I
believe I shall come to song-writing again myself shortly-beneath the
shield of Catnach I'll a nation's ballads frame. I've spent my income in
four months, and now I 'm living on my curricle. I underlet it. It 's
like trade--it 's as bad as poor old Harrington, by Jove! But that isn't
the worst, Franko!' Jack dropped his voice: 'I believe I'm furiously
loved by a poor country wench.'
'Morals!' was Franko's most encouraging reproof.
'Oh, I don't think I've even kissed her,' rejoined Raikes, who doubted
because his imagination was vivid. 'It 's my intellect that dazzles her.
I 've got letters--she calls me clever. By Jove! since I gave up
driving I've had thoughts of rushing down to her and making her mine in
spite of home, family, fortune, friends, name, position--everything!
I have, indeed.'
Franko looked naturally astonished at this amount of self-sacrifice.
'The Countess?' he shrewdly suggested.
'I'd rather be my Polly's prince,
Than yon great lady's errand-boy!'
Raikes burst into song.
He stretched out his hand, as if to discard all the great ladies who were
passing. By the strangest misfortune ever known, the direction taken by
his fingers was toward a carriage wherein, beautifully smiling opposite
an elaborately reverend gentleman of middle age, the Countess de Saldar
was sitting. This great lady is not to be blamed for deeming that her
errand-boy was pointing her out vulgarly on a public promenade.
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