Mr. Scarborough's Family
Part 2 out of 12
"No, mamma; no, never."
"At any rate, Mr. Annesley knows all about it. And that knowledge ought
to have kept him away at the present moment. I must beg him to leave us
Then Harry took his hat and departed; but he had great consolation in
feeling that Florence had not repudiated his love, which she certainly
would have done had she not loved him in return. She had spoken no word
of absolute encouragement, but there had much more of encouragement than
of repudiation in her manner.
HARRY ANNESLEY GOES TO TRETTON.
Harry had promised to go down to Tretton, and when the time came
Augustus Scarborough did not allow him to escape from the visit. He
explained to him that in his father's state of health there would be no
company to entertain him; that there was only a maiden sister of his
father's staying in the house, and that he intended to take down into
the country with him one Septimus Jones, who occupied chambers on the
same floor with him in London, and whom Annesley knew to be young
Scarborough's most intimate friend. "There will be a little shooting,"
he said, "and I have bought two or three horses, which you and Jones can
ride. Cannock Chase is one of the prettiest parts of England, and as you
care for scenery you can get some amusement out of that. You'll see my
father, and hear, no doubt, what he has got to say for himself. He is
not in the least reticent in speaking of my brother's affairs." There
was a good deal in this which was not agreeable. Miss Scarborough was
sister to Mrs. Mountjoy as well as to the squire, and had been one of
the family party most anxious to assure the marriage of Florence and the
captain. The late General Mountjoy had been supposed to be a great man
in his way, but had died before Tretton had become as valuable as it was
now. Hence the eldest son had been christened with his name, and much of
the Mountjoy prestige still clung to the family. But Harry did not care
much about the family except so far as Florence was concerned. And then
he had not been on peculiarly friendly terms with Septimus Jones, who
had always been submissive to Augustus; and, now that Augustus was a
rich man and could afford to buy horses, was likely to be more
submissive than ever.
He went down to Tretton alone early in September, and when he reached
the house he found that the two young men were out shooting. He asked
for his own room, but was instead immediately taken to the old squire,
whom he found lying on a couch in a small dressing-room, while his
sister, who had been reading to him, was by his side. After the usual
greetings Harry made some awkward apology as to his intrusion at the
sick man's bedside. "Why, I ordered them to bring you in here," said the
squire; "you can't very well call that intrusion. I have no idea of
being shut up from the world before they nail me down in my coffin."
"That will be a long time first, we all hope," said his sister.
"Bother! you hope it, but I don't know that any one else does;--I don't
for one. And if I did, what's the good of hoping? I have a couple of
diseases, either of which is enough to kill a horse." Then he mentioned
his special maladies in a manner which made Harry shrink. "What are they
talking about in London just at present?" he asked.
"Just the old set of subjects," said Harry.
"I suppose they have got tired of me and my iniquities?" Harry could
only smile and shake his head. "There has been such a complication of
romances that one expects the story to run a little more than the
ordinary nine days."
"Men still do talk about Mountjoy."
"And what are they saying? Augustus declares that you are especially
interested on the subject."
"I don't know why I should be," said Harry.
"Nor I either. When a fellow becomes no longer of any service to either
man, woman, or beast, I do not know why any should take an interest in
him. I suppose you didn't lend him money?"
"I was not likely to do that, sir."
"Then I cannot conceive how it can interest you whether he be in London
or Kamtchatka. It does not interest me the least in the world. Were he
to turn up here it would be a trouble; and yet they expect me to
subscribe largely to a fund for finding him. What good could he do me if
he were found?"
"Oh, John, he is your son," said Miss Scarborough.
"And would be just as good a son as Augustus, only that he has turned
out uncommonly badly. I have not the slightest feeling in the world as
to his birth, and so I think I showed pretty plainly. But nothing could
stop him in his course, and therefore I told the truth, that's all." In
answer to this, Harry found it quite impossible to say a word, but got
away to his bedroom and dressed for dinner as quickly as possible.
While he was still thus employed Augustus came into the room still
dressed in his shooting-clothes. "So you've seen my father," he said.
"Yes, I saw him."
"And what did he say to you about Mountjoy?"
"Little or nothing that signifies. He seems to think it unreasonable
that he should be asked to pay for finding him, seeing that the
creditors expect to get the advantage of his presence when found."
"He is about right there."
"Oh yes; but still he is his father. It may be that it would be expected
that he should interest himself in finding him."
"Upon my word I don't agree with you. If a thousand a year could be paid
to keep Mountjoy out of the way I think it would be well expended."
"But you were acting with the police."
"Oh, the police! What do the police know about it? Of course I talk it
all over with them. They have not the smallest idea where the man is,
and do not know how to go to work to discover him. I don't say that my
father is judicious in his brazen-faced opposition to all inquiry. He
should pretend to be a little anxious--as I do. Not that there would be
any use now in pretending to keep up appearances. He has declared
himself utterly indifferent to the law, and has defied the world. Never
mind, old fellow, we shall eat the more dinner, only I must go and
prepare myself for it."
At dinner Harry found only Septimus Jones, Augustus Scarborough, and his
aunt. Miss Scarborough said a good deal about her brother, and declared
him to be much better. "Of course you know, Augustus, that Sir William
Brodrick was down here for two days."
"Only fancy," replied he, "what one has to pay for two days of Sir
William Brodrick in the country!"
"What can it matter?" said the generous spinster.
"It matters exactly so many hundred pounds; but no one will begrudge it
if he does so many hundred pounds' worth of good."
"It will show, at any rate, that we have had the best advice," said the
"Yes, it will show;--that is exactly what people care about. What did Sir
William say?" Then during the first half of dinner a prolonged reference
was made to Mr. Scarborough's maladies, and to Sir William's opinion
concerning them. Sir William had declared that Mr. Scarborough's
constitution was the most wonderful thing that he had ever met in his
experience. In spite of the fact that Mr. Scarborough's body was one
mass of cuts and bruises and faulty places, and that nothing would keep
him going except the wearing of machinery which he was unwilling to
wear, yet the facilities for much personal enjoyment were left to him,
and Sir William declared that, if he would only do exactly as he were
told, he might live for the next five years. "But everybody knows that
he won't do anything that he is told," said Augustus, in a tone of voice
which by no means expressed extreme sorrow.
From his father he led the conversation to the partridges, and declared
his conviction that, with a little trouble and some expense, a very good
head of game might be got up at Tretton. "I suppose it wouldn't cost
much?" said Jones, who beyond ten shillings to a game-keeper never paid
sixpence for whatever shooting came in his way.
"I don't know what you call much," said Augustus, "but I think it may be
done for three or four hundred a year. I should like to calculate how
many thousand partridges at that rate Sir William has taken back in his
"What does it matter?" asked Miss Scarborough.
"Only as a speculation. Of course my father, while he lives, is
justified in giving his whole income to doctors if he likes it; but one
gets into a manner of speaking about him as though he had done a good
deal with his money in which he was not justified."
"Don't talk in that way, Augustus."
"My dear aunt, I am not at all inclined to be more open-mouthed than he
is. Only reflect what it was that he was disposed to do with me, and
the good-humor with which I have borne it!"
"I think I should hold my tongue about it," said Harry Annesley.
"And I think that in my place you would do no such thing. To your nature
it would be almost impossible to hold your tongue. Your sense of justice
would be so affronted that you would feel yourself compelled to discuss
the injury done to you with all your intimate friends. But with your
father your quarrel would be eternal. I made nothing of it, and, indeed,
if he pertinaciously held his tongue on the subject, so should I."
"But because he talks," said Harry, "why should you?"
"Why should he not?" said Septimus Jones. "Upon my word I don't see the
justice of it."
"I am not speaking of justice, but of feeling."
"Upon my word I wish you would hold your tongues about it; at any rate
till my back is turned," said the old lady.
Then Augustus finished the conversation. "I am determined to treat it
all as though it were a joke, and, as a joke, one to be spoken of
lightly. It was a strong measure, certainly, this attempt to rob me of
twenty or thirty thousand pounds a year. But it was done in favor of my
brother, and therefore let it pass. I am at a loss to conceive what my
father has done with his money. He hasn't given Mountjoy, at any rate,
more than a half of his income for the last five or six years, and his
own personal expenses are very small. Yet he tells me that he has the
greatest difficulty in raising a thousand pounds, and positively refuses
in his present difficulties to add above five hundred a year to my
former allowance. No father who had thoroughly done his duty by his son,
could speak in a more fixed and austere manner. And yet he knows that
every shilling will be mine as soon as he goes." The servant who was
waiting upon them had been in and out of the room while this was said,
and must have heard much of it. But to that Augustus seemed to be quite
indifferent. And, indeed, the whole family story was known to every
servant in the house. It is true that gentlemen and ladies who have
servants do not usually wish to talk about their private matters before
all the household, even though the private matters may be known; but
this household was unlike all others in that respect. There was not a
housemaid about the rooms or a groom in the stables who did not know how
terrible a reprobate their master had been.
"You will see your father before you go to bed?" Miss Scarborough said
to her nephew as she left the room.
"Certainly, if he will send to say that he wishes it."
"He does wish it, most anxiously."
"I believe that to be your imagination. At any rate, I will come--say in
an hour's time. He would be just as pleased to see Harry Annesley, for
the matter of that, or Mr. Grey, or the inspector of police. Any one
whom he could shock, or pretend to shock, by the peculiarity of his
opinions, would do as well." By that time, however, Miss Scarborough had
left the room.
Then the three men sat and talked, and discussed the affairs of the
family generally. New leases had just been granted for adding
manufactories to the town of Tretton: and as far as outward marks of
prosperity went all was prosperous. "I expect to have a water-mill on
the lawn before long," said Augustus. "These mechanics have it all their
own way. If they were to come and tell me that they intended to put up a
wind-mill in my bedroom to-morrow morning, I could only take off my hat
to them. When a man offers you five per cent. where you've only had
four, he is instantly your lord and master. It doesn't signify how
vulgar he is, or how insolent, or how exacting. Associations of the
tenderest kind must all give way to trade. But the shooting which lies
to the north and west of us is, I think, safe for the present. I suppose
I must go and see what my father wants, or I shall be held to have
neglected my duty to my affectionate parent."
"Capital fellow, Augustus Scarborough," said Jones, as soon as their
host had left them.
"I was at Cambridge with him, and he was popular there."
"He'll be more popular now that he's the heir to Tretton. I don't know
any fellow that I can get along better with than Scarborough. I think
you were a little hard upon him about his father, you know."
"In his position he ought to hold his tongue."
"It's the strangest thing that has turned up in the whole course of my
experience. You see, if he didn't talk about it people wouldn't quite
understand what it was that his father has done. It's only matter of
report now, and the creditors, no doubt, do believe that when old
Scarborough goes off the hooks they will be able to walk in and take
possession. He has got to make the world think that he is the heir, and
that will go a long way. You may be sure he doesn't talk as he does
without having a reason for it. He's the last man I know to do anything
without a reason."
The evening dragged along very slowly while Jones continued to tell all
that he knew of his friend's character. But Augustus Scarborough did not
return, and soon after ten o'clock, when Harry Annesley could smoke no
more cigars, and declared that he had no wish to begin upon
brandy-and-water after his wine, he went to his bed.
HARRY ANNESLEY TAKES A WALK.
"There was the devil to pay with my father last night after I went to
him," said Scarborough to Harry next morning. "He now and then suffers
agonies of pain, and it is the most difficult thing in the world to get
him right again. But anything equal to his courage I never before met."
"How is he this morning?"
"Very weak and unable to exert himself. But I cannot say that he is
otherwise much the worse. You won't see him this morning; but to-morrow
you will, or next day. Don't you be shy about going to him when he sends
for you. He likes to show the world that he can bear his sufferings with
a light heart, and is ready to die to-morrow without a pang or a regret.
Who was the fellow who sent for a fellow to let him see how a Christian
could die? I can fancy my father doing the same thing, only there would
be nothing about Christianity in the message. He would bid you come and
see a pagan depart in peace, and would be very unhappy if he thought
that your dinner would be disturbed by the ceremony. Now come down to
breakfast, and then we'll go out shooting."
For three days Harry remained at Tretton, and ate and drank, and shot
and rode, always in young Scarborough's company. During this time he did
not see the old squire, and understood from Miss Scarborough's absence
that he was still suffering from his late attack. The visit was to be
prolonged for one other day, and he was told that on that day the squire
would send for him. "I'm sick of these eternal partridges," said
Augustus. "No man should ever shoot partridges two days running. Jones
can go out by himself. He won't have to tip the game-keeper any more for
an additional day, and so it will be all gain to him. You'll see my
father in the afternoon after lunch, and we will go and take a walk
Harry started for his walk, and his companion immediately began again
about the property. "I'm beginning to think," said he, "that it's nearly
all up with the governor. These attacks come upon him worse and worse,
and always leave him absolutely prostrate. Then he will do nothing to
prevent them. To assure himself a week of life, he will not endure an
hour of discomfort. It is plucky, you know."
"He is in all respects as brave a man as I have known."
"He sets God and man at absolute defiance, and always does it with the
most profound courtesy. If he goes to the infernal regions he will
insist upon being the last of the company to enter the door. And he will
be prepared with something good-humored to say as soon as he has been
ushered in. He was very much troubled about you yesterday."
"What has he to say of me?"
"Nothing in the least uncivil; but he has an idea in his head which
nothing on earth will put out of it, and in which, but for your own
word, I should be inclined to agree." Harry, when this was said, stood
still on the mountain-side, and looked full into his companion's face.
He felt at the moment that the idea had some reference to Mountjoy
Scarborough and his disappearance. They were together on the heathy,
unenclosed ground of Cannock Chase, and had already walked some ten or
twelve miles. "He thinks you know where Mountjoy is."
"Why should I know?"
"Or at any rate that you have seen him since any of us. He professes not
to care a straw for Mountjoy or his whereabouts, and declares himself
under obligation to those who have contrived his departure.
Nevertheless, he is curious."
"What have I to do with Mountjoy Scarborough?"
"That's just the question. What have you to do with him? He suggests
that there have been words between you as to Florence, which has caused
Mountjoy to vanish. I don't profess to explain anything beyond
that,--nor, indeed, do I profess to agree with my father. But the odd
thing is that Prodgers, the policeman, has the same thing running in his
"Because I have shown some anxiety about your brother in Scotland Yard."
"No doubt; Prodgers says that you've shown more anxiety than was to be
expected from a mere acquaintance. I quite acknowledge that Prodgers is
as thick-headed an idiot as you shall catch on a summer's day; but
that's his opinion. For myself, I know your word too well to doubt it."
Harry walked on in silence, thinking, or trying to think, what, on the
spur of the moment, he had better do. He was minded to speak out the
whole truth, and declare to himself that it was nothing to him what
Augustus Scarborough might say or think. And there was present to him a
feeling that his companion was dealing unfairly with him, and was
endeavoring in some way to trap him and lead him into a difficulty. But
he had made up his mind, as it were, not to know anything of Mountjoy
Scarborough, and to let those five minutes in the street be as though
they had never been. He had been brutally attacked, and had thought it
best to say nothing on the subject. He would not allow his secret, such
as it was, to be wormed out of him. Scarborough was endeavoring to
extort from him that which he had resolved to conceal; and he determined
at last that he would not become a puppet in his hands. "I don't see why
you should care a straw about it," said Scarborough.
"Nor do I."
"At any rate you repeat your denial. It will be well that I should let
my father know that he is mistaken, and also that ass Prodgers. Of
course, with my father it is sheer curiosity. Indeed, if he thought that
you were keeping Mountjoy under lock and key, he would only admire your
dexterity in so preserving him. Any bold line of action that was
contrary to the law recommends itself to his approbation. But Prodgers
has a lurking idea that he should like to arrest you."
"Simply because he thinks you know something that he doesn't know. As
he's a detective, that, in his mind, is quite enough for arresting any
man. I may as well give him my assurance, then, that he is mistaken."
"Why should your assurance go for more than mine? Give him nothing of
"I may give him, at any rate, my assurance that I believe your word."
"If you do believe it, you can do so."
"But you repeat your assertion that you saw nothing of Mountjoy just
before his disappearance?"
"This is an amount of cross-questioning which I do not take in good
part, and to which I will not submit." Here Scarborough affected to
laugh loudly. "I know nothing of your brother, and care almost as
little. He has professed to admire a young lady to whom I am not
indifferent, and has, I believe, expressed a wish to make her his wife.
He is also her cousin, and the lady in question has, no doubt, been much
interested about him. It is natural that she should be so."
"Quite natural--seeing that she has been engaged to him for twelve
"Of that I know nothing. But my interest about your brother has been
because of her. You can explain all this about your brother if you
please, or can let it alone. But for myself, I decline to answer any
more questions. If Prodgers thinks that he can arrest me, let him come
"The idea of your flying into a passion because I have endeavored to
explain it all to you! At any rate I have your absolute denial, and that
will enable me to deal both with my father and Prodgers." To this Harry
made no answer, and the two young men walked back to Tretton together
without many more words between them.
When Harry had been in the house about half an hour, and had already
eaten his lunch, somewhat sulkily, a message came to him from Miss
Scarborough requiring his presence. He went to her, and was told by her
that Mr. Scarborough would now see him. He was aware that Mr.
Scarborough never saw Septimus Jones, and that there was something
peculiar in the sending of this message to him. Why should the man who
was supposed to have but a few weeks to live be so anxious to see one
who was comparatively a stranger to him? "I am so glad you have come in
before dinner, Mr. Annesley, because my brother is so anxious to see
you, and I am afraid you'll go too early in the morning." Then he
followed her, and again found Mr. Scarborough on a couch in the same
room to which he had been first introduced.
"I've had a sharp bout of it since I saw you before," said the sick man.
"So we heard, sir."
"There is no saying how many or rather how few bouts of this kind it
will take to polish me off. But I think I am entitled to some little
respite now. The apothecary from Tretton was here this morning, and I
believe has done me just as much good as Sir William Brodrick. His
charge will be ten shillings, while Sir William demanded three hundred
pounds. But it would be mean to go out with no one but the Tretton
apothecary to look after one."
"I suppose Sir William's knowledge has been of some service."
"His dexterity with his knife has been of more. So you and Augustus have
been quarrelling about Mountjoy?"
"Not that I know of."
"He says so; and I believe his word on such a subject sooner than yours.
You are likely to quarrel without knowing it, and he is not. He thinks
that you know what has become of Mountjoy."
"Does he? Why should he think so, when I told him that I know nothing? I
tell you that I know absolutely nothing. I am ignorant whether he is
dead or alive."
"He is not dead," said the father.
"I suppose not; but I know nothing about him. Why your second son--"
"You mean my eldest according to law,--or rather my only son!"
"Why Augustus Scarborough," continued Harry Annesley, "should take upon
himself to suspect that I know aught of his brother I cannot say. He has
some cock-and-bull story about a policeman whom he professes to believe
to be ignorant of his own business. This policeman, he says, is anxious
to arrest me."
"To make you give evidence before a magistrate," said his father.
"He did not dare to tell me that he suspected me himself."
"There;--I knew you had quarrelled."
"I deny it altogether. I have not quarrelled with Augustus Scarborough.
He is welcome to his suspicions if he chooses to entertain them. I
should have liked him better if he had not brought me down to Tretton,
so as to extract from me whatever he can. I shall be more guarded in
future in speaking of Mountjoy Scarborough; but to you I give my
positive assurance, which I do not doubt you will believe, that I know
nothing respecting him." An honest indignation gleamed in his eyes as he
spoke; but still there were the signs of that vacillation about his
mouth which Florence had been able to read, but not to interpret.
"Yes," said the squire, after a pause, "I believe you. You haven't that
kind of ingenuity which enables a man to tell a lie and stick to it. I
have. It's a very great gift if a man be enabled to restrain his
appetite for lying." Harry could only smile when he heard the squire's
confession. "Only think how I have lied about Mountjoy; and how
successful my lies might have been, but for his own folly!"
"People do judge you a little harshly now," said Harry.
"What's the odd's? I care nothing for their judgment; I endeavored to do
justice to my own child, and very nearly did it. I was very nearly
successful in rectifying the gross injustice of the world. Why should a
little delay in a ceremony in which he had no voice have robbed him of
his possessions? I determined that he should have Tretton, and I
determined also to make it up to Augustus by denying myself the use of
my own wealth. Things have gone wrongly not by my own folly. I could not
prevent the mad career which Mountjoy has run; but do you think that I
am ashamed because the world knows what I have done? Do you suppose my
death-bed will be embittered by the remembrance that I have been a liar?
Not in the least. I have done the best I could for my two sons, and in
doing it have denied myself many advantages. How many a man would have
spent his money on himself, thinking nothing of his boys, and then have
gone to his grave with all the dignity of a steady Christian father! Of
the two men I prefer myself; but I know that I have been a liar."
What was Harry Annesley to say in answer to such an address as this?
There was the man, stretched on his bed before him, haggard, unshaved,
pale, and grizzly, with a fire in his eyes, but weakness in his
voice,--bold, defiant, self-satisfied, and yet not selfish. He had lived
through his life with the one strong resolution of setting the law at
defiance in reference to the distribution of his property; but chiefly
because he had thought the law to be unjust. Then, when the accident of
his eldest son's extravagance had fallen upon him, he had endeavored to
save his second son, and had thought, without the slightest remorse, of
the loss which was to fall on the creditors. He had done all this in
such a manner that, as far as Harry knew, the law could not touch him,
though all the world was aware of his iniquity. And now he lay boasting
of what he had done. It was necessary that Harry should say something as
he rose from his seat, and he lamely expressed a wish that Mr.
Scarborough might quickly recover. "No, my dear fellow," said the
squire; "men do not recover when they are brought to such straits as I
am in. Nor do I wish it. Were I to live, Augustus would feel the second
injustice to be quite intolerable. His mind is lost in amazement at what
I had contemplated. And he feels that the matter can only be set right
between him and fortune by my dying at once. If he were to understand
that I were to live ten years longer, I think that he would either
commit a murder or lose his senses."
"But there is enough for both of you," said Harry.
"There is no such word in the language as enough. An estate can have but
one owner, and Augustus is anxious to be owner here. I do not blame him
in the least. Why should he desire to spare a father's rights when that
father showed himself so willing to sacrifice his? Good-bye, Annesley; I
am sorry you are going, for I like to have some honest fellow to talk
to. You are not to suppose that because I have done this thing I am
indifferent to what men shall say of me. I wish them to think me good,
though I have chosen to run counter to the prejudices of the world."
Then Harry escaped from the room, and spent the remaining evening with
Augustus Scarborough and Septimus Jones. The conversation was devoted
chiefly to the partridges and horses; and was carried on by Septimus
with severity toward Harry, and by Scarborough with an extreme civility
which was the more galling of the two.
AUGUSTUS HAS HIS OWN DOUBTS.
"That's an impertinent young puppy," said Septimus Jones as soon as the
fly which was to carry Harry Annesley to the station had left the
hall-door on the following morning. It may be presumed that Mr. Jones
would not thus have expressed himself unless his friend Augustus
Scarborough had dropped certain words in conversation in regard to Harry
to the same effect. And it may be presumed also that Augustus would not
have dropped such words without a purpose of letting his friend know
that Harry was to be abused. Augustus Scarborough had made up his mind,
looking at the matter all round, that more was to be got by abusing
Harry than by praising him.
"The young man has a good opinion of himself certainly."
"He thinks himself to be a deal better than anybody else," continued
Jones, "whereas I for one don't see it. And he has a way with him of
pretending to be quite equal to his companions, let them be who they
may, which to me is odious. He was down upon you and down upon your
father. Of course your father has made a most fraudulent attempt; but
what the devil is it to him?" The other young man made no answer, but
only smiled. The opinion expressed by Mr. Jones as to Harry Annesley had
only been a reflex of that felt by Augustus Scarborough. But the reflex,
as is always the case when the looking-glass is true, was correct.
Scarborough had known Harry Annesley for a long time, as time is counted
in early youth, and had by degrees learned to hate him thoroughly. He
was a little the elder, and had at first thought to domineer over his
friend. But the friend had resisted, and had struggled manfully to
achieve what he considered an equality in friendship. "Now, Scarborough,
you may as well take it once for all that I am not going to be talked
down. If you want to talk a fellow down you can go to Walker, Brown, or
Green. Then when you are tired of the occupation you can come back to
me." It was thus that Annesley had been wont to address his friend. But
his friend had been anxious to talk down this special young man for
special purposes, and had been conscious of some weakness in the other's
character which he thought entitled him to do so. But the weakness was
not of that nature, and he had failed. Then had come the rivalry between
Mountjoy and Harry, which had seemed to Augustus to be the extreme of
impudence. From of old he had been taught to regard his brother Mountjoy
as the first of young men--among commoners; the first in prospects and
the first in rank; and to him Florence Mountjoy had been allotted as a
bride. How he had himself learned first to envy and then to covet this
allotted bride need not here be told. But by degrees it had come to pass
that Augustus had determined that his spendthrift brother should fall
under his own power, and that the bride should be the reward. How it was
that two brothers, so different in character, and yet so alike in their
selfishness, should have come to love the same girl with a true
intensity of purpose, and that Harry Annesley, whose character was
essentially different, and who was in no degree selfish, should have
loved her also, must be left to explain itself as the girl's character
shall be developed. But Florence Mountjoy had now for many months been
the cause of bitter dislike against poor Harry in the mind of Augustus
Scarborough. He understood much more clearly than his brother had done
who it was that the girl really preferred. He was ever conscious, too,
of his own superiority,--falsely conscious,--and did feel that if Harry's
character were really known, no girl would in truth prefer him. He
could not quite see Harry with Florence's eyes nor could he see himself
with any other eyes but his own.
Then had come the meeting between Mountjoy and Harry Annesley in the
street, of which he had only such garbled account as Mountjoy himself
had given him within half an hour afterward. From that story, told in
the words of a drunken man,--a man drunk, and bruised, and bloody, who
clearly did not understand in one minute the words spoken in the
last,--Augustus did learn that there had been some great row between his
brother and Harry Annesley. Then Mountjoy had disappeared,--had
disappeared, as the reader will have understood, with his brother's
co-operation,--and Harry had not come forward, when inquiries were made,
to declare what he knew of the occurrences of that night. Augustus had
narrowly watched his conduct, in order at first that he might learn in
what condition his brother had been left in the street, but afterward
with the purpose of ascertaining why it was that Harry had been so
reticent. Then he had allured Harry on to a direct lie, and soon
perceived that he could afterward use the secret for his own purpose.
"I think we shall have to see what that young man's about, you know," he
said afterward to Septimus Jones.
"Yes, yes, certainly," said Septimus. But Septimus did not quite
understand why it was that they should have to see what the young man
"Between you and me, I think he means to interfere with me, and I do not
mean to stand his interference."
"I should think not."
"He must go back to Buston, among the Bustonians, or he and I will have
a stand-up fight of it. I rather like a stand-up fight."
"Just so. When a fellow's so bumptious as that he ought to be licked."
"He has lied about Mountjoy," said Augustus. Then Jones waited to be
told how it was that Harry had lied. He was aware that there was some
secret unknown to him, and was anxious to be informed. Was Harry aware
of Mountjoy's hiding-place, and if so, how had he learned it? Why was it
that Harry should be acquainted with that which was dark to all the
world besides? Jones was of opinion that the squire knew all about it,
and thought it not improbable that the squire and Augustus had the
secret in their joint keeping. But if so, how should Harry Annesley know
anything about it? "He has lied like the very devil," continued
Augustus, after a pause.
"Has he, now?"
"And I don't mean to spare him."
"I should think not." Then there was a pause, at the end of which Jones
found himself driven to ask a question: "How has he lied?" Augustus
smiled and shook his head, from which the other man gathered that he was
not now to be told the nature of the lie in question. "A fellow that
lies like that," said Jones, "is not to be endured."
"I do not mean to endure him. You have heard of a young lady named Miss
Mountjoy, a cousin of ours?"
"Mountjoy's Miss Mountjoy?" suggested Jones.
"Yes, Mountjoy's Miss Mountjoy. That, of course, is over. Mountjoy has
brought himself to such a pass that he is not entitled to have a Miss
Mountjoy any longer. It seems the proper thing that she shall pass, with
the rest of the family property, to the true heir."
"You marry her!"
"We need not talk about that just at present. I don't know that I've
made up my mind. At any rate, I do not intend that Harry Annesley shall
"I should think not."
"He's a pestilential cur, that has got himself introduced into the
family, and the sooner we get quit of him the better. I should think the
young lady would hardly fancy him when she knows that he has lied like
the very devil, with the object of getting her former lover out of the
"By Jove, no, I should think not!"
"And when the world comes to understand that Harry Annesley, in the
midst of all these inquiries, knows all about poor Mountjoy,--was the
last to see him in London,--and has never come forward to say a word
about him, then I think the world will be a little hard upon the
immaculate Harry Annesley. His own uncle has quarrelled with him
"The gentleman down in Hertfordshire, on the strength of whose acres
Master Harry is flaunting it about in idleness. I have my eyes open and
can see as well as another. When Harry lectures me about my father and
my father about me, one would suppose that there's not a hole in his own
coat. I think he'll find that the garment is not altogether
water-tight." Then Augustus, finding that he had told as much as was
needful to Septimus Jones, left his friend and went about his own family
On the next morning Septimus Jones took his departure, and on the day
following Augustus followed him. "So you're off?" his father said to
him when he came to make his adieux.
"Well, yes; I suppose so. A man has got so many things to look after
which he can't attend to down here."
"I don't know what they are, but you understand it all. I'm not going to
ask you to stay. Does it ever occur to you that you may never see me
"What a question!"
"It's one that requires an answer, at any rate."
"It does occur to me; but not at all as probable."
"Why not probable?"
"Because there's a telegraph wire from Tretton to London; and because
the journey down here is very short. It also occurs to me to think so
from what has been said by Sir William Brodrick. Of course any man may
"Especially when the surgeons have been at him."
"You have your sister with you, sir, and she will be of more comfort to
you than I can be. Your condition is in some respects an advantage to
you. These creditors of Mountjoy can't force their way in upon you."
"You are wrong there."
"They have not done so."
"Nor should they, though I were as strong as you. What are Mountjoy's
creditors to me? They have not a scrap of my handwriting in their
possession. There is not one who can say that he has even a verbal
promise from me. They never came to me when they wanted to lend him
money at fifty per cent. Did they ever hear me say that he was my heir?"
"Not one has ever heard it. It was not to them I lied, but to you and to
Grey. D---- the creditors! What do I care for them, though they be all
"Not in the least."
"Why do you talk to me about the creditors? You, at any rate, know the
truth." Then Augustus quitted the room, leaving his father in a passion.
But, as a fact, he was by no means assured as to the truth. He supposed
that he was the heir; but might it not be possible that his father had
contrived all this so as to save the property from Mountjoy and that
greedy pack of money-lenders? Grey must surely know the truth. But why
should not Grey be deceived on the second event as well as the first.
There was no limit, Augustus sometimes thought, to his father's
cleverness. This idea had occurred to him within the last week, and his
mind was tormented with reflecting what might yet be his condition. But
of one thing he was sure, that his father and Mountjoy were not in
league together. Mountjoy at any rate believed himself to have been
disinherited. Mountjoy conceived that his only chance of obtaining money
arose from his brother. The circumstances of Mountjoy's absence were, at
any rate, unknown to his father.
SIR MAGNUS MOUNTJOY.
It was the peculiarity of Florence Mountjoy that she did not expect
other people to be as good as herself. It was not that she erected for
herself a high standard and had then told herself that she had no right
to demand from others one so exalted. She had erected nothing. Nor did
she know that she attempted to live by grand rules. She had no idea that
she was better than anybody else; but it came to her naturally as the
result of what had gone before, to be unselfish, generous, trusting, and
pure. These may be regarded as feminine virtues, and may be said to be
sometimes tarnished, by faults which are equally feminine. Unselfishness
may become want of character; generosity essentially unjust; confidence
may be weak, and purity insipid. Here it was that the strength of
Florence Mountjoy asserted itself. She knew well what was due to
herself, though she would not claim it. She could trust to another, but
in silence be quite sure of herself. Though pure herself, she was rarely
shocked by the ways of others. And she was as true as a man pretends to
In figure, form, and face she never demanded immediate homage by the
sudden flash of her beauty. But when her spell had once fallen on a
man's spirit it was not often that he could escape from it quickly. When
she spoke a peculiar melody struck the hearer's ears. Her voice was soft
and low and sweet, and full at all times of harmonious words; but when
she laughed it was like soft winds playing among countless silver bells.
There was something in her touch which to men was almost divine. Of this
she was all unconscious, but was as chary with her fingers as though it
seemed that she could ill spare her divinity.
In height she was a little above the common, but it was by the grace of
her movements that the world was compelled to observe her figure. There
are women whose grace is so remarkable as to demand the attention of
all. But then it is known of them, and momentarily seen, that their
grace is peculiar. They have studied their graces, and the result is
there only too evident. But Florence seemed to have studied nothing. The
beholder felt that she must have been as graceful when playing with her
doll in the nursery. And it was the same with her beauty. There was no
peculiarity of chiselled features. Had you taken her face and measured
it by certain rules, you would have found that her mouth was too large
and her nose irregular. Of her teeth she showed but little, and in her
complexion there was none of that pellucid clearness in which men
ordinarily delight. But her eyes were more than ordinarily bright, and
when she laughed there seemed to stream from them some heavenly delight.
When she did laugh it was as though some spring had been opened from
which ran for the time a stream of sweetest intimacy. For the time you
would then fancy that you had been let into the inner life of this girl,
and would be proud of yourself that so much should have been granted
you. You would feel that there was something also in yourself in that
this should have been permitted. Her hair and eyebrows were dark brown,
of the hue most common to men and women, and had in them nothing that
was peculiar; but her hair was soft and smooth and ever well dressed,
and never redolent of peculiar odors. It was simply Florence Mountjoy's
hair, and that made it perfect in the eyes of her male friends
"She's not such a wonderful beauty, after all," once said of her a
gentleman to whom it may be presumed that she had not taken the trouble
to be peculiarly attractive. "No," said another,--"no. But, by George! I
shouldn't like to have the altering of her." It was thus that men
generally felt in regard to Florence Mountjoy. When they came to reckon
her up they did not see how any change was to be made for the better.
To Florence, as to most other girls, the question of her future life had
been a great trouble. Whom should she marry? and whom should she decline
to marry? To a girl, when it is proposed to her suddenly to change
everything in life, to go altogether away and place herself under the
custody of a new master, to find for herself a new home, new pursuits,
new aspirations, and a strange companion, the change must be so
complete as almost to frighten her by its awfulness. And yet it has to
be always thought of, and generally done.
But this change had been presented to Florence in a manner more than
ordinarily burdensome. Early in life, when naturally she would not have
begun to think seriously of marriage, she had been told rather than
asked to give herself to her cousin Mountjoy. She was too firm of
character to accede at once--to deliver herself over body and soul to
the tender mercies of one, in truth, unknown. But she had been unable to
interpose any reason that was valid, and had contented herself by
demanding time. Since that there had been moments in which she had
almost yielded. Mountjoy Scarborough had been so represented to her that
she had considered it to be almost a duty to yield. More than once the
word had been all but spoken; but the word had never been spoken. She
had been subjected to what might be called cruel pressure. In season and
out of season her mother had represented as a duty this marriage with
her cousin. Why should she not marry her cousin? It must be understood
that these questions had been asked before any of the terrible facts of
Captain Scarborough's life had been made known to her. Because, it may
be said, she did not love him. But in these days she had loved no man,
and was inclined to think so little of herself as to make her want of
love no necessary bar to the accomplishment of the wish of others. By
degrees she was spoken of among their acquaintance as the promised bride
of Mountjoy Scarborough, and though she ever denied the imputation,
there came over her girl's heart a feeling,--very sad and very solemn,
but still all but accepted,--that so it must be. Then Harry Annesley had
crossed her path, and the question had been at last nearly answered, and
the doubts nearly decided. She did not quite know at first that she
loved Harry Annesley, but was almost sure that it was impossible for her
to become the wife of Mountjoy Scarborough.
Then there came nearly twelve months of most painful uncertainty in her
life. It is very hard for a young girl to have to be firm with her
mother in declining a proposed marriage, when all circumstances of the
connection are recommended to her as being peculiarly alluring. And
there was nothing in the personal manners of her cousin which seemed to
justify her in declaring her abhorrence. He was a dark, handsome,
military-looking man, whose chief sin it was in the eyes of his cousin
that he seemed to demand from her affection, worship, and obedience. She
did not analyse his character, but she felt it. And when it came to
pass that tidings of his debts at last reached her, she felt that she
was glad of an excuse, though she knew that the excuse would not have
prevailed with her had she liked him. Then came his debts, and with the
knowledge of them a keener perception of his imperiousness. She could
consent to become the wife of the man who had squandered his property
and wasted his estate; but not of one who before his marriage demanded
of her that submission which, as she thought, should be given by her
freely after her marriage. Harry Annesley glided into her heart after a
manner very different from this. She knew that he adored her, but yet he
did not hasten to tell her so. She knew that she loved him, but she
doubted whether a time would ever come in which she could confess it. It
was not till he had come to acknowledge the trouble to which Mountjoy
had subjected him that he had ever ventured to speak plainly of his own
passion, and even then he had not asked for a reply. She was still free,
as she thought of all this, but she did at last tell herself that, let
her mother say what she would, she certainly never would stand at the
altar with her cousin Mountjoy.
Even now, when the captain had been declared not to be his father's
heir, and when all the world knew that he had disappeared from the face
of the earth, Mrs. Mountjoy did not altogether give him up. She partly
disbelieved her brother, and partly thought that circumstances could not
be so bad as they were described.
To her feminine mind,--to her, living, not in the world of London, but in
the very moderate fashion of Cheltenham,--it seemed to be impossible that
an entail should be thus blighted in the bud. Why was an entail called
an entail unless it were ineradicable,--a decision of fate rather than of
man and of law? And to her eyes Mountjoy Scarborough was so commanding
that all things must at last be compelled to go as he would have them.
And, to tell the truth, there had lately come to Mrs. Mountjoy a word of
comfort, which might be necessary if the world should be absolutely
upset in accordance with the wicked skill of her brother, which even in
that case might make crooked things smooth. Augustus, whom she had
regarded always as quite a Mountjoy, because of his talent, and
appearance, and habit of command, had whispered to her a word. Why
should not Florence be transferred with the remainder of the property?
There was something to Mrs. Mountjoy's feelings base in the idea at the
first blush of it. She did not like to be untrue to her gallant nephew.
But as she came to turn it in her mind there were certain circumstances
which recommended the change to her--should the change be necessary.
Florence certainly had expressed an unintelligible objection to the
elder brother. Why should the younger not be more successful? Mrs.
Mountjoy's heart had begun to droop within her as she had thought that
her girl would prove deaf to the voice of the charmer. Another charmer
had come, most objectionable in her sight, but to him no word of
absolute encouragement had, as she thought, been yet spoken. Augustus
had already obtained for himself among his friends the character of an
eloquent young lawyer. Let him come and try his eloquence on his
cousin,--only let it first be ascertained, as an assured fact, and beyond
the possibility of all retrogression, that the squire's villainy was
"I think, my love," she said to her daughter one day, "that, under the
immediate circumstances of the family, we should retire for a while into
private life." This occurred on the very day on which Septimus Jones had
been vaguely informed of the iniquitous falsehood of Harry Annesley.
"Good gracious, mamma, is not our life always private?" She had
understood it all,--that the private life was intended altogether to
exclude Harry, but was to be made open to the manoeuvres of her cousin,
such as they might be.
"Not in the sense in which I mean. Your poor uncle is dying."
"We hear that Sir William says he is better."
"I fear, nevertheless, that he is dying,--though it may, perhaps, take a
long time. And then poor Mountjoy has disappeared. I think that we
should see no one till the mystery about Mountjoy has been cleared up.
And then the story is so very discreditable."
"I do not see that that is an affair of ours," said Florence, who had no
desire to be shut up just at the present moment.
"We cannot help ourselves. This making his eldest son out to be--oh,
something so very different--is too horrible to be thought of. I am told
that nobody knows the truth."
"We at any rate are not implicated in that."
"But we are. He at any rate is my brother, and Mountjoy is my nephew,--or
at any rate was. Poor Augustus is thrown into terrible difficulties."
"I am told that he is greatly pleased at finding that Tretton is to
belong to him."
"Who tells you that? You have no right to believe anything about such
near relatives from any one. Whoever told you so has been very wicked."
Mrs. Mountjoy no doubt thought that this wicked communication had been
made by Harry Annesley. "Augustus has always proved himself to be
affectionate and respectful to his elder brother, that is, to his
brother who is--is older than himself," added Mrs. Mountjoy, feeling
that there was a difficulty in expressing herself as to the presumed
condition of the two Scarboroughs, "Of course he would rather be owner
of Tretton than let any one else have it, if you mean that. The honor of
the family is very much to him."
"I do not know that the family can have any honor left," said Florence,
"My dear, you have no right to say that. The Scarboroughs have always
held their heads very high in Staffordshire, and more so of late than
ever. I don't mean quite of late, but since Tretton became of so much
importance. Now, I'll tell you what I think we had better do. We'll go
and spend six weeks with your uncle at Brussels. He has always been
pressing us to come."
"Oh, mamma, he does not want us."
"How can you say that? How do you know?"
"I am sure Sir Magnus will not care for our coming now. Besides, how
could that be retiring into private life? Sir Magnus, as ambassador, has
his house always full of company."
"My dear, he is not ambassador. He is minister plenipotentiary. It is
not quite the same thing. And then he is our nearest relative,--our
nearest, at least, since my own brother has made this great separation,
of course. We cannot go to him to be out of the way of himself."
"Why do you want to go anywhere, mamma? Why not stay at home?" But
Florence pleaded in vain as her mother had already made up her mind.
Before that day was over she succeeded in making her daughter understand
that she was to be taken to Brussels as soon as an answer could be
received from Sir Magnus and the necessary additions were made to their
Sir Magnus Mountjoy, the late general's elder brother, had been for the
last four or five years the English minister at Brussels. He had been
minister somewhere for a very long time, so that the memory of man
hardly ran back beyond it, and was said to have gained for himself very
extensive popularity. It had always been a point with successive
governments to see that poor Sir Magnus got something, and Sir Magnus
had never been left altogether in the cold. He was not a man who would
have been left out in the cold in silence, and perhaps the feeling that
such was the case had been as efficacious on his behalf as his
well-attested popularity. At any rate, poor Sir Magnus had always been
well placed, and was now working out his last year or two before the
blessed achievement of his pursuit should have been reached. Sir Magnus
had a wife of whom it was said at home that she was almost as popular as
her husband; but the opinion of the world at Brussels on this subject
was a good deal divided. There were those who declared that Lady
Mountjoy was of all women the most overbearing and impertinent. But they
were generally English residents at Brussels, who had come to live there
as a place at which education for their children would be cheaper than
at home. Of these Lady Mountjoy had been heard to declare that she saw
no reason why, because she was the minister's wife, she should be
expected to entertain all the second-class world of London. This, of
course, must be understood with a good deal of allowance, as the English
world at Brussels was much too large to expect to be so received; but
there were certain ladies living on the confines of high society who
thought that they had a right to be admitted, and who grievously
resented their exclusion. It cannot, therefore, be said that Lady
Mountjoy was popular; but she was large in figure, and painted well, and
wore her diamonds with an air which her peculiar favorites declared to
be majestic. You could not see her going along the boulevards in her
carriage without being aware that a special personage was passing. Upon
the whole, it may be said that she performed well her special role in
life. Of Sir Magnus it was hinted that he was afraid of his wife; but in
truth he desired it to be understood that all the disagreeable things
done at the Embassy were done by Lady Mountjoy, and not by him. He did
not refuse leave to the ladies to drop their cards at his hall-door. He
could ask a few men to his table without referring the matter to his
wife; but every one would understand that the asking of ladies was based
on a different footing.
He knew well that as a rule it was not fitting that he should ask a
married man without his wife; but there are occasions on which an excuse
can be given, and upon the whole the men liked it. He was a stout, tall,
portly old gentleman, sixty years of age, but looking somewhat older,
whom it was a difficulty to place on horseback, but who, when there,
looked remarkably well. He rarely rose to a trot during his two hours of
exercise, which to the two attache's who were told off for the duty of
accompanying him was the hardest part of their allotted work. But other
gentlemen would lay themselves out to meet Sir Magnus and to ride with
him, and in this way he achieved that character for popularity which had
been a better aid to him in life than all the diplomatic skill which he
"What do you think?" said he, walking off with Mrs. Mountjoy's letter
into his wife's room.
"I don't think anything, my dear."
"You never do." Lady Mountjoy, who had not yet undergone her painting,
looked cross and ill-natured. "At any rate, Sarah and her daughter are
proposing to come here."
"Good gracious! At once?"
"Yes, at once. Of course, I've asked them over and over again, and
something was said about this autumn, when we had come back from
"Why did you not tell me?"
"Bother! I did tell you. This kind of thing always turns up at last.
She's a very good kind of a woman, and the daughter is all that she
ought to be."
"Of course she'll be flirting with Anderson." Anderson was one of the
two mounted attaches.
"Anderson will know how to look after himself," said Sir Magnus. "At any
rate they must come. They have never troubled us before, and we ought to
put up with them once."
"But, my dear, what is all this about her brother?"
"She won't bring her brother with her."
"How can you be sure of that?" said the anxious lady.
"He is dying, and can't be moved."
"But that son of his--Mountjoy. It's altogether a most distressing
story. He turns out to be nobody after all, and now he has disappeared,
and the papers for an entire month were full of him. What would you do
if he were to turn up here? The girl was engaged to him, you know, and
has only thrown him off since his own father declared that he was not
legitimate. There never was such a mess about anything since London
Then Sir Magnus declared that, let Mountjoy Scarborough and his father
have misbehaved as they might, Mr. Scarborough's sister must be received
at Brussels. There was a little family difficulty. Sir Magnus had
borrowed three thousand pounds from the general which had been settled
on the general's widow, and the interest was not always paid with
extreme punctuality. To give Mrs. Mountjoy her due, it must be said that
this had not entered into her consideration when she had written to her
brother-in-law; but it was a burden to Sir Magnus, and had always
tended to produce from him a reiteration of those invitations, which
Mrs. Mountjoy had taken as an expression of brotherly love. Her own
income was always sufficient for her wants, and the hundred and fifty
pounds coming from Sir Magnus had not troubled her much. "Well, my dear,
if it must be it must;--only what I'm to do with her I do not know."
"Take her about in the carriage," said Sir Magnus, who was beginning to
be a little angry with this interference.
"And the daughter? Daughters are twice more troublesome than their
"Pass her over to Miss Abbott. And for goodness' sake don't make so much
trouble about things which need not be troublesome." Then Sir Magnus
left his wife to ring for her chambermaid and go on with her painting,
while he himself undertook the unwonted task of writing an affectionate
letter to his sister-in-law. It should be here explained that Sir Magnus
had no children of his own, and that Miss Abbott was the lady who was
bound to smile and say pretty things on all occasions to Lady Mountjoy
for the moderate remuneration of two hundred a year and her maintenance.
The letter which Sir Magnus wrote was as follows:
MY DEAR SARAH,--Lady Mountjoy bids me say that we shall
be delighted to receive you and my niece at the British
Ministry on the 1st of October, and hope that you will
stay with us till the end of the month.--Believe me, most
affectionately yours, MAGNUS MOUNTJOY.
"I have a most kind letter from Sir Magnus," said Mrs. Mountjoy to her
"What does he say?"
"That he will be delighted to receive us on the 1st of October. I did
say that we should be ready to start in about a week's time, because I
know that he gets home from his autumn holiday by the middle of
September. But I have no doubt he has his house full till the time he
"Do you know her, mamma?" asked Florence.
"I did see her once; but I cannot say that I know her. She used to be a
very handsome woman, and looks to be quite good-natured; but Sir Magnus
has always lived abroad, and except when he came home about your poor
father's death I have seen very little of him."
"I never saw him but that once," said Florence.
And so it was settled that she and her mother were to spend a month at
Toward the end of September, while the weather was so hot as to keep
away from the south of France all but very determined travellers, an
English gentleman, not very beautiful in his outward appearance, was
sauntering about the great hall of the gambling-house at Monte Carlo, in
the kingdom or principality of Monaco, the only gambling-house now left
in Europe in which idle men of a speculative nature may yet solace their
hours with some excitement. Nor is the amusement denied to idle ladies,
as might be seen by two or three highly-dressed _habituees_ who at this
moment were depositing their shawls and parasols with the porters. The
clock was on the stroke of eleven, when the gambling-room would be open,
and the amusement was too rich in its nature to allow of the loss of
even a few minutes. But this gentleman was not an _habitue_, nor was he
known even by name to any of the small crowd that was then assembled.
But it was known to many of them that he had had a great "turn of luck"
on the preceding day, and had walked off from the "rouge-et-noir" table
with four or five hundred pounds.
The weather was still so hot that but few Englishmen were there, and the
play had not as yet begun to run high. There were only two or three,--men
who cannot keep their hands from ruin when ruin is open to them. To them
heat and cold, the dog-star or twenty degrees below zero, make no
difference while the croupier is there, with his rouleaux before him,
capable of turning up the card. They know that the chance is against
them,--one in twenty, let us say,--and that in the long-run one in twenty
is as good as two to one to effect their ruin. For a day they may stand
against one in twenty, as this man had done. For two or three days, for
a week, they may possibly do so; but they know that the doom must come
at last,--as it does come invariably,--and they go on. But our friend, the
Englishman who had won the money, was not such a one as these, at any
rate in regard to Monaco. Yesterday had been his first appearance, and
he had broken ground there with great success. He was an ill-looking
person, poorly clad,--what, in common parlance, we should call seedy. He
had not a scrap of beard on his face, and though swarthy and dark as to
his countenance, was light as to his hair, which hung in quantities down
his back. He was dressed from head to foot in a suit of cross-barred,
light-colored tweed, of which he wore the coat buttoned tight over his
chest, as though to hide some deficiency of linen.
The gentleman was altogether a disreputable-looking personage, and they
who had seen him win his money,--Frenchmen and Italians for the most
part,--had declared among themselves that his luck had been most
miraculous. It was observed that he had a companion with him, who stuck
close to his elbow, and it was asserted that this companion continually
urged him to leave the room. But as long as the croupier remained at the
table he remained, and continued to play through the day with almost
invariable luck. It was surmised among the gamblers there that he had
not entered the room with above twenty or thirty pieces in his pocket,
and that he had taken away with him, when the place was closed, six
hundred napoleons. "Look there; he has come again to give it all back to
Madame Blanc, with interest," said a Frenchman to an Italian.
"Yes; and he will end by blowing his brains out within a week. He is
just the man to do it."
"These Englishmen always rush at their fate like mad bulls," said the
Frenchman. "They get less distraction for their money than any one."
"Che va piano va sano," said the Italian, jingling the four napoleons in
his pocket, which had been six on yesterday morning. Then they sauntered
up to the Englishman, and both of them touched their hats to him. The
Englishman just acknowledged the compliment, and walked off with his
companion, who was still whispering something into his ear.
"It is a gendarme who is with him, I think," said the Frenchman, "only
the man does not walk erect."
Who does not know the outside hall of the magnificent gambling-house at
Monte Carlo, with all the golden splendor of its music-room within? Who
does not know the lofty roof and lounging seats, with its luxuries of
liveried servants, its wealth of newspapers, and every appanage of
costly comfort which can be added to it? And its music within,--who does
not know that there are to be heard sounds in a greater perfection of
orchestral melody than are to be procured by money and trouble combined
in the great capitals of Europe? Think of the trouble endured by those
unhappy fathers of families who indulge their wives and daughters at the
Philharmonic and St. James's Hall! Think of the horrors of our theatres,
with their hot gas, and narrow passages, and difficulties of entrance,
and almost impossibility of escape! And for all this money has to be
paid,--high prices,--and the day has to be fixed long beforehand, so that
the tickets may be secured, and the daily feast,--papa's too often
solitary enjoyment,--has to be turned into a painful early fast. And when
at last the thing has been done, and the torment endured, the sounds
heard have not always been good of their kind, for the money has not
sufficed to purchase the aid of a crowd of the best musicians. But at
Monte Carlo you walk in with your wife in her morning costume, and
seating yourself luxuriously in one of those soft stalls which are there
prepared for you, you give yourself up with perfect ease to absolute
enjoyment. For two hours the concert lasts, and all around is perfection
and gilding. There is nothing to annoy the most fastidious taste. You
have not heated yourself with fighting your way up crowded stairs; no
box-keeper has asked you for a shilling. No link-boy has dunned you
because he stood useless for a moment at the door of your carriage. No
panic has seized you, and still oppresses you, because of the narrow
dimensions in which you have to seat yourself for the next three hours.
There are no twenty minutes during which you are doomed to sit in
miserable expectation. Exactly at the hour named the music begins, and
for two hours it is your own fault if you be not happy. A
railway-carriage has brought you to steps leading up to the garden in
which these princely halls are built, and when the music is over will
again take you home. Nothing can be more perfect than the concert-room
at Monte Carlo, and nothing more charming; and for all this there is
nothing whatever to pay.
But by whom;--out of whose pocket are all these good things provided?
They tell you at Monte Carlo that from time to time are to be seen men
walking off in the dark of the night or the gloom of the evening, or,
for the matter of that, in the broad light of day, if the stern
necessity of the hour require it, with a burden among them, to be
deposited where it may not be seen or heard of any more. They are
carrying away "all that mortal remains" of one of the gentlemen who have
paid for your musical entertainment. He has given his all for the
purpose, and has then--blown his brains out. It is one of the
disagreeable incidents to which the otherwise extremely pleasant
money-making operations of the establishment are liable. Such accidents
will happen. A gambling-house, the keeper of which is able to maintain
the royal expense of the neighboring court out of his winnings and also
to keep open for those who are not ashamed to accept it,--gratis, all
for love,--a concert-room brilliant with gold, filled with the best
performers whom the world can furnish, and comfortable beyond all
opera-houses known to men must be liable to a few such misfortunes. Who
is not ashamed to accept, I have said, having lately been there and
thoroughly enjoyed myself? But I did not put myself in the way of having
to cut my throat, on which account I felt, as I came out, that I had
been somewhat shabby. I was ashamed in that I had not put a few
napoleons down on the table. Conscience had prevented me, and a wish to
keep my money. But should not conscience have kept me away from all that
happiness for which I had not paid? I had not thought of it before I
went to Monte Carlo, but I am inclined now to advise others to stay
away, or else to put down half a napoleon, at any rate, as the price of
a ticket. The place is not overcrowded, because the conscience of many
is keener than was mine.
We ought to be grateful to the august sovereign of Monaco in that he
enabled an enterprising individual to keep open for us in so brilliant a
fashion the last public gambling-house in Europe. The principality is
but large enough to contain the court of the sovereign which is held in
the little town of Monaco, and the establishment of the last of
legitimate gamblers which is maintained at Monte Carlo. If the report of
the world does not malign the prince, he lives, as does the gambler, out
of the spoil taken from the gamblers. He is to be seen in his royal
carriage going forth with his royal consort,--and very royal he looks!
His little teacup of a kingdom,--or rather a roll of French bread, for it
is crusty and picturesque,--is now surrounded by France. There is Nice
away to the west, and Mentone to the east, and the whole kingdom lies
within the compass of a walk. Mentone, in France, at any rate, is within
five miles of the monarch's residence. How happy it is that there should
be so blessed a spot left in tranquillity on the earth's surface!
But on the present occasion Monte Carlo was not in all its grandeur,
because of the heat of the weather. Another month, and English lords,
and English members of Parliament, and English barristers would be
there,--all men, for instance, who could afford to be indifferent as to
their character for a month,--and the place would be quite alive with
music, cards, and dice. At present men of business only flocked to its
halls, eagerly intent on making money, though, alas! almost all doomed
to lose it. But our one friend with the long light locks was impatient
for the fray. The gambling-room had now been opened, and the servants
of the table, less impatient than he, were slowly arranging their money
and their cards. Our friend had taken his seat, and was already
resolving, with his eyes fixed on the table, where he would make his
first plunge. In his right hand was a bag of gold, and under his left
hand were hidden the twelve napoleons with which he intended to
commence. On yesterday he had gone through his day's work by twelve,
though on one or two occasions he had plunged deeply. It had seemed to
this man as though a new heaven had been opened to him, as of late he
had seen little of luck in this world. The surmises made as to the low
state of his funds when he entered the room had been partly true; but
time had been when he was able to gamble in a more costly fashion even
than here, and to play among those who had taken his winnings and
losings simply as a matter of course.
And now the game had begun, and the twelve napoleons were duly
deposited. Again he won his stake, an omen for the day, and was
exultant. A second twelve and a third were put down, and on each
occasion he won. In the silly imagination of his heart he declared to
himself that the calculation of all chances was as nothing against his
run of luck. Here was the spot on which it was destined that he should
redeem all the injury which fortune had done him. And in truth this man
had been misused by fortune. His companion whispered in his ear, but he
heard not a word of it. He increased the twelve to fifteen, and again
won. As he looked round there was a halo of triumph which seemed to
illuminate his face. He had chained Chance to his chariot-wheel and
would persevere now that the good time had come. What did he care for
the creature at his elbow? He thought of all the good things which money
could again purchase for him as he carefully fingered the gold for the
next stake. He had been rich, though he was now poor; though how could a
man be accounted poor who had an endless sum of six hundred napoleons in
his pocket, a sum which was, in truth, endless, while it could be so
rapidly recruited in this fashion? The next stake he also won, but as he
raked all the pieces which the croupier pushed toward him his mind had
become intent on another sphere and on other persons. Let him win what
he might, his old haunts were now closed against him. What good would
money do him, living such a life as he must now be compelled to pass? As
he thought of this the five-and-twenty napoleons on the table were taken
away from him almost without consciousness on his part.
At that moment there came a voice in his ear,--not the voice of his
attending friend, but one of which he accurately knew the lisping,
fiendish sound: "Ah, Captain Scarborough, I thought it vas posshible you
might be here. Dis ish a very nice place." Our friend looked round and
glared at the man, and felt that it was impossible that this occupation
should be continued under his eyes. "Yesh; it was likely. How do you
like Monte Carlo? You have plenty of money--plenty!" The man was small,
and oily, and black-haired, and beaky-nosed, with a perpetual smile on
his face, unless when on special occasions he would be moved to the
expression of deep anger. Of the modern Hebrews a most complete Hebrew;
but a man of purpose, who never did things by halves, who could count
upon good courage within, and who never allowed himself to be foiled by
misadventure. He was one who, beginning with nothing, was determined to
die a rich man, and was likely to achieve his purpose. Now there was no
gleam of anger on his face, but a look of invincible good-humor, which
was not, however, quite good-humor, when you came to examine it closely.
"Oh, that is you, is it, Mr. Hart?"
"Yesh; it is me. I have followed you. Oh, I have had quite a pleasant
tour following you. But ven I got my noshe once on to the schent then I
was sure it was Monte Carlo. And it ish Monte Carlo; eh, Captain
"Yes; of course it is Monte Carlo. That is to say, Monte Carlo is the
place where we are now. I don't know what you mean by running on in that
way." Then he drew back from the table, Mr. Hart following close behind
him, and his attendant at a farther distance behind him. As he went he
remembered that he had slightly increased the six hundred napoleons of
yesterday, and that the money was still in his own possession. Not all
the Jews in London could touch the money while he kept it in his pocket.
"Who ish dat man there?" asked Mr. Hart.
"What can that be to you?"
"He seems to follow you pretty close."
"Not so close as you do, by George; and perhaps he has something to get
by it, which you haven't."
"Come, come, come! If he have more to get than I he mush be pretty deep.
There is Mishter Tyrrwhit. No one have more to get than I, only Mishter
Tyrrwhit. Vy, Captain Scarborough, the little game you wash playing
there, which wash a very pretty little game, is as nothing to my game
wish you. When you see the money down, on the table there, it seems to
be mush because the gold glitters, but it is as noting to my little
game, where the gold does not glitter, because it is pen and ink. A pen
and ink soon writes ten thousand pounds. But you think mush of it when
you win two hundred pounds at roulette."
"I think nothing of it," said our friend Captain Scarborough.
"And it goes into your pocket to give champagne to the ladies, instead
of paying your debts to the poor fellows who have supplied you for so
long with all de money."
All this occurred in the gambling-house at a distance from the table,
but within hearing of that attendant who still followed the player.
These moments were moments of misery to the captain in spite of the
bank-notes for six hundred napoleons which were still in his breast
coat-pocket. And they were not made lighter by the fact that all the
words spoken by the Jew were overheard by the man who was supposed to be
there in the capacity of his servant. But the man, as it seemed, had a
mission to fulfil, and was the captain's master as well as servant. "Mr.
Hart," said Captain Scarborough, repressing the loudness of his words as
far as his rage would admit him, but still speaking so as to attract the
attention of some of those round him, "I do not know what good you
propose to yourself by following me in this manner. You have my bonds,
which are not even payable till my father's death."
"Ah, there you are very much mistaken."
"And are then only payable out of the property to which I believed
myself to be heir when the money was borrowed."
"You are still de heir--de heir to Tretton. There is not a shadow of a
doubt as to that."
"I hope when the time comes," said the captain, "you'll be able to prove
"Of course we shall prove dem. Why not? Your father and your brother are
very clever shentlemen, I think, but they will not be more clever than
Mishter Samuel Hart. Mr. Tyrrwhit also is a clever man. Perhaps he
understands your father's way of doing business. Perhaps it is all right
with Mr. Tyrrwhit. It shall be all right with me too;--I swear it. When
will you come back to London, Captain Scarborough?"
Then there came an angry dispute in the gambling-room, during which Mr.
Hart by no means strove to repress his voice. Captain Scarborough
asserted his rights as a free agent, declaring himself capable, as far
as the law was concerned, of going wherever he pleased without reference
to Mr. Hart; and told that gentleman that any interference on his part
would be regarded as an impertinence. "But my money--my money, which you
must pay this minute, if I please to demand it."
"You did not lend me five-and-twenty thousand pounds without security."
"It is forty-five--now, at this moment."
"Take it, get it; go and put it in your pocket. You have a lot of
writings; turn then into cash at once. Take them to any other Jew in
London and sell them. See if you can get your five-and-twenty thousand
pounds for them,--or twenty-five thousand shillings. You certainly
cannot get five-and-twenty pence for them here, though you had all the
police of this royal kingdom to support you. My father says that the
bonds I gave you are not worth the paper on which they were written. If
you are cheated, so have I been. If he has robbed you, so has he me. But
I have not robbed you, and you can do nothing to me."
"I vill stick to you like beesvax," said Mr. Hart, while the look of
good-humor left his countenance for a moment. "Like beesvax! You shall
not escape me again."
"You will have to follow me to Constantinople, then."
"I vill follow you to the devil."
"You are likely to go before me there. But for the present I am off to
Constantinople, from whence I intend to make an extended tour to Mount
Caucasus, and then into Thibet. I shall be very glad of your company,
but cannot offer to pay the bill. When you and your companions have
settled yourselves comfortably at Tretton, I shall be happy to come and
see you there. You will have to settle the matter first with my younger
brother, if I may make bold to call that well-born gentleman my brother
at all. I wish you a good-morning, Mr. Hart." Upon that he walked out
into the hall, and thence down the steps into the garden in front of the
establishment, his own attendant following him.
Mr. Hart also followed him, but did not immediately seek to renew the
conversation. If he meant to show any sign of keeping his threat and of
sticking to the captain like beeswax, he must show his purpose at once.
The captain for a time walked round the little enclosure in earnest
conversation with the attendant, and Mr. Hart stood on the steps
watching them. Play was over, at any rate for that day, as far as the
captain was concerned.
"Now, Captain Scarborough, don't you think you've been very rash?" said
"I think I've got six hundred and fifty napoleons in my pocket, instead
of waiting to get them in driblets from my brother."
"But if he knew that you had come here he would withdraw them
altogether. Of course, he will know now. That man will be sure to tell
him. He will let all London know. Of course, it would be so when you
came to a place of such common resort as Monte Carlo."
"Common resort! Do you believe he came here as to a place of common
resort? Do you think that he had not tracked me out, and would not have
done so, whether I had gone to Melbourne, or New York, or St.
Petersburg? But the wonder is that he should spend his money in such a
"Ah, captain, you do not know what is vain and what is not. It is your
brother's pleasure that you should be kept in the dark for a time."
"Hang my brother's pleasure! Why am I to follow my brother's pleasure?"
"Because he will allow you an income. He will keep a coat on your back
and a hat on your head, and supply meat and wine for your needs." Here
Captain Scarborough jingled the loose napoleons in his trousers pocket.
"Oh, yes, that is all very well but it will not last forever. Indeed, it
will not last for a week unless you leave Monte Carlo."
"I shall leave it this afternoon by the train for Genoa."
"And where shall you go then?"
"You heard me suggest to Mr. Hart to the devil,--or else Constantinople,
and after that to Thibet. I suppose I shall still enjoy the pleasure of
"Mr. Augustus wishes that I should remain with you, and, as you yourself
say, perhaps it will be best."
HARRY ANNESLEY'S SUCCESS.
Harry Annesley, a day or two after he had left Tretton, went down to
Cheltenham; for he had received an invitation to a dance there, and with
the invitation an intimation that Florence Mountjoy was to be at the
dance. If I were to declare that the dance had been given and Florence
asked to it merely as an act of friendship to Harry, it would perhaps be
thought that modern friendship is seldom carried to so great a length.
But it was undoubtedly the fact that Mrs. Armitage, who gave the dance,
was a great friend and admirer of Harry's, and that Mr. Armitage was an
especial chum. Let not, however, any reader suppose that Florence was in
the secret. Mrs. Armitage had thought it best to keep her in the dark as
to the person asked to meet her. "As to my going to Montpelier Place,"
Harry had once said to Mrs. Armitage, "I might as well knock at a
prison-door." Mrs. Mountjoy lived in Montpelier Place.
"I think we could perhaps manage that for you," Mrs. Armitage had
replied, and she had managed it.
"Is she coming?" Harry said to Mrs. Armitage, in an anxious whisper, as
he entered the room.
"She has been here this half-hour,--if you had taken the trouble to leave
your cigars and come and meet her."
"She has not gone?" said Harry, almost awe-struck at the idea.
"No; she is sitting like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief, in
the room inside. She has got horrible news to tell you."
"Oh, heavens! What news?"
"I suppose she will tell you, though she has not been communicative to
me in regard to your royal highness. The news is simply that her mother
is going to take her to Brussels, and that she is to live for a while
amid the ambassadorial splendors with Sir Magnus and his wife."
By retiring from the world Mrs. Mountjoy had not intended to include
such slight social relaxations as Mrs. Armitage's party, for Harry on
turning round encountered her talking to another Cheltenham lady. He
greeted her with his pleasantest smile, to which Mrs. Mountjoy did not
respond quite so sweetly. She had ever greatly feared Harry Annesley,
and had to-day heard a story very much, as she thought, to his
discredit. "Is your daughter here?" asked Harry, with well-trained
hypocrisy. Mrs. Mountjoy could not but acknowledge that Florence was in
the room, and then Harry passed on in pursuit of his quarry.
"Oh, Mr. Annesley, when did you come to Cheltenham?"
"As soon as I heard that Mrs. Armitage was going to have a party I began
to think of coming immediately." Then an idea for the first time shot
through Florence's mind--that her friend Mrs. Armitage was a woman
devoted to intrigue. "What dance have you disengaged? I have something
that I must tell you to-night. You don't mean to say that you will not
give me one dance?" This was merely a lover's anxious doubt on his
part, because Florence had not at once replied to him. "I am told that
you are going away to Brussels."
"Mamma is going on a visit to her brother-in-law."
"And you with her?"
"Of course I shall go with mamma." All this had been said apart, while a
fair-haired, lackadaisical young gentleman was standing twiddling his
thumbs waiting to dance with Florence. At last the little book from her
waist was brought forth, and Harry's name was duly inscribed. The next
dance was a quadrille, and he saw that the space after that was also
vacant; so he boldly wrote down his name for both. I almost think that
Florence must have suspected that Harry Annesley was to be there that
night, or why should the two places have been kept vacant? "And now what
is this," he began, "about your going to Brussels?"
"Mamma's brother is minister there, and we are just going on a visit."
"But why now? I am sure there is some especial cause." Florence would
not say that there was no especial cause, so she could only repeat her
assertion that they certainly were going to Brussels. She herself was
well aware that she was to be taken out of Harry's way, and that
something was expected to occur during this short month of her absence
which might be detrimental to him,--and to her also. But this she could
not tell, nor did she like to say that the plea given by her mother was
the general state of the Scarborough affairs. She did not wish to
declare to this lover that that other lover was as nothing to her. "And
how long are you to be away?" asked Harry.
"We shall be a month with Sir Magnus; but mamma is talking of going on
afterward to the Italian lakes."
"Good heavens! you will not be back, I suppose, till ever so much after
"I cannot tell. Nothing as yet has been settled. I do not know that I
ought to tell you anything about it." Harry at this moment looked up,
and caught the eye of Mrs. Mountjoy, as she was standing in the door-way
opposite. Mrs. Mountjoy certainly looked as though no special
communication as to Florence's future movements ought to be made to
Then, however, it came to his turn to dance, and he had a moment allowed
to him to collect his thoughts. By nothing that he could do or say could
he prevent her going, and he could only use the present moment to the
best purpose in his power. He bethought himself then that he had never
received from her a word of encouragement, and that such word, if ever
to be spoken, should be forthcoming that night. What might not happen to
a girl who was passing the balmy Christmas months amid the sweet shadows
of an Italian lake? Harry's ideas of an Italian lake were, in truth, at
present somewhat vague. But future months were, to his thinking,
interminable; the present moment only was his own. The dance was now
finished. "Come and take a walk," said Harry.
"I think I will go to mamma." Florence had seen her mother's eye fixed
"Oh, come, that won't do at all," said Harry, who had already got her
hand within his arm. "A fellow is always entitled to five minutes, and
then I am down for the next waltz."
"But I am, and you can't get out of it now. Oh, Florence, will you
answer me a question,--one question? I asked it you before, and you did
not vouchsafe me any answer."
"You asked me no question," said Florence, who remembered to the last
syllable every word that had been said to her on that occasion.
"Did I not? I am sure you knew what it was that I intended to ask."
Florence could not but think that this was quite another thing. "Oh,
Florence, can you love me?" Had she given her ears for it she could not
have told him the truth then, on the spur of the moment. Her mother's
eye was, she knew, watching her through the door-way all the way across
from the other room. And yet, had her mother asked her, she would have
answered boldly that she did love Harry Annesley, and intended to love
him for ever and ever with all her heart. And she would have gone
farther if cross-questioned, and have declared that she regarded him
already as her lord and master. But now she had not a word to say to
him. All she knew was that he had now pledged himself to her, and that
she intended to keep him to his pledge. "May I not have one word," he
What could he want with a word more? thought Florence. Her silence now
was as good as any speech. But as he did want more she would, after her
own way, reply to him. So there came upon his arm the slightest possible
sense of pressure from those sweet fingers, and Harry Annesley was on a
sudden carried up among azure-tinted clouds into the farthest heaven of
happiness. After a moment he stood still, and passed his fingers through
his hair and waved his head as a god might do it. She had now made to
him a solemn promise than which no words could be more binding. "Oh,
Florence," he exclaimed, "I must have you alone with me for one moment."
For what could he want her alone for any moment? thought Florence. There
was her mother still looking at them; but for her Harry did not now care
one straw. Nor did he hate those bright Italian lakes with nearly so
strong a feeling of abhorrence. "Florence, you are now all my own."
There came another slightest pressure, slight, but so eloquent from
"I hate dancing. How is a fellow to dance now? I shall run against
everybody. I can see no one. I should be sure to make a fool of myself.
No, I don't want to dance even with you. No, certainly not!--let you
dance with somebody else, and you engaged to me! Well, if I must, of
course I must. I declare, Florence, you have not spoken a single word to
me, though there is so much that you must have to say. What have you got
to say? What a question to ask! You must tell me. Oh, you know what you
have got to tell me! The sound of it will be the sweetest music that a
man can possibly hear."
"You knew it all, Harry," she whispered.
"But I want to hear it. Oh, Florence, Florence, I do not think you can
understand how completely I am beyond myself with joy. I cannot dance
again, and will not. Oh, my wife, my wife!"
"Hush!" said Florence, afraid that the very walls might hear the sound
of Harry's words.
"What does it signify though all the world knew it?"
"That I should have been so fortunate! That is what I cannot understand.
Poor Mountjoy! I do feel for him. That he should have had the start of
me so long, and have done nothing!"
"Nothing," whispered Florence.
"And I have done everything. I am so proud of myself that I think I must
look almost like a hero."
They had now got to the extremity of the room near an open window, and
Florence found that she was able to say one word. "You are my hero." The
sound of this nearly drove him mad with joy. He forgot all his troubles.
Prodgers, the policeman, Augustus Scarborough, and that fellow whom he
hated so much, Septimus Jones;--what were they all to him now? He had set
his mind upon one thing of value, and he had got it. Florence had
promised to be his, and he was sure that she would never break her word
to him. But he felt that for the full enjoyment of his triumph he must
be alone somewhere with Florence for five minutes. He had not actually
explained to himself why, but he knew that he wished to be alone with
her. At present there was no prospect of any such five minutes, but he
must say something in preparation for some future five minutes at a time
to come. Perhaps it might be to-morrow, though he did not at present see
how that might be possible, for Mrs. Mountjoy, he knew, would shut her
door against him. And Mrs. Mountjoy was already prowling round the room
after her daughter. Harry saw her as he got Florence to an opposite
door, and there for the moment escaped with her. "And now," he said,
"how am I to manage to see you before you go to Brussels?"
"I do not know that you can see me."
"Do you mean that you are to be shut up, and that I am not to be allowed
to approach you?"
"I do mean it. Mamma is, of course, attached to her nephew."
"What, after all that has passed?"
"Why not? Is he to blame for what his father has done?" Harry felt that
he could not press the case against Captain Scarborough without some
want of generosity. And though he had told Florence once about that
dreadful midnight meeting, he could say nothing farther on that subject.
"Of course mamma thinks that I am foolish."
"But why?" he asked.
"Because she doesn't see with my eyes, Harry. We need not say anything
more about it at present. It is so; and therefore I am to go to
Brussels. You have made this opportunity for yourself before I start.
Perhaps I have been foolish to be taken off my guard."
"Don't say that, Florence."
"I shall think so, unless you can be discreet. Harry, you will have to
wait. You will remember that we must wait; but I shall not change."
"Nor I,--nor I."
"I think not, because I trust you. Here is mamma, and now I must leave
you. But I shall tell mamma everything before I go to bed." Then Mrs.
Mountjoy came up and took Florence away, with a few words of most
disdainful greeting to Harry Annesley.
When Florence was gone Harry felt that as the sun and the moon and the
stars had all set, and as absolute darkness reigned through the rooms,
he might as well escape into the street, where there was no one but the
police to watch him, as he threw his hat up into the air in his
exultation. But before he did so he had to pass by Mrs. Armitage and
thank her for all her kindness; for he was aware how much she had done
for him in his present circumstances. "Oh, Mrs. Armitage, I am so
obliged to you! no fellow was ever so obliged to a friend before."
"How has it gone off? For Mrs. Mountjoy has taken Florence home."
"Oh yes, she has taken her away. But she hasn't shut the stable-door
till the steed has been stolen."
"Oh, the steed has been stolen?"
"Yes, I think so; I do think so."
"And that poor man who has disappeared is nowhere."
"Men who disappear never are anywhere. But I do flatter myself that if
he had held his ground and kept his property the result would have been
"I dare say."
"Don't suppose, Mrs. Armitage, that I am taking any pride to myself. Why
on earth Florence should have taken a fancy to such a fellow as I am I
"Oh no; not in the least."
"It's all very well for you to laugh, Mrs. Armitage, but as I have
thought of it all I have sometimes been in despair."
"But now you are not in despair."
"No, indeed; just now I am triumphant. I have thought so often that I
was a fool to love her, because everything was so much against me."
"I have wondered that you continued. It always seemed to me that there
wasn't a ghost of a chance for you. Mr. Armitage bade me give it all up,
because he was sure you would never do any good."
"I don't care how much you laugh at me, Mrs. Armitage."
"Let those laugh who win." Then he rushed out into the Paragon, and
absolutely did throw his hat up in the air in his triumph.
MRS. MOUNTJOY'S ANGER.
Florence, as she went home in the fly with her mother after the party at
which Harry had spoken to her so openly, did not find the little journey
very happy. Mrs. Mountjoy was a woman endowed with a strong power of
wishing rather than of willing, of desiring rather than of contriving;
but she was one who could make herself very unpleasant when she was
thwarted. Her daughter was now at last fully determined that if she ever
married anybody, that person should be Harry Annesley. Having once
pressed his arm in token of assent, she had as it were given herself
away to him, so that no reasoning, no expostulations could, she thought,
change her purpose; and she had much more power of bringing about her
purposed design than had her mother. But her mother could be obstinate
and self-willed, and would for the time make herself disagreeable.
Florence had assured her lover that everything should be told her mother
that night before she went to bed. But Mrs. Mountjoy did not wait to be
simply told. No sooner were they seated in the fly together than she
began to make her inquiries. "What has that man been saying to you?" she
Florence was at once offended by hearing her lover so spoken of, and
could not simply tell the story of Harry's successful courtship, as she
had intended. "Mamma," she said "why do you speak of him like that?"
"Because he is a scamp."
"No, he is no scamp. It is very unkind of you to speak in such terms of
one whom you know is very dear to me."
"I do not know it. He ought not to be dear to you at all. You have been
for years intended for another purpose." This was intolerable to
Florence,--this idea that she should have been considered as capable of
being intended for the purposes of other people! And a resolution at
once was formed in her mind that she would let her mother know that such
intentions were futile. But for the moment she sat silent. A journey
home at twelve o'clock at night in a fly was not the time for the
expression of her resolution. "I say he is a scamp," said Mrs. Mountjoy.
"During all these inquiries that have been made after your cousin he has
known all about it."
"He has not known all about it," said Florence.
"You contradict me in a very impertinent manner, and cannot be
acquainted with the circumstances. The last person who saw your cousin
in London was Mr. Henry Annesley, and yet he has not said a word about
it, while search was being made on all sides. And he saw him under
circumstances most suspicious in their nature; so suspicious as to have
made the police arrest him if they were aware of them. He had at that
moment grossly insulted Captain Scarborough."
"No, mamma; no, it was not so."
"How do you know? how can you tell?"
"I do know; and I can tell. The ill-usage had come from the other side."
"Then you, too, have known the secret, and have said nothing about it?
You, too, have been aware of the violence which took place at that
midnight meeting? You have been aware of what befell your cousin, the
man to whom you were all but engaged. And you have held your tongue at
the instigation, no doubt, of Mr. Henry Annesley. Oh, Florence, you also
will find yourself in the hands of the policeman!" At this moment the
fly drew up at the door of the house in Montpelier Place, and the two
ladies had to get out and walk up the steps into the hall, where they
were congratulated on their early return from the party by the
"Mamma, I will go to bed," said Florence, as soon as she reached her
"I think you had better, my dear, though Heaven knows what disturbances
there may be during the night." By this Mrs. Mountjoy had intended to
imply that Prodgers, the policeman, might probably lose not a moment
more before he would at once proceed to arrest Miss Mountjoy for the
steps she had taken in regard to the disappearance of Captain
She had heard from Harry Annesley the fact that he had been brutally
attacked by the captain in the middle of the night in the streets of
London; and for this, in accordance with her mother's theory, she was to
be dragged out of bed by a constable, and that, probably, before the
next morning should have come. There was something in this so ludicrous
as regarded the truth of the story, and yet so cruel as coming from her
mother, that Florence hardly knew whether to cry or laugh as she laid
her head upon the pillow.
But in the morning, as she was thinking that the facts of her own
position had still to be explained to her mother,--that it would be
necessary that she should declare her purpose and the impossibility of
change, now that she had once pledged herself to her lover,--Mrs.
Mountjoy came into the room, and stood at her bedside, with that
appearance of ghostly displeasure which always belongs to an angry old
lady in a night-cap.
"Florence, there must be an understanding between us."
"I hope so. I thought there always had been. I am sure, mamma, you have
known that I have never liked Captain Scarborough so as to become his
wife, and I think you have known that I have liked Harry Annesley."
"Likings are all fiddlesticks!"
"No, mamma; or, if you object to the word, I will say love. You have
known that I have not loved my cousin, and that I have loved this other
man. That is not nonsense; that at any rate is a stern reality, if there
be anything real in the world."
"Stern! you may well call it stern."
"I mean unbending, strong, not to be overcome by outside circumstances.
If Mr. Annesley had not spoken to me as he did last night,--could never
have so spoken to me,--I should have been a miserable girl, but my love
for him would have been just as stern. I should have remained and
thought of it, and have been unhappy through my whole life. But he has
spoken, and I am exultant. That is what I mean by stern. All that is
most important, at any rate to me."
"I am here now to tell you that it is impossible."
"Very well, mamma. Then things must go on, and we must bide our time."
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