Mr. Scarborough's Family
Part 3 out of 12
"It is proper that I should tell you that he has disgraced himself."
"Never! I will not admit it. You do not know the circumstances,"
"It is most impertinent in you to pretend that you know them better than
I do," said her mother, indignantly.
"The story was told to me by himself."
"Yes; and therefore told untruly."
"I grieve that you should think so of him, mamma; but I cannot help it.
Where you have got your information I cannot tell. But that mine has
been accurately told to me I feel certain."
"At any rate, my duty is to look after you and to keep you from harm. I
can only do my duty to the best of my ability. Mr. Annesley is, to my
thinking, a most objectionable young man, and he will, I believe, be in
the hands of the police before long. Evidence will have to be given, in
which your name will, unfortunately, be mentioned."
"Why my name?"
"It is not probable that he will keep it a secret, when
cross-questioned, as to his having divulged the story to some one. He
will declare that he has told it to you. When that time shall come it
will be well that we should be out of the country. I propose to start
from here on this day week."
"Uncle Magnus will not be able to have us then."
"We must loiter away our time on the road. I look upon it as quite
imperative that we shall both be out of England within eight days' time
"But where will you go?"
"Never mind. I do not know that I have as yet quite made up my mind. But
you may understand that we shall start from Cheltenham this day week.
Baker will go with us, and I shall leave the other two servants in
charge of the house. I cannot tell you anything farther as yet,--except
that I will never consent to your marriage with Mr. Henry Annesley. You
had better know that for certain, and then there will be less cause for
unhappiness between us." So saying, the angry ghost with the night-cap
on stalked out of the room.
It need hardly be explained that Mrs. Mountjoy's information respecting
the scene in London had come to her from Augustus Scarborough. When he
told her that Annesley had been the last in London to see his brother
Mountjoy, and had described the nature of the scene that had occurred
between them, he had no doubt forgotten that he himself had subsequently
seen his brother. In the story, as he had told it, there was no need to
mention himself,--no necessity for such a character in making up the
tragedy of that night. No doubt, according to his idea, the two had been
alone together. Harry had struck the blow by which his brother had been
injured, and had then left him in the street. Mountjoy had subsequently
disappeared, and Harry had told to no one that such an encounter had
taken place. This had been the meaning of Augustus Scarborough when he
informed his aunt that Harry had been the last who had seen Mountjoy
before his disappearance. To Mrs. Mountjoy the fact had been most
injurious to Harry's character. Harry had wilfully kept the secret while
all the world was at work looking for Mountjoy Scarborough; and, as far
as Mrs. Mountjoy could understand, it might well be that Harry had
struck the fatal blow that had sent her nephew to his long account. All
the impossibilities in the case had not dawned upon her. It had not
occurred to her that Mountjoy could not have been killed and his body
made away with without some great effort, in the performance of which
the "scamp" would hardly have risked his life or his character. But the
scamp was certainly a scamp, even though he might not be a murderer, or
he would have revealed the secret. In fact, Mrs. Mountjoy believed in
the matter exactly what Augustus had intended, and, so believing, had
resolved that her daughter should suffer any purgatory rather than
become Harry's wife.
But her daughter made her resolutions exactly in the contrary direction.
She in truth did know what had been done on that night, while her mother
was in ignorance. The extent of her mother's ignorance she understood,
but she did not at all know where her mother had got her information.
She felt that Harry's secret was in hands other than he had intended,
and that some one must have spoken of the scene. It occurred to Florence
at the moment that this must have come from Mountjoy himself, whom she
believed,--and rightly believed,--to have been the only second person
present on the occasion. And if he had told it to any one, then must
that "any one" know where and how he had disappeared. And the
information must have been given to her mother solely with the view of
damaging Harry's character, and of preventing Harry's marriage.
Thinking of all this, Florence felt that a premeditated and foul
attempt,--for, as she turned it in her mind, the attempt seemed to be
very foul,--was being made to injure Harry. A false accusation was
brought against him, and was grounded on a misrepresentation of the
truth in such a manner as to subvert it altogether to Harry's injury. It
should have no effect upon her. To this determination she came at once,
and declared to herself solemnly that she would be true to it. An
attempt was made to undermine him in her estimation; but they who made
it had not known her character. She was sure of herself now, within her
own bosom, that she was bound in a peculiar way to be more than
ordinarily true to Harry Annesley. In such an emergency she ought to do
for Harry Annesley more than a girl in common circumstances would be
justified in doing for her lover. Harry was maligned, ill-used, and
slandered. Her mother had been induced to call him a scamp, and to give
as her reason for doing so an account of a transaction which was
altogether false, though she no doubt had believed it to be true.
As she thought of all this she resolved that it was her duty to write to
her lover, and tell him the story as she had heard it. It might be most
necessary that he should know the truth. She would write her letter and
post it,--so that it should be altogether beyond her mother's
control,--and then would tell her mother that she had written it. She at
first thought that she would keep a copy of the letter and show it to
her mother. But when it was written,--those first words intended for a
lover's eyes which had ever been produced by her pen,--she found that she
could not subject those very words to her mother's hard judgment.
Her letter was as follows:
"DEAR HARRY,--You will be much surprised at receiving a letter from me
so soon after our meeting last night. But I warn you that you must not
take it amiss. I should not write now were it not that I think it may be
for your interest that I should do so. I do not write to say a word
about my love, of which I think you may be assured without any letter. I
told mamma last night what had occurred between us, and she of course
was very angry. You will understand that, knowing how anxious she has
been on behalf of my cousin Mountjoy. She has always taken his part, and
I think it does mamma great honor not to throw him over now that he is
in trouble. I should never have thrown him over in his trouble, had I
ever cared for him in that way. I tell you that fairly, Master Harry.
"But mamma, in speaking against you, which she was bound to do in
supporting poor Mountjoy, declared that you were the last person who had
seen my cousin before his disappearance, and she knew that there had
been some violent struggle between you. Indeed, she knew all the truth
as to that night, except that the attack had been made by Mountjoy on
you. She turned the story all round, declaring that you had attacked
him,--which, as you perceive, gives a totally different appearance to the
whole matter. Somebody has told her,--though who it may have been I
cannot guess,--but somebody has been endeavoring to do you all the
mischief he can in the matter, and has made mamma think evil of you. She
says that after attacking him, and brutally ill-using him, you had left
him in the street, and had subsequently denied all knowledge of having
seen him. You will perceive that somebody has been at work inventing a
story to do you a mischief, and I think it right that I should tell you.
"But you must never believe that I shall believe anything to your
discredit. It would be to my discredit now. I know that you are good,
and true, and noble, and that you would not do anything so foul as this.
It is because I know this that I have loved you, and shall always love
you. Let mamma and others say what they will, you are now to me all the
world. Oh, Harry, Harry, when I think of it, how serious it seems to me,
and yet how joyful! I exult in you, and will do so, let them say what
they may against you. You will be sure of that always. Will you not be
sure of it?
"But you must not write a line in answer, not even to give me your
assurance. That must come when we shall meet at length,--say after a
dozen years or so. I shall tell mamma of this letter, which
circumstances seem to demand, and shall assure her that you will write
no answer to it.
"Oh, Harry, you will understand all that I might say of my feelings in
regard to you.
"Your own, FLORENCE."
This letter, when she had written it and copied it fair and posted the
copy in the pillar-box close by, she found that she could not in any way
show absolutely to her mother. In spite of all her efforts it had become
a love-letter. And what genuine love-letter can a girl show even to her
mother? But she at once told her of what she had done. "Mamma, I have
written a letter to Harry Annesley."
"Yes, mamma; I have thought it right to tell him what you had heard
about that night."
"And you have done this without my permission,--without even telling me
what you were going to do?"
"If I had asked you, you would have told me not."
"Of course I should have told you not. Good gracious! has it come to
this, that you correspond with a young gentleman without my leave, and
when you know that I would not have given it?"
"Mamma, in this instance it was necessary."
"Who was to judge of that?"
"If he is to be my husband--"
"But he is not to be your husband. You are never to speak to him again.
You shall never be allowed to meet him; you shall be taken abroad, and
there you shall remain, and he shall hear nothing about you. If he
attempts to correspond with you--"
"He will not."
"How do you know?"
"I have told him not to write."
"Told him, indeed! Much he will mind such telling! I shall give your
Uncle Magnus a full account of it all and ask for his advice. He is a
man in a high position, and perhaps you may think fit to obey him,
although you utterly refuse to be guided in any way by your mother."
Then the conversation for the moment came to an end. But Florence, as
she left her mother, assured herself that she could not promise any
close obedience in any such matters to Sir Magnus.
THEY ARRIVE IN BRUSSELS.
For some weeks after the party at Mrs. Armitage's house, and the
subsequent explanations with her mother, Florence was made to suffer
many things. First came the one week before they started, which was
perhaps the worst of all. This was specially embittered by the fact that
Mrs. Mountjoy absolutely refused to divulge her plans as they were made.
There was still a fortnight before she could be received at Brussels,
and as to that fortnight she would tell nothing.
Her knowledge of human nature probably went so far as to teach her that
she could thus most torment her daughter. It was not that she wished to
torment her in a revengeful spirit. She was quite sure within her own
bosom that she did all in love. She was devoted to her daughter. But she
was thwarted; and therefore told herself that she could best farther the
girl's interests by tormenting her. It was not meditated revenge, but
that revenge which springs up without any meditation, and is often
therefore the most bitter. "I must bring her nose to the grindstone,"
was the manner in which she would have probably expressed her thoughts
to herself. Consequently Florence's nose was brought to the grindstone,
and the operation made her miserable. She would not, however, complain
when she had discovered what her mother was doing. She asked such
questions as appeared to be natural, and put up with replies which
purposely withheld all information. "Mamma, have you not settled on what
day we shall start?" "No, my dear." "Mamma, where are we going?" "I
cannot tell you as yet; I am by no means sure myself." "I shall be glad
to know, mamma, what I am to pack up for use on the journey." "Just the
same as you would do on any journey." Then Florence held her tongue, and
consoled herself with thinking of Harry Annesley.
At last the day came, and she knew that she was to be taken to Boulogne.
Before this time she had received one letter from Harry, full of love,
full of thanks,--just what a lover's letter ought to have been;--but yet
she was disturbed by it. It had been delivered to herself in the usual
way, and she might have concealed the receipt of it from her mother,
because the servants in the house were all on her side. But this would
not be in accordance with the conduct which she had arranged for
herself, and she told her mother. "It is just an acknowledgment of mine
to him. It was to have been expected, but I regret it."
"I do not ask to see it," said Mrs. Mountjoy, angrily.
"I could not show it you, mamma, though I think it right to tell you of
"I do not ask to see it, I tell you. I never wish to hear his name again
from your tongue. But I knew how it would be;--of course. I cannot allow
this kind of thing to go on. It must be prevented."
"It will not go on, mamma."
"But it has gone on. You tell me that he has already written. Do you
think it proper that you should correspond with a young man of whom I do
not approve?" Florence endeavored to reflect whether she did think it
proper or not. She thought it quite proper that she should love Harry
Annesley with all her heart, but was not quite sure as to the
correspondence. "At any rate, you must understand," continued Mrs.
Mountjoy, "that I will not permit it. All letters, while we are abroad,
must be brought to me; and if any come from him they shall be sent back
to him. I do not wish to open his letters, but you cannot be allowed to
receive them. When we are at Brussels I shall consult your uncle upon
the subject. I am very sorry, Florence, that there should be this cause
of quarrel between us; but it is your doing."
"Oh, mamma, why should you be so hard?"
"I am hard, because I will not allow you to accept a young man who has,
I believe, behaved very badly, and who has got nothing of his own."
"He is his uncle's heir."
"We know what that may come to. Mountjoy was his father's heir; and
nothing could be entailed more strictly than Tretton. We know what
entails have come to there. Mr. Prosper will find some way of escaping
from it. Entails go for nothing now; and I hear that he thinks so badly
of his nephew that he has already quarrelled with him. And he is quite a
young man himself. I cannot think how you can be so foolish,--you, who
declared that you are throwing your cousin over because he is no longer
to have all his father's property."
"Oh, mamma, that is not true."
"Very well, my dear."
"I never allowed it to be said in my name that I was engaged to my
"Very well, I will never allow it to be said in my name that with my
consent you are engaged to Mr. Henry Annesley."
Six or seven days after this they were settled together most
uncomfortably in a hotel at Boulogne. Mrs. Mountjoy had gone there
because there was no other retreat to which she could take her daughter,
and because she had resolved to remove her from beyond the sphere of
Harry Annesley's presence. She had at first thought of Ostend; but it
had seemed to her that Ostend was within the kingdom reigned over by Sir
Magnus and that there would be some impropriety in removing from thence
to the capital in which Sir Magnus was reigning. It was as though you
were to sojourn for three days at the park-gates before you were
entertained at the mansion. Therefore they stayed at Boulogne, and Mrs.
Mountjoy tried the bathing, cold as the water was with equinoctial
gales, in order that there might be the appearance of a reason for her
being at Boulogne. And for company's sake, in the hope of maintaining
some fellowship with her mother, Florence bathed also. "Mamma, he has
not written again," said Florence, coming up one day from the stand.
"I suppose that you are impatient."
"Why should there be a quarrel between us? I am not impatient. If you
would only believe me, it would be so much more happy for both of us.
You always used to believe me."
"That was before you knew Mr. Harry Annesley."
There was something in this very aggravating,--something specially
intended to excite angry feelings. But Florence determined to forbear.
"I think you may believe me, mamma. I am your own daughter, and I shall
not deceive you. I do consider myself engaged to Mr. Annesley."
"You need not tell me that."
"But while I am living with you I will promise not to receive letters
from him without your leave. If one should come I will bring it to you,
unopened, so that you may deal with it as though it had been delivered
to yourself. I care nothing about my uncle as to this affair. What he
may say cannot affect me, but what you say does affect me very much. I
will promise neither to write nor to hear from Mr. Annesley for three
months. Will not that satisfy you?" Mrs. Mountjoy would not say that it
did satisfy her; but she somewhat mitigated her treatment of her
daughter till they arrived together at Sir Magnus's mansion.
They were shown through the great hall by three lackeys into an inner
vestibule, where they encountered the great man himself. He was just
then preparing to be put on to his horse, and Lady Mountjoy had already
gone forth in her carriage for her daily airing, with the object, in
truth, of avoiding the new-comers. "My dear Sarah," said Sir Magnus, "I
hope I have the pleasure of seeing you and my niece very well. Let me
see, your name is--"
"My name is Florence," said the young lady so interrogated.
"Ah yes; to be sure. I shall forget my own name soon. If any one was to
call me Magnus without the 'Sir,' I shouldn't know whom they meant."
Then he looked his niece in the face, and it occurred to him that
Anderson might not improbably desire to flirt with her. Anderson was the
riding attache, who always accompanied him on horseback, and of whom
Lady Mountjoy had predicted that he would be sure to flirt with the
minister's niece. At that moment Anderson himself came in, and some
ceremony of introduction took place. Anderson was a fair-haired,
good-looking young man, with that thorough look of self-satisfaction and
conceit which attaches are much more wont to exhibit than to deserve.
For the work of an attache at Brussels is not of a nature to bring forth
the highest order of intellect; but the occupations are of a nature to
make a young man feel that he is not like other young men.
"I am so sorry that Lady Mountjoy has just gone out. She did not expect
you till the later train. You have been staying at Boulogne. What on
earth made you stay at Boulogne?"
"Bathing," said Mrs. Mountjoy, in a low voice.
"Ah, yes; I suppose so. Why did you not come to Ostend? There is better
bathing there, and I could have done something for you. What! The horses
ready, are they? I must go out and show myself, or otherwise they'll all
think that I am dead. If I were absent from the boulevard at this time
of day I should be put into the newspapers. Where is Mrs. Richards?"
Then the two guests, with their own special Baker, were made over to the
ministerial house-keeper, and Sir Magnus went forth upon his ride.
"She's a pretty girl, that niece of mine," said Sir Magnus.
"Uncommonly pretty," said the attache.
"But I believe she is engaged to some one. I quite forget who; but I
know there is some aspirant. Therefore you had better keep your toe in
your pump, young man."
"I don't know that I shall keep my toe in my pump because there is
another aspirant," said Anderson. "You rather whet my ardor, sir, to new
exploits. In such circumstances one is inclined to think that the
aspirant must look after himself. Not that I conceive for a moment that
Miss Mountjoy should ever look after me."
When Mrs. Mountjoy came down to the drawing-room there seemed to be
quite "a party" collected to enjoy the hospitality of Sir Magnus, but
there were not, in truth, many more than the usual number at the board.
There were Lady Mountjoy, and Miss Abbot, and Mr. Anderson, with Mr.
Montgomery Arbuthnot, the two attaches. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot was
especially proud of his name, but was otherwise rather a humble young
man as an attache, having as yet been only three months with Sir Magnus,
and desirous of perfecting himself in Foreign Office manners under the
tuition of Mr. Anderson. Mr. Blow, Secretary of Legation, was not there.
He was a married man of austere manners, who, to tell the truth, looked
down from a considerable height, as regarded Foreign Office knowledge,
upon his chief.
It was Mr. Blow who did the "grinding" on behalf of the Belgian
Legation, and who sometimes did not hesitate to let it be known that
such was the fact. Neither he nor Mrs. Blow was popular at the Embassy;
or it may, perhaps, be said with more truth that the Embassy was not
popular with Mr. and Mrs. Blow. It may be stated, also, that there was a
clerk attached to the establishment, Mr. Bunderdown, who had been there
for some years, and who was good-naturedly regarded by the English
inhabitants as a third attache. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot did his best to
let it be understood that this was a mistake. In the small affairs of
the legation, which no doubt did not go beyond the legation, Mr.
Bunderdown generally sided with Mr. Blow. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot was
recognized as a second mounted attache, though his attendance on the
boulevard was not as constant as that of Mr. Anderson, in consequence,
probably, of the fact that he had not a horse of his own. But there were
others also present. There were Sir Thomas Tresham, with his wife, who
had been sent over to inquire into the iron trade of Belgium. He was a
learned free-trader who could not be got to agree with the old familiar
views of Sir Magnus,--who thought that the more iron that was produced in
Belgium the less would be forthcoming from England. But Sir Thomas knew
better, and as Sir Magnus was quite unable to hold his own with the
political economist, he gave him many dinners and was civil to his wife.
Sir Thomas, no doubt, felt that in doing so Sir Magnus did all that
could be expected from him. Lady Tresham was a quiet little woman, who
could endure to be patronized by Lady Mountjoy without annoyance. And
there was M. Grascour, from the Belgian Foreign Office, who spoke
English so much better than the other gentlemen present that a stranger
might have supposed him to be a school-master whose mission it was to
instruct the English Embassy in their own language.
"Oh, Mrs Mountjoy, I am so ashamed of myself!" said Lady Mountjoy, as
she waddled into the room two minutes after the guests had been
assembled. She had a way of waddling that was quite her own, and which
they who knew her best declared that she had adopted in lieu of other
graces of manner. She puffed a little also, and did contrive to attract
peculiar attention. "But I have to be in my carriage every day at the
same hour. I don't know what would be thought of us if we were absent."
Then she turned, with a puff and a waddle, to Miss Abbot. "Dear Lady
Tresham was with us." Mrs. Mountjoy murmured something as to her
satisfaction at not having delayed the carriage-party, and bethought
herself how exactly similar had been the excuse made by Sir Magnus
himself. Then Lady Mountjoy gave another little puff, and assured
Florence that she hoped she would find Brussels sufficiently gay,--"not
that we pretend at all to equal Paris."
"We live at Cheltenham," said Florence, "and that is not at all like
Paris. Indeed, I never slept but two nights at Paris in my life."
"Then we shall do very well at Brussels." After this she waddled off
again, and was stopped in her waddling by Sir Magnus, who sternly
desired her to prepare for the august ceremony of going in to dinner.
The one period of real importance at the English Embassy was, no doubt,
the daily dinner-hour.
Florence found herself seated between Mr. Anderson, who had taken her
in, and M. Grascour, who had performed the same ceremony for her
ladyship. "I am sure you will like this little capital very much," said
M. Grascour. "It is as much nicer than Paris as it is smaller and less
pretentious." Florence could only assent. "You will soon be able to
learn something of us; but in Paris you must be to the manner born, or
half a lifetime will not suffice."
"We'll put you up to the time of day," said Mr. Anderson, who did not
choose, as he said afterward, that this tidbit should be taken out of
"I dare say that all that I shall want will come naturally without any
"You won't find it amiss to know a little of what's what. You have not
got a riding-horse here?"
"Oh no," said Florence.
"I was going on to say that I can manage to secure one for you.
Billibong has got an excellent horse that carried the Princess of Styria
last year." Mr. Anderson was supposed to be peculiarly up to everything
"But I have not got a habit. That is a much more serious affair."
"Well, yes. Billibong does not keep habits: I wish he did. But we can
manage that too. There does live a habit-maker in Brussels."
"Ladies' habits certainly are made in Brussels," said M. Grascour. "But
if Miss Mountjoy does not choose to trust a Belgian tailor there is the
railway open to her. An English habit can be sent."
"Dear Lady Centaur had one sent to her only last year, when she was
staying here," said Lady Mountjoy across her neighbor, with two little
"I shall not at all want the habit," said Florence, "not having the
horse, and indeed, never being accustomed to ride at all."
"Do tell me what it is that you do do," said Mr. Anderson, with a
convenient whisper, when he found that M. Grascour had fallen into
conversation with her ladyship. "Lawn-tennis?"
"I do play at lawn-tennis, though I am not wedded to it."
"Billiards? I know you play billiards."
"I never struck a ball in my life."
"Goodness gracious, how odd! Don't you ever amuse yourself at all? Are
they so very devotional down at Cheltenham?"
"I suppose we are stupid. I don't know that I ever do especially amuse
"We must teach you;--we really must teach you. I think I may boast of
myself that I am a good instructor in that line. Will you promise to put
yourself into my hands?"
"You will find me a most unpromising pupil."
"Not in the least. I will undertake that when you leave this you shall
be _au fait_ at everything. Leap frog is not too heavy for me and
spillikins not too light. I am up to them all, from backgammon to a
cotillon,--not but what I prefer the cotillon for my own taste."
"Or leap-frog, perhaps," suggested Florence.
"Well, yes; leap-frog used to be a good game at Gother School, and I
don't see why we shouldn't have it back again. Ladies, of course, must
have a costume on purpose. But I am fond of anything that requires a
costume. Don't you like everything out of the common way? I do."
Florence assured him that their tastes were wholly dissimilar, as she
liked everything in the common way. "That's what I call an uncommonly
pretty girl," he said afterward to M. Grascour, while Sir Magnus was
talking to Sir Thomas. "What an eye!"
"Yes, indeed; she is very lovely."
"My word, you may say that! And such a turn of the shoulders! I don't
say which are the best-looking, as a rule, English or Belgians, but
there are very few of either to come up to her."
"Anderson, can you tell us how many tons of steel rails they turn out at
Liege every week? Sir Thomas asks me, just as though it were the
simplest question in the world."
"Forty million," said Anderson,--"more or less."
"Twenty thousand would, perhaps, be nearer the mark," said M. Grascour;
"but I will send him the exact amount to-morrow."
MR. ANDERSON'S LOVE.
Lady Mountjoy had certainly prophesied the truth when she said that Mr.
Anderson would devote himself to Florence. The first week in Brussels
passed by quietly enough. A young man can hardly declare his passion
within a week, and Mr. Anderson's ways in that particular were well
known. A certain amount of license was usually given to him, both by Sir
Magnus and Lady Mountjoy, and when he would become remarkable by the
rapidity of his changes the only adverse criticism would come generally
from Mr. Blow. "Another peerless Bird of Paradise," Mr. Blow would say.
"If the birds were less numerous, Anderson might, perhaps, do
something." But at the end of the week, on this occasion, even Sir
Magnus perceived that Anderson was about to make himself peculiar.
"By George!" he said one morning, when Sir Magnus had just left the
outer office, which he had entered with the object of giving some
instruction as to the day's ride, "take her altogether, I never saw a
girl so fit as Miss Mountjoy." There was something very remarkable in
this speech, as, according to his usual habit of life, Anderson would
certainly have called her Florence, whereas his present appellation
showed an unwonted respect.
"What do you mean when you say that a young lady is fit?" said Mr. Blow.
"I mean that she is right all round, which is a great deal more than can
be said of most of them."
"The divine Florence--" began Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot, struggling to
say something funny.
"Young man, you had better hold your tongue, and not talk of young
ladies in that language."
"I do believe that he is going to fall in love," said Mr. Blow.
"I say that Miss Mountjoy is the fittest girl I have seen for many a
day; and when a young puppy calls her the divine Florence, he does not
know what he is about."
"Why didn't you blow Mr. Blow up when he called her a Bird of Paradise?"
said Montgomery Arbuthnot. "Divine Florence is not half so disrespectful
of a young lady as Bird of Paradise. Divine Florence means divine
Florence, but Bird of Paradise is chaff."
"Mr. Blow, as a married man," said Anderson, "has a certain freedom
allowed him. If he uses it in bad taste, the evil falls back upon his
own head. Now, if you please, we'll change the conversation." From this
it will be seen that Mr. Anderson had really fallen in love with Miss
But though the week had passed in a harmless way to Sir Magnus and Lady
Mountjoy,--in a harmless way to them as regarded their niece and their
attache,--a certain amount of annoyance had, no doubt, been felt by
Florence herself. Though Mr. Anderson's expressions of admiration had
been more subdued than usual, though he had endeavored to whisper his
love rather than to talk it out loud, still the admiration had been both
visible and audible, and especially so to Florence herself. It was
nothing to Sir Magnus with whom his attache flirted. Anderson was the
younger son of a baronet who had a sickly elder brother, and some
fortune of his own. If he chose to marry the girl, that would be well
for her; and if not, it would be quite well that the young people should
amuse themselves. He expected Anderson to help to put him on his horse,
and to ride with him at the appointed hour. He, in return, gave Anderson
his dinner and as much wine as he chose to drink. They were both
satisfied with each other, and Sir Magnus did not choose to interfere
with the young man's amusements. But Florence did not like being the
subject of a young man's love-making, and complained to her mother.
Now, it had come to pass that not a word had been said as to Harry
Annesley since the mother and daughter had reached Brussels. Mrs.
Mountjoy had declared that she would consult her brother-in-law in that
difficulty, but no such consultation had as yet taken place. Indeed,
Florence would not have found her sojourn at Brussels to be unpleasant
were it not for Mr. Anderson's unpalatable little whispers. She had
taken them as jokes as long as she had been able to do so, but was now
at last driven to perceive that other people would not do so. "Mamma,"
she said, "don't you think that that Mr. Anderson is an odious young
"No, my dear, by no means. What is there odious about him? He is very
lively; he is the second son of Sir Gregory Anderson, and has very
comfortable means of his own."
"Oh, mamma, what does that signify?"
"Well, my dear, it does signify. In the first place, he is a gentleman,
and in the next, has a right to make himself attentive to any young lady
in your position. I don't say anything more. I am not particularly
wedded to Mr. Anderson. If he were to come to me and ask for my
permission to address you, I should simply refer him to yourself, by
which I should mean to imply that if he could contrive to recommend
himself to you I should not refuse my sanction."
Then the subject for that moment dropped, but Florence was astonished to
find that her mother could talk about it, not only without reference to
Harry Annesley, but also without an apparent thought of Mountjoy
Scarborough; and it was distressing to her to think that her mother
should pretend to feel that she, her own daughter, should be free to
receive the advances of another suitor. As she reflected it came across
her mind that Harry was so odious that her mother would have been
willing to accept on her behalf any suitor who presented himself, even
though her daughter, in accepting him, should have proved herself to be
heartless. Any alternative would have been better to her mother than
that choice to which Florence had determined to devote her whole life.
"Mamma," she said, going back to the subject on the next day, "if I am
to stay here for three weeks longer--"
"Yes, my dear, you are to stay here for three weeks longer."
"Then somebody must say something to Mr. Anderson."
"I do not see who can say it but you yourself. As far as I can see, he
has not misbehaved."
"I wish you would speak to my uncle."
"What am I to tell him?"
"That I am engaged."
"He would ask me to whom, and I cannot tell him. I should then be driven
to put the whole case in his hands, and to ask his advice. You do not
suppose that I am going to say that you are engaged to marry that odious
young man? All the world knows how atrociously badly he has behaved to
your own cousin. He left him lying for dead in the street by a blow from
his own hand; and though from that day to this nothing has been heard of
Mountjoy, nothing is known to the police of what may have been his
fate;--even stranger, he may have perished under the usage which he
received, yet Mr. Annesley has not thought it right to say a word of
what had occurred. He has not dared even to tell an inspector of police
the events of that night. And the young man was your own cousin, to whom
you were known to have been promised for the last two years."
"No, no!" said Florence.
"I say that it was so. You were promised to your cousin, Mountjoy
"Not with my own consent."
"All your friends,--your natural friends,--knew that it was to be so. And
now you expect me to take by the hand this young man who has almost been
"No, mamma, it is not true. You do not know the circumstances, and you
assert things which are directly at variance with the truth."
"From whom do you get your information? From the young man himself. Is
that likely to be true? What would Sir Magnus say as to that were I to
"I do not know what he would say, but I do know what is the truth. And
can you think it possible that I should now be willing to accept this
foolish young man in order thus to put an end to my embarrassments?"
Then she left her mother's room, and, retreating to her own, sat for a
couple of hours thinking, partly in anger and partly in grief, of the
troubles of her situation. Her mother had now, in truth, frightened her
as to Harry's position. She did begin to see what men might say of him,
and the way in which they might speak of his silence, though she was
resolved to be as true to him in her faith as ever. Some exertion of
spirit would, indeed, be necessary. She was beginning to understand in
what way the outside world might talk of Harry Annesley, of the man to
whom she had given herself and her whole heart. Then her mother was
right. And as she thought of it she began to justify her mother. It was
natural that her mother should believe the story which had been told to
her, let it have come from where it might. There was in her mind some
suspicion of the truth. She acknowledged a great animosity to her cousin
Augustus, and regarded him as one of the causes of her unhappiness. But
she knew nothing of the real facts; she did not even suspect that
Augustus had seen his brother after Harry had dealt with him, or that he
was responsible for his brother's absence. But she knew that she
disliked him, and in some way she connected his name with Harry's
Of one thing she was certain: let them,--the Mountjoys, and Prospers, and
the rest of the world,--think and say what they would of Harry, she would
be true to him. She could understand that his character might be made to
suffer, but it should not suffer in her estimation. Or rather, let it
suffer ever so, that should not affect her love and her truth. She did
not say this to herself. By saying it even to herself she would have
committed some default of truth. She did not whisper it even to her own
heart. But within her heart there was a feeling that, let Harry be right
or wrong in what he had done, even let it be proved, to the satisfaction
of all the world, that he had sinned grievously when he had left the man
stunned and bleeding on the pavement,--for to such details her mother's
story had gone,--still, to her he should be braver, more noble, more
manly, more worthy of being loved, than was any other man. She,
perceiving the difficulties that were in store for her, and looking
forward to the misfortune under which Harry might be placed, declared to
herself that he should at least have one friend who would be true to
"Miss Mountjoy, I have come to you with a message from your aunt." This
was said, three or four days after the conversation between Florence and
her mother, by Mr. Anderson, who had contrived to follow the young lady
into a small drawing-room after luncheon. What was the nature of the
message it is not necessary for us to know. We may be sure that it had
been manufactured by Mr. Anderson for the occasion. He had looked about
and spied, and had discovered that Miss Mountjoy was alone in the little
room. And in thus spying we consider him to have been perfectly
justified. His business at the moment was that of making love, a
business which is allowed to override all other considerations. Even the
making an office copy of a report made by Mr. Blow for the signature of
Sir Magnus might, according to our view of life, have been properly laid
aside for such a purpose. When a young man has it in him to make love to
a young lady, and is earnest in his intention, no duty, however
paramount, should be held as a restraint. Such was Mr. Anderson's
intention at the present moment; and therefore we think that he was
justified in concocting a message from Lady Mountjoy. The business of
love-making warrants any concoction to which the lover may resort. "But
oh, Miss Mountjoy, I am so glad to have a moment in which I can find you
alone!" It must be understood that the amorous young gentleman had not
yet been acquainted with the young lady for quite a fortnight.
"I was just about to go up-stairs to my mother," said Florence, rising
to leave the room.
"Oh, bother your mother! I beg her pardon and yours;--I really didn't
mean it. There is such a lot of chaff going on in that outer room, that
a fellow falls into the way of it whether he likes it or no."
"My mother won't mind it at all; but I really must go."
"Oh no. I am sure you can wait for five minutes. I don't want to keep
you for more than five minutes. But it is so hard for a fellow to get an
opportunity to say a few words."
"What words can you want to say to me, Mr. Anderson?" This she said with
a look of great surprise, as though utterly unable to imagine what was
"Well, I did hope that you might have some idea of what my feelings
"Not in the least."
"Haven't you, now? I suppose I am bound to believe you, though I doubt
whether I quite do. Pray excuse me for saying this, but it is best to be
open." Florence felt that he ought to be excused for doubting her, as
she did know very well what was coming. "I--I--Come, then; I love you!
If I were to go on beating about the bush for twelve months I could only
come to the same conclusion."
"Perhaps you might then have considered it better."
"Not in the least. Fancy considering such a thing as that for twelve
months before you speak of it! I couldn't do it,--not for twelve days."
"So I perceive, Mr. Anderson."
"Well, isn't it best to speak the truth when you're quite sure of it? If
I were to remain dumb for three months, how should I know but what some
one else might come in the way?"
"But you can't expect that I should be so sudden?"
"That's just where it is. Of course I don't. And yet girls have to be
"They're expected to be ready with their answer as soon as they're
asked. I don't say this by way of impertinence, but merely to show that
I have some justification. Of course, if you like to say that you must
take a week to think of it, I am prepared for that. Only let me tell my
own story first."
"You shall tell your own story, Mr. Anderson; but I am afraid that it
can be to no purpose."
"Don't say that,--pray, don't say that,--but do let me tell it." Then he
paused; but, as she remained silent, after a moment he resumed the
eloquence of his appeal. "By George! Miss Mountjoy, I have been so
struck of a heap that I do not know whether I am standing on my head or
my heels. You have knocked me so completely off my pins that I am not at
all like the same person. Sir Magnus himself says that he never saw such
a difference. I only say that to show that I am quite in earnest. Now I
am not quite like a fellow that has no business to fall in love with a
girl. I have four hundred a year besides my place in the Foreign Office.
And then, of course, there are chances." In this he alluded to his
brother's failing health, of which he could not explain the details to
Miss Mountjoy on the present occasion. "I don't mean to say that this is
very splendid, or that it is half what I should like to lay at your
feet. But a competence is comfortable."
"Money has nothing to do with it, Mr. Anderson."
"What, then? Perhaps it is that you don't like a fellow. What girls
generally do like is devotion, and, by George, you'd have that. The very
ground that you tread upon is sweet to me. For beauty,--I don't know how
it is, but to my taste there is no one I ever saw at all like you. You
fit me--well, as though you were made for me. I know that another fellow
might say it a deal better, but no one more truly. Miss Mountjoy, I
love you with all my heart, and I want you to be my wife. Now you've got
He had not pleaded his cause badly, and so Florence felt. That he had
pleaded it hopelessly was a matter of course. But he had given rise to
feelings of gentle regard rather than of anger. He had been honest, and
had contrived to make her believe him. He did not come up to her ideal
of what a lover should be, but he was nearer to it than Mountjoy
Scarborough. He had touched her so closely that she determined at once
to tell him the truth, thinking that she might best in this way put an
end to his passion forever. "Mr. Anderson," she said, "though I have
known it to be vain, I have thought it best to listen to you, because
you asked it."
"I am sure I am awfully obliged to you."
"And I ought to thank you for the kind feeling you have expressed to me.
Indeed, I do thank you. I believe every word you have said. It is better
to show my confidence in your truth than to pretend to the humility of
thinking you untrue."
"It is true; it is true,--every word of it."
"But I am engaged." Then it was sad to see the thorough change which
came over the young man's face. "Of course a girl does not talk of her
own little affairs to strangers, or I would let you have known this
before, so as to have prevented it. But, in truth, I am engaged."
"Does Sir Magnus know it, or Lady Mountjoy?"
"I should think not."
"Does your mother?"
"Now you are taking advantage of my confidence, and pressing your
questions too closely. But my mother does know of it. I will tell you
more;--she does not approve of it. But it is fixed in Heaven itself. It
may well be that I shall never be able to marry the gentleman to whom I
allude, but most certainly I shall marry no one else. I have told you
this because it seems to be necessary to your welfare, so that you may
get over this passing feeling."
"It is no passing feeling," said Anderson, with some tragic grandeur.
"At any rate, you have now my story, and remember that it is trusted to
you as a gentleman. I have told it you for a purpose." Then she walked
out of the room, leaving the poor young man in temporary despair.
MR. AND MISS GREY.
It was now the middle of October, and it may be said that from the time
in which old Mr. Scarborough had declared his intention of showing that
the elder of his sons had no right to the property, Mr. Grey, the
lawyer, had been so occupied with the Scarborough affairs as to have had
left him hardly a moment for other considerations.
He had a partner, who during these four months had, in fact, carried on
the business. One difficulty had grown out of another till Mr. Grey's
whole time had been occupied; and all his thoughts had been filled with
Mr. Scarborough, which is a matter of much greater moment to a man than
the loss of his time. The question of Mountjoy Scarborough's position
had been first submitted to him in June. October had now been reached
and Mr. Grey had been out of town only for a fortnight, during which
fortnight he had been occupied entirely in unravelling the mystery. He
had at first refused altogether to have anything to do with the
unravelling, and had desired that some other lawyer might be employed.
But it had gradually come to pass that he had entered heart and soul
into the case, and, with many execrations on his own part against Mr.
Scarborough, could find a real interest in nothing else. He had begun
his investigations with a thorough wish to discover that Mountjoy
Scarborough was, in truth, the heir. Though he had never loved the young
man, and, as he went on with his investigations, became aware that the
whole property would go to the creditors should he succeed in proving
that Mountjoy was the heir, yet for the sake of abstract honesty he was
most anxious that it should be so. And he could not bear to think that
he and other lawyers had been taken in by the wily craft of such a man
as the Squire of Tretton. It went thoroughly against the grain with him
to have to acknowledge that the estate would become the property of
Augustus. But it was so, and he did acknowledge it. It was proved to him
that, in spite of all the evidence which he had hitherto seen in the
matter, the squire had not married his wife until after the birth of his
eldest son. He did acknowledge it, and he said bravely that it must be
so. Then there came down upon him a crowd of enemies in the guise of
baffled creditors, all of whom believed, or professed to believe, that
he, Mr. Grey, was in league with the squire to rob them of their rights.
If it could be proved that Mountjoy had no claim to the property, then
would it go nominally to Augustus, who according to their showing was
also one of the confederates, and the property could thus, they said, be
divided. Very shortly the squire would be dead, and then the
confederates would get everything, to the utter exclusion of poor Mr.
Tyrrwhit, and poor Mr. Samuel Hart, and all the other poor creditors,
who would thus be denuded, defrauded, and robbed by a lawyer's trick. It
was in this spirit that Mr. Grey was attacked by Mr. Tyrrwhit and the
others; and Mr. Grey found it very hard to bear.
And then there was another matter which was also very grievous to him.
If it were as he now stated,--if the squire had been guilty of this
fraud,--to what punishment would he be subjected? Mountjoy was declared
to have been innocent. Mr. Tyrrwhit, as he put the case to his own
lawyers, laughed bitterly as he made this suggestion. And Augustus was,
of course, innocent. Then there was renewed laughter. And Mr. Grey! Mr.
Grey had, of course, been innocent. Then the laughter was very loud. Was
it to be believed that anybody could be taken in by such a story as
this? There was he, Mr. Tyrrwhit: he had ever been known as a sharp
fellow; and Mr. Samuel Hart, who was now away on his travels, and the
others;--they were all of them sharp fellows. Was it to be believed that
such a set of gentlemen, so keenly alive to their own interest, should
be made the victims of such a trick as this? Not if they knew it! Not if
Mr. Tyrrwhit knew it!
It was in this shape that the matter reached Mr. Grey's ears; and then
it was asked, if it were so, what would be the punishment to which they
would be subjected who had defrauded Mr. Tyrrwhit of his just claim. Mr.
Tyrrwhit, who on one occasion made his way into Mr, Grey's presence,
wished to get an answer to that question from Mr. Grey. "The man is
dying," said Mr. Grey, solemnly.
"Dying! He is not more likely to die than you are, from all I hear." At
this time rumors of Mr. Scarborough's improved health had reached the
creditors in London. Mr. Tyrrwhit had begun to believe that Mr.
Scarborough's dangerous condition had been part of the hoax; that there
had been no surgeon's knives, no terrible operations, no moment of
almost certain death. "I don't believe he's been ill at all," said Mr.
"I cannot help your belief," said Mr. Grey.
"But because a man doesn't die and recovers, is he on that account to be
allowed to cheat people, as he has cheated me, with impunity?"
"I am not going to defend Mr. Scarborough; but he has not, in fact,
"Who has? Come; do you mean to tell me that if this goes on I shall not
have been defrauded of a hundred thousand pounds?"
"Did you ever see Mr. Scarborough on the matter?"
"No; it was not necessary."
"Or have you got his writing to any document? Have you anything to show
that he knew what his son was doing when he borrowed money of you? Is it
not perfectly clear that he knew nothing about it?"
"Of course he knew nothing about it then,--at that time. It was afterward
that his fraud began. When he found that the estate was in jeopardy,
then the falsehood was concocted."
"Ah, there, Mr. Tyrrwhit, I can only say, that I disagree with you. I
must express my opinion that if you endeavor to recover your money on
that plea you will be beaten. If you can prove fraud of that kind, no
doubt you can punish those who have been guilty of it,--me among the
"I say nothing of that," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"But if you have been led into your present difficulty by an illegal
attempt on the part of my client to prove an illegitimate son to have
been legitimate, and then to have changed his mind for certain purposes,
I do not see how you are to punish him. The act will have been attempted
and not completed. And it will have been an act concerning his son and
not concerning you."
"Not concerning me!" shrieked Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"Certainly not, legally. You are not in a position to prove that he knew
that his son was borrowing money from you on the credit of the estate.
As a fact he certainly did not know it."
"We shall see about that," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"Then you must see about it, but not with my aid. As a fact I am telling
you all that I know about it. If I could I would prove Mountjoy
Scarborough to be his father's heir to-morrow. Indeed, I am altogether
on your side in the matter,--if you would believe it." Here Mr. Tyrrwhit
again laughed. "But you will not believe it, and I do not ask you to do
so. As it is we must be opposed to each other."
"Where is the young man?" asked Mr. Tyrrwhit.
"Ah, that is a question I am not bound to answer, even if I knew. It is
a matter on which I say nothing. You have lent him money, at an
exorbitant rate of interest."
"It is not true."
"At any rate it seems so to me; and it is out of the question that I
should assist you in recovering it. You did it at your own peril, and
not on my advice. Good-morning, Mr. Tyrrwhit." Then Mr. Tyrrwhit went
his way, not without sundry threats as to the whole Scarborough family.
It was very hard upon Mr. Grey, because he certainly was an honest man
and had taken up the matter simply with a view of learning the truth. It
had been whispered to him within the last day or two that Mountjoy
Scarborough had lately been seen alive, and gambling with reckless
prodigality, at Monte Carlo. It had only been told to him as probably
true, but he certainly believed it. But he knew nothing of the details
of his disappearance, and had not been much surprised, as he had never
believed that the young man had been murdered or had made away with
himself. But he had heard before that of the quarrel in the street
between him and Harry Annesley; and the story had been told to him so as
to fall with great discredit on Harry Annesley's head.
According to that story Harry Annesley had struck his foe during the
night and had left him for dead upon the pavement. Then Mountjoy
Scarborough had been missing, and Harry Annesley had told no one of the
quarrel. There had been some girl in question. So much and no more Mr.
Grey had heard, and was, of course, inclined to think that Harry
Annesley must have behaved very badly. But of the mode of Mountjoy's
subsequent escape he had heard nothing.
Mr. Grey at this time was living down at Fulham, in a small,
old-fashioned house which over-looked the river, and was called the
Manor-house. He would have said that it was his custom to go home every
day by an omnibus, but he did, in truth, almost always remain at his
office so late as to make it necessary that he should return by a cab.
He was a man fairly well to do in the world, as he had no one depending
on him but one daughter,--no one, that is to say, whom he was obliged to
support. But he had a married sister with a scapegrace husband and six
daughters whom, in fact, he did support. Mrs. Carroll, with the kindest
intentions in the world, had come and lived near him. She had taken a
genteel house in Bolsover Terrace,--a genteel new house on the Fulham
Road, about a quarter of a mile from her brother. Mr. Grey lived in the
old Manor-house, a small, uncomfortable place, which had a nook of its
own, close upon the water, and with a lovely little lawn. It was
certainly most uncomfortable as a gentleman's residence, but no
consideration would induce Mr. Grey to sell it. There were but two
sitting-rooms in it, and one was for the most part uninhabited. The
up-stairs drawing-room was furnished, but any one with half an eye could
see that it was never used. A "stray" caller might be shown up there,
but callers of that class were very uncommon in Mr. Grey's
With his own domestic arrangements Mr. Grey would have been quite
contented, had it not been for Mrs. Carroll. It was now some years since
he had declared that though Mr. Carroll,--or Captain Carroll, as he had
then been called,--was an improvident, worthless, drunken Irishman, he
would never see his sister want. The consequence was that Carroll had
come with his wife and six daughters and taken a house close to him.
There are such "whips and scorns" in the world to which a man shall be
so subject as to have the whole tenor of his life changed by them. The
hero bears them heroically, making no complaints to those around him.
The common man shrinks, and squeals, and cringes, so that he is known to
those around him as one especially persecuted. In this respect Mr. Grey
was a grand hero. When he spoke to his friends of Mrs. Carroll his
friends were taught to believe that his outside arrangements with his
sister were perfectly comfortable. No doubt there did creep out among
those who were most intimate with him a knowledge that Mr. Carroll,--for
the captain had, in truth, never been more than a lieutenant, and had
now long since sold out,--was impecunious, and a trouble rather than
otherwise. But I doubt whether there was a single inhabitant of the
neighborhood of Fulham who was aware that Mrs. Carroll and the Miss
Carrolls cost Mr. Grey on an average above six hundred a year.
There was one in Mr. Grey's family to whom he was so attached that he
would, to oblige her, have thrown over the whole Carroll family; but of
this that one person would not hear. She hated the whole Carroll family
with an almost unholy hatred, of which she herself was endeavoring to
repent daily, but in vain. She could not do other than hate them, but
she could do other than allow her father to withdraw his fostering
protection; for this one person was Mr. Grey's only daughter and his one
close domestic associate. Miss Dorothy Grey was known well to all the
neighborhood, and was both feared and revered. As we shall have much to
do with her in the telling of our story, it may be well to make her
stand plainly before the reader's eyes.
In the first place, it must be understood that she was motherless,
brotherless and sisterless. She had been Mr. Grey's only child, and her
mother had been dead for fifteen or sixteen years. She was now about
thirty years of age, but was generally regarded as ranging somewhere
between forty and fifty. "If she isn't nearer fifty than forty I'll eat
my old shoes," said a lady in the neighborhood to a gentleman. "I've
known her these twenty years, and she's not altered in the least." As
Dolly Grey had been only ten twenty years ago, the lady must have been
wrong. But it is singular how a person's memory of things may be created
out of their present appearances. Dorothy herself had apparently no
desire to set right this erroneous opinion which the neighborhood
entertained respecting her. She did not seem to care whether she was
supposed to be thirty, or forty, or fifty. Of youth, as a means of
getting lovers, she entertained a profound contempt. That no lover would
ever come she was assured, and would not at all have known what to do
with one had he come. The only man for whom she had ever felt the
slightest regard was her father. For some women about she did entertain
a passionless, well-regulated affection, but they were generally the
poor, the afflicted, or the aged. It was, however, always necessary that
the person so signalized should be submissive. Now, Mrs. Carroll, Mr.
Grey's sister, had long since shown that she was not submissive enough,
nor were the girls, the eldest of whom was a pert, ugly, well-grown
minx, now about eighteen years old. The second sister, who was
seventeen, was supposed to be a beauty, but which of the two was the
more odious in the eyes of their cousin it would be impossible to say.
Miss Dorothy Grey was Dolly only to her father. Had any one else so
ventured to call her she would have started up at once, the outraged
aged female of fifty. Even her aunt, who was trouble enough to her, felt
that it could not be so. Her uncle tried it once, and she declined to
come into his presence for a month, letting it be fully understood that
she had been insulted.
And yet she was not, according to my idea, by any means an ill-favored
young woman. It is true that she wore spectacles; and, as she always
desired to have her eyes about with her, she never put them off when out
of bed. But how many German girls do the like, and are not accounted for
that reason to be plain? She was tall and well-made, we may almost say
robust. She had the full use of all her limbs, and was never ashamed of
using them. I think she was wrong when she would be seen to wheel the
barrow about the garden, and that her hands must have suffered in her
attempts to live down the conventional absurdities of the world. It is
true that she did wear gloves during her gardening, but she wore them
only in obedience to her father's request. She had bright eyes, somewhat
far apart, and well-made, wholesome, regular features. Her nose was
large, and her mouth was large, but they were singularly intelligent,
and full of humor when she was pleased in conversation. As to her hair,
she was too indifferent to enable one to say that it was attractive; but
it was smoothed twice a day, was very copious, and always very clean.
Indeed, for cleanliness from head to foot she was a model. "She is very
clean, but then it's second to nothing to her," had said a sarcastic old
lady, who had meant to imply that Miss Dorothy Grey was not constant at
church. But the sarcastic old lady had known nothing about it. Dorothy
Grey never stayed away from morning church unless her presence was
desired by her father, and for once or twice that she might do so she
would take her father with her three or four times,--against the grain
with him, it must be acknowledged.
But the most singular attribute of the lady's appearance has still to be
mentioned. She always wore a slouch hat, which from motives of propriety
she called her bonnet, which gave her a singular appearance, as though
it had been put on to thatch her entirely from the weather. It was made
generally of black straw, and was round, equal at all points of the
circle, and was fastened with broad brown ribbons. It was supposed in
the neighborhood to be completely weather-tight.
The unimaginative nature of Fulham did not allow the Fulham mind to
gather in the fact that, at the same time, she might possess two or
three such hats. But they were undoubtedly precisely similar, and she
would wear them in London with exactly the same indifference as in the
comparatively rural neighborhood of her own residence. She would, in
truth, go up and down in the omnibus, and would do so alone, without the
slightest regard to the opinion of any of her neighbors. The Carroll
girls would laugh at her behind her back, but no Carroll girl had been
seen ever to smile before her face, instigated to do so by their
But I have not yet mentioned that attribute of Miss Grey's which is,
perhaps, the most essential in her character. It is necessary, at any
rate, that they should know it who wish to understand her nature. When
it had once been brought home to her that duty required her to do this
thing or the other, or to say this word or another, the thing would be
done or the word said, let the result be what it might. Even to the
displeasure of her father the word was said or the thing was done. Such
a one was Dolly Grey.
MR. GREY DINES AT HOME.
Mr. Grey returned home in a cab on the day of Mr. Tyrrwhit's visit, not
in the happiest humor. Though he had got the best of Mr. Tyrrwhit in the
conversation, still, the meeting, which had been protracted, had annoyed
him. Mr. Tyrrwhit had made accusations against himself personally which
he knew to be false, but which, having been covered up, and not
expressed exactly, he had been unable to refute. A man shall tell you
you are a thief and a scoundrel in such a manner as to make it
impossible for you to take him by the throat. "You, of course, are not a
thief and a scoundrel," he shall say to you, but shall say it in such a
tone of voice as to make you understand that he conceives you to be
both. We all know the parliamentary mode of giving an opponent the lie
so as to make it impossible that the Speaker shall interfere.
Mr. Tyrrwhit had treated Mr. Grey in the same fashion; and as Mr. Grey
was irritable, thin-skinned, and irascible, and as he would brood over
things of which it was quite unnecessary that a lawyer should take any
cognizance, he went back home an unhappy man. Indeed, the whole
Scarborough affair had been from first to last a great trouble to him.
The work which he was now performing could not, he imagined, be put into
his bill. To that he was supremely indifferent; but his younger partner
thought it a little hard that all the other work of the firm should be
thrown on his shoulders during the period which naturally would have
been his holidays, and he did make his feelings intelligible to Mr.
Grey. Mr. Grey, who was essentially a just man, saw that his partner was
right, and made offers, but he would not accede to the only proposition
which his partner made. "Let him go and look for a lawyer elsewhere,"
said his partner. They both of them knew that Mr. Scarborough had been
thoroughly dishonest, but he had been an old client. His father before
him had been a client of Mr. Grey's father. It was not in accordance
with Mr. Grey's theory to treat the old man after this fashion. And he
had taken intense interest in the matter. He had, first of all, been
quite sure that Mountjoy Scarborough was the heir; and though Mountjoy
Scarborough was not at all to his taste, he had been prepared to fight
for him. He had now assured himself, after most laborious inquiry, that
Augustus Scarborough was the heir; and although, in the course of the
business, he had come to hate the cautious, money-loving Augustus twice
worse than the gambling spendthrift Mountjoy, still, in the cause of
honesty and truth and justice, he fought for Augustus against the world
at large, and against the band of creditors, till the world at large and
the band of creditors began to think that he was leagued with
Augustus,--so as to be one of those who would make large sums of money
out of the irregularity of the affair. This made him cross, and put him
into a very bad humor as he went back to Fulham.
One thing must be told of Mr. Grey which was very much to his discredit,
and which, if generally known, would have caused his clients to think
him to be unfit to be the recipient of their family secrets;--he told all
the secrets to Dolly. He was a man who could not possibly be induced to
leave his business behind him at his office. It made the chief subject
of conversation when he was at home. He would even call Dolly into his
bedroom late at night, bringing her out of bed for the occasion, to
discuss with her some point of legal strategy,--of legal but still honest
strategy,--which had just occurred to him. Maybe he had not quite seen
his way as to the honesty, and wanted Dolly's opinion on the subject.
Dolly would come in in her dressing-gown, and, sitting on his bed, would
discuss the matter with him as advocate against the devil. Sometimes she
would be convinced; more frequently she would hold her own. But the
points which were discussed in that way, and the strength of
argumentation which was used on either side, would have surprised the
clients, and the partner, and the clerks, and the eloquent barrister who
was occasionally employed to support this side or the other. The
eloquent barrister, or it might be the client himself, startled
sometimes at the amount of enthusiasm which Mr. Grey would throw into
his argument, would little dream that the very words had come from the
young lady in her dressing-gown. To tell the truth, Miss Grey thoroughly
liked these discussions, whether held on the lawn, or in the
dining-room arm-chairs, or during the silent hours of the night. They
formed, indeed, the very salt of her life. She felt herself to be the
Conscience of the firm. Her father was the Reason. And the partner, in
her own phraseology, was the--Devil. For it must be understood that
Dolly Grey had a spice of fun about her, of which her father had the
full advantage. She would not have called her father's partner the
"Devil" to any other ear but her father's. And that her father knew,
understanding also the spirit in which the sobriquet had been applied.
He did not think that his partner was worse than another man, nor did he
think that his daughter so thought. The partner, whose name was Barry,
was a man of average honesty, who would occasionally be surprised at the
searching justness with which Mr. Grey would look into a matter after it
had been already debated for a day or two in the office. But Mr. Barry,
though he had the pleasure of Miss Grey's acquaintance, had no idea of
the nature of the duties which she performed in the firm.
"I'm nearly broken-hearted about this abominable business," said Mr.
Grey, as he went upstairs to his dressing room. The normal hour for
dinner was half-past six. He had arrived on this occasion at half-past
seven, and had paid a shilling extra to the cabman to drive him quick.
The man, having a lame horse, had come very slowly, fidgeting Mr. Grey
into additional temporary discomfort. He had got his additional
shilling, and Mr. Grey had only additional discomfort. "I declare I
think he is the wickedest old man the world ever produced." This he said
as Dolly followed him upstairs; but Dolly, wiser than her father, would
say nothing about the wicked old man in the servants' hearing.
In five minutes Mr. Grey came down "dressed,"--by the use of which word
was implied the fact that he had shaken his neckcloth, washed his hands
and face, and put on his slippers. It was understood in the household
that, though half-past six was the hour named for dinner, half-past
seven was a much more probable time. Mr. Grey pertinaciously refused to
have it changed.
"Stare super vias antiquas," he had stoutly said when the proposition
had been made to him; by which he had intended to imply that, as during
the last twenty years he had been compelled to dine at half-past six
instead of six, he did not mean to be driven any farther in the same
direction. Consequently his cook was compelled to prepare his dinner in
such a manner that it might be eaten at one hour or the other, as chance
would have it.
The dinner passed without much conversation other than incidental to
Mr. Grey's wants and comforts. His daughter knew that he had been at the
office for eight hours, and knew also that he was not a young man. Every
kind of little cosseting was, therefore, applied to him. There was a
pheasant for dinner, and it was essentially necessary, in Dolly's
opinion, that he should have first the wing, quite hot, and then the
leg, also hot, and that the bread-sauce should be quite hot on the two
occasions. For herself, if she had had an old crow for dinner it would
have been the same thing. Tea and bread-and-butter were her luxuries,
and her tea and bread-and-butter had been enjoyed three hours ago. "I
declare I think that, after all, the leg is the better joint of the
"Then why don't you have the two legs?"
"There would be a savor of greediness in that, though I know that the
leg will go down,--and I shouldn't then be able to draw the comparison. I
like to have them both, and I like always to be able to assert my
opinion that the leg is the better joint. Now, how about the
apple-pudding? You said I should have an apple-pudding." From which it
appeared that Mr. Grey was not superior to having the dinner discussed
in his presence at the breakfast-table. The apple-pudding came, and was
apparently enjoyed. A large portion of it was put between two plates.
"That's for Mrs. Grimes," suggested Mr. Grey. "I am not quite sure that
Mrs. Grimes is worthy of it." "If you knew what it was to be left
without a shilling of your husband's wages you'd think yourself worthy."
When the conversation about the pudding was over Mr. Grey ate his
cheese, and then sat quite still in his arm-chair over the fire while
the things were being taken away. "I declare I think he is the wickedest
man the world has ever produced," said Mr. Grey as soon as the door was
shut, thus showing by the repetition of the words he had before used
that his mind had been intent on Mr. Scarborough rather than on the
"Why don't you have done with them?"
"That's all very well; but you wouldn't have done with them if you had
known them all your life."
"I wouldn't spend my time and energies in white-washing any rascal,"
said Dolly, with vigor.
"You don't know what you'd do. And a man isn't to be left in the lurch
altogether because he's a rascal. Would you have a murderer hanged
without some one to stand up for him?"
"Yes, I would," said Dolly, thoughtlessly.
"And he mightn't have been a murderer after all; or not legally so,
which as far as the law goes is the same thing."
But this special question had been often discussed between them, and Mr.
Grey and Dolly did not intend to be carried away by it on the present
occasion. "I know all about that," she said; "but this isn't a case of
life and death. The old man is only anxious to save his property, and
throws upon you all the burden of doing it. He never agrees with you as
to anything you say."
"As to legal points he does."
"But he keeps you always in hot water, and puts forward so much villany
that I would have nothing farther to do with him. He has been so crafty
that you hardly know now which is, in truth, the heir."
"Oh yes, I do," said the lawyer. "I know very well, and am very sorry
that it should be so. And I cannot but feel for the rascal because the
dishonest effort was made on behalf of his own son."
"Why was it necessary?" said Dolly, with sparks flying from her eye.
"Throughout from the beginning he has been bad. Why was the woman not
"Ah! why, indeed. But had his sin consisted only in that, I should not
have dreamed of refusing my assistance as a family lawyer. All that
would have gone for nothing then."
"When evil creeps in," said Dolly, sententiously, "you cannot put it
"Never mind about that. We shall never get to the end if you go back to
Adam and Eve."
"People don't go back often enough."
"Bother!" said Mr. Grey, finishing his second and last glass of
port-wine. "Do keep yourself in some degree to the question in dispute.
In advising an attorney of to-day as to how he is to treat a client you
can't do any good by going back to Adam and Eve. Augustus is the heir,
and I am bound to protect the property for him from these money-lending
harpies. The moment the breath is out of the old man's body they will
settle down upon it if we leave them an inch of ground on which to
stand. Every detail of his marriage must be made as clear as daylight;
and that must be done in the teeth of former false statements."
"As far as I can see, the money-lending harpies are the honestest lot of
"The law is not on their side. They have got no right. The estate, as a
fact, will belong to Augustus the moment his father dies. Mr.
Scarborough endeavored to do what he could for him whom he regarded as
his eldest son. It was very wicked. He was adding a second and a worse
crime to the first. He was flying in the face of the laws of his
country. But he was successful; and he threw dust into my eyes, because
he wanted to save the property for the boy. And he endeavored to make it
up to his second son by saving for him a second property. He was not
selfish; and I cannot but feel for him."
"But you say he is the wickedest man the world ever produced."
"Because he boasts of it all, and cannot be got in any way to repent. He
gives me my instructions as though from first to last he had been a
highly honorable man, and only laughs at me when I object. And yet he
must know that he may die any day. He only wishes to have this matter
set straight so that he may die. I could forgive him altogether if he
would but once say that he was sorry for what he'd done. But he has
completely the air of the fine old head of a family who thinks he is to
be put into marble the moment the breath is out of his body, and that he
richly deserves the marble he is to be put into."
"That is a question between him and his God," said Dolly.
"He hasn't got a God. He believes only in his own reason,--and is content
to do so, lying there on the very brink of eternity. He is quite content
with himself, because he thinks that he has not been selfish. He cares
nothing that he has robbed every one all round. He has no reverence for
property and the laws which govern it. He was born only with the
life-interest, and he has determined to treat it as though the
fee-simple had belonged to him. It is his utter disregard for law, for
what the law has decided, which makes me declare him to have been the
wickedest man the world ever produced."
"It is his disregard for truth which makes you think so."
"He cares nothing for truth. He scorns it and laughs at it. And yet
about the little things of the world he expects his word to be taken as
certainly as that of any other gentleman."
"I would not take it."
"Yes, you would, and would be right too. If he would say he'd pay me a
hundred pounds to-morrow, or a thousand, I would have his word as soon
as any other man's bound. And yet he has utterly got the better of me,
and made me believe that a marriage took place, when there was no
marriage. I think I'll have a cup of tea."
"You won't go to sleep, papa?"
"Oh yes, I shall. When I've been so troubled as that I must have a cup
of tea." Mr. Grey was often troubled, and as a consequence Dolly was
called up for consultations in the middle of the night.
At about one o'clock there came the well-known knock at Dolly's door and
the usual invitation. Would she come into her father's room for a few
minutes? Then her father trotted back to his bed, and Dolly, of course,
followed him as soon as she had clothed herself decently.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought I had made up my mind not to go; or I thought rather that I
should be able to make up my mind not to go. But it is possible that
down there I may have some effect for good."
"What does he want of you?"
"There is a long question about raising money with which Augustus
desires to buy the silence of the creditors."
"Could he get the money?" asked Dolly.
"Yes, I think he could. The property at present is altogether
unembarrassed. To give Mr. Scarborough his due, he has never put his
name to a scrap of paper; nor has he had occasion to do so. The Tretton
pottery people want more land, or rather more water, and a large sum of
money will be forthcoming. But he doesn't see the necessity of giving
Mr. Tyrrwhit a penny-piece, or certainly Mr. Hart. He would send them
away howling without a scruple. Now, Augustus is anxious to settle with
them, for some reason which I do not clearly understand. But he wishes
to do so without any interference on his father's part. In fact, he and
his father have very different ideas as to the property. The squire
regards it as his, but Augustus thinks that any day may make it his own.
In fact, they are on the very verge of quarrelling." Then, after a long
debate, Dolly consented that her father should go down to Tretton, and
act, if possible, the part of peace-maker.
THE CARROLL FAMILY.
"Aunt Carroll is coming to dinner to-day," said Dolly the next day, with
a serious face.
"I know she is. Have a nice dinner for her. I don't think she ever has a
nice dinner at home."
"And the three eldest girls are coming."
"You asked them yourself on Sunday."
"Very well. They said their papa would be away on business." It was
understood that Mr. Carroll was never asked to the Manor-house.
"Business! There is a club he belongs to where he dines and gets drunk
once a month. It's the only thing he does regularly."
"They must have their dinner, at any rate," said Mr. Grey. "I don't
think they should suffer because he drinks." This had been a subject
much discussed between them, but on the present occasion Miss Grey would
not renew it. She despatched her father in a cab, the cab having been
procured because he was supposed to be a quarter of an hour late, and
then went to work to order her dinner.
It has been said that Miss Grey hated the Carrolls; but she hated the
daughters worse than the mother, and of all the people she hated in the
world she hated Amelia Carroll the worst. Amelia, the eldest,
entertained an idea that she was more of a personage in the world's eyes
than her cousin,--that she went to more parties, which certainly was true
if she went to any,--that she wore finer clothes, which was also true,
and that she had a lover, whereas Dolly Grey,--as she called her cousin
behind her back,--had none. This lover had something to do with horses,
and had only been heard of, had never been seen, at the Manor-house.
Sophy was a good deal hated also, being a forward, flirting, tricky girl
of seventeen, who had just left the school at which Uncle John had paid
for her education. Georgina, the third, was still at school under
similar circumstances, and was pardoned her egregious noisiness and
romping propensities under the score of youth. She was sixteen, and was
possessed of terrible vitality. "I am sure they take after their father
altogether," Mr. Grey had once said when the three left the Manor-house
together. At half-past six punctually they came. Dolly heard a great
clatter of four people leaving their clogs and cloaks in the hall, and
would not move out of the unused drawing-room, in which for the moment
she was seated. Betsey had to prepare the dinner-table down-stairs, and
would have been sadly discomfited had she been driven to do it in the
presence of three Carroll girls. For it must be understood that Betsey
had no greater respect for the Carroll girls than her mistress. "Well,
Aunt Carroll, how does the world use you?"
"Very badly. You haven't been up to see me for ten days."
"I haven't counted; but when I do come I don't often do any good. How
are Minna, and Brenda, and Potsey?"
"Poor Potsey has got a nasty boil under her arm."
"It comes from eating too much toffy," said Georgina. "I told her it
"How very nasty you are!" said Miss Carroll. "Do leave the child and her
"Poor papa isn't very well, either," said Sophy, who was supposed to be
her father's pet.
"I hope his state of health will not debar him from dining with his
friends to-night," said Miss Grey.
"You have always something ill-natured to say about papa," said Sophy.
"Nothing will ever keep him back when conviviality demands his
presence." This came from his afflicted wife, who, in spite of all his
misfortunes, would ever speak with some respect of her husband's
employments. "He wasn't at all in a fit state to go to-night, but he had
promised, and that was enough."
When they had waited three-quarters of an hour Amelia began to
complain,--certainly not without reason. "I wonder why Uncle John always
keeps us waiting in this way?"
"Papa has, unfortunately, something to do with his time, which is not
altogether his own." There was not much in these words, but the tone in
which they were uttered would have crushed any one more susceptible than
Amelia Carroll. But at that moment the cab arrived, and Dolly went down
to meet her father.
"Have they come?" he asked.
"Come," she answered, taking his gloves and comforter from him, and
giving him a kiss as she did so. "That girl up-stairs is nearly
"I won't be half a moment," said the repentant father, hastening
up-stairs to go through his ordinary dressing arrangement.
"I wouldn't hurry for her," said Dolly; "but of course you'll hurry.
You always do, don't you, papa?" Then they sat down to dinner.
"Well, girls, what is your news?"
"We were out to-day on the Brompton Road," said the eldest, "and there
came up Prince Chitakov's drag with four roans."
"Prince Chitakov! I didn't know there was such a prince."
"Oh, dear, yes; with very stiff mustaches, turned up high at the
corners, and pink cheeks, and a very sharp, nobby-looking hat, with a
light-colored grey coat, and light gloves. You must know the prince."
"Upon my word, I never heard of him, my dear. What did the prince do?"
"He was tooling his own drag, and he had a lady with him on the box. I
never saw anything more tasty than her dress,--dark red silk, with little
fluffy fur ornaments all over it. I wonder who she was?"
"Mrs. Chitakov, probably," said the attorney.
"I don't think the prince is a married man," said Sophy.
"They never are, for the most part," said Amelia; "and she wouldn't be
Mrs. Chitakov, Uncle John."
"Wouldn't she, now? What would she be? Can either of you tell me what
the wife of a Prince of Chitakov would call herself?"
"Princess of Chitakov, of course," said Sophy. "It's the Princess of
"But it isn't the Princess of Christian, nor yet the Princess of Teck,
nor the Princess of England. I don't see why the lady shouldn't be Mrs.
Chitakov, if there is such a lady."
"Papa, don't bamboozle her," said his daughter.
"But," continued the attorney, "why shouldn't the lady have been his
wife? Don't married ladies wear little fluffy fur ornaments?"
"I wish, John, you wouldn't talk to the girls in that strain," said
their mother. "It really isn't becoming."
"To suggest that the lady was the gentleman's wife?"
"But I was going to say," continued Amelia, "that as the prince drove by
he kissed his hand--he did, indeed. And Sophy and I were walking along
as demurely as possible. I never was so knocked of a heap in all my
"He did," said Sophy. "It's the most impertinent thing I ever heard. If
my father had seen it he'd have had the prince off the box of the coach
in no time."
"Then, my dear," said the attorney, "I am very glad that your father
did not see it." Poor Dolly, during this conversation about the prince,
sat angry and silent, thinking to herself in despair of what extremes of
vulgarity even a first cousin of her own could be guilty. That she
should be sitting at table with a girl who could boast that a reprobate
foreigner had kissed his hand to her from the box of a fashionable
four-horsed coach! For it was in that light that Miss Grey regarded it.
"And did you have any farther adventures besides this memorable
encounter with the prince?"
"Nothing nearly so interesting," said Sophy.
"That was hardly to be expected," said the attorney. "Jane, you will
have a glass of port-wine? Girls, you must have a glass of port-wine to
support you after your disappointment with the prince."
"We were not disappointed in the least," said Amelia.
"Pray, pray, let the subject drop," said Dolly.
"That is because the prince did not kiss his hand to you," said Sophy.
Then Miss Grey sunk again into silence, crushed beneath this last blow.
In the evening, when the dinner-things had been taken away, a matter of
business came up, and took the place of the prince and his mustaches.
Mrs. Carroll was most anxious to know whether her brother could "lend"
her a small sum of twenty pounds. It came out in conversation that the
small sum was needed to satisfy some imperious demand made upon Mr.
Carroll by a tailor. "He must have clothes, you know," said the poor
woman, wailing. "He doesn't have many, but he must have some." There had
been other appeals on the same subject made not very long since, and, to
tell the truth, Mr. Grey did require to have the subject argued, in fear
of the subsequent remarks which would be made to him afterward by his
daughter if he gave the money too easily. The loan had to be arranged in
full conclave, as otherwise Mrs. Carroll would have found it difficult
to obtain access to her brother's ear. But the one auditor whom she
feared was her niece. On the present occasion Miss Grey simply took up
her book to show that the subject was one which had no interest for her;
but she did undoubtedly listen to all that was said on the subject.
"There was never anything settled about poor Patrick's clothes," said
Mrs. Carroll, in a half-whisper. She did not care how much her own
children heard, and she knew how vain it was to attempt so to speak that
Dolly should not hear.
"I dare say something ought to be done at some time," said Mr. Grey, who
knew that he would be told, when the evening was over, that he would
give away all his substance to that man if he were asked.
"Papa has not had a new pair of trousers this year," said Sophy.
"Except those green ones he wore at the races," said Georgina.
"Hold your tongue, miss!" said her mother. "That was a pair I made up
for him and sent them to the man to get pressed."
"When the hundred a year was arranged for all our dresses," said Amelia,
"not a word was said about papa. Of course, papa is a trouble."
"I don't see that he is more of a trouble than any one else," said
Sophy. "Uncle John would not like not to have any clothes."
"No, I should not, my dear."
"And his own income is all given up to the house uses." Here Sophy
touched imprudently on a sore subject. His "own" income consisted of
what had been saved out of his wife's fortune, and was thus named as in
opposition to the larger sum paid to Mrs. Carroll by Mr. Grey. There was
one hundred and fifty pounds a year coming from settled property, which
had been preserved by the lawyer's care, and which was regarded in the
family as "papa's own."
It certainly is essential for respectability that something should be
set apart from a man's income for his wearing apparel; and though the
money was, perhaps, improperly so designated, Dolly would not have
objected had she not thought that it had already gone to the
race-course,--in company with the green trousers. She had her own means
of obtaining information as to the Carroll family. It was very necessary
that she should do so, if the family was to be kept on its legs at all.
"I don't think any good can come from discussing what my uncle does with
the money." This was Dolly's first speech. "If he is to have it, let him
have it, but let him have as little as possible."
"I never heard anybody so cross as you always are to papa," said Sophy.
"Your cousin Dorothy is very fortunate," said Mrs. Carroll. "She does
not know what it is to want for anything."
"She never spends anything--on herself," said her father. "It is Dolly's
only fault that she won't."
"Because she has it all done for her," said Amelia.
Dolly had gone back to her book, and disdained to make any farther
reply. Her father felt that quite enough had been said about it, and
was prepared to give the twenty pounds, under the idea that he might be
thought to have made a stout fight upon the subject. "He does want them
very badly--for decency's sake," said the poor wife, thus winding up her
plea. Then Mr. Grey got out his check-book and wrote the check for
twenty pounds. But he made it payable, not to Mr. but to Mrs. Carroll.
"I suppose, papa, nothing can be done about Mr. Carroll." This was said
by Dolly as soon as the family had withdrawn.
"In what way 'done,' my dear?"
"As to settling some farther sum for himself."
"He'd only spend it, my dear."
"That would be intended," said Dolly.
"And then he would come back just the same."
"But in that case he should have nothing more. Though they were to
declare that he hadn't a pair of trousers in which to appear at a
race-course, he shouldn't have it."
"My dear," said Mr. Grey, "you cannot get rid of the gnats of the world.
They will buzz and sting and be a nuisance. Poor Jane suffers worse from
this gnat than you or I. Put up with it; and understand in your own mind
that when he comes for another twenty pounds he must have it. You
needn't tell him, but so it must be."
"If I had my way," said Dolly, after ten minutes' silence, "I would
punish him. He is an evil thing, and should be made to reap the proper
reward. It is not that I wish to avoid my share of the world's burdens,
but that justice should be done. I don't know which I hate the
worst,--Uncle Carroll or Mr. Scarborough."
The next day was Sunday, and Dolly was very anxious before breakfast to
induce her father to say that he would go to church with her; but he was
inclined to be obstinate, and fell back upon his usual excuse, saying
that there were Scarborough papers which it would be necessary that he
should read before he started for Tretton on the following day.
"Papa, I think it would do you good if you came."
"Well, yes; I suppose it would. That is the intention; but somehow it
fails with me sometimes."
"Do you think that you hate people when you go to church as much as when
"I am not sure that I hate anybody very much."
"That seems an argument for your going."
"But if you don't hate them it is because you won't take the trouble,
and that again is not right. If you would come to church you would be
better for it all round. You'd hate Uncle Carroll's idleness and
abominable self-indulgence worse than you do."
"I don't love him, as it is, my dear."
"And I should hate him less. I felt last night as though I could rise
from my bed and go and murder him."
"Then you certainly ought to go to church."
"And you had passed him off just as though he were a gnat from which you
were to receive as little annoyance as possible, forgetting the
influence he must have on those six unfortunate children. Don't you know
that you gave her that twenty pounds simply to be rid of a disagreeable
"I should have given it ever so much sooner, only that you were looking
"I know you would, you dear, sweet, kind-hearted, but most un-Christian,
father. You must come to church, in order that some idea of what
Christianity demands of you may make its way into your heart. It is not
what the clergyman may say of you, but that your mind will get away for
two hours from that other reptile and his concerns." Then Mr. Grey, with
a loud, long sigh, allowed his boots, and his gloves, and his
church-going hat, and his church-going umbrella to be brought to him. It
was, in fact, his aversion to these articles that Dolly had to
It may be doubted whether the church services of that day did Mr. Grey
much good; but they seemed to have had some effect upon his daughter,
from the fact that in the afternoon she wrote a letter in kindly words
to her aunt: "Papa is going to Tretton, and I will come up to you on
Tuesday. I have got a frock which I will bring with me as a present for
Potsey; and I will make her sew on the buttons for herself. Tell Minna I
will lend her that book I spoke of. About those boots--I will go with
Georgina to the boot-maker." But as to Amelia and Sophy she could not
bring herself to say a good-natured word, so deep in her heart had sunk
that sin of which they had been guilty with reference to Prince
On that night she had a long discussion with her father respecting the
affairs of the Scarborough family. The discussion was held in the
dining-room, and may, therefore, be supposed to have been premeditated.
Those at night in Mr. Grey's own bedroom were generally the result of
sudden thought. "I should lay down the law to him--" began Dolly.
"The law is the law," said her father.
"I don't mean the law in that sense. I should tell him firmly what I
advised, and should then make him understand that if he did not follow
my advice I must withdraw. If his son is willing to pay these
money-lenders what sums they have actually advanced, and if by any
effort on his part the money can be raised, let it be done. There seems
to be some justice in repaying out of the property that which was lent
to the property when by Mr. Scarborough's own doing the property was
supposed to go into the eldest son's hands. Though the eldest son and
the money-lenders be spendthrifts and profligates alike, there will in
that be something of fairness. Go there prepared with your opinion. But
if either father or son will not accept it, then depart, and shake the
dust from your feet."
"You propose it all as though it were the easiest thing in the world."
"Easy or difficult. I would not discuss anything of which the justice
may hereafter be disputed."
What was the result of the consultation on Mr. Grey's mind he did not
declare, but he resolved to take his daughter's advice in all that she
said to him.
MR. GREY GOES TO TRETTON.
Mr. Grey went down to Tretton with a great bag of papers. In fact,
though he told his daughter that he had to examine them all before he
started, and had taken them to Fulham for that purpose, he had not
looked at them. And, as another fact, the bag was not opened till he got
home again. They had been read;--at any rate, what was necessary. He knew
his subject. The old squire knew it well.
Mr. Grey was going down to Tretton, not to convey facts or to explain
the law, but in order that he might take the side either of the father
or of the son. Mr. Scarborough had sent for the lawyer to support his
view of the case; and the son had consented to meet him in order that he
might the more easily get the better of his father.
Mr. Grey had of late learned one thing which had before been dark to
him,--had seen one phase of this complicated farrago of dishonesty which
had not before been visible to him. Augustus suspected his father of
some farther treachery. That he should be angry at having been debarred
from his birthright so long,--debarred from the knowledge of his
birthright,--was, Mr. Grey thought, natural. A great wrong had been, at
least, intended; and that such a man should resent it was to have been
expected. But of late Mr. Grey had discovered that it was not in that
way that the son's mind worked. It was not anger but suspicion that he
showed; and he used his father's former treatment of him as a
justification for the condemnation implied in his thoughts. There is no
knowing what an old man may do who has already acted as he had done. It
was thus that he expressed himself both by his words and deeds, and did
so openly in his father's presence, Mr. Grey had not seen them together,
but knew from the letters of both of them that such was the case. Old
Mr. Scarborough scorned his son's suspicions, and disregarded altogether
any words that might be said as to his own past conduct. He was willing,
or half willing, that Mountjoy's debts should be, not paid, but settled.
But he was willing to do nothing toward such a step except in his own
way. While the breath was in his body the property was his, and he chose
to be treated as its only master. If Augustus desired to do anything by
"post-obits," let him ruin himself after his own fashion. "It is not
very likely that Augustus can raise money by post obits, circumstanced
as the property is," he had written to Mr. Grey, with a conveyed sneer
and chuckle as to the success of his own villany. It was as though he
had declared that the money-lenders had been too well instructed as to
what tricks Mr. Scarborough could play with his property to risk a
Augustus had, in truth, been awaiting his father's death with great
impatience. It was unreasonable that a man should live who had acted in
such a way and who had been so cut about by the doctors. His father's
demise had, in truth, been promised to him, and to all the world. It was
an understood thing, in all circles which knew anything, that old Mr.
Scarborough could not live another month. It had been understood some
time, and was understood at the present moment; and yet Mr. Scarborough
went on living,--no doubt, as an invalid in the last stage of probable
dissolution, but still with the full command of his intellect and mental
powers for mischief. Augustus, suspecting him as he did, had begun to
fear that he might live too long. His brother had disappeared, and he
was the heir. If his father would die,--such had been his first
thought,--he could settle with the creditors immediately, before any
tidings should be heard of his brother. But tidings had come. His
brother had been seen by Mr. Hart at Monte Carlo; and though Mr. Hart
had not yet sent home the news to the other creditors, the news had been
sent at once to Augustus Scarborough by his own paid attendant upon his
brother. Of Mr. Hart's "little game" he did not yet know the
particulars; but he was confident that there was some game.
Augustus by no means gave his mother credit for the disgraceful conduct
imputed to her in the story as now told by her surviving husband. It was
not that he believed in the honesty of his mother, whom he had never
known, and for whose memory he cared little, but that he believed so
fully in the dishonesty of his father. His father, when he had
thoroughly understood that Mountjoy had enveloped the property in debt,
so that nothing but a skeleton would remain when the bonds were paid,
had set to work, and by the ingenuity of his brain had resolved to
redeem, as far as the Scarboroughs were concerned, their estate from its
It was so that Augustus believed; this was the theory existing in his
mind. That his father should have been so clever, and Mr. Grey so blind,
and even Mr. Hart and Mr. Tyrrwhit so easily hoodwinked, was remarkable.
But so it was,--or might probably be so. He felt no assurance, but there
was ever present to him the feeling of great danger. But the state of
things as arranged by his father might be established by himself. If he
could get these creditors to give up their bonds while his father's
falsehood was still believed, it would be a great thing. He had learned
by degrees how small a proportion of the money claimed had, in fact,
been advanced to Mountjoy, and had resolved to confine himself to paying
that. That might now probably be accepted with gratitude. The increasing
value of the estate might bear that without being crushed. But it should
be done at once, while Mountjoy was still absent and before Mr. Tyrrwhit
at any rate knew that Mountjoy had not been killed. Then had happened
that accidental meeting with Mr. Hart at Monte Carlo. That idiot of a
keeper of his had been unable to keep Mountjoy from the gambling-house.
Back to Full Books