Night and Morning, Complete
Edward Bulwer Lytton
Part 9 out of 11
_item_, to a long chronicle of her own genealogy, how she had one cousin
a clergyman, and how her great-grandfather had been knighted,--_item_, to
the domestic virtues of all her children,--_item_, to a confused
explanation of the chastisement inflicted on Sidney, which Philip cut
short in the middle; he asked, with a smile, what had become of the
Plaskwiths. "Oh!" said Mrs. Morton, "my brother Kit has retired from
business. His son-in-law, Mr. Plimmins, has succeeded."
"Oh, then, Plimmins married one of the young ladies?"
"Yes, Jane--she bad a sad squint!--Tom, there is nothing to laugh at,--
we are all as God made us,--'Handsome is as handsome does,'--she has had
three little uns!"
"Do they squint too?" asked Philip; and Miss Margaret giggled, and Tom
roared, and the other young men roared too. Philip had certainly said
something very witty.
This time Mrs. Morton administered no reproof; but replied pensively
"Natur is very mysterious--they all squint!"
Mr. Morton conducted Philip to his chamber. There it was, fresh, clean,
unaltered--the same white curtains, the same honeysuckle paper as when
Catherine had crept across the threshold.
"Did Sidney ever tell you that his mother placed a ring round his neck
that night?" asked Mr. Morton.
"Yes; and the dear boy wept when he said that he had slept too soundly to
know that she was by his side that last, last time. The ring--oh, how
well I remember it! she never put it off till then; and often in the
fields--for we were wild wanderers together in that day--often when his
head lay on my shoulder, I felt that ring still resting on his heart, and
fancied it was a talisman--a blessing. Well, well-good night to you!"
And he shut the door on his uncle, and was alone.
"The Man of Law, . . . . . . .
And a great suit is like to be between them."
BEN JONSON: _Staple of News_.
On arriving in London, Philip went first to the lodging he still kept
there, and to which his letters were directed; and, among some
communications from Paris, full of the politics and the hopes of the
Carlists, he found the following note from Lord Lilburne:--
"DEAR SIR,--When I met you the other day I told you I had been threatened
with the gout. The enemy has now taken possession of the field. I am
sentenced to regimen and the sofa. But as it is my rule in life to make
afflictions as light as possible, so I have asked a few friends to take
compassion on me, and help me 'to shuffle off this mortal coil' by
dealing me, if they can, four by honours. Any time between nine and
twelve to-night, or to-morrow night, you will find me at home; and if you
are not better engaged, suppose you dine with me to-day--or rather dine
opposite to me--and excuse my Spartan broth. You will meet (besides any
two or three friends whom an impromptu invitation may find disengaged) my
sister, with Beaufort and their daughter: they only arrived in town this
morning, and are kind enough 'to nurse me,' as they call it,--that is to
say, their cook is taken ill!
"Park Lane, Sept. --"
"The Beauforts. Fate favors me--I will go. The date is for to-day."
He sent off a hasty line to accept the invitation, and finding he had a
few hours yet to spare, he resolved to employ them in consultation with
some lawyer as to the chances of ultimately regaining his inheritance--
a hope which, however wild, he had, since his return to his native shore,
and especially since he had heard of the strange visit made to Roger
Morton, permitted himself to indulge. With this idea he sallied out,
meaning to consult Liancourt, who, having a large acquaintance among the
English, seemed the best person to advise him as to the choice of a
lawyer at once active and honest,--when he suddenly chanced upon that
"This is lucky, my dear Liancourt. I was just going to your lodgings."
"And I was coming to yours to know if you dine with Lord Lilburne. He
told me he had asked you. I have just left him. And, by the sofa of
Mephistopheles, there was the prettiest Margaret you ever beheld."
"He called her his niece; but I should doubt if he had any relation on
this side the Styx so human as a niece."
"You seem to have no great predilection for our host."
"My dear Vaudemont, between our blunt, soldierly natures, and those wily,
icy, sneering intellects, there is the antipathy of the dog to the cat."
"Perhaps so on our side, not on his--or why does he invite us?"
"London is empty; there is no one else to ask. We are new faces, new
minds to him. We amuse him more than the hackneyed comrades he has worn
out. Besides, he plays--and you, too. Fie on you!"
"Liancourt, I had two objects in knowing that man, and I pay to the toll
for the bridge. When I cease to want the passage, I shall cease to pay
"But the bridge may be a draw-bridge, and the moat is devilish deep
below. Without metaphor, that man may ruin you before you know where you
"Bah! I have my eyes open. I know how much to spend on the rogue whose
service I hire as a lackey's; and I know also where to stop. Liancourt,"
he added, after a short pause, and in a tone deep with suppressed
passion, "when I first saw that man, I thought of appealing to his heart
for one who has a claim on it. That was a vain hope. And then there
came upon me a sterner and deadlier thought--the scheme of the Avenger!
This Lilburne--this rogue whom the world sets up to worship--ruined, body
and soul ruined--one whose name the world gibbets with scorn! Well, I
thought to avenge that man. In his own house--amidst you all--I thought
to detect the sharper, and brand the cheat!"
"You startle me!--It has been whispered, indeed, that Lord Lilburne is
dangerous,--but skill is dangerous. To cheat!--an Englishman!--a
"Whether he do or not," returned Vaudemont, in a calmer tone, "I have
foregone the vengeance, because he is--"
"No matter," said Vaudemont aloud, but he added to himself,--"Because he
is the grandfather of Fanny!"
"You are very enigmatical to-day."
"Patience, Liancourt; I may solve all the riddles that make up my life,
yet. Bear with me a little longer. And now can you help me to a
lawyer?--a man experienced, indeed, and of repute, but young, active, not
overladen with business;--I want his zeal and his time, for a hazard that
your monopolists of clients may not deem worth their devotion."
"I can recommend you, then, the very man you require. I had a suit some
years ago at Paris, for which English witnesses were necessary. My
_avocat_ employed a solicitor here whose activity in collecting my
evidence gained my cause. I will answer for his diligence and his
"Mr. Barlow--somewhere by the Strand--let me see--Essex-yes, Essex
"Then good-bye to you for the present.--You dine at Lord Lilburne's too?"
"Yes. Adieu till then."
Vaudemont was not long before he arrived at Mr. Barlow's; a brass-plate
announced to him the house. He was shown at once into a parlour, where
he saw a man whom lawyers would call young, and spinsters middle-aged--
viz., about two-and-forty; with a bold, resolute, intelligent
countenance, and that steady, calm, sagacious eye, which inspires
at once confidence and esteem.
Vaudemont scanned him with the look of one who has been accustomed to
judge mankind--as a scholar does books--with rapidity because with
practice. He had at first resolved to submit to him the heads of his
case without mentioning names, and, in fact, he so commenced his
narrative; but by degrees, as he perceived how much his own earnestness
arrested and engrossed the interest of his listener, he warmed into
fuller confidence, and ended by a full disclosure, and a caution as to
the profoundest secrecy in case, if there were no hope to recover his
rightful name, he might yet wish to retain, unannoyed by curiosity or
suspicion, that by which he was not discreditably known.
"Sir," said Mr. Barlow, after assuring him of the most scrupulous
discretion,--"sir, I have some recollection of the trial instituted by
your mother, Mrs. Beaufort"--and the slight emphasis he laid on that name
was the most grateful compliment be could have paid to the truth of
Philip's recital. "My impression is, that it was managed in a very
slovenly manner by her lawyer; and some of his oversights we may repair
in a suit instituted by yourself. But it would be absurd to conceal from
you the great difficulties that beset us--your mother's suit, designed to
establish her own rights, was far easier than that which you must
commence--viz., an action for ejectment against a man who has been some
years in undisturbed possession. Of course, until the missing witness is
found out, it would be madness to commence litigation. And the question,
then, will be, how far that witness will suffice? It is true, that one
witness of a marriage, if the others are dead, is held sufficient by law.
But I need not add, that that witness must be thoroughly credible. In
suits for real property, very little documentary or secondary evidence is
admitted. I doubt even whether the certificate of the marriage on which
--in the loss or destruction of the register--you lay so much stress,
would be available in itself. But if an examined copy, it becomes of the
last importance, for it will then inform us of the name of the person who
extracted and examined it. Heaven grant it may not have been the
clergyman himself who performed the ceremony, and who, you say, is dead;
if some one else, we should then have a second, no doubt credible and
most valuable witness. The document would thus become available as
proof, and, I think, that we should not fail to establish our case."
"But this certificate, how is it ever to be found? I told you we had
searched everywhere in vain."
"True; but you say that your mother always declared that the late Mr.
Beaufort had so solemnly assured her, even just prior to his decease,
that it was in existence, that I have no doubt as to the fact. It may be
possible, but it is a terrible insinuation to make, that if Mr. Robert
Beaufort, in examining the papers of the deceased, chanced upon a
document so important to him, he abstracted or destroyed it. If this
should not have been the case (and Mr. Robert Beaufort's moral character
is unspotted--and we have no right to suppose it), the probability is,
either that it was intrusted to some third person, or placed in some
hidden drawer or deposit, the secret of which your father never
disclosed. Who has purchased the house you lived in?"
"Fernside? Lord Lilburne. Mrs. Robert Beaufort's brother."
"Humph--probably, then, he took the furniture and all. Sir, this is a
matter that requires some time for close consideration. With your leave,
I will not only insert in the London papers an advertisement to the
effect that you suggested to Mr. Roger Morton (in case you should have
made a right conjecture as to the object of the man who applied to him),
but I will also advertise for the witness himself. William Smith, you
say, his name is. Did the lawyer employed by Mrs. Beaufort send to
inquire for him in the colony?"
"No; I fear there could not have been time for that. My mother was so
anxious and eager, and so convinced of the justice of her case--"
"That's a pity; her lawyer must have been a sad driveller."
"Besides, now I remember, inquiry was made of his relations in England.
His father, a farmer, was then alive; the answer was that he had
certainly left Australia. His last letter, written two years before that
date, containing a request for money, which the father, himself made a
bankrupt by reverses, could not give, had stated that he was about to
seek his fortune elsewhere--since then they had heard nothing of him."
"Ahem! Well, you will perhaps let me know where any relations of his are
yet to be found, and I will look up the former suit, and go into the
whole case without delay. In the meantime, you do right, sir--if you
will allow me to say it--not to disclose either your own identity or a
hint of your intentions. It is no use putting suspicion on its guard.
And my search for this certificate must be managed with the greatest
address. But, by the way--speaking of identity--there can be no
difficulty, I hope, in proving yours."
Philip was startled. "Why, I am greatly altered."
"But probably your beard and moustache may contribute to that change; and
doubtless, in the village where you lived, there would be many with whom
you were in sufficient intercourse, and on whose recollection, by
recalling little anecdotes and circumstances with which no one but
yourself could be acquainted, your features would force themselves along
with the moral conviction that the man who spoke to them could be no
other but Philip Morton--or rather Beaufort."
"You are right; there must be many such. There was not a cottage in the
place where I and my dogs were not familiar and half domesticated."
"All's right, so far, then. But I repeat, we must not be too sanguine.
Law is not justice--"
"But God is," said Philip; and he left the room.
"_Volpone_. A little in a mist, but not dejected;
Never--but still myself."
BEN JONSON: _Volpone_.
"_Peregrine_. Am I enough disguised?
_Mer_. Ay. I warrant you.
_Per_. Save you, fair lady."--Ibid.
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. The ill wind that had blown
gout to Lord Lilburne had blown Lord Lilburne away from the injury he had
meditated against what he called "the object of his attachment." How
completely and entirely, indeed, the state of Lord Lilburne's feelings
depended on the state of his health, may be seen in the answer he gave to
his valet, when, the morning after the first attack of the gout, that
worthy person, by way of cheering his master, proposed to ascertain
something as to the movements of one with whom Lord Lilburne professed to
be so violently in love,--"Confound you, Dykeman!" exclaimed the
invalid,--"why do you trouble me about women when I'm in this condition?
I don't care if they were all at the bottom of the sea! Reach me the
colchicum! I must keep my mind calm."
Whenever tolerably well, Lord Lilburne was careless of his health; the
moment he was ill, Lord Lilburne paid himself the greatest possible
attention. Though a man of firm nerves, in youth of remarkable daring,
and still, though no longer rash, of sufficient personal courage, he was
by no means fond of the thought of death--that is, of his _own_ death.
Not that he was tormented by any religious apprehensions of the Dread
Unknown, but simply because the only life of which he had any experience
seemed to him a peculiarly pleasant thing. He had a sort of instinctive
persuasion that John Lord Lilburne would not be better off anywhere else.
Always disliking solitude, he disliked it more than ever when he was ill,
and he therefore welcomed the visit of his sister and the gentle hand of
his pretty niece. As for Beaufort, he bored the sufferer; and when that
gentleman, on his arrival, shutting out his wife and daughter, whispered
to Lilburne, "Any more news of that impostor?" Lilburne answered
peevishly, "I never talk about business when I have the gout! I have set
Sharp to keep a lookout for him, but he has learned nothing as yet. And
now go to your club. You are a worthy creature, but too solemn for my
spirits just at this moment. I have a few people coming to dine with me,
your wife will do the honors, and--_you_ can come in the evening."
Though Mr. Robert Beaufort's sense of importance swelled and chafed at
this very unceremonious _conge_, he forced a smile, and said:--
"Well, it is no wonder you are a little fretful with the gout. I have
plenty to do in town, and Mrs. Beaufort and Camilla can come back without
waiting for me."
"Why, as your cook is ill, and they can't dine at a club, you may as well
leave them here till I am a little better; not that I care, for I can
hire a better nurse than either of them."
"My dear Lilburne, don't talk of hiring nurses; certainly, I am too happy
if they can be of comfort to you."
"No! on second thoughts, you may take back your wife, she's always
talking of her own complaints, and leave me Camilla: you can't want her
for a few days."
"Just as you like. And you really think I have managed as well as I
could about this young man,--eh?"
"Yes--yes! And so you go to Beaufort Court in a few days?"
"I propose doing so. I wish you were well enough to come."
"Um! Chambers says that it would be a very good air for me--better than
Fernside; and as to my castle in the north, I would as soon go to
Siberia. Well, if I get better, I will pay you a visit, only you always
have such a stupid set of respectable people about you. I shock them,
and they oppress me."
"Why, as I hope soon to see Arthur, I shall make it as agreeable to him
as I can, and I shall be very much obliged to you if you would invite a
few of your own friends."
"Well, you are a good fellow, Beaufort, and I will take you at your word;
and, since one good turn deserves another, I have now no scruples in
telling you that I feel quite sure that you will have no further
annoyance from this troublesome witness-monger."
"In that case," said Beaufort, "I may pick up a better match for Camilla!
Good-bye, my dear Lilburne."
"Form and Ceremony of the world!" snarled the peer, as the door closed
on his brother-in-law, "ye make little men very moral, and not a bit the
better for being so."
It so happened that Vaudemont arrived before any of the other guests that
day, and during the half hour which Dr. Chambers assigned to his
illustrious patient, so that, when he entered, there were only Mrs.
Beaufort and Camilla in the drawing-room.
Vaudemont drew back involuntarily as he recognized in the faded
countenance of the elder lady, features associated with one of the dark
passages in his earlier life; but Mrs. Beaufort's gracious smile, and
urbane, though languid welcome, sufficed to assure him that the
recognition was not mutual. He advanced, and again stopped short, as his
eye fell upon that fair and still childlike form, which had once knelt by
his side and pleaded, with the orphan, for his brother. While he spoke
to her, many recollections, some dark and stern--but those, at least,
connected with Camilla, soft and gentle-thrilled through his heart.
Occupied as her own thoughts and feelings necessarily were with Sidney,
there was something in Vaudemont's appearance--his manner, his voice--
which forced upon Camilla a strange and undefined interest; and even Mrs.
Beaufort was roused from her customary apathy, as she glanced at that
dark and commanding face with something between admiration and fear.
Vaudemont had scarcely, however, spoken ten words, when some other guests
were announced, and Lord Lilburne was wheeled in upon his sofa shortly
afterwards. Vaudemont continued, however, seated next to Camilla, and
the embarrassment he had at first felt disappeared. He possessed, when
he pleased, that kind of eloquence which belongs to men who have seen
much and felt deeply, and whose talk has not been frittered down to the
commonplace jargon of the world. His very phraseology was distinct and
peculiar, and he had that rarest of all charms in polished life,
originality both of thought and of manner. Camilla blushed, when she
found at dinner that he placed himself by her side. That evening De
Vaudemont excused himself from playing, but the table was easily made
without him, and still he continued to converse with the daughter of the
man whom he held as his worst foe. By degrees, he turned the
conversation into a channel that might lead him to the knowledge he
"It was my fate," said he, "once to become acquainted with an intimate
friend of the late Mr. Beaufort. Will you pardon me if I venture to
fulfil a promise I made to him, and ask you to inform me what has become
of a--a--that is, of Sidney Morton?"
"Sidney Morton! I don't even remember the name. Oh, yes! I have heard
it," added Camilla, innocently, and with a candour that showed how little
she knew of the secrets of the family; "he was one of two poor boys in
whom my brother felt a deep interest--some relations to my uncle. Yes--
yes! I remember now. I never knew Sidney, but I once did see his
"Indeed! and you remember--"
"Yes! I was very young then. I scarcely recollect what passed, it was
all so confused and strange; but, I know that I made papa very angry, and
I was told never to mention the name of Morton again. I believe they
behaved very ill to papa."
"And you never learned--never!--the fate of either--of Sidney?"
"But your father must know?"
"I think not; but tell me,"--said Camilla, with girlish and unaffected
innocence, "I have always felt anxious to know,--what and who were those
What and who were they? So deep, then, was the stain upon their name,
that the modest mother and the decorous father had never even said to
that young girl, "They are your cousins--the children of the man in whose
gold we revel!"
Philip bit his lip, and the spell of Camilla's presence seemed vanished.
He muttered some inaudible answer, turned away to the card-table, and
Liancourt took the chair he had left vacant.
"And how does Miss Beaufort like my friend Vaudemont? I assure you that
I have seldom seen him so alive to the fascination of female beauty!"
"Oh!" said Camilla, with her silver laugh, "your nation spoils us for our
own countrymen. You forget how little we are accustomed to flattery."
"Flattery! what truth could flatter on the lips of an exile? But you
don't answer my question--what think you of Vaudemont? Few are more
admired. He is handsome!"
"Is he?" said Camilla, and she glanced at Vaudemont, as he stood at a
little distance, thoughtful and abstracted. Every girl forms to herself
some untold dream of that which she considers fairest. And Vaudemont had
not the delicate and faultless beauty of Sidney. There was nothing that
corresponded to her ideal in his marked features and lordly shape! But
she owned, reluctantly to herself, that she had seldom seen, among the
trim gallants of everyday life, a form so striking and impressive. The
air, indeed, was professional--the most careless glance could detect the
soldier. But it seemed the soldier of an elder age or a wilder clime.
He recalled to her those heads which she had seen in the Beaufort Gallery
and other Collections yet more celebrated--portraits by Titian of those
warrior statesman who lived in the old Republics of Italy in a perpetual
struggle with their kind--images of dark, resolute, earnest men. Even
whatever was intellectual in his countenance spoke, as in those
portraits, of a mind sharpened rather in active than in studious life;--
intellectual, not from the pale hues, the worn exhaustion, and the sunken
cheek of the bookman and dreamer, but from its collected and stern
repose, the calm depth that lay beneath the fire of the eyes, and the
strong will that spoke in the close full lips, and the high but not
And, as she gazed, Vaudemont turned round--her eyes fell beneath his, and
she felt angry with herself that she blushed. Vaudemont saw the downcast
eye, he saw the blush, and the attraction of Camilla's presence was
restored. He would have approached her, but at that moment Mr. Beaufort
himself entered, and his thoughts went again into a darker channel.
"Yes," said Liancourt, "you must allow Vaudemont looks what he is--a
noble fellow and a gallant soldier. Did you never hear of his battle
with the tigress? It made a noise in India. I must tell it you as I
have heard it."
And while Laincourt was narrating the adventure, whatever it was, to
which he referred, the card-table was broken up, and Lord Lilburne, still
reclining on his sofa, lazily introduced his brother-in-law to such of
the guests as were strangers to him--Vaudemont among the rest. Mr.
Beaufort had never seen Philip Morton more than three times; once at
Fernside, and the other times by an imperfect light, and when his
features were convulsed by passion, and his form disfigured by his dress.
Certainly, therefore, had Robert Beaufort even possessed that faculty of
memory which is supposed to belong peculiarly to kings and princes, and
which recalls every face once seen, it might have tasked the gift to the
utmost to have detected, in the bronzed and decorated foreigner to whom
he was now presented, the features of the wild and long-lost boy. But
still some dim and uneasy presentiment, or some struggling and painful
effort of recollection, was in his mind, as he spoke to Vaudemont, and
listened to the cold calm tone of his reply.
"Who do you say that Frenchman is?" he whispered to his brother-in-law,
as Vaudemont turned away.
"Oh! a cleverish sort of adventurer--a gentleman; he plays.--He has seen
a good deal of the world--he rather amuses me--different from other
people. I think of asking him to join our circle at Beaufort Court."
Mr. Beaufort coughed huskily, but not seeing any reasonable objection to
the proposal, and afraid of rousing the sleeping hyaena of Lord
Lilburne's sarcasm, he merely said:--
"Any one you like to invite:" and looking round for some one on whom to
vent his displeasure, perceived Camilla still listening to Liancourt. He
stalked up to her, and as Liancourt, seeing her rise, rose also and moved
away, he said peevishly, "You will never learn to conduct yourself
properly; you are to be left here to nurse and comfort your uncle, and
not to listen to the gibberish of every French adventurer. Well, Heaven
be praised, I have a son--girls are a great plague!"
"So they are, Mr. Beaufort," sighed his wife, who had just joined him,
and who was jealous of the preference Lilburne had given to her daughter.
"And so selfish," added Mrs. Beaufort; "they only care for their own
amusements, and never mind how uncomfortable their parents are for want
"Oh! dear mamma, don't say so--let me go home with you--I'll speak to my
"Nonsense, child! Come along, Mr. Beaufort;" and the affectionate
parents went out arm in arm. They did not perceive that Vaudemont had
been standing close behind them; but Camilla, now looking up with tears
in her eyes, again caught his gaze: he had heard all.
"And they ill-treat her," he muttered: "that divides her from them!--she
will be left here--I shall see her again." As he turned to depart,
Lilburne beckoned to him.
"You do not mean to desert our table?"
"No: but I am not very well to-night--to-morrow, if you will allow me."
"Ay, to-morrow; and if you can spare an hour in the morning it will be a
charity. You see," he added in a whisper, "I have a nurse, though I have
no children. D'ye think that's love? Bah! sir--a legacy! Good night."
"No--no--no!" said Vaudemont to himself, as he walked through the moonlit
streets. "No! though my heart burns,--poor murdered felon!--to avenge
thy wrongs and thy crimes, revenge cannot come from me--he is Fanny's
grandfather and--Camilla's uncle!"
And Camilla, when that uncle had dismissed her for the night, sat down
thoughtfully in her own room. The dark eyes of Vaudemont seemed still to
shine on her; his voice yet rung in her ear; the wild tales of daring and
danger with which Liancourt had associated his name yet haunted her
bewildered fancy--she started, frightened at her own thoughts. She took
from her bosom some lines that Sidney had addressed to her, and, as she
read and re-read, her spirit became calmed to its wonted and faithful
melancholy. Vaudemont was forgotten, and the name of Sidney yet murmured
on her lips, when sleep came to renew the image of the absent one, and
paint in dreams the fairy land of a happy Future!
"Ring on, ye bells--most pleasant is your chime!"
WILSON. _Isle of Palms_.
"O fairy child! What can I wish for thee?"--Ibid.
Vaudemont remained six days in London without going to H----, and on each
of those days he paid a visit to Lord Lilburne. On the seventh day, the
invalid being much better, though still unable to leave his room, Camilla
returned to Berkeley Square. On the same day, Vaudemont went once more
to see Simon and poor Fanny.
As he approached the door, he heard from the window, partially opened,
for the day was clear and fine, Fanny's sweet voice. She was chaunting
one of the simple songs she had promised to learn by heart; and
Vaudemont, though but a poor judge of the art, was struck and affected by
the music of the voice and the earnest depth of the feeling. He paused
opposite the window and called her by her name. Fanny looked forth
joyously, and ran, as usual, to open the door to him.
"Oh! you have been so long away; but I already know many of the songs:
they say so much that I always wanted to say!"
Vaudemont smiled, but languidly.
"How strange it is," said Fanny, musingly, "that there should be so much
in a piece of paper! for, after all," pointing to the open page of her
book, "this is but a piece of paper--only there is life in it!"
"Ay," said Vaudemont, gloomily, and far from seizing the subtle delicacy
of Fanny's thought--her mind dwelling upon Poetry, and his upon Law,--
"ay, and do you know that upon a mere scrap of paper, if I could but find
it, may depend my whole fortune, my whole happiness, all that I care for
"Upon a scrap of paper? Oh! how I wish I could find it! Ah! you look
as if you thought I should never be wise enough for that!"
Vaudemont, not listening to her, uttered a deep sigh. Fanny approached
"Do not sigh, brother,--I can't bear to hear you sigh. You are changed.
Have you, too, not been happy?"
"Happy, Fanny! yes, lately very happy--too happy!"
"Happy, have you? and I--" the girl stopped short--her tone had been
that of sadness and reproach, and she stopped--why, she knew not, but she
felt her heart sink within her. Fanny suffered him to pass her, and he
went straight to his room. Her eyes followed him wistfully: it was not
his habit to leave her thus abruptly. The family meal of the day was
over; and it was an hour before Vaudemont descended to the parlour.
Fanny had put aside the songs; she had no heart to recommence those
gentle studies that had been so sweet,--they had drawn no pleasure, no
praise from him. She was seated idly and listlessly beside the silent
old man, who every day grew more and more silent still. She turned her
head as Vaudemont entered, and her pretty lip pouted as that of a
neglected child. But he did not heed it, and the pout vanished, and
tears rushed to her eyes.
Vaudemont was changed. His countenance was thoughtful and overcast. His
manner abstracted. He addressed a few words to Simon, and then, seating
himself by the window, leant his cheek on his hand, and was soon lost in
reverie. Fanny, finding that he did not speak, and after stealing many a
long and earnest glance at his motionless attitude and gloomy brow, rose
gently, and gliding to him with her light step, said, in a trembling
"Are you in pain, brother?"
"No, pretty one!"
"Then why won't you speak to Fanny? Will you not walk with her? Perhaps
my grandfather will come too."
"Not this evening. I shall go out; but it will be alone."
"Where? Has not Fanny been good? I have not been out since you left.
us. And the grave--brother!--I sent Sarah with the flowers--but--"
Vaudemont rose abruptly. The mention of the grave brought back his
thoughts from the dreaming channel into which they had flowed. Fanny,
whose very childishness had once so soothed him, now disturbed; he felt
the want of that complete solitude which makes the atmosphere of growing
passion: he muttered some scarcely audible excuse, and quitted the house.
Fanny saw him no more that evening. He did not return till midnight.
But Fanny did not sleep till she heard his step on the stairs, and his
chamber door close: and when she did sleep, her dreams were disturbed and
painful. The next morning, when they met at breakfast (for Vaudemont did
not return to London), her eyes were red and heavy, and her cheek pale.
And, still buried in meditation, Vaudemont's eye, usually so kind and
watchful, did not detect those signs of a grief that Fanny could not have
explained. After breakfast, however, he asked her to walk out; and her
face brightened as she hastened to put on her bonnet, and take her little
basket full of fresh flowers which she had already sent Sarah forth to
"Fanny," said Vaudemont, as leaving the house, he saw the basket on her
arm, "to-day you may place some of those flowers on another tombstone!--
Poor child, what natural goodness there is in that heart!--what pity
He paused. Fanny looked delightedly in his face. "You were praising me
--you! And what is a pity, brother?"
While she spoke, the sound of the joy-bells was heard near at hand.
"Hark!" said Vaudemont, forgetting her question--and almost gaily--
"Hark!--I accept the omen. It is a marriage peal!"
He quickened his steps, and they reached the churchyard.
There was a crowd already assembled, and Vaudemont and Fanny paused; and,
leaning over the little gate, looked on.
"Why are these people here, and why does the bell ring so merrily?"
"There is to be a wedding, Fanny."
"I have heard of a wedding very often," said Fanny, with a pretty look of
puzzlement and doubt, "but I don't know exactly what it means. Will you
tell me?--and the bells, too!"
"Yes, Fanny, those bells toll but three times for man! The first time,
when he comes into the world; the last time, when he leaves it; the time
between when he takes to his side a partner in all the sorrows--in all
the joys that yet remain to him; and who, even when the last bell
announces his death to this earth, may yet, for ever and ever, be his
partner in that world to come--that heaven, where they who are as
innocent as you, Fanny, may hope to live and to love each other in a land
in which there are no graves!"
"And this bell?"
"Tolls for that partnership--for the wedding!"
"I think I understand you;--and they who are to be wed are happy?"
"Happy, Fanny, if they love, and their love continue. Oh! conceive the
happiness to know some one person dearer to you than your own self--some
one breast into which you can pour every thought, every grief, every joy!
One person, who, if all the rest of the world were to calumniate or
forsake you, would never wrong you by a harsh thought or an unjust word,
--who would cling to you the closer in sickness, in poverty, in care,--
who would sacrifice all things to you, and for whom you would sacrifice
all--from whom, except by death, night or day, you must be never divided
--whose smile is ever at your hearth--who has no tears while you are well
and happy, and your love the same. Fanny, such is marriage, if they who
marry have hearts and souls to feel that there is no bond on earth so
tender and so sublime. There is an opposite picture;--I will not draw
that! And as it is, Fanny, you cannot understand me!"
He turned away:--and Fanny's tears were falling like rain upon the grass
below;--he did not see them! He entered the churchyard; for the bell now
ceased. The ceremony was to begin. He followed the bridal party into
the church, and Fanny, lowering her veil, crept after him, awed and
They stood, unobserved, at a little distance, and heard the service.
The betrothed were of the middle class of life, young, both comely; and
their behaviour was such as suited the reverence and sanctity of the
rite. Vaudemont stood looking on intently, with his arms folded on his
breast. Fanny leant behind him, and apart from all, against one of the
pews. And still in her hand, while the priest was solemnising Marriage,
she held the flowers intended for the Grave. Even to that MORNING--
hushed, calm, earliest, with her mysterious and unconjectured heart--her
shape brought a thought of NIGHT!
When the ceremony was over--when the bride fell on her mother's breast
and wept; and then, when turning thence, her eyes met the bridegroom's,
and the tears were all smiled away--when, in that one rapid interchange
of looks, spoke all that holy love can speak to love, and with timid
frankness she placed her hand in his to whom she had just vowed her
life,--a thrill went through the hearts of those present. Vaudemont
sighed heavily. He heard his sigh echoed; but by one that had in its
sound no breath of pain; he turned; Fanny had raised her veil; her eyes
met his, moistened, but bright, soft, and her cheeks were rosy-red.
Vaudemont recoiled before that gaze, and turned from the church. The
persons interested retired to the vestry to sign their names in the
registry; the crowd dispersed, and Vaudemont and Fanny stood alone in the
"Look, Fanny," said the former, pointing to a tomb that stood far from
his mother's (for those ashes were too hallowed for such a
neighbourhood). "Look yonder; it is a new tomb. Fanny, let us approach
it. Can you read what is there inscribed?"
The inscription was simply this:
TO W-- G--
MAN SEES THE DEED
GOD THE CIRCUMSTANCE.
THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED.
"Fanny, this tomb fulfils your pious wish: it is to the memory of him
whom you called your father. Whatever was his life here--whatever
sentence it hath received, Heaven, at least, will not condemn your piety,
if you honour one who was good to you, and place flowers, however idle,
even over that grave."
"It is his--my father's--and you have thought of this for me!" said
Fanny, taking his hand, and sobbing. "And I have been thinking that you
were not so kind to me as you were!"
"Have I not been so kind to you? Nay, forgive me, I am not happy."
"Not?--you said yesterday you had been too happy."
"To remember happiness is not to be happy, Fanny."
Fanny stopped; and, as she bent over the tomb, musing, Vaudemont, willing
to leave her undisturbed, and feeling bitterly how little his conscience
could vindicate, though it might find palliation for, the dark man who
slept not there--retired a few paces.
At this time the new-married pair, with their witnesses, the clergyman,
&c., came from the vestry, and crossed the path. Fanny, as she turned
from the tomb, saw them, and stood still, looking earnestly at the bride.
"What a lovely face!" said the mother. "Is it--yes it is--the poor
"Ah!" said the bridegroom, tenderly, "and she, Mary, beautiful as she is,
she can never make another as happy as you have made me."
Vaudemont heard, and his heart felt sad. "Poor Fanny!--And yet, but for
that affliction--I might have loved her, ere I met the fatal face of the
daughter of my foe!" And with a deep compassion, an inexpressible and
holy fondness, he moved to Fanny.
"Come, my child; now let us go home."
"Stay," said Fanny--"you forget." And she went to strew the flowers
still left over Catherine's grave.
"Will my mother," thought Vaudemont, "forgive me, if I have other
thoughts than hate and vengeance for that house which builds its
greatness over her slandered name?" He groaned:--and that grave had lost
its melancholy charm.
"Of all men, I say,
That dare, for 'tis a desperate adventure,
Wear on their free necks the yoke of women,
Give me a soldier."--_Knight of Malta_.
"So lightly doth this little boat
Upon the scarce-touch'd billows float;
So careless doth she seem to be,
Thus left by herself on the homeless sea,
To lie there with her cheerful sail,
Till Heaven shall send some gracious gale."
WILSON: _Isle of Palms_.
Vaudemont returned that evening to London, and found at his lodgings a
note from Lord Lilburne, stating that as his gout was now somewhat
mitigated, his physician had recommended him to try change of air--that
Beaufort Court was in one of the western counties, in a genial climate--
that he was therefore going thither the next day for a short time--that
he had asked some of Monsieur de Vaudemont's countrymen, and a few other
friends, to enliven the circle of a dull country-house--that Mr. and Mrs.
Beaufort would be delighted to see Monsieur de Vaudemont also--and that
his compliance with their invitation would be a charity to Monsieur de
Vaudemont's faithful and obliged, LILBURNE.
The first sensation of Vaudemont on reading this effusion was delight.
"I shall see _her_," he cried; "I shall be under the same roof!" But the
glow faded at once from his cheek;--the roof!--what roof? Be the guest
where he held himself the lord!--be the guest of Robert Beaufort!--Was
that all? Did he not meditate the deadliest war which civilised life
admits of--the _War of Law_--war for name, property, that very hearth,
with all its household gods, against this man--could he receive his
hospitality? "And what then!" he exclaimed, as he paced to and fro the
room,--"because her father wronged me, and because I would claim mine
own--must I therefore exclude from my thoughts, from my sight, an image
so fair and gentle;--the one who knelt by my side, an infant, to that
hard man?--Is hate so noble a passion that it is not to admit one glimpse
of Love?--_Love_! what word is that? Let me beware in time!" He paused
in fierce self-contest, and, throwing open the window, gasped for air.
The street in which he lodged was situated in the neighbourhood of St.
James's; and, at that very moment, as if to defeat all opposition, and to
close the struggle, Mrs. Beaufort's barouche drove by, Camilla at her
side. Mrs. Beaufort, glancing up; languidly bowed; and Camilla herself
perceived him, and he saw her change colour as she inclined her head. He
gazed after them almost breathless, till the carriage disappeared; and
then reclosing the window, he sat down to collect his thoughts, and again
to reason with himself. But still, as he reasoned, he saw ever before
him that blush and that smile. At last he sprang up, and a noble and
bright expression elevated the character of his face,--"Yes, if I enter
that house, if I eat that man's bread, and drink of his cup, I must
forego, not justice--not what is due to my mother's name--but whatever
belongs to hate and vengeance. If I enter that house--and if Providence
permit me the means whereby to regain my rights, why she--the innocent
one--she may be the means of saving her father from ruin, and stand like
an angel by that boundary where justice runs into revenge!--Besides, is
it not my duty to discover Sidney? Here is the only clue I shall
obtain." With these thoughts he hesitated no more--he decided he would
not reject this hospitality, since it might be in his power to pay it
back ten thousandfold. "And who knows," he murmured again, "if Heaven,
in throwing this sweet being in my way, might not have designed to subdue
and chasten in me the angry passions I have so long fed on? I have seen
her,--can I now hate her father?"
He sent off his note accepting the invitation. When he had done so, was
he satisfied? He had taken as noble and as large a view of the duties
thereby imposed on him as he well could take: but something whispered at
his heart, "There is weakness in thy generosity--Darest thou love the
daughter of Robert Beaufort?" And his heart had no answer to this voice.
The rapidity with which love is ripened depends less upon the actual
number of years that have passed over the soil in which the seed is cast,
than upon the freshness of the soil itself. A young man who lives the
ordinary life of the world, and who fritters away, rather than exhausts,
his feelings upon a variety of quick succeeding subjects--the Cynthias of
the minute--is not apt to form a real passion at the first sight. Youth
is inflammable only when the heart is young!
There are certain times of life when, in either sex, the affections are
prepared, as it were, to be impressed with the first fair face that
attracts the fancy and delights the eye. Such times are when the heart
has been long solitary, and when some interval of idleness and rest
succeeds to periods of harsher and more turbulent excitement. It was
precisely such a period in the life of Vaudemont. Although his ambition
had been for many years his dream, and his sword his mistress, yet
naturally affectionate, and susceptible of strong emotion, he had often
repined at his lonely lot. By degrees the boy's fantasy and reverence
which had wound themselves round the image of Eugenie subsided into that
gentle and tender melancholy which, perhaps by weakening the strength of
the sterner thoughts, leaves us inclined rather to receive, than to
resist, a new attachment;--and on the verge of the sweet Memory trembles
the sweet Hope. The suspension of his profession, his schemes, his
struggles, his career, left his passions unemployed. Vaudemont was thus
unconsciously prepared to love. As we have seen, his first and earliest
feelings directed themselves to Fanny. But he had so immediately
detected the clanger, and so immediately recoiled from nursing those
thoughts and fancies, without which love dies for want of food, for a
person to whom he ascribed the affliction of an imbecility which would
give to such a sentiment all the attributes either of the weakest
rashness or of dishonour approaching to sacrilege--that the wings of the
deity were scared away the instant their very shadow fell upon his mind.
And thus, when Camilla rose upon him his heart was free to receive her
image. Her graces, her accomplishments, a certain nameless charm that
invested her, pleased him even more than her beauty; the recollections
connected with that first time in which he had ever beheld her, were also
grateful and endearing; the harshness with which her parents spoke to her
moved his compassion, and addressed itself to a temper peculiarly alive
to the generosity that leans towards the weak and the wronged; the
engaging mixture of mildness and gaiety with which she tended her peevish
and sneering uncle, convinced him of her better and more enduring
qualities of disposition and womanly heart. And even--so strange and
contradictory are our feelings--the very remembrance that she was
connected with a family so hateful to him made her own image the more
bright from the darkness that surrounded it. For was it not with the
daughter of his foe that the lover of Verona fell in love at first sight?
And is not that a common type of us all--as if Passion delighted in
contradictions? As the Diver, in Schiller's exquisite ballad, fastened
upon the rock of coral in the midst of the gloomy sea, so we cling the
more gratefully to whatever of fair thought and gentle shelter smiles out
to us in the depths of Hate and Strife.
But, perhaps, Vaudemont would not so suddenly and so utterly have
rendered himself to a passion that began, already, completely to master
his strong spirit, if he had not, from Camilla's embarrassment, her
timidity, her blushes, intoxicated himself with the belief that his
feelings were not unshared. And who knows not that such a belief, once
cherished, ripens our own love to a development in which hours are as
It was, then, with such emotions as made him almost insensible to every
thought but the luxury of breathing the same air as his cousin, which
swept from his mind the Past, the Future--leaving nothing but a joyous,
a breathless PRESENT on the Face of Time, that he repaired to Beaufort
Court. He did not return to H---- before he went, but he wrote to Fanny
a short and hurried line to explain that he might be absent for some days
at least, and promised to write again, if he should be detained longer
than he anticipated.
In the meanwhile, one of those successive revolutions which had marked
the eras in Fanny's moral existence took its date from that last time
they had walked and conversed together.
The very evening of that day, some hours after Philip was gone, and after
Simon had retired to rest, Fanny was sitting before the dying fire in the
little parlour in an attitude of deep and pensive reverie. The old
woman-servant, Sarah, who, very different from Mrs. Boxer, loved Fanny
with her whole heart, came into the room as was her wont before going to
bed, to see that the fire was duly out, and all safe: and as she
approached the hearth, she started to see Fanny still up.
"Dear heart alive!" she said; "why, Miss Fanny, you will catch your
death of cold,-what are you thinking about?"
"Sit down, Sarah; I want to speak to you." Now, though Fanny was
exceedingly kind, and attached to Sarah, she was seldom communicative to
her, or indeed to any one. It was usually in its own silence and
darkness that that lovely mind worked out its own doubts.
"Do you, my sweet young lady? I'm sure anything I can do--" and Sarah
seated herself in her master's great chair, and drew it close to Fanny.
There was no light in the room but the expiring fire, and it threw upward
a pale glimmer on the two faces bending over it,--the one so strangely
beautiful, so smooth, so blooming, so exquisite in its youth and
innocence,--the other withered, wrinkled, meagre, and astute. It was
like the Fairy and the Witch together.
"Well, miss," said the crone, observing that, after a considerable pause,
Fanny was still silent,--"Well--"
"Sarah, I have seen a wedding!"
"Have you?" and the old woman laughed. "Oh! I heard it was to be
to-day!--young Waldron's wedding! Yes, they have been long sweethearts."
"Were you ever married, Sarah?"
"Lord bless you,--yes! and a very good husband I had, poor man! But he's
dead these many years; and if you had not taken me, I must have gone to
"He is dead! Wasn't it very hard to live after that, Sarah?"
"The Lord strengthens the hearts of widders!" observed Sarah,
"Did you marry your brother, Sarah?" said Fanny, playing with the corner
of her apron.
"My brother!" exclaimed the old woman, aghast. "La! miss, you must not
talk in that way,--it's quite wicked and heathenish! One must not marry
"No!" said Fanny, tremblingly, and turning very pale, even by that light.
"No!--are you sure of that?"
"It is the wickedest thing even to talk about, my dear young mistress;--
but you're like a babby unborn!"
Fanny was silent for some moments. At length she said, unconscious that
she was speaking aloud, "But he is not my brother, after all!"
"Oh, miss, fie! Are you letting your pretty head run on the handsome
gentleman. _You_, too,--dear, dear! I see we're all alike, we poor femel
creturs! You! who'd have thought it? Oh, Miss Fanny!--you'll break your
heart if you goes for to fancy any such thing."
"Any what thing?"
"Why, that that gentleman will marry you!--I'm sure, tho' he's so simple
like, he's some great gentleman! They say his hoss is worth a hundred
pounds! Dear, dear! why didn't I ever think of this before? He must be
a very wicked man. I see, now, why he comes here. I'll speak to him,
that, I will!--a very wicked man!"
Sarah was startled from her indignation by Fanny's rising suddenly, and
standing before her in the flickering twilight, almost like a shape
transformed,--so tall did she seem, so stately, so dignified.
"Is it of him that you are speaking?" said she, in a voice of calm but
deep resentment--"of him! If so, Sarah, we two can live no more in the
And these words were said with a propriety and collectedness that even,
through all her terrors, showed at once to Sarah how much they now
wronged Fanny who had suffered their lips to repeat the parrot-cry of the
"O! gracious me!--miss--ma'am--I am so sorry--I'd rather bite out my
tongue than say a word to offend you; it was only my love for you, dear
innocent creature that you are!" and the honest woman sobbed with real
passion as she clasped Fanny's hand. "There have been so many young
persons, good and harmless, yes, even as you are, ruined. But you don't
understand me. Miss Fanny! hear me; I must try and say what I would say.
That man, that gentleman--so proud, so well-dressed, so grand-like, will
never marry you, never--never. And if ever he says he does love you, and
you say you love him, and you two don't marry, you will be ruined and
wicked, and die--die of a broken heart!"
The earnestness of Sarah's manner subdued and almost awed Fanny. She
sank down again in her chair, and suffered the old woman to caress and
weep over her hand for some moments in a silence that concealed the
darkest and most agitated feelings Fanny's life had hitherto known. At
length she said:--
"Why may he not marry me if he loves me?--he is not my brother,--indeed
he is not! I'll never call him so again."
"He cannot marry you," said Sarah, resolved, with a sort of rude
nobleness, to persevere in what she felt to be a duty; "I don't say
anything about money, because that does not always signify. But he
cannot marry you, because--because people who are hedicated one way never
marry those who are hedicated and brought up in another. A gentleman of
that kind requires a wife to know--oh--to know ever so much; and you--"
"Sarah," interrupted Fanny, rising again, but this time with a smile on
her face, "don't say anything more about it; I forgive you, if you
promise never to speak unkindly of him again--never--never--never,
"But may I just tell him that--that--"
"That you are so young and innocent, and has no pertector like; and that
if you were to love him it would be a shame in him--that it would!"
And then (oh, no, Fanny, there was nothing clouded _now_ in your
reason!)--and then the woman's alarm, the modesty, the instinct, the
terror came upon her:--
"Never! never! I will not love him, I do not love him, indeed, Sarah. If
you speak to him, I will never look you in the face again. It is all
past--all, dear Sarah!"
She kissed the old woman; and Sarah, fancying that her sagacity and
counsel had prevailed, promised all she was asked; so they went up-stairs
"As the wind
Sobs, an uncertain sweetness comes from out
Rise up, Olympia.--She sleeps soundly. Ho!
Stirring at last." BARRY CORNWALL.
The next day, Fanny was seen by Sarah counting the little hoard that she
had so long and so painfully saved for her benefactor's tomb. The money
was no longer wanted for that object. Fanny had found another; she said
nothing to Sarah or to Simon. But there was a strange complacent smile
upon her lip as she busied herself in her work, that puzzled the old
woman. Late at noon came the postman's unwonted knock at the door. A
letter!--a letter for Miss Fanny. A letter!--the first she had ever
received in her life! And it was from him!--and it began with "Dear
Fanny." Vaudemont had called her "dear Fanny" a hundred times, and the
expression had become a matter of course. But "Dear Fanny" seemed so
very different when it was written. The letter could not well be
shorter, nor, all things considered, colder. But the girl found no fault
with it. It began with "Dear Fanny," and it ended with "yours truly."
"--Yours truly--mine truly--and how kind to write at all!" Now it so
happened that Vaudemont, having never merged the art of the penman into
that rapid scrawl into which people, who are compelled to write hurriedly
and constantly, degenerate, wrote a remarkably good hand,--bold, clear,
symmetrical--almost too good a hand for one who was not to make money by
caligraphy. And after Fanny had got the words by heart, she stole gently
to a cupboard and took forth some specimens of her own hand, in the shape
of house and work memoranda, and extracts which, the better to help her
memory, she had made from the poem-book Vaudemont had given her. She
gravely laid his letter by the side of these specimens, and blushed at
the contrast; yet, after all, her own writing, though trembling and
irresolute, was far from a bad or vulgar hand. But emulation was now
fairly roused within her. Vaudemont, pre-occupied by more engrossing
thoughts, and indeed, forgetting a danger which had seemed so thoroughly
to have passed away, did not in his letter caution Fanny against going
out alone. She remarked this; and having completely recovered her own
alarm at the attempt that had been made on her liberty, she thought she
was now released from her promise to guard against a past and imaginary
peril. So after dinner she slipped out alone, and went to the mistress
of the school where she had received her elementary education. She had
ever since continued her acquaintance with that lady, who, kindhearted,
and touched by her situation, often employed her industry, and was far
from blind to the improvement that had for some time been silently
working in the mind of her old pupil.
Fanny had a long conversation with this lady, and she brought back a
bundle of books. The light might have been seen that night, and many
nights after, burning long and late from her little window. And having
recovered her old freedom of habits, which Simon, poor man, did not
notice, and which Sarah, thinking that anything was better than moping at
home, did not remonstrate against, Fanny went out regularly for two
hours, or sometimes for even a longer period, every evening after old
Simon had composed himself to the nap that filled up the interval between
dinner and tea.
In a very short time--a time that with ordinary stimulants would have
seemed marvellously short--Fanny's handwriting was not the same thing;
her manner of talking became different; she no longer called herself
"Fanny" when she spoke; the music of her voice was more quiet and
settled; her sweet expression of face was more thoughtful; the eyes
seemed to have deepened in their very colour; she was no longer heard
chaunting to herself as she tripped along. The books that she nightly
fed on had passed into her mind; the poetry that had ever unconsciously
sported round her young years began now to create poetry in herself.
Nay, it might almost have seemed as if that restless disorder of the
intellect, which the dullards had called Idiotcy, had been the wild
efforts, not of Folly, but of GENIUS seeking to find its path and outlet
from the cold and dreary solitude to which the circumstances of her early
life had compelled it.
Days, even weeks, passed--she never spoke of Vaudemont. And once, when
Sarah, astonished and bewildered by the change in her young mistress,
"When does the gentleman come back?"
Fanny answered, with a mysterious smile, "Not yet, I hope,--not quite
"Thierry. I do begin
To feel an alteration in my nature,
And in his full-sailed confidence a shower
Of gentle rain, that falling on the fire
Hath quenched it.
How is my heart divided
Between the duty of a son and love!"
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: _Thierry and Theodorat_.
Vaudemont had now been a month at Beaufort Court. The scene of a
country-house, with the sports that enliven it, and the accomplishments
it calls forth, was one in which he was well fitted to shine. He had
been an excellent shot as a boy; and though long unused to the fowling-
piece, had, in India, acquired a deadly precision with the rifle; so that
a very few days of practice in the stubbles and covers of Beaufort Court
made his skill the theme of the guests and the admiration of the keepers.
Hunting began, and--this pursuit, always so strong a passion in the
active man, and which, to the turbulence and agitation of his half-tamed
breast, now excited by a kind of frenzy of hope and fear, gave a vent and
release--was a sport in which he was yet more fitted to excel. His
horsemanship, his daring, the stone walls he leaped and the floods
through which he dashed, furnished his companions with wondering tale and
comment on their return home. Mr. Marsden, who, with some other of
Arthur's early friends, had been invited to Beaufort Court, in order to
welcome its expected heir, and who retained all the prudence which had
distinguished him of yore, when having ridden over old Simon he
dismounted to examine the knees of his horse;--Mr. Marsden, a skilful
huntsman, who rode the most experienced horses in the world, and who
generally contrived to be in at the death without having leaped over
anything higher than a hurdle, suffering the bolder quadruped (in case
what is called the "knowledge of the country"--that is, the knowledge of
gaps and gates--failed him) to perform the more dangerous feats alone, as
he quietly scrambled over or scrambled through upon foot, and remounted
the well-taught animal when it halted after the exploit, safe and sound;
--Mr. Marsden declared that he never saw a rider with so little judgment
as Monsieur de Vaudemont, and that the devil was certainly in him.
This sort of reputation, commonplace and merely physical as it was in
itself, had a certain effect upon Camilla; it might be an effect of fear.
I do not say, for I do not know, what her feelings towards Vaudemont
exactly were. As the calmest natures are often those the most hurried
away by their contraries, so, perhaps, he awed and dazzled rather than
pleased her;--at least, he certainly forced himself on her interest.
Still she would have started in terror if any one had said to her, "Do
you love your betrothed less than when you met by that happy lake?"--and
her heart would have indignantly rebuked the questioner. The letters of
her lover were still long and frequent; hers were briefer and more
subdued. But then there was constraint in the correspondence--it was
submitted to her mother. Whatever might be Vaudemont's manner to Camilla
whenever occasion threw them alone together, he certainly did not make
his attentions glaring enough to be remarked. His eye watched her rather
than his lip addressed; he kept as much aloof as possible from the rest
of her family, and his customary bearing was silent even to gloom. But
there were moments when he indulged in a fitful exuberance of spirits,
which had something strained and unnatural. He had outlived Lord
Lilburne's short liking; for since he had resolved no longer to keep
watch on that noble gamester's method of play, he played but little
himself; and Lord Lilburne saw that he had no chance of ruining him--
there was, therefore, no longer any reason to like him. But this was not
all; when Vaudemont had been at the house somewhat more than two weeks,
Lilburne, petulant and impatient, whether at his refusals to join the
card-table, or at the moderation with which, when he did, he confined his
ill-luck to petty losses, one day limped up to him, as he stood at the
embrasure of the window, gazing on the wide lands beyond, and said:--
"Vaudemont, you are bolder in hunting, they tell me, than you are at
"Honours don't tell against one--over a hedge!"
"What do you mean?" said Lilburne, rather haughtily.
Vaudemont was, at that moment, in one of those bitter moods when the
sense of his situation, the sight of the usurper in his home, often swept
away the gentler thoughts inspired by his fatal passion. And the tone of
Lord Lilburne, and his loathing to the man, were too much for his temper.
"Lord Lilburne," he said, and his lip curled, "if you had been born poor,
you would have made a great fortune--you play luckily."
"How am I to take this, sir?"
"As you please," answered Vaudemont, calmly, but with an eye of fire.
And he turned away.
Lilburne remained on the spot very thoughtful: "Hum! he suspects me. I
cannot quarrel on such ground--the suspicion itself dishonours me--I must
The next day, Lilburne, who was familiar with Mr. Harsden (though the
latter gentleman never played at the same table), asked that prudent
person after breakfast if he happened to have his pistols with him.
"Yes; I always take them into the country--one may as well practise when
one has the opportunity. Besides, sportsmen are often quarrelsome; and
if it is known that one shoots well,--it keeps one out of quarrels!"
"Very true," said Lilburne, rather admiringly. "I have made the same
remark myself when I was younger. I have not shot with a pistol for
since years. I am well enough now to walk out with the help of a stick.
Suppose we practise for half-an-hour or so."
"With all my heart," said Mr. Marsden.
The pistols were brought, and they strolled forth;--Lord Lilburne found
his hand out.
"As I never hunt now," said the peer, and he gnashed his teeth, and
glanced at his maimed limb; "for though lameness would not prevent my
keeping my seat, violent exercise hurts my leg; and Brodie says any fresh
accident might bring on tic douloureux;--and as my gout does not permit
me to join the shooting parties at present, it would be a kindness in you
to lend me your pistols--it would while away an hour or so; though, thank
Heaven, my duelling days are over!"
"Certainly," said Mr. Marsden; and the pistols were consigned to Lord
Four days from the date, as Mr. Marsden, Vaudemont, and some other
gentlemen were making for the covers, they came upon Lord Lilburne, who,
in a part of the park not within sight or sound of the house, was amusing
himself with Mr. Marsden's pistols, which Dykeman was at hand to load for
He turned round, not at all disconcerted by the interruption.
"You have no idea how I've improved, Marsden:--just see!" and he pointed
to a glove nailed to a tree. "I've hit that mark twice in five times;
and every time I have gone straight enough along the line to have killed
"Ay, the mark itself does not so much signify," said Mr. Marsden, "at
least, not in actual duelling--the great thing is to be in the line."
While he spoke, Lord Lilburne's ball went a third time through the glove.
His cold bright eye turned on Vaudemont, as he said, with a smile,--
"They tell me you shoot well with a fowling-piece, my dear Vaudemont--are
you equally adroit with a pistol?"
"You may see, if you like; but you take aim, Lord Lilburne; that would be
of no use in English duelling. Permit me."
He walked to the glove, and tore from it one of the fingers, which he
fastened separately to the tree, took the pistol from Dykeman as he
walked past him, gained the spot whence to fire, turned at once round,
without apparent aim, and the finger fell to the ground.
Lilburne stood aghast.
"That's wonderful!" said Marsden; "quite wonderful. Where the devil did
you get such a knack?--for it is only knack after all!"
"I lived for many years in a country where the practice was constant,
where all that belongs to rifle-shooting was a necessary accomplishment--
a country in which man had often to contend against the wild beast. In
civilised states, man himself supplies the place of the wild beast--but
we don't hunt him!--Lord Lilburne" (and this was added with a smiling and
disdainful whisper), "you must practise a little more."
But, disregardful of the advice, from that day Lord Lilburne's morning
occupation was gone. He thought no longer of a duel with Vaudemont. As
soon as the sportsman had left him, he bade Dykeman take up the pistols,
and walked straight home into the library, where Robert Beaufort, who was
no sportsman, generally spent his mornings.
He flung himself into an arm-chair, and said, as he stirred the fire with
"Beaufort, I'm very sorry I asked you to invite Vaudemont. He's a very
ill-bred, disagreeable fellow!" Beaufort threw down his steward's
account-book, on which he was employed, and replied,--
"Lilburne, I have never had an easy moment since that man has been in the
house. As he was your guest, I did not like to speak before, but don't
you observe--you must observe--how like he is to the old family
portraits? The more I have examined him, the more another resemblance
grows upon me. In a word," said Robert, pausing and breathing hard, "if
his name were not Vaudemont--if his history were not, apparently, so well
known, I should say--I should swear, that it is Philip Morton who sleeps
under this roof!"
"Ha!" said Lilburne, with an earnestness that surprised Beaufort, who
expected to have heard his brother-in-law's sneering sarcasm at his
fears; "the likeness you speak of to the old portraits did strike me; it
struck Marsden, too, the other day, as we were passing through the
picture-gallery; and Marsden remarked it aloud to Vaudemont. I remember
now that he changed countenance and made no answer. Hush! hush! hold
your tongue, let me think--let me think. This Philip--yes--yes--I and
Arthur saw him with--with Gawtrey--in Paris--"
"Gawtrey! was that the name of the rogue he was said to--"
"Yes--yes--yes. Ah! now I guess the meaning of those looks--those
words," muttered Lilburne between his teeth. "This pretension to the
name of Vaudemont was always apocryphal--the story always but half
believed--the invention of a woman in love with him--the claim on your
property is made at the very time he appears in England. Ha! Have you a
newspaper there? Give it me. No! 'tis not in this paper. Ring the bell
for the file!"
"What's the matter? you terrify me!" gasped out Mr. Beaufort, as he rang
"Why! have you not seen an advertisement repeated several times within
the last month?"
"I never read advertisements; except in the county paper, if land is to
"Nor I often; but this caught my eye. John" (here the servant entered),
"bring the file of the newspapers. The name of the witness whom Mrs.
Morton appealed to was Smith, the same name as the captain; what was the
"I don't remember."
"Here are the papers--shut the door--and here is the advertisement: 'If
Mr. William Smith, son of Jeremiah Smith, who formerly rented the farm of
Shipdale-Bury, under the late Right Hon. Charles Leopold Beaufort (that's
your uncle), and who emigrated in the year 18-- to Australia, will apply
to Mr. Barlow, Solicitor, Essex Street, Strand, he will hear of something
to his advantage.'"
"Good Heavens! why did not you mention this to me before?"
"Because I did not think it of any importance. In the first place, there
might be some legacy left to the man, quite distinct from your business.
Indeed, that was the probable supposition;--or even if connected with the
claim, such an advertisement might be but a despicable attempt to
frighten you. Never mind--don't look so pale--after all, this is a proof
that the witness is not found--that Captain Smith is neither the Smith,
nor has discovered where the Smith is!"
"True!" observed Mr. Beaufort: "true--very true!"
"Humph!" said Lord Lilburne, who was still rapidly glancing over the
file--"Here is another advertisement which I never saw before: this
looks suspicious: 'If the person who called on the -- of September, on
Mr. Morton, linendraper, &c., of N----, will renew his application
personally or by letter, he may now obtain the information he sought
"Morton!--the woman's brother! their uncle! it is too clear!"
"But what brings this man, if he be really Philip Morton, what brings him
here!--to spy or to threaten?"
"I will get him out of the house this day."
"No--no; turn the watch upon himself. I see now; he is attracted by your
daughter; sound her quietly; don't tell her to discourage his
confidences; find out if he ever speaks of these Mortons. Ha! I
recollect--he has spoken to me of the Mortons, but vaguely--I forget
what. Humph! this is a man of spirit and daring--watch him, I say,--
watch him! When does Arthur came back?"
"He has been travelling so slowly, for he still complains of his health,
and has had relapses; but he ought to be in Paris this week, perhaps he
is there now. Good Heavens! he must not meet this man!"
"Do what I tell you! get out all from your daughter. Never fear: he can
do nothing against you except by law. But if he really like Camilla--"
"He!--Philip Morton--the adventurer--the--"
"He is the eldest son: remember you thought even of accepting the second.
He--nay find the witness--he may win his suit; if he likes Camilla, there
may be a compromise."
Mr. Beaufort felt as if turned to ice.
"You think him likely to win this infamous suit, then?" he faltered.
"Did not you guard against the possibility by securing the brother? More
worth while to do it with this man. Hark ye! the politics of private are
like those of public life,--when the state can't crush a demagogue, it
should entice him over. If you can ruin this dog" (and Lilburne stamped
his foot fiercely, forgetful of the gout), "ruin him! hang him! If you
can't" (and here with a wry face he caressed the injured foot), "if you
can't ('sdeath, what a twinge!), and he can ruin you,--bring him into the
family, and make his secret ours! I must go and lie down--I have
In great perplexity Beaufort repaired at once to Camilla. His nervous
agitation betrayed itself, though he smiled a ghastly smile, and intended
to be exceeding cool and collected. His questions, which confused and
alarmed her, soon drew out the fact that the very first time Vaudemont
had been introduced to her he had spoken of the Mortons; and that he had
often afterwards alluded to the subject, and seemed at first strongly
impressed with the notion that the younger brother was under Beaufort's
protection; though at last he appeared reluctantly convinced of the
contrary. Robert, however agitated, preserved at least enough of his
natural slyness not to let out that he suspected Vaudemont to be Philip
Morton himself, for he feared lest his daughter should betray that
suspicion to its object.
"But," he said, with a look meant to win confidence, "I dare say he knows
these young men. I should like myself to know more about them. Learn
all you can, and tell me, and, I say--I say, Camilla,--he! he! he!--you
have made a conquest, you little flirt, you! Did he, this Vaudemont,
ever say how much he admired you?"
"He!--never!" said Camilla, blushing, and then turning pale.
"But he looks it. Ah! you say nothing, then. Well, well, don't
discourage him; that is to say,--yes, don't discourage him. Talk to him
as much as you can,--ask him about his own early life. I've a particular
wish to know--'tis of great importance to me."
"But, my dear father," said Camilla, trembling and thoroughly bewildered,
"I fear this man,--I fear--I fear--"
Was she going to add, "I fear myself?" I know not; but she stopped
short, and burst into tears.
"Hang these girls!" muttered Mr. Beaufort, "always crying when they
ought to be of use to one. Go down, dry your eyes, do as I tell you,--
get all you can from him. Fear him!--yes, I dare say she does!"
muttered the poor man, as he closed the door.
From that time what wonder that Camilla's manner to Vaudemont was yet
more embarrassed than ever: what wonder that he put his own heart's
interpretation on that confusion. Beaufort took care to thrust her more
often than before in his way; he suddenly affected a creeping, fawning
civility to Vaudemont; he was sure he was fond of music; what did he
think of that new air Camilla was so fond of? He must be a judge of
scenery, he who had seen so much: there were beautiful landscapes in the
neighbourhood, and, if he would forego his sports, Camilla drew prettily,
had an eye for that sort of thing, and was so fond of riding.
Vaudemont was astonished at this change, but his delight was greater than
the astonishment. He began to perceive that his identity was suspected;
perhaps Beaufort, more generous than he had deemed him, meant to repay
every early wrong or harshness by one inestimable blessing. The generous
interpret motives in extremes--ever too enthusiastic or too severe.
Vaudemont felt as if he had wronged the wronger; he began to conquer even
his dislike to Robert Beaufort. For some days he was thus thrown much
with Camilla; the questions her father forced her to put to him, uttered
tremulously and fearfully, seemed to him proof of her interest in his
fate. His feelings to Camilla, so sudden in their growth--so ripened and
so favoured by the Sub-Ruler of the world--CIRCUMSTANCE--might not,
perhaps, have the depth and the calm completeness of that, One True Love,
of which there are many counterfeits,--and which in Man, at least,
possibly requires the touch and mellowness, if not of time, at least of
many memories--of perfect and tried conviction of the faith, the worth,
the value and the beauty of the heart to which it clings;--but those
feelings were, nevertheless, strong, ardent, and intense. He believed
himself beloved--he was in Elysium. But he did not yet declare the
passion that beamed in his eyes. No! he would not yet claim the hand of
Camilla Beaufort, for he imagined the time would soon come when he could
claim it, not as the inferior or the suppliant, but as the lord of her
"Here's something got amongst us!"--_Knight of Malta_.
Two or three nights after his memorable conversation with Robert
Beaufort, as Lord Lilburne was undressing, he said to his valet:
"Dykeman, I am getting well."
"Indeed, my lord, I never saw your lordship look better."
"There you lie. I looked better last year--I looked better the year
before--and I looked better and better every year back to the age of
twenty-one! But I'm not talking of looks, no man with money wants looks.
I am talking of feelings. I feel better. The gout is almost gone. I
have been quiet now for a month--that's a long time--time wasted when, at
my age, I have so little time to waste. Besides, as you know, I am very
much in love!"
"In love, my lord? I thought that you told me never to speak of--"
"Blockhead! what the deuce was the good of speaking about it when I was
wrapped in flannels! I am never in love when I am ill--who is? I am
well now, or nearly so; and I've had things to vex me--things to make
this place very disagreeable; I shall go to town, and before this day
week, perhaps, that charming face may enliven the solitude of Fernside.
I shall look to it myself now. I see you're going to say something.
Spare yourself the trouble! nothing ever goes wrong if I myself take it
The next day Lord Lilburne, who, in truth, felt himself uncomfortable and
_gene_ in the presence of Vaudemont; who had won as much as the guests at
Beaufort Court seemed inclined to lose; and who made it the rule of his
life to consult his own pleasure and amusement before anything else, sent
for his post-horses, and informed his brother-in-law of his departure.
"And you leave me alone with this man just when I am convinced that he is
the person we suspected! My dear Lilburne, do stay till he goes."
"Impossible! I am between fifty and sixty--every moment is precious at
that time of life. Besides, I've said all I can say; rest quiet--act on
the defensive--entangle this cursed Vaudemont, or Morton, or whoever he
be, in the mesh of your daughter's charms, and then get rid of him, not
before. This can do no harm, let the matter turn out how it will. Read
the papers; and send for Blackwell if you want advice on any, new
advertisements. I don't see that anything more is to be done at present.
You can write to me; I shall be at Park Lane or Fernside. Take care of
yourself. You're a lucky fellow--you never have the gout! Good-bye."
And in half an hour Lord Lilburne was on the road to London.
The departure of Lilburne was a signal to many others, especially and
naturally to those he himself had invited. He had not announced to such
visitors his intention of going till his carriage was at the door. This
might be delicacy or carelessness, just as people chose to take it: and
how they did take it, Lord Lilburne, much too selfish to be well-bred,
did not care a rush. The next day half at least of the guests were gone;
and even Mr. Marsden, who had been specially invited on Arthur's account,
announced that he should go after dinner! he always travelled by night--
he slept well on the road--a day was not lost by it.
"And it is so long since you saw Arthur," said Mr. Beaufort, in
remonstrance, "and I expect him every day."
"Very sorry--best fellow in the world--but the fact is, that I am not
very well myself. I want a little sea air; I shall go to Dover or
Brighton. But I suppose you will have the house full again about
Christmas; in that case I shall be delighted to repeat my visit."
The fact was, that Mr. Marsden, without Lilburne's intellect on the one
hand, or vices on the other, was, like that noble sensualist, one of the
broken pieces of the great looking-glass "SELF." He was noticed in
society as always haunting the places where Lilburne played at cards,
carefully choosing some other table, and as carefully betting upon
Lilburne's side. The card-tables were now broken up; Vaudemont's
superiority in shooting, and the manner in which he engrossed the talk of
the sportsmen, displeased him. He was bored--he wanted to be off-and off
he went. Vaudemont felt that the time was come for him to depart, too;
Robert Beaufort--who felt in his society the painful fascination of the
bird with the boa, who hated to see him there, and dreaded to see him
depart, who had not yet extracted all the confirmation of his persuasions
that he required, for Vaudemont easily enough parried the artless
questions of Camilla--pressed him to stay with so eager a hospitality,
and made Camilla herself falter out, against her will, and even against
her remonstrances--(she never before had dared to remonstrate with either
father or mother),--"Could not you stay a few days longer?"--that
Vaudemont was too contented to yield to his own inclinations; and so for
some little time longer he continued to move before the eyes of Mr.
Beaufort--stern, sinister, silent, mysterious--like one of the family
pictures stepped down from its frame. Vaudemont wrote, however, to
Fanny, to excuse his delay; and anxious to hear from her as to her own
and Simon's health, bade her direct her letter to his lodging in London
(of which he gave her the address), whence, if he still continued to
defer his departure, it would be forwarded to him. He did not do this,
however, till he had been at Beaufort Court several days after Lilburne's
departure, and till, in fact, two days before the eventful one which
closed his visit.
The party, now greatly diminished; were at breakfast, when the servant
entered, as usual, with the letter-bag. Mr. Beaufort, who was always
important and pompous in the small ceremonials of life, unlocked the
precious deposit with slow dignity, drew forth the newspapers, which he
threw on the table, and which the gentlemen of the party eagerly seized;
then, diving out one by one, jerked first a letter to Camilla, next a
letter to Vaudemont, and, thirdly, seized a letter for himself.
"I beg that there may be no ceremony, Monsieur de Vaudemont: pray excuse
me and follow my example: I see this letter is from my son;" and he broke
The letter ran thus:
"MY DEAR FATHER,--Almost as soon as you receive this, I shall be with
you. Ill as I am, I can have no peace till I see and consult you. The
most startling--the most painful intelligence has just been conveyed to
me. It is of a nature not to bear any but personal communication.
"Your affectionate son,
"P.S.--This will go by the same packet-boat that I shall take myself, and
can only reach you a few hours before I arrive."
Mr. Beaufort's trembling hand dropped the letter--he grasped the elbow of
the chair to save himself from falling. It was clear!--the same visitor
who had persecuted himself had now sought his son! He grew sick, his son
might have heard the witness--might be convinced. His son himself now
appeared to him as a foe--for the father dreaded the son's honour! He
glanced furtively round the table, till his eye rested on Vaudemont, and
his terror was redoubled, for Vaudemont's face, usually so calm, was
animated to an extraordinary degree, as he now lifted it from the letter
he had just read. Their eyes met. Robert Beaufort looked on him as a
prisoner at the bar looks on the accusing counsel, when he first
commences his harangue.
"Mr. Beaufort," said the guest, "the letter you have given me summons me
to London on important business, and immediately. Suffer me to send for
horses at your earliest convenience."
"What's the matter?" said the feeble and seldom heard voice of Mrs.
Beaufort. "What's the matter, Robert?--is Arthur coming?"
"He comes to-day," said the father, with a deep sigh; and Vaudemont, at
that moment rising from his half-finished breakfast, with a bow that
included the group, and with a glance that lingered on Camilla, as she
bent over her own unopened letter (a letter from Winandermere, the seal
of which she dared not yet to break), quitted the room. He hastened to
his own chamber, and strode to and fro with a stately step--the step of
the Master--then, taking forth the letter, he again hurried over its
contents. They ran thus:
DEAR, Sir,--At last the missing witness has applied to me. He proves to
be, as you conjectured, the same person who had called on Mr. Roger
Morton; but as there are some circumstances on which I wish to take your
instructions without a moment's delay, I shall leave London by the mail,
and wait you at D---- (at the principal inn), which is, I understand,
twenty miles on the high road from Beaufort Court.
"I have the honor to be, sir,
Vaudemont was yet lost in the emotions that this letter aroused, when
they came to announce that his chaise was arrived. As he went down the
stairs he met Camilla, who was on the way to her own room.
"Miss Beaufort," said he, in a low and tremulous voice, "in wishing you
farewell I may not now say more. I leave you, and, strange to say, I do
not regret it, for I go upon an errand that may entitle me to return
again, and speak those thoughts which are uppermost in my soul even at
He raised her hand to his lips as he spoke, and at that moment Mr.
Beaufort looked from the door of his own room, and cried, "Camilla." She
was too glad to escape. Philip gazed after her light form for an
instant, and then hurried down the stairs.
"_Longueville_.--What! are you married, Beaufort?
_Beaufort_.--Ay, as fast
As words, and hands, and hearts, and priest,
Could make us."--BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: _Noble Gentleman_.
In the parlour of the inn at D------ sat Mr. John Barlow. He had just
finished his breakfast, and was writing letters and looking over papers
connected with his various business--when the door was thrown open, and a
gentleman entered abruptly.
"Mr. Beaufort," said the lawyer rising, "Mr. Philip Beaufort--for such I
now feel you are by right--though," he added, with his usual formal and
quiet smile, "not yet by law; and much--very much, remains to be done to
make the law and the right the same;--I congratulate you on having
something at last to work on. I had begun to despair of finding our
witness, after a month's advertising; and had commenced other
investigations, of which I will speak to you presently, when yesterday,
on my return to town from an errand on your business, I had the pleasure
of a visit from William Smith himself.--My dear sir, do not yet be too
sanguine.--It seems that this poor fellow, having known misfortune, was
in America when the first fruitless inquiries were made. Long after this
he returned to the colony, and there met with a brother, who, as I drew
from him, was a convict. He helped the brother to escape. They both
came to England. William learned from a distant relation, who lent him
some little money, of the inquiry that had been set on foot for him;
consulted his brother, who desired him to leave all to his management.
The brother afterwards assured him that you and Mr. Sidney were both
dead; and it seems (for the witness is simple enough to allow me to
extract all) this same brother then went to Mr. Beaufort to hold out the
threat of a lawsuit, and to offer the sale of the evidence yet
"And Mr. Beaufort?"
"I am happy to say, seems to have spurned the offer. Meanwhile William,
incredulous of his brother's report, proceeded to N----, learned nothing
from Mr. Morton, met his brother again--and the brother (confessing that
he had deceived him in the assertion that you and Mr. Sidney were dead)
told him that he had known you in earlier life, and set out to Paris to
"Known me?--To Paris?"
"More of this presently. William returned to town, living hardly and
penuriously on the little his brother bestowed on him, too melancholy and
too poor for the luxury of a newspaper, and never saw our advertisement,
till, as luck would have it, his money was out; he had heard nothing
further of his brother, and he went for new assistance to the same
relation who had before aided him. This relation, to his surprise,
received the poor man very kindly, lent him what he wanted, and then
asked him if he had not seen our advertisement. The newspaper shown him.
contained both the advertisements--that relating to Mr. Morton's visitor,
that containing his own name. He coupled them both together--called on
me at once. I was from town on your business. He returned to his own
home; the next morning (yesterday morning) came a letter from his
brother, which I obtained from him at last, and with promises that no
harm should happen to the writer on account of it."
Vaudemont took the letter and read as follows:
"DEAR WILLIAM,--No go about the youngster I went after: all researches in
vane. Paris develish expensive. Never mind, I have sene the other--the
young B--; different sort of fellow from his father--very ill--frightened
out of his wits--will go off to the governor, take me with him as far as
Bullone. I think we shall settel it now. Mind as I saide before, don't
put your foot in it. I send you a Nap in the Seele--all I can spare.
"Direct to me, Monsieur Smith--always a safe name--Ship Inn, Bullone."
"Do you know the name then?" said Mr. Barlow. "Well; the poor man owns
that he was frightened at his brother--that he wished to do what is
right--that he feared his brother would not let him--that your father was
very kind to him--and so he came off at once to me; and I was very
luckily at home to assure him that the heir was alive, and prepared to
assert his rights. Now then, Mr. Beaufort, we have the witness, but will
that suffice us? I fear not. Will the jury believe him with no other
testimony at his back? Consider!--When he was gone I put myself in
communication with some officers at Bow Street about this brother of his
--a most notorious character, commonly called in the police slang Dashing
"Ah! Well, proceed!"
"Your one witness, then, is a very poor, penniless man, his brother a
rogue, a convict: this witness, too, is the most timid, fluctuating,
irresolute fellow I ever saw; I should tremble for his testimony against
a sharp, bullying lawyer. And that, sir, is all at present we have to
"I see--I see. It is dangerous--it is hazardous. But truth is truth;
justice--justice! I will run the risk."
"Pardon me, if I ask, did you ever know this brother?--were you ever
absolutely acquainted with him--in the same house?"
"Many years since--years of early hardship and trial--I was acquainted
with him--what then?"
"I am sorry to hear it," and the lawyer looked grave. "Do you not see
that if this witness is browbeat--is disbelieved, and if it be shown that
you, the claimant, was--forgive my saying it--intimate with a brother of
such a character, why the whole thing might be made to look like perjury
and conspiracy. If we stop here it is an ugly business!"
"And is this all you have to say to me? The witness is found--the only
surviving witness--the only proof I ever shall or ever can obtain, and
you seek to terrify me--me too--from using the means for redress
Providence itself vouchsafes me--Sir, I will not hear you!"
"Mr. Beaufort, you are impatient--it is natural. But if we go to law--
that is, should I have anything to do with it, wait--wait till your case
is good. And hear me yet. This is not the only proof--this is not the
only witness; you forget that there was an examined copy of the register;
we may yet find that copy, and the person who copied it may yet be alive
to attest it. Occupied with this thought, and weary of waiting the
result of our advertisement, I resolved to go into the neighbourhood of
Fernside; luckily, there was a gentleman's seat to be sold in the
village. I made the survey of this place my apparent business. After
going over the house, I appeared anxious to see how far some alterations
could be made--alterations to render it more like Lord Lilburne's villa.
This led me to request a sight of that villa--a crown to the housekeeper
got me admittance. The housekeeper had lived with your father, and been
retained by his lordship. I soon, therefore, knew which were the rooms
the late Mr. Beaufort had principally occupied; shown into his study,
where it was probable he would keep his papers, I inquired if it were the
same furniture (which seemed likely enough from its age and fashion) as
in your father's time: it was so; Lord Lilburne had bought the house just
as it stood, and, save a few additions in the drawing-room, the general
equipment of the villa remained unaltered. You look impatient!--I'm
coming to the point. My eye fell upon an old-fashioned bureau--"
"But we searched every drawer in that bureau!"
"Any secret drawers?"
"Secret drawers! No! there were no secret drawers that I ever heard
Mr. Barlow rubbed his hands and mused a moment.
"I was struck with that bureau; for any father had had one like it. It
is not English--it is of Dutch manufacture."
"Yes, I have heard that my father bought it at a sale, three or four
years after his marriage."
"I learned this from the housekeeper, who was flattered by my admiring
it. I could not find out from her at what sale it had been purchased,
but it was in the neighbourhood she was sure. I had now a date to go
upon; I learned, by careless inquiries, what sales near Fernside had
taken place in a certain year. A gentleman had died at that date whose
furniture was sold by auction. With great difficulty, I found that his
widow was still alive, living far up the country: I paid her a visit;
and, not to fatigue you with too long an account, I have only to say that
she not only assured me that she perfectly remembered the bureau, but
that it had secret drawers and wells, very curiously contrived; nay, she
showed me the very catalogue in which the said receptacles are noticed in
capitals, to arrest the eye of the bidder, and increase the price of the
bidding. That your father should never have revealed where he stowed
this document is natural enough, during the life of his uncle; his own
life was not spared long enough to give him much opportunity to explain
afterwards, but I feel perfectly persuaded in my mind--that unless Mr.
Robert Beaufort discovered that paper amongst the others he examined--in
one of those drawers will be found all we want to substantiate your
claims. This is the more likely from your father never mentioning, even
to your mother apparently, the secret receptacles in the bureau. Why
else such mystery? The probability is that he received the document
either just before or at the time he purchased the bureau, or that he
bought it for that very purpose: and, having once deposited the paper in
a place he deemed secure from curiosity--accident, carelessness, policy,
perhaps, rather shame itself (pardon me) for the doubt of your mother's
discretion, that his secrecy seemed to imply, kept him from ever alluding
to the circumstance, even when the intimacy of after years made him more
assured of your mother's self-sacrificing devotion to his interests. At
his uncle's death he thought to repair all!"
"And how, if that be true--if that Heaven which has delivered me hitherto
from so many dangers, has, in the very secrecy of my poor father, saved
my birthright front the gripe of the usurper--how, I say, is---"
"The bureau to pass into our possession? That is the difficulty. But we
must contrive it somehow, if all else fail us; meanwhile, as I now feel
sure that there has been a copy of that register made, I wish to know
whether I should not immediately cross the country into Wales, and see if
I can find any person in the neighbourhood of A----- who did examine the
copy taken: for, mark you, the said copy is only of importance as leading
to the testimony of the actual witness who took it."
"Sir," said Vaudemont, heartily shaking Mr. Barlow by the hand, "forgive
my first petulance. I see in you the very man I desired and wanted--your
acuteness surprises and encourages me. Go to Wales, and God speed you!"
"Very well!--in five minutes I shall be off. Meanwhile, see the witness
yourself; the sight of his benefactor's son will do more to keep him
steady than anything else. There's his address, and take care not to
give him money. And now I will order my chaise--the matter begins to
look worth expense. Oh! I forgot to say that Monsieur Liancourt called
on you yesterday about his own affairs. He wishes much to consult you.
I told him you would probably be this evening in town, and he said he
would wait you at your lodging."
"Yes--I will lose not a moment in going to London, and visiting our
witness. And he saw my mother at the altar! My poor mother--Ah, how
could my father have doubted her!" and as he spoke, he blushed for the
first time with shame at that father's memory. He could not yet conceive
that one so frank, one usually so bold and open, could for years have
preserved from the woman who had sacrificed all to him, a secret to her
so important! That was, in fact, the only blot on his father's honour--
a foul and grave blot it was. Heavily had the punishment fallen on those
whom the father loved best! Alas, Philip had not yet learned what
terrible corrupters are the Hope and the Fear of immense Wealthy, even to
men reputed the most honourable, if they have been reared and pampered in
the belief that wealth is the Arch blessing of life. Rightly considered,
in Philip Beaufort's solitary meanness lay the vast moral of this world's
Mr. Barlow was gone. Philip was about to enter his own chaise, when a
dormeuse-and-four drove up to the inn-door to change horses. A young man
was reclining, at his length, in the carriage, wrapped in cloaks, and
with a ghastly paleness--the paleness of long and deep disease upon his
cheeks. He turned his dim eye with, perhaps, a glance of the sick man's
envy on that strong and athletic, form, majestic with health and vigour,
as it stood beside the more humble vehicle. Philip did not, however,
notice the new arrival; he sprang into the chaise, it rattled on, and
thus, unconsciously, Arthur Beaufort and his cousin had again met. To
which was now the Night--to which the Morning?
"_Bakam_. Let my men guard the walls.
_Syana_. And mine the temple."--_The Island Princess_.
While thus eventfully the days and the weeks had passed for Philip, no
less eventfully, so far as the inner life is concerned, had they glided
away for Fanny. She had feasted in quiet and delighted thought on the
consciousness that she was improving--that she was growing worthier of
him--that he would perceive it on his return. Her manner was more
thoughtful, more collected--less childish, in short, than it had been.
And yet, with all the stir and flutter of the aroused intellect, the
charm of her strange innocence was not scared away. She rejoiced in the
ancient liberty she had regained of going out and coming back when she
pleased; and as the weather was too cold ever to tempt Simon from his
fireside, except, perhaps, for half-an-hour in the forenoon, so the hours
of dusk, when he least missed her, were those which she chiefly
appropriated for stealing away to the good school-mistress, and growing
wiser and wiser every day in the ways of God and the learning of His
creatures. The schoolmistress was not a brilliant woman. Nor was it
accomplishments of which Fanny stood in need, so much as the opening of
her thoughts and mind by profitable books and rational conversation.
Beautiful as were all her natural feelings, the schoolmistress had now
little difficulty in educating feelings up to the dignity of principles.
At last, hitherto patient under the absence of one never absent from her
heart, Fanny received from him the letter he had addressed to her two
days before he quitted Beaufort Court;--another letter--a second letter--
a letter to excuse himself for not coming before--a letter that gave her
an address that asked for a reply. It was a morning of unequalled
delight approaching to transport. And then the excitement of answering
the letter--the pride of showing how she was improved, what an excellent
hand she now wrote! She shut herself up in her room: she did not go out
that day. She placed the paper before her, and, to her astonishment, all
that she had to say vanished from her mind at once. How was she even to
begin? She had always hitherto called him "Brother." Ever since her
conversation with Sarah she felt that she could not call him that name
again for the world--no, never! But what should she call him--what could
she call him? He signed himself "Philip." She knew that was his name.
She thought it a musical name to utter, but to write it! No! some
instinct she could not account for seemed to whisper that it was
improper--presumptuous, to call him "Dear Philip." Had Burns's songs--
the songs that unthinkingly he had put into her hand, and told her to
read--songs that comprise the most beautiful love-poems in the world--had
they helped to teach her some of the secrets of her own heart? And had
timidity come with knowledge? Who shall say--who guess what passed
within her? Nor did Fanny herself, perhaps, know her own feelings: but
write the words "Dear Philip" she could not. And the whole of that day,
though she thought of nothing else, she could not even get through the
first line to her satisfaction. The next morning she sat down again. It
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