The Duke's Children
Part 10 out of 14
equally anxious, and as well disposed to acknowledge her anxiety.
After what had passed between them she was not desirous of
pretending that the matter was of small moment to herself. She had
told him that it was all the world to her, and had begged him to
let her know her fate as quickly as possible. On that last Monday
morning they were in the grounds together, and Lady Mabel, who was
walking with Mrs Finn, saw them pass through a little gate which
led from the gardens into the Priory ruins. 'It all means
nothing,' Mabel said with a little laugh to her companion.
'If so, I am sorry for the young lady,' said Mrs Finn.
'Don't you think that one always has to be sorry for the young
ladies? Young ladies generally have a bad time of it. Did you
ever hear of a gentleman who always had to roll a stone to the top
of a hill, but it would always come back on him?'
'That gentleman I believe never succeeded,' said Mrs Finn. 'The
young ladies sometimes do, I suppose.'
In the meantime Isabel and Silverbridge were among the ruins
together. 'This is where the old Pallisers used to be buried,' he
'Oh, indeed. And married, I suppose.'
'I daresay. They had a priest of their own, no doubt, which must
have been convenient. This block of a fellow without any legs is
supposed to represent Sir Guy. He ran away with half-a-dozen
heiresses, they say. I wish things were as easily done now.'
'Nobody should have to run away with me. I have no idea of going
on such a journey except on terms of equality,--just step and step
alike.' Then she took hold of his arm and put out one foot. 'Are
'I am very willing.'
'But are you ready,--for a straightforward walk off to the church
before all the world? None of your private chaplains, such as Sir
Guy had at his command. Just the registrar, if there is nothing
better,--so that it be public before all the world.'
'I wish we could start this instant.'
'But we can't,--can we?'
'No, dear. So many things have to be settled.'
'And what have you settled on since you last spoke to me?'
'I have told your father everything.'
'Yes;--I know that. What good does that do? Father is not a Duke
of Omnium. No one supposed that he would object.'
'But he did,' said Silverbridge.
'Yes;--as I do,--for the same reason; because he would not have his
daughter creep in at a hole. But to your own father you have not
ventured to speak.' Then he told his story, as best he knew how.
It was not that he feared his father, but that he felt that the
present moment was not fit. 'He wishes you to marry that Lady
Mabel Grex,' she said. He nodded his head. 'And you will marry
'Never! I might have done so, had I not seen you. I should have
done so, if she had been willing. But now I never can,--never,
never.' Her hand had dropped from his arm, but now she put it up
again for a moment, so that he might feel the pressure of her
fingers. 'Say that you believe me.'
'I think I do.'
'You know I love you.'
'I think you do. I am sure I hope you do. If you don't, then I
am,--a miserable wretch.'
'With all my heart I do.'
'Then I am as proud as a queen. You will tell him soon.'
'As soon as you are gone. As soon as we are alone together. I
will;--and then I will follow you to London. Now shall we not say,
'Good-bye, my own,' she whispered.
'You will let me have one kiss.'
Her hand was in his, and she looked as though to see that no eyes
were watching them. But then, as thoughts came rushing to her
mind, she changed her purpose. 'No,' she said. 'What is it but a
trifle! It is nothing in itself. But I have bound myself to
myself by certain promises, and you must not ask me to break them.
You are as sweet to me as I can be to you, but there shall be no
kissing till I know that I shall be your wife. Now take me back.'
I Don't Think She is a Snake
On the following day, Tuesday, the Boncassens went, and then there
were none of the guests left but Mrs Finn and Lady Mabel Grex,--
with of course Miss Cassewary. The Duke had especially asked both
Mrs Finn and Lady Mabel to remain, the former, through his anxiety
to show his repentance for the injustice he had formerly done her,
and the latter in the hope that something might be settled as soon
as the crowd of visitors should have gone. He had so spoken as to
make Lady Mabel quite aware of his wish. He would not have told
her how sure he was that Silverbridge would keep no more
racehorses, how he trusted that Silverbridge had done with
betting, how he believed that the young member would take a real
interest in the House of Commons, had he not intended that she
should take a special interest in the young man. And then he had
spoken about the house in London. It was to be made over to
Silverbridge as soon as Silverbridge should marry. And then there
was Gatherum Castle. Gatherum was rather a trouble than otherwise.
He had ever felt it to be so, but had nevertheless always kept it
open perhaps for a month in the year. His uncle had always resided
there for a fortnight at Christmas. When Silverbridge was married
it would become the young man's duty to do something of the same
kind. Gatherum was the White Elephant of the family, and
Silverbridge must enter it upon his share of the trouble. He did
not know that in saying all this he was offering his son as a
husband to Lady Mabel, but she understood it as thoroughly as
though he had spoken the words.
But she knew the son's mind also. He had indeed himself told her
all his mind. 'Of course I love her best of all,' he had said.
When he told her of it she had been so overcome that she had wept
in her despair;--had wept in his presence. She had declared to him
her secret,--that it had been her intention to become his wife, and
then he had rejected her! It had all been shame, and sorrow, and
disappointment to her. And she could not but remember that there
had been a moment when she might have secured him by a word. A
look would have done it; a touch of her finger on that morning.
She had known then that he had intended to be in earnest,--that he
only waited for encouragement. She had not given it because she
had not wish to grasp too eagerly for the prize,--and now the prize
was gone! She had said that she had spared him;--but then she
could afford to joke, thinking that he would surely come back to
She had begun her world with so fatal a mistake! When she was
quite young, when she was little more than a child but still not a
child, she had given all her love to a man whom she soon found
that it would be impossible she should ever marry. He had offered
to face the world with her, promising to do the best to smooth the
rough places, and to soften the stones for her feet. But she,
young as she was, had felt that both he and she belonged to a
class which could hardly endure poverty with contentment. The
grinding need for money, the absolute necessity of luxurious
living, had been pressed upon her from her childhood. She had seen
it and acknowledged it, and had told him with precocious wisdom,
that that which he offered to do for her sake would be a folly for
them both. She had not stinted the assurance of her love, but had
told him that they must both turn aside and learn to love
elsewhere. He had done so, with too complete a readiness! She
had dreamed of a second love, which should obliterate the first,--
which might still leave to her the memory of the romance of her
earlier passion. Then this boy had come her way! With him all her
ambition might have been satisfied. She desired high rank and
great wealth. With him she might have had it all. And then, too,
though there would always be the memory of that early passion, yet
she could in another fashion love this youth. He was pleasant to
her, and gracious;--and she had told herself that if it should be
so that this great fortune might be hers, she would atone to him
fully for that past romance by the wife-like devotion of her life.
The cup had come within the reach of her fingers, but she had not
grasped it. Her happiness, her triumphs, her great success had
been there, present to her, and she had dallied with her fortune.
There had been a day on which he had been all but at her feet, and
on the next he had been prostrate at the feet of another. He had
even dared to tell her so,--saying of that American that 'of course
he loved her the best'!
Over and over again since that she had asked herself whether there
was no chance. Though he had loved that other one best she would
take him if it were possible. When the invitation came from the
Duke she would not lose a chance. She had told him that it was
impossible that he, the heir of the Duke of Omnium, should marry
an American. All his family, all his friends, all his world would
be against him. And then he was so young,--and, as she thought, so
easily led. He was lovable and prone to love,--but surely his love
could not be very strong, or he would not have changed so easily.
She did not hesitate to own to herself that this American was very
lovely. She too, herself, was beautiful. She too had a reputation
for grace, loveliness, and feminine high-bred charm. She knew all
that, but she knew also that her attractions were not so bright as
those of her rival. She could not smile or laugh or throw sparks
of brilliance around her as did the American girl. Miss Boncassen
could be graceful as a nymph in doing the awkwardest thing! When
she had pretended to walk stiffly along, to some imaginary
marriage ceremony, with her foot stuck before her, with her chin in
the air, and one arm akimbo, Silverbridge had been all afire with
admiration. Lady Mabel understood it all. The American girl must
be taken away,--from out of the reach of the young man's senses,--
and then the struggle must be made.
Lady Mabel had not been long at Matching before she learned that
she had much in her favour. She perceived that the Duke himself
had not suspicion of what was going on, and that he was strongly
disposed in her favour. She unravelled it all in her own mind.
There must have been some agreement, between the father and the
son, when the son had all but made his offer to her. More than
once she was half-minded to speak openly to the Duke, to tell him
all that Silverbridge had said to her and all that he had not
said, and to ask the father's help in scheming against that rival.
But she could not find the words with which to begin. And then,
might he not despise her, and despising reject her, were she to
declare her desire to marry a man who had given his heart to
another woman? And so, when the Duke asked her to remain after
the departure of the other guests, she decided that it would be
best to bide her time. The Duke, as she assented, kissed her hand,
and she knew that this sign of grace was given to his intended
In all this she half-confided her thoughts and her prospects to
her old friend Miss Cassewary. 'That girl has gone at last,' she
said to Miss Cassewary.
'I fear she has left her spells behind her, my dear.'
'Of course she has. The venom out of the snake's tooth will poison
all the blood; but still the poor bitten wretch does not always
'I don't think she is a snake.'
'Don't be moral, Cass. She is a snake in my sense. She has got her
weapons, and of course it is natural enough that she should use
them. If I want to be the Duchess of Omnium, why shouldn't she?'
'I hate to hear you talk of yourself in that way.'
'Because you have enough of the old school about you to like
conventional falsehood. This young man did in fact ask me to be
his wife. Of course I meant to accept him,--but I didn't. Then
comes this convict's granddaughter.'
'Not a convict's!'
'You know what I mean. Had he been a convict it would have been
all the same. I take upon myself to say that, had the world been
informed that an alliance had been arranged between the eldest son
of the Duke of Omnium and the daughter of Earl Grex,--the world
would have been satisfied. Every unmarried daughter of every peer
in England would have envied me,--but it would have been comme il
'Certainly, my dear.'
'But what would be the feeling as to the convict's granddaughter?'
'You don't suppose that I would approve it;--but it seems to me
that in these days young men do just as they please.'
'He shall do what he pleases, but he must be made to be pleased
with me.' So much she said to Miss Cassewary; but she did not
divulge any plan. The Boncassens had just gone off to the station,
and Silverbridge was out shooting. If anything could be done here
at Matching, it must be done quickly, as Silverbridge would soon
take his departure. She did not know it, but, in truth, he was
remaining in order that he might, as he said, 'have all this out
with the governor'.
She tried to realise for herself some plan, but when the evening
came nothing was fixed. For a quarter of an hour, just as the sun
was setting, the Duke joined her in the gardens,--and spoke to her
more plainly than he had ever spoken before. 'Has Silverbridge
come home?' he asked.
'I have not seen him.'
'I hope you and Mary get on well together.'
'I think so, Duke. I am sure we should if we saw more of each
'I sincerely hope you may. There is nothing I wish for Mary so
much as that she should have a sister. And there is no one whom I
would be so glad to hear her call by that name as yourself.' How
could he have spoken plainer?
The ladies were all together in the drawing-room when Silverbridge
came bursting in rather late. 'Where's the governor?' he asked,
turning to his sister.
'Dressing I should think; but what is the matter?'
'I want to see him. I must be off to Cornwall tomorrow morning.'
'To Cornwall!' said Miss Cassewary. 'Why to Cornwall?' asked Lady
Mabel. But Mary, connecting Cornwall with Frank Tregear, held her
'I can't explain it all now, but I must start very early
tomorrow.' Then he went off to his father's study, and finding
the Duke still there explained the cause of his intended journey.
The member for Polpenno had died, and Frank Tregear had been
invited to stand for the borough. He had written to his friend to
ask him to come and assist in the struggle. 'Years ago there used
to be always a Tregear in for Polpenno,' said Silverbridge.
'But he is a younger son.'
'I don't know anything about it,' said Silverbridge,' but as he
has asked me to go I think I ought to do it.' The Duke, who was
by no means the man to make light of the political obligations of
friendship, raised no objection.
'I wish that something could have been arranged between you and
Mabel before you went.' The young man stood in the gloom of the
dark room aghast. This was certainly not the moment for
explaining everything to his father. 'I have set my heart very
much upon it, and you ought to be gratified by knowing that I
quite approve your choice.'
All that had been years ago,--in last June,--before Mrs Montacute
Jones's garden-party, before that day in the rain at Maidenhead,
before the brightness of Killancodlem, before the glories of Miss
Boncassen had been revealed to him. 'There's no time for that
kind of thing now,' he said weakly.
'I thought that when you were here together--'
'I must dress now, sir; but I will tell you about it when I get
back from Cornwall. I will come back direct to Matching, and will
explain everything.' So he escaped.
It was clear to Lady Mabel that there was no opportunity now for
any scheme. Whatever might be possible must be postponed till
after this Cornish business had been completed. Perhaps it might
be better so. she had thought that she would appeal to himself,
that she would tell him of his father's wishes, of her love for
him,--of the authority which he had once given her for loving him,--
and of the absolute impossibility of his marriage with the
American. She thought that she could do it, if not efficiently at
any rate effectively. But it could not be done on the very day on
which the American had gone.
It came out in the course of the evening that he was going to
assist Frank Tregear in his canvass. The matter was not spoken of
openly, as Tregear's name could hardly be mentioned. But everybody
knew it, and it gave occasion to Mabel for a few words apart to
Silverbridge. 'I am so glad you are going to him,' she said in a
'Of course I go when he wishes me. I don't know whether I can do
him any good.'
'The greatest good in the world. Your name will go so far! It
will be everything to him to be in Parliament. And when are we to
'I shall turn up somewhere,' he replied as he gave her his hand to
wish her good-bye.
On the following morning the Duke said to Lady Mabel that she would
stay at Matching for yet another fortnight,--or even for a month if
it might be possible. Lady Mabel, whose father was still abroad,
was not sorry to accept the invitation.
Polwenning, the seat of Mr Tregear, Frank's father, was close to
the borough of Polpenno,--so close that the gates of the grounds
opened into the town. As Silverbridge had told his father, many
of the Tregear family had sat for the borough. Then there had come
changes, and strangers had made themselves welcome by their money.
When the vacancy had occurred a deputation waited upon Squire
Tregear and asked him to stand. The deputation would guarantee
that the expense should not exceed--a certain limited sum. Mr
Tregear for himself had no such ambition. His eldest son was
abroad and was not at all such a man as one would choose to make
into a Member of Parliament. After much consideration in the
family, Frank was invited to present himself to the constituency.
Frank's aspirations in regard to Lady Mary Palliser were known at
Polwenning, and it was thought that they would have a better
chance of success if he could write the letters M.P. after his
name. Frank acceded, and as he was starting wrote to ask the
assistance of his friend Lord Silverbridge. At that time there
were only nine days more before the election, and Mr Carbottle,
the Liberal candidate, was already living in great style at the
Mr and Mrs Tregear and an elder sister of Frank's, who quite
acknowledged herself to be an old maid, were very glad to welcome
Frank's friend. On the first morning of course they discussed the
candidate's prospects. 'My best chance of success,' said Frank,
'arises from that fact that Mr Carbottle is fatter than the people
here seem to approve.'
'If his purse be fat,' said old Mr Tregear, 'that will carry off
any personal defect.' Lord Silverbridge asked whether the
candidate was not too fat to make speeches. Miss Tregear declared
that he had made three speeches daily last week, and that Mr
Williams the rector who had heard him, declared him to be a
godless dissident. Mrs Tregear thought that it would be much
better that the place should be disfranchised altogether than that
such a horrid man should be brought into the neighbourhood. 'A
godless dissenter!' she said, holding up her hands in dismay.
Frank thought that they had better abstain from allusion to their
opponent's religion. Then Mr Tregear made a little speech. 'We
used,' he said, 'to endeavour to get someone to represent us in
Parliament, who would agree with us on vital subjects, such as the
Church of England and the necessity of religion. Now it seems to
be considered ill-mannered to make any allusion to such subjects!'
From which it may be seen that this old Tregear was very
When the old people were gone to bed the two young men discussed
the matter. 'I hope you'll get in,' said Silverbridge. 'And if I
can do anything for you of course I will.'
'It is always good to have a real member along with one,' said
'But I begin to think I am a very shaky Conservative myself.'
'I am sorry for that.'
'Sir Timothy is such a beast,' said Silverbridge.
'Is that your notion of a political opinion? Are you to be this
or that in accordance with your own liking or disliking for some
particular man? One is supposed to have opinions of one's own.'
'Your father would be down on a man because he is a dissenter.'
'Of course my father is old-fashioned.'
'It does seem so hard to me,' said Silverbridge, 'to find any
difference between the two sets. You who are a true Conservative
are much more like to my father who is a Liberal than to your own
who is on the same side as yourself.'
'It may be so, and still I may be a good Conservative.'
'It seems to me in the house to mean nothing more than choosing
one set of companions or choosing another. There are some awful
cads who sit along with Mr Monk;--fellows that make you sick to
hear them, and whom I couldn't be civil to. But I don't think
there is anybody I hate so much as old Beeswax. He has a
contemptuous way with his nose which makes me long to pull it.'
'And you mean to go over in order that you may be justified in
doing so. I think I soar a little higher,' said Tregear.
'Oh, of course. You're a clever fellow,' said Silverbridge, not
without a touch of sarcasm.
'A man may soar higher than that without being very clever. If the
party that calls itself liberal were to have all its own way who
is there that doesn't believe that the church would go at once,
then all distinction between boroughs, the House of Lords
immediately afterwards, and after that the Crown.'
'Those are not my governor's ideas.'
'You governor couldn't help himself. A liberal party, with
plenipotentiary power, must go on right away to the logical
conclusion of its arguments. It is only the conservative feeling
of the country which saves such men as your father from being
carried headlong to ruin by their own machinery. You have read
Carlyle's French Revolution?'
'Yes, I have read that.'
'Wasn't it so there? There were a lot of honest men who thought
they could do a deal of good by making everybody equal. A good
many were made equal be having their heads cut off. That's why I
mean to be member of Polpenno and to send Mr Carbottle back to
London. Carbottle probably doesn't want to cut anybody's head
'I daresay he's as conservative as anybody.'
'But he wants to be a member for Parliament; and, as he hasn't
thought much about anything he is quite willing to lend a hand to
communism, radicalism, socialism, chopping people's heads off, or
'That's all very well,' said Silverbridge, 'but where should we
have been if there had been no Liberals? Robespierre and his pals
cut off a lot of heads, but Louis XIV and Louis XV locked up more
in prison.' And so he had the last word in the argument.
The whole of the next morning was spent in canvassing, and the
whole of the afternoon. In the evening there was a great meeting
at the Polwenning Assembly Room, which at the present moment was
in the hands of the Conservative Party. Here Frank Tregear made an
oration, in which he declared his political convictions. The
whole speech was said at the time to be very good; but the portion
of it which was apparently esteemed the most, had direct reference
to Mr Carbottle. Who was Mr Carbottle? Why had he come to
Polpenno? Who had sent for him? Why Mr Carbottle rather than
anybody else? Did not the people of Polpenno think that it might
be as well to send Mr Carbottle from the place from whence he had
come? These questions, which seemed to Silverbridge to be as easy
as they were attractive, almost made him desirous of making a
Then Mr Williams, the rector, followed, a gentleman who had many
staunch friends and many bitter enemies in the town. He addressed
himself chiefly to that bane of the whole country--as he conceived
them,--the godless dissenters; and was felt by Tregear to be
injuring the cause by every word he spoke. It was necessary that
Mr Williams should liberate his own mind, and therefore he
persevered with the godless dissenters at great length,--not
explaining, however, how a man who thought enough about his
religion to be a dissenter could be godless, or how a godless man
should care enough about religion to be a dissenter.
Mr Williams was heard with impatience, and then there was a
clamour for the young lord. He was the son of an ex-Prime
Minister, and therefore of course should speak. He was himself a
member of Parliament, and therefore should speak. He had boldly
severed himself from the faulty political tenets of the family,
and therefore on such an occasion as this was peculiarly entitled
to speak. When a man goes electioneering, he must speak. At a
dinner-table to refuse is possible:--or in any assembly convened
for any private purpose, a gentleman may declare that he is not
prepared for the occasion. But in such an emergency as this, a
man,--and a member of Parliament,--cannot plead that he is not
prepared. A son of a former Prime Minister who had already taken
so strong a part in politics as to have severed himself from his
father, not prepared to address the voters of a borough whom he
had come to canvass! The plea was so absurd, that he was thrust
on to his feet before he knew what he was about.
It was in truth his first public speech. At Silverbridge he had
attempted to repeat a few words, and in his failure had been
covered by the Sprugeons and the Sprouts. But now he was on his
legs in a great room, in an unknown town, with all the aristocracy
of the place before him! His eyes at first swam a little, and
there was a moment in which he thought he would run away. But, on
that morning, as he was dressing, there had come to his mind the
idea of the possibility of such a moment as this, and a few words
had occurred to him. 'My friend Frank Tregear,' he began, rushing
at once at his subject, 'is a very good fellow, and I hope you
will elect him.' Then he paused, not remembering what was to come
next; but the sentiment which he had uttered appeared to his
auditors to be so good in itself and so well delivered, that they
filled up a long pause with continued clappings and exclamations.
'Yes,' continued the young member of Parliament, encouraged by the
kindness of the crowd, 'I have known Frank Tregear ever so long,
and I don't think you will find a better member of Parliament
anywhere.' There were many ladies present and they thought that
the Duke's son was just the person who ought to come
electioneering among them. His voice was much pleasanter to their
ears than that of old Mr Williams. The women waved their
handkerchiefs and the men stamped their feet. Here was an orator
come among them. 'You all know all about it just as well as I do,'
continued the orator, 'and I am sure you feel that he ought to be
member for Polpenno.' There could be no doubt about that as far
as the opinion of the audience went. 'There can't be a better
fellow than Frank Tregear, and I ask you all to give three cheers
for the new member.' Ten times three cheers were given, and the
Carbottleites outside the door who had come to report what was
going on at the Tregear meeting were quite of the opinion that
this eldest son of the former Prime Minister was a tower of
strength. 'I don't know anything about Mr Carbottle,' continued
Silverbridge, who was almost getting to like the sound of his own
voice. 'Perhaps he's a good fellow too.' 'No; no, no. A very bad
fellow indeed,' was heard from different parts of the room. 'I
don't know anything about him. I wasn't at school with Carbottle.'
This was taken as a stroke of the keenest wit, and was received
with infinite cheering. Silverbridge was in the pride of his
youth, and Carbottle was sixty at the least. Nothing could have
been funnier. 'He seems to be a stout old party, but I don't think
he's the man for Polpenno. I think you'll return Frank Tregear. I
was at school with him;--and I tell you that you can't find a
better fellow anywhere than Frank Tregear.' Then he sat down, and
I am afraid he felt that he had made the speech of the evening.
'We are so much obliged to you, Lord Silverbridge,' Miss Tregear
said as they were walking home together. 'That's just the sort of
thing that the people like. So reassuring, you know. What Mr
Williams says about the dissenters is of course true; but it isn't
'I hope I didn't make a fool of myself tonight,' Silverbridge said
when he was alone with Tregear,--probably with some little pride in
'I ought to say that you did, seeing that you praised me so
violently. But, whatever it was, it was well taken. I don't know
whether they will elect me; but had you come down as a candidate,
I am quite sure they would have elected you.' Silverbridge was
hardly satisfied with this. He wished to have been told that he
had spoken well. He did not, however, resent his friend's
coldness. 'Perhaps, after all, I did make a fool of myself,' he
said to himself as he went to bed.
On the next day, after breakfast, it was found to be raining
heavily. Canvassing was of course the business of the hour, and
canvassing is a business which cannot be done indoors. It was soon
decided that the rain should go for nothing. Could an agreement
have been come to with the Carbottles it might have been decided
that both parties should abstain, but as that was impossible the
Tregear party could not afford to lose the day. As Mr Carbottle,
by reason of his fatness and natural slowness, would perhaps be
specially averse to walking about in the slush and mud, it might
be that they would gain something; so after breakfast they started
with umbrellas,--Tregear, Silverbridge, Mr Newcomb the curate, Mr
Pinebott the conservative attorney, with four or five followers
who were armed with books and pencils, and who ticked off on the
list of the voters the names of the friendly, the doubtful, and
Parliamentary canvassing is not a pleasant occupation. Perhaps
nothing more disagreeable, more squalid, more revolting to the
senses, more opposed to personal dignity, can be conceived. The
same words have to be repeated over and over again in the
cottages, hovels, and lodgings of poor men and women who only
understand that the time has come round in which they are to be
flattered instead of being the flatterers. 'I think I am right in
supposing that your husband's principles are conservative, Mrs
Bubbs.' 'I don't know nothing about it. You'd better call again
and see Bubbs hissel.' 'Certainly I will do so. I shouldn't at all
like to leave the borough without seeing Mr Bubbs. I hope we shall
have your influence, Mrs Bubbs.' 'I don't known nothing about it.
My folk at home allays vote buff; and I think Bubbs ought to go
buff too. Only mind this, Bubbs don't never come home to his
dinner. You must come arter six, and I hope he's to have some'at
for his trouble. He won't have my word to vote unless he have
some'at.' Such is the conversation in which the candidate takes a
part, while his cortege at the door is criticising his very
imperfect mode of securing Mrs Bubb's good wishes. Then he goes on
to the next house, and the same thing with some variation is
endured again. Some guide, some philosopher, and friend, who
accompanies him, and who is the chief of the cortege, has
calculated on his behalf that he ought to make twenty such
visitations an hour, and to call on two hundred constituents in
the course of the day. As he is always falling behind in his
number, he is always being driven on by his philosopher, till he
comes to hate the poor creatures to whom he is forced to address
himself, with a most cordial hatred.
It is a nuisance to which no man should subject himself in any
weather. But when it rains there is superadded a squalor and an
ill humour to all the party which makes it almost impossible for
them not to quarrel before the day is over. To talk politics to
Mrs Bubbs under any circumstances is bad, but to do so with the
conviction that the moisture is penetrating from your greatcoat
through your shirt to your bones, and that while so employed you
are breathing the steam from those seven other wet men, at the
door, is abominable. To have to go through this is enough to take
away all the pride which a man might otherwise take from becoming
a member of Parliament. But to go through it and then not become a
member is base indeed! To go through it and to feel that you are
probably paying the rate of a hundred pounds a day for the
privilege is mot disheartening. Silverbridge as he backed up
Tregear in the uncomfortable work, congratulated himself on the
comfort of having a Mr Sprugeon and Mr Sprout who could manage his
borough for him without a contest.
They worked on that day all the morning till one, when they took
luncheon, all reeking with wet, at the King's Head,--so that a
little money might be legitimately spent in the cause. Then, at
two, they sallied out again, vainly endeavouring to make their
twenty calls within the hour. About four, when it was beginning to
be dusk, they were very tired, and Silverbridge had ventured to
suggest that as they were all wet through, and as there was to be
another meeting in the Assembly Room that night, and as nobody in
that part of town seemed to be at home, they might perhaps be
allowed to adjourn for the present. He was thinking how nice it
would be to have a glass of brandy-and-water and then lounge till
dinner-time. But the philosophers received the proposition with
stern disdain. Was his Lordship aware that Mr Carbottle had been
out all day from eight in the morning, and was still at work; that
the Carbottleites had already sent for lanterns and were
determined to go on till eight o'clock among the artisans who
would then have returned from their work? When a man had put his
hand to the plough, the philosophers thought that a man should
complete the furrows!
The philosophers' view had just carried the day, the discussion
having been held under seven or eight wet umbrellas at the corner
of a dirty little lane leading into the High Street, when
suddenly, on the other side of the way, Mr Carbottles cortege made
its appearance. The philosophers at once informed them that on
such occasions it was customary that the rival candidates should
be introduced. 'It will take ten minutes,' said the philosophers;
'but then it will take them ten minutes too.' Upon this Tregear,
as being the younger of the two, crossed over the road, and the
introduction was made.
There was something comfortable in it to the Tregear party, as no
imagination could conceive anything more wretched than the
appearance of Mr Carbottle. He was a very stout man of sixty, and
seemed to be almost carried along by his companions. He had pulled
his coat-collar up and his hat down till very little of his face
was visible, and in attempting to look at Tregear and Silverbridge
he had to lift up his chin till the rain ran off his hat on to his
nose. He had an umbrella in one hand and a stick in the other, and
was wet through to his very skin. What were his own feelings
cannot be told, but his philosophers, guides, and friends would
allow him no rest. Very hard work, Mr Tregear,' he said, shaking
'Very hard indeed, Mr Carbottle.' Then the two parties went on,
each their own way, without another word.
The News is Sent to Matching
There were nine days of this work, during which Lord Silverbridge
became very popular and made many speeches. Tregear did not win
half so many hearts, or recommend himself so thoroughly to the
political predilections of the borough;--but nevertheless he was
returned. It would probably be unjust to attribute his success
chiefly to the young Lord's eloquence. It certainly was not due to
the strong religious feelings of the rector. It is to be feared
that even the thoughtful political convictions of the candidate
did not altogether produce the result. It was that chief man among
the candidates, guides, and friends, that leading philosopher who
would not allow anybody to go home from the rain, and who kept his
eyes so sharply open to the pecuniary doings of the Carbottleites,
that Mr Carbotttle's guides and friends had hardly dared to spend
a shilling;--it was he who had in truth been efficacious. In every
attempt they had made to spend their money they had been looked
into and circumvented. As Mr Carbottle had been brought down to
Polpenno on purpose that he might spend money,--as he had nothing
but his money to recommend him, and as he had not spent it,--the
free and independent electors of the borough had not seen their
way to vote for him. Therefore the Conservatives were very elate
with their triumph. There was a great conservative reaction. But
the electioneering guide, philosopher, and friend, in the humble
retirement of his own home,--he was a tailor in the town, whose
assistance at such periods had long been in requisition,--he knew
very well how the seat had been secured. Ten shillings a head
would have sent three hundred Liberals to the ballot-boxes! The
mode of distributing the money had been arranged; but the
conservative tailor had been too acute, and not a half-sovereign
could be passed. The tailor got twenty-five pounds for his work,
and that was smuggled in among the bills for printing.
Mr Williams, however, was sure that he had so opened out the
iniquities of the dissenters as to have convinced the borough.
Yes, every Salem and Zion and Ebenezer in his large parish would
be closed. 'It is a great thing for the country,' said Mr
'He'll make a capital member,' said Silverbridge, clapping his
friend on the back.
'I hope he'll never forget,' said Mr Williams, 'that he owes his
seat to the protestant and Church-of-England principles which have
sunk so deeply into the minds of the thoughtful portion of the
inhabitants of this borough.'
'Whom should they elect but Tregear?' said the mother, feeling
that her rector took too much of the praise himself.
'I think you have done more for us than anyone else,' whispered
Miss Tregear to the young Lord. 'What you said was so reassuring!'
The father before he went to bed expressed to his son, with some
trepidation, a hope that all this would lead to no great permanent
increase of expenditure.
That evening before he went to bed Lord Silverbridge wrote to his
father an account of what had taken place at Polpenno.
'Polwenning, 15 December
'MY DEAR FATHER,
'Among us all we have managed to return Tregear. I am afraid you
will not be quite pleased because it will be a vote lost to your
party. But I really think that he is just the fellow to be in
Parliament. If he were on your side I'm sure he's just the kind of
man you'd like to bring into office. He is always thinking about
those sort of things. He says that, if there were no
Conservatives, such Liberals as you and Mr Monk would be destroyed
by the Jacobins. There is something in that. Whether a man is
Conservative or not himself, I suppose there ought to be
The Duke as he read this made a memorandum in his own mind that he
would explain to his son that every carriage should have a drag to
its wheels, but that an ambitious soul would choose to be the
coachman rather than the drag.
'It was beastly work!' The Duke made another memorandum to
instruct his son that no gentleman above the age of schoolboy
should allow himself to use such a word in such a sense. 'We had
to go about in the rain up to our knees in mud for eight or nine
days, always saying the same thing. And of course all that we said
was bosh.' Another memorandum--or rather two, one as to the slang,
and another as to the expediency of teaching something to the poor
voters on such occasions. 'Our only comfort was that the Carbottle
people were as quite badly off as us.' Another memorandum as to
the grammar. The absence of Christian charity did not at the
moment affect the Duke. 'I made ever so many speeches, till at
last it seemed quite easy.' Here there was a very grave
memorandum. Speeches easy to young speakers are generally very
difficult to old listeners. 'But of course it was all bosh.' This
required no separate memorandum.
'I have promised to go up to town with Tregear for a day or two.
After that I will stick to my purpose of going to Matching again.
I will be there about the twenty-second, and then will stay over
Christmas. After that I am going to the Brake country for some
hunting. It is such a shame to have a lot of horses and never to
'Your most affectionate Son,
The last sentence gave rise in the Duke's mind to the necessity of
a very elaborate memorandum on the subject of amusements
By the same post another letter went from Polpenno to Matching
which also gave rise to some mental memoranda. It was as follows;
'MY DEAR MABEL,
I am a Member of the British House of Commons! I have sometimes
regarded myself as being one of the most peculiarly unfortunate
men in the world, and yet now I have achieved that which all
commoners in England think to be the greatest honour within their
reach, and have done so at an age at which very few achieve it but
the sons of the wealthy and the powerful.
'I now come to my misfortunes. I know that as a poor man I ought
not to be a Member of Parliament. I ought to be earning my bread
as a lawyer or a doctor. I have no business to be what I am, and
when I am forty I shall find that I have eaten up all my good
things instead of having them to eat.
'I have once chance before me. You know very well what it is. Tell
her that my pride in being a Member of Parliament is much more on
her behalf than on my own. The man who dares to love her ought at
any rate to be something in the world. If it might be,--if ever it
may be,--I should wish to be something for her sake. I am sure you
will be glad of my success yourself, for my own sake.
'Your affectionate Friend and Cousin,
The first mental memorandum in regard to this came from the
writer's assertion that he at forty would have eaten up all his
good things. No! He being a man might make his way to good things
though he was not born to them. But what good things were in store
for her? What chance of success was there for her? But the
reflection on which the most bitter to her of all came from her
assurance that his love for that other girl was so genuine. Even
when he was writing to her there was no spark left of the old
romance! Some hint of a recollection of past feelings, some half-
concealed reference to the former passion might have been allowed
to him! She as a woman,--as a woman all whose fortune must depend
on marriage,--could indulge in so such allusion; but surely he need
not have been so hard!
But still there was another memorandum. At the present moment she
would do all that he desired as far as it was in her power. She
was anxious that he should marry Lady Mary Palliser, though so
anxious also that something of his love should remain with
herself! She was quite willing to convey that message,--if it
might be done without offence to the Duke. She was there with the
object of ingratiating herself with the Duke. She must not impede
her favour with the Duke by making herself the medium of any
secret communications between Mary and her lover.
But how should she serve Tregear without risk of offending the
Duke? She read the letter again and again, and thinking it to be
a good letter she determined to show it to the Duke.
'Mr Tregear has got in at Polpenno,' she said on the day on which
she and the Duke had received the letters.
'So I hear from Silverbridge.'
'It will be a good thing for him I suppose.'
'I do not know,' said the Duke coldly.
'He is my cousin, and I have always been interested in his
'That is natural.'
'And a seat in Parliament will give him something to do.'
'Certainly it ought,' said the Duke.
'I do not think he is an idle man.' To this the Duke made no
answer. He did not wish to be made to talk about Tregear. 'May I
tell you why I say all this?' she asked softly, pressing her hand
on the Duke's arm every so gently. To this the Duke assented, but
still coldly. 'Because I want to know what I ought to do. Would
you mind reading that letter? Of course you will remember that
Frank and I have been brought up almost as brother and sister.'
The Duke took the letter in his hand and read it, very slowly.
'What he says about young men without means going into Parliament
is true enough.' This was not encouraging, but as the Duke went
on reading, Mabel did not think it necessary to argue the matter.
He had to read the last paragraph twice before he understood it.
He did read it twice, and then folding the letter very slowly gave
it back to his companion.
'What ought I to do?' asked Lady Mabel.
'As you and I, my dear, are friends, I think that any carrying of
a message to Mary would be breaking confidence. I think that you
should not speak to Mary about Mr Tregear.' Then he changed the
subject. Lady Mabel of course understood that after that she could
not say a word to Mary about the election at Polpenno.
The Meeting at The Bobtailed Fox
It was now the middle of December, and matters were not
comfortable in the Runnymede country. The Major with much pluck
had carried on his operations in opposition to the wishes of the
resident members of the hunt. The owners of coverts had protested,
and farmers had sworn that he should not ride over their lands.
There had even been some talk among the younger men of thrashing
him if he persevered. But he did persevere, and had managed to
have one or two good runs. Now it was the fortune of the Runnymede
hunt that many of those who rode with the hounds were strangers to
the country,--men who came down by train from London, gentlemen
perhaps of no great distinction, who could ride hard, but as to
whom it was thought that as they did not provide the land to ride
over, or the fences to be destroyed, or the coverts for the foxes,
or the greater part of the subscription, they ought not to oppose
those by whom all these things were supplied. But the Major,
knowing where his strength lay, had managed to get a party to
support him. The contract to hunt the country had been made with
him in last March, and was good for one year. Having the kennels
and the hounds under his command he did hunt the country; but he
did so amidst a storm of contumely and ill will.
At last it was decided that a general meeting of the members of
the hunt should be called together with the express object of
getting rid of the Major. The gentlemen of the neighbourhood felt
that the Major was not to be borne, and the farmers were very much
stronger against him than the gentlemen. It had now become a
settled belief among sporting men in England that the Major had
with his own hands driven the nail into the horse's foot. Was it
to be endured that the Runnymede farmers should ride to hounds
under a master who had been guilty of such an iniquity as that?
The Staines and Egham Gazette, which had always supported the
Runnymede hunt, declared in very plain terms that all who rode with
the Major were enjoying their sport out of the plunder which had
been extracted from Lord Silverbridge. Then a meeting was called
for Saturday, the eighteenth of December, to be held at that well-
known sporting little inn the Bobtailed Fox. The members of the
hunt were earnestly called upon to attend. It was,--so said the
printed document which was issued,--the only means by which the
hunt could be preserved. If gentlemen who were interested did not
put their shoulders to the wheel the Runnymede hunt must be
regarded as a thing of the past. One of the documents was sent to
the Major with an intimation that if he wished to attend no
objection would be made to his presence. The chair would be taken
at half-past twelve punctually at that popular and well-known old
sportsman Mr Mahogany Topps.
Was ever the master of a hunt treated in such a way! His presence
not objected to! As a rule the master of a hunt does not attend
hunt meetings, because the matter to be discussed is generally
that of the money to be subscribed for him, as to which it was as
well that he should not hear the pros and cons. But it is
presumed that he is to be the hero of the hour, and that he is to
be treated to his face, and spoken of behind his back, with love,
admiration, and respect. But now this matter was told his presence
would be allowed! And then this fox-hunting meeting was summoned
for half-past twelve on a hunting day;--when, as all the world
knew, the hounds were to meet at eleven, twelve miles off! Was
ever anything so base? said the Major to himself. But he resolved
that he would be equal to the occasion. He immediately issued
cards to all the members, stating that on that day the meet had
been changed from Croppingham Bushes, which was ever so much on
the other side of Bagshot, to the Bobtailed Fox,--for the benefit
of the hunt at large, said the card,--and that the hounds would be
there at half-past one.
Whatever might happen, he must show a spirit. In all this there
were one of two of the London brigade who stood fast to him. 'Cock
your tail, Tifto,' said one hard-riding supporter, 'and show 'em
you aren't afraid of nothing.' So Tifto cocked his tail and went
to the meeting in his best new scarlet coat, and with his whitest
breeches, his pinkest boots, and his neatest little bows at his
knees. He entered the room with his horn in his hand, as a symbol
of authority, and took off his hunting-cap to salute the assembly
with a jaunty air. He had taken two glasses of sherry brandy, and
as long as the stimulant lasted would no doubt be able to support
himself with audacity.
Old Mr Topps, in rising from his chair, did not say very much. He
had been hunting in the Runnymede country for nearly fifty years,
and had never seen anything so sad as this before. It made him, he
knew, very unhappy. As for foxes, there were always plenty of
foxes in his coverts. His friend Mr Jawstock, on the right, would
explain what all this was about. All he wanted was to see the
Runnymede hunt properly kept up. Then he sat down, and Mr Jawstock
rose to his legs.
Mr Jawstock was a gentleman well known in the Runnymede country,
who had himself been instrumental in bringing the Major into these
parts. There is often someone in a hunting country who never
becomes a master of hounds himself, but who has almost as much to
say about the business as the master himself. Sometimes at hunt
meetings he is rather unpopular, as he is always inclined to talk.
But there are occasions on which his services are felt to be
valuable,--as were Mr Jawstock's at present. He was about forty-
five years of age, and was not much given to riding, owned no
coverts himself, and was not a man of wealth; but he understood
the nature of hunting, knew all its laws, and was a judge of
horses, of hounds,--and of men; and could say a thing when he had
to say it.
Mr Jawstock sat on the right hand of Mr Topps, and a place was
left for the master opposite. The task to be performed was neither
easy nor pleasant. It was necessary that the orator should accuse
the gentleman opposite to him,--a man with whom he himself had been
very intimate,--of iniquity so gross and so mean, that nothing
worse can be conceived. 'You are a swindler, a cheat, a rascal of
the very deepest dye;--a rogue so mean that it is revolting to be
in the same room with you!' That was what Mr Jawstock had to say.
And he said it. Looking round the room, occasionally appealing to
Mr Topps, who on these occasions would lift up his hands in
horror, but never letting his eye fall for a moment on the Major.
Mr Jawstock told his story. 'I did not see it done,' said he. 'I
know nothing about it. I never was at Doncaster in my life. But
you have evidence of what the Jockey Club thinks. The Master of
our Hunt has been banished from racecourses.' Here there was
considerable opposition, and a few short but excited little
dialogues were maintained;--throughout all which Tifto restrained
himself like a Spartan. 'At any rate he has been thoroughly
disgraced,' continued Mr Jawstock, 'as a sporting man. He has been
driven out of the Beargarden Club.' 'He resigned in disgust at
their treatment,' said a friend of the Major's. 'Then let him
resign in disgust at ours,' said Mr Jawstock, 'for we won't have
him here. Caesar wouldn't keep a wife who was suspected of
infidelity, nor will the Runnymede country endure a Master of
Hounds who is supposed to have driven a nail into a horse's foot.'
Two or three other gentlemen had something to say before the Major
was allowed to speak,--the upshot of the discourse of all of them
being the same. The Major must go.
Then the Major got up, and certainly as far as attention went he
had full justice done him. However clamorous they might intend to
be afterwards that amount of fair play they were all determined to
afford him. The Major was not excellent at speaking, but he did
perhaps better than might have been expected. 'This is a very
disagreeable position,' he said, 'very disagreeable indeed. As for
the nail in the horse's foot I know no more about it than the babe
unborn. But I've got two things to say, and I'll say what aren't
the most consequence first. These hounds belong to me.' Here he
paused, and a loud contradiction came from many parts of the room.
Mr Jawstock, however, proposed that the Major should be heard to
the end. 'I say they belong to me,' repeated the Major. 'If
anybody tries his hand at anything else the law will soon set that
to rights. But that aren't of much consequence. What I've got to
say is this. Let the matter be referred. If that 'orse had a nail
in run into his foot,--and I don't say he hadn't,--who was the man
most injured? Why, Lord Silverbridge. Everybody knows that. I
suppose he dropped well on to eighty thousand pounds! I propose
to leave it to him. Let him say. He ought to know more about it
than anyone. He and I were partners in the horse. His Lordship
aren't very sweet upon me at the just at present. Nobody need fear
that he'll do me a good turn. I say leave it to him.'
In the matter the Major had certainly been well advised. A rumour
had come become prevalent among sporting circles that Silverbridge
had refused to condemn the Major. It was known that he had paid
his bets without delay, and that he had, to some extent, declined
to take advice from the leaders of the Jockey Club. The Major's
friends were informed that the young lord had refused to vote
against him at the club. Was it not more than probable that if
this matter were referred to him he would refuse to give a verdict
against his late partner?
The Major sat down, put on his cap, and folded his arms akimbo,
with his horn sticking out from his left hand. For a time there
was a general silence, broken, however, by murmurs in different
parts of the room. Then Mr Jawstock whispered something into the
ear of the Chairman, and Mr Topps, rising from his seat, suggested
to Tifto that he should retire. 'I think so,' said Jawstock. 'The
proposition that you have made can only be discussed only in your
absence.' Then the Major held a consultation with one of his
friends, and after that did retire.
When he was gone the real hubbub of the meeting commenced. There
were some there who understood the nature of Lord Silverbridge's
feelings in the matter. 'He would be the last man in England to
declare him guilty,' said Mr Jawstock. 'Whatever my lord says, he
shan't ride across my land,' said a farmer in the background. 'I
don't think any gentleman ever made a fairer proposition,--since
anything was anything,' said a friend of the Major's, a gentleman
who kept livery stables in Long Acre. 'We won't have him here,'
said another farmer,--whereupon Mr Topps shook his head sadly. 'I
don't think any gentleman ought to be condemned without a
'earing,' said one of Tifto's admirers, 'and where you're to get
anyone to hunt in the country like him, I don't know as anybody is
prepared to say.' 'We'll manage that,' said a young gentleman from
the neighbourhood of Bagshot, who thought that he could hunt the
country himself quite as well as Major Tifto. 'He must go from
here; that's the long and short of it,' said Mr Jawstock. 'Put it
to the vote, Mr Jawstock,' said the livery-stable keeper. Mr Topps,
who had had great experience in public meetings, hereupon
expressed an opinion that they might as well go to a vote. No
doubt he was right if the matter was one which must sooner or
later be determined in that manner.
Mr Jawstock looked round the room trying to calculate what might
be the effect of a show of hands. The majority was with him; but
he was well aware that of this majority some few would be drawn
away by the apparent justice of Tifto's proposition. And what was
the use of voting? Let them vote as they might, it was out of the
question that Tifto should remain master of the hunt. But the
chairman had acceded, and on such occasions it is difficult to go
against the chairman.
Then there came a show of hands,--first for those who desired to
refer the matter to Lord Silverbridge, and afterwards for Tifto's
direct enemies,--for those who were anxious to banish Tifto out of
hand, without reference to anyone. At last the matter was settled.
To the great annoyance of Mr Jawstock and the farmers the meeting
voted that Lord Silverbridge should be invited to give his opinion
as to the innocence or guilt of his late partner.
The Major's friends carried the discussion out to him as he sat on
horseback, as though he had altogether gained the battle and was
secure in his position as Master of the Runnymede Hunt for the
next dozen years. But at the same time there came a message from
Mr Mahogany Topps. It was now half-past two, and Mr Topps
expressed a hope that Major Tifto would not draw the country on
the present occasion. The Major, thinking that it might be as well
to conciliate his enemies, road slowly and solemnly home to Tally-
ho Lodge in the middle of his hounds.
The Major is Deposed
When Silverbridge undertook to return with Tregear to London
instead of going direct to Matching, it is to be feared that he
was simply actuated by a desire to postpone his further visit to
his father's house. He had thought that Lady Mabel would surely be
gone before his task at Polpenno was completed. As soon as he
should again find himself in his father's presence he would at
once declare his intention of marrying Isabel Boncassen. But he
could not see his way to doing this while Lady Mabel should be in
'I think you will find Mabel still at Matching,' said Tregear on
their way up. 'She will wait for you I fancy.'
'I don't know why she should wait for me,' said Silverbridge
'I thought that you and she were fast friends.'
'I suppose we are--after a fashion. She might wait for you
'I think she would,--if I could go there.'
'You are much thicker with her than ever I was. You went to see
her at Grex,--when nobody else was there.'
'Is Miss Cassewary nobody?'
'Next door to it,' said Silverbridge, half jealous of the favours
shown to Tregear.
'I thought,' said Tregear, 'that there should be a closer intimacy
between you and her.'
'I don't know why you should think so.'
'Had you ever had any such idea yourself?
'I haven't any now,--so there may be an end of it, I don't think a
fellow ought to be cross-questioned on such a subject.'
'Then I am very sorry for Mabel,' said Tregear. This was uttered
solemnly, so that Silverbridge found himself debarred from making
any flippant answer. He could not altogether defend himself. He
had been quite justified, he thought, in changing his mind, but he
did not like to awn that he had changed it so quickly.
'I think we had better not talk any more about it,' he said, after
pausing for a few moments. After that nothing more was said
between them on the subject.
Up in town Silverbridge spent two or three days pleasantly enough,
while a thunderbolt was being prepared for him, or rather, in
truth, two thunderbolts. During these days he was much with
Tregear, and though he could not speak freely of his own
matrimonial projects, still he was brought round to give some sort
of assent to the engagement between Tregear and his sister. This
new position which his friend had won for himself did in some
degree operate on his judgement. It was not perhaps that he
himself imagined that Tregear as a Member of Parliament would be
worthier, but that he fancied that such would be the Duke's
feelings. The Duke had declared that Tregear was nobody. That
could hardly be said of a man who had a seat in the House of
Commons;--certainly could not be said by so staunch a politician as
But had he known of those two thunderbolts he would not have
enjoyed his time at the Beargarden. The thunderbolts fell upon him
in the shape of two letters which reached his hands at the same
time, and were as follows:
'The Bobtailed Fox, 18 December.
'At a meeting held in this house today in reference to the hunting
of the Runnymede country, it was proposed that the management of
the hounds should be taken out of the hands of Major Tifto, in
consequence of certain conduct of which it is alleged he was
guilty at the last Doncaster races.
'Major Tifto was present and requested your Lordship's opinion
should be asked as to his guilt. I do not know myself that we
are warranted in troubling your Lordship on the subject. I am,
however, commissioned by the majority of the gentlemen who were
present to ask you whether you think that Major Tifto's conduct on
that occasion was of such a nature as to make him unfit to be the
depositary of that influence, authority and intimacy which ought
to be at the command of a Master of Hounds.
'I feel myself bound to inform your Lordship that the hunt
generally will be inclined to place great weight upon your
opinion, but that it does not undertake to reinstate Major Tifto,
even should your opinion be in his favour.
'I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's most obedient Servant,
'Juniper Lodge, Staines.'
Mr Jawstock, when he had written this letter, was proud of his own
language, but still felt that the application was a very lame one.
Why ask any man for an opinion, and tell him at the same time that
his opinion might probably not be taken! And yet no other
alternative had been left to him. The meeting had decided that the
application should be made; but Mr Jawstock was well aware that
let the young Lord's answer be what it might, the Major would not
be endured as master in the Runnymede country. Mr Jawstock felt
that the passage in which he explained that a Master of Hounds
should be a depositary of influence and intimacy, was good;--but
yet the application was lame, very lame.
Lord Silverbridge as he read it thought it was very unfair. It was
a most disagreeable thunderbolt. Then he opened the second letter,
of which he well knew the handwriting. It was from the Major.
Tifto's letters were very legible, but the writing was cramped,
showing that the operation had been performed with difficulty.
Silverbridge had hoped that he might never receive another epistle
from his late partner! The letter, as follows, had been drawn out
for Tifto in rough by the livery-stable keeper in Long Acre.
'MY DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,
'I venture respectfully to appeal to your Lordship for an act of
justice. Nobody has more of a true-born Englishman's feeling of
fair play between man and man than your Lordship; and as you and
me have been a good deal together, and your Lordship ought to know
me pretty well, I venture to appeal to your Lordship for a good
'All that story from Doncaster has got down into the country where
I am M.F.H. Nobody could have been more sorry than me that your
Lordship dropped your money. Would not I have been prouder than
anything to have had a horse in my name win the race! Was it
likely I should lame him? Anyways I didn't, and I don't think
your Lordship thinks it was me. Of course your Lordship and me is
two now,--but that don't alter facts.
'What I want is your Lordship to send me a line, just stating
your Lordship's opinion that I didn't do it, and didn't have
nothing to do with it;--which I didn't. There was a meeting at The
Bobtailed Fox yesterday, and gentlemen was all of one mind to go
by what your Lordship would say. I couldn't desire nothing fairer.
So I hope your Lordship will stand to me now, and write something
that will pull me through.
'With all respects I beg to remain,
Your Lordship's most dutiful Servant,
There was something in this letter which the Major himself did not
quite approve. There was an absence of familiarity about it which
annoyed him. He would have liked to call upon his late partner to
declare that a more honourable man than Major Tifto had never been
known on the turf. But he felt himself to be so far down in the
world that it was not safe for him to hold an opinion of his own,
even against the livery-stable keeper!
Silverbridge was for a time in doubt whether he should answer the
letters at all, and if so how he should answer them. In regard to
Mr Jawstock and the meeting at large, he regarded the application
as an impertinence. But as to Tifto himself, he vacillated between
pity, contempt, and absolute condemnation. Everybody had assured
him that the man had certainly been guilty. The fact that he had
made bets against their joint horse,--bets as to which he had said
nothing till after the race was over,--had been admitted by
himself. And yet it was possible that the man might not be such a
rascal as to be unfit to manage the Runnymede hounds. Having
himself got rid of Tifto, he would have been glad that the poor
wretch should have been left with his hunting honours. But he did
not think that he could write to his late partner any letter that
would preserve those honours to him.
At Tregear's advice he referred the matter to Mr Lupton. Mr Lupton
was of opinion that both the letters should be answered, but that
the answer to each should be very short. 'There is a prejudice
about the world just at present,' said Mr Lupton, 'in favour of
answering letters. I don't see why I am to be subjected to an
annoyance because another man has taken a liberty. But it is
better to submit to public opinion. Public opinion thinks that
letter should be answered.' Then Mr Lupton dictated the answers.
'Lord Silverbridge presents his compliments to Mr Jawstock, and
begs to say that he does not feel himself called upon to express
any opinion as to Major Tifto's conduct at Doncaster.'
That was the first. The second was rather less simple, but not
'I do not feel myself called upon to express any opinion either to
you or to others as to your conduct at Doncaster. Having received
a letter on the subject from Mr Jawstock I have written to him to
'Your obedient Servant,
Poor Tifto, when he got this very curt epistle, was broken-
hearted. He did not dare to show it. Day after day he told the
livery-stable keeper that he had received no reply, and at last
asserted that his appeal had remained altogether unanswered. Even
this he thought was better than acknowledging the rebuff which had
reached him. As regarded the meeting which had been held,--any
further meetings which might be held,--at The Bobtailed Fox, he did
not see the necessity, as he explained it to the livery-stable
keeper, of acknowledging that he had written any letter to Lord
The letter to Mr Jawstock was of course brought forward. Another
meeting at The Bobtailed Fox was convened. But in the meantime
hunting had been discontinued in the Runnymede country. The Major
with all his pluck, with infinite cherry brandy, could not do it.
Men who had a few weeks since been on very friendly terms, and who
had called each other Dick and Harry when the squabble first
began, were now talking of 'punching' each other's heads. Special
whips had been procured by men who intended to ride, and special
bludgeons by the young farmers who intended that nobody should
ride as long as Major Tifto kept the hounds. It was said that the
police would interfere. It was whispered that the hounds would be
shot,--though Mr Topps, Mr Jawstock, and others declared that no
crime so heinous as that had ever been contemplated in the
The difficulties were too many for poor Tifto, and the hounds were
not brought out again under his influence.
A second meeting was summoned, and an invitation was sent to the
Major similar to that which he had before received;--but on this
occasion he did not appear. Nor were there any gentlemen down from
London. The second meeting might almost have been called select.
Mr Mahogany Topps was there of course, in the chair, and Mr
Jawstock took the place of honour and of difficulty on his right
hand. There was the young gentleman from Bagshot, who considered
himself quite fit to take Tifto's place if somebody else would pay
the bills and settle the money, and there was the sporting old
parson from Croppingham. Three or four other members of the hunt
were present, and perhaps half-a-dozen farmers, ready to declare
that Major Tifto should never be allowed to cross their fields
But there was no opposition. Mr Jawstock read the young lord's
note, and declared that it was quite as much as he expected. He
considered that the note, short as it was, must be decisive. Major
Tifto in appealing to Lord Silverbridge, had agreed to abide by
his Lordship's answer, and that answer was now before them. Mr
Jawstock ventured to propose that Major Tifto should be declared
to be no longer Master of the Runnymede Hounds. The parson from
Croppingham seconded the proposition, and Major Tifto was formally
No One Can Tell What May Come to Pass
Then Lord Silverbridge necessarily went down to Matching, knowing
that he must meet Mabel Grex. Why should she have prolonged her
visit? No doubt it might have been very pleasant for her to be
his father's guest at Matching, but she had been there above a
month! He could understand that his father should ask her to
remain. His father was still brooding over that foolish
communication which had been made to him on the night of the
dinner at the Beargarden. His father was still intending to take
Mabel to his arms as a daughter-in-law. But Lady Mabel herself
knew that it could not be so! The whole truth had been told to
her. Why should she remain at Matching for the sake of being mixed
up in a scene the acting of which could not fail to be
disagreeable to her?
He found the house very quiet and nearly empty. Mrs Finn was there
with the two girls, and Mr Warburton had come back. Miss Cassewary
had gone to a brother's house. Other guests to make Christmas
merry there were none. As he looked round at the large rooms he
reflected that he himself was there only for a special purpose. It
was his duty to break the news of his intended marriage to his
father. As he stood before the fire, thinking how best he might do
this, it occurred to him that a letter from a distance would have
been the ready and simple way. But then it had occurred to him
also, when at a distance, that a declaration of his purpose face
to face was the simplest and readiest way. If you have to go
headlong into the water you should take your plunge without
hesitating. So he told himself, making up his mind that he would
have it all out that evening.
At dinner Lady Mabel sat next to his father, and he could watch
the special courtesy with which the Duke treated the girl who he
was so desirous of introducing to his house. Silverbridge could
not talk about the election of Polpenno because all conversation
about Tregear was interdicted by the presence of his sister. He
could say nothing as to the Runnymede hunt and the two
thunderbolts which had fallen on him, as Major Tifto was not a
subject on which he could expatiate in the presence of his father.
He asked a few questions about the shooting, and referred with
great regret to his absence from the Brake country.
'I am sure Mr Cassewary could spare you for another fortnight,'
the Duke said to his neighbour, alluding to a visit which she now
intended to make.
'If so he would have to spare me altogether,' said Mabel, 'for I
must meet my father in London in the middle of January.'
'Could you not put it off for another year?'
'You would think I had taken root and was growing at Matching.'
'Of all our products you would be the most delightful, and the
most charming,--and we would hope the most permanent,' said the
'After being here so long I need hardly say that I like Matching
better than any place in the world. I suppose it is the contrast
'Grex was a palace,' said the Duke, 'before a wall of this house
had been built.'
'Grex is very old and very wild,--and very uncomfortable. But I
love it dearly. Matching is the very reverse of Grex.'
'Not I hope in your affections.'
'I did not mean that. I think one likes a contrast. But I must go,
say on the first of January, to pick up Miss Cassewary.'
It was certain, therefore, that she was going on the first of
January. How would it be if he put off the telling of his story
for yet another week, till she should be gone? Then he looked
around and bethought himself that the time would hang very heavy
with him. And his father would daily expect from him a declaration
exactly opposed to that which he had to make. He had no horses to
ride. As he went on listening he almost convinced himself that the
proper thing to do would be to go back to London and thence write
to his father. He made no confession to his father on that night.
On the next morning there was a heavy fall of snow, but
nevertheless everybody managed to go to church. The Duke, as he
looked at Lady Mabel tripping along the swept paths in her furs
and short petticoats and well-made boots, thought that his son was
a lucky fellow to have the chance of winning the love of such a
girl. No remembrance of Miss Boncassen came across his mind as he
saw them close together. It was so important that Silverbridge
should marry and thus he kept from further follies! And it was so
momentous to the fortunes of the Palliser family generally that he
should marry well! In thinking so it did not occur to him that
the granddaughter of an American labourer might be offered to him.
A young lady fit to be the Duchess of Omnium was not to be found
everywhere. But this girl, he thought as he saw her walking
briskly and strongly through the snow, with every mark of health
about her, with every sign of high breeding, very beautiful,
exquisite in manner, gracious as a goddess, was fit to be a
Duchess! Silverbridge at this moment was walking close to her
side,--in good looks, in gracious manner, in high breeding her
equal,--in worldly gifts infinitely her superior. Surely she would
not despise him! Silverbridge at the moment was expressing a hope
that the sermon would not be very long.
After lunch Mabel came suddenly behind the chair on which
Silverbridge was sitting and asked him to take a walk with her.
Was she not afraid of the snow? 'Perhaps you are,' she said
laughing. 'I do not mind it in the least.' When they were but a
few yards from the front door, she put her hand upon his arm, and
spoke to him as though she had arranged the walk with reference to
that special question. 'And now tell me all about Frank.'
She had arranged everything. She had a plan before her now, and
had determined in accordance with that plan she would say nothing
to disturb him on this occasion. If she could succeed in bringing
him into good humour with herself, that should be sufficient for
today. 'Now tell me everything about Frank.'
'Frank is member of Parliament for Polpenno. That is all.'
'That is so like a man, and so unlike a woman. What did he say?
What did he do? How did he look? What did you say? What did you
do? How did you look?'
'We looked very miserable, when we got wet through, walking about
all day in the rain.'
'Was that necessary?'
'Quite necessary. We looked so mean and draggled that nobody would
have voted for us, only that poor Mr Carbotttle looked meaner and
'The Duke says you made every so many speeches.'
'I should think I did. It is very easy to make speeches down at a
place like that. Tregear spoke like a book.'
'He spoke well?'
'Awfully well. He told them that all the good things that had
every been done in Parliament had been done by the Tories. He went
back to Pitt's time, and had it all at his fingers' ends.'
'And quite true.'
'That's just what it was not. It was all a crammer. But it did
'I am glad he is a member. Don't you think the Duke will come
around a little now?'
When Tregear and the election had been sufficiently discussed,
they came by degrees to Major Tifto and the two thunderbolts.
Silverbridge, when he perceived that nothing was to be said about
Isabel Boncassen, or his own freedom in the matter of love-making,
was not sorry to have a friend from whom he could find sympathy
for himself in his own troubles. With some encouragement from
Mabel the whole story was told. 'Was it not a great impertinence?'
'It was an awful bore. What could I say? I was not going to
pronounce judgement against the poor devil, I daresay he was good
enough for Mr Jawstock.'
'But I suppose he did cheat horribly.'
'I daresay he did. A great many of them do cheat. But what of
that? I was not bound to give him a character, bad or good.'
'He had not been my servant. It was such a letter. I'll show it to
you when we get in!-asking whether Tifto was fit to be the
depository of the intimacy of the Runnymeded hunt! And then Tif's
letter;--I almost wept over that.'
'How could he have had the audacity to write at all?'
'He said that "him and me had been a good deal together".
Unfortunately that was true. Even now I am not quite sure that he
lamed the horse himself.'
'Everybody thinks he did. Percival says there is no doubt about
'Percival knows nothing about it. Three of the gang ran away, and
he stood his ground. That's about all we do know.'
'What did you say to him?'
'I had to address him as Sir, and beg him not to write to me any
more. Of course they mean to get rid of him, and I couldn't do him
any good. Poor Tifto! Upon the whole I think I hate Jawstock
worse than Tifto.'
Lady Mabel was content with her afternoon's work. When they had
been at Matching before the Polpenno election, there had
apparently been no friendship between them;--at any rate no
confidential friendship. Miss Boncassen had been there, and he had
neither ears nor eyes for anyone else. But now something like the
feeling of old days had been restored. She had not done much
towards her great object,--but then she had known that nothing
could be done till he should again be in good humour with her.
On the Sunday, the Monday, and the Tuesday they were again
together. In some of these interviews Silverbridge described the
Polpenno people, and told her how Miss Tregear had been reassured
by his eloquence. He also read to her the Jawstock and Tifto
correspondence, and was complimented by her as to his prudence and
foresight. 'To tell the truth I consulted Mr Lupton,' he said, not
liking to take credit for wisdom which had not been his own. Then
they talked about Grex, and Killancodlem, about Gerald and the
shooting, about Mary's love for Tregear, and about the work for
the coming session. On all these subjects they were comfortable
and confidential,--Miss Boncassen's name never having been as yet
so much as mentioned.
But still the real work was before her. She had not hoped to bring
him round to kneel once more at her feet by such gentle measures
as these. She had not dared to dream that he could in this way be
taught to forget the past autumn and all its charms. She knew well
that there was something very difficult before her. But, if that
difficult thing might be done at all, these were the preparations
which must be made for the doing of it.
It was arranged that she should leave Matching on Saturday, the
first day of the new year. Things had gone on in the manner
described till the Thursday had come. The Duke had been impatient
but had restrained himself. He had seen that they were much
together and that they were apparently friends. He had told
himself that there were two more days, and that before the end of
those days everything might be pleasantly settled!
It had become a matter of course that Silverbridge and Mabel
should walk together in the afternoon. He himself had felt that
there was danger in this,--not danger that he should be untrue to
Isabel, but that he should make others think that he was true to
Mabel. But he excused himself on the plea that he and Mabel had
been intimate friends,--were still intimate friends, and that she
was going away in a day or two. Mary, who watched it all, was sure
that misery was being prepared for someone. She was aware that by
this time her father was anxious to welcome Mabel as his daughter-
in-law. She strongly suspected that something had been said
between her father and her brother on the subject. But then she
had Isabel Boncassen's direct assurance that Silverbridge was
engaged to her! Now when Isabel's back was turned, Silverbridge
and Mabel were always together.
On the Thursday after lunch they were again together. It had
become so much a habit that the walk repeated itself without an
effort. It had been part of Mabel's scheme that it should be so.
During all this morning she had been thinking of her scheme. It
was all hopeless. So much she had declared to herself. But
forlorn hopes do sometimes end in splendid triumphs. That which
she might gain was so much! And what could she lose? The sweet
bloom of her maiden shame? That, she told herself, with bitterest
inward tears, was already gone from her. Frank Tregear at any rate
knew where her heart had been given. Frank Tregear knew that
having lost her heart to one man she was anxious to marry another.
He knew that she was willing to accept the coronet of a duchess as
her consolation. That bloom of her maiden shame, of which she
quite understood the sweetness of the charm, the value--was gone
when she had brought herself to such a state that any human being
should know that, loving one man, she should be willing to marry
another. The sweet treasure was gone from her. Its aroma was fled.
It behoved her now to be ambitious, cautious,--and if possible
When first she had so resolved, success seemed to be easily within
her reach. Of all the golden youths that crossed her path no one
was so pleasant to her eye, to her ear, to her feelings generally
as this Duke's young heir. There was a coming manliness about him
which she liked,---and she liked even the slight want of present
manliness. Putting aside Frank Tregear she could go nearer to
loving him than any other man she had ever seen. With him she
would not be turned from her duties by disgust, by dislike, or
dismay. She could even think that the time would come when she
might really love him. Then she had all but succeeded, and she
might have succeeded altogether had she been a little more
prudent. But she had allowed her great prize to escape from her
But the prize was not yet utterly beyond her grasp. To recover
it,--to recover even the smallest chance of recovering it, there
would be need of great exertion. She must be bold, sudden,
unwomanlike,--and yet with such display of woman's charms that he
at least should discover no want. She must be false, but false
with such perfect deceit, that he must regard her as a pearl of
truth. If anything could lure him back it must be his conviction
of her passionate love. And she must be strong;--so strong as to
overcome not only his weakness, but all that was strong in him.
She knew that he did love that other girl,--and she must overcome
even that. And to do this she must prostrate herself at his feet,--
as, since the world began, it has been the man's province to
prostrate himself at the feet of the woman he loves.
To do this she must indeed bid adieu to the sweet bloom of her
maiden shame! But had she not done so already when, by the side
of the brook at Killancodlem, she had declared to him plainly
enough her despair at hearing that he loved that other girl?
Though she were to grovel at his feet she could not speak more
plainly than she had done then; but--though the chances were
small,--perchance she might tell it more effectually.
'Perhaps this will be our last walk,' she said. 'Come down to the
seat over the river.'
'Why should it be the last? You'll be here tomorrow.'
'There are so many slips in such things,' she said laughing. 'You
may get a letter from your constituents that will want all day to
answer. Or your father may have a political communication to make
to me. But at any rate come.' So they went to the seat.
It was a spot in the park from whence there was a distant view
over many lands, and low beneath the bench, which stood at the
edge of a steep bank, ran a stream which made a sweeping bend in
this place, so that a reach of the little river might be seen both
to the right and to the left. Though the sun was shining, the snow
under their feet was hard with frost. It was an air such as one
sometimes finds in England, and often in America. Though the cold
was very perceptible, though water in the shade was freezing at
this moment, there was no feeling of damp, no sense of bitter
wind. It was a sweet and jocund air, such as would make young
people prone to run and skip. 'You are not going to sit down with
all the snow on the bench,' said Silverbridge.
On their way thither she had not said a word that would disturb
him. She had spoken to him of the coming session, and had managed
to display to him the interest which she took in his parliamentary
career. In doing this she had flattered him to the top of his
bent. If he would return to his father's politics, then would she
too become a renegade. Would he speak in the next session? She
hoped he would speak. And if he did, might she be there to hear
him? She was cautious not to say a word of Frank Tregear,
understanding something of that strange jealousy which could exist
even when he who was jealous did not love the woman who caused it.
'No,' she said, 'I do not think we can sit. But still I like to be
here with you. All that some day will be your own.' Then she
stretched her hands out to the far view.
'Some of it, I suppose. I don't think it is all ours. As for that,
if we cared for extent of acres, one ought to go to Barsetshire.'
'Is that larger?'
'Twice as large, I believe, and yet none of the family like being
there. The rental is very well.'
'And the borough,' she said, leaning on his arm and looking up
into his face. 'What a happy fellow you ought to be.'
'Bar Tifto,--and Mr Jawstock.'
'You have got rid of Tifto and all those troubles very easily.'
'Thanks to the governor.'
'Yes, indeed. I do love your father so dearly.'
'So do I--rather.'
'May I tell you something about him?' As she asked the question
she was standing very close to him, leaning upon his arm, with her
left hand crossed upon her right. Had others been there, of course
she would not have stood in such a guise. She knew that,--and he
knew it too. Of course there was something in it of declared
affection,--of that kind of love which most of us have been happy
enough to give and receive, without intending to show more than
true friendship will allow at special moments.
'Don't tell me anything about him I shan't like to hear.'
'Ah;--that is so hard to know. I wish you would like to hear it.'
'What can it be?'
'I cannot tell you now.'
'Why not? And why did you offer?'
He certainly as yet did not understand it. It had never occurred
to him that she would know what were his father's wishes. Perhaps
he was slow of comprehension as he urged her to tell him what this
was about his father. 'What can you tell me about him, that I
should not like to hear?'
'You do not know? Oh, Silverbridge, I think you know.' Then there
came upon him a glimmering of the truth. 'You do know.' And she
stood apart looking him full in the face.
'I do not know what you can have to tell me.'
'No;--no. It is not that I should tell you. But yet it is so,
Silverbridge, what did you say to me that morning when you came to
me that morning in the Square?'
'What did I say?'
'Was I not entitled to think that you--loved me?' To this he had
nothing to reply, but stood before her silent and frowning. 'Think
of it, Silverbridge. Was it not so? And because I did not at once
tell you all the truth, because I did not there say that my heart
was all yours, were you right to leave?'
'You only laughed at me.'
'No;--no; no; I never laughed at you. How could I laugh when you
were all the world to me? Ask Frank; he knew. Ask Miss Cass;--she
knew. And can you say that you did not know; you, you, yourself?
Can any girl suppose that such words as these are to mean nothing
when they have been spoken? You knew I loved you.'
'You must have known it. I will never believe but that you knew
it. Why should your father be so sure of it?'
'He never was sure of it.'
'Yes, Silverbridge, yes. There is not one in the house who does
not see that he treats me as though he expected me to be his son's
wife. Do you not know that he wishes it?' He fain would not have
answered this; but she paused for his answer and then repeated her
question. 'Do you not know that he wishes it?'
'I think he does,' said Silverbridge; 'but it can never be so.'
'Oh, Silverbridge;--oh my loved one. Do not say that to me! Do not
kill me at once!' Now she placed her hands one on each arm as she
stood opposite to him and looked up into his face. 'You said that
you loved me once. Why do you desert me now? Have you a right to
treat me like that;--when I tell you that you have all my heart?'
The tears were now streaming down her face, and they were not
'You know,' he said, submitting to her hands, but not lifting his
arm to embrace her.
'What do I know?'
'That I have given all I have to another.' As he said this he
looked away sternly, over her shoulder, to the distance.
'That American girl!' she exclaimed starting back, with some show
of sternness on her brow.
'Yes;--that American girl' said Silverbridge.
Then she recovered herself immediately. Indignation natural
indignation, would not serve her turn in the present emergency.
'You know that cannot be. You ought to know it. What will your
father say? You have not dared to tell him. That is so natural,'
she added, trying to appease his frown. 'How possibly can it be
told to him? I will not say a word against her.'
'No; do not do that.'
'But there are fitnesses of things which such a one as you cannot
disregard without preparing yourself for a whole life of
'Look here, Mabel.'
'I will tell you the truth.'
'I would sooner lose all;--the rank I have, the rank that I am to
have, all these lands that you have been looking on; my father's
wealth, would give them all up, sooner than lose her.' Now at any
rate he was a man. She was sure of that now. This was more, very
much more, not only than she had expected from him, but more than
she had thought it possible that his character should have
His strength reduced her to weakness. 'And I am nothing,' she
'Yes, indeed; you are Lady Grex,--whom all women envy, and whom all
'The poorest wretch this day under the sun.'
'Do not say that. You should take shame to say that.'
'I do take shame;--and I do say it. Sir, do you feel what you owe
me? Do you not know that you have made me the wretch I am? How
did you dare to talk to me as you did talk when you were in London?
You tell me that I am Lady Mabel Grex;--and yet you come to me
with a lie on your lips;--with such a lie as that! You must have
taken me for some nursemaid on whom you had condescended to cast
your eye! It cannot be that even you should have dared to treat
Lady Mabel Grex after such a fashion as that! And now you have
cast your eye at this other girl. You can never marry her!'
'I shall endeavour to do so.'
'You can never marry her,' she said, stamping her foot. She had
now lost all the caution which she had taught herself for the
prosecution of her scheme,--all the care with which she had
burdened herself. Now she was natural enough. 'No,--you can never
marry her. You could not show yourself after it in your clubs, or
in Parliament, or in the world. Come home, do you say? No, I will
not go to your home. It is not my home. Cold;--of course I am
cold;--cold through to the heart.'
'I cannot leave you alone here,' he said, for she had now turned
from him, and was walking with hurried steps and short turns on
the edge of the bank, which at this place was almost a precipice.
'You have left me,--utterly to the cold--more desolate than I am
here even though I should spend the night among the trees. But I
will go back, and will tell your father everything. If my father
were other than he is,--if my brother were better to me, you would
not have done this.'
'If you had a legion of brothers it would have been the same,' he
said, turning sharp upon her.
They walked on together, but without a word till the house was in
sight. Then she looked round on him, and stopped him on the path
as she caught his eye.' Silverbridge!' she said.
'Call me Mabel. At any rate call me Mabel. If I have said anything
to offend you--I beg your pardon.'
'I am not offended--but unhappy.'
'If you are unhappy, what must I be? What have I to look forward
to? Give me your hand, and say that we are friends.'
'Certainly we are friends,' he said, and gave her his hand.
'Who can tell what may come to pass?' To this he would make no
answer, as it seemed to imply that some division between himself
and Isabel Boncassen might possibly come to pass. 'You will not
tell anyone that I love you.'
'I tell such a thing as that!'
'But never forget it yourself. No one can tell what may come to
Lady Mabel at once went up to her room. She had played her scene,
but was well aware that she had played it altogether
Lord Gerald in Further Trouble
When Silverbridge got back to the house he was by no means well
pleased with himself. In the first place he was unhappy to think
that Mabel was unhappy, and that he had made he so. And then she
had told him that he would not have dared to have acted as he had
done, but that her father and brother were careless to defend her.
He had replied fiercely that a legion of brothers ready to act on
her behalf would not have altered his conduct; but not the less
did he feel that he had behaved badly to her. It could not now be
altered. He could not now be untrue to Isabel. But certainly he
had said a word or two to Mabel which he could not remember
without regret. He had not thought that a word from him could have
been so powerful. Now, when that word was recalled to his memory
by the girl to whom it had been spoken he could not acquit
And Mabel had declared to him that she would at once appeal to his
father. There was an absurdity in this at which he could not but
smile,--that the girl should complain to his father because he
would not marry her! But even in doing this she might cause him
great vexation. He could not bring himself to ask her not to tell
her story to the Duke. He must take all that as it might come.
While he was thinking of all this in his own room a servant
brought him two letters. From the first which he opened he
perceived that it contained an account of more troubles. It was
from his brother Gerald, and was written from Auld Reikie, the
name of a house in Scotland belonging to Lord Nidderdale's people.
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