The Duke's Children
Part 11 out of 14
'I have got into a most awful scrape. That fellow Percival is
here, and Dolly Longstaff, and Nidderdale, and Popplecourt, and
Jack Hindes and Perry who is in the Coldstreams, and one or two
more, and there has been a lot of cards, and I have lost ever so
much money. I wouldn't mind so much but Percival has won it all,--a
fellow I hate; and now I owe him--three thousand four hundred
pounds! He has just told me he is hard up and that he wants the
money before the week is over. He can't be hard up because he has
won from everybody;--but of course I had to tell him that I would
'Can you help me? Of course I know that I have been a fool.
Percival knows what he is about and plays regularly for money.
When I began I didn't think that I would lose above twenty or
thirty pounds. But it got on from one thing to another, and when I
woke this morning I felt I didn't know what to do with myself. You
can't think how the luck went against me. Everybody says they
never saw such cards.
'And now do tell me how I am to get out of it. Could you manage it
with Mr Morton? Of course I will make it all right with you some
day. Morton always lets you have whatever you want. But perhaps
you couldn't do this without letting the governor know. I would
rather anything than that. There is some money owing at Oxford
also which of course he must know.
'I was thinking that perhaps I might get it from some of those
fellows in London. There are people called Comfort and Criball,
who let men have money constantly. I know two or three up at
Oxford, who have had money from them. Of course I couldn't go to
them as you could do, for, in spite of what the governor said to
us up in London one day, there is nothing that must come to me.
But you could do anything in that way, and of course I would stand
'I know you won't throw me over, because you have always been such
a brick. But above all things don't tell the governor. Percival is
such a nasty fellow, otherwise I shouldn't mind it. He spoke this
morning as though I was treating him badly,--though the money was
only lost last night; and he looked at me in a way that made me
long to kick him. I told him not to flurry himself, and that he
should have his money. If he speaks to me like that again I will
'I will be at Matching as soon as possible, but I cannot go till
this is settled. Nid'--meaning Lord Nidderdale,--'is a brick.
'Your affectionate Brother,
The other was from Nidderdale, and referred to the same subject.
'Here has been a terrible nuisance. Last night some of the men got
to playing cards, and Gerald lost a terribly large sum to
Percival. I did all that I could to stop it, because I saw that
Percival was going in for a big thing. I fancy he got as much from
Dolly Longstaff as he did from Gerald;--but it won't matter much to
Dolly; or if it does, nobody cares. Gerald told me he was writing
to you about it, so I am not betraying him.
'What is to be done? Of course Percival is behaving badly. He
always does. I can't turn him out of the house, and he seems to
intend to stick to Gerald till he has got the money. He has taken
a cheque from Dolly dated two months hence. I am in an awful funk
for fear Gerald should pitch into him. He will in a minute if
anything rough is said to him. I suppose the straightest thing
would be to go to the Duke at once, but Gerald won't hear of it. I
hope you won't think me wrong to tell you. If I could help him I
would. You know what a bad doctor I am for that sort of complaint.
The dinner-bell had rung before Silverbridge had come to an end of
thinking of this new vexation, and he had not as yet made up his
mind what he had better do for his brother. There was one thing as
to which he was determined,--that it should not be done by him,
nor, if he could prevent it, by Gerald. There should be no
dealings with Comfort and Criball. The Duke had succeeded, at any
rate, in filling his son's mind with a horror of aid of that sort.
Nidderdale had suggested that the 'straightest' thing would be to
go direct to the Duke. That no doubt would be straight,--and
efficacious. The Duke would not have allowed a boy of his to be a
debtor to Lord Percival for a day, let the debt have been
contracted how it might. But Gerald had declared against this
course,--and Silverbridge himself would have been most unwilling to
adopt it. How could he have told that story to the Duke, while
there was that other infinitely more important story of his own,
which must be told at once?
In the midst of all these troubles he went down to dinner. 'Lady
Mabel,' said the Duke, 'tells me that you two have been to see Sir
She was standing close to the Duke and whispered a word into his
ear. 'You said you would call me Mabel.'
'Yes sir,' said Silverbridge, 'and I have made up my mind that Sir
Guy never stayed there very long in winter. It was awfully cold.'
'I had furs on,' said Mabel. 'What a lovely spot it is, even in
this weather.' Then dinner was announced. She had not been cold.
She could still feel the tingling of her blood as she had implored
him to love her.
Silverbridge felt that he must write to his brother by the first
post. The communication was of a nature that would bear no delay.
If his hands had been free he would himself have gone off to Auld
Reikie. At last he made up his mind. The first letter he wrote was
neither to Nidderdale nor to Gerald, but to Lord Percival himself.
'Gerald writes me word that he has lost to you at cards 3,400
pounds, and he wants me to get the money. It is a terrible
nuisance, and he has been an ass. But of course I shall stand to
him for anything he wants. I haven't got 3,400 pounds in my
pocket, and I don't know anyone who has,--that is among our set.
But I send you my I O U for the amount, and will promise to get
you the money in two months. I suppose that will be sufficient and
that you will not bother Gerald any more about it.
Then he copied this letter and enclosed the copy in another which
he wrote to his brother.
'What an ass you have been! But I don't suppose you are worse
than I was at Doncaster. I will have nothing to do with such
people as Comfort and Criball. That is the sure way to the D-! As
for telling Morton, that is only a polite and roundabout way of
telling the governor. He would immediately ask the governor what
was to be done. You will see what I have done. Of course I must
tell the governor before the end of February, as I cannot get the
money in any other way. But that I will do. It does seem hard upon
him. Not that the money will hurt him much; but that he would like
to have a steady-going son.
'I suppose Percival won't make any bother about the I O U. He'll
be a fool if he does. I wouldn't kick him if I were you,--unless he
says anything very bad. You would be sure to come to grief
somehow. He is a beast.
'Your affectionate Brother,
With these letters that special grief was removed from his mind
for awhile. Looking over the dark river of possible trouble which
seemed to run between the present moment and the time at which the
money must be procured, he thought that he had driven off this
calamity of Gerald's to infinite distance. But into that dark
river he must now plunge almost at once. On the next day, he
managed so that there should be no walk with Mabel. In the evening
he could see that the Duke was uneasy;--but not a word was said to
him. On the following morning Lady Mabel took her departure. When
she went from the door, both the Duke and Silverbridge were there
to bid her farewell. She smiled and was as gracious as though
everything had gone according to her heart's delight. 'Dear Duke,
I am so obliged to you for your kindness,' she said, as she put up
her cheek for him to kiss. Then she gave her hand to Silverbridge.
'Of course you will come and see me in town.' And she smiled upon
them all;--having courage enough to keep down all her sufferings.
'Come in here a moment, Silverbridge,' said the father as they
returned into the house together. 'How is it now between you and
'Bone of my Bone'
'How is it between you and her?' That was the question which the
Duke put to his son as soon as he had closed the door of the
study. Lady Mabel had been dismissed from the front door on her
journey, and there could be no doubt as to the 'her' intended. No
such question would have been asked had not Silverbridge himself
declared to his father his purpose of making Lady Mabel his wife.
On that subject the Duke, without such authority, would not have
interfered. But he had been consulted, had acceded, and had
encouraged the idea by excessive liberality on his part. He had
never dropped it out of his mind for a moment. But when he found
that the girl was leaving his house without any explanation, then
he became restless and inquisitive.
They say that perfect love casteth out fear. If it be so the love
of children to their parents is seldom altogether perfect,--and
perhaps had better not be quite perfect. With this young man it
was not that he feared anything which his father could do to him,
that he believed that in consequence of his declaration which he
had to make his comforts and pleasures would be curtailed, or his
independence diminished. But he feared that he would make his
father unhappy, and he was conscious that he had so often sinned
in that way. He had stumbled so frequently! Though in action he
would so often be thoughtless,--yet he understood perfectly the
effect which had been produced on his father's mind by his
conduct. He had it at heart 'to be good to the governor', to
gratify that most loving of all possible friends, who, as he well
knew, was always thinking of his welfare. And yet he never had
been 'good to the governor';--nor had Gerald;--and to all this was
added his sister's determined perversity. It was thus he feared
He paused for a moment, while the Duke stood with his back to the
fire looking at him. 'I'm afraid that it is all over, sir,' he
'I am afraid so, sir.'
'Why is it all over? Has she refused you?'
'Well, sir;--it isn't quite that.' Then he paused again. It was so
difficult to begin about Isabel Boncassen.
'I am sorry for that,' said the Duke, almost hesitating; 'very
sorry. You will understand, I hope, that I should make no inquiry
into the matter, unless I felt myself warranted in doing so by
what you had yourself told me in London.'
'I understand all that.'
'I have been very anxious about it, and have even gone so far as
to make some preparations for what I had hoped would be your early
'Preparations!' exclaimed Silverbridge, thinking of church bells,
bride cake, and wedding presents.
'As to the property. I am anxious that you should enjoy all the
settled independence which can belong to an English gentleman. I
never plough or sow. I know no more of sheep and bulls than of the
extinct animals of earlier ages. I would not have it so with you.
I would fain see you surrounded by those things which ought to
interest a nobleman in this country. Why is it all over with Lady
The young man looked imploringly at his father, as though
earnestly begging that nothing more might be said about Mabel. 'I
had changed my mind before I found out that she was really in love
with me!' He could not say that. He could not hint that he might
still have Mabel if he would. The only thing for him was to tell
everything about Isabel Boncassen. He felt that in doing this he
must begin with himself. 'I have rather changed my mind, sir,' he
said, 'since we were walking together in London that night.'
'Have you quarrelled with Lady Mabel?'
'Oh dear no. I am very fond of Mabel;--only not just like that.'
'Not just like what?'
'I had better tell the whole truth at once.'
'Certainly tell the truth, Silverbridge. I cannot say that you are
bound in duty to tell the whole truth even to your father in such
'But I mean to tell you everything. Mabel did not seem to care for
me much--in London. And then I saw someone,--someone I liked
better.' Then he stopped, but as the Duke did not ask any
questions he plunged on. 'It was Miss Boncassen.'
'Yes sir,' said Silverbridge, with a little access of decision.
'The American young lady?'
'Do you know anything of her family?'
'I think I know all about her family. It is not much in the way
'You have not spoken to her about it?'
'Yes sir;--I have settled it all with her, on condition--'
'Settled it with her that she is to be your wife.'
'Yes, sir,--on condition that you will approve.'
'Did you go to her, Silverbridge, with such a stipulation as
'It was not like that.'
'How was it then?'
'She stipulated. She will marry me if you consent.'
'It was she then who thought of my wishes and feeling;--not you?'
'I knew that I loved her. What is a man to do when he feels like
that? Of course I meant to tell you.' The Duke was looking very
black. 'I thought you liked her, sir.'
'Liked her! I did like her. I do like her. What has that to do
with it? Do you think I like none but those with whom I should
think it fitting to ally myself in marriage? Is there to be no
duty in such matters, no restraint, no feeling of what is due to
your own name, and to others who bear it? The lad who is out there
sweeping the walks can marry the first girl that pleases his eye
if she will take him. Perhaps his lot is the happier because he
owns such liberty. Have you the same freedom?'
'I suppose I have,--by law.'
'Do you recognise no duty but what the law imposes upon you?
Should you be disposed to eat in drink in bestial excess, because
the laws would not hinder you? Should you lie and sleep all the
day, the law would say nothing! Should you neglect every duty
which your position imposes on you, the law could not interfere!
To such a one as you the law can be no guide. You should so live
as not to come near the law,--or to have the law come near to you.
From all evil against which the law bars you, you should be
barred, at an infinite distance, by honour, by conscience, and
nobility. Does the law require patriotism, philanthropy, self-
abnegation, public service, purity of purpose, devotion to the
needs of others who have been placed in the world below you? The
law is a great thing,--because men are poor and weak, and bad. And
it is great, because where it exists in strength, no tyrant can be
above it. But between you and me there should be no mention of law
as the guide of conduct. Speak to me of honour, of duty, and of
nobility; and tell me what they require of you.'
Silverbridge listened in silence and with something of admiration
in his heart. But he felt the strong necessity of declaring his
own convictions on the special point here, at once, in this new
crisis of the conversation. That accident in regard to the colour
of the Dean's lodge had stood in the way of his logical studies,--
so that he was unable to put his argument into proper shape; but
there belonged to him a certain natural astuteness which told him
that he must put his rejoinder at this particular point. 'I think
I am bound in honour and in duty to marry Miss Boncassen,' he
said. 'And if I understand what you mean, by nobility just as
'Because you have promised.'
'Not only for that. I have promised and therefore I am bound. She
has;--well, she has said that she loves me, and therefore of course
I am bound. But it not only that.'
'What do you mean?'
'I suppose a man ought to marry the woman he loves;--if he can get
'No; no; no; not always so. Do you think that love is a passion
that cannot be withstood?'
'But here we are of one mind, sir. When I say how you seemed to
take to her--'
'Take to her! Can I not interest myself in human beings without
wishing to make them flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone? What am
I to think of you? It was but the other day that all that you are
now telling me of Miss Boncassen, you were telling me of Lady
Mabel Grex.' Here poor Silverbridge bit his lips and shook his
head, and looked down upon the ground. This was the weak part of
his case. He could not tell his father the whole story about
Mabel,--that she had coyed his love, so that he had been justified
in thinking himself free from any claim in that direction when he
had encountered the infinitely sweeter charms of Isabel Boncassen.
'You are as weak as water,' said the unhappy father.
'I am not weak in this.'
'Did you not say exactly the same about Lady Mabel?'
There was a pause, so that he was driven to reply. 'I found her as
I thought indifferent, and then,---I changed my mind.'
'Indifferent! What does she think about it now? Does she know of
this? How does it stand between you two at the present moment?'
'She knows that I am engaged to--Miss Boncassen.'
'Does she approve of it?'
'Why should I ask her? I have not asked her.'
'Then why did you tell her? She could not but have spoken her mind
when you told her. There must have been much between you when she
was talked of.'
The unfortunate young man was obliged to take some time before he
could answer this appeal. He had to own that his father had some
justice on his side, but at the same time he could reveal nothing
of Mabel's secret. 'I told her because we were friends. I did not
ask her approval; but she did not disapprove. She thought that your
son should not marry an American girl without a family.'
'Of course she would feel that.'
'Now I have told you what she said, and I hope you will ask me no
further questions about her. I cannot make Lady Mabel my wife;---
though, for the matter of that I ought not to presume that she
would take me if I wished it. I had intended to ask you today to
consent to my marriage with Miss Boncassen.'
'I cannot give you my consent.'
'Then I am very unhappy.'
'How can I believe as to your unhappiness when you would have said
the same about Lady Mabel Grex a few weeks ago?'
'Nearly eight months,' said Silverbridge.
'What is the difference? It is not the time, but the disposition
of the man! I cannot give you my consent. The young lady sees it
in the right light, and that will make your escape easy.'
'I do not want to escape.'
'She has indicated the cause which will separate you.'
'I will not be separated from her,' said Silverbridge, who was
beginning to feel that he was subjugated to tyranny. If he chose
to marry Isabel, no one could have a right to hinder him.
'I can only hope that you will think the better of it, and that
when next you speak to me on that or on any other subject you will
answer me with less arrogance.'
This rebuke was terrible to the son, whose mind at the present
moment was filled with two ideas, that of constancy to Isabel
Boncassen, and then of respect and affection for his father.
'Indeed, sir,' he said, 'I am not arrogant, and if I have answered
improperly I beg your pardon. But my mind is made up about this,
and I thought you had better know how it is.'
'I do not see that I can say anything else to you.'
'I think of going to Harrington this afternoon.' Then the Duke
with further very visible annoyance, asked where Harrington was.
it was explained that Harrington was Lord Chiltern's seat, Lord
Chiltern being the Master of the Brake hounds;--that it was his
son's purpose to remain six weeks among the Brake hounds, but that
he should stay only a day of two with Lord Chiltern. Then it
appeared that Silverbridge intended to put himself up at a hunting
inn in the neighbourhood, and the Duke did not at all like the
plan. That his son should choose to live at an inn, when the
comforts of an English country house were open to him, was
distasteful and almost offensive to the Duke. And the matter was
not improved when he was made to understand that all this was to
be done for the sake of hunting. There had been the shooting in
Scotland; then the racing;--ah alas yes;--the racing, and the
betting at Doncaster! Then the shooting at Matching had been made
to appear to be the chief reason why he himself had been living in
his own house! And now his son was going away to live at an inn
in order that more time might be devoted to hunting! 'Why can't
you live here at home, if you must hunt?'
'It is all woodland,' said Silverbridge.
'I thought you wanted woods. Lord Chiltern is always troubling me
about Trumpington Wood.'
This breeze about the hunting enabled the son to escape without
any further allusion to Miss Boncassen. He did escape, and
proceeded to turn over in his mind all that had been said. His
tale had been told. A great burden was thus taken off his
shoulders. He could tell Isabel so much, and thus free himself
from the suspicion of having been afraid to declare his purpose.
She should know what he had done, and should be made to understand
that he had been firm. He had, he thought, been very firm and gave
himself some credit on that head. His father, no doubt, had been
firm too, but that he had expected. His father had said much. All
that about honour and duty had been very good; but this was
certain;--that when a young man had promised a young woman he ought
to keep his word. And he thought that there were certain changes
going on in the management of the world which his father did not
quite understand. Fathers never do quite understand changes which
are manifest to their sons. Some years ago it might have been
improper that an American girl should be elevated to the rank of
an English Duchess, but now all that was altered.
The Duke spent the rest of the day alone, and was not happy in his
solitude. All that Silverbridge had told him was sad to him. He
had taught himself to think that he could love Lady Mabel as an
affectionate father wishes to love his son's wife. He had set
himself to wish to like her, and had been successful. Being most
anxious that his son should marry he had prepared himself to be
more than ordinarily liberal,--to be in every way gracious. His
children were now everything to him, and among his children his
son and heir was the chief. From the moment in which he had heard
from Silverbridge that Lady Mabel was chosen he had given himself
up to considering how he might best promote their interests,--how
he might best enable them to live, with that dignity and splendour
which he himself had unwisely despised. That the son who was to
come after him should be worthy of the place assigned to his name
had been, of personal objects, the nearest to his heart. There had
been failures, but still there had been left room for hope. The
boy had been immature at Eton;--but how many unfortunate boys had
become great men! He had disgraced himself by his folly at
college,--but although some lads will be men at twenty, others are
then little more than children. The fruit that ripens the soonest
is seldom the best. Then had come Tifto and the racing mania.
Nothing could be worse than Tifto and racehorses. But from that
evil Silverbridge had seemed to be made free by the very disgust
which the vileness of the circumstance had produced. Perhaps Tifto
driving a nail into his horse's foot had on the whole been
serviceable. That apostasy from the political creed of the
Pallisers had been a blow,--much more felt than the loss of the
seventy thousand pounds;--but even under that blow he had consoled
himself by thinking that a conservative patriotic nobleman may
serve his country,--even as a Conservative. In the midst of this he
had felt that the surest resource for his son against evil would
be in an early marriage. If he would marry becomingly, then might
everything still be made pleasant. If his son should marry
becomingly nothing which a father could do should be wanting to
add splendour and dignity to his son's life.
In thinking of all this he had by no means regarded his own mode
of life with favour. He knew how jejune his life had been,--now
devoid of other interests than that of the public service to which
he had devoted himself. He was thinking of this when he told his
son that he had neither ploughed and sowed or been the owner of
sheep or oxen. He often thought of this, when he heard those round
him talking of the sports, which, though he condemned them as the
employment of a life, he now regarded wistfully, hopelessly as far
as he himself was concerned, as proper recreations for a man of
wealth. Silverbridge should have it all, if he could arrange it.
The one thing necessary was a fitting wife,--and the fitting wife
had been absolutely chosen by Silverbridge himself.
It may be conceived, therefore, that he was again unhappy. He had
already been driven to acknowledge that these children of his,--
thoughtless, restless, though they seemed to be,--still had a will
of their own. In all which how like they were to their mother!
With her, however, his word, though it might be resisted, had
never lost its authority. When he had declared that a thing should
not be done, she had never persisted in saying that she would do
it. But with his children it was otherwise. What power he had over
Silverbridge,--or for the matter of that, even his daughter? They
had only to be firm and he knew that he must be conquered.
'I thought that you liked her,' Silverbridge had said to him. How
utterly unconscious, thought the Duke, must the young man have
been of all that his position required of him when he used such an
argument! Liked her. He did like her. She was clever,
accomplished, beautiful, well-mannered,--as far as he knew endowed
with all good qualities! Would not many an old Roman have said as
much for some favourite Greek slave,--for some freedmen whom he
would admit to his very heart? But what old Roman ever dreamed of
giving his daughter to the son of a Greek bondsman! Had he done
so, what would have become of the name of a Roman citizen? And was
it not his duty to fortify and maintain that higher, smaller, more
precious pinnacle of rank on which Fortune had placed him and his
Like her! Yes! he liked her certainly. He had by no means always
found that he best liked the companionship of his own order. He
had liked to feel around him the free battle of the House of
Commons. He liked the power of attack and defence in carrying on
which an English politician cares nothing for rank. He liked to
remember that the son of any tradesman might, by his own merits,
become a peer of Parliament. He would have liked to think that his
son should share all these tastes with him. Yes;--he liked Isabel
Boncassen. But how different was that liking from a desire that
she should be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh!
The Brake Country
'What does your father mean to do about Trumpington Wood?' That
was the first word from Lord Chiltern after he had shaken hands
with his guest.
'Isn't it all right yet?'
'All right? No! How can a wood like that be all right without a
man about the place who knows anything of the nature of a fox? In
your grandfather's time--'
'My great-uncle you mean.'
'Well--your great-uncle!--they used to trap the foxes there. There
was a fellow named Fothergill who used to come there for shooting.
Now it is worse than ever. Nobody shoots there because there is
nothing to shoot. There isn't a keeper. Every scamp is allowed to
go where he pleases, and of course there isn't a fox in the whole
place. My huntsman laughs at me when I ask him to draw it.' As
the indignant Master of the Brake Hounds said this the very fire
flashed from his eyes.
'My dear,' said Lady Chiltern expostulating, 'Lord Silverbridge
hasn't been in the house above half an hour.'
'What does that matter? When a thing has to be said it had better
be said at once.'
Phineas Finn was staying at Harrington with his intimate friends
the Chilterns, as were a certain Mr and Mrs Maule, both of whom
were addicted to hunting,--the lady whose maiden name was Palliser,
being a cousin of Lord Silverbridge. On that day also a certain Mr
and Mrs Spooner dined at Harrington. Mr and Mrs Spooner were both
very much given to hunting, as seemed to be necessarily the case
with everybody admitted to the house. Mr Spooner was a gentleman
who might be on the wrong side of fifty, with a red nose, very
vigorous, and submissive in regard to all things but port-wine.
His wife was perhaps something more than half his age, a stout,
hard-riding, handsome woman. She had been the penniless daughter
of a retired officer,--but yet had managed to ride on whatever
animal anyone would lend her. Then Mr Spooner, who had for many
years been part and parcel of the Brake hunt, and who was much in
want of a wife, had, luckily for her, cast his eyes upon Miss
Leatherside. It was thought that upon the whole she made him a
good wife. She hunted four days a week, and he could afford to
keep horses for her. She never flirted, and wanted no one to open
gates. Tom Spooner himself was not always so forward as he used to
be; but his wife was always there and would tell him all that he
did not see himself. And she was a good housewife, taking care
that nothing should be spent lavishly, except upon the stable. Of
him, too, and of his health, she was careful, never scrupling to
say a word in season when he was likely to hurt himself, either
among the fences, or among the decanters. 'You ain't so young as
you were, Tom. Don't think of doing it.' This she would say to
him with a loud voice when she would find him pausing at a fence.
Then she would hop over herself and he would go round. She as
'quite a providence to him', as her mother, old Mrs Leatherside,
She was hardly the woman that one would have expected to meet as a
friend in the drawing-room of Lady Chiltern. Lord Chiltern was
perhaps a little rough, but Lady Chiltern was all that a mother, a
wife, and a lady ought to be. She probably felt that some little
apology ought to be made for Mrs Spooner. 'I hope you like
hunting,' she said to Silverbridge.
'Best of all things,' he said enthusiastically.
'Because you know this is Castle Nimrod, in which nothing is
allowed to interfere with the one great business in life.'
'It's like that, is it?'
'Quite like that. Lord Chiltern has taken up hunting as his duty
in life, and he does it with his might and main. Not to have a
good day is a misery to him;--not for himself but because he feels
that he is responsible. We had one blank day last year, and I
thought he never would recover it. It was that unfortunate
'How he will hate me.'
'Not if you praise the hounds judiciously. And then there is a Mr
Spooner coming here tonight. He is the first-lieutenant. He
understands all about the foxes, and all about the farmers. He has
got a wife.'
'Does she understand anything?'
'She understands him. She is coming too. They have not been
married long, and he never goes anywhere without her.'
'Does she ride?'
'Well; yes. I never go myself now because I have so much of it all
at home. But I fancy she does ride a good deal. She will talk
hunting too. If Chiltern were to leave the country I think they
ought to make her master. Perhaps you'll think her rather odd; but
really she is a very good woman.'
'I am sure I will like her.'
'I hope you will. You know Mr Finn. He is here. He and my husband
are very old friends. And Adelaide Maule is your cousin. She hunts
too. And so does Mr Maule,--only not quite so energetically. I
think that is all we shall have.'
Immediately after that all the guests came in at once, and a
discussion was heard as they were passing through the hall. 'No;--
that wasn't it,' said Mrs Spooner loudly. 'I don't care what Dick
said.' Dick Rabbit was the first whip, and seemed to have been
much exercised with the matter now under dispute. 'The fox never
went into Grobby Gorse at all. I was there and saw Sappho give him
a line down the bank.'
'I think he must have gone into the gorse, my dear,' said her
husband. 'The earth was open, you know.'
'I tell you she didn't. You weren't there, and you can't know. I'm
sure it was a vixen by her running. We ought to have killed that
fox, my Lord.' Then Mrs Spooner made her obeisance to her
hostess. Perhaps she was rather slow in doing this, but the
greatness of the subject had been the cause. These are matters so
important, that the ordinary civilities of the world should not
stand in their way.
'What do you say, Chiltern?' asked the husband.
'I say that Mrs Spooner isn't very often wrong, and the Dick
Rabbit isn't very often right about a fox.'
'It was a pretty run,' said Phineas.
'Just thirty-four minutes,' said Mr Spooner.
'Thirty-two up to Grobby Gorse,' asserted Mrs Spooner. 'The hounds
never hunted a yard after that. Dick hurried them into the gorse,
and the old hound wouldn't stick to her line when she found that
no one believed her.'
This was on Monday evening, and the Brake hounds went out
generally five days a week. 'You'll hunt tomorrow, I suppose,'
Lady Chiltern said to Silverbridge.
'I hope so.'
'You must hunt tomorrow. Indeed there is nothing else to do.
Chiltern has taken such a dislike to shooting-men, that he won't
shoot pheasants himself. We don't hunt on Wednesdays or Sundays,
and then everybody lies in bed. Here is Mr Maule, he lies in bed
on other mornings as well, and spend the rest of his day riding
about the country looking for the hounds.
'Does he ever find them?'
'What did become of you all today?' said Mr Maule, as he took his
place at the dinner-table. 'You can't have drawn any of the
'Then we found our foxes without drawing them,' said the master.
'We chopped one at Bromley's,' said Mr Spooner.
'I went there.'
'Then you ought to have known better,' said Mrs Spooner. 'When a
man loses the hounds in that country, he ought to go direct to
Brackett's Wood. If you had come on to Brackett's Wood, you'd have
seen as good a thirty-two minutes as ever you wished to ride.'
When the ladies went out of the room Mrs Spooner gave a parting
word of advice to her husband, and to the host. 'Now, Tom, don't
you drink port-wine. Lord Chiltern, look after him, and don't let
him have port-wine.'
Then there began an altogether different phase of hunting
conversation. As long as the ladies were there it was all very
well to talk of hunting as an amusement, good sport, a thirty
minutes or so, the delight of having a friend in a ditch, or the
glory of a still-built rail were fitting subjects for a higher
hour. But now the business of the night was to begin. The
difficulties, the enmities, the precautions, the resolutions, the
resources of the Brake hunt were to be discussed. And from thence
the conversation of these devotees strayed away to the perils at
large to which hunting in these modern days is subjected;--not the
perils of broken necks and crushed ribs, which can be reduced to
an average, and so an end made of that small matter; but the
perils from outsiders, the perils of newfangled prejudices, the
perils from more modern sports, the perils from over-cultivation,
the perils from extended population, the perils from intruding
cads, the perils from indifferent magistrates,--the Duke of Omnium
for instance,--and that peril of perils, the peril of decrease of
funds and increase of expenditure! The jaunty gentleman who puts
on his dainty breeches and his pair of boots, and his single horse
rides out on a pleasant morning to some neighbouring meet,
thinking himself a sportsman, has but a faint idea of the troubles
which a few staunch workmen endure in order that he may not be
made to think that his boots, and his breeches, and his horse,
have not been in vain.
A word or two further was at first said about that unfortunate
wood for which Silverbridge at the present felt himself
responsible. Finn said that he was sure the Duke would look to it,
if Silverbridge would mention it. Chiltern simply groaned.
Silverbridge said nothing, remembering how many troubles he had on
hand at this moment. Then by degrees their solicitude worked
itself round to the cares of a neighbouring hunt. The A.R.U. had
lost their master. One Captain Glomax was going, and the county
had been driven to the necessity of advertising for a successor.
'When hunting comes to that,' said Lord Chiltern, 'one begins to
think that it is in a bad way.' It may always be observed that
when hunting-men speak seriously of their sport, they speak
despondingly. Everything is going wrong. Perhaps the same thing
may be remarked in other pursuits. Farmers are generally on the
verge of ruin. Trade is always bad. The church is in danger. The
House of Lords isn't worth a dozen years' purchase. The throne
'An itinerant master with a carpet-bag never can carry on a
country,' said Mr Spooner.
'You ought really to have a gentleman of property in the country,'
said Lord Chiltern, in a self-deprecating tone. His father's acres
'It should be someone who has a real stake in the country,'
replied Mr Spooner,--'whom the farmers can respect. Glomax
understood hunting no doubt, but the farmers didn't care for him.
If you don't have the farmers with you, you can't have hunting.'
Then he filled a glass of port.
'If you don't approve of Glomax, what do you think of a man like
Major Tifto?' asked Mr Maule.
'That was in the Runnymede,' said Spooner contemptuously.
'Who is Major Tifto?' asked Lord Chiltern.
'He is the man,' said Silverbridge boldly, 'who owned Prime
Minister with me, when he didn't win the Leger last September.'
'There was a deuce of a row,' said Maule. Then Mr Spooner, who read
his 'Bell's Life' and 'Field' very religiously, and who never
missed an article in 'Bayley's', proceeded to give them an account
of everything that had taken place in the Runnymede Hunt. It
mattered but little that he was wrong in all his details.
Narrations always are. The result to which he nearly came right
when he declared that the Major had been turned off, that a
committed had been appointed, and that Messrs Topps and Jawstock
had been threatened with a lawsuit.
'That comes,' said Lord Chiltern solemnly, 'of employing men like
Major Tifto in places for which they are radically unfit. I
daresay Major Tifto knew how to handle a pack of hounds,--perhaps
almost as well as my huntsman. But I don't think a county would
get on very well which appointed Fowler as Master of Hounds. He is
an honest man, and therefore would be better than Tifto. But--it
would not do. It is a position in which a man should at any rate
be a gentleman. If he be not, all those who should be concerned in
maintaining the hunt will turn their backs on him. When I take my
hounds over this man's ground, and that man's ground, certainly
without doing him any good, I have to think of a great many
things. I have to understand that those whom I cannot compensate
by money, I have to compensate by courtesy. When I shake hands
with a farmer and express my obligation to him because he does not
lock his gates, he is gratified. I don't think any decent farmer
would care much for shaking hands with Major Tifto. If we fall
into that kind of thing there must soon be an end of hunting.
Major Tiftos are cheap no doubt; but in hunting, as in most other
things, cheap and nasty go together. If men don't choose to put
their hands in their pockets they had better say so, and give the
thing up altogether. If you won't take any more wine, we'll go to
the ladies. Silverbridge, the trap will start from the door
tomorrow morning precisely at 9.30 am. Grantingham Cross is
fourteen miles.' Then they all left their chairs,--but as they did
so Mr Spooner finished the bottle of port-wine.
'I never heard Chiltern speak so much like a book before,' said
Spooner to his wife as she drove him home that night.
The next morning everybody was ready for a start at half-past
nine, except Mr Maule,--as to whom his wife declared that she had
left him in bed when she came down to breakfast. 'He can never get
there if we don't take him,' said Lord Chiltern, who was in truth
the most good-natured man in the world. Five minutes were allowed
him, and then he came down with a large sandwich in one hand and a
button-hook in the other, with which he was prepared to complete
his toilet. 'What the deuce makes you always in such a hurry?'
were the first words he spoke as Lord Chiltern got on the box. The
Master knew him too well to argue the point. 'Well;--he always is
in a hurry,' said the sinner, when his wife accused him of
'Where's Spooner?' asked the Master when he saw Mrs Spooner
without her husband at the meet.
'I knew how it would be when I saw the port-wine,' she said in a
whisper that could be heard all round. 'He has got it this time
sharp,--in his great toe. We shan't find at Grantingham. They were
cutting wood there last week. If I were you, my Lord, I'd go away
to the Spinnies at once.'
'I must draw the country regularly,' muttered the Master.
The country was drawn regularly, but in vain till about two
o'clock. Not only was there no fox at Grantingham Wood, but none
even at the Spinnies. And at two, Fowler, with an anxious face,
held a consultation with his more anxious master. Trumpington Wood
lay on their right, and that no doubt would have been the proper
draw. 'I suppose we must try it,' said Lord Chiltern.
Old Fowler looked very sour. 'You might as well look for a fox
under my wife's bed, my Lord.'
'I daresay we should find one there,' said one of the wags of the
hunt. Fowler shook his head, feeling that this was no time for
'It ought to be drawn,' said Chiltern.
'Of course you know best, my Lord. I wouldn't touch it,--never no
more. Let 'em all know what the Duke's Wood is.'
'This is Lord Silverbridge, the Duke's son,' said Chiltern
'I beg his Lordship's pardon,' said Fowler, taking off his cap.
'We shall have a good time coming some day. Let me trot 'em off to
Michaelmas Daisies, my Lord. I'll be there in thirty minutes.' In
the neighbouring parish of St Michael de Dezier there was a
favourite little gorse which among hunting-men had acquired this
unreasonable name. After a little consideration the Master
yielded, and away they trotted.
'You'll cross the ford, Fowler?' asked Mrs Spooner.
'Oh yes, ma'am; we couldn't draw the Daisies this afternoon if we
'It'll be up to the horses' bellies.'
'Those who don't like it can go round.'
'They'd never be there in time, Fowler.'
'There's many a man, ma'am, as don't mind that. You won't be one
to stay behind.' The water was up to the horses' bellies, but,
nevertheless, Mrs Spooner was at the gorse side when the Daisies
They found and were away in a minute. It was all done so quickly
that Fowler, who had along gone into the gorse, had hardly time to
get out with his hounds. The fox ran right back, as though he were
making for the Duke's pernicious wood. In the first field or two
there was a succession of gates, and there was not much to do in
the way of jumping. Then the fox, keeping straight ahead, deviated
from the line by which they had come, making for the brook by a
more direct course. The ruck of the horsemen, understanding the
matter very well, left the hounds, and went to the right, riding
for the ford. The ford was of such a nature that but one horse
could pass it at a time, and that one had to scramble through deep
mud. 'There'll be the devil to pay here,' said Lord Chiltern,
going straight with his hounds. Phineas Finn and Dick Rabbit were
close after him. Old Fowler had craftily gone to the ford; but Mrs
Spooner, who did not intend to be shaken off, followed the Master,
and close with her was Lord Silverbridge. 'Lord Chiltern hasn't
got it right,' she said. 'He can't do it among these bushes.' As
she spoke the Master put his horse at the bushes and then--
disappeared. The lady had been right. There was no ground at that
spot to take off from, and the bushes had impeded him. Lord
Chiltern had got over, but his horse was in the water. Dick Rabbit
and poor Phineas Finn were stopped in their course by the
necessity of helping the Master in his trouble.
But Mrs Spooner, the judicious Mrs Spooner, rode at the stream
where it was, indeed, a little wider, but at a place in which the
horse could see what he was about, and where he could jump from
and to firm ground. Lord Silverbridge followed her gallantly. They
both jumped the brook well, and then were together. 'You'll beat
me in pace,' said the lady as he rode up alongside of her. 'Take
the fence ahead straight, and then turn sharp to your right.'
With all her faults, Mrs Spooner was a thorough sporstman.
He did take the fence ahead,--or rather tried to do so. It was a
bank and a double ditch,--not very great in itself, but requiring a
horse to land on the top and go off with a second spring. Our
young friend's nag, not quite understanding the nature of the
impediment, endeavoured to 'swallow it whole', as hard-riding men
say, and came down in the further ditch. Silverbridge came down on
his head, but the horse pursued his course,--across a heavily-
This was very disagreeable. He was not in the least hurt, but it
became his duty to run after his horse. A very few furrows of that
work suffice to make a man think that hunting was a 'beastly sort
of thing'. Mrs Spooner's horse, who had shown himself to be a
little less quick of foot than his own, had known all about the
bank and the double ditch, and had, apparently of his own accord,
turned down to the right, either seeing or hearing the hounds, and
knowing that the ploughed ground was to be avoided. But his rider
changed his course. She went straight after the riderless horse,
and when Silverbridge had reduced himself to utter speechlessness
by his exertions, brought him back his steed.
'I am,--I am, I am--so sorry,' he struggled to say,--and then as she
held his horse for him he struggled up into his saddle.
'Keep down this furrow,' said Mrs Spooner, 'and we shall be with
them in the second field. There's nobody near them yet.'
'I've Seen 'em Like That Before'
On this occasion Silverbridge stayed only a few days at
Harrington, having promised Tregear to entertain him at The
Baldfaced Stag. It was here that his horses were standing, and he
now intended, by limiting himself to one horse a day, to mount his
friend for a couple of weeks. It was settled at last that Tregear
should ride his friend's horse one day, hire the next, and so on.
'I wonder what you'll think of Mrs Spooner?' he said.
'Why should I think anything of her?'
'Because I doubt whether you ever saw such a woman before. She
does nothing but hunt.'
'Then I certainly shan't want to see her again.'
'And she talks as never I heard a lady talk before.'
'Then I don't care if I don't see her at all.'
'But she is the most plucky and most good-natured human being I
ever saw in my life. After all, hunting is good fun.'
'Very; if you don't do it so often as to be sick of it.'
'Long as I have known you I don't think I ever saw you ride yet.'
'We used to have hunting down in Cornwall, and thought we did it
pretty well. And I have ridden in South Wales, which I can assure
you isn't an easy thing to do. But you mustn't expect much from
They were both out the Monday and Tuesday in that week, and then
again on the Thursday without anything special in the way of
sport. Lord Chiltern, who had found Silverbridge to be a young man
after his own heart, was anxious that he should come back to
Harrington and bring Tregear with him. But to this Tregear would
not assent, alleging that he should feel himself to be a burden
both to Lord and Lady Chiltern. On the Friday Tregear did not go
out, saying that he would avoid the expense, and on that day there
was a good run. 'It is always the way,' said Silverbridge. 'If you
miss a day, it is sure to be the best thing of the season. An hour
and a quarter with hardly anything you could call a check! It is
the only very good thing I have seen since I have been here. Mrs
Spooner was with them all through.'
'And I suppose you were with Mrs Spooner.'
'I wasn't far off. I wish you had been there.'
On the next day the meet was at the kennels, close to Harrington,
and Silverbridge drove his friend over in a gig. The Master and
Lady Chiltern, Spooner and Mrs Spooner, Maule, and Mrs Maule,
Phineas Finn, and host of others condoled with the unfortunate
young man because he had not seen the good thing yesterday. 'We've
had it a little faster once or twice,' said Mrs Spooner with
deliberation, 'but never for so long. Then it was straight as a
line, and a real open kill. No changing you know. We did go
through the Daisies, but I'll swear to its being the same fox.'
All of which set Tregear wondering. How could she swear to her
fox? And if they had changed, what did it matter? And if it had
been a little crooked, why would it have been less enjoyable? And
was she really so exact a judge of pace as she pretended to be?
'I'm afraid we shan't have anything like that today,' she
continued. 'The wind's in the west, and I never do like a westerly
'A little to the north,' said her husband, looking round the
'My dear,' said the lady, 'you never know where the wind comes
from. Now don't you think of taking off your comforter, I won't
Tregear was riding his friend's favourite hunter, a thoroughbred
bay horse, very much more than up to his rider's weight, and
supposed to be peculiarly good at timber, water, or any well-
defined kind of fence, however high or broad. They found a covert
near the kennels, and killed their fox after a burst of a few
minutes. They found again, and having lost their fox, all declared
that there was not a yard of scent. 'I always know what a west
wind means,' said Mrs Spooner.
Then they lunched, and smoked, and trotted about with an apparent
acknowledgement that there wasn't much to be done. It was not
right that they should expect much after so good a thing as they
had had yesterday. At half-past two Mr Spooner had been sent home
by his Providence, and Mrs Spooner was calculating that she would
be able to ride her horse again on the Tuesday. When on a sudden
the hounds were on a fox. It turned out afterwards that Dick
Rabbit had absolutely ridden him up among the stubble, and that
the hounds had nearly killed him before he had gone a yard. But
the astute animal making the best use of his legs till he could
get the advantage of the first ditch, ran, and crept, and jumped
absolutely through the pack. Then there was shouting, and yelling,
and riding. The men who were idly smoking threw away their cigars.
Those who were loitering at a distance lost their chance. But the
real sportsmen, always on the alert, always thinking of the
business in hand, always mindful that there may be at any moment a
fox just before the hounds, had a glorious opportunity of getting
'well away'. Among these no one was more intent, or, when the
moment came, 'better away' than Mrs Spooner.
Silverbridge had been talking to her and had the full advantage of
her care. Tregear was riding behind with Lord Chiltern, who had
been pressing him to come with his friend to Harrington. As soon
as the shouting was heard Chiltern was off like a rocket. It was
not only that he was anxious to 'get well away', but that a sense
of duty compelled him to see how the thing was being done. Old
Fowler was certainly a little slow, and Dick Rabbit, with the true
bloody-minded instinct of a whip, was a little apt to bustle a fox
back into the covert. And then, when a run commences with a fast
rush, riders are apt to over-ride the hounds, and then the hounds
will over-run the fox. All of which has to be seen to by a Master
who knows his business.
Tregear followed, and being mounted on a fast horse was soon as
forward as a judicious rider would desire. 'Now, Runks, don't you
press on and spoil it all,' said Mrs Spooner to the hard-riding
objectionable son of old Runks the vet from Rufford. But young
Runks did press on till the Master spoke a word. The word shall
not be repeated, but it was efficacious.
At that moment there had been a check,--as there is generally after
a short spurt, when fox, hounds, and horsemen get off together,
and not always in the order in which they have been placed there.
There is too much bustle, and the pack becomes disconcerted. But
it enabled Fowler to get up, and by dint of growling at the men and
conciliating his hounds, he soon picked up the scent. 'If they'd
all stand still for two minutes and be d-d to them,' he muttered
aloud to himself, 'they'd 'ave some'at to ride arter. They might
go then, and there's some of 'em'd soon be nowhere.'
But in spite of Fowler's denunciations there was, of course,
another rush. Runks had slunk away, but by making a little
distance was now again ahead of the hounds. And unfortunately
there was half-a-dozen with him. Lord Chiltern was very wrath.
'When he's like that,' said Mrs Spooner to Tregear, 'it's always
well to give him a wide berth.' But as the hounds were now
running fast it was necessary, that even in taking this precaution
due regard should be had to the fox's line. 'He's back for
Harrington bushes,' said Mrs Spooner. And as she said so, she rode
at a bank, with a rail at the top of it perhaps a foot-and-a-half
high, with a deep drop in the field beyond. It was not a very nice
place, but it was apparently the only available spot in the fence.
She seemed to know it well, for as she got close to it she brought
her horse almost to a stand and so took it. The horse cleared the
rail, seemed just to touch the bank on the other side, while she
threw herself back almost on to his crupper, and so came down with
perfect case. But she, knowing that it would not be easy to all
horses, paused a moment to see what would happen.
Tregear was next to her and was intending to 'fly' the fence. But
when he saw Mrs Spooner pull her horse and pause, he also had to
pull his horse. This he did so to enable her to take her leap
without danger or encumbrance from him, but hardly so as to bring
his horse to the bank in the same way. It may be doubted whether
the animal he was riding would have known enough and been quiet
enough to have performed the acrobatic manoeuvre which had carried
Mrs Spooner so pleasantly over the peril. He had some idea of
this, for the thought occurred to him that he would turn and ride
fast at the jump. But before he could turn he saw that
Silverbridge was pressing on him. It was thus his only resource to
do as Mrs Spooner had done. He was too close to the rail, but
still he tried it. The horse attempted to jump, caught his foot
against the bar, and of course went over head-foremost. This
probably would have been nothing, had not Silverbridge with his
rushing beast been immediately after them. When the young lord saw
that his friend was down it was too late for him to stop his
course. His horse was determined to have the fence,--and did have
it. He touched nothing, and would have skimmed in glory over the
next field had he not come right down on Tregear and Tregear's
steed. There they were, four of them, two men and two horses in
one confused heap.
The first person with them was Mrs Spooner, who was off her horse
in a minute. And Silverbridge too was very soon on his legs. He at
any rate was unhurt, and the two horses were up before Mrs Spooner
was out of her saddle. But Tregear did not move. 'What are we to
do?' said Lord Silverbridge, kneeling down over his friend. 'Oh,
Mrs Spooner, what are we to do?'
The hunt had passed on and no one else was immediately with them.
But at this moment Dick Rabbit, who had been left behind to bring
up his hounds, appeared above the bank. 'Leave your horse and come
down,' said Mrs Spooner. 'Here is a gentleman who has hurt
himself.' Dick wouldn't leave his horse, but was soon on the
scene, having found his way through another part of the fence.
'No; he ain't dead,' said Dick--'I've seen 'em like that before,
and they wurn't dead. But he's had a hawful squeege.' Then he
passed his hand over the man's neck and chest. 'There's a lot of
'em is broke,' said he. 'We must get him to farmer Tooby's.'
After awhile he was got into farmer Tooby's, when that surgeon
came who is always in attendance on a hunting-field. The surgeon
declared that he had broken his collar-bone, two of his ribs, and
his left arm. And then one of the animals had struck him on the
chest as he raised himself. A little brandy was poured down his
throat, but even under that operation he gave no sign of life.
'No, missis, he aren't dead,' said Dick Rabbit to Mrs Tooby; 'no
more he won't die this bout; but he's got it very nasty.'
That night Silverbridge was sitting by his friend's bedside at ten
o'clock in Lord Chiltern's house. Tregear had spoken a few words,
and the bones had been set. But the doctor had not felt himself
justified in speaking with that assurance which Dick had
expressed. The man's whole body had been bruised by the horse
which had fallen on him. The agony of Silverbridge was extreme,
for he knew that it had been his doing. 'You were a little too
close,' Mrs Spooner had said to him, 'but nobody saw it, and we'll
hold our tongues.' Silverbridge however would not hold his
tongue. He told everybody how it had happened, how he had been
unable to stop his horse, how had jumped upon his friend, and
perhaps had killed him. 'I don't know what I am to do. I am so
miserable,' he said to Lady Chiltern with the tears running down
The two remained at Harrington and the luggage was brought over
from The Baldfaced Stag. The accident happened on a Saturday. On
the Sunday there was no comfort. On the Monday the patient's
recollection and mind were re-established, and the doctor thought
that perhaps, with great care, his constitution would pull him
through. On that day the consternation at Harrington was so great
that Mrs Spooner would not go to the meet. She came over from
Spoon Hall, and spent a considerable part of the day in the sick
man's room. 'It's sure to come right if it's above the vitals,'
she said expressing an opinion which had come from much
experience. 'That is,' she added, 'unless the neck's broke. When
poor old Jack Stubbs drove his head into his cap and dislocated
his wertebury, of course it was all up with him.' The patient
heard this and was seen to smile.
On the Tuesday there arose the question of family communication.
As the accident would make its way into the papers a message had
been sent to Polwenning to say that various bones had been broken,
but that the patient was upon the whole doing well. Then there had
been different messages backwards and forwards, in all of which
there had been an attempt to comfort old Mr Tregear. But on the
Tuesday letters were written. Silverbridge, sitting in his
friend's room, sent a long account of the accident to Mrs Tregear,
giving a list of the injuries done.
'Your sister,' whispered the poor fellow from the pillow.
'Yes,--yes;--yes, I will.'
'And Mabel Grex.' Silverbridge nodded assent and again went to the
writing-table. He did write to his sister, and in plain words told
her everything. 'The doctor says he is not now in danger.' Then
he added a postscript. 'As long as I am here I will let you know
how he is.'
'I Believe Him to be a Worthy Young Man'
Lady Mary and Mrs Finn were alone when the tidings came from
Silverbridge. The Duke had been absent, having gone to spend an
unpleasant week in Barsetshire. Mary had taken the opportunity of
his absence to discuss her own prospects at full length. 'My
dear,' said Mrs Finn, 'I will not express an opinion. How can I
after all that has passed? I have told the Duke the same. I
cannot be heart and hand with either without being false to the
other.' But still Lady Mary continued to talk about Tregear.
'I don't think papa has a right to treat me in this way,' she
said. 'He wouldn't be allowed to kill me, and this is killing me.'
'While there is life there is hope,' said Mrs Finn.
'Yes; while there is life there is hope. But one doesn't want to
grow old first.'
'There is no danger of that, Mary.'
'I feel very old. What is the use of life without something to
make it sweet? I am not even allowed to hear anything that he is
doing. If he were to ask me, I think I would go away with him
'He would not be foolish enough for that.'
'Because he does not suffer as I do. He has his borough, and his
public life, and a hundred things to think of. I have got nothing
but him. I know he is true;--quite as true as I am. But it is I
that have the suffering in all this. A man can never be like a
girl. Papa ought not to make me suffer like this.'
That took place on the Monday. On the Tuesday Mrs Finn received a
letter from her husband giving an account of the accident. 'As far
as I can learn,' he said, 'Silverbridge will write about it
tomorrow.' Then he went on to give a by no means good account of
the state of the patient. The doctor had declared him to be out of
immediate danger, and had set the broken bones. As tidings would
be sent on the next day she had better say nothing about the
accident to Lady Mary. This letter reached Matching on Tuesday and
made the position of Mrs Finn very disagreeable. She was bound to
carry herself as though nothing was amiss, knowing as she did so,
the condition of Mary's lover.
On the evening of the next day Lady Mary was more lively than
usual, though her liveliness was hardly of a happy nature. 'I
don't know what papa can expect. I've heard him say a hundred
times that to be in Parliament is the highest place a gentleman
can fill, and now Frank is in Parliament.' Mrs Finn looked at her
with beseeching eyes, as though begging her not to speak of
Tregear. 'And then think of their having that Lord Popplecourt
there! I shall always hate Lady Cantrip, for it was her place.
That she should have thought it possible! Lord Popplecourt! Such
a creature. Hyperion to a satyr. Isn't it true? Oh that papa
should have thought it possible!' Then she got up, and walked
about the room, beating her hands together. All this time Mrs Finn
knew that Tregear was lying at Harrington with half his bones
broken, and in danger of his life!
On the next morning Lady Mary received her letters. There were two
lying before her plate when she came into breakfast, one from her
father and the other from Silverbridge. She read that from the
Duke first while Mrs Finn was watching her. 'Papa will be home on
Saturday,' she said. 'He declares that the people in the borough
are quite delighted with Silverbridge for a member. And he is
quite jocose. "They used to be delighted with me once," he says,
"but I suppose everybody changes."' Then she began to pour out
the tea before she opened her brother's letter. Mrs Finn's eyes
were still on her anxiously. 'I wonder what Silverbridge has got
to say about the Brake Hunt.' Then she opened her letter.
'Oh;--oh!' she exclaimed,--'Frank has killed himself.'
'Killed himself! Not that. It is not so bad as that.'
'You had heard it before?'
'How is he, Mary?'
'Oh, heavens! I cannot read it. Do you read it. Tell me all. Tell
me the truth. What am I to do? Where shall I go?' Then she threw
up her hands, and with a loud scream fell on her knees with her
head upon the chair. In the next moment Mrs Finn was down beside
her on the floor. 'Read it; why do you not read it? If you will
not read it, give it to me.'
Mrs Finn did read the letter, which was very short, but still
giving by no means an unfavourable account of the patient. 'I am
sorry to say he has broken ever so many bones, and we were very
much frightened about him.' Then the writer went into details,
from which the reader who did not read the whole words carefully
might well imagine that the man's life was still in danger.
Mrs Finn did read it all, and did her best to comfort her friend.
'It has been a bad accident,' she said, 'but it is clear that he
id getting better. Men do so often break their bones, and then
seem to think nothing of it afterwards.'
'Silverbridge says it was his fault. What does he mean?'
'I suppose he was riding too close to Mr Tregear, and that they
came down together. Of course it is distressing, but I do not
think you need make yourself positively unhappy about it.'
'Would you not be unhappy if it were Mr Finn?' said Mary, jumping
up from her knees. 'I shall go to him. I should go mad if I were
to remain here and know nothing about it but what Silverbridge
will tell me.'
'I will telegraph Mr Finn.'
'Mr Finn won't care. Men are so heartless. They write about each
other just as though it did not signify in the least whether
anybody were dead or alive. I shall go to him.'
'You cannot do that.'
'I don't care now what anybody may think. I choose to be
considered as belonging to him, and if papa were here I would do
the same.' It was of course not difficult to make her understand
that she could not go to Harrington, but it was by no means easy
to keep her tranquil. She would send a telegram herself. This was
debated for a long time, till at last Lady Mary insisted that she
was not subject to Mrs Finn's authority. 'If papa were here, even
then I would send it.' And she did send it, in her own name,
regardless of the fact pointed out to her by Mrs Finn, that the
people at the post-office would thus know her secret. 'It is no
secret,' she said. 'I don't want it to be a secret.' The telegram
went in the following words. 'I have heard it. I am so wretched.
Send me one word to say how you are.' She got an answer back,
with Tregear's own name to it, on that afternoon. 'Do not be
unhappy. I am doing well. Silverbridge is with me.'
On the Thursday Gerald came home from Scotland. He had arranged
his little affair with Lord Percival, not however without some
difficulty. Lord Percival had declared that he did not understand
I.O.U.s in an affair of that kind. He had always thought that
gentlemen did not play for stakes for which they could not pay at
once. This was not said to Gerald himself;--or the result would
have been calamitous. Nidderdale was the go-between, and at last
arranged it,--not however till he had pointed out that Percival
having won so large a sum of money from a lad under twenty-one
years was very lucky in receiving substantial security for its
Gerald has chosen the period of his father's absence for his
return. It was necessary that the story of the gambling debt
should be told the Duke in February! Silverbridge had explained
that to him, and he had quite understood it. He, indeed, would be
up at Oxford in February, and, in that case, the first horror of
the thing would be left to poor Silverbridge! Thinking of this,
Gerald felt that he was bound to tell his father himself. He
resolved that he would do so, but he was anxious to postpone the
evil day. He lingered therefore in Scotland till he knew that his
father was in Barsetshire.
On his arrival he was told of Tregear's accident. 'Oh Gerald, have
you heard?' said his sister. He had not as yet heard, and then the
history was repeated to him. Mary did not attempt to conceal her
own feelings. She was as open with her brother as she had been
with Mrs Finn.
'I suppose he'll get over it,' said Gerald.
'Is that all you say?' she asked.
'What can I say better? I suppose he will. Fellows always do get
over that kind of thing. Herbert de Burgh smashed both his thighs,
and now he can move about again,--of course with crutches.'
'Gerald. How can you be so unfeeling!'
'I don't know what you mean. I always liked Tregear, and I am very
sorry for him. If you would take it a little quieter, I think it
would be better.'
'I could not take it quietly. How can I take it quietly when he is
more than the world to me?'
'You should keep that to yourself.'
'Yes,--and so let people think that I didn't care, till I broke my
heart! I shall say just the same to papa when he comes home.'
After than the brother and sister were not on very good terms with
each other for the remainder of the day.
On the Saturday there was a letter from Silverbridge to Mrs Finn.
Tregear was better; but was unhappy because it had been decided
that he could not be moved for the next month. This entailed two
misfortunes on him;--first that of being enforced guest of persons
who were not,--or, hitherto had not been his own friends,--and then
his absence from the first meeting of Parliament. When a gentleman
has been in Parliament some years he may be able to reconcile
himself to an obligatory vacation with a calm mind. But when the
honours and glory are new, and the tedium of the benches has not
yet been experienced, then such an accident is felt to be a
grievance. But the young member was out of danger, and was, as
Silverbridge declared in the very best quarters which could be
provided for a man in his position.
Phineas Finn told him all the politics; Mrs Spooner related to
him, on Sundays and Wednesdays, all the hunting details; while
Lady Chiltern read to him light literature, because he was not
allowed to hold a book in his hand. 'I wish it were me,' said
Gerald. 'I wish I were there to read to him,' said Mary.
Then the Duke came home. 'Mary,' said he, 'I have been distressed
to hear of this accident.' This seemed to her to be the kindest
word she had heard from him for a long time. 'I believe him to be
a worthy young man. I am sorry that he should be the cause of so
much sorrow to you--and to me.'
'Of course I was sorry for his accident,' she replied, after
pausing awhile; 'but now that he is better I will not cause him a
cause of sorrow--to me.' Then the Duke said nothing further about
Tregear; nor did she.
'So you have come at last,' he said to Gerald. That was the first
greeting,--to which the son responded by an awkward smile. But in
the course of the evening he walked straight up to his father--'I
have something to tell you, sir,' said he.
'Something to tell me?'
'Something that will make you very angry.'
'Do You Ever Think What Money Is?'
Gerald told his story, standing bolt upright, and looking his
father full in the face as he told it. 'You lost three thousand
four hundred pounds at one sitting to Lord Percival--at cards!'
'In Lord Nidderdale's house.'
'Yes, sir. Nidderdale wasn't playing. It wasn't his fault.'
'Who were playing?'
'Percival, and Dolly Longstaff, and Jack Hinde,--and I. Popplecourt
was playing at first.'
'Yes, sir. But he went away when he began to lose.'
'Three thousand four hundred pounds! How old are you?'
'I am just twenty-one.'
'You are beginning the world well, Gerald! What is the engagement
which Silverbridge has made with Lord Percival?'
'To pay him the money at the end of next month.'
'What had Silverbridge to do with it?'
'Nothing, sir. I wrote to Silverbridge because I didn't know what
to do. I knew he would stand me.'
'Who is to stand either of you if you go on thus I do not know.'
To this Gerald of course made no reply, but an idea came across
his mind that he knew who would stand both himself and his
brother. 'How did Silverbridge mean to get the money?'
'He said he would ask you. But I thought that I ought to tell
'Is that all?'
'All what, sir?'
'Are there other debts?' To this Gerald made no reply. 'Other
'No, sir;--not a shilling of that kind. I have never played
'Does it ever occur to you that going on at that rate you may very
soon lose all the fortune that will ever come to you? You were
not yet of age and you lost three thousand four hundred pounds at
cards to a man whom you probably knew to be a professed gambler!'
Then the Duke seemed to wait for a reply, but poor Gerald had not
a word to say. 'Can you explain to me what benefit you proposed to
yourself when you played for such stakes as that?'
'I hoped to win back what I had lost.'
'Facilis descensus Averni!' said the Duke, shaking his head.
'Noctes atque dies patet atri jauna Ditis.' No doubt, he thought,
that as his son was at Oxford, admonitions in Latin would serve
him better than in his native tongue. But Gerald, when he heard
the grand hexameter rolled out in his father's grandest tone,
entertained a comfortable feeling that the worst of the interview
was over. 'Win back what you had lost! Do you think that that is
the common fortune of young gamblers when they fall among those
who are more experienced than themselves?'
'One goes on, sir, without reflecting.'
'Go on without reflecting! Yes, and where to? where to? Oh,
Gerald, where to? Whither will such progress without reflection
take you?' 'He means--to the devil,' said the lad inwardly to
himself, without moving his lips. 'There is but one goal for such
going on as that. I can pay three thousand four hundred pounds to
you certainly. I think it hard that I should have to do so; but I
can do it,--and I will do it.'
'Thank you, sir,' murmured Gerald.
'But how can I wash your young mind clean from the foul stain
which has already defiled it? Why did you sit down to play? Was
it to win the money which these men had in their pockets?'
'It cannot be that a rational being should consent to risk the
money he has himself,--to risk even the money which he has not
himself,--without a desire to win that which as yet belongs to his
opponents. You desired to win.'
'I suppose I did hope to win.'
'And why? Why did you want to extract their property from their
pockets, and to put it into your own? That the footpad on the
road should have such desire when, with his pistol, he stops the
traveller on his journey we all understand. And we know what to
think of the footpad,--and what we must do to him. He is a poor
creature, who from his youth upwards has had no good thing done
for him, uneducated, an outcast, whom we should pity more than we
despise him. We take him as a pest which we cannot endure, and
lock him up where he can harm us no more. On my word, Gerald, I
think that the so-called gentleman who sits down with the
deliberate intention of extracting money from the pockets of his
antagonists, who lays out for himself that way of repairing the
shortcomings of fortune, who looks to that resource as an aid to
his means,---is worse, much worse, than the public robber! He is
meaner, more cowardly, and has I think in his bosom less of the
feeling of an honest man. And he probably has been educated,--as
you have been. He calls himself a gentleman. He should know black
from white. It is considered terrible to cheat at cards.'
'There was nothing of that, sir.'
'The man who plays and cheats has fallen low indeed.
'I understand that, sir.'
'He who plays that he may make an income, but does not cheat, has
fallen nearly as low. Do you ever think what money is?'
The Duke paused so long, collecting his own thoughts and thinking
of his own words, that Gerald found himself obliged to answer.
'Cheques, and sovereigns, and bank-notes,' he replied with much
'Money is the reward of labour,' said the Duke, 'or rather, in the
shape it reaches you, it is your representation of that reward.
You may earn it yourself, or, as is, I am afraid, more likely to
be the case with you, you may possess it honestly as prepared for
you by the labour of others who have stored it up for you. But it
is a commodity of which you are bound to see that the source is
not only clean but noble. You would not let Lord Percival give you
'He wouldn't do that, sir, I am sure.'
'Nor would you take it. There is nothing so comfortable as money,--
but nothing so defiling if it be come by unworthily; nothing so
comfortable, but nothing so noxious if the mind be allowed to
dwell upon it constantly. If a man have enough, let him spend it
freely. If he wants it, let him earn it honestly. Let him do
something for it, so that the man who pays it to him may get its
value. But to think that it may be got by gambling, to hope to
live after that fashion, to sit down with your fingers almost in
your neighbours' pockets, with your eye on his purse, trusting
that you may know better than he some studied calculations as to
the pips concealed in your hands, praying to the only god you
worship that some special card may be vouchsafed to you,--that I
say is to have left far, far behind you, all nobility, all
gentleness, all manhood! Write me down Lord Percival's address
and I will send him the money.
Then the Duke wrote a cheque for the money claimed and sent it
with a note as follows:
'The Duke of Omnium presents his compliments to Lord Percival. The
Duke has been informed by Lord Gerald Palliser that Lord Percival
has won at cards from him the sum of three thousand four hundred
pounds. The Duke now encloses a cheque for that amount, and
requests that the document which Lord Percival holds from Lord
Silverbridge as security for that amount, may be returned to Lord
Let the noble gambler have his prey. He was little solicitous
about that. If he could only operate on the mind of this son,--so
operate on the minds of both his sons, as to make them see the
foolishness of folly, the ugliness of what is mean, the squalor
and dirt of ignoble pursuits, then he could easily pardon past
faults. If it were half his wealth what would it signify if he
could teach his children to accept those lessons without which no
man can live as a gentleman, let his rank be the highest known,
let his wealth be as the sands, his fashion unrivalled?
The word or two which his daughter had said to him, declaring that
she still took pride in her lover's love, and then this new
misfortune on Gerald's part, upset him greatly. He almost
sickened of politics when he thought of his domestic bereavement
and his domestic misfortunes. How completely had he failed to
indoctrinate his children with the ideas by which his own mind was
fortified and controlled! Nothing was so base to him as a
gambler, and they had both commenced their career by gambling.
From their young boyhood nothing had seemed so desirable to him as
that they should be accustomed by early training to devote
themselves to the service of their country. He saw other young
noblemen around him who at eighteen were known as debaters at
their colleges, or at twenty-five were already deep in politics,
social science, and educational projects. What good would all his
wealth or all his position do for his children if their minds
could rise to nothing beyond the shooting of deer and the hunting
of foxes? There was young Lord Buttercup, the son of the Earl of
Woolantallow, only a few months older than Silverbridge,--who was
already a junior lord, and as constant at his office, or during
the Session on the Treasury Bench, as though there were not a pack
of hounds or a card-table in Great Britain! Lord Buttercup, too,
had already written an article in 'The Fortnightly' on the subject
of Turkish finance. How long would it be before Silverbridge would
write an article, or Gerald sign his name in the service of the
And then those proposed marriages,--as to which he was beginning to
know that his children would be too strong for him! Anxious as he
was that both his sons should be permeated by liberal politics,
studious as he had ever been to teach them that the highest duty
of those high in rank was to use their authority to elevate those
beneath them, still he was hardly less anxious to make them
understand that their second duty required them to maintain their
own position. It was by feeling this, second duty,--by feeling it
and performing it,--that they would be enabled to perform the first.
And now both Silverbridge and his girl were bent upon marriages by
which they would depart out of their own order! Let Silverbridge
marry whom he might, he could not be other than the heir to the
honours of the family. But by his marriage he might either support
or derogate from these honours. And now, having at first made a
choice that was good, he had altered his mind from simple freak,
captivated by a pair of bright eyes and an arch smile, and without
a feeling in regard to his family, was anxious to take to his
bosom the granddaughter of an American day-labourer!
And then his girl,--of whose beauty he was so proud, from whose
manners, and tastes, and modes of life he had expected to reap
those good things, in a feminine degree, which his sons as young
men seemed so little fitted to give him! By slow degrees he had
been brought round to acknowledge that the young man was worthy.
Tregear's conduct had been felt by the Duke to be manly. The
letter he had written was a good letter. And then he had won for
himself a seat in the House of Commons. When forced to speak of
him to his girl he had been driven by justice to call him worthy.
But how could he serve to support and strengthen the nobility, the
endurance and perpetuation of which should be the peculiar care of
And yet as the Duke walked about his room he felt that his
opposition either to the one marriage or to the other was vain. Of
course they would marry according to their wills.
That same night Gerald wrote to his brother before he went to bed,
'DEAR SILVER,--I was awfully obliged to you for sending me the I O
U for that brute Percival. He only sneered when he took it, and
would have said something disagreeable, but that he saw that I was
in earnest. I know he did say something to Nid, only I can't find
out what. Nid is an easy-going fellow, and, as I saw, didn't want
to have a rumpus.
'But now what do you think I've done? Directly I got home I told
the governor all about it! As I was in the train I made up my
mind that I would. I went slap at it. If there is anything that
never does any good, it is craning. I did it all at one rush,
just as though I was swallowing a dose of physic. I wish I could
tell you all that the governor said, because it was really tip-
top. What is a fellow to get by playing high,--a fellow like you
and me? I didn't want any of that beast's money. I don't suppose
he had any. But one's dander gets up, and one doesn't like to be
done, and so it goes on. I shall cut that kind of thing
altogether. You should have heard the governor spouting Latin!
And then the way he sat upon Percival, without mentioning the
fellow's name! I do think it mean to set yourself to work to win
money at cards,--and it is awfully mean to lose more than you have
got to pay.
'Then at the end the governor said he'd send the beast a cheque
for the amount. You know his way of finishing up, just like two
fellows fighting,--when one has awfully punished the other he goes
up and shakes hands with him. He did pitch it into me,--not abusing
me, nor even saying a word about the money, which he at once
promised to pay, but laying it on to gambling with a regular cat-
o'-ninetails. And then there was an end of it. He just asked the
fellow's address and said that he would send him the money. I will
say this;--I don't think there's a greater brick than the governor
'I am awfully sorry about Tregear. I can't make out how it
happened. I suppose you were too near him, and Melrose always does
rush at his fences. One fellow shouldn't be too near another
fellow,--only it so often happens that it can't be helped. It's
just like anything else, if nothing comes of it then it's all
right. But if anybody comes to grief then he's got to be pitched
into. Do you remember when I nearly cut over old Sir Simon
Slowbody? Didn't I hear about it!
'I am awfully glad you didn't smash up Tregear altogether because
of Mary. I am quite sure it is no good anybody setting up his back
against that. It's one of the things that have got to be. You
always have said that he is a good fellow. If so, what's the harm?
At any rate it has got to be.
'Your affectionate Brother,
'I go up in about a week.'
The Three Attacks
During the following week the communication between Harrington and
Matching were very frequent. There were no further direct messages
between Tregear and Lady Mary, but she heard daily of his
progress. The Duke was conscious of the special interest which
existed in his house as to the condition of the young man, but,
after his arrival not a word had been spoken for some days between
him and his daughter on the subject. Then Gerald went back to his
college, and the Duke made his preparations for going up to town
and making some attempt at parliamentary activity.
It was by no concert that an attack was made upon him from three
quarters at once as he was preparing to leave Matching. On the
Sunday morning during church time, for on that day Lady Mary went
to her devotions alone,--Mrs Finn was closeted an hour with the
Duke in his study. 'I think you ought to be aware,' she said to
the Duke, 'that though I trust Mary implicitly and know her to be
thoroughly high principled, I cannot be responsible for her, if I
'I do not quite follow your meaning.'
'Of course there is but one matter on which there can, probably,
be any difference between us. If she should choose to write to Mr
Tregear, or to send him any message, or even to go to him, I could
not prevent it.'
'Go to him!' exclaimed the horrified Duke.
'I merely suggest such a thing in order to make you understand
that I have absolutely no control over her.'
'What control have I?'
'Nay; I cannot define that. You are her father, and she
acknowledges your authority. She regards me as a friend,--and as
such treats me with the sweetest affection. Nothing can be more
gratifying than her manner to me personally.'
'It ought to be so.'
'She has thoroughly won my heart. But still I know that if there
were a difference between us she would not obey me. Why should
'Because you hold my deputed authority.'
'Oh, Duke, that goes for very little anywhere. No one can depute
authority. It comes too much from personal accidents, and too
little from reason or law to be handed over to others. Besides, I
fear, that on one matter concerning her you and I are not agreed.'
'I shall be sorry if it be so.'
'I feel that I am bound to tell you my opinion.'
'You think that in the end Lady Mary will allow herself to be
separated from Tregear. I think that in the end they will become
man and wife.'
This seemed to the Duke to be not quite so bad as it might have
been. Any speculation as to results were very different from an
expressed opinion as to propriety. Were he to tell the truth as to
his own mind, he might perhaps have said the same thing. But one
is not to relax in one's endeavours to prevent that which is
wrong, because one fears that the wrong may be ultimately
perpetuated. 'Let that be as it may,' he said, 'it cannot alter my
'Nor mine, Duke, if I may presume to think that I have a duty in
'That you should encounter the burden of the duty binds me to you
'If it be that they will certainly be married one day--'
'Who has said that? Who has admitted that?'
'If it be so; if it seems to me that it must be so,--then how can I
be anxious to prolong her sufferings? She does suffer terribly.'
Upon this the Duke frowned, but there was more of tenderness in
his frown than in the hard smile which he had hitherto worn. 'I do
not know whether you see it all.' He well remembered all that he
had seen when he and Mary were travelling together. 'I see it, and
I do not pass half an hour with her without sorrowing for her.'
On hearing this he sighed and turned his face away. 'Girls are so
different! There are many who though they be genuinely in love,
though their natures are sweet and affectionate, are not strong
enough to support their own feelings in resistance to the will of
those who have authority over them.' Had it been so with his
wife? At this moment all the former history passed through his
mind. 'They yield to that which seems to be inevitable, and allow
themselves to be fashioned by the purposes of others. It is well
for them often that they are so plastic. Whether it would be
better for her that she should be so I will not say.'
'It would be better,' said the Duke doggedly.
'But such is not her nature. She is as determined as ever.'
'I may be determined too.'
'But if at last it will be of no use,--if it be her fate either to
be married to this man or to die of a broken heart,--'
'What justifies you in saying that? How can you torture me by such
'If I think so, Duke, I am justified. Of late I have been with her
daily,--almost hourly. I do not say that this will kill her now,--in
her youth. It is not often, I fancy, that women die after that
fashion. But a broken heart may bring the sufferer to the grave
after a lapse of many years. How will it be with you if she should
live like a ghost beside you for the next twenty years, and you
should then see her die, faded and withered before her time,--all
her life gone without a joy,--because she had loved a man whose
position in life was displeasing to you? Would the ground on
which the sacrifices had been made then justify itself to you? In
that performing your duty to your order would you feel satisfied
that you had performed that to your child?'
She had come there determined to say it all,--to liberate her own
soul as it were,--but had much doubted the spirit in which the Duke
would listen to her. That he would listen to her she was sure,--and
then if he chose to cast her out, she would endure his wrath. It
would not be to her now as it had been when he accused her of
treachery. But, nevertheless, bold as she was and independent, he
had imbued her, as he did all those around him, with so strong a
sense of his personal dignity, that when she had finished she
almost trembled as she looked in his face. Since he had asked how
she could justify to herself the threats which she was using he
had sat still with his eyes fixed upon her. Now, when she had
done, he was in no hurry to speak. He rose slowly and walking
towards the fireplace stood with his back towards her, looking
down upon the fire. She was the first to speak again. 'Shall I
leave you now?' she said in a low voice.
'Perhaps it will be better,' he answered. His voice, too was very
low. In truth he was so moved that he hardly knew how to speak at
all. Then she rose and was already on her way on to the door when
he followed her. 'One moment if you please,' he said almost
sternly. 'I am under a debt of gratitude to you of which I cannot
express my sense in words. How far I may agree with you, and where
I may disagree I will not attempt to point out to you now.'
'But all that you have troubled yourself to think and to feel in
this matter, and all that true friendship has compelled you to say
to me, shall be written down in the tablets of my memory.'
'My child has at any rate been fortunate in securing the
friendship of such a friend.' Then he turned back to the
fireplace, and she was constrained to leave the room without
She had determined to make the best plea in her power for Mary;
and while she was making the plea had been almost surprised by her
own vehemence; but the greater had been her vehemence, the
stronger, she thought, would have been the Duke's anger. And as
she had watched the workings of his face she had felt for the
moment, that the vials of his wrath were about to be poured upon
her. Even when she left the room she almost believed that had he
not taken those moments for consideration at the fireplace his
parting words would have been different. But, as it was, there
could be no question now of her departure. No power was left to
her of separating herself from Lady Mary. Though the Duke had not
as yet acknowledged himself to be conquered, there was no doubt to
her now but that he would be conquered. And she, either here or in
London, must be the girl's nearest friend up to the day when she
should be given over to Mr Tregear. That was one of the three
attacks which were made upon the Duke before he went up to his
The second was as follows. Among the letters on the following
morning one was brought to him from Tregear. It is hoped that the
reader will remember the lover's former letter and the very
unsatisfactory answer which had been sent to it. Nothing could
have been colder, less propitious, or more inveterately hostile
than the reply. As he lay in bed with his broken bones at
Harrington he had ample time for thinking over all this. He knew
every word of the Duke's distressing note by heart, and had often
lashed himself to rage as he had repeated it. But he could effect
nothing by showing his anger. He must go on and still do something.
Since the writing of that letter he had done something. He had got
his seat in Parliament. And he had secured the interest of his
friend Silverbridge. This had been partially done at Polwenning,
but the accident in the Brake country had completed the work. The
brother had at last declared himself in his friend's favour. 'Of
course I should be glad to see it,' he had said while sitting by
Tregear's bedside. 'The worst is that everything does seem to go
against the poor governor.'
Then Tregear made up his mind that he would write another letter.
Personally he was not in the best condition for doing this as he
was lying in bed with his left arm tied up, and with straps and
bandages all round his body. But he could sit up in bed, and his
right hand and arm were free. So he declared to Lady Chiltern his
purpose of writing a letter. She tried to dissuade him gently and
offered to be his secretary. But when he assured her that no
secretary could write his letter for him she understood pretty
well what would be the subject of the letter. With considerable
difficulty Tregear wrote his letter.
'MY LORD DUKE,'--On this occasion he left out the epithet which he
had before used--
'Your Grace's reply to my last letter was not encouraging, but in
spite of your prohibition I venture to write to you again. If I
Back to Full Books