The Duke's Children
Part 14 out of 14
our successes and our failures. Our Duke's friends had told him
that his Ministry had been serviceable to the country; but no one
had ever suggested to him that he would again be asked to fill the
place which he had filled. He had stopped a gap. He would
beforehand have declared himself willing to serve his country even
in this way; but having done so,--having done that and no more than
that,--he felt that he had failed. He had in soreness declared to
himself that he would never more take office. He had much to do to
overcome this promise to himself;--but when he had brought himself
to submit he was certainly a happier man.
There was no going to see the Queen. That on the present occasion
was done simply by Mr Monk. But on the Wednesday morning his name
appeared in the list of the new Cabinet as President of the
Council. He was perhaps a little fidgety, a little too anxious to
employ himself and to be employed, a little too desirous of
immediate work;--but still he was happy and gracious to all those
around him. 'I suppose you like that particular office,'
Silverbridge said to him.
'Well; yes;--not best of all, you know,' and he smiled as he made
'You mean Prime Minister.'
'No, indeed I don't. I am inclined to think that the Premier
should always sit in your House. No, Silverbridge, if I could have
my way,--which is of course impossible, for I cannot put off my
honours,--I would return to my old place. I would return to the
Exchequer where the work is hard and certain, where a man can do,
or at any rate attempt to do, some special thing. A man there if
he stick to that and does not travel beyond it, need not be
popular, need not be a partisan, need not be eloquent, need not be
a courtier. He should understand his profession, as should a
lawyer or doctor. If he does that thoroughly he can serve his
country without recourse to that parliamentary strategy for which
I know that I am unfit.'
'You can't do that in the House of Lords, sir.'
'No; no. I wish the title could have passed over my head,
Silverbridge, and gone to you at once. I think we both should have
been suited better. But there are things which one should not
consider. Even in this place I may perhaps do something. Shall you
attack us very bitterly?'
'I am the only man who does not mean to change.'
'I shall stay where I am,--on the Government side of the House.'
'Are you clear about that, my boy?'
'Such changes should not be made without very much consideration.'
'I have already written to them at Silverbridge and have had three
or four answers. Mr De Boung says that the borough is more than
grateful. Mr Sprout regrets it much, and suggests a few months'
consideration. Mr Sprugeon seems to think it does not much
'That is hardly complimentary.'
'No;--not to me. But he is very civil to the family. As long as a
Palliser represents the borough, Mr Sprugeon thinks that it does
not matter on which side he may sit. I have had my little vagary,
and I don't think that I shall change again.'
'I suppose that it is your republican bride-elect that has done
that,' said the Duke laughing.
The First Wedding
As Easter Sunday fell on the seventeenth of April, and as the
arrangement of the new Cabinet, with its inferior offices, was not
completed till the sixth of that month, there was only just time
for the new elections before the holidays. Mr Monk sat on his
bench so comfortably that he hardly seemed ever to have been off
it. And Phineas Finn resumed the peculiar ministerial tone of
voice just as though he had never allowed himself to use the free
and indignant strains of the opposition. As to a majority,--nothing
as yet was known about that. Some few besides Silverbridge might
probably transfer themselves to the Government. None of the
ministers lost their seats in the new elections. The opposite
party seemed for a while to have been paralysed by the defection
of Sir Timothy, and men who liked a quiet life were able to
comfort themselves with the reflection that nothing could be done
For our loves this was convenient. Neither of them would have
allowed their parliamentary energies to have interfered at such a
crisis with his domestic affairs; but still it was well to have
time at command. The day for the marriage of Isabel and
Silverbridge had been now fixed. That was to take place on the
Wednesday after Easter, and was to be celebrated by special royal
favour in the chapel at Whitehall. All the Pallisers would be
there, and all the relations of the Pallisers, all the
ambassadors, and of course all the Americans in London. It would
be a 'wretched grind', as Silverbridge said, but it had to be
done. In the meantime the whole party, including the new President
of the Council, were down at Matching. Even Isabel, though it must
be presumed that she had much to do in looking after her bridal
garments, was able to be there for a day or two. But Tregear was
the person to whom this visit was of the greatest importance.
He had been allowed to see Lady Mary in London, but hardly to do
more than see her. With her he had been alone for about five
minutes, and then the cruel circumstances,--circumstances, however,
which were not permanently cruel,--had separated them. All their
great difficulties had been settled, and no doubt they were happy.
Tregear, though he had been as it were received into grace by that
glass of wine, still had not entered into the intimacies of the
house. This he felt himself. He had been told that he had better
restrain himself from writing to Mary, and he had restrained
himself. He had therefore no immediate opportunity of creeping
into that perfect intimacy with the house and household which is
generally accorded to a promised son-in-law.
On this occasion he travelled down alone, and as he approached the
house he, who was not by nature timid, felt himself to be somewhat
cowed. That the Duke should not be cold to him was almost
impossible. Of course he was there in opposition to the Duke's
wishes. Even Silverbridge had never quite liked the match. Of
course he was to have all that he desired. Of course he was the
most fortunate of men. Of course no man had ever stronger reason
to be contented with the girl he loved. But still his heart was a
little low as he was driven up to the door.
The first person he saw was the Duke himself, who, as the fly from
the station arrived, was returning from his walk. 'You are welcome
to Matching,' he said, taking off his hat with something of
ceremony. This was said before the servants, but Tregear was then
led into the study and the door was closed. 'I never do anything
by halves, Mr Tregear,' he said. 'Since it is to so you shall be
the same to me as though you had come under other auspices. Of
yourself personally I hear all that is good. Consider yourself at
home here, and in all things use me as your friend.' Tregear
endeavoured to make some reply, but could not find words that were
fitting. 'I think that young people are out,' continued the Duke.
'Mr Warburton will help you find them if you like to go upon the
search.' The words had been very gracious, but still there was
something in the manner of the man which made Tregear find it
almost impossible to regard him as he might have regarded another
father-in-law. He had often heard the Duke spoken of as a man who
could become awful if he pleased, almost without an effort. He had
been told of the man's mingled simplicity, courtesy, self-
assertion against which no impudence or raillery could prevail.
And now he seemed to understand it.
He was not driven to go under the private secretary's escort in
quest of the young people. Mary had understood her business much
better than that. 'If you please, sir, Lady Mary is in the little
drawing-room,' said a well-arrayed young girl to him as soon as
the Duke's door was closed. This was Lady Mary's own maid who had
been on the look-out for the fly. Lady Mary had known all details,
as to the arrival of the trains and the length of the journey from
the station, and had not been walking with the other young people
when the Duke had intercepted her lover. Even the delay she had
thought was hard. The discreet maid opened the door of the little
drawing-room,--and discreetly closed it instantly. 'At last!' she
said, throwing herself into his arms.
On this occasion time did not envy them. The long afternoons of
spring had come, and as Tregear had reached the house between four
and five they were able to go out together before the sun set.
'No,' she said when he came to inquire as to her life during the
last twelve months, 'you had not much to be afraid of as to my
'But when everything was against me?'
'One thing was not against you. You ought to have been sure of
'And so I was. And yet I felt that I ought not to have been sure.
Sometimes, in my solitude, I used to think that I myself had been
wrong. I began to doubt whether under any circumstances I could
have been justified in asking your father's daughter to be my
'Because of his rank?'
'Not so much his rank as his money.'
'Ought that to be considered?'
'A poor man who marries a rich woman will always be suspected.'
'Because people are so mean and poor-spirited; and because they
think that money is more than anything else. It should be nothing
at all in such matters. I don't know how it can be anything. They
have been saying that to me all along,--as though one were to stop
to think whether one was rich or poor.' Tregear, when this was
said, could not but remember a time not very much prior to that
which Mary had not stopped to think, neither for a while had he
and Mabel. 'I suppose it was worse for me than for you,' she
'I hope not.'
'But it was, Frank; and therefore I ought to have made it up to me
now. It was very bad to be alone here, particularly when I felt
that papa always looked at me as though I were a sinner. He did
not mean it, but he could not help looking at me like that. As
there was nobody to whom I could say a word.'
'It was pretty much the same with me.'
'Yes; but you were not offending a father who could not keep
himself from looking reproaches at you. I was like a boy at school
who had been put into Coventry. And then they sent me to Lady
'Was that very bad?'
'I do believe that if I were a young woman with a well-ordered
mind, I should feel myself very much indebted to Lady Cantrip. She
had a terrible task of it. But I could not teach myself to like
her. I believe she knew all through that I should get my way at
'That ought to have made you friends.'
'But yet she tried everything she could. And when I told her about
that meeting up at Lord Grex's, she was so shocked! Do you
'Do I remember it!'
'Were you not shocked?' This question was not to be answered by
any word. 'I was,' she continued. 'It was an awful thing to do;
but I was determined to show them all that I was in earnest. Do
you remember how Miss Cassewary looked?'
'Miss Cassewary knew all about it.'
'I daresay she did. And so I suppose did Mabel Grex. I had thought
that perhaps I might make Mabel a confidante, but--'
'You like Mabel, do you not? I do.'
'I like her very, very much.'
'Perhaps you have liked her too well for that, eh, Frank?'
'Too well for what?'
'That she should have heard all that I had to say about you with
sympathy. If so, I am sorry.'
'You need not fear that I have ever for a moment been untrue to
either her or you.'
'I am sure you have not to me. Poor Mabel! Then they took me to
Custins. That was the worst of all. I cannot quite tell you what
happened there.' Of course he asked her,--but as she had said, she
could not quite tell him about Lord Popplecourt.
The next morning the Duke asked his guest in a playful tone what
was his Christian name. It could hardly be that he should not have
known, but yet he asked the question.
'Francis Oliphant,' said Tregear.
'Frank,' whispered Mary, who was with them.
'Then I will call you Frank, if you will allow me. The use of
Christian names is, I think, pleasant and hardly common enough
among us. I almost forget my own boy's name because the practice
has grown up of calling him by a title.'
'I am going to call him Abraham,' said Isabel.
'Abraham is a good name, only I do not think he got it from his
godfathers and godmothers.'
'Who can call a man Plantagenet? I should as soon think of
calling my father-in-law Coeur de Lion.'
'So he is,' said Mary. Whereupon the Duke kissed the two girls and
went his way,--showing that by this time he had adopted the one and
the proposed husband of the other into his heart.
The day before the Duke had started for London to be present at
the grand marriage he sent for Frank. 'I suppose,' said he, 'that
you would wish that some time should be fixed for your own
marriage.' To this the accepted suitor of course assented. 'But
before we can do that something must be settled about--money.'
Tregear when he heard this became hot all over, and felt that he
could not restrain his blushes. Such must be the feeling of a man
when he finds himself compelled to own to a girl's father that he
intends to live upon her money and not upon his own. 'I do not
like to be troublesome,' continued the Duke, 'or to ask questions
which might seem to be impertinent.'
'Oh no! Of course I feel my position. I can only say that it was
not because of your daughter might probably have money that I
first sought her love.'
'It shall be so received. And now--But perhaps it will be best that
you should arrange all this with my man of business. Mr Morton
shall be instructed. Mr Morton lives near my place in Barsetshire,
but is now in London. If you will call on him he shall tell you
what I would suggest. I hope you will find that your affairs will
be comfortable. And now as to time.'
Isabel's wedding was declared by the newspapers to have been one
of the most brilliant remembered in the metropolis. There were six
bridesmaids, of whom of course Mary was one,--and of whom poor Lady
Mabel Grex was equally of course not another. Poor Lady Mabel was
at this time with Miss Cassewary at Grex, paying what she believed
would be a last visit to the old family home. Among the others
were two American girls, brought into that august society for the
sake of courtesy rather than of personal love. And there were two
other Palliser girls and a Scotch McCloskie cousin. The breakfast
was of course given by Mr Boncassen at his home in Brook Street,
where the bridal presents were displayed. And not only were they
displayed; but a list of them, with an approximate statement as to
their value, appeared in one or two of the next day's newspapers;--
as to which terrible sin against good taste neither was Mr or Mrs
Boncassen guilty. But in these days, in which such splendid things
were done on so very splendid a scale, a young lady cannot herself
lay out her friends' gifts so as to be properly seen by her
friends. Some well-skilled, well-paid hand is needed even for
that, and hence comes this public information on affairs which
should surely be private. In our grandmothers' time the happy
bride's happy mother herself compounded the cake;--or at any rate
the trusted housekeeper. But we all know that terrible tower of
silver which now stands niddle-noddling with its appendages of
flags and spears on the modern wedding breakfast-table. It will
come to pass with some of us soon that we must deny ourselves the
pleasure of having young friends, because their marriage presents
are so costly.
Poor Mrs Boncassen had not perhaps a happy time with her august
guests on that morning; but when she retired to give Isabel her
last kiss in privacy she did feel proud to think that her daughter
would some day be an English Duchess.
The Second Wedding
November is not altogether an hymeneal month, but it was not till
November that Lady Mary Palliser became the wife of Frank Tregear.
It was postponed a little perhaps, in order that the
Silverbridges,--as they were now called,--might be present. The
Silverbridges, who were now quite Darby and Joan, had gone to the
States when the Session had been brought to a close early in
August, and had remained there nearly three months. Isabel had
taken infinite pleasure in showing her English husband to her
American friends, and the American friends had not doubt taken
pride in seeing so glorious a British husband in the hands of an
American wife. Everything was new to Silverbridge, and he was
happy in his new possession. She too enjoyed it infinitely, and so
it happened that they were unwilling to curtail their sojourn. But
in November they had to return, because Mary had declared that her
marriage should be postponed till it could be graced by the
presence of her elder brother.
The marriage of Silverbridge had been august. There had been a
manifest intention that it should be so. Nobody knew with whom
this originated. Mrs Boncassen had probably been told that it
ought to be so, and Mr Boncassen was willing to pay the bill.
External forces had perhaps operated. The Duke had simply been
passive and obedient. There had however been a general feeling
that the bride of the heir of the house of Omnium should be
produced to the world amidst a blaze of trumpets and a glare of
torches. So it had been. But both the Duke and Mary were
determined that this wedding should be different. It was to take
place at Matching, and none would be present but they who were
staying in the house, or lived around,--such as tenants and
dependants. Four clergymen united their forces to tie Isabel to
her husband, one of them was a bishop, one a canon, and the two
others royal chaplains; but there was only to be the Vicar of the
parish at Matching. And indeed there were no guests in the house
except the two bridesmaids and Mr and Mrs Finn. As to Mrs Finn
Mary had made a request, and then the Duke had suggested that the
husband should be asked to accompany his wife.
It was very pretty. The church itself is pretty, standing in the
park, close to the old Priory, not above three hundred yards from
the house. And they all walked, taking the broad path through the
ruins, going under the figure of Sir Guy which Silverbridge had
pointed out to Isabel when they had been whispering together. The
Duke led the way with his girl upon his arm. The two bridesmaids
followed. Then Silverbridge and his wife, with Phineas and his
wife. and Gerald and the bridegroom accompanied them, belonging as
it were to the same party! It was very rustic;--almost improper!
'This is altogether wrong, you know,' said Gerald. 'You should
appear coming from some other part of the world, as if you were
almost unexpected. You ought not to have been in the house at all,
and certainly should have gone under disguise.'
There had been rich presents too on this occasion, but they were
shown to none except to Mrs Finn and the bridesmaids,--and perhaps
to the favoured servants of the house. At any rate there was
nothing said of them in the newspapers. One present there was,--
given not to the bride but to the bridegroom,--which he showed to
no one except to her. This came to him only on the morning of his
marriage, and the envelope containing it bore the postmark of
Sedburgh. He knew the handwriting well before he opened the
parcel. It contained a small signet-ring with his crest, and with
it there were but a few words written on a scrap of paper. 'I pray
that you may be happy. This was to have been given to you long
ago, but I kept it back because of that decision.' He showed the
ring to Lady Mary and told her that it had come from Lady Mabel;--
but the scrap of paper no one saw but himself.
Perhaps the matter most remarkable of the wedding was the hilarity
of the Duke. One who did not know him well might have said that he
was a man with very few cares, and who now took special joy in the
happiness of his children,--who was thoroughly contented to see
them marry after their own hearts. And yet, as he stood there on
the altar-steps giving his daughter to that new son and looking
first at his girl, and then at his married son, he was reminding
himself of all that he had suffered.
After the breakfast,--which was by no means a grand repast and at
which the cake did not look so like an ill-soldered silver castle
as that other construction had done,--the happy couple were sent
away in a modest chariot to the railway station, and not above
half-a-dozen slippers were thrown after them. There were enough
for luck,---or perhaps there might have been luck even without them,
for the wife thoroughly respected her husband, as did the husband
his wife. Mrs Finn, when she was alone with Phineas, said a word
or two about Tregear. 'When she first told me of her engagement I
did not think it possible that she would marry him. But after he
had been with me I felt sure that he would succeed.'
'Well, sir,' said Silverbridge to the Duke when they were out
together in the park that afternoon, 'what do you think about
'I think he is a manly young man.'
'He certainly is that. And then he knows things and understands
them. It was never a surprise to me that Mary should have been so
fond of him.'
'I do not know that one ought to be surprised at anything. Perhaps
what surprised me most was that he should look so high. There
seemed so little to justify it. But now I will accept that as
courage which I before regarded as arrogance.'
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