The Duke's Children
Part 5 out of 14
for them,--if he could so serve them? Surely this woman had
accused him most wrongfully when she had intimated that he could
see his girl suffer without caring for it. In his indignation he
determined--for a while--that he would remove her from the custody
of Lady Cantrip. But then, where should he place her? He was aware
that his own house would be like a grave to a girl just fit to
come into this world. In this coming autumn she must go
somewhere,--with some one. He himself, in his present state of
mind, would be but a sorry travelling companion.
Lady Cantrip had said that the best hope of escape would lie in
the prospect of another lover. The prescription was disagreeable,
but it had availed in the case of his own wife. Before he had ever
seen her as Lady Glencora McCloskie she had been desirous of
giving herself and all her wealth to one Burgo Fitzgerald, who had
been altogether unworthy. The Duke could remember well how a
certain old Lady Midlothian had first told him that Lady Glencora's
property was very large, and had then added that the young lady
herself was very beautiful. And he could remember how his uncle,
the last duke, who had seldom taken much trouble in merely human
affairs, had said a word or two--'I have heard a whisper about you
and Lady Glencora McCloskie, nothing could be better.' The result
had been undoubtedly good. His Cora and all her money had been
saved from a worthless spendthrift. He had found a wife who he now
thought had made him happy. And she had found at any rate a
respectable husband. The idea when picked to pieces is not a nice
idea. 'Let us look out for a husband for this girl, so that we may
get her married--out of the way of her lover.' It is not nice. But
it had succeeded in one case, and why should it not succeed in
But how was it to be done? Who should do it? Whom should he select
to play the part which he had undertaken in that other
arrangement? No worse person could be found then himself in
managing such an affair. When the idea had at first been raised he
had thought that Lady Cantrip would do it all; but now he was
angry with Lady Cantrip.
How was it to be done? How should it be commenced? How had it been
commenced in his own case? He did not in the least know how he had
been chosen. Was it possible that his uncle, who was the proudest
man in England, should have condescended to make a bargain with an
old dowager whom everybody had despised? And in what way had he
been selected? No doubt he had been known to be the heir-apparent
to a dukedom and ducal reverence. In his case old Lady Midlothian
had begun the matter with him. It occurred to him that in royal
marriages such beginnings are quite common.
But who should be the happy man? Then he began to count up the
requisite attributes. He must be of high rank, and an eldest son,
and the possessor of, or the heir to a good estate. He did despise
himself when he found that he put these things first,--as a matter
of course. Nevertheless he did put them first. He was ejecting
this other man because he possessed none of these attributes. He
hurried himself on to add that the man must be of good character,
and such as a young girl might learn to love. But yet he was aware
that he added these things for his conscience's sake. Tregear's
character was good, and certainly the girl loved him. But was it
not clear to all who knew anything of such matters that Mr Francis
Tregear should not have dared even to think of marrying the
daughter of the Duke of Omnium?
Who should be the happy man? There were so many who evidently
were unfit. Young Lord Percival was heir to a ruined estate and
beggared peerage. Lord Glasslough was odious to all men. There
were three or four others of whom he thought that he knew some
fatal objection. But when he remembered Lord Popplecourt there
seemed to be no objection which need be fatal.
Lord Popplecourt was a young peer whose father had died two years
since and whose estates were large and unembarrassed. The late
lord, who had been a Whig of the old fashion, had been the Duke's
friend. They had been at Oxford and in the House of Commons
together, and Lord Popplecourt had always been true to his party.
As to the son, the Duke remembered to have heard lately that he
was not given to waste his money. He drove about London a good
deal, but had as yet not done anything very foolish. He had taken
his degree at Oxford, taken his seat in the House of Lords and had
once opened his mouth. He had not indeed appeared often again; but
at Lord Popplecourt's age much legislation is not to be expected
from a young peer. Then he thought of the man's appearance.
Popplecourt was not specially attractive, whereas Tregear was a
very handsome man. But so also had been Burgo Fitzgerald,--almost
abnormally beautiful, while he, Plantagenet Palliser, as he was
then, had been quite insignificant in appearance as Lord
Lord Popplecourt might possibly do. But then how should the matter
be spoken of to the young man? After all, would it not be best
that he should trust Lady Cantrip?
A Family Breakfast-Table
Lord Silverbridge had paid all his Derby losses without any
difficulty. They had not been very heavy for a man in his
position, and the money had come without remonstrance. When asking
for it he was half-ashamed of himself, but could still find
consolation in remembering how much worse had plunged many young
men whom he knew. He had never 'plunged'. In fact he had made the
most prudent book in the world; and had so managed his affairs
that even now the horse which had been beaten was worth more than
all he had lost and paid. 'This is getting serious,' he had said
to his partner when, on making out a rough account, he had brought
in the Major in a debtor to him of more than a thousand pounds.
The Major remarked that as he was half-owner of the horses his
partner had good security for the money. Then something of an
unwritten arrangement was made. The 'Prime Minister' was now one
of the favourites for the Leger. If the horse won that race there
would be money enough for everything. If that race were lost, then
there should be a settlement by the transfer of the stud to the
younger partner. 'He's safe to pull it off,' said the Major.
At this time both his sons were living with the Duke in London. It
had been found impracticable to send Lord Gerald back to
Cambridge. The doors of Trinity were closed against him. But some
interest had been made in his favour, and he was to be transferred
to Oxford. All the truth had been told, and there had been a
feeling that the lad should be allowed another chance. He could
not however go to his new Alma Mater till after the long vacation.
In the meantime he was to be taken by a tutor down to a Cottage on
Dartmoor and there be made to read,--with such amusement in the
meantime as might be got from fishing, and playing cricket with
the West Devon county club. 'It isn't very bright look-out for the
summer,' his brother had said to him, 'but it's better then
breaking out on the loose altogether. You be a credit to the
family and all that sort of thing. Then I'll give up the borough
to you. But mind you stick to the Liberals. I've made an ass of
myself.' However in these early days of June Lord Gerald had not
yet got his tutor.
Though the father and the two young men were living together they
did not see very much of each other. The Duke breakfasted at nine
and the repast was a very simple one. When they failed to appear,
he did not scold,--but would simply be disappointed. At dinner they
never met. It was supposed that Lord Gerald passed his mornings at
reading, and some little attempts were made in that direction. It
is to be feared they did not come to much. Silverbridge was very
kind to Gerald, feeling an increased tenderness for him on account
of that Cambridge mishap. Now they were much together, and
occasionally, by a strong effort, would grace their father's
breakfast-table with their company.
It was not often that he either reproached them or preached to
them. Though he could not live with them on almost equal terms, as
some fathers can live with their sons, though he could not laugh
at their fun or make them laugh at his wit, he knew that it would
have been better both for him and them if he had possessed this
capacity. Though the life which they lived was distasteful to
him,--though racehorses were an abomination to him, and the driving
of coaches a folly, and club-life a manifest waste of time, still
he recognised these things as being, if not necessary, yet
unavoidable evils. To Gerald he would talk about Oxford, avoiding
all allusion to past Cambridge misfortunes; but in the presence of
Silverbridge, whose Oxford career had been so peculiarly
unfortunate, he would make no allusion to either of the
universities. To his eldest son he would talk of Parliament which
of all subjects would have been the most congenial had they agreed
in politics. As it was he could speak more freely to him on that
than any other matter.
One Thursday night as the two brothers went to bed on returning
from the Beargarden, at a not very late hour, they agreed that
they would 'give the governor a turn' the next morning,--by which
they meant that they would drag themselves out of bed in time to
breakfast with him. The worst of it is that he will never let them
get anything to eat, said Gerald. But Silverbridge explained that
he had taken the matter into his own hands, and had specially
ordered broiled salmon and stewed kidneys. 'He won't like it, you
know,' said Gerald. 'I'm sure he thinks it wicked to eat anything
but toasted bacon before lunch.'
At a very little after nine Silverbridge was in the breakfast-
room, and there found his father. 'I suppose Gerald is not up
yet,' said the Duke almost crossly.
'Oh yes he is, sir. He'll be here directly.'
'Have you seen him this morning?'
'No; I haven't seen him. But I know he'll be here. He said he
would, last night.'
'You speak of it as if it were an undertaking.'
'No, not that, sir. But we are not always quite up to time.'
'No; indeed you are not. Perhaps you sit late at the House.'
'Sometimes I do,' said the young member, with a feeling almost
akin to shame as he remembered all the hours spent at the
Beargarden. 'I have had Gerald there in the Gallery sometimes. It
is just as well he should know what is being done.'
'Quite as well.'
'I shouldn't wonder if he gets a seat some day.'
'I don't know how that may be.'
'He won't change as I have done. He'll stick to your side. Indeed
I think he'd do better in the House than I shall. He has more gift
of the gab.'
'That is not the first requisite.'
'I know all that, sir. I've read your letter more than once, and I
showed it to him.'
There was something sweet and pleasant in the young man's manner
by which the father could hardly not be captivated. They had now
sat down, and the servant had brought in the unusual accessories
for a morning feast. 'What is all that?' asked the Duke.
'Gerald and I are so awfully hungry of a morning,' said the son
'Well;--it's a very good thing to be hungry;--that is if you can get
plenty to eat. Salmon is it? I don't think I'll have any myself.
Kidneys! Not for me. I think I'll take a bit of fried bacon. I
also am hungry, but now awfully hungry.'
'You never seem to me to eat anything, sir.'
'Eating is an occupation from which I think a man takes the more
pleasure the less he considers it. A rural labourer who sits on
the ditch-side with his bread and cheese and an onion has more
enjoyment out of it than any Lucullus.'
'But he likes a good deal of it.'
'I do not think he ever over-eats himself,--which Lucullus does. I
have envied the ploughman his power,--his dura ilia,--but never an
epicure the appreciative skill of his palate. If Gerald does not
make haste he will have to exercise neither the one nor the other
upon that fish.'
'I will leave a bit for him, sir,--and here he is. You are twenty
minutes late, Gerald. My father says that bread and cheese and
onions would be better for you than salmon and stewed kidneys.'
'No, Silverbridge;--I said no such thing; but that if he were a
hedger and ditcher the bread and cheese would be as good.'
'I should not mind trying them all,' said Gerald. 'Only one never
does have such things for breakfast. Last winter a lot of us
skated to Ely, and we ate two or three loaves of bread and a whole
cheese, at a pot-house! And as for beer, we drank the public
'It was because for the time you had been a hedger and ditcher.'
'Proby was a ditcher I know, when he went right through into one
of the dykes. Just push on that dish Silverbridge. It's no good
you having the trouble of helping me half-a-dozen times. I don't
think things are a bit the nicer because they cost a lot of money.
I suppose that is what you mean, sir.'
'Something of that kind, Gerald. Not to have money for your
wants;--that must be troublesome.'
'Very bad indeed,' said Silverbridge, shaking his head wisely, as
a Member of Parliament might do who felt that something should be
done to put down such a lamentable state of things.
'I don't complain,' said Gerald. 'No fellow ever had less right to
complain. But I never felt that I had quite enough. Of course it
was my own fault.'
'I should say so, my boy. But then there are a great many like
you. Let their means be what they may, they never have quite
enough. To be in any difficulty with regard to money,--to owe what
you cannot pay, or even to have to abstain from things which you
have told yourself are necessary to yourself or to those who
depend on you,--creates a feeling of meanness.'
'That is what I have always felt,' said Silverbridge. 'I cannot
bear to think that I should like to have a thing and that I cannot
'You do not quite understand me, I fear. The only case in which
you can be justified in desiring that which you cannot afford is
when the thing is necessary;--as bread may be, or clothes.'
'As when a fellow wants a lot of new breeches before he has paid
his tailor's bill.'
'As when a poor man,' said the Duke impressively, 'may long to
give his wife a new gown, or his children boots to keep their feet
from the mud and snow.' Then he paused a moment, but the serious
tone of his voice and the energy of his words had sent Gerald
headlong among his kidneys. 'I say that in such cases money must
be regarded as a blessing.'
'A ten-pound note will do so much,' said Silverbridge.
'But beyond that it ought to have no power of conferring
happiness, and certainly cannot drive away sorrow. Not though you
build palaces out into the deep, can that help you. You read your
Horace I hope. "Scandunt eodum quo dominus minae."'
'I recollect that,' said Gerald. 'Black care sits behind the
'Even though he have groom riding after him beautiful with
exquisite boots. As far as I have been able to look into the
'I suppose you know it as well as anybody,' said Silverbridge,--who
was simply desirous of making himself pleasant to the 'dear old
'As far as my experience goes, the happiest man is he who, being
above the troubles which money brings, has his hands the fullest
of work. If I were to name the class of men whose lives are spent
with the most thorough enjoyment, I think I should name that of
barristers who are in large practice and also in Parliament.'
'Isn't it a great grind, sir?' asked Silverbridge.
'A very great grind, as you call it. And there may be the grind
and not the success. But--' He had now got up from his seat at the
table and was standing with his back against the chimney-piece,
and as he went on with his lecture,--as the word 'But' came from
his lips--he struck the fingers of one hand lightly on the palm of
the other as he had been known to do at some happy flight of
oratory in the House of Commons. 'But it is the grind that makes
the happiness. To feel that your hours are filled to overflowing,
that you can hardly barely steal minutes enough for sleep, that
the welfare of many is entrusted to you, that the world looks on
and approves, that some good is always being done to others,--above
all things some good to your country;--that is happiness. For
myself I can conceive none other.'
'Books,' suggested Gerald, as he put the last morsel of the last
kidney into his mouth.
'Yes, books! Cicero and Ovid have told us that to literature only
could they look for consolation in their banishment. But then they
speak of a remedy for sorrow, not of a source for joy. No young
man should dare to neglect literature. At some period of his life
he will surely need consolation. And he may be certain that should
he live to be an old man, there will be none other,--except
religion. But for that feeling of self-contentment, which creates
happiness--hard work, and hard work alone, can give it to you.'
'Books are hard work themselves sometimes,' said Gerald.
'As for money,' continued the father, not caring to note this
interruption, 'if it be regarded in any other light than an as a
shield against want, as a rampart under the protection of which
you may carry on your battle, it will fail you. I was born a rich
'Few people have cared so little about it as you,' said the elder
'And you, both of you, have been born to be rich.' This assertion
did not take the elder son by surprise. It was a matter of course.
But Lord Gerald, who had never as yet heard anything as to his
future destiny from his father, was interested by the statement.
'When I think of all this,--of what constitutes happiness,--I am
almost tempted to grieve that it should be so.'
'If a large fortune were really a bad thing,' said Gerald, 'a man
could I suppose get rid of it.'
'No;--it is a thing of which a man cannot get rid,--unless by
shameful means. It is a burden which he must carry to the end.'
'Does anybody wish to get rid of it, as Sinbad did of the Old
Man?' asked Gerald pertinaciously. 'At any rate I have enjoyed the
'You assured us just now that the bread and cheese at Ely were
just as good.' The Duke as he said this looked as though he knew
that he had taken all the wind out of his adversary's sails.
'Though you add carriage to carriage, you will not be carried more
'A second horse out hunting is a comfort,' said Silverbridge.
'Then at any rate don't desire a third for show. But such comforts
will cease to be joys when they become matters of course. That a
boy who does not see a pudding once a year should enjoy a pudding
when it comes I can understand; but the daily pudding, or the
pudding twice a day, is soon no more than a simple daily bread,--
which will or will not be sweet as it shall or shall not have been
earned.' Then he went slowly to the door, but, as he stood with
the handle of it in his hand, he turned round and spoke another
word. 'When, hereafter, Gerald, you may chance to think of that
bread and cheese at Ely, always remember that you had skated from
The two brothers then took themselves to some remote part of the
house where arrangements had been made for smoking, and there they
finished the conversation. 'I was very glad to hear what he said
about you, old boy.' This of course came from Silverbridge.
'I didn't quite understand him.'
'He meant you to understand that you wouldn't be like other
'Then what I have will be taken from you.'
'There is lots for three or four of us. I do agree that a fellow
has as much as he can spend he ought not to want anything more.
Morton was telling me the other day something about the settled
estates. I sat in that office with him all one morning. I could
not understand it all, but I observed that he said nothing about
the Scotch property. You'll be a laird, and I wish you joy with
all my heart. The governor will tell you all about it before long.
He's going to have two eldest sons.'
'What an unnatural piece of cruelty to me;--and so unnecessary!'
'He says that a property is no better than a burden. But I'll try
and bear it.'
Dinner at the Beargarden
The Duke was in the gallery of the House of Commons which is
devoted to the use of peers, and Silverbridge having heard that
his father was there, had come up to him. It was then about half-
past five, and the House had settled down to business. Prayers had
been read, petitions had been presented, and Ministers had gone
through their course of baiting with that equanimity and air of
superiority which always belongs to a well-trained occupant of the
The Duke was very anxious that his son should attend to his
parliamentary duties, but he was too proud a man and too generous
to come to the House as a spy. It was his present habit always to
be in his own place when the Lords were sitting, and to remain
there while the Lords sat. it was not, for many reasons, an
altogether satisfactory occupation, but it was the best which his
life afforded him. He would never, however, come across into the
other House, without letting his son know of his coming, and Lord
Silverbridge had on this occasion been on the look out, and had
come up to his father at once. 'Don't let me take you away,' said
the Duke, 'if you are particularly interested in your Chief's
defence,' for Sir Timothy Beeswax was defending some measure of
legal reform in which he was said to have fallen into trouble.
'I can hear it up here you know, sir.'
'Hardly if you are talking to me.'
'To tell the truth it's a matter I don't much care about. They've
got into some mess as to the number of Judges and what they ought
to do. Finn was saying that they had so arranged that there was
one Judge who never could possibly do anything.'
'If Mr Finn said so it would probably be so, with some allowance
for Irish exaggeration. He is a clever man, with less of his
country's hyperbole than others;--but still not without his share.'
'You know him well, I suppose.'
'Yes;--as one man does know another in the political world.'
'But he is a friend of yours? I don't mean an "honourable friend",
which is great bosh; but you know him at home.'
'Oh yes;--certainly. He has been staying with me at Matching. In
public life such intimacies come from politics.'
'You don't care much about him then.'
The Duke paused a moment before he answered. 'Yes I do;--and in
what I said just now perhaps I wronged him. I have been under
obligations to Mr Finn,--in a matter as to which he behaved very
well. I have found him to be a gentleman. If you come across him
in the House I would wish you to be courteous to him. I have not
seen him since we came from abroad. I have been able to see
nobody. But if ever again I should entertain my friends at my
table, Mr Finn would be one who would always be welcome there.'
This he said with a sadly serious air as though wishing that his
words should be noted. At the present moment he was remembering
that he owed recompense to Mrs Finn, and was making an effort to
pay the debt. 'But your leader is striking out into unwonted
eloquence. Surely we ought to listen to him.'
Sir Timothy was a fluent speaker, and when there was nothing to be
said was possessed of a great plenty of words. And he was gifted
with that peculiar power which enables a man to have the last word
in every encounter,--a power which we are apt to call repartee,
with is in truth the readiness which come from continual practice.
You shall meet two men of whom you shall know the one to be
endowed with the brilliancy of true genius, and the other to be
possessed of but moderate parts, and shall find the former never
able to hold his awn against the latter. In a debate, the man of
moderate parts will seem to be greater than the man of genius. But
this skill of tongue, this glibness of speech is hardly an affair
of intellect at all. It is--as is style to the writer,--not the
wares which he has to take to market, but the vehicle in which
they may be carried. Of what avail to you is it to have filled
granaries with corn if you cannot get your corn to the consumer?
Now Sir Timothy was a great vehicle, but he had not in truth much
corn to send. He could turn a laugh against an adversary;--no man
better. He could seize, at the moment, every advantage which the
opportunity might give him. The Treasury Bench on which he sat and
the big box on the table before him were to him fortifications of
which he knew how to use every stone. The cheers and jeers of the
House had been so measured by him that he knew the value and force
of every sound. Politics had never been to him a study; but to
parliamentary strategy he had devoted all his faculties. No one
knew so well as Sir Timothy how to make arrangements for business,
so that every detail should be troublesome to his opponents. He
could foresee a month beforehand that on a certain day a Royal
concert would make the House empty, and would generously give that
day to a less observant adversary. He knew how to blind the eyes
of members to the truth. Those on the opposite side of the House
would find themselves checkmated by his astuteness,--when with all
their pieces on the board, there should be none which they could
move. And this to him was Government! It was to these purposes
that he conceived that a great Statesman should devote himself!
Parliamentary management! That in his mind, was under the
Constitution of ours the one act essential for Government.
In all this he was very great; but when it might fall to his duty
either to suggest or defend any real piece of proposed legislation
he was less happy. On this occasion he had been driven to take the
matter in hand because he had previously been concerned in it as a
lawyer. He had allowed himself to wax angry as he endeavoured to
answer certain personal criticisms. Now Sir Timothy was never
stronger then when he simulated anger. His mock indignation was
perhaps his most powerful weapon. But real anger is a passion
which few men can use with judgement. And now Sir Timothy was
really angry, and condescended to speak of our old friend Phineas
who had made the onslaught as a bellicose Irishman. There was an
over-true story as to our friend having once been seduced into
fighting a duel, and those who wished to decry him sometimes
alluded to the adventure. Sir Timothy had been called to order,
but the Speaker had ruled 'bellicose Irishman' was not beyond the
latitude of parliamentary animadversion. Then Sir Timothy had
repeated the phrase with emphasis, and the Duke hearing it in the
gallery had made his remark as to the unwonted eloquence of his
son's parliamentary chief.
'Surely we ought to listen to him,' said the Duke. And for a short
time they did listen. 'Sir Timothy is not a man I like, you know,'
said the son, feeling himself obliged to apologise for his
subjection to such a chief.
'I never particularly loved him myself.'
'They say he is a sort of necessity.'
'A Conservative Fate,' said the Duke.
'Well, yes; he is so,--so awfully clever! We all feel that we could
not get on without him. When you were in, he was one of your
'Oh yes;--he was one of us. I have no right to complain of you for
using him. But when you say you could not get on without him, does
it not occur to you that should he,--let us say be taken to
heaven,--you would have to get on without him.'
'Then he would be,--out of the way, sir.'
'What you mean perhaps is that you do not know how to get rid of
'Of course I don't pretend to know much about it; but they all
think that he does know how to keep the party together. I don't
think we are proud of him.'
'He is awfully useful. A man has to look out so sharp to be always
ready for those other fellows! I beg your pardon, sir, but I mean
'I understand who the other fellows are.'
'And it isn't everybody who will go through such a grind. A man to
do it must be always ready. He has so many little things to think
of. As far as I can see we all feel that we could not get along
very well without him.' Upon the whole the Duke was pleased with
what he heard from his son. The young man's ideas about politics
were boyish, but they were the ideas of a clear-headed boy.
Silverbridge had picked up some of the ways of the place, though
he had not yet formed any sound political opinions.
Then Sir Timothy finished a long speech with a flowery peroration,
in which he declared that if Parliament were desirous of keeping
the realms of Her Majesty free from the invasions of foreigners it
must be done by maintaining the dignity of the Judicial bench.
There were some clamours at this, and although it was now dinner-
time Phineas Finn, who had been called a bellicose Irishman, was
able to say a word or two. 'The Right Honourable gentleman no
doubt means,' said Phineas, 'that we must carry ourselves with
some increased external dignity. The world is bewigging itself,
and we must buy a bigger wig than any we have got, in order to
confront the world with proper self-respect. Turveydrop and
deportment will suffice for us against odds.'
About half-past seven the House became very empty. 'Where are
going to dine, sir?' asked Silverbridge. The Duke, with something
like a sigh, said he supposed he should dine at home.
'You never were at the Beargarden;--were you, sir?' asked
'Never,' said the Duke.
'Come and dine with me.'
'I am not a member of the club.'
'We don't care at all about that. Anybody can take anybody.'
'Does not that make it promiscuous?'
'Well;--no; I don't know that it does. It seems to go on very well.
I daresay there are some cads there sometimes. But I don't know
where one doesn't meet cads. There are plenty in the House of
'There is something in that, Silverbridge, which makes me think
that you have not realised the difference between private and
public life. In the former you choose your own associates and are
responsible for your choice. In the latter you are concerned with
others for the good of the State; and though even for the State's
sake, you would not willingly be closely allied with those whom
you think dishonest, the outward manners and fashions of life need
create no barriers. I should not turn up my nose at the House of
Commons because some constituency might send them an illiterate
shoemaker; but I might probably find the illiterate shoemaker an
unprofitable companion for my private hours.'
'I don't think there will be any shoemakers at the Beargarden.'
'Even if there were I would go and dine with you. I shall be glad
to see the place where you, I suppose, pass many hours.'
'I find it a very good shop to dine at. The place at the House is
so stuffy and nasty. Besides, one likes to get away for a time.'
'Certainly. I never was an advocate for living in the House. One
should always change the atmosphere.' Then they got into a cab
and went to the club. Silverbridge was a little afraid of what he
was doing. The invitation had come from him on the spur of the
moment, and he hardly ventured to think that his father would
accept it. And now he did not quite know how the Duke would go
through the ceremony. 'The other fellows' would come and stare at
a man whom they had all been taught to regard as the most un-
Beargardenish of men. But he was especially anxious to make things
pleasant for his father.
'What shall I order?' said the son as he took the Duke into a
dressing-room to wash his hands. The Duke suggested that anything
sufficient for his son would certainly be sufficient for him.
Nothing especial occurred during the dinner, which the Duke
appeared to enjoy very much. 'Yes; I think it is a very good
soup,' he said. 'I don't think they ever give me any soup at
home.' Then the son expressed his opinion that unless his father
looked about rather more sharply, 'they' very soon would provide
no dinner at all, remarking that experience had taught him that
the less people demanded the more they were 'sat upon'. The Duke
did like his dinner,--or rather he liked the feeling that he was
dining with his son. A report that the Duke of Omnium was with
Lord Silverbridge soon went round the room, and they who were
justified by some previous acquaintance came up to greet him. To
all who did so he was very gracious, and was specially so to Lord
Popplecourt, who happened to pass close by the table.
'I think he is a fool,' whispered Silverbridge as soon as
Popplecourt had passed.
'What makes you thinks so?'
'We thought him an ass at Eton.'
'He has done pretty well however.'
'Oh yes, in a way.'
'Somebody has told me that he is careful about his property.'
'I believe he is all that,' said Silverbridge.
'Then I don't see why you should think him a fool.'
To this Silverbridge made no reply; partly because he had nothing
to say,--but hindered also by the coming in of Tregear. This was an
accident, the possibility of which had not crossed him.
Unfortunately too the Duke's back was turned, so that Tregear, as
he walked up the room, could not see who was sitting at his
friend's table. Tregear coming up stood close to the Duke's elbow
before he recognised the man, and spoke some word or two to
Silverbridge. 'How do you do, Mr Tregear,' said the Duke, turning
'Oh, my Lord. I did not know that it was you.'
'You hardly would. I am quite a stranger here. Silverbridge and I
came up from the House together, and he has been hospitable enough
to give me a dinner. I will tell you an odd thing for a London
man, Mr Tregear. I have not dined at a London club for fifteen
years before this.'
'I hope you like it, sir,' said Silverbridge.
'Very much indeed. Good-evening, Mr Tregear. I suppose you have to
go to dinner now.'
Then they went into one of the rooms upstairs to have coffee, the
son declining to go into the smoking-room, and assuring his father
that he did not in the least care about a cigar after dinner. 'You
would be smothered, sir.' The Duke did as he was bidden and went
upstairs. There was in truth a strong reason for avoiding the
publicity of the smoking-room. When bringing his father to the
club he had thought nothing about Tregear but he had thought about
Tifto. As he entered he had seen Tifto at a table dining alone,
and had bobbed his head at him. Then he had taken the Duke to the
further end of the room, and had trusted that fear would keep the
major in his place. Fear had kept the Major in his place. When the
Major learned who the stranger was, he had become silent and
reserved. Before the father and son had finished their dinner,
Tifto had gone to his cigar; and so the danger was over.
'By George, there's Silverbridge has got his governor to dinner,'
said Tifto, standing in the middle of the room, and looking round
as though he were announcing some confusion of the heavens and
'Why shouldn't Silverbridge have his father to dine with him?'
asked Mr Lupton.
'I believe I know Silverbridge as well as any man, and by George
it is the very last thing of the kind that I should have expected.
There have been no end of quarrels.'
'There has been no quarrel at all,' said Tregear, who had just
then entered the room. 'Nothing on earth would make Silverbridge
quarrel with his father, and I think it would break the Duke's
heart to quarrel with his son.' Tifto endeavoured to argue the
matter out, but Tregear having made the assertion on behalf of his
friend would not allow himself to be enticed into further speech.
Nevertheless there was a good deal said by others during which
the Major drank two glasses of whisky-and-water. In the dining-
room he had been struck with awe by the Duke's presence, and had
certainly no idea of presenting himself personally to the great
man. But Bacchus lent him aid, and when the discussion was over
and the whisky had been swallowed, it occurred to him that he
would go upstairs and ask to be introduced.
In the meantime the Duke and his son were seated in close
conversation on one of the upstairs sofas. It was a rule at the
Beargarden that men might smoke all over the house except in the
dining-room;--but there was one small chamber called the library,
in which the practice was not often followed. The room was
generally deserted, and at this moment the father and son were the
only occupants. 'A club,' said the Duke, as he sipped his coffee,
'is a comfortable and economical residence. A man gets what he
wants well-served, and gets it cheap. But it has its drawbacks.'
'You always see the same fellows,' said Silverbridge.
'A man who lives much at a club is apt to fall into a selfish mode
of life. He is taught to think that his own comfort should always
be the first object. A man can never be happy unless his first
objects are outside himself. Personal self-indulgence begets a
sense of meanness which sticks to a man even when he has got
beyond all hope of rescue. It is for that reason;--among others,--
that marriage is so desirable.'
'A man should marry, I suppose.'
'Unless a man has on his shoulders the burden of a wife and
children he should, I think, feel that he has shirked out of
school. He is not doing his share of the work of the
'Pitt was not married, sir.'
'No;--and a great many other good men have remained unmarried. Do
you mean to be another Pitt?'
'I don't intend to be Prime Minister.'
'I would not recommend you to entertain that ambition. Pitt
perhaps hardly had time for marriage. You may be more lucky.'
'I suppose I shall marry some day.'
'I should be glad to see you marry early,' said the Duke, speaking
in a low voice, almost solemnly, but in his quietest, sweetest ton
of voice. 'You are peculiarly situated. Though as yet you are only
the heir to the property and honours of our family, still, were
you married, almost everything would be at your disposal. There is
so much I should only be ready to give up to you!'
'I can't bear to hear you talking of giving up anything,' said
Then the father looked round the room furtively, and seeing that
the door was shut, and that they were assuredly alone, he put out
his hand and gently stroked the young man's hair. It was almost a
caress,--as though he would have said to himself, 'Were he my
daughter, I would kiss him.' 'There is much I would fain give up,'
he said. 'If you were a married man the house in Carlton Terrace
would be fitter for you than for me. I have disqualified myself
for taking that part in society which should be filled by the head
of our family. You who have inherited so much from your mother
would, if you married pleasantly, do all that right well.' He
paused for a moment and then asked a straightforward question,
very quickly--'You have never thought of anyone yet, I suppose?'
Silverbridge had thought very much of somebody. He was quite aware
that he had almost made an offer to Lady Mabel. She certainly had
not given him any encouragement; but the very fact that she had
not done so allured him all the more. He did believe that he was
thoroughly in love with Lady Mabel. She had told him that he was
too young,--but he was older than Lady Mab herself by a week. She
was beautiful;--that was certain. It was acknowledged by all that
she was clever. As for blood, of which he believed his father
thought much, there was perhaps none better in England. He had
heard it said of her,--as he now well remembered, in his father's
presence,--that she had behaved remarkably well in trying
circumstances. She had no fortune;--everybody knew that; but then
he did not want fortune. Would not this be a good opportunity for
breaking the matter to his father? 'You have never thought of any
one?' asked the Duke,--again very sweetly, very softly.
'But I have!' Lord Silverbridge as he made the announcement
blushed up to the eyes.
Then there came over the father something almost of fear. If he
was to be told, how would it be if he could not approve? 'Yes I
have,' said Silverbridge, recovering himself. 'If you wish it, I
will tell you who it is.'
'Nay, my boy;--as to that consult your own feelings. Are you sure
'Have you spoken to her?'
'Well;--yes in part. She has not accepted me, if you mean that.
Rather the contrary.'
Now the Duke would have been very unwilling to say that his son
would certainly be accepted by any girl in England to whom he
might choose to offer his hand. But when the idea of a doubt was
suggested to him, it did seem odd that his son should ask in vain.
What other young man was there who could offer so much, and who
was at the same time so likely to be loved for his own sake? He
smiled however and was silent. 'I suppose I may as well out with
it,' said Silverbridge. 'You know Lady Mabel Grex?'
'Lady Mabel Grex. Yes,--I know her.'
'Is there any objection?'
'Is she not your senior?'
'No, sir; she is younger than I am.'
'Her father is not a man I esteem.'
'But she has always been so good!' Then the Duke was again
silent. 'Have you not heard that, sir?'
'I think I have.'
'Is not that a great deal?'
'A very great deal. To be good must of all qualities be the best.
She is very beautiful.'
'I think so, sir. Of course she has no money.'
'It is not needed. It is not needed. I have no objection to make.
If you are sure of your own mind--'
'I am quite sure of that, sir.'
'Then I will raise no objection. Lady Mabel Grex! Her father, I
fear, is not a worthy man. I hear that he is a gambler.'
'He is so poor!'
'That makes it worse, Silverbridge. A man who gambles because he
has money that he can afford to lose is, to my thinking, a fool.
But he who gambles because he has none, is--well, let us hope the
best of him. You may give her my love.'
'She has not accepted me.'
'But should she do so, you may.'
'She almost rejected me. But I am not sure that she was in
earnest, and I mean to try again.' Just at that moment the door
was opened and Major Tifto walked into the room.
Major Tifto and the Duke
'I beg your pardon, Silverbridge,' said the Major, entering the
room, 'but I was looking for Longstaff.'
'He isn't here,' said Silverbridge, who did not wish to be
interrupted by his racing friend.
'Your father, I believe?' said Tifto. He was red in the face but
was in other respects perhaps improved in appearance by his
liquor. In his more sober moments he was not always able to assume
that appearance of equality with his companions which it was the
ambition of his soul to achieve. But a second glass of whisky-and-
water would always enable him to cock his tail and bark before the
company with all the courage of my lady's pug. 'Would you do me
the great honour to introduce me to his Grace?'
Silverbridge was not prone to turn his back upon a friend because
he was low in the world. He had begun to understand that he had
made a mistake by connecting himself with the Major, but at the
club he always defended his partner. Though he not infrequently
found himself obliged to snub the Major himself, he always
countenanced the little Master of the Hounds, and was true to his
own idea of 'standing to a fellow'. Nevertheless he did not wish
to introduce his friend to his father. The Duke saw it all at a
glance, and felt that the introduction should be made. 'Perhaps,'
said he, getting up from his chair, 'this is Major Tifto.'
'Yes;--my Lord Duke. I am Major Tifto.'
The Duke bowed graciously. 'My father and I were engaged about
'I beg ten thousand pardons,' exclaimed the Major. 'I did not
intend to intrude.'
'I think we had done,' said the Duke. 'Pray sit down, Major
Tifto.' The Major sat down. 'Though now I bethink myself, I have
to beg your pardon;--that I a stranger should ask you to sit down
in your own club.'
'Don't mention it, my Lord Duke.'
'I am so unused to clubs, that I forgot where I was.'
'Quite so, my Lord Duke. I hope you think that Silverbridge is
'Yes;--yes. I think so.' Silverbridge bit his lips, and turned his
face away to the door.
'We didn't make a very good thing of our Derby nag the other day.
Perhaps your Grace has heard all that?'
'I did hear that the horse in which you are both interested had
failed to win the race.'
'Yes, he did. The Prime Minister, we call him, your Grace,--out of
compliment to a certain Ministry which I wish was going on today
instead of the seedy lot we've got in. I think, my Lord Duke, that
any one you ask may tell you that I know what running is. Well;--I
can assure you,--your Grace, that is,--that since I've seen 'orses
I've never seen a 'orse fitter than him. When he got his canter
that morning, it was nearly even betting. Not that I or
Silverbridge were fools enough to put on anything at any rate. But
I never saw a 'orse so bad ridden. I don't mean to say anything,
my Lord Duke, against the man. But if that fellow hadn't been
squared, or else wasn't drunk, or else off his head, that 'orse
must have won,--my Lord Duke.'
'I do not know anything about racing, Major Tifto.'
'I suppose not, your Grace. But as I and Silverbridge are together
in this matter I thought I'd just let your Grace know that we
ought to have had a very good thing. I thought that perhaps your
Grace might like to know that.'
'Tifto, you are making an ass of yourself,' said Silverbridge.
'Making an ass of myself!' exclaimed the Major.
'I think you are a little hard upon your friend,' said the Duke,
with an attempt at a laugh. 'It is not to be supposed that he
should know how utterly indifferent I am to everything connected
with the turf.'
'I thought, my Lord Duke, you might care about learning how
Silverbridge was going on.' This the poor little man said almost
with a whine. His partner's roughness had knocked out of him
nearly all the courage which Bacchus had given him.
'So I do; anything that interests him, interests me. But perhaps
of all his pursuits racing is the one to which I am least able to
lend an attentive ear. That every horse has a head, and that all
did have tails till they were ill-used, is the extent of my stable
'Very good indeed, my Lord Duke, very good indeed! Ha, ha, ha!-all
horses have heads, and all have tails! Heads and tails. Upon my
word that is the best thing I have heard for a long time. I will
do myself the honour of wishing your Grace good-night. By-bye,
Silverbridge.' Then he left the room, having been made supremely
happy by what he considered to have been the Duke's joke.
Nevertheless he would remember the snubbing and would be even with
Silverbridge some day. Did Lord Silverbridge think that he was
going to look after his Lordship's 'orses, and do this always on
the square, and then be snubbed for doing it!
'I am very sorry that he should have come in to trouble you,' said
'He has not troubled me much. I do not know whether he has
troubled you. If you are coming down to the House again I will
walk with you.' Silverbridge of course had to go down to the
House again, and they started together. 'That man did not trouble
me Silverbridge; but the question is whether such an acquaintance
must not be troublesome to you.'
'I'm not very proud of him, sir.'
'But I think one ought to be proud of one's friends.'
'He isn't my friend in that way at all.'
'In what way then?'
'He understands racing.'
'He is the partner of your pleasure then;--the man whose society
you love to enjoy the recreation of the racecourse.'
'It is, sir, because he understands it.'
'I thought that a gentleman on the turf would have a trainer for
that purpose;--not a companion. You mean to imply that you can save
money by leaguing yourself with Major Tifto.'
'If you associate with him, not for pleasure, then it must surely
be for profit. That you should do the former would be to me
surprising that I must regard it as impossible. That you should do
the latter--is, I think, a reproach.' This, he said, with no tone
of anger in his voice,--so gently that Silverbridge at first hardly
understood it. But gradually all that was meant came in upon him,
and he felt himself to be ashamed of himself.
'He is bad,' he said at last.
'Whether he is bad I will not say; but I am sure that you can gain
nothing by his companionship.'
'I will get rid of him,' said Silverbridge, after a considerable
pause. 'I cannot do so at once, but I will do it.'
'It will be better, I think.'
'Tregear has been telling me the same thing.'
'Is he objectionable to Mr Tregear?' asked the Duke.
'Oh yes. Tregear cannot bear him. You treated him a great deal
better than Tregear ever does.'
'I do not deny that he is entitled to be treated well;--but so also
is your groom. Let us say no more about him. And so it is to be
'I did not say so, sir. How can I answer for her? Only it was so
pleasant for me to know that you would approve if it should come
'Yes;--I will approve. When she has accepted you--'
'But I don't think she will.'
'If she should, tell her that I will go to her at once. It will be
much to have a new daughter;--very much that you should have a
wife. Where would she like to live?'
'Oh, sir, we haven't got as far as that.'
'I dare say not; I dare say not,' said the Duke. 'Gatherum is
always thought to be dull.'
'She wouldn't like Gatherum, I'm sure.'
'Have you asked her?'
'No, sir. But nobody likes Gatherum.'
'I suppose not. And yet, Silverbridge, what a sum of money it
'I believe it did.'
'All vanity; and vexation of spirit!'
The Duke no doubt thinking of certain scenes passed at the great
house in question, which scenes had not been delightful to him.
'No, I don't suppose she would wish to live at Gatherum. The Horns
was given expressly by my uncle to your dear mother, and I should
like Mary to have the place.'
'You should live among your tenantry. I don't care so very much
'It is the one place you do like, sir.'
'However, we can manage all that. Carlton Terrace I do not
particularly like; but it is a good house, and there you should
hang up your hat when in London. When it is settled, let me know
'But if it should never be settled?'
'I will ask no questions; but if it be settled tell me.' Then in
Palace Yard he was turning to go, but before he did so, he said
another word leaning on his son's shoulder. 'I do not think that
Mabel Grex and Major Tifto would do well together at all.'
'There shall be an end to that, sir.'
'God bless you my boy!' said the Duke.
Lord Silverbridge sat in the House,--or to speak more accurately,
in the smoking-room of the House--for about an hour thinking over
all that had passed between him and his father. He certainly had
not intended to say anything about Lady Mab, but on the spur of
the moment it had all come out. Now at any rate it was decided for
him that he must, in set terms, ask her to be his wife. The scene
which had just occurred had made him thoroughly sick of Major
Tifto. He must get rid of the Major, and there could be no way of
doing this at once so easy and so little open to observation as
marriage. If he were but once engaged to Mabel Grex the dismissal
of Tifto would be quite a matter of course. He would see Lady
Mabel again on the morrow and ask her in direct language to be his
Mrs Montacute Jones's Garden-Party
It was known to all the world that Mrs Montacute Jones's first
great garden-party was to come off on Wednesday, the sixteenth of
June, at Roehampton. Mrs Montacute Jones, who lived in Grosvenor
Place and had a country house in Gloucestershire, and a place for
young men to shoot at in Scotland, also kept a suburban elysium in
Roehampton, in order that she might give two garden-parties every
year. When it is said that all these costly luxuries appertained
to Mrs Montacute Jones, it is to be understood that they did in
truth belong to Mr Jones, of whom nobody heard much. But of Mrs
Jones,--that is, Mrs Montacute Jones,--everybody heard a great deal.
She was an old lady who devoted her life to the amusement of--not
only her friends, but very many who were not her friends. No doubt
she was fond of Lords and Countesses, and worked very hard to get
round her all the rank and fashion of the day. It must be
acknowledged that she was a worldly old woman. But no more good-
natured old woman lived in London, and everybody liked to be asked
to her garden-parties. On this occasion there was to be a
considerable infusion of royal blood,--German, Belgian, French,
Spanish, and of native growth. Everybody, who was asked would go,
and everybody had been asked,--who was anybody. Lord Silverbridge
had been asked, and Lord Silverbridge intended to be there. Lady
Mary his sister, could even be asked, because her mother was
hardly more than three months dead; but it is understood in the
world that women mourn longer than men.
Silverbridge had mounted a private hansom cab in which he could be
taken about rapidly,--and, as he said himself, without being shut
up in a coffin. In this vehicle he had himself taken to
Roehampton, purporting to kill two birds with one stone. He had
not as yet seen his sister since she had been with Lady Cantrip.
He would on this day come back by the Horns.
He was well aware that Lady Mab would be at the garden-party. What
place could be better for putting the question he had to ask! He
was by no means so confident as the heir to so many good things
might perhaps have been without overdue self-confidence.
Entering through the house into the lawn he encountered Mrs
Montacute Jones, who, with a seat behind her on the terrace,
surrounded by flowers, was going through the immense labour of
receiving her guests.
'How very good of you to come all this way, Lord Silverbridge, to
eat my strawberries.'
'How very good of you to ask me! I did not come to eat your
strawberries but to see your friends.'
'You ought to have said you came to see me, you know. Have you met
Miss Boncassen yet?'
'The American beauty? No. Is she here?'
'Yes; and she particularly wants to be introduced to you; you
won't betray me, will you?'
'Certainly not; I am true as steel.'
'She wanted, she said, to see if the eldest son of the Duke of
Omnium really did look like any other man.'
'Then I don't want to see her,' said Silverbridge, with a look of
'There you are wrong, for there was a real downright fun in the
way she said it. There they are, and I shall introduce you.' Then
Mrs Montacute Jones absolutely left her post for a minute or two,
and taking the young lord down the steps of the terrace did
introduce him to Mr Boncassen, who was standing there amidst a
crowd, and to Miss Boncassen.
Mr Boncassen was an American who had lately arrived in England
with the object of carrying out certain literary pursuits in which
he was engaged within the British Museum. He was an American who
had nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with trade. He
was a man of wealth and a man of letters. And he had a daughter
who was said to be the prettiest young woman either in Europe or
America at the present time.
Isabel Boncassen was certainly a very pretty girl. I wish that my
reader would believe my simple assurance. But no such simple
assurance was ever believed, and I doubt even whether any
description will procure for me from the reader that amount of
faith which I desire to achieve. But I must make the attempt.
General opinion generally considered Miss Boncassen to be small,
but she was in truth something above the average height of English
women. She was slight, without that look of slimness which is
common to girls, and especially to American girls. That her figure
was perfect the reader may believe my word, as any detailed
description of her arms, feet, bust, and waist, would be
altogether ineffective. Her hair was dark brown and plentiful; but
it added but little to her charms, which depended on other
matters. Perhaps what struck the beholder first was the excessive
brilliancy of her complexion. No pink was every pinker, no
alabaster whiteness was ever more like alabaster; but under and
around and through it all there was a constant changing hue which
gave a vitality to her countenance which no fixed colours can
produce. Her eyes, too, were full of life and brilliancy, and even
when she was silent her mouth would speak. Nor was there a fault
within the oval of her face upon which the hypercritics of mature
age could set a finger. Her teeth were excellent both in form and
colour, but were seen seldom. Who does not know that look of
ubiquitous ivory produced by teeth which are too perfect in a face
which is otherwise poor? Her nose at the base spread a little,--so
that it was not purely Grecian. But who has ever seen a nose to be
eloquent and expressive, which did not spread? It was, I think,
the vitality of her countenance,--the way in which she could speak
with every feature, the command which she had of pathos, of
humour, of sympathy, of satire, the assurance which she gave by
every glance of her eye, every elevation of her brow, every curl
of her lip, that she was alive to all that was going on,--it was
all this rather than those feminine charms which can be catalogued
and labelled that made all acknowledge that she was beautiful.
'Lord Silverbridge,' said Mr Boncassen, speaking a little through
his nose, 'I am proud to make your acquaintance, sir. Your father
is a man for whom we in our country have a great respect. I think,
sir, you must be proud of such a father.'
'Oh yes,--no doubt,' said Silverbridge awkwardly. Then Mr Boncassen
continued his discourse with the gentlemen around him. Upon this
our friend turned to the young lady. 'Have you been long in
England, Miss Boncassen?'
'Long enough to have heard about you and your father,' she said,
speaking with no slightest twang.
'I hope you have not heard evil of me.'
'I'm sure you can't have heard much good.'
'I know you didn't win the Derby.'
'You've been long enough to hear that.'
'Do you suppose we don't interest ourselves about the Derby in New
York? Why, when we arrived at Queenstown I was leaning over the
taffrail so that I might ask the first man on board the tender
whether the Prime Minister had won.'
'And he said he hadn't.'
'I can't conceive why you of all men should call your horse by
such a name. If my father had been President of the United States,
I don't think I'd call a horse President.'
'I didn't name the horse.'
'I'd have changed it. But is it not very impudent of me to be
finding fault with you the first time I have ever met you? Shall
you have a horse at Ascot?'
'There will be something going, I suppose. Nothing that I care
about.' Lord Silverbridge had made up his mind that he would not
go to the races with Tifto before the Leger. The Leger would be an
affair of such moment as to demand his presence. After that should
come the complete rupture between him and Tifto.
Then there was movement among the elders, and Lord Silverbridge
soon found himself walking alone with Miss Boncassen. It seemed to
her to be quite natural to do so, and there certainly was no
reason why he should decline anything so pleasant. It was thus
that he had intended to walk with Mabel Grex;--only as yet he had
not found her. 'Oh, yes,' said Miss Boncassen, when they had been
together about twenty minutes; 'we shall be here all the summer,
and the fall, and all the winter. Indeed father means to read
every book in the British Museum before he goes back.'
'He'll have something to do.'
'He reads by steam, and he has two or three young men with him to
take it all down and make other books out of it;--just as you'll
see a lady take a lace shawl and turn it all about till she has
trimmed a petticoat with it. It is the same lace all through,--and
so I tell father it's the same knowledge.'
'But he puts it where more people will find it.'
'The lady endeavours to do the same with the lace. That depends on
whether people look up or down. Father however is a very learned
man. You mustn't suppose that I am laughing at him. He is going to
write a very learned book. Only everybody will be dead before it
can be half finished.' They still went on together, and then he
gave her his arm and took her into the place where the
strawberries and cream were prepared. As he was going in he saw
Mabel Grex walking with Tregear, and she bowed to him pleasantly
and playfully. 'Is that lady a great friend of yours?' asked Miss
'A very great friend indeed.'
'She is very beautiful.'
'And clever as well,--and good as gold.'
'Dear me! Do tell me who it is that owns all these qualities.'
'Lady Mabel Grex. She is daughter of Lord Grex. That man with her
is my particular friend. His name is Frank Tregear, and they are
'I am so glad they are cousins.'
'Because his being with her won't make you unhappy.'
'Supposing I was in love with her,--which I am not,--do you suppose
it would make me jealous to see her with another man?'
'In our country it would not. A young lady may walk about with a
young gentleman just as she might with another young lady; but I
thought it was different here. Do you know, by judging English
ways, I believe I am behaving very improperly in walking about
with you so long. Ought I not to tell you to go away?'
'Pray do not.'
'As I am going to stay here so long I wish to behave well in
'People know who you are, and discount all that.'
'If the difference be very marked they do. For instance, I needn't
wear a hideous long bit of cloth over my face in Constantinople
because I am a woman. But when the discrepancies are small, then
they have to be attended to. So I shan't walk about with you any
'Oh yes you will,' said Silverbridge, who began to think that he
liked walking about with Miss Boncassen.
'Certainly not. There is Mr Sprottle. He is father's Secretary. He
will take me back.'
'Can not I take you back as well as Mr Sprottle?'
'Indeed no;--I am not going to monopolise such a man as you. Do you
think that I don't understand that everybody will be making
remarks upon that American girl who won't leave the son of the
Duke of Omnium alone? There is your particular friend Lady Mabel,
and here is my particular friend Mr Sprottle.'
'May I come and call?'
'Certainly. Father will only be too proud,--and I shall be prouder.
Mother will be the proudest of all. Mother very seldom goes out.
Till we get a house we are at The Langham. Thank you, Mr Sprottle.
I think we'll go and find father.'
Lord Silverbridge found himself close to Lady Mabel and Tregear,
and also to Miss Cassewary, who had now joined Lady Mabel. He had
been much struck with the American beauty, but was not on that
account the less anxious to carry out his great plan. It was
essentially necessary that he should do so at once, because the
matter had been settled between him and his father. He was anxious
to assure her that if she would consent, then the Duke would be
ready to pour out all kinds of paternal blessings on their heads.
'Come and take a turn among the haycocks,' he said.
'Frank declares,' said Lady Mabel, 'that the hay is hired for the
occasion. I wonder whether that is true?'
'Anybody can see,' said Tregear, 'that it has not been cut off the
grass it stands upon.'
'If I could find Mrs Montacute Jones I'd ask her where she got
it,' said Lady Mabel.
'Are you coming?' asked Silverbridge impatiently.
'I don't think I am. I have been walking round the haycocks till I
am tired of them.'
'Anywhere else then?'
'There isn't anywhere else. What have you done with your American
beauty? The truth is, Lord Silverbridge, you ask me for my company
when she won't give you hers any longer. Doesn't it look like it,
'I don't think Lord Silverbridge is the man to forget an old
friend for a new one.'
'Not though the new friend be as lovely as Miss Boncassen?'
'I don't know that I ever saw a prettier girl,' said Tregear.
'I quite admit it,' said Lady Mabel. 'But that is no salve for my
injured feelings. I have heard so much talk about Miss Boncassen's
beauty for the last week, that I mean to get up a company of
British females, limited, for the express purpose of putting her
down. Who is Miss Boncassen that we are all to be put on one side
Of course he knew that she was joking, but he hardly knew how to
take her joke. There is a manner of joking which carries with it
much serious intention. He did feel that Lady Mabel was not
gracious to him because he had spent half an hour with this new
beauty, and he was half inclined to be angry with her. Was it
fitting that she should be cross with him, seeing that he was
resolved to throw at her feet all the good things that he had in
the world? 'Bother Miss Boncassen,' he said; 'you might as well
come and take a turn with a fellow.'
'Come along, Miss Cassewary,' said she. 'We will go around the
haycocks yet once again.' So they turned and the two ladies
accompanied Lord Silverbridge.
But this was not what he wanted. He could not say what he had to
say in the presence of Miss Cassewary,--nor could he ask her to
take herself off in another direction. Nor could he take himself
off. Now that he had joined himself to these two ladies he must
make with them the tour of the gardens. All this made him cross.
'These kind of things are a great bore,' he said.
'I dare say you would rather be in the House of Commons;--or,
better still, at the Beargarden.'
'You mean to be ill-natured when you say that, Lady Mab.'
'You ask me to come and walk with you, and then you tell us that
we are bores!'
'I did nothing of the kind.'
'I should have thought that you would be particularly pleased with
yourself for coming here today, seeing that you have made Miss
Boncassen's acquaintance. To be allowed to walk half and hour
alone with the acknowledged beauty of the two hemispheres ought to
be enough even for Lord Silverbridge.'
'That is nonsense, Lady Mab.'
'Nothing give so much zest to admiration as novelty. A republican
charmer must be exciting after all the blasees habituees of the
'How can you talk such nonsense, Mabel?' said Miss Cassewary.
'But it is so. I feel that people must be sick of seeing me. I
know I am very often sick of seeing them. Here is something
fresh,--and not only unlike, but so much more lovely. I quite
acknowledge that I may be jealous, but no one can say that I am
spiteful. I wish that some republican Adonis or Apollo would crop
up,--so that we might have our turn. But I don't think the
republican gentlemen are equal to the republican ladies. Do you,
'I haven't thought about it.'
'Mr Sprottle for instance.'
'I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr Sprottle.'
'Now we've been around the haycocks, and really, Lord
Silverbridge, I don't think we have gained much by it. Those
forced marches never do any good.' And so they parted.
He was thinking with a bitter spirit of the ill-result of the
morning's work when he again found himself close to Miss barbarian
in the crowd of departing people on the terrace. 'Mind you keep
your word,' she said. And then she turned to her father, 'Lord
Silverbridge has promised to call.'
'Mrs Boncassen will be delighted to make his acquaintance.'
He got into his cab and was driven off before Richmond. As he went
he began to think of the two young women with whom he had passed
his morning. Mabel had certainly behaved badly to him. Even if she
suspected nothing of his object, did she not owe it to their
friendship to be more courteous to him than she had been? And if
she suspected that object, should she not at any rate given him
Or could it be that she was really jealous of the American girl?
No;--that idea he rejected instantly. It was not compatible with
the innate modesty of his disposition. But no doubt the American
girl was very lovely. Merely as a thing to be looked at she was
superior to Mabel. He did feel that as to mere personal beauty she
was in truth superior to anything he had ever seen before. And she
was clever too;--and good-humoured;--whereas Mabel had been both
ill-natured and unpleasant.
The Lovers Meet
Lord Silverbridge found his sister alone. 'I particularly want
you,' said he, 'to come and call upon Lady Mabel Grex. She wishes
to know you, and I am sure you would like her.'
'But I haven't been out anywhere yet,' she said. 'I don't feel as
though I wanted to go anywhere.'
Nevertheless she was very anxious to know Lady Mabel Grex, of whom
she had heard much. A girl if she has had a former love passage
says nothing of it to her new lover; but a man is not so reticent.
Frank Tregear had perhaps not told her everything, but he had told
her something. 'I was very fond of her,--very fond of her,' he had
said. 'And so I am still,' he had added. 'As you are my love of
loves, she is my friend of friends.' Lady Mary had been satisfied
by the assurance, but had become anxious to see the friend of
friends. She resisted at first her brother's entreaties. She felt
that her father in delivering her over to the seclusions of The
Horns had intended to preclude her from showing herself in London.
She was conscious that she was being treated with cruelty, and had
a certain pride in her martyrdom. She would obey her father to the
letter; she would give him no right to call her conduct in
question; but he and any other to whom he might entrust the care
of her, should be made to know that she thought him cruel. He had
his power to which she must submit. But she also had hers,--to
which it was possible he might be made to submit. 'I do not know
that papa would wish me to go,' she said.
'But it is just what he would wish. He thinks a good deal about
'Why should he think of her at all?'
'I can't exactly explain,' said Silverbridge, 'but he does.'
'If you mean to tell me that Mabel Grex is anything particular to
you, and that papa approves of it, I will go round the world to
see her.' But he had not meant to tell his this. The request had
been made at Lady Mabel's instance. When his sister had spoken of
her father's possible objection, then he had become eager in
explaining the Duke's feeling, not remembering that such anxiety
might betray himself. At that moment Lady Cantrip came in, and the
question was referred to her. She did not see any objection to
such a visit, and expressed her opinion that it would be a good
thing that Mary should be taken out. 'She should begin to go
somewhere,' said Lady Cantrip. And so it was decided. On the next
Friday he would come down early in his hansom and drive her up to
Belgrave Square. Then he would take her to Carlton Terrace, and
Lady Cantrip's carriage should pick her up there and bring her
home. He would arrange it all.
'What did you think of the American beauty?' asked Lady Cantrip
when that was settled.
'I thought she was a beauty.'
'So I perceived. You had eyes for nobody else,' said Lady Cantrip,
who had been at the garden-party.
'Somebody introduced her to me, and then I had to walk about the
grounds with her. That's the kind of thing one always does in
'Just so. That is what "those places" are meant for, I suppose.
But it was not apparently a great infliction.' Lord Silverbridge
had to explain that it was not an infliction;--that it was a
privilege, seeing that Miss Boncassen was both clever and lovely;
but that it did not mean anything in particular.
When he took his leave he asked his sister to go out into the
grounds with him for a moment. This she did almost unwillingly,
fearing that he was about to speak to her of Tregear. But he had
no such purpose on his mind. 'Of course you know,' he began, 'all
that was nonsense you were saying about Mabel.'
'I did not know.'
'I was afraid you might blurt out something before her.'
'I should not be so imprudent.'
'Girls do make such fools of themselves sometimes. They are always
thinking about people being in love. But it is the truth that my
father said to me the other day how very much he liked what he had
heard of her, and that he would like you to know her.'
On that same evening Silverbridge wrote from the Beargarden the
shortest possible note to Lady Mabel, telling her what he had
arranged. 'I and Mary propose to call in B. Square on Friday at
two. I must be early because of the House. You will give us lunch.
S.' There was no word of endearment,--none of those ordinary words
which people who hate each other use to one another. But he
received the next day at home a much more kindly-written note from
'DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,
'You are so good! You always do just what you think people
will like best. Nothing could please me so much as seeing your
sister, of whom of course I have heard very very much. There shall
be nobody here but Miss Cass.
'Yours most sincerely,
'How I do wish I were a man!' his sister said to him when they
were in the hansom together.
'You'd have a great deal more trouble.'
'But I'd have a hansom of my own, and go where I pleased. How
would you like to be shut up in a place like The Horn?'
'You can go out if you like.'
'Not like you. Papa thinks it's the proper place for me to live
in, and so I must live there. I don't think a woman ever chooses
how or where she shall live herself.'
'You are not going to take up woman's rights, I hope.'
'I think I shall if I stay at The Horns much longer. What would
papa say if he heard that I was going to give a lecture at the
'The governor has had so many things to bear that a trifle such as
that would make but little difference.'
'He was dreadfully cut up about Gerald. And then he is so good! He
said more to me about Gerald than he ever did about my own little
misfortune at Oxford; but to Gerald himself he said almost
nothing. Now he has forgiven me because he thinks I am constant at
'And are you?'
'Not so much as he thinks. I do go there,--for his sake. He has
been so good about my changing sides.'
'I think you were quite right there.'
'I am beginning to think I was quite wrong. What did it matter to
'I suppose it did make papa unhappy.'
'Of course it did;--and then this affair of yours.' As soon as
this was said Lady Mary at once hardened her heart against her
father. Whether Silverbridge was or was not entitled to his own
political opinions,--seeing that the Pallisers had for ages been
known as staunch Whigs and Liberals,--might be a matter for
question. But that she had a right to her own lover she thought
there could be no question. As they were sitting in the cab he
could hardly see her face, but he was aware that she was in some
fashion arming herself against opposition. 'I am sure that this
makes him very unhappy,' continued Silverbridge.
'It cannot be altered,' she said.
'It will have to be altered.'
'Nothing can alter it. He might die, indeed;--or so might I.'
'Or he might see that it is no good,--and change his mind,'
'Of course that is possible,' said Lady Mary very curtly,--showing
plainly by her manner that the subject was one which she did not
choose to discuss any further.
'It is very good of you to come to me,' said Lady Mabel, kissing
her new acquaintance. 'I have heard so much about you.'
'And I also of you.'
'I, you know, am one of your brother's stern Mentors. There are
three or four of us determined to make him a pattern young
legislator. Miss Cassewary is another. Only she is not quite so
stern as I am.'
'He ought to be very much obliged.'
'But he is not;--not a bit. Are you, Lord Silverbridge?'
'Not so much as I ought to be, perhaps.'
'Of course there is an opposing force. There are the race-horses,
and the drag, and Major Tifto. No doubt you have heard of Major
Tifto. The Major is the Mr Worldly-Wise-man who won't let
Christian go to the Straight Gate. I am afraid he hasn't read his
Pilgrim's Progress. But we shall prevail, Lady Mary, and he will
get to the beautiful city at last.'
'What is the beautiful city?' he asked.
'A seat in the Cabinet, I suppose;--or that general respect which a
young nobleman achieves when he shows himself able to sit on a
bench for six consecutive hours without appearing to go to sleep.'
Then they went to lunch, and Lady Mary found herself to be happy
with her new acquaintance. Her life since her mother's death had
been so sad, that this short escape from it was a relief to her.
Now for awhile she found herself almost gay. There was an easy
liveliness about Lady Mabel,--a grain of humour and playfulness
conjoined,--which made her feel at home at once. And it seemed to
her as though her brother was at home. He called the girl Lady
Mab, and Queen Mab, and once plain Mabel, and the old woman he
called Miss Cass. It surely, she thought, must be the case that
Lady Mabel and her brother were engaged.
'Come upstairs into my own room,--it is nicer than this,' said Lady
Mabel, and they went from the dining-room into a pretty little
sitting-room with which Silverbridge was very well acquainted.
'Have you heard of Miss Boncassen?' Mary said she had heard
something of Miss Boncassen's great beauty. 'Everybody is talking
about her. Your brother met at Mrs Montacute Jones's garden-party,
and was made a conquest of instantly.'
'I wasn't made a conquest of at all,' said Silverbridge.
'Then he ought to have been made a conquest of. I should be if I
were a man. I think she is the loveliest person to look at and the
nicest person to listen to that I ever came across. We all feel
that, as far as this season is concerned, we are cut out. But we
don't mind it so much because she is a foreigner.' Then just as
she said this the door was opened and Frank Tregear was announced.
Everybody present there knew as well as does the reader, what was
the connection between Tregear and Lady Mary Palliser. And each
knew that the other knew it. It was therefore impossible for them
not to feel themselves guilty among themselves. The two lovers had
not seen each other since they had been together in Italy. Now
they were brought face to face in this unexpected manner! And
nobody except Tregear was at first quite sure whether somebody had
done something to arrange the meeting. Mary might naturally
suspect that Lady Mabel had done this in the interest of her
friend Tregear, and Silverbridge could not but suspect that it was
so. Lady Mabel, who had never before met the other girl, could
hardly refrain from thinking that there had been some underhand
communication,--and Miss Cassewary was clearly of the opinion that
there had been some understanding.
Silverbridge was the first to speak. 'Halloo, Tregear, I didn't
know that we were to see you.'
'Nor I, that I should see you,' said he. Then of course there was
a shaking of hands all round, in the course of which ceremony he
came to Mary the last. She gave him her hand, but had not a word
to say to him. 'If I had known that you were here,' he said, 'I
should not have come; but I need hardly say how glad I am to see
you,--even in this way.' Then the two girls were convinced that
the meeting was accidental; but Miss Cass still had her doubts.
Conversation became at once very difficult. Tregear seated himself
near, but not very near, to Lady Mary, and made some attempt to
talk to both the girls at once. Lady Mabel plainly showed that she
was not at her ease;--whereas Mary seemed to be stricken dumb by
the presence of her lover. Silverbridge was so much annoyed by a
feeling that this interview was a treason to his father, that he
sat cudgelling his brain to think how he should bring it to an
end. Miss Cassewary was dumb-founded by the occasion. She was the
one elder in the company who ought to see that no wrong was
committed. She was not directly responsible to the Duke of Omnium,
but she was thoroughly permeated by a feeling that it was her duty
to take care that there should be no clandestine love meetings in
Lord Grex's house. At last Silverbridge jumped up from his chair.
'Upon my word, Tregear, I think you had better go,' said he.
'So do I,' said Miss Cassewary. 'If it is an accident--'
'Of course it is an accident,' said Tregear angrily,--looking round
at Mary, who blushed up to her eyes.
'I did not mean to doubt it,' said the old lady. 'But as it has
occurred, Mabel, don't you think that he had better go?'
'He won't bite anybody, Miss Cass.'
'Certainly not,' said Mary, speaking for the first time. 'But now
he is here--' Then she stopped herself, rose from the sofa, sat
down, and then rising again, stepped up to her lover,--who rose at
the same moment,--and threw herself into his arms and put up her
lips to be kissed.
'This won't do at all,' said Silverbridge. Miss Cassewary clasped
her hands together and looked up to heaven. She probably had never
seen such a thing done before. Lady Mabel's eyes were filled with
tears, and though in all this there was much to cause her anguish,
still in her heart of hearts, she admired the brave girl who could
thus show her truth to her lover.
'Now go,' said Mary, through her sobs.
'Now own one,' ejaculated Tregear.
'Yes, yes, yes; always your own. Go,--go, go.' She was weeping and
sobbing as she said this, and hiding her face with her
handkerchief. He stood for a moment irresolute, and then left the
room without a word of adieu to anyone.
'You have behaved very badly,' said the brother.
'She has behaved like an angel,' said Mabel, throwing her arms
round Mary, as she spoke, 'like an angel. If there had been a girl
whom you loved and who loved you, would you have not wished it?
Would you not have worshipped her for showing that she was not
ashamed of her love?'
'I am not a bit ashamed,' said Mary.
'And I say you have no cause. No one knows him like I do. How good
he is, and how worthy!' Immediately after that Silverbridge took
his sister away, and Lady Mabel, escaping from Miss Cass was
alone. 'She loves him almost as I have loved him,' she said to
herself. 'I wonder whether he can love her as he did me?'
What Came of the Meeting
Not a word was said in the cab as Lord Silverbridge took his
sister to Carlton Terrace, and he leaving her without any
reference to the scene which had taken place, when an idea struck
him that this would be cruel. 'Mary,' he said, 'I was very sorry
for all that.'
'It was not my doing.'
'I suppose it was nobody's doing. But I am very sorry that it
occurred. I think you should have controlled yourself.'
'No!' she almost shouted.
'I think so.'
'No;--if you mean by controlling myself, holding my tongue. He is
the man I love,--whom I have promised to marry.'
'But, Mary,--do ladies generally embrace their lovers in public?'
'No;--nor should I. I never did such a thing in my life before. But
as he was there I had to show that I was not ashamed of him! Do
you think I should have done it if you all had not been there?'
Then again she burst into tears.
He did not know quite what to make of it. Mabel Grex had declared
that she had behaved like an angel. But yet, as he thought of what
he had seen, he shuddered with vexation. 'I was thinking of the
'He shall be told everything.'
'That you met Tregear?'
'Certainly; and that I--kissed him. I will do nothing that I am
ashamed to tell everybody.'
'He will be very angry.'
'I cannot help it. He should not treat me as he is doing. Mr
Tregear is a gentleman. Why did he let him come? Why you bring
him? But it is of no use. The thing is settled. Papa can break my
heart, but he cannot make me say that I am not engaged to Mr
On that night Mary told the whole of her story to Lady Cantrip.
There was nothing she tried to conceal. 'I got up,' she said, 'and
threw my arms round him. Is he not all the world to me?'
'Had it been planned?' asked Lady Cantrip.
'No;--no! Nothing had been planned. They are cousins and very
intimate, and he goes there constantly. Now I want you to tell
papa all about it.'
Lady Cantrip began to think that it had been an evil day for her
when she had agreed to take charge of this very determined young
lady, but she consented to write to the Duke. As the girl was in
her hands she must take care not to lay herself open to
reproaches. As this objectionable lover had either contrived a
meeting, or had met her without contriving, it was necessary that
the Duke should be informed. 'I would rather you wrote the
letter,' said Lady Mary. 'But pray tell him that all along I have
meant him to know about it.'
Till Lady Cantrip seated herself at her writing-table she did not
know how great the difficulty would be. It cannot in any
circumstance be easy to write to a father of his daughter's love
for an objectionable lover; but the Duke's character added much to
the severity of the task. And then that embrace! She knew that
the Duke would be struck with horror as he read of such a tale,
and she found herself almost struck with horror as she attempted
to write it. When she came to the point she found that she could
not write it. 'I fear there was a good deal of warmth shown on
both sides,' she said, feeling that she was calumniating the man,
as to whose warmth she had heard nothing. 'It is quite clear,' she
added, 'that this is not a passing fancy on her part.'
It was impossible that the Duke should be made to understand
exactly what had occurred. That Silverbridge had taken Mary he did
understand, and that they had together gone to Lord Grex's house.
He understood also that the meeting had taken place in the
presence of Silverbridge and Lady Mabel. 'No doubt it was all an
accident,' Lady Cantrip wrote. How could it be an accident?
'You had Mary up in town on Friday?' he said to his son on the
following Sunday morning.
'And that friend of yours came in?'
'Do you not know what my wishes are?'
'Certainly I do;--but I could not help his coming. You do not
suppose that anybody had planned it?'
'I hope not.'
'It was simply an accident. Such an accident as must occur over
and over again,--unless Mary is to be locked up.'
'Who talks of locking anybody up? What right have you to speak in
'I only meant that of course they will stumble across each other
'I think I will go abroad,' said the Duke. He was silent for
awhile, and then repeated his words. 'I think I will go abroad.'
'Not for long I hope, sir.'
'Yes;--to live there. Why should I stay here? What good can I do
here? Everything I see and everything I hear is a pain to me.'
The young man of course could not but go back in his mind to the
last interview which he had had with his father, when the Duke had
been so gracious and apparently so well pleased.
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