The Duke's Children
Part 9 out of 14
told Lady Cantrip that my mother wasn't well and wants to see me.
You'll stop your time out, I suppose?'
'I don't know.'
'You've got it all square, no doubt. I wish I'd a handle to my
name. I never cared for it before.'
'I'm sorry you're so down in the mouth. Why don't you try again?
The thing is to stick to 'em like wax. If ten times of asking
won't do, go in twenty times.'
Dolly shook his head despondently. 'What can you do when a girl
walks out of a room and slams the door in your face? She'll get it
hot and heavy before she's done. I know what she's after. She
might as well cry for the moon.' And so Dolly got into the trap
and went to Bridport and slept the night at the hotel at
Lord Popplecourt, though he could give such excellent advice to
his friend, had been able as yet to do very little in his own
case. He had been a week at Custins, and had said not a word to
denote his passion. Day after day he had prepared himself for the
encounter, but the lady had never given him the opportunity. When
he sat next to her at dinner she would be very silent. If he
stayed at home on a morning she was not visible. During the short
evenings he could never get her attention. And he made no progress
with the Duke. The Duke had been very courteous to him at
Richmond, but here he was monosyllabic and almost sullen.
Once or twice Lord Popplecourt had a little conversation with Lady
Cantrip. 'Dear girl!' said her ladyship. 'She is so little given
to seeing admiration.'
'I dare say.'
'Girls are so different, Lord Popplecourt. With some of them it
seems that a gentleman need have no trouble in explaining what it
is that he wishes.'
'I don't think Lady Mary is like that at all.'
'Not in the least. Anyone who addresses her must be prepared to
explain himself fully. Nor ought he to hope to get much
encouragement at first. I do not think that Lady Mary will bestow
her heart till she is sure she can give it with safety.' There
was an amount of falsehood in this which was proof at any rate of
very strong friendship on the part of Lady Cantrip.
After a few days Lady Mary became more intimate with the American
and his daughter than with any others of the party. Perhaps she
liked to talk about Scandinavian poets, of whom, Mr Boncassen was
so fond. Perhaps she felt sure that her transatlantic friend would
not make love to her. Perhaps it was that she yielded to the
various allurements of Miss Boncassen. Miss Boncassen saw the Duke
of Omnium for the first time at Custins, and there had the first
opportunity of asking herself how such a man as that would receive
from his son and heir such an announcement as Lord Silverbridge
would have to make him should she at the end of three months
accept his offer. She was quite aware that Lord Silverbridge need
not repeat his offer unless he were so pleased. But she thought
that he would come again. He had so spoken that she was sure of
his love; and had so spoken as to obtain hers. Yes;--she was sure
that she loved him. She had never seen anything like him before;--
so glorious in his beauty, so gentle in his manhood, so powerful
and yet so little imperious, so great in condition, and yet so
little confident in his own greatness, so bolstered up with
external advantages, and so little apt to trust anything but his
own heart and his own voice. She was glad he was what he was. She
counted at their full value all his natural advantages. To be an
English Duchess! Oh--yes; her ambition understood it all! But she
loved him, because in the expression of his love no hint had
fallen from him of the greatness of the benefits which he could
confer upon her. Yes, she would like to be a Duchess; but not to
be a Duchess would she become the wife of a man who should begin
his courtship by assuming a superiority.
Now the chances of society had brought her into the company of his
nearest friends. She was in the house with his father and with his
sister. Now and again the Duke spoke a few words to her, and
always did so with a polite courtesy. But she was sure that the
Duke had heard nothing of his son's courtship. And she was equally
sure that the matter had not reached Lady Mary's ears. She
perceived that the Duke and her father would often converse
together. Mr Boncassen would discuss republicanism generally, and
the Duke would explain that theory of monarchy as it prevails in
England, which but very few Americans had been made to understand.
All this Miss Boncassen watched with pleasure. She was still of
opinion that it would not become her to force her way into a
family which would endeavour to repudiate her. She would not
become this young man's wife if all connected with the young man
were resolved to reject the contact. But if she could conquer
them,--then,--then she thought that she could put her little hand
into that young man's grasp with a happy heart.
It was in this frame of mind that she laid herself out not
unsuccessfully to win the esteem of Lady Mary Palliser. 'I do not
know whether you approve it,' said Lady Cantrip to the Duke; 'but
Mary has become very intimate with our new American friend.' At
this time Lady Cantrip had become very nervous,--so as almost to
wish that Lady Mary's difficulties might be unravelled elsewhere
than at Custins.
'They seem to be sensible people,' said the Duke. 'I don't know
when I have met a man with higher ideals on politics than Mr
'His daughter is popular with everybody.'
'A nice ladylike girl,' said the Duke, 'and appears to have been
It was now near the end of October, and the weather was peculiarly
fine. Perhaps in our climate, October would of all months be the
most delightful if something of its charms were not detracted from
by the feeling that with it depart the last relics of delight of
summer. The leaves are still there with their gorgeous colouring,
but they are going. The last rose still lingers on the bush, but
it is the last. The woodland walks are still pleasant to the feet,
but caution is heard on every side by the coming winter.
The park at Custins, which was spacious, had many woodland walks
attached to it, from which, through vistas of the timber, distant
glimpses of the sea were caught. Within half a mile of the house
the woods were reached, and within a mile the open sea was in
sight,--and yet the wanderers might walk for miles without going
over the same ground. Here, without other companions, Lady Mary
and Miss Boncassen found themselves one afternoon, and here the
latter told her story to her lover's sister. 'I long to tell you
something,' she said.
'Is it a secret?' asked Lady Mary.
'Well; yes it is,--if you will keep it so. I would rather you
should keep it a secret. But I will tell you.' Then she stood
still looking into the other's face. 'I wonder how you will take
'What can it be?'
'Your brother has asked me to be his wife.'
'Yes;--Lord Silverbridge. You are astonished.'
Lady Mary was much astonished,--so much astonished that words
escaped from her, which she regretted afterwards. 'I thought there
was someone else.'
'Lady Mabel Grex. But I know nothing.'
'I think not,' said Miss Boncassen slowly. 'I have seen them
together and I think not. There might be somebody, though I think
not her. But why do I say that? Why do I malign him, and make so
little of myself. There is no one else, Lady Mary. Is he not
'I think he is true.'
'I am sure he is true. And he has asked me to be his wife.'
'What did you say?'
'Well;--what do you think? What is it probable that such a girl as
I would say when such a man as your brother asks her to be his
wife? Is he not such a man as a girl would love?'
'Is he not handsome as a god?' Mary stared at her with all her
eyes. 'And sweeter than any god those pagan races knew? And is he
not good-tempered, and loving; and has he not that perfection of
manly dash without which I do not think I do not think I could
give my heart to any man?'
'Then you have accepted him?'
'And his rank and wealth! The highest position in all the world
in my eyes.'
'I do not think you should take him for that.'
'Does it not all help? Can you put yourself in my place? Why
should I refuse him? No, not for that. I would not take him for
that. But if I love him,--because he is all that my imagination
tells me that a man ought to be;--if to be his wife seems to be the
greatest bliss that could happen to a woman; if I feel that I
could die to serve him, that I would live to worship him, that his
touch would be sweet to me, his voice music, his strength the only
supports in the world on which I would care to lean,--what then?'
'Is it so?'
'Yes it is so. it is after that fashion that I love him. He is my
hero;--and not the less so because there is none higher than he
among the nobles of the greatest land under the sun. Would you
have me for a sister?' Lady Mary could not answer all at once.
She had to think of her father,--and then she thought of her own
lover. Why should not Silverbridge be as well entitled to his
choice as she considered herself to be? And yet how would it be
with her father? Silverbridge would in process of time be the head
of the family. Would it be proper that he should marry an
'You would not like me for a sister?'
'I was thinking of my father. For myself I like you.'
'Shall I tell you what I said to him?'
'If you will.'
'I told him that he must ask his friends;--that I would not be his
wife to be rejected by them all. Nor will I. Though it be heaven I
will not creep there through a hole. If I cannot go with my head
upright, I will not go even there.' The she turned round as
though she were prepared in her emotion to walk back to the house
alone. But Lady mare ran after her, and having caught her put her
arm round her waist and kissed her.
'I at any rate will love you,' said Lady Mary.
'I will do as I said,' continued Miss Boncassen. 'I will do as I
have said. Though I love your brother down to the ground he shall
not marry me without his father's consent.' Then they returned
arm-in-arm close together; but very little was said between them.
When Lady Mary entered the house she was told that Lady Cantrip
wished to see her in her own room.
The Party at Custins is Broken Up
The message was given to Lady Mary after so solemn a fashion that
she was sure that some important communication was to be made to
her. Her mind at that moment had been filled with her new friend's
story. She felt that she required some time to meditate before she
could determine what she herself would wish; but when she was
going to her own room, in order that she might think it over, she
was summoned to Lady Cantrip. 'My dear,' said the Countess, 'I
wish you to do something to oblige me.'
'Of course I will.'
'Lord Popplecourt wants to speak to you.'
'What can Lord Popplecourt have to say to me?'
'Can you not guess? Lord Popplecourt is a young nobleman,
standing very high in the world, possessed of ample means, just in
that position in which it behoves such a man to look about for a
wife.' Lady Mary pressed her lips together, and clenched her two
hands. 'Can you not imagine what such a gentleman may have to
say?' Then there was a pause, but she made no immediate answer.
'I am to tell you, my dear, that your father would approve of it.'
'Approve of what?'
'He approves of Lord Popplecourt as a suitor for your hand.'
'How can he?'
'Why not, Mary? Of course he has made it his business to ascertain
all particulars as to Lord Popplecourt's character and property.'
'Papa knows that I love somebody else.'
'My dear Mary, that is all vanity.'
'I don't think that papa can want to see me married to a man when
he knows that with all my heart and soul--'
'When he knows,' continued Mary, who would not be put down, 'that
I love another man with all my heart. What will Lord Popplecourt
say if I tell him that? If he says anything to me, I shall tell
him. Lord Popplecourt! He cares for nothing but his coal mines.
Of course, if you bid me to see him I will; but it can do no good.
I despise him, and if he troubles me I shall hate him. As for
marrying him,--I would sooner die this minute.'
After this Lady Cantrip did not insist on the interview. She
expressed her regret that things should be as they were,--explained
in sweetly innocent phrases that in a certain rank of life young
ladies could not always marry the gentlemen to whom their fancies
might attach them, but must, not infrequently, postpone their
youthful inclinations to the will of their elders,--or in less
delicate language, that though they might love in one direction
the must marry in another; and then expressed a hope that her dear
Mary would think over these things and try to please her father.
'Why does he not try to please me?' said Mary. Then Lady Cantrip
was obliged to see Lord Popplecourt, a necessity which was a great
nuisance to her. 'Yes;--she understands what you mean. But she is
not prepared for it yet. You must wait awhile.'
'I don't see why I am to wait.'
'She is very young,--and so are you, indeed. There is plenty of
'There is somebody else I suppose.'
'Is it that Tregear?'
'I am not prepared to mention names,' said Lady Cantrip,
astonished that he should know so much. 'But indeed you must
'I don't see it, Lady Cantrip.'
'What can I say more? If you think that such a girl as Lady Mary
Palliser, the daughter of the Duke of Omnium, possessed of
fortune, beauty, and every good gift, is to come like a bird to
your call, you will find yourself mistaken. All that her friends
can do for you will be done. The rest must remain with yourself.'
During that evening Lord Popplecourt endeavoured to make himself
pleasant to one of the FitzHoward young ladies, and on the next
morning he took his leave of Custins.
'I will never interfere again in reference to anybody else's child
as long as I live,' Lady Cantrip said to her husband that night.
Lady Mary was very much tempted to open her heart to Miss
Boncassen. It would be delightful to have a friend; but were she
to engage Miss Boncassen's sympathies on her behalf, she must of
course sympathise with Miss Boncassen in return. And what if,
after all, Silverbridge were not devoted to the American beauty!
What if it should turn out that he was going to marry Lady Mabel
Grex? 'I wish you would call me Isabel,' her friend said to her.
'It is so odd,--since I have left New York I have never heard my
name from any lips except father's and mother's.'
'Has not Silverbridge ever called you by your christian-name?'
'I think not. I am sure he never has.' But he had, though it had
passed by her at the moment without attention. 'It all came from
him so suddenly. And yet I expected it. But it was too sudden for
christian-names and pretty talk. I do not even know what his name
'Plantagenet,--but we always call him Silverbridge.'
'Plantagenet is much prettier. I shall always call him
Plantagenet. But I recall that. You will not remember that against
'I will remember nothing that you do not wish.'
'I mean that if,--if all the grandeurs of the Pallisers could
consent to put up with poor me, if heaven were opened to me with a
straight gate, so that I could walk out of our republic into your
aristocracy with my head erect, with the stars and stripes waving
proudly will I had been accepted into the shelter of the Omnium
griffins,--then I would call him--'
'There's one Palliser would welcome you.'
'Would you dear? Then I will love you dearly. May I call you Mary?'
'Of course you may.'
'Mary is the prettiest name under the sun. But Plantagenet is so
grand! Which of the kings did you branch off from?'
'I know nothing about it. From none of them I should think. There
is some story about a Sir Guy, who was a king's friend. I never
trouble myself about it. I hate aristocracy.'
'Do you, dear?'
'Yes,' said Mary, full of her own grievances. 'It is an abominable
bondage, and I do not see that it does any good at all.'
'I think it is so glorious,' said the American. 'There is no such
mischievous nonsense in the world as equality. That is what father
says. What men ought to want is liberty.'
'It is terrible to be tied up in a small circle,' said the Duke's
'What do you mean, Lady Mary?'
'I thought you were to call me Mary. What I mean is this. Suppose
that Silverbridge loves you better than all the world.'
'I hope he does. I think he does.'
'And suppose he cannot marry you, because of his--aristocracy?'
'But he can.'
'I thought you were saying yourself--'
'Saying what? That he could not marry me! No indeed! But that
under certain circumstances I would not marry him. You don't
suppose that I think he would be disgraced? If so I would go away
at once, and he should never again see my face or hear my voice. I
think myself good enough for the best man God every made. But if
others think differently, and those others are closely concerned
with him and would be so closely concerned with me, as to trouble
our joint lives;--then will I neither subject him to such sorrow
nor will I encounter it myself.'
'It all comes from what you call aristocracy.'
'No, dear;--but from the prejudices of an aristocracy. To tell the
truth, Mary, the most difficult a place is to get into, the more
right of going in is valued. If everybody could be a Duchess and a
Palliser, I should not perhaps think so much about it.'
'I thought it was because you loved him.'
'So I do. I love him entirely. I have said not a word of that to
him;--but I do, if I know at all what love is. But if you love a
star, the pride you have in your star will enhance your love.
Though you know that you must die of your love, still you must
love your star.'
And yet Mary could not tell her tale in return. She could not show
the reverse picture:--that she being a star was anxious to dispose
of herself after the fashion of poor human rushlights. It was not
that she was ashamed of her love, but that she could not bring
herself to yield altogether in reference to the great descent
which Silverbridge would have to make.
On the day after this,--the last day of the Duke's sojourn at
Custins, the last also of the Boncassen's visit,--it came to pass
that the Duke and Mr Boncassen with Lady Mary and Isabel, were all
walking in the woods together. And it so happened when they were
at a little distance from the house, each of the girls was walking
with the other girl's father. Isabel had calculated what she would
say to the Duke should a time for speaking come to her. She could
not tell him of his son's love. She could not ask his permission.
She could not explain to him all her feelings, or tell him what
she thought of her proper way of getting into heaven. That must
come afterwards if it should ever come at all. But there was
something that she could tell. 'We are different from you,' she
said, speaking of her own country.
'And yet so like,' said the Duke, smiling;--'your language, your
laws, your habits!'
'But still there is such a difference! I do not think there is a
man in the whole union more respected than father.'
'I dare say not.'
'Many people think that if he would only allow himself to be put
in nomination, he might be the next president.'
'The choice, I am sure, would to your country honour.'
'And yet his father was a poor labourer who earned his bread among
the shipping at New York. That kind of thing would be impossible
'My dear young lady, there you wrong us.'
'Certainly! A Prime Minister with us might as easily come from
the same class.'
'Here you think so much of rank. You are--a Duke.'
'But a Prime Minister can make a Duke, and if a man can raise
himself by his own intellect to that position, no one will think
of his father or his grandfather. The sons of merchants have with
us been Prime Ministers more than once, and no Englishman ever
were more honoured among their countrymen. Our peerage is being
continually recruited from the ranks of the people, and hence it
gets its strength.'
'Is it so?'
'There is no greater mistake than to suppose that inferiority of
birth is a barrier to success in this country.' She listened to
this and to much more on the same subject with attentive ears--not
shaken in her ideas as to the English aristocracy in general, but
thinking that she was perhaps learning something of his own
individual opinion. If he were more liberal than others, on that
liberality might perhaps be based her own happiness and fortune.
He in all this was quite unconscious of the working of her mind.
Nor in discussing such matters generally did he ever mingle his
own private feelings, his own pride of race and name, his own
ideas of what was due to his ancient rank with the political creed
by which his conduct was governed. The peer who sat next to him
in the House of Lords, whose grandmother had been a washerwoman
and whose father an innkeeper, was to him every whit as good a
peer as himself. And he would as soon sit in counsel with Mr Monk,
whose father had risen from a mechanic to be a merchant, as with
any nobleman who could count ancestors against himself. But there
was an inner feeling in his bosom as to his own family, his own
name, his own children, and his own personal self, which was kept
altogether apart from his grand political theories. It was a
subject on which he never spoke; but the feeling had come to him
as a part of his birthright. And he conceived that it would pass
through him to his children after the same fashion. It was this
which made the idea of a marriage between his daughter and Tregear
intolerable to him, and which would operate as strongly in regard
to any marriage which his son might contemplate. Lord Grex was not
a man with whom he would wish to form any intimacy. He was, we may
say, a wretched unprincipled old man, bad all round; and such the
Duke knew him to be. But the blue blood and the rank were there,
and as the girl was good herself he would have been quite
contented that his son should marry the daughter of Lord Grex.
That one and the same man should have been in one part of himself
so unlike the other part,--that he should have one set of opinions
so contrary to another set,--poor Isabel Boncassen did not
The Major's Fate
The affair of Prime Minister and the nail was not allowed to fade
away into obscurity. Through September and October it was made
matter for pungent inquiry. The Jockey Club was alive. Mr Pook was
very instant,--with many Pookites anxious to free themselves from
suspicion. Sporting men declared that the honour of the turf
required that every detail of the case should be laid open. But by
the end of October, though every detail had been surmised, nothing
had in truth been discovered. Nobody doubted but that Tifto had
driven the nail into the horse's foot, and that Green and Gilbert
Villiers had shared the bulk of the plunder. They had gone off on
their travels together, and the fact that each of them had been in
possession of about twenty thousand pounds was proved. But then
there is no law against two gentlemen having such a sum of money.
It was notorious that Captain Green and Mr Gilbert Villiers had
enriched themselves to this extent by the failure of Prime
Minister. But yet nothing was proved!
That the Major had either himself driven the nail or seen it done,
all racing men were agreed. He had been out with the horse in the
morning and had been the first to declare that the animal was
lame. And he had been with the horse till the farrier had come.
But he had concocted a story for himself. He did not dispute that
the horse had been lamed by the machinations of Green and
Villiers,--with the assistance of the groom. No doubt he said,
these men, who had been afraid to face an inquiry, had contrived
and had carried out the iniquity. How the lameness had been caused
he could not pretend to say. The groom who was at the horse's
head, and who evidently knew how these things were done, might
have struck a nerve in the horse's foot with his boot. But when
the horse was got into the stable, he, Tifto,--so he declared,--at
once ran out to send for the farrier. During the minutes so
occupied, the operation must have been made with the nail. That
was Tifto's story,--and as he kept his ground, there were some few
who believed it.
But though the story was so far good, he had at moments been
imprudent, and had talked when he should have been silent. The
whole matter had been a torment to him. In the first place his
conscience made him miserable. As long as it had been possible to
prevent the evil he had hoped to make a clean breast of it to Lord
Silverbridge. Up to this period of his life everything had been
'square' with him. He had betted 'square', and had ridden
'square', and had run horses 'square'. He had taken a pride in
this, as though it had been a great virtue. It was not without
great inward grief that he had deprived himself of the
consolations of those reflections! But when he had approached his
noble partner, his noble partner snubbed him at every turn,--and he
did the deed.
His reward was to be three thousand pounds,--and he got his money.
The money was very much to him,--would perhaps have been almost
enough to comfort him in his misery, had not those other rascals
got so much more. When he heard that the groom's fee was higher
than his own, it almost broke his heart. Green and Villiers, men
of infinitely lower standing,--men at whom the Beargarden would not
have looked,--had absolutely netted fortunes on which they could
live in comfort. No doubt they had run away while Tifto still
stood his ground,--but he soon began to doubt whether to have run
away with twenty thousand pounds was not better than to remain
with such small plunder as had fallen to his lot, among such faces
as those which now looked upon him! Then when he had drunk a few
glasses of whisky-and-water, he said something very foolish as to
his power of punishing that swindler Green.
An attempt had been made to induce Silverbridge to delay the
payment of his bets;--but he had been very eager that they should
be paid. Under the joint auspices of Mr Lupton and Mr Moreton the
horses were sold, and the establishment was annihilated,--with
considerable loss, but with great despatch. The Duke had been
urgent. The Jockey Club, and the racing world, and the horsey
fraternity generally, might do what seemed to them good,--so that
Silverbridge was extricated from the matter. Silverbridge was
extricated,--and the Duke cared nothing for the rest.
But Silverbridge could not get out of the mess quite so easily as
his father wished. Two questions arose about Major Tifto, outside
the racing world, but within the domain of the world of sport and
pleasure generally, as to one of which it was impossible that
Silverbridge should not express an opinion. The first question had
reference to the mastership of the Runnymede hounds. In this our
young friend was not bound to concern himself. The other affected
the Beargarden Club; and as Lord Silverbridge had introduced the
Major, he could hardly forbear from the expression of an opinion.
There was a meeting of the subscribers to the hunt in the last
week of October. At that meeting Major Tifto told his story. There
he was, to answer any charge which might be brought against him.
If he had made money by losing the race,--where was it and whence
had it come? Was it not clear that a conspiracy might have been
made without his knowledge;--and clear also that the real
conspirators had levanted? He had not levanted! The hounds were
his own. He had undertaken to hunt the country for this season,
and they had undertaken to pay him a certain sum of money. He
should expect and demand that sum of money. If they chose to make
any other arrangement for the year following they could do so.
then he sat down and the meeting was adjourned,--the secretary
having declared that he would not act in that capacity any longer,
nor collect the funds. A farmer had also asserted that he and his
friends had resolved that Major Tifto should not ride over their
fields. On the next day the Major had his hounds out, and some of
the London men, with a few of the neighbours, joined him. Gates
were locked, but the hounds ran, and those who chose to ride
managed to follow them. There are men who will stick to their
sport though Apollyon himself should carry the horn. Who cares
whether the lady who fills a theatre be or be not a moral young
woman, or whether the bandmaster who keeps such excellent time in
a ball has or has not paid is debts? There were men of this sort
who supported Major Tifto;--but then there was a general opinion
that the Runnymede hunt would come to an end unless a new master
could be found.
Then in the first week of November a special meeting was called at
the Beargarden, at which Lord Silverbridge was asked to attend.
'It is impossible that he should be allowed to remain in the
club.' This was said to Lord Silverbridge by Mr Lupton. 'Either
he must go or the club must be broken up.'
Silverbridge was very unhappy on the occasion. He had at last been
reasoned into believing that the horse had been the victim of foul
play; but he persisted in saying that there was no conclusive
evidence against Tifto. The matter was argued with him. Tifto had
laid bets against the horse; Tifto had been hand and glove with
Green; Tifto could not have been absent from the horse above two
minutes; the thing could not have been arranged without Tifto. As
he had brought Tifto into the club, and had been his partner on
the turf, it was his business to look into the matter. 'But for
all that,' said he, 'I'm not going to jump on a man when he's
down, unless I feel sure that he is guilty.'
Then the meeting was held, and Tifto himself appeared. When the
accusation was made by Mr Lupton, who proposed that he should be
expelled, he burst into tears. The whole story was repeated,--the
nail, the hammer, and the lameness; and the moments were counted
up, and poor Tifto's bets and friendship with Green were made
apparent,--and the case was submitted to the club. An old gentleman
who had been connected with the turf all his life, and who would
not have scrupled, by square betting, to rob his dearest friend of
his last shilling, seconded the proposition,--telling all the story
over again. Then Major Tifto was asked whether he wished to say
'I've got to say that I'm here,' said Tifto, still crying, 'and if
I'd done anything of that kind, of course I'd have gone with the
rest of 'em. I put it to Lord Silverbridge to say whether I'm that
sort of fellow.' Then he sat down.
Upon this there was a pause, and the club was manifestly of the
opinion that Lord Silverbridge ought to say something. 'I think
that Major Tifto should not have betted against the horse,' said
'I can explain that,' said the Major. 'Let me explain that.
Everybody knows that I'm a man of small means. I wanted to 'edge,
I only wanted to 'edge.'
Mr Lupton shook his head. 'Why have you not shown me your book?'
'I told you before that it was stolen. Green got hold of it. I did
win a little. I never said I didn't. But what has that to do with
hammering a nail into a horse's foot? I have always been true to
you Lord Silverbridge, and you ought to stick up for me now.'
'I will have nothing further to do with the matter,' said
Silverbridge, 'one way or the other,' and he walked out of the
room,--and out of the club. The affair was ended by a magnanimous
declaration on the part of the Major that he would not remain
in a club in which he was suspected, and by a consent on the
part of the meeting to receive the Major's instant resignation.
The Duke's Arguments
The Duke before he left Custins had an interview with Lady
Cantrip, at which that lady found herself called upon to speak her
mind freely. 'I don't think she cares about Lord Popplecourt,'
Lady Cantrip said.
'I am sure I don't know why she should,' said the Duke, who was
often very aggravating even to his friend.
'But as we had thought--'
'She ought to do as she is told,' said the Duke, remembering how
obedient Glencora had been. 'Has he spoken to her?'
'I think not.'
'Then how can we tell?'
'I asked her to see him, but she expressed so much dislike that I
could not press it. I am afraid, Duke, that you will find it
difficult to deal with her.'
'I have found it very difficult!'
'As you have trusted me so much--'
'Yes;--I have trusted you, and do trust you. I hope you understand
that I appreciate your kindness.'
'Perhaps then you will let me say what I think.'
'Certainly, Lady Cantrip.'
'Mary is a very peculiar girl,--with great gifts,--but--'
'She is obstinate. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that she has
great firmness of character. It is within your power to separate
her from Mr Tregear. It would be foreign to her character to--to--
leave you, except with your approbation.'
'You mean, she will not run away.'
'She will do nothing without your permission. But she will remain
unmarried unless she be allowed to marry Mr Tregear.'
'What do you advise then?'
'That you should yield. As regards money, you could give them what
they want. Let him go into public life. You could manage that for
'He is Conservative!'
'What does that matter when the question is one of your daughter's
happiness? Everybody tells me that he is clever and well
He betrayed nothing by his face as this was said to him. But as he
got into the carriage he was a miserable man. It is very well to
tell a man that he should yield, but there is nothing so wretched
to a man as yielding. Young people and women have to yield,--bur
for such a man as this, to yield is in itself a misery. In this
matter the Duke was quite certain of the propriety of his
judgement. To yield would be not only to mortify himself; but to
do wrong at the same time. He had convinced himself that the
Popplecourt arrangement would come to nothing. Nor had he or Lady
Cantrip combined been able to exercise over her the sort of power
to which Lady Glencora had been subjected. If he had persevered,--
and he was still sure, almost sure, that he would persevere,--his
object must be achieved after a different fashion. There must be
infinite suffering,--suffering both to him and to her. Could she
have been made to consent to marry someone else, terrible as the
rupture might have been, she would have reconciled herself at last
to her new life. So it had been with Glencora,--after a time. Now
the misery must go on from day to day beneath his eyes, with the
knowledge on his part that he was crushing all the joy out of her
young life, and the conviction on her part that she was being
treated with continued cruelty by her father! It was a terrible
prospect! But if it was manifestly his duty to act after this
fashion, must he not do his duty?
If he were to find that by persevering in this course he would
doom her to death, or perchance to madness,--what then? If it were
right, he must still do it. He must still do it, if the weakness
incident to his human nature did not rob him of the necessary
firmness. If every foolish girl were indulged, all restraint would
be lost, and there would be an end to those rules as to birth and
position by which he thought his world was kept straight. And
then, mixed with all this, was his feeling of the young man's
arrogance in looking for such a match. Here was a man without a
shilling, whose manifest duty was to go to work so that he might
earn his bread, who instead of doing so, he hoped to raise himself
to wealth and position by entrapping the heart of an unwary girl!
There was something to the Duke's thinking base in this, and much
more base because the unwary girl was his own daughter. That such
a man as Tregear should make an attack upon him and select his
rank, his wealth, and his child as the stepping-stones by which he
intended to rise! What could be so mean as that a man should seek
to live by looking out for a wife with money? But what so
impudent, so arrogant, so unblushingly disregardful of propriety,
as that he should endeavour to select his victim from such a
family as the Pallisers, and that he should lay his impious hand
on the very daughter of the Duke of Omnium?
But together with all this came upon him his moments of ineffable
tenderness. He felt as though he longed to take her in his arms
and tell her, that if she were unhappy, so would he be unhappy
too,--to make her understand that a hard necessity had made his
sorrow common to them both. He thought that, if she would only
allow it, he could speak of her love as a calamity which had
befallen them, as from the hand of fate, and not as a fault. If he
could make a partnership in misery with her, so that each might
believe that each was acting for the best, then he could endure
all that might come. But, as he was well aware, she regarded him
as being simply cruel to her. She did not understand that he was
performing an imperative duty. She had set her heart upon a
certain object, and having taught herself that in that way
happiness might be reached, had no conception that there should be
something in the world, some idea of personal dignity, more
valuable to her than the fruition of her own desires! And yet
every word he spoke to her was affectionate. He knew that she was
bruised, and if it might be possible he would pour oil into her
wounds,--even though she would not recognise the hand which
They slept one night in town--where they encountered Silverbridge
soon after his retreat from the Beargarden. 'I cannot quite make
up my mind, sir, about that fellow Tifto,' he said to his father.
'I hope you have made up your mind that he is not fit companion
'That's over. Everybody understands that, sir.'
'Is anything more necessary?'
'I don't like feeling that he has been ill-used. They have made
him resign the club, and I fancy they won't have him at the hunt.'
'He has lost no money by you!'
'Then I think you may be indifferent. From all that I hear I think
he must have won money,--which will probably be a consolation to
'I think they have been hard upon him,' continued Silverbridge.
'Of course he is not a good man, nor a gentleman, nor possessed of
very high feelings. But a man is not to be sacrificed altogether
for that. There are so many men who are not gentlemen, and so many
gentlemen who are bad fellows.'
'I have no doubt Mr Lupton knew what he was about,' replied the
On the next morning the Duke and Lady Mary went down to Matching,
and as they sat together in the carriage after leaving the railway
the father endeavoured to make himself pleasant to his daughter.
'I suppose we shall stay at Matching till Christmas,' he said.
'I hope so.'
'Whom would you like to have here?'
'I don't want anyone, papa.'
'You will be very sad without somebody. Would you like the Finns?'
'If you please, papa. I like her. He never talks anything but
'He is none the worse for that, Mary. I wonder whether Lady Mabel
Grex would come.'
'Lady Mabel Grex!'
'Do you not like her?'
'Oh yes;--but what made you think of her, papa?'
'Perhaps Silverbridge would come to us then.'
Lady Mary thought that she knew a great deal more about that than
her father did. 'Is he fond of Lady Mabel, papa?'
'Well,--I don't know. There are secrets which should not be told. I
think they are very good friends. I would not have her asked
unless it would please you.'
'I like her very much, papa.'
'And perhaps we might get the Boncassens to come to us. I did say
a word to him about it.' Now, as Mary felt, difficulty was
heaping itself upon difficulty. 'I have seldom met a man in whose
company I could take more pleasure than in that Mr Boncassen; and
the young lady seems to be worthy of her father.' Mary was
silent, feeling the complication of the difficulties. 'Do you not
like her?' asked the Duke.
'Very much indeed,' said Mary.
'Then let us fix a day and ask them. If you will come to me after
dinner with an almanac we will arrange it. Of course you will
invite Miss Cassewary too?'
The complication seemed to be very bad indeed. In the first place
was it not clear that she, Lady Mary, ought not to be a party to
asking Miss Boncassen to meet her brother at Matching? Would it
not be imperative on her part to tell her father the whole story?
And yet how could she do that? It had been told to her in
confidence, and she remembered what her own feelings had been when
Mrs Finn had suggested the propriety of telling the story which
had been told to her! And how would it be possible to ask Lady
Mabel to come to Matching to meet Miss Boncassen in the presence
of Silverbridge! If the party could be made up without
Silverbridge things might run smoothly.
As she was thinking of this in her own room, thinking also how
happy she could be if one other name could be added to the list of
guests, the Duke had gone alone into his library. There a pile of
letters reached him, among which he found one marked 'Private',
and addressed in a hand which he did not recognise. This he opened
suddenly,--with a conviction that it would contain a thorn,--and,
turning over the page found the signature to be 'Francis Tregear'.
The man's name was wormwood to him. He at once felt that he would
wish to have his dinner, his fragment brought to him in that
solitary room, and that he might remain secluded for the rest of
the evening. But still he must read the letter,--and he read it.
'MY DEAR LORD DUKE,
'If my mode of addressing your Grace be too familiar I hope you
will excuse it. It seems to me that if I were to use one more
distant, I should myself be detracting something from my right to
make the claim which I intend to put forward. You know what my
feelings are in reference to your daughter. I do not pretend to
suppose that they should have the least weight with you. But you
know also what her feelings are for me. A man seems to be vain
when he expresses his conviction of a woman's love for himself.
But this matter is so important to her as well as to me that I am
compelled to lay aside all pretence. If she do not love me as I
love her, then the whole thing drops to the ground. Then it will
be for me to take myself off from out of your notice,--and from
hers, and to keep to myself whatever heart-breaking I may have to
undergo. But if she be as steadfast in this matter as I am,--if her
happiness be fixed on marrying me as mine to marrying her,--then, I
think, I am entitled to ask you whether you are justified in
keeping us apart.
'I know well what are the discrepancies. Speaking from my own
feeling I regard very little those of rank. I believe myself to be
as good a gentleman as though my father's forefathers had sat for
centuries past in the House of Lords. I believe that you would
have thought so also had you and I been brought in contact on any
other subject. The discrepancy with regard to money is, I own, a
great trouble to me. Having no wealth of my own I wish that your
daughter were so circumstanced that I could go out into the world
and earn bread for her. I know myself so well that I dare say
positively that her money,--if it be that she will have money,--had
no attractions for me when I first became acquainted with her and
adds nothing now to the persistency with which I claim her hand.
'But I venture to ask whether you can dare to keep us apart if her
happiness depends on her lover for me? It is now more than six
months since I called upon you in London and explained my wishes.
You will understand me when I say that I cannot be contented to
sit idle, trusting simply to the assurance I have of her
affection. Did I doubt it, my way would be more clear. I should
feel in that case that she would yield to your wishes, and I
should then, as I have said before, just take myself out of the
way. But if it be not so, then I am bound to do something,--on her
behalf as well as my own. What am I to do? Any endeavours to meet
her clandestinely is against my instincts, and would certainly be
rejected by her. A secret correspondence would be equally
distasteful to both of us. Whatever I do in this matter, I wish
you to know that I do it.
'Most faithfully, and with the deepest respect,'
He read the letter very carefully, and was at first simply
astonished by what he considered to be the unparalleled arrogance
of the young man. In regard to rank this young gentleman thought
himself to be as good as anybody else! In regard to money he did
acknowledge some inferiority. But that was a misfortune, and could
not be helped! Not only was the letter arrogant,--but the fact
that he should dare to write any letter on such a subject was
proof of most unpardonable arrogance. The Duke walked about the
room thinking of it till he was almost in a passion. Then he read
the letter again and was gradually pervaded by a feeling of
manliness. Its arrogance remained, but with its arrogance there
was a certain boldness which induced respect. Whether I am such a
son-in-law as you would like or not, it is your duty to accept me,
if by refusing to do so you will render your daughter miserable.
That was Mr Tregear's argument. He himself might be prepared to
argue in answer that it was his duty to reject such a son-in-law,
even though by rejecting him he might make his daughter miserable.
He was not shaken; but with his condemnation of the young man
there was mingled something of respect.
He continued to digest the letter before the hour of dinner, and
when the almanac was brought to him he fixed on certain days. The
Boncassens he knew would be free from engagements in ten days'
time. As to Lady Mabel, he seemed to think it almost certain that
she would come. 'I believe she is always going about from one
house to another at this time of the year,' said Mary.
'I think she will come to us if it be possible,' said the Duke.
'And you must write to Silverbridge.'
'And what about Mr and Mrs Finn?'
'She promised she would come again, you know. They are at their
own place in Surrey. They will come unless they have friends with
them. They have no shooting, and nothing brings people together
now except shooting. I suppose there are better things here to be
shot. And be sure you write to Silverbridge.'
The Duke's Guests
'The Duke of Omnium presents his compliments to Mr Francis
Tregear, and begs to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Tregear's
letter of-. The Duke has no other communication to make to Mr
Tregear, and must beg to decline any further correspondence.'
This was the reply which the Duke wrote to the applicant for his
daughter's hand. And he wrote it at once. He had acknowledged to
himself that Tregear had shown a certain manliness in his appeal;
but not on that account was such a man to have all that he
demanded! It seemed to the Duke that there was no alternative
between such a note as that given above and a total surrender.
But the post did not go out during the night, and the note lay
hidden in the Duke's private drawer till the morning. There was
still that 'locus poenitentiae' which should be accorded to all
letters written in anger. During the day he thought over it all
constantly, not in any spirit of yielding, not descending a single
step from that attitude of conviction which made him feel that it
might be his duty absolutely to sacrifice his daughter,--but asking
himself whether it might not be better to explain the whole matter
at length to the young man. He thought that he could put the
matter strongly. It was not by his own doing that he belonged to
an aristocracy which, if all exclusiveness were banished from it,
must cease to exist. But being what he was, having been born to
such privileges and such limitations, was he not bound in duty to
maintain a certain exclusiveness? He would appeal to the young man
himself to say whether marriage ought to be free between all
classes of the community. And if not between all, who was to
maintain the limits but they to whom authority in such matters is
given? So much in regard to rank! And then he would ask this
young man whether he thought it fitting that a young man whose
duty according to all known principles it must be to earn bread,
should avoid that manifest duty by taking a wife who could
maintain him. As he roamed about his park alone he felt that he
could write such a letter as would make an impression even upon a
lover. But when he had come back to his study, other reflections
came to his aid. Though he might write the most appropriate letter
in the world, would there not certainly be a reply? As to
conviction, had he ever known an instance of a man who had been
convinced by an adversary? Of course there would be a reply,--and
replies. And to such a correspondence there would no visible end.
Words when once written, remain, or may remain, in testimony for
ever. So at last when the moment came he sent off those three
lines, with his uncourteous compliments and his demand that there
should be no further correspondence.
At dinner he endeavoured to make up for his harshness by increased
tenderness to his daughter, who was altogether ignorant of the
correspondence. 'Have you written your letters, dear?' She said
she had written them.
'I hope the people will come.'
'If it will make you comfortable, papa!'
'It is for your sake I wish them to be here. I think that Lady
Mabel and Miss Boncassen are just such girls as you would like.'
'I do like them; only--'
'Miss Boncassen is an American.'
'Is that an objection? According to my ideas it is desirable to
become acquainted with persons of various nations. I have heard,
no doubt, many stories of the awkward manners displayed by
American ladies. If you look for them you may probably find
American women who are not polished. I do not think I shall
calumniate my own country if I say the same of English women. It
should be our object to select for our own acquaintance the best
we can find of all countries. It seems to me that Miss Boncassen
is a young lady with whom any other young lady might be glad to
form an acquaintance.'
This was a little sermon which Mary was quite contented to endure
in silence. She was, in truth, fond of the young American beauty,
and had felt a pleasure in the intimacy which the girl had
proposed to her. But she thought it inexpedient that Miss
Boncassen, Lady Mabel, and Silverbridge, should be at Matching
together. Therefore she made a reply to her father's sermon which
hardly seemed to go to the point at issue. 'She is so beautiful!'
'Very beautiful,' said the Duke. 'But what has that to do with it?
My girl need not be jealous of any girl's beauty.' Mary laughed
and shook her head. 'What is it then?'
'Perhaps Silverbridge might admire her.'
'I have no doubt he would,--or does, for I am aware that they have
met. But why should he not admire her?'
'I don't know,' said Lady Mary sheepishly.
'I fancy there is no danger in that direction. I think
Silverbridge understands what is expected from him.' Had not
Silverbridge plainly shown that he had understood what was
expected from him when he selected Lady Mabel? Nothing could have
been more proper, and the Duke had been altogether satisfied. That
in such a matter there should have been a change in so short a
time did not occur to him. Poor Mary was now completely silenced.
She had been told that Silverbridge understood what was expected
from him; and of course could not fail to carry home to herself an
accusation that she failed to understand what was expected from
She had written her letters, but had not yet sent them. Those to
Mrs Finn and the two younger ladies had been easy enough. Could Mr
and Mrs Finn come to Matching on the twentieth of November? 'Papa
says that you promised to return, and thinks this time will
perhaps suit you.' And then to Lady Mabel: 'Do come if you can;
and papa particularly says that he hopes Miss Cassewary will come
also.' To Miss Boncassen she had written a long letter, but that
too had been written very easily. 'I write to you instead of your
mamma because I know you. You must tell her that, and then she
will not be angry. I am only papa's messenger, and I am to say how
much he hopes that you will come on the twentieth. Mr Boncassen is
to bring the whole British Museum if he wishes.' Then there was a
little postscript which showed that there was already considerable
intimacy between the two young ladies: 'We won't have either Mr L
or Lord P.' Not a word was said about Lord Silverbridge. There
was not even an initial to indicate his name.
But the letter to her brother was more difficult. In her epistles
to those others she had so framed her words as if possible to
bring them to Matching. But in writing to her brother, she was
anxious to write as to deter him from coming. She was bound to
obey her father's commands. He had desired that Silverbridge
should be asked to come,--and he was asked to come. But she
craftily endeavoured to word the invitation that he should be
induced to remain away. 'It is all papa's doing,' she said; 'and I
am glad that he should like to have people here. I have asked the
Finns with whom papa seems to have made up everything. Mr
Warburton will be here of course, and I think Mr Moreton is
coming. He seems to think that a certain amount of shooting ought
to be done. Then I have invited Lady Mabel Grex and Miss
Cassewary,--all of course of papa's choosing, and the Boncassens.
Now you will know whether the set will suit you. Papa particularly
begged that you will come,--apparently because of Lady Mabel. I
don't know what all that means. Perhaps you do. As I like Lady
Mabel, I hope she will come.' Surely Silverbridge would not run
himself into the jaws of the lion. When he heard that he was
specially expected by his father to come to Matching in order that
he might make himself agreeable to one young lady, he would hardly
venture to come, seeing that he would be bound to make love to
another young lady!
To Mary's great horror, all the invitations were accepted. Mr and
Mrs Finn were quite at the Duke's disposal. That she had expected.
The Boncassens would all come. This was signified by a note from
Isabel, which covered four sides of the paper and was full of fun.
But under her signature had been written a few words,--not in fun,--
words which Lady Mary perfectly understood. 'I wonder, I wonder, I
wonder!' Did the Duke when inviting her know anything of his
son's inclinations? Would he be made to know them now, during
this visit? And what would he say when he did know them?
That the Boncassens would come as a matter of course; but Mary had
thought that Lady Mabel would refuse. She had told Lady Mabel that
the Boncassens had been asked, and to her thinking it had not been
improbable that the young lady would be unwilling to meet her
rival at Matching. But the invitation was accepted.
But it was her brother's ready acquiescence which trouble Mary
chiefly. He wrote as though there was no doubt about the matter.
'Of course there is a deal of shooting to be done,' he said, 'and
I consider myself bound to look after it. There ought not to be
less than four guns,--particularly if Warburton is to be one of
them. I like Warburton very much, but I think he shoots badly to
ingratiate himself with the governor. I wonder whether the
governor would get leave for Gerald for a week. He has been
sticking to his work like a brick. If not, would he mind my
bringing someone? You ask the governor and let me know. I'll be
there on the twentieth. I wonder whether they'll let me hear what
goes on among them about politics? I'm sure there is not one of
them hates Sir Timothy worse than I do. Lady Mab is a brick, and
I'm glad you have asked her. I don't think she'll come, as she
likes shutting herself up at Grex. Miss Boncassen is another
brick. And if you can manage about Gerald I will say you are a
This would have been all very well had she not know that secret.
Could it be that Miss Boncassen had been mistaken? She was forced
to write again to say that her father did not think it right that
Gerald should be brought away from his studies for the sake of
shooting, and that the necessary fourth gun would be there in the
person of Barrington Erle. Then she added: 'Lady Mabel Grex is
coming, and so is Miss Boncassen.' But to this she received no
Though Silverbridge had written to his sister in his usual
careless style, he had considered the matter much. The three
months were over. He had no idea of any hesitation on his part. He
had asked her to be his wife, and he was determined to go on with
his suit. Had he ever been enabled to make the same request to
Mabel Grex, or had she answered him when he did half make it in a
serious manner, he would have been true to her. He had not told
his father, or his sister, or his friends, as Isabel had
suggested. He would not do so till he should have received some
more certain answer from her. But in respect to his love he was
prepared to be as quite as obstinate as his sister. It was a
matter for his own consideration, and he would choose for himself.
The three months were over, and it was now his business to present
himself to the lady again.
That Lady Mabel should also be at Matching, would certainly be a
misfortune. He thought it probable that she, knowing that Isabel
Boncassen and he would be there together, would refuse the
invitation. Surely she ought to do so. That was his opinion when
he wrote to his sister. When he heard afterwards that she intended
to be there, he could only suppose that she was prepared to accept
the circumstances as they stood.
Miss Boncassen Tells the Truth
On the twentieth of the month all the guests came rattling in at
Matching one after the another. The Boncassens were the first, but
Lady Mabel with Miss Cassewary followed them quickly. Then came
the Finns, and with them Barrington Erle. Lord Silverbridge was
the last. He arrived by a train which reached the station at 7pm,
and only entered the house as his father was asking Miss Boncassen
into the dining-room. He dressed himself in ten minutes, and
joined the party as they had finished their fish. 'I am awfully
sorry,' he said, rushing up to his father, 'but I thought that I
should just hit it.'
'There is no occasion for awe,' said the Duke, 'as sufficiency of
dinner is left. But how you should have hit it, as you say,--seeing
that the train is not due at Bridstock till 7.05--I do not know.'
'I've often done it, sir,' said Silverbridge, taking the seat left
vacant for him next to Lady Mabel. 'We've had a political caucus
of the party,--all the members who could be got together in
London,--at Sir Timothy's, and I was bound to attend.'
'We've all heard of that,' said Phineas Finn.
'And we pretty well know all the points of Sir Timothy's
eloquence,' said Barrington Erle.
'I am not going to tell any of the secrets. I have no doubt that
there were reporters present, and you will see the whole of it in
the papers tomorrow.' Then Silverbridge turned to his neighbour.
'Well, Lady Mab, and how are you this long time?'
'But how are you? Think what you have gone through since we were
'Don't talk of it.'
'I suppose it is not to be talked of.'
'Though upon the whole it has happened very luckily, I have got
rid of the accursed horses, and my governor has shown what a brick
he can be. I don't think there is another man in England who would
have done as he did.'
'There are not many who could.'
'There are fewer who would. When they came into my bedroom that
morning and told me that the horse could not run, I thought I
should have broken my heart. Seventy thousand pounds gone!'
'Seventy thousand pounds!'
'And the honour and glory of winning the race! And then the
feeling that one had been so awfully swindled! Of course I had to
look as though I did not care a straw about it, and to go and see
the race, with a jaunty air and a cigar in my mouth. That is what
I call hard work.'
'But you did it!'
'I tried. I wish I could explain to you my state of mind that day.
In the first place the money had got to be got. Though it was to
go into the hands of swindlers, still it had to be paid. I don't
know how your father and Percival get on together,--but I felt like
the prodigal son.'
'It is very different with papa.'
'I suppose so. I felt very like hanging myself when I was alone
that evening. And now everything is right again.'
'I am glad that everything is right,' she said, with a strong
emphasis on everything.
'I have done with racing at any rate. The feeling of being in the
power of a lot of low blackguards is so terrible! I did love the
poor brute so dearly. And now what have you been doing?'
'Just nothing;--and have seen nobody. I went back to Grex after
leaving Killancodlem, and shut myself up in misery.'
'Why misery! What a question for you to ask! Though I love Grex, I
am not altogether fond of living alone, and though Grex has its
charms, they are of a melancholy kind. And when I think of the
state of our family affairs, that is not reassuring. You father
has just paid seventy thousand pounds for you. My father has been
good enough to take something of less than a quarter of that sum
from me;--but still it was all that I was ever to have.'
'Girls don't want money.'
'Don't they? When I look forward it seems to me that a time will
come when I shall want it very much.'
'You will marry,' he said. She turned round for a moment and
looked at him, full in the face, after a fashion that he did not
dare to promise her future comfort in that direction. 'Things
always do come right, somehow.'
'Let us hope so. Only nothing has ever come right for me yet.
What is Frank doing?'
'I haven't seen him since he left Crummie-Toddle.'
'And your sister?' she whispered.
'I know nothing about it at all.'
'And you? I have told you everything about myself.'
'As for me, I think of nothing but politics now. I have told you
about my racing experiences. Just at present shooting is up.
Before Christmas I shall go into Chiltern's country for a little
'You can hunt here?'
'I shan't stay long enough to make it worth while to have my
horses down. If Tregear will go with me to the Brake, I can mount
him for a day or two. But I daresay you know more of his plans
that I do. He went to see you at Grex.'
'And you did not.'
'I was not asked.'
'Nor was he.'
'Then all I can say is,' replied Silverbridge, speaking in a low
voice, but with considerable energy, 'that he can use a freedom
with Lady Mabel Grex which I cannot venture.'
'I believe you begrudge me his friendship. If you had no one else
belonging to you with whom you could have sympathy, would not you
find comfort in a relation who could be almost as near to you as a
'I do not grudge him to you.'
'Yes; you do. And what business have to you interfere?'
'None at all;--certainly. I will never do it again.'
'Don't say that, Lord Silverbridge. You ought to have more mercy
on me. You ought to put up with anything from me,--knowing how much
'I will put up with anything,' said he.
'Do, do. And now I will try to talk to Mr Erle.'
Miss Boncassen was sitting on the other side of the table, between
Mr Monk and Phineas Finn, and throughout the dinner talked mock
politics with the greatest liveliness. Silverbridge when he
entered the room had gone round the table and shaken hands with
everyone. But there had no other greeting between him and Isabel,
nor had any sign passed from one to the other. No such greeting or
sign had been possible. Nothing had been left undone which she had
expected, or hoped. But, though she was lively, nevertheless she
kept her eye upon her lover and Lady Mabel. Lady Mary had said
that she thought her brother was in love with Lady Mabel. Could it
be possible? In her own land she had heard absurd stories,
stories which had seemed to her to be absurd,--of the treachery of
Lords and Countesses, of the baseness of aristocrats, of the
iniquities of high life in London. But her father had told her to
go where she might, she would find people in the main to be very
like each other. It had seemed that nothing could be more
ingenuous than this young man had been in his declaration of his
love. No simplest republican could have spoken more plainly. But
now, at this moment, she could doubt but that her lover was very
intimate with this other girl. Of course he was free. When she had
refused to say a word to him of her own love or want of love, she
had necessarily left him at liberty. When she had put him off for
three months, of course he was to be his own master. But what must
she think of him if it were so? And how could he have the courage
to face her in her father's house if he intended to treat her in
such a fashion? But of all this she showed nothing, nor was there
a tone in her voice which betrayed her. She said her last word to
Mr Monk with so sweet a smile that that old bachelor wished he
were younger for her sake.
In the evening after dinner there was music. It was discovered
that Miss Boncassen sung divinely, and both Lady Mabel and Lady
Mary accompanied her. Mr Erle, and Mr Warburton, and Mr Monk, all
of whom were unmarried, stood by enraptured. But Lord Silverbridge
kept himself apart, and interested himself in a description which
Mrs Boncassen gave him of their young men and their young ladies
in the States. He had hardly spoken to Miss Boncassen,--till he
offered her sherry or soda-water before she retired for the night.
She refused his courtesy with her usual smile, but showed no more
emotion than though they two had now met for the first time in
He had quite made up his mind as to what he would do. When the
opportunity should come his way he would simply remind her that
the three months were passed. But he was shy of talking to her in
the presence of Lady Mabel and his father. He was quite determined
that the thing should be done at once, but he certainly wished
that Lady Mabel had not been there. In what she had said to him at
the dinner-table she had made him quite understand that she would
be a trouble to him. He remembered her look when he had told her
that she would marry. It was as though she had declared to him
that it was he who ought to be her husband. It referred back to
that proffer of love which he had once made to her. Of course all
this was disagreeable. Of course it made things difficult for him.
But not the less was it a thing quite assured that he would press
his suit to Miss Boncassen. When he was talking to Mrs Boncassen
he was thinking of nothing else. When he was offering Isabel the
glass of sherry he was telling himself that he would find his
opportunity on the morrow,--though, now, at this moment, it was
impossible that he should make a sign. She, as she went to bed,
asked herself whether it was possible that there should be such
treachery;--whether it were possible that he should pass it all by
as though he had never said a word to her!
During the whole of the next day, which was Sunday, he was equally
silent. Immediately after breakfast, on the Monday, shooting
commenced, and he could not find a moment in which to speak. It
seemed to him that she purposely kept out of his way. With Mabel
he did find himself for a few moments alone, and was then
interrupted by his sister and Isabel. 'I hope you have killed a
lot of things,' said Miss Boncassen.
'Pretty well, among us all.'
'What an odd amusement it seems, going out to commit wholesale
slaughter. However it is the proper thing no doubt.'
'Quite the proper thing,' said Lord Silverbridge, and that was
On the next morning he dressed himself for shooting,--and then sent
out the party without him. He had heard, he said, of a young horse
for sale in the neighbourhood, and had sent to desire that it
might be brought to him. And now he found his occasion.
'Come and play a game of billiards,' he said to Isabel, as the
three girls with the other ladies were together in the drawing-
room. She got up very slowly from her seat, and very slowly crept
away to the door. Then she looked round as though expecting the
others to follow her. None of them did follow her. Mary felt that
she ought to do so; but, knowing all that she knew, did not dare.
And what good could she have done by one such interruption? Lady
Mabel would fain have gone too;--but neither did she quite dare.
Had there been no special reason why she should or should not have
gone with them, the thing would have been easy enough. When two
people go to play billiards, a third may surely accompany them.
But now, Lady Mabel found that she could not stir. Mrs Finn, Mrs
Boncassen, and Miss Cassewary were all in the room, but none of
them moved. Silverbridge led the way quickly across the hall, and
Isabel Boncassen followed him very slowly. When she entered the
room she found him standing with a cue in his hand. He at once
shut the door, and walking up to her dropped the butt of the cue
on the floor and spoke one word. 'Well!' he said.
'What does "Well" mean?'
'The three months are over.'
'Certainly the are "over".'
'And I have been a model of patience.'
'Perhaps your patience is more remarkable than your constancy. Is
not Lady Mabel Grex in the ascendant just now?'
'What do you mean by that? Why do you ask that? You told me to
wait for three months. I have waited, and here I am.'
'How very--very--downright you are.'
'Is it not the proper thing?'
'I thought I was downright,--but you beat me hollow. Yes, the three
months are over. And now what have you got to say?' He put down
his cue, stretched out his arms as though he were going to take
her and hold her to his heart. 'No;--no, not that,' she said
laughing. 'But if you will speak, I will hear you.'
'You know what I said before. Will you love me, Isabel?'
'And you know what I said before. Do they know you love me? Does
your father know it, and your sister? Why did they ask me to come
'Nobody knows it. But say that you love me, and everyone shall
know it at once. Yes, one person knows it. Why did you mention
Lady Mabel's name? She knows it.'
'Did you tell her?'
'Yes, I went again to Killancodlem after you were gone, and then I
'But why her? Come, Lord Silverbridge. You are straightforward
with me, and I will be the same with you. You have told Lady
Mabel. I have told Lady Mary.'
'Yes;--your sister. And I am sure she disapproves it. She did not
say so; but I am sure it is so. and then she told me something.'
'What did she tell you?'
'Has there ever been reason to think that you intended to offer
your hand to Lady Mabel Grex?'
'Did she tell you so?'
'You should answer my question, Lord Silverbridge. It is surely
one which I have a right to ask.' Then she stood waiting for his
reply, keeping herself at some little distance from him as though
she were afraid that he would fly upon her. And indeed there
seemed to be cause for such fear from frequent gestures of his
hands. 'Why do you not answer me? Has there been some reason for
'I thought of it,--not knowing myself before I had seen you. You
shall know it all if you will only say that you love me.'
'I should like to know it first.'
'You do know it all;--almost. I have told you that she knows what I
said to you at Killancodlem. Is not that enough?'
'And she approves!'
'What has it to do with her? Lady Mabel is my friend, but not my
'Has she a right to expect that she should be your wife?'
'No;--certainly not. Why should you ask all this? Do you love me?
Come, Isabel; say that you love me. Will you call me vain if I say
that I almost think you do. You cannot doubt my love;--not now.'
'You needn't. Why won't you be as honest to me? If you hate me,
say so;--but if you love me-!'
'I do not hate you, Lord Silverbridge.'
'And is that all?'
'You asked me the question.'
'But you do love me? By George, I thought you would be more honest
Then she dropped her badinage and answered him seriously. 'I
thought I had been more honest and straightforward. When I found
that you were in earnest at Killancodlem--'
'Why did you ever doubt me?'
'When I felt that you were in earnest, then I had to be in earnest
too. And I thought so much about it that I lay awake nearly all
that night. Shall I tell you what I thought?'
'Tell me something I would like to hear.'
'I will tell you the truth. "Is it possible," I said to myself,
"that such a man as that can want me to be his wife; he an
Englishman, of the highest rank and the greatest wealth, and one
that any girl in the world would love?"'
'Psha!' he exclaimed.
'That is what I said to myself.' Then she paused, and looking
into his face he saw that there was a glimmer of a tear in each
eye. 'One that any girl must love when asked for her love;--because
he is so sweet, so good, and so pleasant.'
'I know that you are chaffing.'
'Then I went on asking myself questions. And is it possible that
I, who by all his friends will be regarded as a nobody, who am an
American,--with merely human work-a-day blood in her veins,--that
such a one as I should become his wife? Then I told myself that
it was not possible. It was not in accordance with the fitness of
things. All the dukes in England would rise up against it, and
especially that duke whose good will would be imperative.'
'Why should he rise up against it?'
'You know he will. But I will go on with my story of myself. When
I had settled that in my mind, I just cried myself to sleep. It
had been a dream. I had come across one who in his own self seemed
to combine all that I had ever thought of as being lovable in a
'And in his outward circumstances soared as much above my thoughts
as the heaven is above the earth. And he had whispered to me soft
loving, heavenly words. No;--no, you shall not touch me. But you
shall listen to me. In my sleep I could be happy again and not see
the barriers. But when I woke I made up my mind. "If he comes to
me again," I said-"if it should be that he should come to me
again, I will tell him that he shall be my heaven on earth,--if,--
if--if the ill will of his friends would not make that heaven a
hell to both of us." I did not tell you quite all that.'
'You told me nothing but that I was to come back again in three
'I said more than that. I bade you ask your father. Now you have
come again. You cannot understand a girl's fears and doubts. How
should you? I thought perhaps you would not come. When I saw you
whispering to that highly-born well-bred beauty, and remembered
what I was myself, I thought that--you would not come.'
'Then you must love me.'
'Love you! Oh, my darling!-No, no, no,' she said, as she
retreated from him round the corner of the billiard-table, and
stood guarding herself from him with her little hands. 'You ask if
I love you. You are entitled to know the truth. From the sole of
your foot to the crown of you head I love you as I think a man
would wish to be loved by the girl he loves. You have come across
my life, and have swallowed me up, and made me all your own. But I
will not marry you to be rejected by your people. No; nor shall
there be a kiss between us till I know that it will not be so.'
'May I speak to your father?'
'For what good? I have not spoken to father or mother because I
have known that it must depend upon your father. Lord
Silverbridge, if he will tell me that I shall be his daughter, I
will become your wife,--oh with such perfect joy, with such perfect
truth! If it can never be so, then let us be torn apart,--with
whatever struggle, still at once. In that case I will get myself
back to my own country as best I may, and will pray to God that
all this may be forgotten.' Then she made her way round to the
door, leaving him fixed on the spot in which she had been
standing. But as she went she made a little prayer to him. 'Do not
delay my fate. It is all in all to me.' And so he was left alone
in the billiard-room.
Then I am as Proud as a Queen
During the next day or two the shooting went on without much
interruption from love-making. The love-making was not prosperous
all round. Poor Lady Mary had nothing to comfort her. Could she
have been allowed to see the letter which her lover had written to
her father, the comfort would have been, if not ample, still very
great. Mary told herself again and again that she was quite sure
of Tregear;--but it was hard upon her that she could not be made
certain that her certainty was well grounded. Had she known that
Tregear had written, though she had not seen a word of the letter,
it would have comforted her. But she heard nothing of the letter.
In June last she had seen him, by chance, for a few minutes, in
Lady Mabel's drawing-room. Since that she had not heard from him
or of him. That was now more than five months since. How could
love serve her,--how could her very life serve her, if things were
to go on like that? How was she to bear it? Thinking of this she
resolved, she almost resolved, that she would go boldly to her
father and desire that she might be given up to her lover.
Her brother, although more triumphant,--for how could he fail to
triumph after such words as Isabel had spoken to him,--still felt
his difficulties very seriously. She had imbued him with a strong
sense of her own firmness, and she had declared that she would go
away and leave him altogether if the Duke should be unwilling to
receive her. He knew that the Duke would be unwilling. The Duke,
who certainly was not handy in those duties of match-making which
seemed to have fallen upon him at the death of his wife, showed by
a hundred little signs his anxiety that his son and heir should
arrange his affairs with Lady Mabel. These signs were manifest to
Mary,--were disagreeably manifest to Silverbridge,--and were
unfortunately manifest to Lady Mabel herself. They were manifest
to Mrs Finn, who was clever enough to perceive that the
inclinations of the young heir were turned in another direction.
And gradually they became manifest to Isabel Boncassen. The host
himself, as host, was courteous to all his guests. They had been
of his own selection, and he did his best to make himself pleasant
to them all. But he selected two for his peculiar notice,--and
those two were Miss Boncassen and Lady Mabel. While he would
himself walk, and talk, and argue after his own particular fashion
with the American beauty,--explaining to her matters political and
social, till he persuaded her to promise to read his pamphlet upon
decimal coinage,--he was always making efforts to throw
Silverbridge and Lady Mabel together. The two girls saw it and
knew how the matter was,--knew that they were rivals, and knew each
the ground on which she herself and on which the other stood. But
neither was satisfied with her advantage, or nearly satisfied.
Isabel would not take the prize without the Duke's consent;---and
Mabel could not have it without that other consent. 'If you want
to marry an English Duke,' she once said to Isabel in that anger
which she was unable to restrain, 'there is the Duke himself. I
never saw a man so absolutely in love.' 'But I do not want to
marry an English Duke,' said Isabel, 'and I pity any girl who has
any idea of marriage except that which comes from a wish to give
back love for love.'
Through it all the father never suspected the real state of his
son's mind. He was too simple to think it possible that the
purpose which Silverbridge had declared to him as they walked
together from the Beargarden had already been thrown to the winds.
He did not like to ask why the thing was not settled. Young men,
he thought, were sometimes shy, and young ladies not always ready
to give immediate encouragement. But when he saw them together he
concluded that matters were going in the right direction. It was,
however, an opinion which he had all to himself.
During the next three or four days which followed the scene in the
billiard-room Isabel kept herself out of her lover's way. She had
explained to him that which she wished him to do, and she left him
to do it. Day by day she watched the circumstances of the life
around her, and knew that it had not been done. She was sure that
it could not have been done while the Duke was explaining to her
the beauty of quints, and expiating on the horrors of twelve
pennies, and twelve inches, and twelve ounces,--variegated in some
matters by sixteen and fourteen! He could not know that she was
ambitious of becoming his daughter-in-law, while he was opening
out to her the mysteries of the House of Lords, and explaining how
it came to pass that while he was a member of one House of
Parliament, his son should be sitting as a member of another;--how
it was that a nobleman could be a commoner, and how a peer of one
part of the Empire could sit as the representative of a borough in
another part. She was an apt scholar. Had there been a question of
any other young man marrying her, he would probably have thought
that no other young man could have done better.
Silverbridge was discontented with himself. The greater misfortune
was that Lady Mabel should be there. While she was present to his
father's eyes he did not know how to declare his altered wishes.
Every now and then she would say to him some little word
indicating her feelings of the absurdity of his passion. 'I
declare I don't know whether it is you or your father that Miss
Boncassen most affects,' she said. But to this and to other
similar speeches he would make no answer. She had extracted his
secret from him at Killancodlem, and might use it against him if
she pleased. In his present frame of mind he was not disposed to
joke with her on the subject.
On that second Sunday,--the Boncassens were to return to London on
the following Tuesday,--he found himself alone with Isabel's
father. The American had been brought out at his own request to
see the stables, and had been accompanied round the premises by
Silverbridge, Mr Wharton, by Isabel, and by Lady Mary. As they got
out into the park the party were divided, and Silverbridge found
himself with Mr Boncassen. Then it occurred to him that the proper
thing for a young man in love was to go, not to his own father,
but to the lady's father. Why should not he do as others always
did? Isabel no doubt had suggested a different course. But that
which Isobel suggested was at the present moment impossible to
him. Now at this instant, without a moment's forethought, he
determined to tell his story to Isabel's father,--as any other
young lover might tell it to any other father.
'I am very glad to find ourselves alone, Mr Boncassen,' he said.
Mr Boncassen bowed and showed himself prepared to listen. Though
so many at Matching had seen the whole play, Mr Boncassen had seen
nothing of it.
'I don't know whether you are aware of what I have got to say.'
'I cannot quite say that I am, my lord. But whatever it is, I am
sure I shall be delighted to hear it.'
'I want to marry your daughter,' said Silverbridge. Isabel had
told him that he was downright, and in such a matter he had hardly
as yet learned how to express himself with those paraphrases in
which the world delights. Mr Boncassen stood stock still, and in
the excitement of the moment pulled off his hat. 'The proper thing
is to ask your permission to go on with it.'
'You want to marry my daughter!'
'Yes. That is what I have got to say.'
'Is she aware of your--intention?'
'Quite aware. I believe I may say that if other things go
straight, she will consent.'
'And your father--the Duke?'
'He knows nothing about it,--as yet.'
'Really this takes me by surprise. I am afraid you have not given
enough thought to the matter.'
'I have been thinking about it for the last three months,' said
'Marriage is a very serious thing.'
'Of course it is.'
'And men generally like to marry their equals.'
'I don't know about that. I don't think that counts for much.
People don't always know who are their equals.'
'That is quite true. If I were speaking to you or to your father
theoretically I should perhaps be unwilling to admit superiority
on your side because of your rank and wealth. I could make an
argument in favour of any equality with the best Briton that ever
lived,--as would become a true-born Republican.'
'That is just what I mean.'
'But when the question becomes one of practising,--a question for
our lives, for our happiness, for our own conduct, then, knowing
what must be the feelings of an aristocracy in such a country as
this, I am prepared to admit that your father would be as well
justified in objecting to a marriage between a child of his and a
child of mine, as I should be in objecting to one between my child
and the son of some mechanic in our native city.'
'He wouldn't be a gentleman,' said Silverbridge.
'That is a word of which I don't quite know the meaning.'
'I do,' said Silverbridge confidently.
'But you could not define it. If a man be well educated, and can
keep a good house over his head, perhaps you may call him a
gentleman. But there are many such with whom your father would not
wish to be so closely connected to as you propose.'
'But I may have your sanction?' Mr Boncassen again took off his
hat and walked along thoughtfully. 'I hope you don't object to me
'My dear young lord, your father has gone out of his way to be
civil to me. Am I to return his courtesy by bringing a great
trouble upon him?'
'He seems to be very fond of Miss Boncassen.'
'Will he continue to be fond of her when he has heard this? What
does Isabel say?'
'She says the same as you, of course.'
'Why of course;--except that it is evident to you as it is to me
that she could not with propriety say anything else.'
'I think she would,--would like it, you know.'
'She would like to be your wife!'
'Well;--yes. If it were all serene, I think she would consent.'
'I daresay she would consent,--if it were all serene. Why should
she not? do not try her too hard, Lord Silverbridge. You say you
'I do indeed.'
'Then think of the position in which you are placing her. You are
struggling to win her heart.' Silverbridge as he heard this
assured himself that there was no need for any further struggling
in that direction. 'Perhaps you have won it. Yet she may feel that
she cannot become your wife. She may well say to herself that this
which is offered to her is so great, that she does not know how to
refuse it; and may yet have to say, at the same time, that she
cannot accept it without disgrace. You would not put one that you
love into such a position?'
'As for disgrace,--that is nonsense. I beg your pardon, Mr
'Would it be no disgrace that she should be known here, in
England, to be your wife, and that none of those of your rank,--of
what would then be her own rank,--should welcome her into the new
'That would be out of the question.'
'If your own father refused to welcome her, would not others
'You don't know my father.'
'You seem to know him well enough to fear that he would object.'
'Yes;--that is true.'
'What more do I want to know?'
'If she were once my wife he would not reject her. Of all human
beings he is in truth the kindest and most affectionate.'
'And therefore you would try him after this fashion? No, my lord,
I cannot see my way through these difficulties. You can say what
you please to him as to your own wishes. But you must not tell him
that you have any sanction from me.'
That evening the story was told to Mrs Boncassen, and the matter
was discussed among the family. Isabel in talking to them made no
scruple of declaring her own feelings; and though in speaking to
Lord Silverbridge she had spoken very much as her father had done
afterwards, yet in this family conclave she took her lover's part.
'That is all very well, father,' she said, 'I told him the same
thing myself. But if he is man enough to be firm I shall not throw
him over,--not for all the dukes in Europe. I shall not stay here
to be pointed at. I will go back home. If he follows me to show
that he is in earnest, I shall not disappoint him for the sake of
pleasing his father.' To this neither Mr nor Mrs Boncassen were
able to make any efficient answer. Mrs Boncassen, dear good woman,
could see no reason why two young people who loved each other
should not be married at once. Dukes and duchesses were nothing to
her. If they couldn't be happy in England then let them come and
live in New York. She didn't understand that anybody could be too
good for her daughter. Was there not an idea that Mr Boncassen
would be the next President? And was not the President of the
United States as good as the Queen of England?
Lord Silverbridge when he left Mr Boncassen wandered about the
park by himself. King Cophetua married the beggar's daughter. He
was sure of that. King Cophetua probably had not a father, and the
beggar, probably, was not high-minded. But the discrepancy in that
case was much greater. He intended to persevere, trusting much to
a belief that when once he was married his father would 'come
round'. His father always did come round. But the more he thought
of it, the more impossible it seemed to him that he should ask his
father's consent at the present moment. Lady Mabel's presence in
the house was an insuperable obstacle. He thought that he could do
it if he and his father were alone together, or comparatively
alone. He must be prepared for an opposition, at any rate of some
days, which opposition would make his father quite unable to
entertain his guests while it lasted.
But as he could not declare his wishes to his father, and was thus
disobeying Isabel's behests, he must explain the difficulty to
her. He felt already that she would despise him for his
cowardice,--that she would not perceive the difficulties in his
way, or understand that he might injure his cause by
precipitation. Then he considered whether he might not possibly
make some bargain with his father. How would it be if he should
consent to go back to the Liberal party on being allowed to marry
the girl he loved? As far as his political feelings were
concerned he did not think that he would much object to make the
change. There was only one thing certain,--that he must explain his
condition to Miss Boncassen before she went.
He found no difficulty now in getting the opportunity. She was
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