The Entire Short Works of George Meredith
Part 6 out of 9
cordiality was expected of him, he shook his limbs to some briskness, and
continued, "Well, yes, we must all die in our native land if we can.
I hope you're comfortable in your lodgings?"
"I'll give you one of Mrs. Crickledon's dinners to try. You're as good
as mayor of this town, I hear?"
"I am the bailiff of the town," said Mr. Tinman.
"You're going to Court, I'm told."
"The appointment," replied Mr. Tinman, "will soon be made. I have not
yet an appointed day."
On the great highroad of life there is Expectation, and there is
Attainment, and also there is Envy. Mr. Tinman's posture stood for
Attainment shadowing Expectation, and sunning itself in the glass of
Envy, as he spoke of the appointed day. It was involuntary, and
naturally evanescent, a momentary view of the spirit.
He unbent, and begged to be excused for the present, that he might go and
apprise his sister of guests coming.
"All right. I daresay we shall see, enough of one another," said Van
Diemen. And almost before the creak of Tinman's heels was deadened on
the road outside the shop, he put the funny question to Crickledon, "Do
"I make 'em," Crickledon replied.
"Because I should like to have a go in at something, my friend."
Van Diemen stretched and yawned.
Crickledon recommended the taking of a walk.
"I think I will," said the other, and turned back abruptly. "How long do
you work in the day?"
"Generally, all the hours of light," Crickledon replied; "and always up
"You're healthy and happy?"
"Nothing to complain of."
"You never take a holiday?"
"You'd like to be working then?"
"I won't say that."
"But you're glad to be up Monday morning?"
"It feels cheerfuller in the shop."
"And carpentering's your joy?"
"I think I may say so."
Van Diemen slapped his thigh. "There's life in Old England yet!"
Crickledon eyed him as he walked away to the beach to look for his
daughter, and conceived that there was a touch of the soldier in him.
Annette Smith's delight in her native England made her see beauty and
kindness everywhere around her; it put a halo about the house on the
beach, and thrilled her at Tinman's table when she heard the thunder of
the waves hard by. She fancied it had been a most agreeable dinner to
her father and Mr. Herbert Fellingham--especially to the latter, who had
laughed very much; and she was astonished to hear them at breakfast both
complaining of their evening. In answer to which, she exclaimed, "Oh, I
think the situation of the house is so romantic!"
"The situation of the host is exceedingly so," said Mr. Fellingham; "but
I think his wine the most unromantic liquid I have ever tasted."
"It must be that!" cried Van Diemen, puzzled by novel pains in the head.
"Old Martin woke up a little like his old self after dinner."
"He drank sparingly," said Mr. Fellingham.
"I am sure you were satirical last night," Annette said reproachfully.
"On the contrary, I told him I thought he was in a romantic situation."
"But I have had a French mademoiselle for my governess and an Oxford
gentleman for my tutor; and I know you accepted French and English from
Mr. Tinman and his sister that I should not have approved."
"Netty," said Van Diemen, "has had the best instruction money could
procure; and if she says you were satirical, you may depend on it you
"Oh, in that case, of course!" Mr. Fellingham rejoined. "Who could help
He thought himself warranted in giving the rein to his wicked satirical
spirit, and talked lightly of the accidental character of the letter H in
Tinman's pronunciation; of how, like somebody else's hat in a high wind,
it descended on somebody else's head, and of how his words walked about
asking one another who they were and what they were doing, danced
together madly, snapping their fingers at signification; and so forth.
He was flippant.
Annette glanced at her father, and dropped her eyelids.
Mr. Fellingham perceived that he was enjoined to be on his guard.
He went one step farther in his fun; upon which Van Diemen said, with a
frown, "If you please!"
Nothing could withstand that.
"Hang old Mart Tinman's wine!" Van Diemen burst out in the dead pause.
"My head's a bullet. I'm in a shocking bad temper. I can hardly see.
Mr. Fellingham counselled his lying down for an hour, and he went
grumbling, complaining of Mart Tinman's incredulity about the towering
beauty of a place in Australia called Gippsland.
Annette confided to Mr. Fellingham, as soon as they were alone, the
chivalrous nature of her father in his friendships, and his indisposition
to hear a satirical remark upon his old schoolmate, the moment he
understood it to be satire.
Fellingham pleaded: "The man's a perfect burlesque. He's as distinctly
made to be laughed at as a mask in a pantomime."
"Papa will not think so," said Annette; "and papa has been told that he
is not to be laughed at as a man of business."
"Do you prize him for that?"
"I am no judge. I am too happy to be in England to be a judge of
"You did not touch his wine!"
"You men attach so much importance to wine!"
"They do say that powders is a good thing after Mr. Tinman's wine,"
observed Mrs. Crickledon, who had come into the sitting-room to take away
the breakfast things.
Mr. Fellingham gave a peal of laughter; but Mrs Crickledon bade him be
hushed, for Mr. Van Diemen Smith had gone to lay down his poor aching
head on his pillow. Annette ran upstairs to speak to her father about
During her absence, Mr. Fellingham received the popular portrait of Mr.
Tinman from the lips of Mrs. Crickledon. He subsequently strolled to the
carpenter's shop, and endeavoured to get a confirmation of it.
"My wife talks too much," said Crickledon.
When questioned by a gentleman, however, he was naturally bound to answer
to the extent of his knowledge.
"What a funny old country it is!" Mr. Fellingham said to Annette, on
their walk to the beach.
She implored him not to laugh at anything English.
"I don't, I assure you," said he. "I love the country, too. But when
one comes back from abroad, and plunges into their daily life, it's
difficult to retain the real figure of the old country seen from outside,
and one has to remember half a dozen great names to right oneself. And
Englishmen are so funny! Your father comes here to see his old friend,
and begins boasting of the Gippsland he has left behind. Tinman
immediately brags of Helvellyn, and they fling mountains at one another
till, on their first evening together, there's earthquake and rupture--
they were nearly at fisticuffs at one time."
"Oh! surely no," said Annette. "I did not hear them. They were good
friends when you came to the drawingroom. Perhaps the wine did affect
poor papa, if it was bad wine. I wish men would never drink any. How
much happier they would be."
"But then there would cease to be social meetings in England. What
should we do?"
"I know that is a sneer; and you were nearly as enthusiastic as I was on
board the vessel," Annette said, sadly.
"Quite true. I was. But see what quaint creatures we have about us!
Tinman practicing in his Court suit before the chiwal-glass! And that
good fellow, the carpenter, Crickledon, who has lived with the sea
fronting him all his life, and has never been in a boat, and he confesses
he has only once gone inland, and has never seen an acorn!"
"I wish I could see one--of a real English oak," said Annette.
"And after being in England a few months you will be sighing for the
"You think you will be quite contented here?"
"I am sure I shall be. May papa and I never be exiles again! I did not
feel it when I was three years old, going out to Australia; but it would
be like death to me now. Oh!" Annette shivered, as with the exile's
"On my honour," said Mr. Fellingham, as softly as he could with the wind
in his teeth, "I love the old country ten times more from your love of
"That is not how I want England to be loved," returned Annette.
"The love is in your hands."
She seemed indifferent on hearing it.
He should have seen that the way to woo her was to humour her
prepossession by another passion. He could feel that it ennobled her in
the abstract, but a latent spite at Tinman on account of his wine, to
which he continued angrily to attribute as unwonted dizziness of the head
and slight irascibility, made him urgent in his desire that she should
separate herself from Tinman and his sister by the sharp division of
Annette declined to laugh at the most risible caricatures of Tinman.
In her antagonism she forced her simplicity so far as to say that she did
not think him absurd. And supposing Mr. Tinman to have proposed to the
titled widow, Lady Ray, as she had heard, and to other ladies young and
middle-aged in the neighbourhood, why should he not, if he wished to
marry? If he was economical, surely he had a right to manage his own
affairs. Her dread was lest Mr. Tinman and her father should quarrel
over the payment for the broken chiwal-glass: that she honestly admitted,
and Fellingham was so indiscreet as to roar aloud, not so very cordially.
Annette thought him unkindly satirical; and his thoughts of her reduced
her to the condition of a commonplace girl with expressive eyes.
She had to return to her father. Mr. Fellingham took a walk on the
springy turf along the cliffs; and "certainly she is a commonplace girl,"
he began by reflecting; with a side eye at the fact that his meditations
were excited by Tinman's poisoning of his bile. "A girl who can't see
the absurdity of Tinman must be destitute of common intelligence."
After a while he sniffed the fine sharp air of mingled earth and sea
delightedly, and he strode back to the town late in the afternoon,
laughing at himself in scorn of his wretched susceptibility to bilious
impressions, and really all but hating Tinman as the cause of his
weakness--in the manner of the criminal hating the detective, perhaps.
He cast it altogether on Tinman that Annette's complexion of character
had become discoloured to his mind; for, in spite of the physical
freshness with which he returned to her society, he was incapable of
throwing off the idea of her being commonplace; and it was with regret
that he acknowledged he had gained from his walk only a higher opinion of
Her father was the victim of a sick headache, [Migraine--D.W.]and lay, a
groaning man, on his bed, ministered to by Mrs. Crickledon chiefly.
Annette had to conduct the business with Mr. Phippun and Mr. Tinman as to
payment for the chiwal-glass. She was commissioned to offer half the
price for the glass on her father's part; more he would not pay. Tinman
and Phippun sat with her in Crickledon's cottage, and Mrs. Crickledon
brought down two messages from her invalid, each positive, to the effect
that he would fight with all the arms of English law rather than yield
Tinman declared it to be quite out of the question that he should pay a
penny. Phippun vowed that from one or the other of them he would have
Annette naturally was in deep distress, and Fellingham postponed the
discussion to the morrow.
Even after such a taste of Tinman as that, Annette could not be induced
to join in deriding him privately. She looked pained by Mr. Fellingham's
cruel jests. It was monstrous, Fellingham considered, that he should
draw on himself a second reprimand from Van Diemen Smith, while they were
consulting in entire agreement upon the case of the chiwal-glass.
"I must tell you this, mister sir," said Van Diemen, "I like you, but
I'll be straightforward and truthful, or I'm not worthy the name of
Englishman; and I do like you, or I should n't have given you leave to
come down here after us two. You must respect my friend if you care for
my respect. That's it. There it is. Now you know my conditions."
"I 'm afraid I can't sign the treaty," said Fellingham.
"Here's more," said Van Diemen. "I'm a chilly man myself if I hear a
laugh and think I know the aim of it. I'll meet what you like except
scorn. I can't stand contempt. So I feel for another. And now you
"It puts a stopper on the play of fancy, and checks the throwing off of
steam," Fellingham remonstrated. "I promise to do my best, but of all
the men I've ever met in my life--Tinman!--the ridiculous! Pray pardon
me; but the donkey and his looking-glass! The glass was misty! He--as
particular about his reflection in the glass as a poet with his verses!
Advance, retire, bow; and such murder of the Queen's English in the very
presence! If I thought he was going to take his wine with him, I'd have
him arrested for high treason."
"You've chosen, and you know what you best like," said Van Diemen,
pointing his accents--by which is produced the awkward pause, the pitfall
of conversation, and sometimes of amity.
Thus it happened that Mr. Herbert Fellingham journeyed back to London a
day earlier than he had intended, and without saying what he meant to
A month later, after a night of sharp frost on the verge of the warmer
days of spring, Mr. Fellingham entered Crikswich under a sky of perfect
blue that was in brilliant harmony with the green downs, the white cliffs
and sparkling sea, and no doubt it was the beauty before his eyes which
persuaded him of his delusion in having taken Annette for a commonplace
girl. He had come in a merely curious mood to discover whether she was
one or not. Who but a commonplace girl would care to reside in
Crikswich, he had asked himself; and now he was full sure that no
commonplace girl would ever have had the idea. Exquisitely simple, she
certainly was; but that may well be a distinction in a young lady whose
eyes are expressive.
The sound of sawing attracted him to Crickledon's shop, and the
industrious carpenter soon put him on the tide of affairs.
Crickledon pointed to the house on the beach as the place where Mr. Van
Diemen Smith and his daughter were staying.
"Dear me! and how does he look?" said Fellingham.
"Our town seems to agree with him, sir."
"Well, I must not say any more, I suppose." Fellingham checked his
tongue. "How have they settled that dispute about the chiwal-glass?"
"Mr. Tinman had to give way."
"But," Crickledon stopped work, "Mr. Tinman sold him a meadow."
"Mr. Smith has been buying a goodish bit of ground here. They tell me
he's about purchasing Elba. He has bought the Crouch. He and Mr. Tinman
are always out together. They're over at Helmstone now. They've been to
"Are they likely to be back to-day?"
"Certain, I should think. Mr. Tinman has to be in London to-morrow."
Crickledon looked. He was not the man to look artful, but there was a
lighted corner in his look that revived Fellingham's recollections, and
the latter burst out:
"The Address? I 'd half forgotten it. That's not over yet? Has he been
"No more glasses ha' been broken."
"And how is your wife, Crickledon?"
"She's at home, sir, ready for a talk, if you've a mind to try her."
Mrs. Crickledon proved to be very ready. "That Tinman," was her theme.
He had taken away her lodgers, and she knew his objects. Mr. Smith
repented of leaving her, she knew, though he dared not say it in plain
words. She knew Miss Smith was tired to death of constant companionship
with Mrs. Cavely, Tinman's sister. She generally came once in the day
just to escape from Mrs. Cavely, who would not, bless you! step into a
cottager's house where she was not allowed to patronize. Fortunately
Miss Smith had induced her father to get his own wine from the merchants.
"A happy resolution," said Fellingham; "and a saving one."
He heard further that Mr. Smith would take possession of the Crouch next
month, and that Mrs. Cavely hung over Miss Smith like a kite.
"And that old Tinman, old enough to be her father!" said Mrs. Crickledon.
She dealt in the flashes which connect ideas. Fellingham, though a man,
and an Englishman, was nervously wakeful enough to see the connection.
"They'll have to consult the young lady first, ma'am."
"If it's her father's nod she'll bow to it; now mark me," Mrs. Crickledon
said, with emphasis. "She's a young lady who thinks for herself, but she
takes her start from her father where it's feeling. And he's gone stone-
blind over that Tinman."
While they were speaking, Annette appeared.
"I saw you," she said to Fellingham; gladly and openly, in the most
"Are you going to give me a walk along the beach?" said he.
She proposed the country behind the town, and that was quite as much to
his taste. But it was not a happy walk. He had decided that he admired
her, and the notion of having Tinman for a rival annoyed him. He
overflowed with ridicule of Tinman, and this was distressing to Annette,
because not only did she see that he would not control himself before her
father, but he kindled her own satirical spirit in opposition to her
father's friendly sentiments toward his old schoolmate.
"Mr. Tinman has been extremely hospitable to us," she said, a little
"May I ask you, has he consented to receive instruction in deportment and
Annette did not answer.
"If practice makes perfect, he must be near the mark by this time."
She continued silent.
"I dare say, in domestic life, he's as amiable as he is hospitable, and
it must be a daily gratification to see him in his Court suit."
"I have not seen him in his Court suit."
"That is his coyness."
"People talk of those things."
"The common people scandalize the great, about whom they know nothing,
you mean! I am sure that is true, and living in Courts one must be
keenly aware of it. But what a splendid sky and-sea!"
"Is it not?"
Annette echoed his false rapture with a candour that melted him.
He was preparing to make up for lost time, when the wild waving of a
parasol down a road to the right, coming from the town, caused Annette to
stop and say, "I think that must be Mrs. Cavely. We ought to meet her."
Fellingham asked why.
"She is so fond of walks," Anisette replied, with a tooth on her lip
Fellingham thought she seemed fond of runs.
Mrs. Cavely joined them, breathless. "My dear! the pace you go at!"
she shouted. "I saw you starting. I followed, I ran, I tore along.
I feared I never should catch you. And to lose such a morning of
"Is it not heavenly?"
"One can't say more," Fellingham observed, bowing.
"I am sure I am very glad to see you again, sir. You enjoy Crikswich?"
"Once visited, always desired, like Venice, ma'am. May I venture to
inquire whether Mr. Tinman has presented his Address?"
"The day after to-morrow. The appointment is made with him," said Mrs.
Cavely, more officially in manner, "for the day after to-morrow. He is
excited, as you may well believe. But Mr. Smith is an immense relief to
him--the very distraction he wanted. We have become one family, you
"Indeed, ma'am, I did not know it," said Fellingham.
The communication imparted such satiric venom to his further remarks,
that Annette resolved to break her walk and dismiss him for the day.
He called at the house on the beach after the dinner-hour, to see Mr. Van
Diemen Smith, when there was literally a duel between him and Tinman; for
Van Diemen's contribution to the table was champagne, and that had been
drunk, but Tinman's sherry remained. Tinman would insist on Fellingham's
taking a glass. Fellingham parried him with a sedate gravity of irony
that was painfully perceptible to Anisette. Van Diemen at last backed
Tinman's hospitable intent, and, to Fellingham's astonishment, he found
that he had been supposed by these two men to be bashfully retreating
from a seductive offer all the time that his tricks of fence and
transpiercings of one of them had been marvels of skill.
Tinman pushed the glass into his hand.
"You have spilt some," said Fellingham.
"It won't hurt the carpet," said Tinman.
"Won't it?" Fellingham gazed at the carpet, as if expecting a flame to
He then related the tale of the magnanimous Alexander drinking off the
potion, in scorn of the slanderer, to show faith in his friend.
"Alexander--Who was that?" said Tinman, foiled in his historical
recollections by the absence of the surname.
"General Alexander," said Fellingham. "Alexander Philipson, or he
declared it was Joveson; and very fond of wine. But his sherry did for
him at last."
"Ah! he drank too much, then," said Tinman.
"Of his own!"
Anisette admonished the vindictive young gentleman by saying, "How long
do you stay in Crikswich, Mr. Fellingham?"
He had grossly misconducted himself. But an adversary at once offensive
and helpless provokes brutality. Anisette prudently avoided letting her
father understand that satire was in the air; and neither he nor Tinman
was conscious of it exactly: yet both shrank within themselves under the
sensation of a devilish blast blowing. Fellingham accompanied them and
certain jurats to London next day.
Yes, if you like: when a mayor visits Majesty, it is an important
circumstance, and you are at liberty to argue at length that it means
more than a desire on his part to show his writing power and his reading
power: it is full of comfort the people, as an exhibition of their
majesty likewise; and it is an encouragement to men to strive to become
mayors, bailiffs, or prime men of any sort; but a stress in the reporting
of it--the making it appear too important a circumstance--will surely
breathe the intimation to a politically-minded people that satire is in
the air, and however dearly they cherish the privilege of knocking at the
first door of the kingdom, and walking ceremoniously in to read their
writings, they will, if they are not in one of their moods for
prostration, laugh. They will laugh at the report.
All the greater reason is it that we should not indulge them at such
periods; and I say woe's me for any brother of the pen, and one in some
esteem, who dressed the report of that presentation of the Address of
congratulation by Mr. Bailiff Tinman, of Crikswich! Herbert Fellingham
wreaked his personal spite on Tinman. He should have bethought him that
it involved another than Tinman that is to say, an office--which the
fitful beast rejoices to paw and play with contemptuously now and then,
one may think, as a solace to his pride, and an indemnification for those
caprices of abject worship so strongly recalling the days we see through
Mr. Darwin's glasses.
He should not have written the report. It sent a titter over England.
He was so unwise as to despatch a copy of the newspaper containing it to
Van Diemen Smith. Van Diemen perused it with satisfaction. So did
Tinman. Both of these praised the able young writer. But they handed
the paper to the Coastguard Lieutenant, who asked Tinman how he liked it;
and visitors were beginning to drop in to Crikswich, who made a point of
asking for a sight of the chief man; and then came a comic publication,
all in the Republican tone of the time, with Man's Dignity for the
standpoint, and the wheezy laughter residing in old puns to back it, in
eulogy of the satiric report of the famous Address of congratulation of
the Bailiff of Crikswich.
"Annette," Van Diemen said to his daughter, "you'll not encourage that
newspaper fellow to come down here any more. He had his warning."
One of the most difficult lessons for spirited young men to learn is,
that good jokes are not always good policy. They have to be paid for,
like good dinners, though dinner and joke shall seem to have been at
somebody else's expense. Young Fellingham was treated rudely by Van
Diemen Smith, and with some cold reserve by Annette: in consequence of
which he thought her more than ever commonplace. He wrote her a letter
of playful remonstrance, followed by one that appealed to her sentiments.
But she replied to neither of them. So his visits to Crikswich came to
Shall a girl who has no appreciation of fun affect us? Her expressive
eyes, and her quaint simplicity, and her enthusiasm for England, haunted
Mr. Fellingham; being conjured up by contrast with what he met about him.
But shall a girl who would impose upon us the task of holding in our
laughter at Tinman be much regretted? There could be no companionship
between us, Fellingham thought.
On an excursion to the English Lakes he saw the name of Van Diemen
Smith in a visitors' book, and changed his ideas on the subject of
companionship. Among mountains, or on the sea, or reading history,
Annette was one in a thousand. He happened to be at a public ball at
Helmstone in the Winter season, and who but Annette herself came whirling
before him on the arm of an officer! Fellingham did not miss his chance
of talking to her. She greeted him gaily, and speaking with the
excitement of the dance upon her, appeared a stranger to the serious
emotions he was willing to cherish. She had been to the Lakes and to
Scotland. Next summer she was going to Wales. All her experiences were
delicious. She was insatiable, but satisfied.
"I wish I had been with you," said Fellingham.
"I wish you had," said she.
Mrs. Cavely was her chaperon at the ball, and he was not permitted to
enjoy a lengthened conversation sitting with Annette. What was he to
think of a girl who could be submissive to Mrs. Cavely, and danced with
any number of officers, and had no idea save of running incessantly over
England in the pursuit of pleasure? Her tone of saying, "I wish you
had," was that of the most ordinary of wishes, distinctly, if not
designedly different from his own melodious depth.
She granted him one waltz, and he talked of her father and his whimsical
vagrancies and feeling he had a positive liking for Van Diemen, and he
sagaciously said so.
Annette's eyes brightened. "Then why do you never go to see him? He has
bought Elba. We move into the Hall after Christmas. We are at the
Crouch at present. Papa will be sure to make you welcome. Do you not
know that he never forgets a friend or breaks a friendship?"
"I do, and I love him for it," said Fellingham.
If he was not greatly mistaken a gentle pressure on the fingers of his
left hand rewarded him.
This determined him. It should here be observed that he was by birth the
superior of Annette's parentage, and such is the sentiment of a better
blood that the flattery of her warm touch was needed for him to overlook
Two of his visits to Crikswich resulted simply in interviews and
conversations with Mrs. Crickledon. Van Diemen and his daughter were in
London with Tinman and Mrs. Cavely, purchasing furniture for Elba Hall.
Mrs. Crickledon had no scruple in saying, that Mrs. Cavely meant her
brother to inhabit the Hall, though Mr. Smith had outbid him in the
purchase. According to her, Tinman and Mr. Smith had their differences;
for Mr. Smith was a very outspoken gentleman, and had been known to call
Tinman names that no man of spirit would bear if he was not scheming.
Fellingham returned to London, where he roamed the streets famous for
furniture warehouses, in the vain hope of encountering the new owner of
Failing in this endeavour, he wrote a love-letter to Annette.
It was her first. She had liked him. Her manner of thinking she might
love him was through the reflection that no one stood in the way. The
letter opened a world to her, broader than Great Britain.
Fellingham begged her, if she thought favourably of him, to prepare her
father for the purport of his visit. If otherwise, she was to interdict
the visit with as little delay as possible and cut him adrift.
A decided line of conduct was imperative. Yet you have seen that she was
not in love. She was only not unwilling to be in love. And Fellingham
was just a trifle warmed. Now mark what events will do to light the
Van Diemen and Tinman, old chums re-united, and both successful in life,
had nevertheless, as Mrs. Crickledon said, their differences. They
commenced with an opposition to Tinman's views regarding the expenditure
of town moneys. Tinman was ever for devoting them to the patriotic
defence of "our shores;" whereas Van Diemen, pointing in detestation of
the town sewerage reeking across the common under the beach, loudly
called on him to preserve our lives, by way of commencement. Then Van
Diemen precipitately purchased Elba at a high valuation, and Tinman had
expected by waiting to buy it at his own valuation, and sell it out of
friendly consideration to his friend afterwards, for a friendly
consideration. Van Diemen had joined the hunt. Tinman could not mount
a horse. They had not quarrelled, but they had snapped about these and
other affairs. Van Diemen fancied Tinman was jealous of his wealth.
Tinman shrewdly suspected Van Diemen to be contemptuous of his dignity.
He suffered a loss in a loan of money; and instead of pitying him, Van
Diemen had laughed him to scorn for expecting security for investments at
ten per cent. The bitterness of the pinch to Tinman made him frightfully
sensitive to strictures on his discretion. In his anguish he told his
sister he was ruined, and she advised him to marry before the crash. She
was aware that he exaggerated, but she repeated her advice. She went so
far as to name the person. This is known, because she was overheard by
her housemaid, a gossip of Mrs. Crickledon's, the subsequently famous
Now, Annette had shyly intimated to her father the nature of Herbert
Fellingham's letter, at the same time professing a perfect readiness to
submit to his directions; and her father's perplexity was very great, for
Annette had rather fervently dramatized the young man's words at the ball
at Helmstone, which had pleasantly tickled him, and, besides, he liked
the young man. On the other hand, he did not at all like the prospect of
losing his daughter; and he would have desired her to be a lady of title.
He hinted at her right to claim a high position. Annette shrank from the
prospect, saying, "Never let me marry one who might be ashamed of my
"I shouldn't stomach that," said Van Diemen, more disposed in favour of
the present suitor.
Annette was now in a tremor. She had a lover; he was coming. And if he
did not come, did it matter? Not so very much, except to her pride. And
if he did, what was she to say to him? She felt like an actress who may
in a few minutes be called on the stage, without knowing her part. This
was painfully unlike love, and the poor girl feared it would be her
conscientious duty to dismiss him--most gently, of course; and perhaps,
should he be impetuous and picturesque, relent enough to let him hope,
and so bring about a happy postponement of the question. Her father had
been to a neighbouring town on business with Mr. Tinman. He knocked at
her door at midnight; and she, in dread of she knew not what--chiefly
that the Hour of the Scene had somehow struck--stepped out to him
trembling. He was alone. She thought herself the most childish of
mortals in supposing that she could have been summoned at midnight to
declare her sentiments, and hardly noticed his gloomy depression. He
asked her to give him five minutes; then asked her for a kiss, and told
her to go to bed and sleep. But Annette had seen that a great present
affliction was on him, and she would not be sent to sleep. She promised
to listen patiently, to bear anything, to be brave. "Is it bad news from
home?" she said, speaking of the old home where she had not left her
heart, and where his money was invested.
"It's this, my dear Netty," said Van Diemen, suffering her to lead him
into her sitting-room; "we shall have to leave the shores of England."
"Then we are ruined."
"We're not; the rascal can't do that. We might be off to the Continent,
or we might go to America; we've money. But we can't stay here. I'll
not live at any man's mercy."
"The Continent! America!" exclaimed the enthusiast for England.
"Oh, papa, you love living in England so!"
"Not so much as all that, my dear. You do, that I know. But I don't see
how it's to be managed. Mart Tinman and I have been at tooth and claw
to-day and half the night; and he has thrown off the mask, or he's dashed
something from my sight, I don't know which. I knocked him down."
"I picked him up."
"Oh," cried Annette, "has Mr. Tinman been hurt?"
"He called me a Deserter!"
She did not know what this thing was, but the name of it opened a cabinet
of horrors, and she touched her father timidly, to assure him of her
constant love, and a little to reassure herself of his substantial
"And I am one," Van Diemen made the confession at the pitch of his voice.
"I am a Deserter; I'm liable to be branded on the back. And it's in Mart
Tinman's power to have me marched away to-morrow morning in the sight of
Crikswich, and all I can say for myself, as a man and a Briton, is, I did
not desert before the enemy. That I swear I never would have done.
Death, if death's in front; but your poor mother was a handsome woman, my
child, and there--I could not go on living in barracks and leaving her
unprotected. I can't tell a young woman the tale. A hundred pounds came
on me for a legacy, as plump in my hands out of open heaven, and your
poor mother and I saw our chance; we consulted, and we determined to risk
it, and I got on board with her and you, and over the seas we went, first
to shipwreck, ultimately to fortune."
Van Diemen laughed miserably. "They noticed in the hunting-field here I
had a soldier-like seat. A soldier-like seat it'll be, with a brand on
it. I sha'n't be asked to take a soldier-like seat at any of their
tables again. I may at Mart Tinman's, out of pity, after I've undergone
my punishment. There's a year still to run out of the twenty of my term
of service due. He knows it; he's been reckoning; he has me. But the
worst cat-o'-nine-tails for me is the disgrace. To have myself pointed
at, 'There goes the Deserter' He was a private in the Carbineers, and he
deserted.' No one'll say, 'Ay, but he clung to the idea of his old
schoolmate when abroad, and came back loving him, and trusted him, and
Van Diemen produced a spasmodic cough with a blow on his chest. Anisette
"There, now go to bed," said he. "I wish you might have known no more
than you did of our flight when I got you on board the ship with your
poor mother; but you're a young woman now, and you must help me to think
of another cut and run, and what baggage we can scrape together in a
jiffy, for I won't live here at Mart Tinman's mercy."
Drying her eyes to weep again, Annette said, when she could speak: "Will
nothing quiet him? I was going to bother you with all sorts of silly
questions, poor dear papa; but I see I can understand if I try. Will
nothing--Is he so very angry? Can we not do something to pacify him? He
is fond of money. He--oh, the thought of leaving England! Papa, it will
kill you; you set your whole heart on England. We could--I could--could
I not, do you not think?--step between you as a peacemaker. Mr. Tinman
is always very courteous to me."
At these words of Annette's, Van Diemen burst into a short snap of savage
laughter. "But that's far away in the background, Mr. Mart Tinman!" he
said. "You stick to your game, I know that; but you'll find me flown,
though I leave a name to stink like your common behind me. And," he
added, as a chill reminder, "that name the name of my benefactor. Poor
old Van Diemen! He thought it a safe bequest to make."
"It was; it is! We will stay; we will not be exiled," said Annette. "I
will do anything. What was the quarrel about, papa?"
"The fact is, my dear, I just wanted to show him--and take down his
pride--I'm by my Australian education a shrewder hand than his old
country. I bought the house on the beach while he was chaffering, and
then I sold it him at a rise when the town was looking up--only to make
him see. Then he burst up about something I said of Australia. I will
have the common clean. Let him live at the Crouch as my tenant if he
finds the house on the beach in danger."
"Papa, I am sure," Annette repeated--"sure I have influence with Mr.
"There are those lips of yours shutting tight," said her father. "Just
listen, and they make a big O. The donkey! He owns you've got
influence, and he offers he'll be silent if you'll pledge your word to
marry him. I'm not sure he didn't say, within the year. I told him to
look sharp not to be knocked down again. Mart Tinman for my son-in-law!
That's an upside down of my expectations, as good as being at the
antipodes without a second voyage back! I let him know you were
Annette gazed at her father open-mouthed, as he had predicted; now with
a little chilly dimple at one corner of the mouth, now at another--as a
breeze curves the leaden winter lake here and there. She could not get
his meaning into her sight, and she sought, by looking hard, to
understand it better; much as when some solitary maiden lady, passing
into her bedchamber in the hours of darkness, beholds--tradition telling
us she has absolutely beheld foot of burglar under bed; and lo! she
stares, and, cunningly to moderate her horror, doubts, yet cannot but
believe that there is a leg, and a trunk, and a head, and two terrible
arms, bearing pistols, to follow. Sick, she palpitates; she compresses
her trepidation; she coughs, perchance she sings a bar or two of an aria.
Glancing down again, thrice horrible to her is it to discover that there
is no foot! For had it remained, it might have been imagined a harmless,
empty boot. But the withdrawal has a deadly significance of animal life
. . . .
In like manner our stricken Annette perceived the object; so did she
gradually apprehend the fact of her being asked for Tinman's bride, and
she could not think it credible. She half scented, she devised her plan
of escape from another single mention of it. But on her father's
remarking, with a shuffle, frightened by her countenance, "Don't listen
to what I said, Netty. I won't paint him blacker than he is"--then
Annette was sure she had been proposed for by Mr. Tinman, and she fancied
her father might have revolved it in his mind that there was this means
of keeping Tinman silent, silent for ever, in his own interests.
"It was not true, when you told Mr. Tinman I was engaged, papa," she
"No, I know that. Mart Tinman only half-kind of hinted. Come, I say!
Where's the unmarried man wouldn't like to have a girl like you, Netty!
They say he's been rejected all round a circuit of fifteen miles; and
he's not bad-looking, neither--he looks fresh and fair. But I thought it
as well to let him know he might get me at a disadvantage, but he
couldn't you. Now, don't think about it, my love."
"Not if it is not necessary, papa," said Annette; and employed her
familiar sweetness in persuading him to go to bed, as though he were the
afflicted one requiring to be petted.
Round under the cliffs by the sea, facing South, are warm seats in
winter. The sun that shines there on a day of frost wraps you as in a
mantle. Here it was that Mr. Herbert Fellingham found Annette, a chalk-
block for her chair, and a mound of chalk-rubble defending her from the
keen-tipped breath of the east, now and then shadowing the smooth blue
water, faintly, like reflections of a flight of gulls.
Infants are said to have their ideas, and why not young ladies? Those
who write of their perplexities in descriptions comical in their length
are unkind to them, by making them appear the simplest of the creatures
of fiction; and most of us, I am sure, would incline to believe in them
if they were only some bit more lightly touched. Those troubled
sentiments of our young lady of the comfortable classes are quite worthy
of mention. Her poor little eye poring as little fishlike as possible
upon the intricate, which she takes for the infinite, has its place in
our history, nor should we any of us miss the pathos of it were it not
that so large a space is claimed for the exposure. As it is, one has
almost to fight a battle to persuade the world that she has downright
thoughts and feelings, and really a superhuman delicacy is required in
presenting her that she may be credible. Even then--so much being
accomplished the thousands accustomed to chapters of her when she is in
the situation of Annette will be disappointed by short sentences, just as
of old the Continental eater of oysters would have been offended at the
offer of an exchange of two live for two dozen dead ones. Annette was in
the grand crucial position of English imaginative prose. I recognize it,
and that to this the streamlets flow, thence pours the flood. But what
was the plain truth? She had brought herself to think she ought to
sacrifice herself to Tinman, and her evasions with Herbert, manifested in
tricks of coldness alternating with tones of regret, ended, as they had
commenced, in a mysterious half-sullenness. She had hardly a word to
say. Let me step in again to observe that she had at the moment no
pointed intention of marrying Tinman. To her mind the circumstances
compelled her to embark on the idea of doing so, and she saw the
extremity in an extreme distance, as those who are taking voyages may see
death by drowning. Still she had embarked.
"At all events, I have your word for it that you don't dislike me?" said
"Oh! no," she sighed. She liked him as emigrants the land they are
"And you have not promised your hand?"
"No," she said, but sighed in thinking that if she could be induced to
promise it, there would not be a word of leaving England.
"Then, as you are not engaged, and don't hate me, I have a chance?" he
said, in the semi-wailful interrogative of an organ making a mere windy
Ocean sent up a tiny wave at their feet.
"A day like this in winter is rarer than a summer day," Herbert resumed
Annette was replying, "People abuse our climate--"
But the thought of having to go out away from this climate in the
darkness of exile, with her father to suffer under it worse than herself,
overwhelmed her, and fetched the reality of her sorrow in the form of
Tinman swimming before her soul with the velocity of a telegraph-pole to
the window of the flying train. It was past as soon as seen, but it gave
her a desperate sensation of speed.
She began to feel that this was life in earnest.
And Herbert should have been more resolute, fierier. She needed a strong
But he was not on the rapids of the masterful passion. For though going
at a certain pace, it was by his own impulsion; and I am afraid I must,
with many apologies, compare him to the skater--to the skater on easy,
slippery ice, be it understood; but he could perform gyrations as he
went, and he rather sailed along than dashed; he was careful of his
figuring. Some lovers, right honest lovers, never get beyond this quaint
skating-stage; and some ladies, a right goodly number in a foggy climate,
deceived by their occasional runs ahead, take them for vessels on the
very torrent of love. Let them take them, and let the race continue.
Only we perceive that they are skating; they are careering over a smooth
icy floor, and they can stop at a signal, with just half-a-yard of
grating on the heel at the outside. Ice, and not fire nor falling water,
has been their medium of progression.
Whether a man should unveil his own sex is quite another question.
If we are detected, not solely are we done for, but our love-tales too.
However, there is not much ground for anxiety on that head. Each member
of the other party is blind on her own account.
To Annette the figuring of Herbert was graceful, but it did not catch her
up and carry her; it hardly touched her: He spoke well enough to make her
sorry for him, and not warmly enough to make her forget her sorrow for
Herbert could obtain no explanation of the singularity of her conduct
from Annette, and he went straight to her father, who was nearly as
inexplicable for a time. At last he said:
"If you are ready to quit the country with us, you may have my consent."
"Why quit the country?" Herbert asked, in natural amazement.
Van Diemen declined to tell him.
But seeing the young man look stupefied and wretched he took a turn about
the room, and said: "I have n't robbed," and after more turns, "I have
n't murdered." He growled in his menagerie trot within the four walls.
"But I'm, in a man's power. Will that satisfy you? You'll tell me,
because I'm rich, to snap my fingers. I can't. I've got feelings. I'm
in his power to hurt me and disgrace me. It's the disgrace--to my
disgrace I say it--I dread most. You'd be up to my reason if you had
ever served in a regiment. I mean, discipline--if ever you'd known
discipline--in the police if you like--anything--anywhere where there's
what we used to call spiny de cor. I mean, at school. And I'm," said
Van Diemen, "a rank idiot double D. dolt, and flat as a pancake, and
transparent as a pane of glass. You see through me. Anybody could.
I can't talk of my botheration without betraying myself. What good am
I among you sharp fellows in England?"
Language of this kind, by virtue of its unintelligibility, set Mr.
Herbert Fellingham's acute speculations at work. He was obliged to lean
on Van Diemen's assertion, that he had not robbed and had not murdered,
to be comforted by the belief that he was not once a notorious
bushranger, or a defaulting manager of mines, or any other thing
that is naughtily Australian and kangarooly.
He sat at the dinner-table at Elba, eating like the rest of mankind, and
looking like a starved beggarman all the while.
Annette, in pity of his bewilderment, would have had her father take him
into their confidence. She suggested it covertly, and next she spoke of
it to him as a prudent measure, seeing that Mr. Fellingham might find out
his exact degree of liability. Van Diemen shouted; he betrayed himself
in his weakness as she could not have imagined him. He was ready to go,
he said--go on the spot, give up Elba, fly from Old England: what he
could not do was to let his countrymen know what he was, and live among
them afterwards. He declared that the fact had eternally been present to
his mind, devouring him; and Annette remembered his kindness to the
artillerymen posted along the shore westward of Crikswich, though she
could recall no sign of remorse. Van Diemen said: "We have to do with
Martin Tinman; that's one who has a hold on me, and one's enough. Leak
out my secret to a second fellow, you double my risks." He would not be
taught to see how the second might counteract the first. The singularity
of the action of his character on her position was, that though she knew
not a soul to whom she could unburden her wretchedness, and stood far
more isolated than in her Australian home, fever and chill struck her
blood in contemplation of the necessity of quitting England.
Deep, then, was her gratitude to dear good Mrs. Cavely for stepping in to
mediate between her father and Mr. Tinman. And well might she be amazed
to hear the origin of their recent dispute.
"It was," Mrs. Cavely said, "that Gippsland."
Annette cried: "What?"
"That Gippsland of yours, my dear. Your father will praise Gippsland
whenever my Martin asks him to admire the beauties of our neighbourhood.
Many a time has Martin come home to me complaining of it. We have no
doubt on earth that Gippsland is a very fine place; but my brother has
his idea's of dignity, you must know, and I only wish he had been more
used to contradiction, you may believe me. He is a lamb by nature. And,
as he says, 'Why underrate one's own country?' He cannot bear to hear
boasting. Well! I put it to you, dear Annette, is he so unimportant a
person? He asks to be respected, and especially by his dearest friend.
From that to blows! It's the way with men. They begin about trifles,
they drink, they quarrel, and one does what he is sorry for, and one says
more than he means. All my Martin desires is to shake your dear father's
hand, forgive and forget. To win your esteem, darling Annette, he would
humble himself in the dust. Will you not help me to bring these two dear
old friends together once more? It is unreasonable of your dear papa to
go on boasting of Gippsland if he is so fond of England, now is it not?
My brother is the offended party in the eye of the law. That is quite
certain. Do you suppose he dreams of taking advantage of it? He is
waiting at home to be told he may call on your father. Rank, dignity,
wounded feelings, is nothing to him in comparison with friendship."
Annette thought of the blow which had felled him, and spoke the truth of
her heart in saying, "He is very generous."
"You understand him." Mrs. Cavely pressed her hand. "We will both go to
your dear father. He may," she added, not without a gleam of feminine
archness, "praise Gippsland above the Himalayas to me. What my Martin so
much objected to was, the speaking of Gippsland at all when there was
mention of our Lake scenery. As for me, I know how men love to boast of
things nobody else has seen."
The two ladies went in company to Van Diemen, who allowed himself to be
melted. He was reserved nevertheless. His reception of Mr. Tinman
displeased his daughter. Annette attached the blackest importance to a
blow of the fist. In her mind it blazed fiendlike, and the man who
forgave it rose a step or two on the sublime. Especially did he do so
considering that he had it in his power to dismiss her father and herself
from bright beaming England before she had looked on all the cathedrals
and churches, the sea-shores and spots named in printed poetry, to say
nothing of the nobility.
"Papa, you were not so kind to Mr. Tinman as I could have hoped," said
"Mart Tinman has me at his mercy, and he'll make me know it," her father
returned gloomily. "He may let me off with the Commander-in-chief.
He'll blast my reputation some day, though. I shall be hanging my head
in society, through him."
Van Diemen imitated the disconsolate appearance of a gallows body, in one
of those rapid flashes of spontaneous veri-similitude which spring of an
inborn horror painting itself on the outside.
"A Deserter!" he moaned.
He succeeded in impressing the terrible nature of the stigma upon
The guest at Elba was busy in adding up the sum of his own impressions,
and dividing it by this and that new circumstance; for he was totally in
the dark. He was attracted by the mysterious interview of Mrs. Cavely
and Annette. Tinman's calling and departing set him upon new
calculations. Annette grew cold and visibly distressed by her
consciousness of it.
She endeavoured to account for this variation of mood. "We have been
invited to dine at the house on the beach to-morrow. I would not have
accepted, but papa . . . we seemed to think it a duty. Of course the
invitation extends to you. We fancy you do not greatly enjoy dining
there. The table will be laid for you here, if you prefer."
Herbert preferred to try the skill of Mrs. Crickledon.
Now, for positive penetration the head prepossessed by a suspicion is
unmatched; for where there is no daylight; this one at least goes about
with a lantern. Herbert begged Mrs. Crickledon to cook a dinner for him,
and then to give the right colour to his absence from the table of Mr.
Tinman, he started for a winter day's walk over the downs as sharpening a
business as any young fellow, blunt or keen, may undertake; excellent for
men of the pen, whether they be creative, and produce, or slaughtering,
and review; good, then, for the silly sheep of letters and the butchers.
He sat down to Mrs. Crickledon's table at half-past six. She was, as she
had previously informed him, a forty-pound-a-year cook at the period of
her courting by Crickledon. That zealous and devoted husband had made
his first excursion inland to drop over the downs to the great house, and
fetch her away as his bride, on the death of her master, Sir Alfred
Pooney, who never would have parted with her in life; and every day of
that man's life he dirtied thirteen plates at dinner, nor more, nor less,
but exactly that number, as if he believed there was luck in it. And as
Crickledon said, it was odd. But it was always a pleasure to cook for
him. Mrs. Crickledon could not abide cooking for a mean eater. And when
Crickledon said he had never seen an acorn, he might have seen one had he
looked about him in the great park, under the oaks, on the day when he
came to be married.
"Then it's a standing compliment to you, Mrs. Crickledon, that he did
not," said Herbert.
He remarked with the sententiousness of enforced philosophy, that no wine
was better than bad wine.
Mrs. Crickledon spoke of a bottle left by her summer lodgers, who had
indeed left two, calling the wine invalid's wine; and she and her husband
had opened one on the anniversary of their marriage day in October. It
had the taste of doctor's shop, they both agreed; and as no friend of
theirs could be tempted beyond a sip, they were advised, because it was
called a tonic, to mix it with the pig-wash, so that it should not be
entirely lost, but benefit the constitution of the pig. Herbert sipped
at the remaining bottle, and finding himself in the superior society of
an old Manzanilla, refilled his glass.
"Nothing I knows of proves the difference between gentlefolks and poor
persons as tastes in wine," said Mrs. Crickledon, admiring him as she
brought in a dish of cutlets,--with Sir Alfred Pooney's favourite sauce
Soubise, wherein rightly onion should be delicate as the idea of love in
maidens' thoughts, albeit constituting the element of flavour. Something
of such a dictum Sir Alfred Pooney had imparted to his cook, and she
repeated it with the fresh elegance of, such sweet sayings when
transfused through the native mind:
"He said, I like as it was what you would call a young gal's blush at a
kiss round a corner."
The epicurean baronet had the habit of talking in that way.
Herbert drank to his memory. He was well-filled; he had no work to do,
and he was exuberant in spirits, as Mrs. Crickledon knew her countrymen
should and would be under those conditions. And suddenly he drew his
hand across a forehead so wrinkled and dark, that Mrs. Crickledon
exclaimed, "Heart or stomach?"
"Oh, no," said he. "I'm sound enough in both, I hope."
That old Tinman's up to one of his games," she observed.
"Do you think so?"
"He's circumventing Miss Annette Smith."
"Pooh! Crickledon. A man of his age can't be seriously thinking of
proposing for a young lady."
He's a well-kept man. He's never racketed. He had n't the rackets in
him. And she may n't care for him. But we hear things drop."
"What things have you heard drop, Crickledon? In a profound silence you
may hear pins; in a hubbub you may hear cannon-balls. But I never
believe in eavesdropping gossip."
"He was heard to say to Mr. Smith," Crickledon pursued, and she lowered
her voice, "he was heard to say, it was when they were quarreling over
that chiwal, and they went at one another pretty hard before Mr. Smith
beat him and he sold Mr. Smith that meadow; he was heard to say, there
was worse than transportation for Mr. Smith if he but lifted his finger.
They Tinmans have awful tempers. His old mother died malignant, though
she was a saving woman, and never owed a penny to a Christian a hour
longer than it took to pay the money. And old Tinman's just such
"Transportation!" Herbert ejaculated, "that's sheer nonsense, Crickledon.
I'm sure your husband would tell you so."
"It was my husband brought me the words," Mrs. Crickledon rejoined with
some triumph. "He did tell me, I own, to keep it shut: but my speaking
to you, a friend of Mr. Smith's, won't do no harm. He heard them under
the battery, over that chiwal glass: 'And you shall pay,' says Mr. Smith,
and 'I sha'n't,' says old Tinman. Mr. Smith said he would have it if he
had to squeeze a deathbed confession from a sinner. Then old Tinman
fires out, 'You!' he says, 'you' and he stammered. 'Mr. Smith,' my
husband said and you never saw a man so shocked as my husband at being
obliged to hear them at one another Mr. Smith used the word damn. 'You
may laugh, sir.'"
"You say it so capitally, Crickledon."
"And then old Tinman said, 'And a D. to you; and if I lift my finger,
it's Big D. on your back."
"And what did Mr. Smith say, then?"
"He said, like a man shot, my husband says he said, 'My God!'"
Herbert Fellingham jumped away from the table.
"You tell me, Crickledon, your husband actually heard that--just those
"My husband says he heard him say, 'My God!' just like a poor man shot or
stabbed. You may speak to Crickledon, if you speaks to him alone, sir.
I say you ought to know. For I've noticed Mr. Smith since that day has
never looked to me the same easy-minded happy gentleman he was when we
first knew him. He would have had me go to cook for him at Elba, but
Crickledon thought I'd better be independent, and Mr. Smith said to me,
'Perhaps you're right, Crickledon, for who knows how long I may be among
Herbert took the solace of tobacco in Crickledon's shop. Thence, with
the story confirmed to him, he sauntered toward the house on the beach.
The moon was over sea. Coasting vessels that had run into the bay for
shelter from the North wind lay with their shadows thrown shoreward on
the cold smooth water, almost to the verge of the beach, where there was
neither breath nor sound of wind, only the lisp at the pebbles.
Mrs. Crickledon's dinner and the state of his heart made young Fellingham
indifferent to a wintry atmosphere. It sufficed him that the night was
fair. He stretched himself on the shingle, thinking of the Manzanilla,
and Annette, and the fine flavour given to tobacco by a dry still air in
moonlight--thinking of his work, too, in the background, as far as mental
lassitude would allow of it. The idea of taking Annette to see his first
play at the theatre when it should be performed--was very soothing. The
beach rather looked like a stage, and the sea like a ghostly audience,
with, if you will, the broadside bulks of black sailing craft at anchor
for representatives of the newspaper piers. Annette was a nice girl; if
a little commonplace and low-born, yet sweet. What a subject he could
make of her father! "The Deserter" offered a new complication.
Fellingham rapidly sketched it in fancy--Van Diemen, as a Member of the
Parliament of Great Britain, led away from the House of Commons to be
branded on the bank! What a magnificent fall! We have so few intensely
dramatic positions in English real life that the meditative author grew
enamoured of this one, and laughed out a royal "Ha!" like a monarch
reviewing his well-appointed soldiery.
"There you are," said Van Diemen's voice; "I smelt your pipe. You're a
rum fellow, to belying out on the beach on a cold night. Lord! I don't
like you the worse for it. Twas for the romance of the moon in my young
"Where is Annette?" said Fellingham, jumping to his feet.
"My daughter? She 's taking leave of her intended."
"What's that?" Fellingham gasped. "Good heavens, Mr. Smith, what do you
"Pick up your pipe, my lad. Girls choose as they please, I suppose"
"Her intended, did you say, sir? What can that mean?"
"My dear good young fellow, don't make a fuss. We're all going to stay
here, and very glad to see you from time to time. The fact is, I
oughtn't to have quarrelled with Mart Tinman as I've done; I'm too
peppery by nature. The fact is, I struck him, and he forgave it.
I could n't have done that myself. And I believe I'm in for a headache
to-morrow; upon my soul, I do. Mart Tinman would champagne us; but,
poor old boy, I struck him, and I couldn't make amends--didn't see my
way; and we joined hands over the glass--to the deuce with the glass!--
and the end of it is, Netty--she did n't propose it, but as I'm in his
--I say, as I had struck him, she--it was rather solemn, if you had seen
us--she burst into tears, and there was Mrs. Cavely, and old Mart, and me
as big a fool--if I'm not a villain!"
Fellingham perceived a more than common effect of Tin man's wine. He
touched Van Diemen on the shoulder. "May I beg to hear exactly what has
"Upon my soul, we're all going to live comfortably in Old England, and no
more quarreling and decamping," was the stupid rejoinder. "Except that I
did n't exactly--I think you said I exactly'?--I did n't bargain for old
Mart as my--but he's a sound man; Mart's my junior; he's rich. He's eco
. . . he's eco . . . you know--my Lord! where's my brains?--but
"An economical man," said Fellingham, with sedate impatience.
"My dear sir, I'm heartily obliged to you for your assistance," returned
Van Diemen. "Here she is."
Annette had come out of the gate in the flint wall. She started slightly
on seeing Herbert, whom she had taken for a coastguard, she said. He
bowed. He kept his head bent, peering at her intrusively.
"It's the air on champagne," Van Diemen said, calling on his lungs to
clear themselves and right him. "I was n't a bit queer in the house."
"The air on Tinman's champagne!" said Fellingham.
"It must be like the contact of two hostile chemical elements."
Annette walked faster.
They descended from the shingle to the scant-bladed grass-sweep running
round the salted town-refuse on toward Elba. Van Diemen sniffed,
ejaculating, "I'll be best man with Mart Tinman about this business!
You'll stop with us, Mr.----what's your Christian name? Stop with us as
long as you like. Old friends for me! The joke of it is that Nelson was
my man, and yet I went and enlisted in the cavalry. If you talk of
chemical substances, old Mart Tinman was a sneak who never cared a dump
for his country; and I'm not to speak a single sybbarel about that.....
over there . . . Australia . . . Gippsland! So down he went, clean
over. Very sorry for what we have done. Contrite. Penitent."
"Now we feel the wind a little," said Annette.
Fellingham murmured, "Allow me; your shawl is flying loose."
He laid his hands on her arms, and, pressing her in a tremble, said,
"One sign! It's not true? A word! Do you hate me?"
"Thank you very much, but I am not cold," she replied and linked herself
to her father.
Van Diemen immediately shouted, "For we are jolly boys! for we are jolly
boys! It's the air on the champagne. And hang me," said he, as they
entered the grounds of Elba, "if I don't walk over my property."
Annette interposed; she stood like a reed in his way.
"No! my Lord! I'll see what I sold you for!" he cried. "I'm an owner
of the soil of Old England, and care no more for the title of squire than
Napoleon Bonaparty. But I'll tell you what, Mr. Hubbard: your mother was
never so astonished at her dog as old Van Diemen would be to hear himself
called squire in Old England. And a convict he was, for he did wrong
once, but he worked his redemption. And the smell of my own property
makes me feel my legs again. And I'll tell you what, Mr. Hubbard, as
Netty calls you when she speaks of you in private: Mart Tinman's ideas of
wine are pretty much like his ideas of healthy smells, and when I'm
bailiff of Crikswich, mind, he'll find two to one against him in our town
council. I love my country, but hang me if I don't purify it--"
Saying this, with the excitement of a high resolve a upon him, Van Diemen
bored through a shrubbery-brake, and Fellingham said to Annette:
"Have I lost you?"
"I belong to my father," said she, contracting and disengaging her
feminine garments to step after him in the cold silver-spotted dusk of
the winter woods.
Van Diemen came out on a fish-pond.
"Here you are, young ones!" he said to the pair. "This way, Fellowman.
I'm clearer now, and it's my belief I've been talking nonsense. I'm
puffed up with money, and have n't the heart I once had. I say,
Fellowman, Fellowbird, Hubbard--what's your right name?--fancy an old
carp fished out of that pond and flung into the sea. That's exile!
And if the girl don't mind, what does it matter?"
"Mr. Herbert Fellingham, I think, would like to go to bed, papa," said
"Miss Smith must be getting cold," Fellingham hinted.
"Bounce away indoors," replied Van Diemen, and he led them like a bull.
Annette was disinclined to leave them together in the smoking-room, and
under the pretext of wishing to see her father to bed she remained with
them, though there was a novel directness and heat of tone in Herbert
that alarmed her, and with reason. He divined in hideous outlines what
had happened. He was no longer figuring on easy ice, but desperate at
the prospect of a loss to himself, and a fate for Annette, that tossed
him from repulsion to incredulity, and so back.
Van Diemen begged him to light his pipe.
"I'm off to London to-morrow," said Fellingham. "I don't want to go, for
very particular reasons; I may be of more use there. I have a cousin
who's a General officer in the army, and if I have your permission--you
see, anything's better, as it seems to me, than that you should depend
for peace and comfort on one man's tongue not wagging, especially when he
is not the best of tempers if I have your permission--without mentioning
names, of course--I'll consult him."
There was a dead silence.
"You know you may trust me, sir. I love your daughter with all my heart.
Your honour and your interests are mine."
Van Diemen struggled for composure.
"Netty, what have you been at?" he said.
"It is untrue, papa!" she answered the unworded accusation.
"Annette has told me nothing, sir. I have heard it. You must brace your
mind to the fact that it is known. What is known to Mr. Tinman is pretty
sure to be known generally at the next disagreement."
"That scoundrel Mart!" Van Diemen muttered.
"I am positive Mr. Tinman did not speak of you, papa," said Annette, and
turned her eyes from the half-paralyzed figure of her father on Herbert
to put him to proof.
"No, but he made himself heard when it was being discussed. At any rate,
it's known; and the thing to do is to meet it."
"I'm off. I'll not stop a day. I'd rather live on the Continent," said
Van Diemen, shaking himself, as to prepare for the step into that desert.
"Mr. Tinman has been most generous!" Annette protested tearfully.
"I won't say no: I think you are deceived and lend him your own
generosity," said Herbert. "Can you suppose it generous, that even in
the extremest case, he should speak of the matter to your father, and
talk of denouncing him? He did it."
"He was provoked."
"A gentleman is distinguished by his not allowing himself to be
"I am engaged to him, and I cannot hear it said that he is not a
The first part of her sentence Annette uttered bravely; at the conclusion
she broke down. She wished Herbert to be aware of the truth, that he
might stay his attacks on Mr. Tinman; and she believed he had only been
guessing the circumstances in which her father was placed; but the
comparison between her two suitors forced itself on her now, when the
younger one spoke in a manner so self-contained, brief, and full of
She had to leave the room weeping.
"Has your daughter engaged herself, sir?" said Herbert,
"Talk to me to-morrow; don't give us up if she has we were trapped, it's
my opinion," said Van Diemen. "There's the devil in that wine of--Mart
Tinman's. I feel it still, and in the morning it'll be worse. What can
she see in him? I must quit the country; carry her off. How he did it,
I don't know. It was that woman, the widow, the fellow's sister. She
talked till she piped her eye--talked about our lasting union. On my
soul, I believe I egged Netty on! I was in a mollified way with that
wine; all of a sudden the woman joins their hands! And I--a man of
spirit will despise me!--what I thought of was, "now my secret's safe!
You've sobered me, young sir. I see myself, if that's being sober.
I don't ask your opinion of me; I am a deserter, false to my colours,
a breaker of his oath. Only mark this: I was married, and a common
trooper, married to a handsome young woman, true as steel; but she was
handsome, and we were starvation poor, and she had to endure persecution
from an officer day by day. Bear that situation in your mind. . . .
Providence dropped me a hundred pounds out of the sky. Properly
speaking, it popped up out of the earth, for I reaped it, you may say,
from a relative's grave. Rich and poor 's all right, if I'm rich and
you're poor; and you may be happy though you're poor; but where there are
many poor young women, lots of rich men are a terrible temptation to
them. That's my dear good wife speaking, and had she been spared to me
I never should have come back to Old England, and heart's delight and
heartache I should not have known. She was my backbone, she was my
breast-comforter too. Why did she stick to me? Because I had faith in
her when appearances were against her. But she never forgave this
country the hurt to her woman's pride. You'll have noticed a squarish
jaw in Netty. That's her mother. And I shall have to encounter it,
supposing I find Mart Tinman has been playing me false. I'm blown on
somehow. I'll think of what course I'll take 'twixt now and morning.
Good night, young gentleman."
"Good night; sir," said Herbert, adding, "I will get information from the
Horse Guards; as for the people knowing it about here, you're not living
much in society--"
"It's not other people's feelings, it's my own," Van Diemen silenced him.
"I feel it, if it's in the wind; ever since Mart Tinman spoke the thing
out, I've felt on my skin cold and hot."
He flourished his lighted candle and went to bed, manifestly solaced by
the idea that he was the victim of his own feelings.
Herbert could not sleep. Annette's monstrous choice of Tinman in
preference to himself constantly assailed and shook his understanding.
There was the "squarish jaw" mentioned by her father to think of. It
filled him with a vague apprehension, but he was unable to imagine that
a young girl, and an English girl, and an enthusiastic young English
girl, could be devoid of sentiment; and presuming her to have it, as one
must, there was no fear, that she would persist in her loathsome choice
when she knew her father was against it.
Annette did not shun him next morning. She did not shun the subject,
either. But she had been exact in arranging that she should not be more
than a few minutes downstairs before her father. Herbert found, that
compared with her, girls of sentiment are commonplace indeed. She had
conceived an insane idea of nobility in Tinman that blinded her to his
face, figure, and character--his manners, likewise. He had forgiven a
Silly as the delusion might be, it clothed her in whimsical
It was a beauty in her to dwell so firmly upon moral quality. Overthrown
and stunned as he was, and reduced to helplessness by her brief and
positive replies, Herbert was obliged to admire the singular young lady,
who spoke, without much shyness, of her incongruous, destined mate though
his admiration had an edge cutting like irony. While in the turn for
candour, she ought to have told him, that previous to her decision she
had weighed the case of the diverse claims of himself and Tinman, and
resolved them according to her predilection for the peaceful residence
of her father and herself in England. This she had done a little
regretfully, because of the natural sympathy of the young girl for the
younger man. But the younger man had seemed to her seriously-
straightforward mind too light and airy in his wooing, like one of her
waltzing officers--very well so long as she stepped the measure with him,
and not forcible enough to take her off her feet. He had changed, and
now that he had become persuasive, she feared he would disturb the
serenity with which she desired and strove to contemplate her decision.
Tinman's magnanimity was present in her imagination to sustain her,
though she was aware that Mrs. Cavely had surprised her will, and caused
it to surrender unconsulted by her wiser intelligence.
"I cannot listen to you," she said to Herbert, after listening longer
than was prudent. "If what you say of papa is true, I do not think he
will remain in Crikswich, or even in England. But I am sure the old
friend we used, to speak of so much in Australia has not wilfully
Herbert would have had to say, "Look on us two!" to proceed in his
baffled wooing; and the very ludicrousness of the contrast led him to see
the folly and shame of proposing it.
Van Diemen came down to breakfast looking haggard and restless. "I have
'nt had my morning's walk--I can't go out to be hooted," he said, calling
to his daughter for tea, and strong tea; and explaining to Herbert that
he knew it to be bad for the nerves, but it was an antidote to bad
Mr. Herbert Fellingham had previously received an invitation on behalf of
a sister of his to Crikswich. A dull sense of genuine sagacity inspired
him to remind Annette of it. She wrote prettily to Miss Mary Fellingham,
and Herbert had some faint joy in carrying away the letter of her
"Fetch her soon, for we sha'n't be here long," Van Diemen said to him at
parting. He expressed a certain dread of his next meeting with Mart
Herbert speedily brought Mary Fellingham to Elba, and left her there.
The situation was apparently unaltered. Van Diemen looked worn, like a
man who has been feeding mainly on his reflections, which was manifest in
his few melancholy bits of speech. He said to Herbert: "How you feel a
thing when you are found out!" and, "It doesn't do for a man with a
heart to do wrong!" He designated the two principal roads by which poor
sinners come to a conscience. His own would have slumbered but for
discovery; and, as he remarked, if it had not been for his heart leading
him to Tinman, he would not have fallen into that man's power.
The arrival of a young lady of fashionable appearance at Elba was matter
of cogitation to Mrs. Cavely. She was disposed to suspect that it meant
something, and Van Diemen's behaviour to her brother would of itself have
fortified any suspicion. He did not call at the house on the beach, he
did not invite Martin to dinner, he was rarely seen, and when he appeared
at the Town Council he once or twice violently opposed his friend Martin,
who came home ruffled, deeply offended in his interests and his dignity.
"Have you noticed any difference in Annette's treatment of you, dear?"
Mrs. Cavely inquired.
"No," said Tinman; "none. She shakes hands. She asks after my health.
She offers me my cup of tea."
"I have seen all that. But does she avoid privacy with you?"
"Dear me, no! Why should she? I hope, Martha, I am a man who may be
confided in by any young lady in England."
"I am sure you may, dear Martin."
"She has an objection to name the . . . the day," said Martin.
"I have informed her that I have an objection to long engagements.
I don't like her new companion: She says she has been presented at Court.
I greatly doubt it."
"It's to give herself a style, you may depend. I don't believe her!"
exclaimed Mrs. Cavely, with sharp personal asperity.
Brother and sister examined together the Court Guide they had purchased
on the occasion at once of their largest outlay and most thrilling
gratification; in it they certainly found the name of General Fellingham.
"But he can't be related to a newspaper-writer," said Mrs. Cavely.
To which her brother rejoined, "Unless the young man turned scamp. I
hate unproductive professions."
"I hate him, Martin." Mrs. Cavely laughed in scorn, "I should say, I
pity him. It's as clear to me as the sun at noonday, he wanted Annette.
That's why I was in a hurry. How I dreaded he would come that evening
to our dinner! When I saw him absent, I could have cried out it was
Providence! And so be careful--we have had everything done for us from
on High as yet--but be careful of your temper, dear Martin. I will
hasten on the union; for it's a shame of a girl to drag a man behind her
till he 's old at the altar. Temper, dear, if you will only think of it,
is the weak point."
"Now he has begun boasting to me of his Australian wines!" Tinman
"Bear it. Bear it as you do Gippsland. My dear, you have the retort in
your heart:--Yes! but have you a Court in Australia?"
"Ha! and his Australian wines cost twice the amount I pay for mine!"
"Quite true. We are not obliged to buy them, I should hope. I would,
though--a dozen--if I thought it necessary, to keep him quiet."
Tinman continued muttering angrily over the Australian wines, with a word
of irritation at Gippsland, while promising to be watchful of his temper.
"What good is Australia to us," he asked, "if it does n't bring us
"It's going to, my dear," said Mrs. Cavely. "Think of that when he
begins boasting his Australia. And though it's convict's money, as he
"With his convict's money!" Tinman interjected tremblingly. "How long
am I expected to wait?"
"Rely on me to hurry on the day," said Mrs. Cavely. "There is no other
"Wherever I am going to buy, that man outbids me and then says it's the
old country's want of pluck and dash, and doing things large-handed!
A man who'd go on his knees to stop in England!" Tinman vociferated in
a breath; and fairly reddened by the effort: "He may have to do it yet.
I can't stand insult."
"You are less able to stand insult after Honours," his sister said, in
obedience to what she had observed of him since his famous visit to
London. "It must be so, in nature. But temper is everything just now.
Remember, it was by command of temper, and letting her father put himself
in the wrong, you got hold of Annette. And I would abstain even from
wine. For sometimes after it, you have owned it disagreed. And I have
noticed these eruptions between you and Mr. Smith--as he calls himself
--generally after wine."
"Always the poor! the poor! money for the poor!" Tinman harped on further
grievances against Van Diemen. "I say doctors have said the drain on the
common is healthy; it's a healthy smell, nourishing. We've always had it
and been a healthy town. But the sea encroaches, and I say my house and
my property is in danger. He buys my house over my head, and offers me
the Crouch to live in at an advanced rent. And then he sells me my house
at an advanced price, and I buy, and then he votes against a penny for
the protection of the shore! And we're in Winter again! As if he was
not in my power!"
"My dear Martin, to Elba we go, and soon, if you will govern your
temper," said Mrs. Cavely. "You're an angel to let me speak of it so,
and it's only that man that irritates you. I call him sinfully
"I could blow him from a gun if I spoke out, and he knows it! He's
wanting in common gratitude, let alone respect," Tinman snorted.
"But he has a daughter, my dear."
Tinman slowly and crackingly subsided.
His main grievance against Van Diemen was the non-recognition of his
importance by that uncultured Australian, who did not seem to be
conscious of the dignities and distinctions we come to in our country.
The moneyed daughter, the prospective marriage, for an economical
man rejected by every lady surrounding him, advised him to lock up his
temper in submission to Martha.
"Bring Annette to dine with us," he said, on Martha's proposing a visit
to the dear young creature.
Martha drank a glass of her brother's wine at lunch, and departed on the
Annette declined to be brought. Her excuse was her guest, Miss
"Bring her too, by all means--if you'll condescend, I am sure," Mrs.
Cavely said to Mary.
"I am much obliged to you; I do not dine out at present," said the London
"Dear me! are you ill?"
"Nothing in the family, I hope?"
"I am sure, I beg pardon," said Mrs. Cavely, bridling with a spite
pardonable by the severest moralist.
"Can I speak to you alone?" she addressed Annette.
Miss Fellingham rose.
Mrs. Cavely confronted her. "I can't allow it; I can't think of it.
I'm only taking a little liberty with one I may call my future sister-in-
"Shall I come out with you?" said Annette, in sheer lassitude assisting
Mary Fellingham in her scheme to show the distastefulness of this lady
and her brother.
"Not if you don't wish to."
"I have no objection."
"Another time will do."
"Will you write?"
"By post indeed!"
Mrs. Cavely delivered a laugh supposed to, be peculiar to the English
"It would be a penny thrown away," said Annette. "I thought you could
send a messenger."
Intercommunication with Miss Fellingham had done mischief to her high
moral conception of the pair inhabiting the house on the beach. Mrs.
Cavely saw it, and could not conceal that she smarted.
Her counsel to her brother, after recounting the offensive scene to him
in animated dialogue, was, to give Van Diemen a fright.
"I wish I had not drunk that glass of sherry before starting," she
exclaimed, both savagely and sagely. "It's best after business. And
these gentlemen's habits of yours of taking to dining late upset me.
I'm afraid I showed temper; but you, Martin, would not have borne one-
tenth of what I did."
"How dare you say so!" her brother rebuked her indignantly; and the house
on the beach enclosed with difficulty a storm between brother and sister,
happily not heard outside, because of loud winds raging.
Nevertheless Tinman pondered on Martha's idea of the wisdom of giving Van
Diemen a fright.
The English have been called a bad-tempered people, but this is to judge
of them by their manifestations; whereas an examination into causes might
prove them to be no worse tempered than that man is a bad sleeper who
lies in a biting bed. If a sagacious instinct directs them to
discountenance realistic tales, the realistic tale should justify its
appearance by the discovery of an apology for the tormented souls. Once
they sang madrigals, once they danced on the green, they revelled in
their lusty humours, without having recourse to the pun for fun, an
exhibition of hundreds of bare legs for jollity, a sentimental wailing
all in the throat for music. Evidence is procurable that they have been
an artificially-reared people, feeding on the genius of inventors,
transposers, adulterators, instead of the products of nature, for the
last half century; and it is unfair to affirm of them that they are
positively this or that. They are experiments. They are the sons and
victims of a desperate Energy, alluring by cheapness, satiating with
quantity, that it may mount in the social scale, at the expense of their
tissues. The land is in a state of fermentation to mount, and the shop,
which has shot half their stars to their social zenith, is what verily
they would scald themselves to wash themselves free of. Nor is it in any
degree a reprehensible sign that they should fly as from hue and cry the
title of tradesman. It is on the contrary the spot of sanity, which bids
us right cordially hope. Energy, transferred to the moral sense, may
clear them yet.
Meanwhile this beer, this wine, both are of a character to have killed
more than the tempers of a less gifted people. Martin Tinman invited Van
Diemen Smith to try the flavour of a wine that, as he said, he thought of
It has been hinted before of a strange effect upon the minds of men who
knew what they were going to, when they received an invitation to dine
with Tinman. For the sake of a little social meeting at any cost, they
accepted it; accepted it with a sigh, midway as by engineering
measurement between prospective and retrospective; as nearly mechanical
as things human may be, like the Mussulman's accustomed cry of Kismet.
Has it not been related of the little Jew babe sucking at its mother's
breast in Jerusalem, that this innocent, long after the Captivity, would
start convulsively, relinquishing its feast, and indulging in the purest.
Hebrew lamentation of the most tenacious of races, at the passing sound
of a Babylonian or a Ninevite voice? In some such manner did men, unable
to refuse, deep in what remained to them of nature, listen to Tinman; and
so did Van Diemen, sighing heavily under the operation of simple animal
"You seem miserable," said Tinman, not oblivious of his design to give
his friend a fright.
"Do I? No, I'm all right," Van Diemen replied. "I'm thinking of
alterations at the Hall before Summer, to accommodate guests--if I stay
"I suppose you would not like to be separated from Annette."
"Separated? No, I should think I shouldn't. Who'd do it?"
"Because I should not like to leave my good sister Martha all to herself
in a house so near the sea--"
"Why not go to the Crouch, man?"
"No thanks needed if you don't take advantage of the offer."
They were at the entrance to Elba, whither Mr. Tinman was betaking
himself to see his intended. He asked if Annette was at home, and to his
great stupefaction heard that she had gone to London for a week.
Dissembling the spite aroused within him, he postponed his very strongly
fortified design, and said, "You must be lonely."
Van Diemen informed him that it would be for a night only, as young
Fellingham was coming down to keep him company.
"At six o'clock this evening, then," said Tinman. "We're not fashionable
"Hang me, if I know when ever we were!" Van Diemen rejoined.
"Come, though, you'd like to be. You've got your ambition, Philip, like
"Respectable and respected--that 's my ambition, Mr. Mart."
Tinman simpered: "With your wealth!"
"Ay, I 'm rich--for a contented mind."
"I 'm pretty sure you 'll approve my new vintage," said Tinman. "It's
direct from Oporto, my wine-merchant tells me, on his word."
"What's the price?"
"No, no, no. Try it first. It's rather a stiff price."
Van Diemen was partially reassured by the announcement. "What do you
call a stiff price?"
"Double that, and you may have a chance."
"Now," cried Tinman, exasperated, "how can a man from Australia know
anything about prices for port? You can't divest your ideas of diggers'
prices. You're like an intoxicating drink yourself on the tradesmen of
our town. You think it fine--ha! ha! I daresay, Philip, I should be
doing the same if I were up to your mark at my banker's. We can't all
of us be lords, nor baronets."
Catching up his temper thus cleverly, he curbed that habitual runaway,
and retired from his old friend's presence to explode in the society of
the solitary Martha.
Annette's behaviour was as bitterly criticized by the sister as by the
"She has gone to those Fellingham people; and she may be thinking of
jilting us," Mrs. Cavely said.
"In that case, I have no mercy," cried her brother. "I have borne"--he
bowed with a professional spiritual humility--"as I should, but it may
get past endurance. I say I have borne enough; and if the worst comes to
the worst, and I hand him over to the authorities--I say I mean him no
harm, but he has struck me. He beat me as a boy and he has struck me as
a man, and I say I have no thought of revenge, but I cannot have him
here; and I say if I drive him out of the country back to his Gippsland!"
Martin Tinman quivered for speech, probably for that which feedeth
speech, as is the way with angry men.
"And what?--what then?" said Martha, with the tender mellifluousness of
sisterly reproach. "What good can you expect of letting temper get the
better of you, dear?"
Tinman did not enjoy her recent turn for usurping the lead in their
consultations, and he said, tartly, "This good, Martha. We shall get the
Hall at my price, and be Head People here. Which," he raised his note,
"which he, a Deserter, has no right to pretend to give himself out to be.
What your feelings may be as an old inhabitant, I don't know, but I have
always looked up to the people at Elba Hall, and I say I don't like to
have a Deserter squandering convict's money there--with his forty-pound-
a-year cook, and his champagne at seventy a dozen. It's the luxury of
Sodom and Gomorrah."
"That does not prevent its being very nice to dine there," said Mrs.
Cavely; "and it shall be our table for good if I have any management."
"You mean me, ma'am," bellowed Tinman.
"Not at all," she breathed, in dulcet contrast. "You are good-looking,
Martin, but you have not half such pretty eyes as the person I mean. I
never ventured to dream of managing you, Martin. I am thinking of the
people at Elba."
"But why this extraordinary treatment of me, Martha?"
"She's a child, having her head turned by those Fellinghams. But she's
honourable; she has sworn to me she would be honourable."
"You do think I may as well give him a fright?" Tinman inquired
"A sort of hint; but very gentle, Martin. Do be gentle--casual like--as
if you did n't want to say it. Get him on his Gippsland. Then if he
brings you to words, you can always laugh back, and say you will go to
Kew and see the Fernery, and fancy all that, so high, on Helvellyn or the
Downs. Why"--Mrs. Cavely, at the end of her astute advices and
cautionings, as usual, gave loose to her natural character--"Why that man
came back to England at all, with his boastings of Gippsland, I can't for
the life of me find out. It 's a perfect mystery."
"It is," Tinman sounded his voice at a great depth, reflectively. Glad
of taking the part she was perpetually assuming of late, he put out his
hand and said: "But it may have been ordained for our good, Martha."
"True, dear," said she, with an earnest sentiment of thankfulness to the
Power which had led him round to her way of thinking and feeling.
Annette had gone to the big metropolis, which burns in colonial
imaginations as the sun of cities, and was about to see something of
London, under the excellent auspices of her new friend, Mary Fellingham,
and a dense fog. She was alarmed by the darkness, a little in fear, too,
of Herbert; and these feelings caused her to chide herself for leaving
Hearing her speak of her father sadly, Herbert kindly proposed to go down
to Crikswich on the very day of her coming. She thanked him, and gave
him a taste of bitterness by smiling favourably on his offer; but as he
wished her to discern and take to heart the difference between one man
and another, in the light of a suitor, he let her perceive that it cost
him heavy pangs to depart immediately, and left her to brood on his
example. Mary Fellingham liked Annette. She thought her a sensible girl
of uncultivated sensibilities, the reverse of thousands; not commonplace,
therefore; and that the sensibilities were expanding was to be seen in
her gradual unreadiness to talk of her engagement to Mr. Tinman, though
her intimacy with Mary warmed daily. She considered she was bound to
marry the man at some distant date, and did not feel unhappiness yet.
She had only felt uneasy when she had to greet and converse with her
intended; especially when the London young lady had been present.
Herbert's departure relieved her of the pressing sense of contrast. She
praised him to Mary for his extreme kindness to her father, and down in
her unsounded heart desired that her father might appreciate it even more
than she did.
Herbert drove into Crikswich at night, and stopped at Crickledon's, where
he heard that Van Diemen was dining with Tinman.
Crickledon the carpenter permitted certain dry curves to play round his
lips like miniature shavings at the name of Tinman; but Herbert asked,
"What is it now?" in vain, and he went to Crickledon the cook.
This union of the two Crickledons, male and female; was an ideal one,
such as poor women dream of; and men would do the same, if they knew how
poor they are. Each had a profession, each was independent of the other,
each supported the fabric. Consequently there was mutual respect, as
between two pillars of a house. Each saw the other's faults with a sly
wink to the world, and an occasional interchange of sarcasm that was
tonic, very strengthening to the wits without endangering the habit of
affection. Crickledon the cook stood for her own opinions, and directed
the public conduct of Crickledon the carpenter; and if he went astray
from the line she marked out, she put it down to human nature, to which
she was tolerant. He, when she had not followed his advice, ascribed it
to the nature of women. She never said she was the equal of her husband;
but the carpenter proudly acknowledged that she was as good as a man, and
he bore with foibles derogatory to such high stature, by teaching himself
to observe a neatness of domestic and general management that told him he
certainly was not as good as a woman. Herbert delighted in them. The
cook regaled the carpenter with skilful, tasty, and economic dishes; and
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