The Prime Minister
Part 12 out of 16
reason why it should not last for the next ten years. He
continued, therefore, his system of coddling, and was ready at
any moment, or at every moment, to pour, if not comfort, at any
rate consolation into the ears of his unhappy friend. In the
present emergency, it was the falsehood and general baseness of
Sir Orlando which nearly broke the heart of the Prime Minister.
'How is one to live,' he said, 'if one has to do with men of that
'But you haven't to do with him any longer,' said the Duke of St
'When I see a man who is supposed to have earned the name of
statesman, and been high in the councils of his sovereign,
induced by personal jealousy to do as he is doing, it makes me
feel that an honest man should not place himself where he may
have to deal with such persons.'
'According to that the honest men are to desert their country in
order that the dishonest men may have everything their own way.'
Our Duke could not answer this, and therefore for the moment he
yielded. But he was unhappy, saturnine, and generally silent
except when closeted with his ancient mentor. And he knew that
he was saturnine and silent, and that it behoved him as a leader
of men to be genial and communicative,--listening to counsel
even if he did not follow it, and at any rate appearing to have
confidence in his colleagues.
During this time Mr Slide was not inactive, and in his heart of
hearts the Prime Minister was more afraid of Mr Slide's attacks
than of those made upon him by Sir Orlando Drought. Now that
Parliament was sitting, and the minds of men were stirred to
political feeling by the renewed energy of the House, a great
deal was being said in many quarters about the Silverbridge
election. The papers had taken the matter up generally, some
accusing the Prime Minister and some defending. But the defence
was almost as unpalatable to him as the accusation. It was
admitted on all sides that the Duke, both as a peer and as a
Prime Minister, should have abstained from any interference
whatever in the election. And it was also admitted on all sides
that he had not so abstained;--if there was any truth at all in
the allegation that he had paid the money for Mr Lopez. But it
was pleaded on his behalf that the Duke of Omnium had always
interfered in Silverbridge, and that no Reform Bill had ever had
any effect in reducing their influence in that borough. Frequent
allusion was made to the cautious Dod, who, year after year, had
reported that the Duke of Omnium exercised considerable influence
in the borough. And then the friendly newspapers went on to
explain that the Duke had in this instance stayed his hand, and
that the money, if paid at all, had been paid because the
candidate who was to have been his nominee had been thrown over,
when the Duke at the last moment made up his mind that he would
abandon the privilege which had hitherto been always exercised by
the head of his family, and which had been exercised more than
once or twice in his own favour. But Mr Slide, day after day,
repeated his question, 'We want to know whether the Prime
Minister did or did not pay the election expenses of Mr Lopez at
the last Silverbridge election; and if so, why he paid them. We
shall continue to ask this question till it has been answered,
and when asking it we again say that the actual correspondence on
the subject between the Duke and Mr Lopez is in our hands.' And
then, after a while, allusions were made to the Duchess,--for Mr
Slide had learned all the facts of the case from Lopez himself.
When Mr Slide found how hard it was 'to draw his badger', as he
expressed himself concerning his own operations, he at last
openly alluded to the Duchess, running the risk of any punishment
that might fall upon him by action for libel or by severe
reprehension from his colleagues of the Press. 'We have as yet,'
he said, 'received no answers to the questions which we have felt
ourselves called upon to ask in reference to the conduct of the
Prime Minister at the Silverbridge election. We are of the
opinion that all interference by peers with the constituencies of
the country should be put down by the strong hand of the law as
thoroughly and unmercifully as we are putting down ordinary
bribery. But when the offending peer is also the Prime Minister
of this great country, it becomes doubly the duty of those who
watch over the public safety,'--Mr Slide always speaks of
himself as watching over the public safety,--'to animadvert upon
his crime till it has been assoiled, or at any rate repented.
From what we now hear we have reason to believe that the crime is
acknowledged. Had the payment on behalf of Mr Lopez not been
made,--as it certainly was made, or the letters in our hand
would be impudent forgeries,--the charge would long since have
been denied. Silence in such a matter amounts to a confession.
But we understand that the Duke intends to escape under the plea
that he has a second self, powerful as he is to exercise the
baneful influence which his territorial wealth unfortunately
gives him, but for the actions of which second self he, as a Peer
of Parliament and as Prime Minister, is not responsible. In
other words we are informed that the privilege belonging to the
Palliser family at Silverbridge was exercised, not by the Duke
himself, but by the Duchess;--and that the Duke paid the money
when he found out that the Duchess had promised more than she
could perform. We should hardly have thought that even a man so
notoriously weak as the Duke of Omnium would have endeavoured to
ride out the responsibility by throwing the blame upon his wife;
but he will certainly find that the attempt, if made, will fail.'
'Against the Duchess herself we wish to say not a word. She is
known as exercising a wide if not discriminate hospitality. We
believe her to be a kind-hearted, bustling, ambitious lady, to
whom any little faults may be easily forgiven on account of her
good-nature and generosity. But we cannot accept her
indiscretion as an excuse for a most unconstitutional act
performed by the Prime Minister of this country.'
Latterly the Duchess had taken her own copy of the "People's
Banner". Since she had found those around her were endeavouring
to keep from her what was being said of her husband in regard to
the borough, she had been determined to see it all. She
therefore read the article from which two or three paragraphs
have just been given,--and having read it she handed it to her
friend Mrs Finn. 'I wonder that you trouble yourself with such
trash,' her friend said to her.
'That is all very well, my dear, for you, but we poor wretches
who are the slaves of the people have to regard what is said of
us in the "People's Banner".
'It would be much better for you to neglect it.'
'Just as authors are told not to read the criticisms;--but I
never would believe any author who told me that he didn't read
what was said about him. I wonder when the man found out that I
was good-natured. He wouldn't find me good-natured if I could
get hold of him.'
'You are not going to allow it to torment you?'
'For my own sake, not a moment. I fancy that if I might be
permitted to have my own way, I could answer him very easily.
Indeed with these dregs of the newspapers, these gutter-
slanderers, if one would be open and say all the truth aloud what
would one have to fear? After all, what is it that I did? I
disobeyed my husband because I thought that he was too
scrupulous. Let me say as much, out loud to the public,--saying
also that I am sorry for it, as I am,--and who would be against
me? Who would have a word to say after that? I should be the
most popular woman in England for a month,--and, as regards
Plantagenet, Mr Slide and his articles would all sink into
silence. But even though he were to continue this from day to
day for a twelvemonth it would not hurt me,--but then I know how
it scorches him. This mention of my name will make it more
intolerable to him than ever. I doubt that you know him even
'I thought that I did.'
'Though in manner he is as dry as a stick, though all his
pursuits are opposite to the very idea of romance, though he
passes his days and nights thinking how he may take a halfpenny
in the pound off the taxes of the people without robbing the
revenue, there is a dash of chivalry about him worthy of the old
poets. To him a woman, particularly his own woman, is a thing so
fine and so precious that the winds of heaven should hardly be
allowed to blow upon her. He cannot bear to think that people
should even talk of his wife. And yet, heaven knows, poor
fellow, I have given people occasion enough to talk of me. And
he has a much higher chivalry than that of the old poets. They,
or their heroes, watched their women because they did not want to
have trouble about them,--shut them up in castles, kept them in
ignorance, and held them as far as they could out of harm's way.'
'I hardly think they succeeded,' said Mrs Finn.
'But in pure selfishness they tried all they could. But he is
too proud to watch. If you and I were hatching treason against
him in the dark, and chance brought him there, he would stop his
ears with his fingers. He is all trust, even when he knows that
he is being deceived. He is honour complete from head to foot.
Ah, it was before you knew me when I tried him the hardest. I
never could quite tell you the story, and I won't try it now; but
he behaved like a god. I could never tell him what I felt,--but
I felt it.'
'You ought to love him.'
'I do;--but what's the use of it? He is a god, but I am not a
goddess;--and then, though he is a god, he is a dry, silent,
uncongenial and uncomfortable god. It would have suited me much
better to have married a sinner. But then the sinner that I
would have married was so irredeemable a scapegrace.'
'I do not believe in a woman marrying a bad man in the hope of
making him good.'
'Especially not when the woman is naturally inclined to evil
herself. It will half kill him when he reads all this about me.
He has read it already, and it has already half killed him. For
myself I do not mind it in the least, but for his sake I mind it
much. It will rob him of his only possible answer to the
accusation. The very thing which this wretch in the newspaper
says he will say, and that he will be disgraced by saying it, is
the very thing that he ought to say. And there would be no
disgrace in it,--beyond what I might well bear for my little
fault, and which I could bear so easily.'
'Shall you speak to him about it?'
'No; I dare not. In this matter it has gone beyond speaking. I
suppose he does talk it over with the old Duke; but he will say
nothing to me about it,--unless he were to tell me that he had
resigned, and that we were to start off and live at Matching for
the next ten years. I was so proud when they made him Prime
Minister, but I think that I am beginning to regret it now.'
Then there was a pause, and the Duchess went on, with her
newspapers; but she soon resumed her discourse. Her heart was
full, and out of a full heart the mouth speaks. 'They should
have made me Prime Minister, and have let him be Chancellor of
the Exchequer. I begin to see the ways of Government now. I
could have done all the dirty work. I could have given away
garters and ribbons, and made my bargains while giving them. I
could select sleek, easy bishops who wouldn't be troublesome. I
could give pensions or withhold them, and make the stupid men
into peers. I could have the big noblemen at my feet, praying to
be Lieutenants of Counties. I could dole out secretaryships and
lordships, and never a one without getting something in return.
I could brazen out a job and let the "People's Banner" and the
Slides make their worst of it. And I think I could make myself
popular with my party, and do the high-flowing patriotic talk for
the benefit of the Provinces. A man at a regular office has to
work. That's what Plantagenet is fit for. He wants always to be
doing something that shall be really useful, and a man has to
toil at that and really to know things. But a Prime Minister
should never go beyond generalities about commerce, agriculture,
peace, and general philanthropy. Of course he should have the
gift of the gab, and that Plantagenet hasn't got. He never wants
to say anything unless he has got something to say. I could do a
Mansion House dinner to a marvel!'
'I don't doubt that you could speak at all times, Lady Glen.'
'Oh, I do so wish that I had the opportunity,' said the Duchess.
Of course the Duke had read the article in the privacy of his own
room, and of course the article had nearly maddened him with
anger and grief. As the Duchess had said, the article had taken
from him the very ground on which his friends had told him that
he could stand. He had never consented, and never would consent,
to lay the blame publicly on his wife; but he had begun to think
that he must take notice of the charge made against him, and
depute someone to explain for him in the House of Commons that
the injury had been done at Silverbridge by the indiscretion of
an agent who had not fulfilled his employer's intentions, and
that the Duke had thought it right afterwards pay the money in
consequence of the indiscretion. He had not agreed to this, but
had brought himself to think that he must agree to it. But now,
of course, the questions would follow:--Who was the indiscreet
agent? Was the Duchess the person for whose indiscretions he had
had to pay 500 pounds to Mr Lopez? And in this matter did he not
find himself in accord even with Mr Slide? 'We should hardly
have thought that even a man so notoriously weak as the Duke of
Omnium would have endeavoured to ride out of the responsibility
by throwing the blame on his wife.' He read and reread those
words till he knew them by heart. For a few moments it seemed to
him to be an evil in the Constitution that the Prime Minister
should not have the power of instantly crucifying so foul a
slanderer;--and yet it was the very truth of the words that
crushed him. He was weak,--he told himself,--notoriously weak,
it must be, and it would be most mean in him to ride out of
responsibility by throwing the blame upon his wife. But what
else was he to do? There seemed to him to be but one course,--
to get up in the House of Lords and declared that he paid the
money because he thought it right to do under the circumstances
which he could not explain, and to declare that it was not his
intention to say another word on the subject, or to have another
word said on his behalf.
There was a Cabinet Council held that day, but no one ventured to
speak to the Prime Minister as to the accusation. Though he
considered himself to be weak, his colleagues were all more or
less afraid of him. There was a certain silent dignity about the
man which saved him from the evils, as it also debarred him from
the advantages, of familiarity. He had spoken on the subject to
Mr Monk and to Phineas Finn, and, as the reader knows, very often
to his old mentor. He had also mentioned it to his friend Lord
Cantrip, who was not in the Cabinet. Coming away from the
Cabinet he took Mr Monk's arm, and led him away to his own room
in the Treasury Chambers. 'Have you happened to see an article
in the "People's Banner" this morning?' he asked.
'I never see the "People's Banner",' said Mr Monk.
'There it is;--just look at that.' Whereupon Mr Monk read the
article. 'You understand what people call constitutional
practice as well as anyone I know. As I told you before, I did
pay that man's expenses. Did I do anything unconstitutional?'
'That would depend, Duke, on the circumstances. If you were to
back a man up by your wealth in an expensive contest, I think it
would be unconstitutional. If you set yourself to work in that
way, and cared not what you spent, you might materially
influence the elections, and buy parliamentary support for
'But in this case the payment was made after the man had failed,
and certainly had not been promised either by me or by anyone on
'I think it was unfortunate,' said Mr Monk.
'Certainly; certainly; but I am not asking as to that,' said the
Duke impatiently. 'The man had been injured by indiscreet
persons acting on my behalf and in opposition to my wishes.' He
said not a word about the Duchess; but Mr Monk no doubt knew that
her Grace had been at any rate one of the indiscreet persons.
'He applied to me for the money, alleging that he had been
injured by my agents. That being so,--presuming that my story
be correct,--did I act unconstitutionally?'
'I think not,' said Mr Monk, 'and I think that the circumstances,
when explained, will bear you harmless.'
'Thank you; thank you. I did not want to trouble you about that
just at present.'
Mr Monk had been altogether unable to decipher the Duke's purpose
in the question he had asked. About an hour afterwards they
walked down to the Houses together. Mr Monk having been kept at
his office. 'I hope I wasn't a little short with you just now,'
said the Duke.
'I did not find it out,' said Mr Monk, smiling.
'You read what was in the papers, and you may imagine that it is
of a nature to irritate a man. I knew that no one could answer
my question so correctly as you, and therefore I was rather a
little eager to keep directly to the question. It occurred to me
afterwards that I had been--perhaps uncourteous.'
'Not at all, Duke.'
'If I was, your goodness will excuse an irritated man. If a
question were asked about it in the House of Commons who would be
the best man to answer it? Would you do it?'
Mr Monk considered a while. 'I think,' he said, 'that Mr Finn
would do it with better grace. Of course I will do it if you
wish it. But he has tact in such matters, and it is known that
his wife is much regarded by her Grace.'
'I will not have the Duchess's name mentioned,' said the Duke,
turning short upon his companion.
'I did not allude to that, but I thought that the intimacy which
existed might make it pleasant to you to employ Mr Finn as the
exponent of your wishes.'
'I have the greatest confidence in Mr Finn, certainly, and am on
most friendly personal terms with him. It shall be so, if I
decide on answering any questions in your House on a matter so
purely personal to myself.'
'I would suggest that you should have the question asked in a
friendly way. Get some independent member, such as Mr Beverley
or Sir James Deering, to ask it. The matter would then be
brought forward in no carping spirit, and you would be enabled,
through Mr Finn, to set the matter at rest. You have probably
spoken to the Duke about it.'
'I have mentioned it to him.'
'Is not that what would recommend?'
The old Duke had recommended that the entire truth should be
told, and that the Duchess's operations should be made public.
Here was our poor Prime Minister's great difficulty. He and his
Mentor were at variance. His Mentor was advising that the real
naked truth should be told, whereas Telemachus was intent on
keeping the name of the actual culprit in the background. 'I
will think it all over,' said the Prime Minister as the two
parted company at Palace Yard.
That evening he spoke to Lord Cantrip on the subject. Though the
matter was odious to him, he could not keep his mind from it for
a moment. Had Lord Cantrip seen the article in the "People's
Banner"? Lord Cantrip, like Mr Monk, declared that the paper in
question did not constitute part of his usual morning's
recreation. 'I won't ask you to read it,' said the Duke;--'but
it contains a very bitter attack upon me,--the bitterest that
has yet been made. I suppose I ought to notice the matter?'
'If I were you,' said the Lord Cantrip, 'I should put myself into
the hands of the Duke of St Bungay, and do exactly what he
advises. There is no man in England knows so well as he does
what should be done in such a case as this.' The Prime Minister
frowned and said nothing. 'My dear Duke,' continued Lord
Cantrip, 'I can give you no other advice. Who is there that has
your personal interest and your honour at heart so entirely as
his Grace;--and what man can be a more sagacious or more
'I was thinking that you might ask a question about it in our
'You would do it for me in the manner that--that would be free
from all offence.'
'If I did it all, I should certainly strive to do that. But it
has never occurred to me that you would make such a suggestion.
Would you give me a few minutes to think about it?' 'I couldn't
do it,' Lord Cantrip said afterwards. 'By taking such a step,
even at your request, I should certainly express an opinion that
the matter was one which Parliament was entitled to expect that
you should make an explanation. But my own opinion is that
Parliament has no business to meddle in the matter. I do not
think that every action of a minister's life should be made
matter of inquiry because a newspaper may choose to make allusion
to it. At any rate, if any word is said about it, it should, I
think, be said in the other house.'
'The Duke of St Bungay thinks that something should be said.'
'I could not, myself, consent even to appear to desire information
on a matter so entirely personal to yourself.' The Duke bowed,
and smiled with a cold, glittering, uncomfortable smile which
would sometimes cross his face when he was not pleased, and no
more was then said on the subject.
Attempts were made to have the question asked in a far different
spirit by some hostile member of the House of Commons. Sir
Orlando Drought was sounded, and he for a while did give ear to
the suggestion. But, as he came to have the matter full before
him, he could not do it. The Duke had spurned his advice as a
minister, and had refused to sanction a measure which he, as the
head of a branch of the Government, had proposed. The Duke had
so offended him that he conceived himself bound to regard the
Duke as his enemy. But he knew,--and he could not escape from
the knowledge,--that England did not contain a more honourable
man than the Duke. He was delighted that the Duke should be
vexed and thwarted, and called ill names in the matter. To be
gratified at this discomfiture of his enemy was in the nature of
parliamentary opposition. Any blow that might weaken his
opponent was a blow in his favour. But his was a blow which he
could not strike with his own hands. There were things in
parliamentary tactics which even Sir Orlando could not do.
Arthur Fletcher was also asked to undertake the task. He was the
successful candidate, the man who opposed Lopez, and who was
declared by the "People's Banner" to have emancipated that
borough by his noble conduct from the tyranny of the House of
Palliser. And it was thought that he might like an opportunity
of making himself known in the House. But he was simply
indignant when the suggestion was made to him. 'What is it to
me,' he said, 'who paid the blackguard's expenses?'
This went on for some weeks after Parliament had met, and for
some days even after the article in which direct allusion was
made to the Duchess. The Prime Minister could not be got to
consent that no notice should be taken of the matter, let the
papers or the public say what they would, nor could he be induced
to let the matter be handled in a manner proposed by the elder
Duke. And during this time he was in such a fever that those
about him felt that something must be done. Mr Monk suggested
that if everybody held his tongue,--meaning all the Duke's
friends,--the thing would wear itself out. But it was apparent
to those who were nearest to the minister, to Mr Warburton, for
instance, and the Duke of St Bungay, that the man himself would be
worn out first. The happy professor of a thick skin can hardly
understand how one not so blessed may be hurt by the thong of a
little whip! At last the matter was arranged. At the
instigation of Mr Monk, Sir James Deering, who was really the
father of the House, an independent member, but one who generally
voted with the Coalition, consented to ask the question in the
House of Commons. And Phineas Finn was instructed by the Duke as
to the answer that was to be given. The Duke of Omnium in giving
these instructions made a mystery of the matter which he by no
means himself intended. But he was so sore that he could not be
simple in what he said. 'Mr Finn,' he said, 'you must promise me
this;--that the name of the Duchess shall not be mentioned.'
'Certainly not by me, if you will tell me that I am not to
'No one else can do so. The matter will take the form of a
simple question, and though the conduct of the minister may no
doubt be made the subject of debate,--and it is not improbable
that any conduct may do so in this instance,--it is, I think,
impossible that any member should make an allusion to my wife.
The privilege or power of returning a member for the borough has
undoubtedly been exercised by our family since as well as
previous to both the Reform Bills. At the last election I
thought it right to abandon that privilege, and notified to those
about my intention. But that which a man has the power of doing
he cannot always do without interference of those around him.
There was a misconception, and among my,--my adherents,--there
were some who injudiciously advised Mr Lopez to stand on my
interest. But he did not get my interest, and was beaten;--and
therefore when he asked me for the money which he had spent, I
paid it to him. That is all. I think the House can hardly avoid
to see that my effort was made to discontinue an unconstitutional
Sir James Deering asked the question. 'He trusted,' he said,
'that the House would not think that the question of which he had
given notice and which he was about to ask was instigated by any
personal desire on his part to inquire into the conduct of the
Prime Minister. He was one who believed that the Duke of Omnium
was as little likely as any man in England to offend by
unconstitutional practice on his own part. But a great deal had
been talked and written lately about the late election at
Silverbridge, and there were those who thought,--and he was one
of them,--that something should be said to stop the mouths of
cavillers. With this object he would ask the Right Honourable
Gentleman who led the House, and who was perhaps first in
standing among the Duke's colleagues in that House, whether the
noble Duke was prepared to have any statement on the subject
The house was full to the very corners of the galleries. Of
course it was known to everybody that the question was to be
asked and to be answered. There were some who thought the matter
was so serious that the Prime Minister could not get over it.
Others had heard the details in the clubs that Lady Glen, as the
Duchess was still called, was to be made the scapegoat. Men of
all classes were open-mouthed in the denunciation and meanness of
Lopez--though no one but Mr Wharton knew half his villainy, as
he alone knew that the expenses had been paid twice over. In one
corner of the reporter's gallery sat Mr Slide, pencil in hand,
prepared to revert to his old work on so momentous an occasion.
It was a great day for him. He by his own unassisted energy had
brought the Prime Minister to book, and had created all this
turmoil. It might be his happy lot to be the means of turning
the Prime Minister out of office. It was he who had watched over
the nation! The Duchess had been most anxious to be present,--
but had not ventured to come without asking her husband's leave,
which he had most peremptorily refused to give. 'I cannot
understand, Glencora, how you can suggest such a thing,' he had
'You make so much of everything,' she had replied petulantly; but
she had remained at home. The ladies' gallery was, however,
quite full. Mrs Finn was there, of course, anxious not only for
her friend, but eager to hear how her husband would acquit
himself in his task. The wives and daughters of all the
ministers were there,--excepting the wife of the Prime Minister.
There never had been, in the memory of them all, a matter that
was so interesting to them for it was the only matter they
remembered in which a woman's conduct might probably be called
into question in the House of Commons. And the seats
appropriated to peers were so crammed that above a dozen grey-
headed old lords were standing in the passage which divides them
from the common strangers. After all it was not, in truth, much
of an affair. A very little man indeed had calumniated the
conduct of a minister of the Crown, till it had been thought well
that the minister should defend himself. No one really believed
that the Duke had committed any great offence. At the worst it
was no more than indiscretion, which was noticeable only because
a Prime Minister should never be indiscreet. Had the taxation of
the whole country for the next year been in dispute there would
have been no such interest felt. Had the welfare of the Indian
Empire occupied the House, the House would have been empty. But
the hope that a certain woman's name would have to be mentioned,
crammed it from floor to ceiling.
The reader need not be told that the name was not mentioned. Our
old friend Phineas, on rising to his legs, first apologized for
doing so in place of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But
perhaps the House would accept a statement from him, as
the noble Duke at the head of the Government had asked him to
make it. Then he made his statement. 'Perhaps,' he said, 'no
falser accusation than this had ever been brought forward against
a Minister of the Crown, for it specially charged his noble
friend with resorting to the employment of unconstitutional
practices to bolster up his parliamentary support, whereas it was
known by everybody that there would have been no matter for
accusation at all had not the Duke of his own motion abandoned a
recognized privilege, because, in his opinion, the exercise of
that privilege was opposed to the spirit of the Constitution.
Had the noble Duke simply nominated a candidate, as candidate had
been nominated at Silverbridge for centuries past, that candidate
would have been returned with absolute certainty, and there would
have been no word spoken on the subject. It was not, perhaps,
for him, who had the honour of serving under his Grace, and who,
as being part of his Grace's Government, was for the time one
with his Grace, to expiate at length on the nobility of the
sacrifice here made. But they all knew there at what rate was
valued a seat in that House. Thank God that privilege which his
noble friend had so magnanimously resigned from purely patriotic
motives, was, he believed, still in existence, and he would ask
those few who were still in the happy, or perhaps, he had better
say in the envied position of being able to send their friends to
that House, what was their estimation of the conduct of the Duke
in this matter? It might be that there were one or two such
present, and who now heard him,--or perhaps, one or two who owed
their seats to the exercise of such a privilege. They might
marvel at the magnitude of the surrender. They might even
question the sagacity of the man who could abandon so much
without a price. But he hardly thought that even they would
regard it as unconstitutional.
'This was what the Prime Minister had done,--acting not as Prime
Minister, but as an English gentleman, in the management of his
own property and privileges. And now he would come to the gist
of the accusation made; in making which, the thing which the Duke
had really done had been altogether ignored. When the vacancy
had been declared by the acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds by a
gentleman whose absence from the House they all regretted, the
Duke had signified to his agents his intention of retiring
altogether from the exercise of any privilege or power in the
matter. But the Duke was then, as he was also now, and would, it
was to be hoped, long continue to be Prime Minister of England.
He need hardly remind gentlemen in that House that the Prime
Minister was not in a position to devote his undivided time to
the management of his own property, or even to the interests of
the Borough of Silverbridge. That his Grace had been earnest in
his instructions to his agents, the sequel fully proved; but that
earnestness his agents had misinterpreted.'
Then there was a voice heard in the House, 'What agents?' and
from another voice, 'Name them.' For there were present some who
thought it to be shameful that the excitement of the occasion
should be lowered by keeping back the allusion to the Duchess.
'I have not distinguished,' said Phineas, assuming an indignant
tone, 'the honourable gentlemen from whom those questions have
come, and therefore I have the less compunction in telling them
that it is not part of my duty on this occasion to gratify a
morbid and an indecent curiosity.' Then there was a cry of
'Order', and an appeal to the Speaker. Certain gentlemen wished
to know whether indecent was parliamentary. The Speaker, with
some hesitation, expressed his opinion that the word, as then
used, was not open to objection from him. He thought that it was
within the scope of a member's rights to charge another member
with indecent curiosity. 'If,' said Phineas, rising again to his
legs, for he had sat down for a moment, 'the gentleman who called
for a name will rise in his place and repeat the demand, I will
recall the word indecent and substitute another,--or others. I
will tell him that he is one who, regardless of the real conduct
of the Prime Minister, either as a man or as a servant of the
Crown, is only anxious to inflict unmanly wound in order that he
may be gratified by seeing the pain he inflicts.' Then he
paused, but as no further question was asked, he continued his
statement. 'A candidate had been brought forward,' he said, 'by
those interested in the Duke's affairs. A man whom he would not
name, but who, he trusted, would never succeed in his ambition to
occupy a seat in that House, had been brought forward, and
certain tradesmen in Silverbridge had been asked to support him
as the Duke's nominee. There was no doubt about it. The House
perhaps could understand that the local adherents and neighbours
of a man so high in rank and wealth as the Duke of Omnium would
not gladly see the privileges of their lord diminished. Perhaps,
too, it occurred to them that a Prime Minister could not have his
eye everywhere. There would always be worthy men in boroughs who
liked to exercise some second-hand authority. At any rate it was
the case that this candidate was encouraged. Then the Duke had
heard it, and had put his foot upon the little mutiny, and had
stamped it out at once. He might perhaps here,' he said,
'congratulate the House on the acquisition it had received, by
the failure of that candidate. So far, at any rate,' he thought,
'it must be admitted that the Duke had been free from blame;--
but now he came to the gravamen of the charge.' The gravamen of
the charge is so well known to the reader that the simple account
of it by Phineas gave of it need not be repeated. The Duke had
paid the money, when asked for it, because he felt that the man
had been injured by incorrect misrepresentations made to him. 'I
need hardly pause to stigmatize the meanness of that
application,' said Phineas, 'but I may perhaps conclude by saying
that whether the last act done by the Duke in this matter was or
was not indiscreet, I shall probably have the House with me when
I say that it savours much more strongly of nobility than
When Phineas Finn sat down no one arose to say another word on
the subject. It was afterwards felt that it could only have been
graceful had Sir Orlando risen and expressed his opinion that the
House had heard the statement just made with perfect
satisfaction. But he did not do so, and after a short pause the
ordinary business of the day was recommenced. Then there was a
speedy descent from the galleries, and the ladies trooped out of
their cage, and the grey-headed old peers went back to their own
chamber, and the members themselves quickly jostled out through
the doors, and Mr Monk was left to explain his proposed
alteration in the dog tax to a thin House of seventy or eighty
The thing was then over, and people were astonished that so great
a thing should be over with so little fuss. It really seemed
that after Phineas Finn's speech there was nothing more to be
said on the matter. Everybody of course knew that the Duchess
had been the chief of the agents to whom he had alluded, but they
had known as much as that before. It was, however, felt by
everybody that the matter had been brought to an end. The game,
such as it was, had been played out. Perhaps the only person who
heard Mr Finn's speech throughout, and still hoped that the spark
could be again fanned into a flame, was Quintus Slide. He went
out and wrote another article about the Duchess. If a man was so
unable to rule his affairs at home, he was certainly unfit to be
Prime Minister. But even Quintus Slide, as he wrote his article,
felt that he was hoping against hope. The charge might be
referred to hereafter as one that had never been satisfactorily
cleared up. The game is always open to the opponents of a
minister. After the lapse of a few months an old accusation can
be serviceably used, whether at the time it was proved or
disproved. Mr Slide published his article; but he felt that for
the present the Silverbridge election papers had better be put by
among the properties of the "People's Banner" and brought out, if
necessary, for further use at some future time.
'Mr Finn,' said the Duke, 'I feel indebted to you for the trouble
you have taken.'
'It was only a pleasant duty.'
'I am grateful to you for the manner in which it was performed.'
This was all the Duke said, and Phineas felt it to be cold. The
Duke, in truth, was grateful, but gratitude with him always
failed to exhibit itself readily. From the world at large
Phineas Finn received great praise for the manner in which he had
performed his task.
The abuse which was now publicly heaped on the name of Ferdinand
Lopez hit the man very hard; but not so hard perhaps as his
rejection by Lady Eustace. That was an episode in his life of
which even he felt ashamed, and of which he was unable to shake
the disgrace from his memory. He had no inner appreciation
whatsoever of what was really good or was what really bad in a
man's conduct. He did not know that he had done evil in applying
to the Duke for money. He had only meant to attack the Duke; and
when the money had come it had been regarded as justifiable prey.
And when after receiving the Duke's money, he had kept also Mr
Wharton's money, he had justified himself again by reminding
himself that Mr Wharton certainly owed him much more than that.
In a sense he was what is called a gentleman. He knew how to
speak, and how to look, how to use a knife and fork, how to dress
himself, and how to walk. But he had not the faintest notion of
the feelings of a gentleman. He had, however, a very keen
conception of the evil of being generally ill spoken of. Even
now, though he was making his mind up to leave England for a long
term of years, he understood the disadvantage of leaving it under
so heavy a cloud;--and he understood also that the cloud might
possibly impede his going altogether. Even in Coleman Street
they were looking black upon him, and Mr Hartlepod went so far as
to say to Lopez himself, that, 'by Jove, he had put his foot in
it.' He had endeavoured to be courageous under his burden, and
every day walked into the offices of the Mining Company,
endeavouring to look as though he had committed no fault of which
he had to be ashamed. But after the second day he found that
nothing was said to him of the affairs of the Company, and on the
fourth day Mr Hartlepod informed him that the time allowed for
paying up his shares had passed by, and that another local
manager would be appointed. 'The time is not over till to-
morrow,' said Lopez angrily. 'I tell you what I am told to tell
you,' said Mr Hartlepod. 'You will only waste your time by
coming here any more.'
He had not once seen Mr Wharton since the statement made in the
Parliament, although he had lived in the same house with him.
Everett Wharton had come home, and they two had met;--but the
meeting had been stormy. 'It seems to me, Lopez, that you are a
scoundrel,' Everett said to him one day, after having heard the
whole story,--or rather many stories,--from his father. This
took place not in Manchester Square, but at the club, where
Everett had endeavoured to cut his brother-in-law. It need
hardly be said that at this time Lopez was not popular at his
club. On the next day a meeting of the whole club was to be held
that the propriety of expelling him might be discussed. But he
had resolved that he would not be cowed, that he would still show
himself, and still defend his conduct. He did not know, however,
that Everett Wharton had already made known to the Committee of
the club all the facts of the double payment.
He had addressed Everett in that solicitude to which a man should
never be reduced of seeking to be recognized by at any rate one
acquaintance,--and now his brother-in-law had called him a
scoundrel in the presence of other men. He raised his arm as
though to use the cane in his hand, but he was cowed by the
feeling that all there were his adversaries. 'How dare you use
that language to me!' he said very weakly.
'It is the language I must use if you speak to me.'
'I am your brother-in-law, and that restrains me.'
'Unfortunately you are.'
'And am living in your father's house.'
'That, again, is a misfortune which it appears difficult to
remedy. You have been told to go, and you won't go.'
'Your ingratitude, sir, is marvellous! Who saved your life when
you were attacked in the park, and were too drunk to take care of
yourself? Who has stood your friend with your close-fisted old
father when you have lost money at play that you could not pay?
But you are one of those who would turn away from any benefactor
in his misfortune.'
'I must certainly turn away from a man who has disgraced himself
as you have done,' said Everett, leaving the room. Lopez threw
himself into an easy-chair, and rang the bell loudly for a cup of
coffee, and lit a cigar. He had not been turned out of the club
as yet, and the servant at any rate was bound to attend to him.
That night he waited up for his father-in-law in Manchester
Square. He would certainly go to Guatemala now,--if it were not
too late. He would go though he were forced to leave his wife
behind him, and thus surrender any further hope for money from Mr
Wharton beyond the sum which he would receive as the price of his
banishment. It was true that the fortnight allowed to him by the
Company was only at an end that day, and that, therefore, the
following morning might be taken as the last day named for the
payment of the money. No doubt, also, Mr Wharton's bill at a few
days' date would be accepted if that gentleman could not at the
moment give a cheque for so large a sum as was required. And the
appointment had been distinctly promised to him with no other
stipulation than that the money required for the shares should be
paid. He did not believe in Mr Hartlepod's threat. It was
impossible, he thought, that he should be treated in so infamous
a manner merely because he had had his election expenses repaid
him by the Duke of Omnium! He would, therefore, ask for the
money, and--renounce the society of his wife.
As he made this resolve, something like real love returned to his
heart, and he became for a while sick with regret. He assured
himself that he had loved her, and that he could love her still;
--but why had she not been true to him? Why had she clung to her
father instead of clinging to her husband? Why had she not
learnt his ways,--as a wife is bound to learn the ways of the
man she marries? Why had she not helped him in his devices,
fallen into his plans, been regardful of his fortunes, and made
herself one with him? There had been present to him at times an
idea that if he could take her away with him to that distant
country to which he thought to go, and thus remove her from the
upas influence of her father's roof-tree, she would then fall
into his views and become his wife indeed. Then he would again
be tender to her, again love her, again endeavour to make the
world soft to her. But it was too late now for that. He had
failed in everything as far as England was concerned, and it was
chiefly by her fault that he had failed. He would consent to
leave her;--but, as he thought of it in solitude, his eyes
became moist with regret.
In these days Mr Wharton never came home till about midnight, and
then passed rapidly through the hall to his own room,--and in
the morning had his breakfast brought to him in the same room, so
that he might not even see his son-in-law. His daughter would go
to him when at breakfast, and there, together for some half-hour,
they would endeavour to look forward to their future fate. But
hitherto they had never been able to look forward in accord, as
she still persisted in declaring that if her husband bade her to
go with him,--she would go. On this night Lopez sat up in the
dining-room, and as soon as he heard Mr Wharton's key in the
door, he placed himself in the hall. 'I wish to speak to you to-
night, sir,' he said. 'Would you object to come in for a few
moments?' Then Mr Wharton followed him into the room. 'As we
live now,' continued Lopez, 'I have not had much opportunity of
speaking to you, even on business.'
'Well, sir; you can speak now,--if you have anything to say.'
'The 5,000 pounds you promised me must be paid to-morrow. It is
the last day.'
'I promised it only on certain conditions. Had you complied with
them the money would have been paid before.'
'Just so. The conditions were very hard, Mr Wharton. It
surprises me that such a one as you should think it right to
separate a husband from his wife.'
'I think it right, sir, to separate my daughter from such a one
as you are. I thought so before, but I think so doubly now. If
I can secure your absence in Guatemala by the payment of this
money, and if you will give me a document that shall be prepared
by Mr Walker and signed by yourself, assuring your wife that you
will not hereafter call upon her to live with you, the money
shall be paid.'
'All that will take time, Mr Wharton.'
'I will not pay a penny without it. I can meet you at the office
in Coleman Street to-morrow, and doubtless they will accept my
written assurance to pay the money as soon as those stipulations
shall be complied with.'
'That would disgrace me in the office, Mr Wharton.'
'And are you not disgraced there already? Can you tell me that
they have not heard of your conduct in Coleman Street, or that
hearing it they disregard it?' His son-in-law stood frowning at
him, but did not at the moment say a word. 'Nevertheless, I will
meet you there if you please, at any time that you may name, and
if they do not object to employ such a man as their manager, I
shall not object on their behalf.'
'To the last you are hard and cruel to me,' said Lopez;--'but I
will meet you at Coleman Street at eleven to-morrow.' Then Mr
Wharton left the room, and Lopez was there alone amidst the gloom
of the heavy curtains and the dark paper. A London dining-room
at night is always dark, cavernous, and unlovely. The very
pictures on the walls lacked brightness, and the furniture is
black and heavy. This room was large, but old-fashioned and very
dark. Here Lopez walked up and down after Mr Wharton had left
him, trying to think how far Fate and how far he himself were
responsible for his present misfortunes. No doubt he had begun
the world well. His father had been little better than a
travelling pedlar, but had made some money by selling jewellery,
and had educated his son. Lopez could on no score impute blame
to his father for what had happened to him. And, when he thought
of the means at his disposal in his early youth, he felt that he
had a right to boast of some success. He had worked hard, and
had won his way upwards, and had almost lodged himself securely
among those people with whom it had been his ambition to live.
Early in life he had found himself among those who were called
gentlemen and ladies. He had been able to assume their manners,
and had lived with them on equal terms. When thinking of his
past life he never forgot to remind himself that he had been a
guest at the house of the Duke of Omnium! And yet how far was it
with him now? He was penniless. He was rejected by his father-
in-law. He was feared, and, as he thought, detested, by his
wife. He was expelled from his club. He was cut by his old
friends. And he had been told very plainly by the Secretary in
Coleman Street that his presence there was no longer desired.
What should he do with himself if Mr Wharton's money were now
refused, and if the appointment in Guatemala were denied to him?
And then he thought of Sexty Parker and his family. He was not
naturally an ill-natured man. Though he could upbraid his wife
for alluding to Mrs Parker's misery, declaring that Mrs Parker
must take the rubs of the world just as others took them, still
the misfortunes which he had brought on her and on her children
did add something to the weight of his own misfortunes. If he
could not go to Guatemala, what should he do with himself;--
where should he go? Thus he walked up and down the room for an
hour. Would not a pistol or a razor give him the best solution
for all his difficulties?
On the following morning he kept his appointment at the office in
Coleman Street, as did Mr Wharton also. The latter was there
first by some minutes, and explained to Mr Hartlepod that he had
come there to meet his son-in-law. Mr Hartlepod was civil, but
very cold. Mr Wharton saw at the first glance that the services
of Ferdinand Lopez were no longer in request by the San Juan
Mining Company; but he sat down and waited. Now that he was
there, however painful the interview would be, he would go
through it. At ten minutes past eleven he made up his mind that
he would wait until the half hour,--and then go, with the fixed
resolution that he would never willingly spend another shilling
on behalf of that wretched man. But at a quarter past eleven the
wretched man came,--swaggering into the office, though it had
not, hitherto, been his custom to swagger. But misfortune
masters all but the great men, and upsets her best-learned lesson
of even a long life. 'I hope I have not kept you waiting, Mr
Wharton. Well, Hartlepod, how are you to-day? So this little
affair is going to be settled at last, and now these shares shall
be bought and paid for.' Mr Wharton did not say a word, not even
rising from his chair, or greeting his son-in-law by a word. 'I
dare say Mr Wharton has already explained himself,' said Lopez.
'I don't know that there is any necessity,' said Mr Hartlepod.
'Well,--I suppose it's simple enough,' continued Lopez. 'Mr
Wharton, I believe I am right in saying that you are ready to pay
the money at once.'
'Yes;--I am ready to pay the money as soon as I am assured that
you are on your route to Guatemala. I will not pay a penny till
I know that as a fact.'
The Mr Hartlepod rose from his seat and spoke. 'Gentlemen,' he
said, 'the matter within the last few days has assumed a
'As how?' exclaimed Lopez.
'The Directors have changed their mind as to sending out Mr Lopez
as their local manager. The Directors intend to appoint another
gentleman. I had already acquainted Mr Lopez with the Directors'
'Then the matter is settled?' said Mr Wharton.
'Quite settled,' said Mr Hartlepod.
As a matter of course Lopez began to fume and to be furious.
What!--after all that had been done, and the Directors mean to
go back from their word? After he had been induced to abandon
his business in his own country, was he to be thrown over in that
way? If the Company intended to treat him like that, the Company
would very soon hear from him. Thank God there were laws in the
land. 'Yesterday was the last day fixed for the payment of the
money,' said Mr Hartlepod.
'It is at any rate certain that Mr Lopez is not to go to
Guatemala?' asked Mr Wharton.
'Quite certain,' said Mr Hartlepod. Then Mr Wharton rose from
his chair and quitted the room.
'By G--, you have ruined me among you,' said Lopez;--'ruined me in
the most shameful manner. There is no mercy, no friendship, no
kindness, no forbearance anywhere! Why am I to be treated in
'If you have any complaint to make,' said Mr Hartlepod, 'you
had better write to the Directors. I have nothing to do but
'By heavens, the Directors shall hear of it!' said Lopez as he
left the office.
Mr Wharton went to his chambers and endeavoured to make up his
mind what step he must now take in reference to this dreadful
incubus. Of course he could turn the man out of his house, but
in so doing it might well be that he would also turn out his own
daughter. He believed Lopez to be utterly without means, and a
man so destitute would generally be glad to be relieved from the
burden of his wife's support. But this man would care nothing
for his wife's comfort; nothing even, as Mr Wharton believed, for
his wife's life. He would simply use his wife as best he might
as a means for obtaining money. There was nothing to be done but
to buy him off, by so much money down and by so much at stated
intervals as long as he should keep away. Mr Walker must manage
it, but it was quite clear to Mr Wharton that the Guatemala
scheme was altogether at an end. In the meantime a certain sum
must be offered to the man at once, on condition that he would
leave the house and do so without taking his wife with him.
So far Mr Wharton had a plan, and a plan that was at least
feasible. Wretched as he was, miserable, as he thought the fate
which had befallen his daughter,--there was still a prospect of
some relief. But Lopez as he walked out of the office had nothing
to which he could look for comfort. He slowly made his way to
Little Tankard Yard and there he found Sexty Parker balancing
himself on the back legs of his chair, with a small decanter of
public-house sherry before him. 'What; you here?' he said.
'Yes;--I have come to say good-bye.'
'Where are you going then? You shan't start to Guatemala if I
'That's all over, my boy,' said Lopez, smiling.
'What is it you mean?' said Sexty, sitting square on his chair
and looking very serious.
'I am not going to Guatemala or anywhere else. I though I'd just
look in to tell you that I'm done for,--that I haven't a hope of
a shilling now or hereafter. You told me the other day that I
was afraid to come here. You see that as soon as anything is
fixed, I come and tell you everything at once.'
'What is fixed?'
'That I am ruined. That there isn't a penny to come from any
'Wharton has got money,' said Sexty.
'And there is money in the Bank of England,--but I cannot get at
'What are you going to do, Lopez?'
'Ah; that's the question. What am I going to do? I can say
nothing about that, but I can say, Sexty, that our affairs are at
an end. I'm very sorry for it, old boy. We ought to have made
fortunes, but we didn't. As far as the work went, I did my best.
Good-bye, old fellow. You'll do well some of these days yet, I
don't doubt. Don't teach the bairns to curse me. As for Mrs P.
I have not hope there, I know.' Then he went, leaving Sexty
Parker quite aghast.
THE FIRST AND THE LAST.
When Mr Wharton was in Coleman Street, having his final interview
with Mr Hartlepod, there came a visitor to Mrs Lopez in
Manchester Square. Up to this date there had been great doubt
with Mr Wharton whether at last the banishment to Guatemala would
become a fact. From day to day his mind had changed. It had
been an infinite benefit that Lopez should go, if he could be got
to go alone, but as great an evil if at last he should take his
wife with him. But the father had never dared to express these
doubts to her, and she had taught herself to think that absolute
banishment with a man whom she certainly no longer loved, was the
punishment she had to pay for the evil she had done. It was now
March, and the second or third of April had been fixed for her
departure. Of course, she had endeavoured from time to time to
learn all that was to be learned from her husband. Sometimes he
would be almost communicative to her; at other times she could
hardly get a word from him. But, through it all, he gave her to
believe that she would have to go. Nor did her father make any
great effort to turn his mind the other way. If it must be so,
of what use would be such false kindness on his part? She had
therefore gone to work to make her purchases, studying that
economy which must henceforth be the great duty of her life, and
reminding herself as to everything she bought that it would have
to be worn with tears and used in sorrow.
And then she sent a message to Arthur Fletcher. It so happened
that Sir Alured Wharton was up in London at this time with his
daughter Mary. Sir Alured did not come to Manchester Square.
There was nothing the old baronet could say in the midst of all
this misery,--no comfort that he could give. It was well known
now to all the Whartons and the Fletchers that this Lopez, who
had married her who was to have been the pearl of the two
families, had proved himself to be a scoundrel. The two old
Whartons met no doubt at some club, or perhaps the Stone
Buildings, and spoke some few bitter words to each other; but Sir
Alured did not see the unfortunate young woman who had disgraced
herself by so wretched a marriage. But Mary came, and by her a
message was sent to Arthur Fletcher. 'Tell him that I am going,'
said Emily. 'Tell him not to come, but give him my love. He was
always one of my kindest friends.'
'Why;--why;--why did you not take him?' said Mary, moved by the
excitement of the moment to suggestions which were quite at
variance with the fixed propriety of her general idea.
'Why should you speak of that?' said the other. 'I never speak
of him,--never think of him. But, if you see him, tell him what
I say.' Arthur Fletcher was of course in the Square on the
following day,--on that very day on which Mr Wharton learned
that, whatever might be his daughter's fate, she would not, at
any rate, be taken to Guatemala. They two had never met since
the day on which they had been brought together for a moment at
the Duchess's party at Richmond. It had of course been
understood by both of them that they were not to be allowed to
see each other. Her husband had made a pretext of an act of
friendship on his part to establish a quarrel, and both of them
had been bound by that quarrel. When a husband declares that his
wife shall not know a man, that edict must be obeyed,--or, if
disobeyed, must be subverted by intrigue. In this case there had
been no inclination to intrigue on either side. The order had
been obeyed, and as far as the wife was concerned, had been only
a small part of the terrible punishment which had come upon her
as a result of her marriage. But, now, when Arthur Fletcher had
sent up his name, she did not hesitate as to seeing him. No
doubt she had thought it probable that she might see him when she
gave her message to her cousin.
'I could not let you go without coming to you,' he said.
'It is very good of you. Yes;--I suppose we are going.
Guatemala sounds a long way off, Arthur, does it not? But they
tell me it is a beautiful country.' She spoke with a cheerful
voice, almost as though she liked the idea of her journey; but he
looked at her with beseeching, anxious, sorrow-laden eyes.
'After all, what is a journey of a few weeks? Why should I not
be as happy in Guatemala as in London? As to friends, I do not
know that it will make much difference,--except papa.'
'It seems to me to make a difference,' said he.
'I never see anybody now,--neither your people, nor the Wharton
Whartons. Indeed, I see nobody. If it were not for papa I
should be glad to go. I am told that it is a charming country.
I have not found Manchester Square very charming. I am inclined
to think that all the world is very much alike, and that it does
not matter very much where one lives,--or, perhaps, what one
does. But at any rate I am going, and I am very glad to be able
to say good-bye to you before I start.' All this she said
rapidly, in a manner unlike herself. She was forcing herself to
speak so that she might save herself, if possible, from breaking
down in his presence.
'Of course I came when Mary told me.'
'Yes;--she was here. Sir Alured did not come. I don't wonder
at that, however. And your mother in town some time ago,--but I
didn't expect her to come. Why should they come? I don't know
whether you might not have better stayed away. Of course I am a
Pariah now; but Pariah as I am, I shall be as good as anyone else
in Guatemala. You have seen Everett since he has been in town,
Yes;--I have seen him.'
'I hope they won't quarrel with Everett because of what I have
done. I have felt that more than all;--that both papa and he
have suffered because of it. Do you know, I think people are
hard. They might have thrown me off without being unkind to
them. It is that that has killed me, Arthur;--that they should
have suffered.' He sat looking at her, not knowing how to
interrupt her, or what to say. There was much that he meant to
say, but he did not know how to begin it, or how to frame his
words. 'When I am gone, perhaps it will be all right,' she
continued. 'When he told me that I was to go, that was my
comfort. I think I have taught myself to think nothing of
myself, to bear it all as a necessity, to put up with it,
whatever it may be, as men bear the thirst in the desert. Thank
God, Arthur, I have no baby to suffer with me. Here,--here, it
is still very bad. When I think of papa creeping in and out of
his house, I sometimes feel that I must kill myself. But our
going will put an end to all that. It is much better that we
should go. I wish we might start to-morrow.' Then she looked up
at him, and saw that tears were running down his face, and as she
looked she heard his sobs. 'Why should you cry, Arthur? He
never cries,--nor do I. When baby died I cried,--but very
little. Tears are vain, foolish things. It has to be borne, and
there is an end of it. When one makes up one's mind to that, one
does not cry. There was a poor woman her the other day whose
husband he had ruined. She wept and bewailed herself till I
pitied her almost more than myself;--but then she had children.'
'You mustn't call me by my name, because he would be angry. I
have to do, you know, as he tells me. And I do so strive to do
it! Through it all I have an idea that if I do my duty it will
be better for me. There are things, you know, which a husband
may tell you to do, but you cannot do. If he tells me to rob, I
am not to rob;--am I? And now I think of it, you ought not to
be here. He would be very angry, much displeased. But it has
been so pleasant once more to see and old friend.'
'I care nothing for his anger,' said Arthur moodily.
'Ah, but I do. I have to care for it.'
'Leave him! Why don't you leave him?'
'You cannot deceive me. You do not try to deceive me. You know
that he is altogether unworthy of you.'
'I will hear nothing of the kind, sir.'
'How can I speak otherwise when you yourself tell me of your own
misery? Is it possible that I should not know what he is? Would
you have me pretend to think well of him?'
'You can hold your tongue, Arthur.'
'No;--I cannot hold my tongue. Have I not held my tongue ever
since you married? And if I am to speak at all, must I not speak
'There is nothing to be said that can serve us at all.'
'Then it shall be said without serving. When I bid you leave
him, it is not that you may come to me. Though I love you better
than all the world put together, I do not mean that at all.'
'Oh, Arthur! Arthur!'
'But let your father save you. Only tell him that you will stay
with him, and he will do it. Though I should never see you
again, I could help protect you. Of course, I know,--and you
know. He is--a scoundrel!'
'I will not hear it,' said she rising from her seat on the sofa
with her hands up to her forehead, but still coming nearer to him
as she moved.
'Does not your father say the same thing? I will advise nothing
that he does not advise. I would not say a word to you that he
might not hear. I do love you, I have always loved you. But do
you think that I would hurt you with my love?'
'No, indeed;--but I would have you feel that those who loved you
of old are still anxious for your welfare. You said just now
that you had been neglected.'
'I spoke of papa and Everett. For myself,--of course, I have
separated myself from everybody.'
'Never from me. You may be ten times his wife, but you cannot
separate yourself from me. Getting up in the morning and going
to bed at night I still tell myself that you are the one woman
that I love. Stay with us, and you shall be honoured,--as that
man's wife of course, but still as the dearest friend we have.'
'I cannot stay,' she said. 'He has told me that I am to go, and
I am in his hands. When you have a wife, Arthur, you will wish
her to do your bidding. I hope she will for your sake, without
that pain I have in doing it. Good-bye, dear friend.'
She put her hand out and he grasped it, and stood for a moment
looking at her. Then he seized her in his arms and kissed her
brow and her lips. 'Oh, Emily, why were you not my wife? My
darling, my darling!'
She had hardly extricated herself when the door opened, and Lopez
stood in the room. 'Mr Fletcher,' he said, very calmly, 'what is
the meaning of this?'
'He has come to bid me farewell,' said Emily. 'When going on so
long a journey one likes to see one's old friends,--perhaps for
the last time.' There was something of indifference to his anger
in her tone, and something also of scorn.
Lopez looked from one to the other, affecting an air of great
displeasure. 'You know, sir,' he said, 'that you cannot be
'But he has been welcome,' said his wife.
'And I look upon your coming as a base act. You are here with
the intention of creating discord between me and my wife.'
'I am here to tell her that she has a friend to trust to, if she
ever wants a friend,' said Fletcher.
'And you think that such trust as that would be safer than trust
in her husband? I cannot turn you out of this house, sir,
because it does not belong to me, but I desire you to leave at
once the room which is occupied by my wife.' Fletcher paused a
moment to say good-bye to the poor woman, while Lopez continued
with increased indignation. 'If you do not go at once you will
force me to desire her to retire. She shall not remain in the
same room with you.'
'Good-bye, Mr Fletcher,' she said, again putting out her hand.
But Lopez struck it up, not violently, so as to hurt her, but
still with eager roughness. 'Not in my presence,' he said. 'Go,
sire, when I desire you.'
'God bless you, my friend,' said Arthur Fletcher. 'I pray that I
might live to see you back in the old country.'
'He was--kissing you,' said Lopez, as soon as the door was shut.
'He was,' said Emily.
'And you tell me so to my face, with such an air as that!'
'What am I to tell you when you ask me? I did not bid him kiss
'But afterwards you took his part as his friend.'
'Why not? I should lie to you if I pretended that I was angry
with him for what he did.'
'Perhaps you will tell me that you love him.'
'Of course I love him. There are different kinds of love,
Ferdinand. There is that which a woman gives to a man when she
would fain mate with him. It is the sweetest love of all, if it
would only last. And there is another love,--which is not
given, but which is won, perhaps through long years, by old
friends. I have none older than Arthur Fletcher, and none who
are dearer to me.'
'And you think it right that he should take you in his arms and
'On such an occasion, I could not blame him.'
'You were ready enough to receive it, perhaps.'
'Well, I was. He has loved me well, and I shall never see him
again. He is very dear to me, and I was parting from him for
ever. It was the first and the last, and I did not grudge it to
him. You must remember, Ferdinand, that you are taking me across
the world from all my friends.'
'Psha,' he said, 'that is all over. You are not going anywhere
that I know of,--unless it be out onto the streets when your
father shuts his door on you.' And so saying he left the room
without another word.
THE TENWAY JUNCTION.
And thus the knowledge was conveyed to Mrs Lopez that her fate in
life was not to carry her to Guatemala. At the very moment in
which she had been summoned to meet Arthur Fletcher she had been
busy with her needle preparing that almost endless collection of
garments necessary for a journey of many days at sea. And now
she was informed, by a chance expression, by a word aside, as it
were, that the journey was not to be made. 'That is all over,'
he had said,--and then had left her, telling her nothing
further. Of course she stayed her needle. Whether the last word
had been true or false, she could not work again, at any rate
till it had been contradicted. If it were so, what was to be her
fate? One thing was certain to her,--that she could not remain
under her father's roof. It was impossible that an arrangement
so utterly distasteful as the present one, both on to her father
and to herself, should be continued. But where then should they
live,--and of what nature would her life be should she be
separated from her father?
That evening she saw her father, and he corroborated her
husband's statement. 'It is all over now,' he said,--'that
scheme of his of going to superintend the mines. The mines don't
want him, and won't have him. I can't say I wonder at it.'
'What are we to do, papa?'
'Ah;--that I cannot say. I suppose he will condescend still to
honour me with his company. I do not know why he should wish to
go to Guatemala or elsewhere. He has everything here that he can
'You know, papa, that that is impossible.'
'I cannot say what with him is possible or impossible. He is
bound by none of the ordinary rules of mankind.'
That evening Lopez returned to his dinner at Manchester Square,
which was still regularly served for him and his wife, though the
servants who attended upon him did so under silent and oft-
repeated protest. He said not a word more as to Arthur Fletcher,
nor did her seek any ground of quarrel with his wife. But that
he continued melancholy and dejection made anything like good-
humour impossible, even on his part, he would have been good-
humoured. When they were alone, she asked him as to their future
destiny. 'Papa tells me you are not going,' she began saying.
'Did I not tell you so this morning?'
'Yes; you said so. But I did not know you were in earnest. Is
it all over?'
'All over;--I suppose.'
'I should have thought that you would have told me with more,--
'I don't know what you would have. I was serious enough. The
fact is, that your father has delayed so long the payment of the
promised money that the thing has fallen through of necessity. I
do not know that I can blame the Company.'
Then there was a pause. 'And now,' she said, 'what do you mean
'Upon my word I cannot say. I am quite as much in the dark as
you can be.'
'That is nonsense, Ferdinand.'
'Thank you! Let it be nonsense if you will. It seems to me that
there is a great deal of nonsense going on in the world; but very
little of it as true as what I say now.'
'But it is your duty to know. Of course you cannot stay here.'
'Nor you, I suppose,--without me.'
'I am not speaking of myself. If you choose, I can remain here.'
'And--just throw me overboard altogether.'
'If you provide another home for me, I will go to it. However
poor it may be I will go to it, if you bid me. But for you,--of
course you cannot stay here.'
'Has your father told you to say so to me?'
'No;--but I can say so without his telling me. You are
banishing him from his own house. He has put up with it while he
thought that you were going to this foreign country; but there
must be an end of that now. You must have some scheme of life.'
'Upon my soul I have none.'
'You must have some intentions for the future.'
'None in the least. I have had intentions, and they have failed;
--from want of that support which I had a right to expect. I
have struggled and I have failed, and now I have got no
intention. What are yours?'
'It is not my duty to have any purpose, as what I do must depend
on your commands.' Then again there was a silence, during which
he lit a cigar, although he was sitting in the drawing-room.
This was a profanation of the room on which he had never ventured
before, but at the present moment she was unable to notice it by
any words. 'I must tell papa,' she said after a while, 'what our
'You can tell him what you please. I have literally nothing to
say to him. If he will settle an adequate income on us, payable
of course to me, I will go and live elsewhere. If he turns me
out in the street without provision, he must turn you out too.
That is all I have got to say. It will come better from you than
from me. I am sorry, of course, that things have gone wrong with
me. When I found myself the son-in-law of a very rich man I
thought that I might spread my wings a bit. But my rich father-
in-law threw me over, and now I am helpless. You are not very
cheerful, and I think I'll go down to the club.'
He went out of the house and did go down to the Progress. The
committee which was to be held with the view of judging whether
he was or was not a proper person to remain a member of that
assemblage had not yet been held, and there was nothing to impede
his entrance to the club, or the execution of the command which
he gave for tea and buttered toast. But no one spoke to him;
nor, though he affected a look of comfort, did he find himself
much at his ease. Among the members of the club there was a much
divided opinion whether he should be expelled or not. There was
a strong party who declared that his conduct socially, morally,
and politically, had been so bad that nothing short of expulsion
would meet the case. But there were others who said that no act
had been proved against him which the club ought to notice. He
had, no doubt, shown himself to be a blackguard, a man without a
spark of honour or honesty. But then,--as they said who thought
his position in the club to be unassailable,--what had the club
to do with that? 'If you turn out all the blackguards and all
the dishonourable men, where will the club be?' was a question
asked with a great deal of vigour by one middle-aged gentleman
who was supposed to know the club-world very thoroughly. He had
committed no offence which the law could recognize and punish,
nor had he sinned against the club rules. 'He is not required to
be a man of honour by any regulation of which I am aware,' said
the middle-aged gentleman. The general opinion seemed to be that
he should be asked to go, and that, if he declined, no one should
speak to him. This penalty was already inflicted on him, for on
the evening in question no one did speak to him.
He drank his tea and ate his toast and read a magazine, striving
to look as comfortable and as much at his ease as men at their
clubs generally are. He was not a bad actor, and those who saw
him and made reports as to his conduct on the following day
declared that he had apparently been quite indifferent to the
disagreeable incident of his position. But his indifference had
been mere acting. His careless manner with his wife had been all
assumed. Selfish as he was, void as he was of all principle,
utterly unmanly and even unconscious of the worth of manliness,
still he was alive to the opinions of others. He thought that
the world did not understand the facts of his case, and that the
world generally would have done as he had done in similar
circumstances. He did not know that there was such a quality as
honesty, nor did he understand what the word meant. But he did
know that some men, an unfortunate class, became subject to evil
report from others who were more successful, and he was aware
that he had become one of those unfortunates. Nor could he see
any remedy for his position. It was all blank and black before
him. It may be doubted whether he got much instruction or
amusement from the pages of the magazine which he turned.
At about twelve o'clock he left the club and took his way
homewards. But he did not go straight home. It was a nasty cold
March night, with a catching wind, and occasional short showers
of something between snow and rain,--as disagreeable a night for
a gentleman to walk in as one could well conceive. But he went
round by Trafalgar Square, and along the Strand, and up some
dirty streets by the small theatres, and so on to Holborn and by
Bloomsbury Square up to Tottenham Court Road, and then through
some unused street into Portland Place, along the Marylebone
Road, and back to Manchester Square by Baker Street. He had more
than doubled the distance,--apparently without any object. He
had been spoken to frequently by unfortunates of both sexes, but
had answered a word to no one. He had trudged on and on with his
umbrella over his head, but almost unconscious of the cold and
wet. And yet he was a man sedulously attentive to his own
personal comfort and health, who had at any rate shown this
virtue in his mode of living, that he had never subjected himself
to danger by imprudence. But now the working of his mind kept
him warm, and, if not dry, at least indifferent to the damp. He
had thrown aside with affected nonchalance those questions which
his wife had asked him, but still it was necessary that he should
answer them. He did not suppose that he could continue to live
in Manchester Square in his present condition. Nor, if it was
necessary that he should wander forth into the world, could he
force his wife to wander with him. If he would consent to leave
her, his father-in-law would probably give him something,--some
allowance on which he might exist. But then of what sort would be
He did not fail to remind himself over and over again that he had
nearly succeeded. He had been the guest of the Prime Minister,
and had been the nominee chosen by a Duchess to represent her
husband's borough in Parliament. He had been intimate with Mills
Happerton who was fast becoming a millionaire. He had married
much above himself in every way. He had achieved a certain
popularity and was conscious of intellect. But at the present
moment two or three sovereigns in his pocket were the extent of
his worldly wealth and his character was utterly ruined. He
regarded his fate as does a card-player who day after day holds
sixes and sevens when other men have aces and kings. Fate was
against him. He saw no reason why he should not have had he aces
and kings continually, especially as fate had given him perhaps
more than his share of them at first. He had, however, lost
rubber after rubber,--not paying his stakes for some of the last
rubbers lost,--till the players would play with him no longer.
The misfortune might have happened to any man;--but it had
happened to him. There was no beginning again. A possible small
allowance and some very retired and solitary life, in which there
would be no show of honour, no flattery coming to him, was all
that was left to him.
He let himself in at the house, and found his wife still awake.
'I am wet to the skin,' he said, 'I made up my mind to walk, and
I would do it;--but I am a fool for my pains.' She made him
some feeble answer, affecting to be half asleep, and merely
turned in her bed. 'I must be out early in the morning. Mind
you made them dry my things. They never do anything for my
'You don't want them dried to-night?'
'Not to-night, of course;--but after I am gone to-morrow.
They'll leave them there without putting a hand to them, if you
don't speak. I must be off before breakfast to-morrow.'
'Where are you going? Do you want anything packed?'
'No; nothing. I shall be back for dinner. But I must go down to
Birmingham, to see a friend of Happerton's on business. I will
breakfast at the station. As you said to-day, something must be
done. If it's necessary to sweep a crossing, I must sweep it.'
As she lay awake while he slept, she thought that those last
words were the best she had heard from him since they were
married. There seemed to be some indication of purpose in them.
If he would only sweep a crossing as a man should sweep it, she
would stand by him, and at any rate do her duty to him, in spite
of all that had happened. Alas! she was not old enough to have
learned that a dishonest man cannot begin even to sweep a
crossing honestly till he have in very truth repented of his
former dishonesty. The lazy man may become lazy no longer, but
there must have been first a process through his mind whereby his
laziness has become odious to him. And that process can hardly
be the immediate result of misfortune arising from misconduct.
Had Lopez found his crossing at Birmingham he would hardly have
swept it well.
Early on the following morning he was up, and before he left his
room he kissed his wife. 'Good-bye, old girl,' he said, 'don't
'If you have anything before you to do, I will not be down-
hearted,' she said.
'I shall have something to do before night, I think. Tell your
father, when you see him, that I shall not trouble him here much
longer. But tell him also, that I have no thanks to give him for
'I will not tell him that, Ferdinand.'
'He shall know it though. But I do not mean to be cross to you.
Good-bye, love.' Then he stooped over and kissed her again;--
and so he took his leave of her.
It was raining hard, and when he got into the street he looked
about for a cab, but there was none to be found. In Baker Street
he got an omnibus which took him down to the underground railway,
and by that he went to Gower Street. Through the rain he walked
up to the Euston Station, and there he ordered breakfast. Could
he have a mutton chop and some tea? And he was very particular
that the mutton chop should be well cooked. He was a good-
looking man, of fashionable appearance, and the young lady who
attended him noticed him and was courteous to him. He
condescended even to have a little light conversation with her,
and, on the whole, he seemed to enjoy his breakfast. 'Upon my
word. I should like to breakfast here every say of my life,' he
said. The young lady assured him that, as far as she could see,
there was no objection to such an arrangement. 'Only it's a
bore, you know, coming out in the rain when there are no cabs,'
he said. Then there were various little jokes between them, till
the young lady was quite impressed with the gentleman's pleasant
After a while he went back into the hall and took a first-class
return ticket not for Birmingham, but for the Tenway Junction, as
everybody knows it. From this spot, some six or seven miles
distant from London, lines diverge east, west, and north, north-
east, and north-west, round the metropolis in every direction,
and with direct communication with every other line in and out of
London. It is marvellous place, quite unintelligible to the
uninitiated, and yet daily used by thousands who only know that
when they get there, they are to do what someone tells them. The
space occupied by the convergent rails seems to be sufficient for
a large farm. And these rails always run into one another with
sloping points, and cross passages, and mysterious meandering
sidings, till it seems to the thoughtful stranger to be
impossible that the best-trained engine should know its own line.
Here and there and around there is ever a wilderness of waggons,
some loaded, some empty, some smoking with close-packed oxen, and
others furlongs in length black with coals, which look as though
they had been stranded there by chance, and were never destined
to get again into the right path of traffic. Not a minute passes
without a train going here or there, some rushing by without
noticing Tenway in the least, crashing through like flashes of
substantial lightning, and others stopping, disgorging and taking
up passengers by the hundreds. Men and women,--especially the
men, for the women knowing their ignorance are generally willing
to trust to the pundits of the place,--look doubtful, uneasy,
and bewildered. But they all do get properly placed and
unplaced, so that the spectator at last acknowledges that over
all this apparent chaos there is presiding a great genius of
order. From dusky morn to dark night, and indeed almost
throughout the night, the air is loaded with a succession of
shrieks. The theory goes that each separate shriek,--if there
can be any separation where the sound is so nearly continuous,--
is a separate notice to separate ears of the coming or going of a
separate train. The stranger, as he speculates on these
pandemoniac noises, is able to realize the idea that were they
discontinued the excitement necessary for the minds of the
pundits might be lowered, and that activity might be lessened,
and evil results might follow. But he cannot bring himself to
credit that theory of individual notices.
At Tenway Junction there are a half-a-dozen long platforms, on
which men and women and luggage are crowded. On one of these for
a while Ferdinand Lopez walked backwards and forwards as though
waiting for the coming of some especial train. The crowd is ever
so great that a man might be supposed to walk there from morning
to nigh without exciting special notice. But the pundits are
very clever, and have much experience in men and women. A well-
taught pundit, who has exercised authority for a year or two at
such a station as that of Tenway, will know within a minute of
the appearance of each stranger what is his purpose there,--
whether he be going or has just come, whether he is himself on
the way or waiting for others, whether he should be treated with
civility or with some curt command,--so that if his purport be
honest all necessary assistance may be rendered him. As Lopez
was walking up and down, with a smiling face and leisurely pace,
now reading an advertisement and now watching the contortions of
some amazed passenger, a certain pundit asked him his business.
He was waiting, he said, for a train from Liverpool, intending,
when his friend arrived, to go with him to Dulwich by a train
which went round the west of London. It was all feasible, and
the pundit told him that the stopping train from Liverpool was
due there in six minutes, but that the express from the north
would pass first. Lopez thanked the pundit and gave him
sixpence,--which made the pundit suspicious. A pundit hopes to
be paid when he handles luggage, but has no such expectation when
he merely gives information.
The pundit still had his eye on our friend when the shriek and
the whirr of the express from the north was heard. Lopez walked
quickly up towards the edge of the platform, when the pundit
followed him, telling him that this was not his train. Lopez
then ran a few yards along the platform, not noticing the man,
reaching a spot that was unoccupied:--and there he stood fixed.
And as he stood the express flashed by. 'I am fond of seeing
them pass like that,' said Lopez to the man who had followed him.
'But you shouldn't do it, sir,' said the suspicious pundit. 'No
one isn't allowed to stand near like that. The very hair of it
might take you off your legs when you're not used to it.'
'All right, old fellow,' said Lopez retreating. The next train
was the Liverpool train; and it seemed that our friend's friend
had not come, for when the Liverpool passengers had cleared
themselves off, he was still walking up and down the platform.
'He'll come by the next,' said Lopez to the pundit, who now
followed him about and kept an eye on him.
'There ain't another from Liverpool stopping here till the 2.20,'
said the pundit. 'You had better come again if you mean to meet
him by that.'
'He has come part of the way, and will reach this by some other
train,' said Lopez.
'There ain't nothing he can come by,' said the pundit.
'Gentlemen can't wait here all day, sir. The horders is against
waiting on the platform.'
'All right,' said Lopez, moving away as though to make exit
through the station.
Now, Tenway Junction is so big a place, and so scattered, that it
is impossible that all the pundits should by any combined
activity maintain to the letter the order of which our special
pundit had spoken. Lopez, departing from the platform which he
had hitherto occupied, was soon to be seen on another, walking up
and down, and again waiting. But the old pundit had his eye on
him, and had followed him round. At that moment there came a
shriek louder than all the other shrieks, and the morning express
down from Euston to Inverness was seen coming round the curve at
a thousand miles an hour. Lopez turned round and looked at it,
and again walked towards the edge of the platform but now it was
not exactly the edge that he neared, but a descent to a pathway,
--an inclined plane leading down to the level of the rails, and
made there for certain purposes of traffic. As he did so the
pundit called to him, and then made a rush at him,--for our
friend's back was turned to the coming train. But Lopez heeded
not the call, and the rush was too late. With quick, but still
with gentle and apparently unhurried steps, he walked down before
the flying engine--and in a moment had been knocked into bloody
THE WIDOW AND HER FRIENDS.
The catastrophe described in the last chapter had taken place
during the first week in March. By the end of that month old Mr
Wharton had probably reconciled himself to the tragedy, although
in fact it had affected him very deeply. In the first days after
the news had reached him he seemed to be bowed to the ground.
Stone Buildings were neglected, and the Eldon saw nothing of him.
Indeed, he barely left the house from which he had been so long
banished by the presence of his son-in-law. It seemed to
Everett, who now came to live with him and his sister, as though
his father was overcome by the horror of the affair. But after a
while he recovered himself, and appeared one morning in court
with his wig and gown, and argued a case,--which was now unusual
with him,--as though to show the world that a dreadful episode
in his life was passed, and should be thought of no more. At
this period, three or four weeks after the occurrence,--he
rarely spoke to his daughter about Lopez; but to Everett the
man's name would often be on his tongue. 'I do not know that
there could have been any other deliverance,' he said to his son
one day. 'I thought it would have killed me when I first heard
it, and it nearly killed her. But, at any rate, now there is
But the widow seemed to feel it more as time went on. At first
she was stunned, and for a while absolutely senseless. It was
not till two days after the occurrence that the fact became known
to her,--not known as a certainty to her father and brother. It
seemed as though the man had been careful to carry with him no
record of identity, the nature of which would permit it to
outlive the crush of the train. No card was found, no scrap of
paper with his name; and it was discovered at last that when he
left the house on the fatal morning he had been careful to dress
himself in shirt and socks, with handkerchief and collar that had
been newly purchased for his proposed journey and which bore no
mark. The fragments of his body set identity at defiance, and
even his watch had been crumpled into ashes. Of course the fact
became certain with no great delay. The man himself was missing,
and was accurately described both by the young lady from the
refreshment room, and by the suspicious pundit who had actually
seen the thing done. There was first belief that it was so,
which was not communicated to Emily,--and then certainty.
There was an inquest held of course,--well, we will say on the
body,--and, singularly enough, great difference of opinion as to
the manner, though of course none as to the immediate cause of
the death. Had it been accidental, or premeditated? The pundit,
who in the performance of his duties on the Tenway platform was
so efficient and valuable, gave half-a-dozen opinions in half-a-
dozen minutes when subjected to the questions of the Coroner. In
his own mind he had not the least doubt in the world as to what
had happened. But he was made to believe that he was not to
speak his own mind. The gentleman, he said, certainly might have
walked down by accident. The gentleman's back was turned, and it
was possible that the gentleman did not hear the train. He was
quite certain that the gentleman knew of the train; but yet he
could not say. The gentleman walked down before the train
o'purpose; but perhaps he didn't mean to do himself an injury.
There was a deal of this, till the Coroner, putting all his wrath
into his brow, told the man that he was a disgrace to the
service, and expressed a hope that the Company would no longer
employ a man so evidently unfit for his position. But the man
was in truth a conscientious and useful pundit, with a large
family, and evident capabilities for his business. At last a
verdict was given,--that the man's name was Ferdinand Lopez,
that he had been crushed by an express train on the London and
North Western Line, and that there was no evidence to show how
his presence on the line had been occasioned. Of course, Mr
Wharton had employed counsel, and of course the counsel's object
had been to avoid a verdict of felo de se. Appended to the
verdict was a recommendation from the jury that the Railway
Company should be advised to signalize their express trains at
the Tenway Junction Station.
When these tidings were told to the widow she had already given
way to many fears. Lopez had gone, purporting, as he said,--to
be back to dinner. He had not come then, nor on the following
morning, nor had he written. Then she remembered all that he had
done and said;--how he had kissed her, and left a parting
malediction for her father. She did not at first imagine that he
had destroyed himself, but that he had gone away, intending to
vanish as other men before now had vanished. As she thought of
this something almost like love came back upon her heart. Of
course he was bad. Even in her sorrow, even when alarmed as to
his fate, she could not deny that. But her oath to him had not
been to love him only while he was good. She had made herself a
part of him, and was she not bound to be true to him, whether
good or bad? She implored her father and she implored her
brother to be ceaseless in their endeavours to trace him,--
sometimes seeming almost to fear that in this respect she could
not fully trust them. Then she discerned from their manner a
doubt as to her husband's fate. 'Oh, papa, if you think
anything, tell me what you think,' she said late on the evening
of the second day. He was then nearly sure that the man who had
been killed at Tenway was Ferdinand Lopez;--but he was not quite
sure, and he would not tell her. But on the following morning,
somewhat before noon, having himself gone out early to Euston
Square, he came back to his own house,--and then he told her
all. For the first hour she did not shed a tear or lose her
consciousness of the horror of the thing;--but sat still and
silent, gazing at nothing, casting back her mind over the history
of her life, and the misery which she had brought to all who
belonged to her. Then at last she gave way, fell into tears,
hysteric sobbings, convulsions so violent as for a time to take
the appearance of epileptic fits, and was at last exhausted and,
happily for herself, unconscious.
After that she was ill for many weeks,--so ill that at times
both her father and her brother thought that she would die. When
the first month or six weeks had passed by she would often speak
of her husband, especially to her father, and always speaking of
him as though she had brought him to his untimely fate. Nor
could she endure at this time that her father should say a word
against him, even when she obliged the old man to speak of one
whose conduct had been so infamous. It had all been her doing!
Had she not married him there would have been no misfortune! She
did not say that he had been noble, true, or honest,--but she
asserted that all the evils which had come upon him had been
produced by herself. 'My dear,' her father said to her one
evening, 'it is a matter which we cannot forget, but on which it
is well that we should be silent.'
'I shall always know what that silence means,' she replied.
'It will never mean condemnation of you by me,' said he.
'But I have destroyed your life,--and his, I know. I ought not
to have married him, because you bade me not. And I know that I
should have been gentler with him, and more obedient when I was
his wife. I sometimes wish that I were a Catholic, and that I
could go into a convent, and bury it all amidst sackcloths and
'That would not bury it,' said her father.
'But I should at least be buried. If I were out of sight, you
might forget it all.'
She once stirred Everett up to speak more plainly than her father
ever dared to do, and then also she herself used language that
was very plain. 'My darling,' said her brother once, when she
had been trying to make out that her husband had been more sinned
against than sinning,--'he was a bad man. It is better that the
truth should be said.'
'And who is a good man?' she said, raising herself in her bed and
looking at him full in the face with her deep-sunken eyes. 'If
there be any truth in our religion, are we not all bad? Who is
to tell the shades of difference of badness? He was not a
drunkard, or a gambler. Through it all he was true to his wife.'
She, poor creature, was ignorant of the little scene in the
little street near Mayfair, in which Lopez had offered to carry
Lizzie Eustace away with him to Guatemala. 'He was industrious.
His ideas about money were not the same as yours or papa's. How
was he worse than others? It happened that his faults were
distasteful to you--and so, perhaps, his virtues.'
'His faults, such as they were, brought all these miseries.'
'He would have been successful now if he had never seen me. But
why should we talk of it? We shall never agree. And you,
Everett, can never understand all that has passed through my mind
during the last two years.'
There were two or three persons who attempted to see her at this
period, but she avoided them all. First came Mrs Roby, who as
her nearest neighbour, as her aunt, and as an aunt who had been
so nearly allied to her, had almost a right to demand admittance.
But she would not see Mrs Roby. She sent down word to say that
she was too ill. And when Mrs Roby wrote to her, she got her
father to answer the note. 'You had better let it drop,' the old
man said at last to his sister-in-law. 'Of course she remembers
that it was you who brought them together.'
'But I didn't bring them together, Mr Wharton. How often am I to
tell you so? It was Everett brought Mr Lopez here.'
'The marriage was made up in your house, and it has destroyed me
and my child. I will not quarrel with my wife's sister if I can
help it, but at present you had better keep apart.' Then he had
left her abruptly, and Mrs Roby had not dared either to write or
At this time Arthur Fletcher saw both Everett and Mr Wharton
frequently, but he did not go to the Square, contenting himself
with asking whether he might be allowed to do so. 'Not yet,
Arthur,' said the old man. 'I am sure she thinks you one of her
best friends, but she could not see you yet.'
'She would have nothing to fear,' said Arthur. 'We knew each
other when we were children, and I should be now only as I was
'Not yet, Arthur, not yet,' said the barrister.
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