The Prime Minister
Part 3 out of 16
'You forget that I've got a husband of my own, and that he has to
'That must be nonsense. But don't you think women are fools to
marry when they've got anything of their own, and could be their
own mistresses? I couldn't have been. I was made to marry
before I was old enough to assert myself.'
'And how well they did for you!'
'Pas si mal.--He's Prime Minister, which is a great thing, and I
begin to find myself filled to the full with political ambition.
I feel myself to be a Lady Macbeth, prepared for the murder of
any Duncan or any Daubney who may stand in my lord's way. In the
mean time, like Lady Macbeth herself, we must attend to the
banquetings. Her lord appeared and misbehaved himself; my lord
won't show himself at all,--which I think is worse.'
Our old friend Phineas Finn, who had now reached a higher place
in politics than even his political dreams had assigned to him,
though he was a Member of Parliament, was much away from London
in these days. New brooms sweep clean; and official new brooms,
I think, sweep cleaner than any other. Who has not watched at
the commencement of a Ministry some Secretary, some Lord, or some
Commissioner, who intends by fresh Herculean labours to cleanse
the Augean stables just committed to his care? Who does not know
the gentleman at the Home Office, who means to reform the police
and put an end to malefactors; or the new Minister at the Board
of Works, who is to make London beautiful as by a magician's
stroke,--or, above all, the new First Lord, who is resolved that
he will really build a fleet, purge the dockyards, and save us
half a million a year at the same time? Phineas Finn was bent on
unriddling the Irish sphinx. Surely something might be done to
prove to his susceptible countrymen that at the present moment no
curse could be laid upon them so heavy as that of having to rule
themselves apart from England; and he thought that this might be
easier, as he became from day to day more thoroughly convinced
that those Home Rulers who were all around him in the House were
altogether of the same opinion. Had some inscrutable decree of
fate ordained and made it certain,--with a certainty not to be
disturbed,--that no candidate would be returned to Parliament
who would not assert the earth to be triangular, there would rise
immediately a clamorous assertion of triangularity among
political aspirants. The test would be innocent. Candidates
have swallowed, and daily do swallow, many a worse one. As might
be this doctrine of a great triangle, so is the doctrine of Home
Rule. Why is a gentleman of property to be kept out in the cold
by some O'Mullins because he will not mutter an unmeaning
shibboleth? 'Triangular? Yes,--or lozenge-shaped, if you
please; but, gentlemen, I am the man for Tipperary.' Phineas
Finn, having seen, or thought that he had seen, all this, began,
from the very first moment of his appointment, to consider
painfully within himself whether the genuine services of an
honest and patriotic man might compass some remedy for the
present ill-boding ferment of the country. What was in it that
the Irish really did want;--what that they wanted, and had not
got, and which might with propriety be conceded to them? What
was it that the English really would refuse to sanction, even
though it might not be wanted? He found himself beating about
among the rocks as to Catholic education and Papal interference,
the passage among which might be made clearer to him in Irish
atmosphere than in that of Westminster. There he was away a good
deal in these days, travelling backwards and forwards as he might
be wanted for any debate. But as his wife did not accompany him
on these fitful journeys, she was able to give her time very much
to the Duchess.
The Duchess was on the whole very successful with her parties.
There were people who complained that she had everybody; that
there was no selection whatever as to politics, principles, rank,
morals,--or even manners. But in such a work as the Duchess has
now taken in hand, it was impossible that she should escape
censure. They who really knew what was being done were aware
that nobody was asked to that house without an idea that his or
her presence might be desirable,--in however remote a degree.
Paragraphs in newspapers go for much, and therefore the writers
and editors of such paragraphs were there,--sometimes with their
wives. Mr Broune, of the "Breakfast Table", was to be seen there
constantly, with his wife Lady Carbury, and poor old Booker of
the "Literary Chronicle". City men can make a budget popular or
the reverse, and therefore the Mills Happertons of the day were
welcome. Rising barristers might be wanted to become Solicitors-
General. The pet Orpheus of the hour, the young tragic actor who
was thought to have a real Hamlet within him, the old painter who
was sill strong with hope, even the little trilling poet, though
he trilled never so faintly, and the somewhat wooden novelist,
all had tongues of their own, and certain modes of expression,
which might assist or injure the Palliser Coalition,--as the
Duke's Ministry was now called.
'Who is that man? I've seen him here before. The Duchess was
talking to him ever so long just now.' The question was asked by
Mr Rattler of Mr Roby. About half-an-hour before this time Mr
Rattler had essayed to get a few words with the Duchess,
beginning with the communication of some small political secret.
But the Duchess did not care much for the Rattlers attached to
her husband's Government. They were men whose services could be
had for a certain payment,--and when paid for were, the Duchess
thought, at the Premier's command without further trouble. Of
course they came to the receptions, and were entitled to a smile
apiece when they entered. But they were entitled to nothing
more, and on this occasion, Rattler had felt himself to be
snubbed. It did not occur to him to abuse the Duchess. The
Duchess was too necessary for abuse,--just at present. But any
friend of the Duchess,--and favourite for the moment,--was of
course open to remark.
'He is a man named Lopez,' said Roby, 'a friend of Happerton;--a
very clever fellow they say.'
'Did you ever see him anywhere else?'
'Well, yes,--I have met him at dinner.'
'He was never in the House. What does he do?' Rattler was
distressed to think that any drone should have made it way into
the hive of working bees.
'Oh;--money, I fancy.'
'He's not a partner at Hunky's, is he?'
'I fancy not. I think I should have known if he was.'
'She ought to remember that people make use of coming here,' said
Rattler. She was, of course, the Duchess. 'It's not like a
private house. And whatever influence outsiders get by coming,
so much she loses. Somebody ought to explain that to her.'
'I don't think you or I could do that,' replied Mr Roby.
'I'll tell the Duke in a minute,' said Rattler. Perhaps he
thought he could tell the Duke, but we may be allowed to doubt
whether his prowess would not have fallen below the necessary
pitch when he met the Duke's eye.
Lopez was there for the third time, about the middle of June, and
had certainly contrived to make himself personally known to the
Duchess. There had been a deputation from the City to the Prime
Minister asking for a subsidized mail, via San Francisco, to
Japan. And Lopez, though he had no interest in Japan, had
contrived to be one of the number. He had contrived also, as the
deputation was departing, to say a word on his own account to the
Minister, and had ingratiated himself. The Duke had remembered
him, and had suggested that he should have a card. And now he
was among the flowers and the greatness, the beauty, the
politics, and the fashion of the Duchess's gatherings for the
third time. 'It is very well done,--very well, indeed,' said Mr
Boffin to him. Lopez had been dining with Mr and Mrs Boffin, and
had now again encountered his late host and hostess. Mr Boffin
was a gentleman who had belonged to the late Ministry, but had
somewhat out-Heroded Herod in his Conservatism, so as to have
been considered to be unfit for the Coalition. Of course, he was
proud of his own staunchness, and a little inclined to criticize
the lax principles of men who, for the sake of carrying on her
Majesty's Government, could be Conservatives one day and Liberals
the next. He was a labourious, honest man,--but hardly of
calibre sufficient not to regret his own honesty in such an
emergency as the present. It is easy for most of us to keep our
hands from picking and stealing when picking and stealing plainly
lead to prison diet and prison garments. But when silks and
satins come of it, and with the silks and satins general respect,
the net result of honesty does not seem to be so secure. Whence
will come the reward, and when? On whom the punishment, and
where? A man will not, surely, be damned for belonging to a
Coalition Ministry? Boffin was a little puzzled as he thought on
all this, but in the meantime was very proud of his own
'I think it so lovely,' said Mrs Boffin. 'You look down through
an Elysium of rhododendrons into a Paradise of mirrors. I don't
think there was anything like it in London before.'
'I don't know that we ever had anybody at the same time, rich
enough to do this kind of thing as it is done now,' said Boffin,
'and powerful enough to get such people together. If the country
can be ruled by flowers and looking-glasses, of course it is very
'Flowers and looking-glasses won't prevent the country being
ruled well,' said Lopez.
'I'm not so sure of that,' continued Boffin. 'We all know what
the bread and games came to in Rome.'
'What did they come to?' asked Mrs Boffin.
'To a man burning in Rome, my dear, for his amusement, dressed in a
satin petticoat and a wreath of roses.'
'I don't think the Duke will dress himself like that,' said Mrs
'And I don't think,' said Lopez, 'that the graceful expenditure
of wealth in a rich man's house has any tendency to demoralize
'The attempt here,' said Boffin severely, 'is to demoralize the
rulers of the people. I am glad to have come once to see how the
thing is done; but as an independent member of the House of
Commons I should not wish to be known to frequent the saloon of
the Duchess.' Then Mr Boffin took away Mrs Boffin, much to that
'This is fairy land,' said Lopez to the Duchess, as he left the
'Come and be a fairy then,' she answered, very graciously. 'We
are always on the wing about this hour on Wednesday night.' The
words contained a general invitation for the season, and were
esteemed by Lopez as an indication of great favour. It must be
acknowledged of the Duchess that she was prone to make
favourites, perhaps without adequate cause; though it must be
conceded to her that she rarely altogether threw off from her
anyone whom she had once taken to her good graces. It must also
be confessed that when she had allowed herself to hate either a
man or a woman, she generally hated on to the end. No Paradise
could be too charming for her friends; no Pandemonium too
frightful for her enemies. In reference to Mr Lopez she would
have said, if interrogated, that she had taken the man up in
obedience to her husband. But in truth she had liked the look
and the voice of the man. Her husband before now had recommended
men to her notice and kindness, whom at the first trial she had
rejected from her good-will, and whom she had continued to reject
ever afterwards, let her husband's urgency be what it might.
Another old friend, of whom former chronicles were not silent,
was at the Duchess's that night, and there came across Mrs Finn.
This was Barrington Erle, a politician of long standing, who was
still looked upon by many as a young man, because he had always
been known as a young man, and because he had never done anything
to compromise his position in that respect. He had not married,
or settled himself down in a house of his own, or become subject
to gout, or given up being careful about the fitting of his
clothes. No doubt the grey hairs were getting the better of the
black hairs, both on his head and face, and marks of coming
crows' feet were to be seen if you looked close at him, and he
had become careful about his great-coat and umbrella. He was in
truth much nearer fifty than forty;--nevertheless he was felt in
the House and among Cabinet Ministers and among the wives of
members and Cabinet Ministers, to be a young man still. And when
he was invited to become Secretary for Ireland it was generally
felt that he was too young for the place. He declined it,
however, and when he went to the Post-office, the gentlemen there
all felt that they had had a boy put over them. Phineas Finn,
who had become Secretary for Ireland, was in truth ten years the
junior. But Phineas Finn had been twice married, and had gone
through other phases of life, such as make a man old. 'How does
Phineas like it?' Erle asked. Phineas Finn and Barrington Erle
had gone through some political struggles together, and had been
'I hope not very much,' said the lady.
'Why so? Because he's away so much?'
No;--not that. I should not grudge his absence if the work
satisfied him. But I know him so well. The more he takes to it
now,--the more sanguine he is as to some special thing to be
done,--the more bitter will be the disappointment when he is
disappointed. For there never really is anything special to be
done;--is there, Mr Erle?'
'I thing there is always a little too much zeal about Finn.'
'Of course there is. And then with zeal there always goes a thin
skin,--and unjustifiable expectations, and biting despair, and
contempt of others, and all the elements of unhappiness.'
'That is a sad programme for your husband.'
'He has recuperative faculties which bring him round at last:--
but I really doubt whether he was made for a politician in this
country. You remember Lord Brock?'
'Dear old Brock;--of course I do. How should I not, if you
'Young men are boys at college, rowing in boats, when women have
been ever so long out in the world. He was the very model of an
English statesman. He loved his country dearly, and wished her
to be, as he believed her to be, first among nations. But he had
no belief in perpetuating her greatness by any grand
improvements. Let things take their way naturally--with a
slight direction hither or thither as thing might required. That
was his method of ruling. He believed in men rather than
measures. As long as he had the loyalty around him, he could be
personally happy, and quite confident as to the country. He
never broke his heart because he could not carry this or that
reform. What would have hurt him would have been to be worsted
in personal conflict. But he could always hold his own, and he
was always happy. Your man with a thin skin, a vehement
ambition, a scrupulous conscience, and a sanguine desire for
rapid improvement, is never happy, and seldom a fortunate
'Mrs Finn, you understand it all better than anyone else that I
'I have been watching it a long time, and of course very closely
since I have been married.'
'But you have an eye trained to see it all. What a useful member
you would have made in government!'
'But I should never have had the patience to sit all night upon
that bench in the House of Commons. How men can do it! They
mustn't read. They can't think because of the speaking. It
doesn't do for them to talk. I don't believe they ever listen.
It isn't in human nature to listen hour after hour to such
platitudes. I believe they fall into habit of half-wakeful
sleeping, which carries them through the hours; but even that
can't be pleasant. I look upon the Treasury Bench in July as a
sort of casual-ward, which we know to be necessary, but is almost
too horrid to be contemplated.'
'Men do get bread and skilly there certainly; but, Mrs Finn, we
can go into the library and smoking-room.'
'Oh, yes;--and a clerk in an office can read the newspapers
instead of doing his duty. But there is a certain surveillance
exercised, and a certain quantity of work exacted. I have met
Lords of the Treasury out at dinner on Mondays and Thursdays, but
we all regard them as boys who have shirked out of school. I
think upon the whole, Mr Erle, we women have the best of it.'
'I don't suppose you will go in for your "rights".'
'Not by Act of Parliament, or by platform meeting. I have a
great idea of a woman's rights; but that is the way, I think, to
throw them away. What do you think of the Duchess's evenings?'
'Lady Glen is in her way as great a woman as you are,--perhaps
greater, because nothing ever stops her.'
'Whereas I have scruples.'
'Her Grace has none. She has feelings and convictions which keep
her straight, but no scruples. Look at her now talking to Sir
Orlando Drought, a man she both hates and despises. I am sure
she is looking forward to some happy time in which the Duke may
pitch Sir Orlando overboard, and rule supreme, with me or some
other subordinate leading the House of Commons simply as
lieutenant. Such a time will never come, but that is her idea.
But she is talking to Sir Orlando now as if she were pouring her
full confidence into his ear; and Sir Orlando is believing her.
Sir Orlando is in a seventh heaven, and she is measuring his
credulity inch by inch.'
'She makes the place very bright.'
'And is spending an enormous deal of money,' said Barrington
'What does it matter?'
'Well, no;--if the Duke likes it. I had an idea that the Duke
would not like the display of the thing. There he is. Do you
see him in the corner with his brother duke. He doesn't look as
if he were happy; does he? No one would think he was the master
of everything here. He has got himself hidden almost behind the
screen. I'm sure he doesn't like it.'
'He tries to like whatever she likes,' said Mrs Finn.
As her husband was away in Ireland, Mrs Finn was staying in the
house in Carlton Gardens. The Duchess at present required so
much of her time that this was found to be convenient. When,
therefore, the guests on the present occasion had all gone, the
Duchess and Mrs Finn were left together. 'Did you ever see
anything so hopeless as he is?' said the Duchess.
'Who is hopeless?'
'Heaven and earth! Plantagenet;--who else? Is there another
man in the world would come in his own house, among his own
guests, and speak only to one person? And, then, think of it!
Popularity is the staff on which alone Ministers can lean in this
country with security.'
'Political but not social security.'
'You know as well as I do that the two go together. We've seen
enough of that even in our day. What broke up Mr Gresham's
Ministry? If he had stayed away people might have thought that
he was reading blue-books, or calculating coinage, or preparing a
speech. That would have been much better. But he comes in and
sits for half an hour whispering to another duke! I hate dukes!'
'He talks to the Duke of St Bungay because there is no one he
trusts so much. A few years ago it would have been Mr Mildmay.'
'My dear,' said the Duchess angrily, 'you treat me as though I
were a child. Of course I know why he chooses that old man out
of all the crowd. I don't suppose he does from any stupid pride
of rank. I know very well what set of ideas govern him. But
that isn't the point. He has to reflect what others think of it,
and to endeavour to do what will please them. There was I
telling tarradiddles by the yard to that old oaf Sir Orlando
Drought, when a confidential word from Plantagenet would have had
ten times more effect. And why can't he speak a word to the
people's wives? They wouldn't bit him. He has got to say a few
words to you sometimes,--to whom it doesn't signify, my dear.'
'I don't know about that.'
'But he never speaks to another woman. He was here this evening
for exactly forty minutes, and he didn't open his lips to a
female creature. I watched him. How on earth am I to pull him
through if he goes on in that way? Yes, Locock, I'll go to bed,
and I don't think I'll get up for a week.'
THE GATHERING OF CLOUDS.
Throughout June and the first week of July the affairs of the
Ministry went on successfully, in spite of the social sins of the
Duke and the occasional despair of the Duchess. There had been
many politicians who had thought, or had, at any rate, predicted
that the Coalition Ministry would not live a month. There had
been men, such as Lord Fawn on one side and Mr Boffin on the
other, who had found themselves stranded disagreeably,--with no
certain position,--unwilling to sit behind a Treasury bench from
which they were excluded, and too shy to place themselves
immediately opposite. Seats beneath the gangway were, of course,
open to such of them as were members of the Lower House and those
seats had to be used; but they were not accustomed to sit beneath
the gangway. These gentlemen had expected that the seeds of
weakness, of which they had perceived a scattering, would grow at
once into an enormous crop of blunders, difficulties, and
complications; but, for a while, the Ministry were saved from
these dangers either by the energy of the Prime Minister, or the
popularity of his wife, or perhaps by the sagacity of the elder
Duke;--so that there grew up an idea that the Coalition was
really the proper thing. In one respect it certainly was
successful. The Home Rulers, or Irish party generally, were left
without an inch of standing ground. Their support was not
needed, and therefore they were not courted. For the moment
there was not even a necessity to pretend that Home Rule was
anything but an absurdity from beginning to end;--so much so
that one or two leading Home Rulers, men who had taken up the
cause not only that they might become Members of Parliament, but
with some further idea of speech-making and popularity, declared
that the Coalition had been formed merely with a view of putting
down Ireland. This capability of dispensing with a generally
intractable element of support was felt to be a great comfort.
Then, too, there was a set in the House,--at that moment not a
very numerous set,--who had been troublesome friends to the old
Liberal party, and which the Coalition was able, if not to
ignore, at any rate to disregard. These were the staunch
economists, and argumentative philosophical Radicals,--men of
standing and repute, who are always in doubtful times
individually flattered by Ministers, who have great privileges
accorded to them of speaking and dividing, and who are not
unfrequently even thanked for their rods by the very owners of
the backs which bear the scourges. These men could not be quite
set aside by the Coalition as were the Home Rules. It was not
even yet, perhaps, wise to count them out, or to leave them to
talk to the benches absolutely empty;--but the tone of flattery
with which they had been addressed became gradually less warm;
and when the scourges were wielded, ministerial backs took
themselves out of the way. There grew up unconsciously a feeling
of security against attack which was distasteful to these
gentlemen, and was in itself perhaps a little dangerous.
Gentlemen bound to support the Government, when they perceived
that there was comparatively but little to do, and that little
might easily be done, became careless, and, perhaps a little
contemptuous. So that the great popular orator, Mr Turnbull,
found himself compelled to rise in his seat, and ask whether the
noble Duke at the head of the Government thought himself strong
enough to rule without attention to parliamentary details. The
question was asked with an air of inexorable severity, and was
intended to have deep signification. Mr Turnbull had disliked
the Coalition from the beginning; but then Mr Turnbull always
disliked everything. He had so accustomed himself to wield the
constitutional cat-of-nine-tails, that heaven will hardly be
happy to him unless he be allowed to flog the cherubim. Though
the party with which he was presumed to act had generally been in
power since he had been in the House, he had never allowed
himself to agree with a Minister on any point. And as he had
never been satisfied with a Liberal Government, it was not
probable that he should endure a Coalition in silence. At the
end of a rather lengthy speech, he repeated his question, and
then sat down, taking his place with all that constitutional
indignation, which becomes the parliamentary flagellator of the
day. The little jokes with which Sir Orlando answered him were
very well in their way. Mr Turnbull did not care much whether he
were answered or not. Perhaps the jauntiness of Sir Orlando,
which implied that the Coalition was too strong to regard attack,
somewhat irritated outsiders. But there certainly grew up from
that moment a feeling among such men as Erle and Rattler that
care was necessary, that the House, taken as a whole, was not in
a condition to be manipulated with easy freedom, and that Sir
Orlando must be made to understand that he was not strong enough
to depend on such jauntiness. The jaunty statesman must be very
sure of his personal following. There was a general opinion that
Sir Orlando had not brought the Coalition well out of the first
real attack which had been made upon it.
'Well, Phineas; how do you like the Phoenix?' Phineas Finn had
flown back to London at the instigation of probably Mr Rattler,
and was now standing at the window of Brook's club with
Barrington Erle. It was near nine one Thursday evening, and they
were both about to return to the House.
'I don't like the Castle, if you mean that.'
'Tyrone isn't troublesome, surely.' The Marquis of Tyrone was
the Lord Lieutenant of the day, and had in his time been a very
'He finds me troublesome, I fear,'
'I don't wonder at that, Phineas.'
'How should it be otherwise? What can he and I have in sympathy
with one another? He has been brought up with all the
Orangeman's hatred for a Papist. Now that he is in high office,
he can abandon the display of the feeling,--perhaps the feeling
itself as regards the country at large. He knows that it doesn't
become a Lord Lieutenant to be Orange. But how can he put
himself into a boat with me?'
'All that kind of thing vanishes when a man is in high office.'
'Yes, as a rule; because men go together into office with the
same general predilections. Is it too hot to walk down?'
'I'll walk a little way,--till you make me hot by arguing.'
'I haven't an argument left in me,' said Phineas. 'Of course
everything over there seems easy enough now,--so easy that Lord
Tyrone evidently imagines that the good times are coming back in
which governors may govern and not be governed.'
'You are pretty quiet in Ireland now, I suppose;--no martial
law, suspension of the habeas corpus, or anything of that kind,
just at present?'
'No; thank goodness!' said Phineas.
'I'm not quite sure whether a general suspension of the habeas
corpus would not upon the whole be the most comfortable state of
things for Irishmen themselves. But whether good or bad, you've
nothing of that kind of thing now. You've no great measure that
you wish to pass?'
'But they've a great measure that they wish to pass.'
'They know better than that. They don't want to kill their
'The people, who are infinitely ignorant of all political work,
do want it. There are counties which, if you were to poll the
people, Home Rule would carry nearly every voter,--except the
'You wouldn't give it them?'
'Certainly not;--any more than I would allow a son to ruin
himself because he asked me. But I would endeavour to teach them
that they get nothing by Home Rule,--that their taxes would be
heavier, the property less secure, their lives less safe, their
general position more debased, and their chances of national
success more remote than ever.'
'You can never teach them, except by the slow lesson of habit.
The Heptarchy didn't mould itself into a nation in a day.'
'Men were governed then, and could be an were moulded. I feel
sure that even in Ireland there is a stratum of men, above the
working peasants, who would understand, and make those below them
understand, the position of the country, if they could only be
got to give up the feeling about religion. Even now Home Rule is
regarded by the multitude as a weapon to be used against
Protestantism in behalf of the Pope.'
'I suppose the Pope is the great sinner?'
'They got over the Pope in France,--even in early days, before
religion had become a farce in the country. They have done so in
'Yes;--they have got over the Pope in Italy, certainly.'
'And yet,' said Phineas, 'the bulk of the people are staunch
Catholics. Of course the same attempt to maintain a temporal
influence, with the hope of recovering temporal power, is made in
other countries. But while we see the attempt failing elsewhere,
--so that we know the power of the Church is going to the wall,
--yet in Ireland it is infinitely stronger now than it was fifty,
or even twenty years ago.'
'Because we have been removing restraints on Papal aggression,
while other nations have been imposing restraints. There are
those at Rome who believe all England to be Romish at heart,
because here in England a Roman Catholic can say what he will,
and print what he will.'
'And yet,' said Phineas, 'all England does not return one
Catholic to the House, while we have Jews in plenty. You have a
Jew among your English judges, but at present not a single Roman
Catholic. What do you suppose are the comparative numbers of the
population here in England?'
'And you are going to cure all this;--while Tyrone thinks it
ought to be left as it is? I rather agree with Tyrone.'
'No;' said Phineas, wearily; 'I doubt whether I shall ever cure
anything, or even make any real attempt. My patriotism just goes
far enough to make me unhappy, and Lord Tyrone thinks that while
Dublin ladies dance at the Castle, and the list of agrarian
murders is kept low, the country is admirably managed. I don't
quite agree with him,--that's all.'
Then there arose a legal difficulty, which caused much trouble to
the Coalition Ministry. There fell vacant a certain seat on the
bench of judges,--a seat of considerable dignity and importance,
but not quite of the highest rank. Sir Gregory Grogram, who was
a rich, energetic man, determined to have a peerage, and
convinced that, should the Coalition fall to pieces, the Liberal
element would be in the ascendant,--so that the woolsack would
then be opened to him,--declined to occupy the place. Sir
Timothy Beeswax, the Solicitor-General, saw that it was exactly
suited for him, and had no hesitation in expressing an opinion to
that effect. But the place was not given to Sir Timothy. It was
explained to Sir Timothy that the old rule,--or rather custom,
--of offering certain high positions to the law officers of the
Crown, had been abrogated. Some Prime Minister, or, more
probably, some collection of Cabinet Ministers, had asserted the
custom to be a bad one,--and as far as right went, Sir Timothy
was declared not have a leg to stand upon. He was informed that
his services in the House were too valuable to be lost. Some
people said that his temper was against him. Others were of the
opinion that he had risen from the ranks too quickly, and that
Lord Ramsden who had come from the same party, thought that Sir
Timothy had not yet won his spurs. The Solicitor-General
resigned in a huff, and then withdrew his resignation. Sir
Gregory thought the withdrawal should not be accepted, having
found Sir Timothy to be an unsympathetic colleague. Our Duke
consulted the old Duke, among whose theories of official life
forbearance to all colleagues and subordinates was conspicuous.
The withdrawal was therefore allowed,--but the Coalition could
not after that be said to be strong in regard to its Law
But the first concerted attack against the Ministry was made in
reference to the budget. Mr Monk, who had consented to undertake
the duties of Chancellor of the Exchequer under the urgent
entreaties of the two dukes, was of course late with the budget.
It was April before the Coalition had been formed. The budget
when produced had been very popular. Budgets, like babies, are
always little loves when first born. But as their infancy passes
away, they also become subject to many stripes. The details are
less pleasing than was the whole in the hands of the nurse.
There was a certain 'interest', very influential both by general
wealth and by the presence of many members in the House, which
thought that Mr Monk had disregarded its just claims. Mr Monk
had refused to relieve the Brewers from their licences. Now the
Brewers had for some years been agitating about their licences,
--and it is acknowledged in politics that any measure is to be
carried out, or left out in the cold uncarried and neglected,
according to the number of deputations which may be got to press
a Minister on the subject. Now the Brewers had had deputation
after deputation to many Chancellors of the Exchequer; and these
deputations had been most respectable,--we may almost say
imperative. It was quite usual for a deputation to have four or
five County members among the body, all Brewers; and the average
wealth of a deputation of Brewers would buy up half London. All
the Brewers in the House had been among the supporters of the
Coalition, the number of Liberal and Conservative Brewers having
been about equal. But now there was a fear that the 'interest'
might put itself into opposition. Mr Monk had been firm. More
than one of the Ministry had wished to yield;--but he had
discussed the matter with the Chief; and they were both very
firm. The Duke had never doubted. Mr Monk had never doubted.
From day to day certain organs of the Press expressed an opinion,
gradually increasing in strength, that however strong might be
the Coalition as a body, it was weak as to finance. This was
hard because not very many years ago, the Duke himself had been
known as a particularly strong Minister of Finance. An amendment
was moved in Committee as to the Brewer's Licences, and there was
almost a general opinion that the Coalition would be broken up.
Mr Monk would certainly not remain in office if the Brewers were
to be relieved from their licences.
Then it was that Phineas Finn was recalled from Ireland in red
hot haste. The measure was debated for a couple of nights, and
Mr Monk carried his point. The Brewers' Licences were allowed to
remain, as one great gentleman from Burton declared, a 'disgrace
to the fiscal sagacity of the country.' The Coalition was so far
victorious,--but there was a general feeling that its strength
had been impaired.
MR WHARTON COMPLAINS.
'I think you have betrayed me.' This accusation was brought by
Mr Wharton against Mrs Roby in that lady's drawing-room, and was
occasioned by a report that had been made to the old lawyer by
his daughter. He was very angry and almost violent;--so much so
that by his manner, he gave considerable advantage to the lady
whom he was accusing.
Mrs Roby undoubtedly had betrayed her brother-in-law. She had
been false to the trust reposed in her. He had explained his
wishes to her in regard to his daughter, to whom she had in some
sort assumed to stand in place of a mother, and she, while
pretending to act in accordance with his wishes, had directly
opposed them. But it was not likely that he would be able to
prove her treachery though he might be sure of it. He had
desired that the girl should see as little as possible of
Ferdinand Lopez, but had hesitated to give a positive order that
she should not meet him. He had indeed himself taken her to a
dinner party at which he knew that she would meet him. But Mrs
Roby had betrayed him. Since the dinner party she had arranged a
meeting at her own house in behalf of the lover,--as to which
arrangement Emily Wharton had herself been altogether innocent.
Emily had met the man in her aunt's house, not expecting to meet
him, and the lover had had an opportunity of speaking his mind
freely. She also had spoken hers freely. She would not engage
herself without her father's consent. With that consent she
would do so,--oh, so willingly! She did not coy her love. He
might be certain that she would give herself to no one else. Her
heart was entirely his. But she had pledged herself to her
father, and on no consideration would she break that pledge. She
went on to say that after what had passed she thought that they
had better not meet. In such meetings there could be no
satisfaction, and must be much pain. But he had her full
permission to use any arguments that he could use with her
father. On the evening of that day she told her father all that
had passed,--omitting no detail either of what she had said or
of what had been said to her--adding a positive assurance of
obedience, but doing so with a severe solemnity and apparent
consciousness of ill-usage which almost broke her father's heart.
'Your aunt must have laid him there on purpose,' Mr Wharton had
said. But Emily would neither accuse nor defend her aunt. 'I at
least knew nothing of it,' she said. 'I know that,' Mr Wharton
had ejaculated. 'I know that. I don't accuse you of anything,
my dear,--except of thinking that you understand the world
better than I do.' Then Emily had retired and Mr Wharton had
been left to pass half the night in perplexed reverie, feeling
that he would be forced ultimately to give way, and yet certain
that by doing so he would endanger his child's happiness.
He was so angry with his sister-in-law, and on the next day,
early in the morning, he attacked her. 'I think you have
betrayed me,' he said.
'What do you mean by that, Mr Wharton?'
'You have had this man here on purpose that he might make love to
'I have done no such thing. You told me yourself that they were
not to be kept apart. He comes here, and it would be very odd
indeed if I were to tell the servants that he is not to be
admitted. If you want to quarrel with me, of course you can. I
have always endeavoured to be a good friend to Emily.'
'It is not being a good friend to her, bringing her and this
'I don't know why you call him an adventurer. But you are so
very odd in your ideas! He is received everywhere, and is always
at the Duchess of Omnium's.'
'I don't care a fig about the Duchess.'
'I dare say not. Only the Duke happens to be Prime Minister, and
his house is considered to have the very best society in England,
or indeed, Europe, can give. And I think it is something in a
young man's favour when it is known that he associates with such
persons as the Duke of Omnium. I believe that most fathers would
have a regard to the company which a man keeps when they think of
their daughter's marrying.'
'I ain't thinking of her marrying. I don't want her to marry;--
not this man at least. And I fancy the Duchess of Omnium is just
as likely to have scamps in her drawing-room as any other lady in
'And do such men as Mr Happerton associate with scamps?'
'I don't know anything about Mr Happerton,--and I don't care
anything about him.'
'He has 20,000 pounds a year out of his business. And does
Everett associate with scamps.'
'I never knew anyone so much prejudiced as you are, Mr Wharton.
When you have a point to carry there's nothing you won't say. I
suppose it comes from being in the courts.'
'The long and short of it is this,' said the lawyer, 'if I find
that Emily is brought here to meet Mr Lopez, I must forbid her to
come at all.'
'You must do as you please about that. But to tell you the
truth, Mr Wharton, I think the mischief is done. Such a girl as
Emily, when she has taken it into her head to love a man, is not
likely to give him up.'
'She has promised to have nothing to say to him without my
'We all know what that means. You'll have to give way. You'll
find that it will be so. The stern parent who dooms his daughter
to perpetual seclusion because she won't marry the man he likes,
doesn't belong to this age.'
'Who talks about seclusion?'
'Do you suppose that she'll give up the man she loves because you
don't like him? Is that the way girls live nowadays? She won't
run away with him, because she's not one of that sort; but unless
you're harder-hearted than I take you to be, she'll make your
life a burden to you. And as for betraying you, that's nonsense.
You've no right to say it. I'm not going to quarrel with you
whatever you may say, but you've no right to say it.'
Mr Wharton as he went away to Lincoln's Inn, bewailed himself
because he knew he was not hard-hearted. What his sister-in-law
had said to him in that respect was true enough. If he could
only rid himself of a certain internal ague which made him feel
that his life was, indeed, a burden to him while his daughter was
unhappy, he need only remain passive and simply not give the
permission without which his daughter would not ever engage
herself to this man. But the ague troubled every hour of his
present life. That sister-in-law of his was a silly, vulgar,
worldly, and most untrustworthy woman;--but she had understood
what she was saying.
And there had been something in that argument about the Duchess
of Omnium's parties, and Mr Happerton, which had its effect. If
the man did live with the great and wealthy, it must be because
they thought well of him and his position. The fact of his being
"a nasty foreigner", and probably of Jewish descent, remained.
To him, Wharton, the man must always be distasteful. But he
could hardly maintain his opposition to one of whom the choice
spirits of the world thought well. And he tried to be fair on
the subject. It might be that it was a prejudice. Others
probably did not find a man to be odious because he was swarthy,
or even object to him if he were a Jew by descent. But it was
wonderful to him that his girl should like such a man,--should
like such a man well enough to choose him as the one companion of
her life. She had been brought up to prefer English men, and
English thinking, and English ways,--and English ways, too,
somewhat of a past time. He thought as did Brabantio, that it
could not be that without magic, his daughter had also shunned--
"The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, to incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as--"
the distasteful Portuguese.
That evening he said nothing further to his daughter, but sat
with her, silent and disconsolate. Later in the evening, after
she had gone to her room, Everett came in while the old man was
still walking up and down the drawing-room. 'Where have you
been?' asked the father,--not caring a straw as to any reply
when he asked the question, but roused almost to anger by the
answer when it came.
'I have been dining with Lopez at the club.'
'I believe you live with that man.'
'Is there a reason, sir, why I should not?'
'You know there is a good reason why there should be no peculiar
intimacy. But I don't suppose that my wishes, or your sister's
welfare, will interest you.'
'That is severe, sir.'
'I am not such a fool as to suppose that you are to quarrel with
a man because I don't approve of his addressing your sister; but
I do think that while this is going on, and while he perseveres
in opposition to my distinct refusal, you need not associate with
him in any special manner.'
'I don't understand your objection to him, sir.'
'I dare say not. There are a great many things you don't
understand. But I do object.'
'He's a very rising man. Mr Roby was saying to me just now--'
'Who cares a straw what a fool like Roby says?'
'I don't mean Uncle Dick, but his brother,--who, I suppose, is
somebody in the world. He was saying to me just now that he
wondered why Lopez does not go into the House;--that he would be
sure to get a seat if he chose, and safe to make a mark when he
'I dare say he would get into the House. I don't know any well-
to-do blackguard of whom you might not predict as much. A seat
in the House of Commons doesn't make a man a gentleman, as far as
I can see.'
'I think everyone allows that Ferdinand Lopez is a gentleman.'
'Who was his father?'
'I didn't happen to know him, sir.'
'And who was his mother? I don't suppose you will credit
anything because I say it, but as far as my experience goes, a
man doesn't often become a gentleman in the first generation. A
man may be very worthy, very clever, very rich,--very well worth
knowing, if you will;--but when one talks of admitting a man
into close family communion by marriage, one would, I fancy, wish
to know something of his father and mother.' Then Everett
escaped, and Mr Wharton was again left to his own meditations.
Oh, what a peril, what a trouble, what a labyrinth of
difficulties was a daughter! He must either be known as a stern,
hard-hearted parent, utterly indifferent to his child's feelings,
using with tyranny the power over her which came to him only from
a sense of filial duty,--or else he must give up his own
judgement, and yield to her in a matter as to which he believed
that such yielding would be most pernicious to her own interests.
Hitherto he really knew nothing of the man's means;--nor, if he
could have his own way, did he want to such information. But, as
things were going now, he began to feel that if he could hear
anything averse to the man, he might thus strengthen his hands
against him. On the following day he went into the city, and
called on an old friend, a banker,--one whom he had known for
nearly half a century, and of whom, therefore, he was not afraid
to ask a question. For Mr Wharton was a man not prone, in the
ordinary intercourse of life, either to ask or to answer
questions. 'You don't know anything, do you, of a man named
'I have heard of him. But why do you ask?'
'Well; I have reason for asking. I don't know that I quite wish
to say what my reason is.'
'I have heard of him as connected with Hunky's house,' said the
banker,--'or rather with one of the partners in the house.'
'Is he a man of means?'
'I imagine him to be so;--but I know nothing. He has rather
large dealings, I take it, in foreign stocks. Is he after my old
friend, Miss Wharton?'
'You had better get more information than I can give you. But,
of course, before anything of that kind was done, you would see
that money was settled.' This was all he heard in the city, and
this was not satisfactory. He had not liked to tell his friend
that he wished to hear that the foreigner was a needy adventurer,
--altogether untrustworthy; but that had really been his desire.
Then he thought of the 60,000 pounds which he himself destined
for his girl. If the man were to his liking there would be money
enough. Though he had been careful to save money, he was not a
greedy man, even for his children. Should his daughter insist on
marrying this man, he could take care that she should never want
a sufficient income.
As a first step,--a thing to be done almost at once,--he must
take her away from London. It was now July, and the custom of
the family was that the house in Manchester Square should be left
for two months, and that the flitting should take place in about
the middle of August. Mr Wharton usually liked to postpone the
flitting, as he also liked to hasten the return. But now it was
a question whether he had not better start at once,--start
somewhither, and probably for a much longer period than the usual
vacation. Should he take the bull by the horns and declare his
purpose of living for the next twelvemonth at--; well, it did
not much matter where. Dresden, he thought, was a long way off,
and would do as well as any place. Then it occurred to him that
his cousin, Sir Alured was in town, and that he had better see
his cousin before he came to any decision. They were, as usual,
expected at Wharton Hall this autumn, and that arrangement could
not be abandoned without explanation.
Sir Alured Wharton was a baronet, with a handsome old family
place on the Wye, in Hertfordshire, whose forefathers had been
baronets since baronets were first created, and whose earlier
forefathers had lived at Wharton Hall much before that time. It
may be imagined, therefore, that Sir Alured was proud of his
name, of his estate, and of his rank. But there were drawbacks
to his happiness. As regarded his name, it was to descend to a
nephew whom he specially disliked,--and with good cause. As to
his estate, delightful as it was in many respects, it was hardly
sufficient to maintain his position with that plentiful
hospitality which he would have loved;--and other property he
had none. And as to his rank, he had almost become ashamed of
it, since,--as he was wont to declare was now the case,--every
prosperous tallow-maker throughout the country was made a baronet
as a matter of course. So he lived at home through the year with
his wife and daughters, not pretending to the luxury of the
season for which his modest three or four thousand a year did not
suffice;--and so living, apart from all the friction of clubs,
parliaments, and mixed society, he did veritably believe that his
dear country was going utterly to the dogs. He was so staunch in
politics, that during the doings of the last quarter of a
century,--from the repeal of the Corn Laws down to the Ballot,--
he had honestly declared one side to be as bad as the other.
Thus he felt that all his happiness was to be drawn from the
past. There was nothing of joy or glory to which he could look
forward either on behalf of his country or his family. His
nephew,--and alas, his heir,--was a needy spendthrift, with
whom he would hold no communication. The family settlement for
his wife and daughters would leave them but poorly off; and
though he did struggle to save something, the duty of living as
Sir Alured Wharton of Wharton Hall should live made those
struggles very ineffective. He was a melancholy, proud, ignorant
man, who could not endure a personal liberty, and who thought the
assertion of social equality on the part of men of lower rank to
amount to the taking of a personal liberty;--who read little or
nothing, and thought that he knew the history of his country
because he was aware that Charles I had had his head cut off, and
that the Georges had come from Hanover. If Charles I had never
had had his head cut off, and if the Georges had never come from
Hanover, the Whartons would now probably be great people and
Britain a great nation. But the Evil One had been allowed to
prevail, and everything had gone astray, and Sir Alured now had
nothing of this world to console him but a hazy retrospect of
past glories, and a delight in the beauty of his own river, his
own park, and his own house. Sir Alured, with all his foibles,
and with all his faults, was a pure-minded, simple gentleman, who
could not tell a lie, who could not do a wrong, and who was
earnest in his desire to make those who were dependent on him
comfortable, and, if possible, happy. Once a year he came up to
London for a week, to see his lawyers, and get measured for a
coat, and go to the dentist. These were the excuses which he
gave, but it was fancied by some that his wig was the great
moving cause. Sir Alured and Mr Wharton were second cousins, and
close friends. Sir Alured trusted his cousin altogether in all
things, believing him to be the great legal luminary of Great
Britain, and Mr Wharton returned his cousin's affection,
entertaining something akin to reverence for the man who was the
head of his family. He dearly loved Sir Alured,--and loved Sir
Alured's wife and two daughters. Nevertheless, the second week
at Wharton Hall became very tedious to him, and the fourth, fifth
and sixth weeks frightful with ennui.
Perhaps it was with some unconscious dread of this tedium that he
made a sudden suggestion to Sir Alured in reference to Dresden.
Sir Alured had come to him at his chambers, and the two old men
were sitting together near the open window. Sir Alured delighted
in the privilege of sitting there, which seemed to confer upon
him something of an insight into the inner ways of London life
beyond what he could get at the hotel or his wigmaker's. 'Go to
Dresden;--for the winter!' he exclaimed.
'Not only for the winter. We should go at once.'
'Not before you come to Wharton!' said the amazed baronet.
Mr Wharton replied in a low, sad voice, 'in that case we should
not go down to Hertfordshire at all.' The baronet looked hurt as
well as unhappy. 'Yes, I know what you will say, and how kind
'It isn't kindness at all. You always come. It would be
breaking up everything.'
'Everything has to be broken up sooner or later. One feels that
as one grows older.'
'You and I, Abel, are just of an age. Why should you talk to me
like this? You are strong enough, whatever I am. Why shouldn't
you come? Dresden! I never heard of such a thing. I suppose
it's some nonsense of Emily's.'
Then Mr Wharton told his whole story. 'Nonsense of Emily's!' he
began. 'Yes, it is nonsense, worse than you think. But she
doesn't want to go abroad.' The father's plaint needn't be
repeated to the reader as it was told to the baronet. Though it
was necessary that he should explain himself, yet he tried to be
reticent. Sir Alured listened in silence. He loved his cousin
Emily, and knowing that she would be rich, knowing her advantages
of birth, and recognizing her beauty, had expected that she would
make a match creditable to the Wharton family. But a Portuguese
Jew! A man who had never been even known to allude to his own
father! For by degrees Mr Wharton had been driven to confess all
the sins of the lover, though he had endeavoured to conceal the
extent of his daughter's love.
'Do you mean that Emily--favours him?'
'I am afraid so.'
'And would she,-would she--do anything without your sanctions?'
He was always thinking of the disgrace attaching to himself by
reason of his nephew's vileness, and now, if a daughter of the
family should also go astray, so as to be exiled from the bosom
of the Whartons, how manifest would it be that all the glory was
departing from their house!
'No! She will do nothing without my sanction. She has given her
word,--which is gospel.' As he spoke the old lawyer struck his
hand upon the table.
'Then why should you run to Dresden?'
'Because she is unhappy. She will not marry him,-or even see him
if I forbid it. But she is near him.'
'Hertfordshire is a long way off,' said the baronet pleading.
'Changes of scene are what she should have,' said the father.
'There can't be more of a change than she would get at Wharton.
She always did like Wharton. It was there that she met Arthur
Fletcher.' The father only shook his head as Arthur Fletcher's
name was mentioned. 'Well,--that is sad. I always thoughts
she'd give way about Arthur at last.'
'It is impossible to understand a young woman,' said the lawyer.
With such an English gentleman as Arthur Fletcher on one side,
and with his Portuguese Jew on the other, it was to him Hyperion
to a Satyr. A darkness had fallen over the girl's eyes, and for
a time her power of judgment had left her.
'But I don't see why Wharton should not do just as well as
Dresden,' continued the baronet.
Mr Wharton found himself quite unable to make his cousin
understand the greater disruption caused by a residence abroad,
the feeling that a new kind of life had been considered necessary
for her, and that she must submit to the new kind of life, might
be gradually effective, while the journeyings and scenes which
had been common to her year after year would have no effect.
Nevertheless he gave way. They could hardly start to Germany at
once, but the visit to Wharton might be accelerated; and the
details of the residence abroad might there be arranged. It was
fixed, therefore, that Mr Wharton and Emily should go down to
Wharton Hall at any rate before the end of July.
'Why do you go earlier than usual, papa?' Emily asked him
'Because I think it's best,' he replied angrily. She ought at
any rate to understand the reason.
'Of course I shall be ready, papa. You know that I always like
Wharton. There is no place on earth I like so much, and this
year it will be especially pleasant to me to go out of town.
'I can't bear to think that I shall be taking you away.'
'I've got to bear worse things than that, my dear.'
'Oh, papa, do not speak to me like that! Of course I know what
you mean. There is no real reason for your going. If you wish
it I will promise you I will never see him.' He only shook his
head,--meaning to imply that a promise could go no farther than
that would not make him happy. 'It will be just the same, papa,
-either here, or at Wharton, or elsewhere. You need not be
afraid of me.'
'I am not afraid of you;--but I am afraid for you. I fear for
your happiness,--and for my own.'
'So do I, papa. But what can be done? I suppose sometimes
people must be unhappy. I can't change myself and I can't change
you. I find myself as much bound to Mr Lopez as though I were
'No, no! You shouldn't say so. You've no right to say so.'
'But I have given you a promise, and I certainly will keep it.
If we must be unhappy, still we need not,--need not quarrel;
need we, papa?' Then she came up to him and kissed him,--
whereupon he went out of the room wiping his eyes.
That evening he again spoke to her, saying merely a word. 'I
think, my dear, we'll have it fixed that we go on the 30th. Sir
Alured seemed to wish it.'
'Very well, papa;--I shall be quite ready.'
A LOVER'S PERSEVERANCE.
Ferdinand Lopez learned immediately through Mrs Roby that the
early departure for Hertfordshire had been fixed. 'I should go
to him and speak to him very plainly,' said Mrs Roby. 'He can't
'I'm not in the least afraid of his biting me.'
'You can talk so well! I should tell him everything, especially
about money,--which I'm sure is all right.'
'Yes,--that is all right,' said Lopez, smiling.
'And about your people.'
'Which, I've no doubt you think is all wrong.'
'I don't know anything about it,' said Mrs Roby, 'and I don't
much care. He has old-world notions. At any rate you should say
something, so that he should not be able to complain to her that
you had kept him in the dark. If there is anything to be known,
it's much better to have it known.'
'But there is nothing to be known.'
'Then tell him nothing;--but still tell it to him. After that
you must trust to her. I don't suppose she'd go off with you.'
'I'm sure she wouldn't.'
'But she's as obstinate as a mule. She'll get the better of him
if you really mean it.' He assured her that he really did mean
it, and determined that he would take her advice as to seeing, or
endeavouring to see, Mr Wharton once again. But before doing so
he thought it to be expedient to put his house in order, so that
he might be able to make a statement of his affairs if asked to
do so. Whether they were flourishing or the reverse, it might be
necessary that he should have to speak of them,--with, at any
rate, apparent candour.
The reader may, perhaps, remember that in the month of April
Ferdinand Lopez had managed to extract a certain signature from
his unfortunate city friend, Sexty Parker, which made that
gentleman responsible for the payment of a considerable sum of
money before the end of July. The transaction had been one of
unmixed painful nature to Mr Parker. As soon as he came to think
of it, after Lopez had left him, he could not prevail upon
himself to forgive himself for his folly. That he,--he, Sextus
Parker,--should have been induced by a few empty words to give
his name for seven hundred and fifty pounds without any
consideration or possibility of benefit! And the more he thought
of it the more sure he was that the money was lost. The next day
he confirmed his own fears, and before a week was gone he had
written down the sum as gone. He told nobody. He did not like
to confess his folly. But he made some inquiry about his friend,
--which was absolutely futile. No one that he knew seemed to
know anything of the man's affairs. But he saw his friend from
time to time in the city, shining as only successful men do
shine, and he heard of him as one whose name was becoming known
in the city. Still he suffered grievously. His money was surely
gone. A man does not fly a kite in that fashion till things with
him have reached a bad pass.
So it was with Mr Parker all through May and to the end of June,
the load ever growing heavier and heavier as the time became
nearer. Then, while he was still afflicted with a heaviness of
spirits which had never left him since that fatal day, who but
Ferdinand Lopez should walk into his office, wearing the gayest
smile and with a hat splendid as hats are splendid only in the
city. And nothing could be more 'jolly' than his friend's
manner,--so much so that Sexty was almost lifted up into
temporary jollity himself. Lopez, seating himself almost at once
began to describe a certain speculation into which he was going
rather deeply, and as to which he invited his friend Parker's co-
operation. He was intending, evidently, not to ask, but to
confer a favour.
'I rather think that steady business is best,' said Parker. 'I
hope it's all right about the 750 pounds.'
'Ah; yes,--I meant to have told you. I didn't want the money,
as it turned out, for much above a fortnight, and as there was no
use in letting the bill run out, I settled it.' So saying he
took out a pocket-book, extracted the bill, and showed it to
Sexty. Sexty's heart fluttered in his bosom. There was his name
still on the bit of paper, and it might still be used. Having it
shown him after this fashion in its mid career, of course he had
strong ground for hope. But he could not bring himself to put
out his hand for it. 'As to what you say about steady business,
of course that's very well,' said Lopez. 'It depends on whether
a man wants to make a small income or a large fortune.' He still
held the bill as though he were going to fold it up again, and
the importance of it was so present to Sexty's mind that he could
hardly digest the argument about the steady business. 'I own
that I an not satisfied with the former,' continued Lopez, 'and
that I go in for the fortune.' As he spoke he tore the bill into
three or four bits, apparently without thinking of it, and let
the fragments fall upon the floor. It was as though a mountain
had been taken off Sexty's bosom. He felt almost inclined to
send out for a bottle of champagne on the moment, and the
arguments of his friend rang in his ears with quite a different
sound. The allurements of a steady income paled before his eyes,
and he too began to tell himself as he had often told himself
before, that if he would only keep his eyes open and his heart
high, there was no reason why he too should not become a city
millionaire. But on that occasion Lopez left him soon, without
saying very much about his favourite speculation. In a few days,
however, the same matter was brought before Sexty's eyes from
another direction. He learned from a side wind that the house of
Hunky and Sons was concerned largely in this business,--or at
any rate he thought that he had so learned. The ease with which
Lopez had destroyed that bill six weeks before it was due had had
great effect upon him. Those arguments about a large fortune or
a small income still clung to him. Lopez had come to him about
the business in the first instance, but it was now necessary that
he should go to Lopez. He was, however, very cautious. He
managed to happen to meet Lopez in the street, and introduced the
subject in his own slap-dash, aery manner,--the result of which
was, that he had gone rather deep into two or three American
mines before the end of July. But he had already made some money
out of them, and, though he would find himself sometimes
trembling before he had taken his daily allowance of port wine
and brandy and water, still he was buoyant, and hopeful of living
in a park, with a palace at the West End, and a seat in
Parliament. Knowing also as he did, that his friend Lopez was
intimate with the Duchess of Omnium, he had much immediate
satisfaction in the intimacy which these relations created. He
was getting in the thin edge of the wedge, and would calculate as
he went home to Ponder's End how long it must be before he could
ask his friend to propose him at some West End club. On one
halcyon summer evening Lopez had dined with him at Ponder's End,
had smiled on Mrs Parker and played with the hopeful little
Parkers. On that occasion Sexty had assured his wife that he
regarded his friendship with Ferdinand Lopez as the most
fortunate circumstance of his life. 'Do be careful, Sexty,' the
poor woman had said. But Parker had simply told her that she
understood nothing about business. On that evening Lopez had
thoroughly imbued him with the conviction that if you will only
set your mind that way, it is quite as easy to amass a large
fortune as to earn a small income.
About a week before the departure of the Whartons to
Hertfordshire, Lopez in compliance with Mrs Roby's counsels,
called at the chambers in Stone Buildings. It is difficult to
say that you will not see a man, when the man is standing just on
the other side of an open door,--nor, in this case, was Mr
Wharton quite clear that he had better decline to see the man.
But while he was doubting,--at any rate before he had resolved
upon denying his presence,--the man was there, inside his room.
Mr Wharton got up from his chair, hesitated a moment, and then
gave his hand to the intruder in that half-unwilling,
unsatisfactory manner which most of us have experienced when
shaking hands with some cold-blooded, ungenial acquaintance.
'Well, Mr Lopez,--what can I do for you?' he said, as he re-
seated himself. He looked as though he were at his ease and
master of the situation. He had control over himself sufficient
for assuming such a manner. But his heart was not high within
his bosom. The more he looked at the man the less he liked him.
'There is one thing, and one thing only, you can do for me,' said
Lopez. His voice was peculiarly sweet, and when he spoke his
words seemed to mean more than when they came from other mouths.
But Mr Wharton did not like sweet voices and mellow, soft words,
--at least not from men's mouths.
'I do not think I can do anything for you, Mr Lopez,' he said.
There was slight pause, during which the visitor put down his hat
and seemed to hesitate. 'I think your coming here can be of no
avail. Did I not explain myself when I saw you before?'
'But, I fear, I did not explain myself. I hardly told my story.'
'You can tell it, of course,--if you think the telling will do
you any good.'
'I was not able to say than, as I can say now, that your daughter
had accepted my love.'
'You ought not to have spoken to my daughter on the subject after
what passed between us. I told you my mind frankly.'
'Ah, Mr Wharton, how was obedience in such a matter possible?
What would you yourself think of a man who in such a position
would be obedient? I did not seek her secretly. I did nothing
underhand. Before I had once directly asked her for her love, I
came to you.'
'What's the use of that, if you go to her immediately afterwards
in manifest opposition to my wishes? You found yourself bound,
as would any gentleman, to ask a father's leave, and when it was
refused, you went on just though it had been granted! Don't you
call that a mockery?'
'I can say now, sir, what I could not say then. We love each
other. And I am sure of her as I am of myself when I assert that
we shall be true to each other. You must know her well enough to
be sure of that also.'
'I am sure of nothing but of this;--that I will not give her my
consent to become your wife.'
'What is your objection, Mr Wharton?'
'I explained it before as far as I found myself called upon to
'Are we both to be sacrificed for some reason that we neither of us
'How dare you take upon yourself to say that she doesn't
understand! Because I refuse to be more explicit to you a
stranger, do you suppose that I am equally silent to my own
'In regard to money and social rank, I am able to place your
daughter as my wife in a position as good as she now holds as
'I care nothing about money. Mr Lopez, and our ideas of social
rank are perhaps different. I have nothing further to say to
you, and I do not think that you can have anything further to say
to me that can be of any avail.' Then, having finished his
speech, he got up from his chair and stood upright, thereby
demanding of his visitor that he should depart.
'I think it no more than honest, Mr Wharton, to declare this one
thing. I regard myself as irrevocably engaged to your daughter,
and she, although she has refused to bind herself to me by that
special word, is, I am certain, as firmly fixed in her choice as
I am in mine. My happiness, as a matter of course, can be
nothing to you.'
'Not much,' said the lawyer, with angry impatience.
Lopez smiled, but he put down the word in his memory and
determined he would treasure it there. 'Not much, at any rate as
yet,' he said. 'But her happiness must be much to you.'
'It is everything. But in thinking of her happiness I must look
beyond what might be the satisfaction of the present day. You
must excuse me, Mr Lopez, if I say that I would rather not
discuss the matter with you any further.' Then he rang the bell
and passed quickly into an inner room. When the clerk came Lopez
of course marched out of the chamber and went his way.
Mr Wharton had been very firm, and yet he was shaken. It was by
degrees becoming a fixed idea in his mind that the man's material
prosperity was assured. He was afraid even to allude to that
subject when talking to the man himself, lest he should be
overwhelmed by evidence on that subject. Then the man's manner,
though it was distasteful to Wharton himself, would, he well
knew, recommend him to others. He was good-looking, he lived
with people who were highly regarded, he could speak up for
himself, and he was a favoured guest at Carlton House Terrace.
So great had been the fame of the Duchess and her hospitality
during the last two months, that the fact of the man's success in
this respect had come home even to Mr Wharton. He feared that
the world would be against him, and he already began to dread the
joint opposition of the world and his own child. The world of
this day did not, he thought, care whether its daughter's
husbands had or had not any fathers or mothers. The world as it
was now didn't care whether its sons-in-law were Christian or
Jewish;--whether they had the fair skin and bold eyes and
uncertain words of an English gentleman, or the swarthy colour
and false grimace and glib tongue of some inferior Latin race.
But he cared for those things;--and it was dreadful to him to
think that his daughter should not care for them. 'I suppose I
had better die and leave them to look after themselves,' he said,
as he returned to his arm-chair.
Lopez himself was not altogether ill-satisfied with the
interview, not having expected that Mr Wharton would have given
way at once and bestowed upon him then and there the kind father-
in-law's "bless you,--bless you!". Something had yet to be done
before the blessing would come, or the girl,--or the money. He
had to-day asserted his own material success, speaking of himself
as of a moneyed man,--and his statement had been received with
no contradiction,--even without the suggestion of a doubt. He
did not therefore suppose that the difficulty was over; but he
was clever enough to perceive that the aversion to him on another
score might help to tide him over that difficulty. And if once
he could call the girl his wife, he did not doubt but that he
could build himself up with the barrister's money. After leaving
Lincoln's Inn he went at once to Berkeley Street, and was soon
closeted with Mrs Roby. 'You can get her here before you go?' he
'She wouldn't come;--and if we arranged it without letting her
know that you were to be here, she would tell her father. She
hasn't a particle of female intrigue in her.'
'So much the better,' said the lover.
'That's all very well for you to say, but when a man makes such a
tyrant of himself as Mr Wharton is doing, a girl is bound to look
after herself. If it was me I'd go off with my young man before
I'd stand such treatment.'
'You could give her a letter.'
'She'd only show it to her father. She is so perverse that I
sometimes feel inclined to say that I'll have nothing further to
do with her.'
'You'll give her a message at any rate?'
'Yes,--I can do that;--because I can do it in a way that won't seem
to make it important.'
'But I want my message to be very important. Tell her that I've
seen her father, and have offered to explain all my affairs to
him,--so that he may know that there is nothing to fear on her
'It isn't any thought of money that is troubling him.'
'But tell her what I say. He, however, would listen to nothing.
Then I assured him that no consideration on earth would induce me
to surrender her, and I was sure of her as I am of myself. Tell
her that;--and tell her that I think she owes to me to say one
word to me before she goes into the country.'
It may, I think, be a question whether the two old men acted
wisely in having Arthur Fletcher at Wharton Hall when Emily
arrived there. The story of his love for Miss Wharton, as far as
it had yet gone, must shortly be told. He had been the second
son, as he was now the second brother, of a Hertfordshire squire
endowed with much larger property than that belonging to Sir
Alured. John Fletcher, Esq., of Longbarns, some twelve miles
from Wharton, was a considerable man in Hertfordshire. This
present squire had married Sir Alured's eldest daughter, and the
younger brother had, almost since they were children together,
been known to be in love with Emily Wharton. All the Fletchers
and everything belonging to them were almost worshipped at
Wharton Hall. There had been marriages between the two families
certainly as far back as the time of Henry VII, and they were
accustomed to speak, if not of alliances, at any rate of
friendships, much anterior to that. As regards family,
therefore, the pretensions of a Fletcher would always be held to
be good by a Wharton. But this Fletcher was the very pearl of
the Fletcher tribe. Though a younger brother, he had a very
pleasant little fortune of his own. Though born to comfortable
circumstances, he had worked so hard in his younger days as to
have already made for himself a name at the bar. He was a fair-
haired, handsome fellow, with sharp, eager eyes, with an aquiline
nose and just that shape of mouth and chin which such men as Abel
Wharton regarded as characteristic of good blood. He was rather
thin, about five feet ten in height, and had the character of
being one of the best horsemen in the county. He was one of the
most popular men in Hertfordshire, and at Longbarns was almost as
much thought of as the squire himself. He certainly was not the
man to be taken, from his appearance, for a forlorn lover. He
looked like one of those happy sons of the gods who are born to
success. No young man of his age was more courted both by men
and women. There was no one who in his youth had suffered fewer
troubles from those causes of trouble which visit English young
men,--occasional impecuniosity, sternness of parents, native
shyness, fear of ridicule, inability of speech, and a general
pervading sense of inferiority combined with an ardent desire to
rise to a feeling of conscious superiority. So much had been
done for him by nature that he was never called upon to pretend
to anything. Throughout the county those were the lucky men--
and those too were the happy girls,--who were allowed to call
him Arthur. And yet this paragon was vainly in love with Emily
Wharton, who, in the way of love, would have nothing to say to
him, preferring,--as her father once said in extreme wrath,--a
greasy Jew adventurer out of the gutter!
And now it had been thought expedient to have him down to
Wharton, although the lawyer's regular summer vacation had not
yet commenced. But there was some excuse made for this, over and
above the emergency of his own love, in the fact that his brother
John, with Mrs Fletcher, was also to be at the Hall,--so that
there was gathered there a great family party of the Whartons and
Fletchers; for there was present there also old Mrs Fletcher, a
magnificently aristocratic and high-minded old lady, with snow-
white hair, and lace worth fifty guineas a yard, who was as
anxious as everybody else that her younger son should marry Emily
Wharton. Something of the truth as to Emily Wharton's 60,000
pounds was, of course, known to the Longbarns people. Not that I
would have it inferred that they wanted their darling to sell
himself for money. The Fletchers were great people, with great
spirits, too good in every way for such baseness. But when love,
old friendship, good birth, together with every other propriety
as to age, manners, and conduct, can be joined in money, such a
combination will always be thought pleasant.
When Arthur reached the Hall it was felt to be necessary that a
word should be said to him as to that wretched interloper,
Ferdinand Lopez. Arthur had not of late been often in Manchester
Square. Though always most cordially welcomed by old Wharton,
and treated with kindness by Emily Wharton short of that love
which he desired, he had during the last three or four months
abstained from frequenting the house. During the past winter,
and early in the spring, he had pressed his suit--but had been
rejected, with warmest assurances of all friendship short of
love. It had then been arranged between him and the elder
Whartons that they should all meet down in the Hall, and there
had been sympathetic expressions of hope that all might yet be
well. But at that time little or nothing had been known of
But now the old baronet spoke to him, the father having deputed
the loathsome task to his friend,--being unwilling himself even
to hint at his daughter's disgrace. 'Oh, yes, I've heard of
him,' said Arthur Fletcher. 'I met him with Everett and I don't
think I ever took a stronger dislike to a man. Everett seems
very fond of him.' The baronet mournfully shook his head. It
was sad to find that Whartons could go so far astray. 'He goes
to Carlton Terrace,--to the Duchess's,' continued the young man.
'I don't think that is very much in his favour,' said the
'I don't know that it is, sir,--only they try to catch all fish
in that net that are of any use.'
'Do you go there, Arthur?'
'I should if I were asked, I suppose. I don't know who wouldn't.
You see it's a Coalition affair, so that everybody is able to
feel that he is supporting his party by going to the Duchess's.'
'I hate Coalitions,' said the baronet. 'I think they are
'Well;--yes; I don't know. The coach has to be driven somehow.
You mustn't stick in the mud, you know. And after all, sir, the
Duke of Omnium is a respectable man, though he is a Liberal. A
Duke of Omnium can't want to send the country to the dogs.' The
old man shook his head. He did not understand much about it, but
he felt convinced that the Duke and his colleagues were sending
the country to the dogs, whatever might be their wishes. 'I
shan't think of politics for the next ten years, and so I don't
trouble myself about the Duchess's parties, but I suppose I
should go if I were asked.'
Sir Alured felt that he had not as yet begun even to approach the
difficult subject. 'I'm glad you don't like that man,' he said.
'I don't like him at all. Tell me, Sir Alured;--why is he
always going to Manchester Square?'
'Ah;--that is it.'
'He has been there constantly;--has he not?'
'No;--no I don't think that. Mr Wharton doesn't love him a bit
better than you do. My cousin thinks him a most objectionable
'Ah--That's where it is.'
'You don't mean to say she--cares about that man!'
'He has been encouraged by that aunt of hers, who, as far as I
can make out, is a very unfit sort of person to be much with such
a girl as our dear Emily. I never saw her but once, and then I
didn't like her at all.'
'A vulgar, good-natured woman. But what can she have done? She
can't have twisted Emily round her finger.'
'I don't suppose there is very much in it, but I thought it
better to tell you. Girls take fancies into their heads,--just
for a time.'
'He's a handsome fellow, too,' said Arthur Fletcher, musing in
'My cousin says he's a nasty Jew-looking man.'
'He's not that, Sir Alured. He's a handsome man with a fine
voice;---dark, and not just like an Englishman; but still I can
fancy--That's bad news for me, Sir Alured.'
'I think she'll forget him down here.'
'She never forgets anything. I shall ask her, straight away.
She knows my feeling about her, and I haven't a doubt that she'll
tell me. She's too honest to be able to lie. Has he got any
'My cousin seems to think he's rich.'
'I suppose he is. Oh, Lord! That's a blow. I wish I could have
the pleasure of shooting him as a man might a few years ago. But
what would be the good? The girl would only hate me the more
after it. The best thing to do would be to shoot myself.'
'Don't talk like that, Arthur.'
'I shan't throw up the sponge as long as there's a chance left,
Sir Alured. But it will go badly with me if I'm beat at last. I
shouldn't have thought it possible that I should have felt
anything so much.' Then he pulled his hair, and thrust his hand
into his waistcoat; and turned away, so that his old friend might
not see the tear in his eye.
His old friend also was much moved. It was dreadful to him that
the happiness of a Fletcher, and the comfort of the Whartons
generally, should be marred by a man with such a name as
Ferdinand Lopez. 'She'll never marry him without her father's
consent,' said Sir Alured.
'If she means it, of course he'll consent.'
'That I'm sure he won't. He doesn't like the man a bit better
than you do.' Fletcher shook his head. 'And he's as fond of you
as though you were already his son.'
'What does it matter? If a girl sets her heart on marrying a man,
of course, she will marry him. If he had no money it might be
different. But if he's well off, of course he'll succeed. Well
-; I suppose other men have borne the same sort of thing before
and it hasn't killed them.'
'Let us hope, my boy. I think of her quite as much as of you.'
'Yes,--we can hope. I shan't give it up. As for her, I dare
say she knows what will suit her best. I've nothing to say
against the man,--excepting that I should like to cut him into four
'But a foreigner!'
'Girls don't think about that,--not as you do and Mr Wharton.
And I think thy like dark, greasy men with slippery voices, who
are up to dodges and full of secrets. Well, sir, I shall go to
her at once and have it out.'
'You'll speak to my cousin?'
'Certainly I will. He has always been one of the best friends I
ever had in my life. I know it hasn't been his fault. But what
can a man do? Girls won't marry this or that because they are
Fletcher did speak to Emily's father, and learned more from him
than had been told him by Sir Alured. Indeed he learned the
whole truth. Lopez had been twice with the father pressing his
suit and had been twice repulsed, with as absolute denial as
words could convey. Emily, however, had declared her own feeling
openly, expressing her wish to marry the odious man, promising
not to do so without her father's consent, but evidently feeling
that that consent ought not to be withheld from her. All this Mr
Wharton told very plainly, walking with Arthur a little before
dinner along a shaded, lonely path, which for half a mile ran
along the very marge of the Wye at the bottom of the park. And
then he went on to speak other words which seemed to rob his
young friend of all hope. The old man was walking slowly, with
his hands clasped behind his back and with his eyes fixed on the
path as he went;--and he spoke slowly, evidently weighing his
words as he uttered them, bringing home to his hearer a
conviction that the matter discussed was one of supreme
importance to the speaker,--as to which he had thought much, so
as to be able to express his settled resolutions. 'I've told you
all now, Arthur,--only this. I do not know how long I may be
able to resist this man's claim if it be backed by Emily's
entreaties. I am thinking very much about it. I do not know
that I have really been able to think of anything else for the
last two months. It is all the world to me,--what she and
Everett do with themselves, and what she may do in this matter of
marriage is of infinitely greater importance than can befall him.
If he makes a mistake, it may be put right. But with a woman's
marrying--, vestigia nulla retrorsum. She has put off all her
old bonds and taken new ones, which must be her bonds for life.
Feeling this very strongly, and disliking this man greatly,--
disliking him, that is to say, in the view of this close
relation,--I have felt myself to be justified in so far opposing
my child by the use of a high hand. I have refused my sanction
to the marriage both to him and to her,--though in truth I have
been hard set to find any adequate reason for doing so. I have
no right to fashion my girl's life by my prejudices. My life has
been lived. Hers is to come. In this matter I should be cruel
and unnatural were I to allow myself to be governed by any
selfish inclination. Though I were to know that she would be
lost to me forever, I must give way,--if once brought to a
conviction that by not giving way I should sacrifice her young
happiness. In this matter, Arthur, I must not even think of you,
though I love you well. I must consider only my child's welfare;
and in doing so I must try to sift my own feelings and my own
judgement, and ascertain, if it be possible, whether any distance
to the man is reasonable or irrational;--whether I should serve
her or sacrifice her by obstinacy of refusal. I can speak to you
more plainly than to her. Indeed I have laid bare to you my
whole heart and my whole mind. You have all my wishes, but you
will understand that I do not promise you my continued assistance.'
When he had so spoken he put out his hand and pressed his
companion's arm. Then he turned slowly into a little by-path
which led across the park up to the house, and left Arthur
Fletcher standing alone by the river's bank.
And so by degrees the blow had come full home to him. He had
been twice refused. Then rumours had reached him,--not at first
that he had a rival, but that there was a man who might possibly
become so. And now this rivalry, and its success, were declared
to him plainly. He told himself from this moment that he had not
a chance. Looking forward he could see it. He understood the
girl's character sufficiently to be sure that she would not be
wafted about, from one lover to another, by change of scene.
Taking her to Dresden,--or to New Zealand, would only confirm in
her passion such a girl as Emily Wharton. Nothing would shake
her but the ascertained unworthiness of the man,--and not that
unless it were ascertained beneath her own eyes. And then years
must pass by before she would yield to another lover. There was
a further question, too, which he did not fail to ask himself.
Was the man necessarily unworthy because his name was Lopez, and
because he had not come of English blood?
As he strove to think of this, if not coolly yet rationally, he
sat himself down among the rocks, among which at that spot the
water made its way rapidly. There had been moments in which he
had been almost ashamed of his love,--and now he did not know
whether to be most ashamed or most proud of it. But he
recognized the fact that it was crucifying him, and that it would
continue to crucify him. He knew himself in London to be a
popular man,--one of those for whom, according to general
opinion, girls should sigh, rather than one who would break his
heart sighing for a girl. He had often told himself that it was
beneath his manliness to be despondent; that he should let such a
trouble run from him like water from a duck's back, consoling
himself with the reflection that if the girl had such bad taste
she could hardly be worthy of him. He had almost tried to belong
to that school which throws the heart away and rules by the head
alone. He knew that others,--perhaps not those who knew him
best, but who nevertheless were the companions of may of his
hours,--gave him credit for such power. Why should a man
afflict himself by the inward burden of an unsatisfied craving,
and allow his heart to sink into his very feet because a girl
would not smile when he wooed her? 'If she be not fair for me,
what care I how fair she be!' He had repeated the lines to
himself a score of times, and had been ashamed of himself because
he could not make them come true to himself.
They had not come true in the least. There he was, Arthur
Fletcher, whom all the world courted, with his heart in his very
boots! There was a miserable load within him, absolutely
palpable to his outward feeling,--a very physical pain,--which
he could not shake off. As he threw the stones into the water he
told himself that it must be so with him always. Though the
world did pet him, though he was liked at his club, and courted
in the hunting-field, and loved at balls and archery meetings,
and reputed by old men to be a rising star, he told himself that
he was so maimed and mutilated as to be only half a man. He
could not reason about it. Nature had afflicted him with a
certain weakness. One man had a hump;--another can hardly see
out of his imperfect eyes,--a third can barely utter a few
disjointed words. It was his fate to be constructed with some
weak arrangement of the blood vessels which left him in this
plight. 'The whole damned thing is nothing to me,' he said
bursting into absolute tears, after vainly trying to reassure
himself by a recollection of the good things which the world
still had in store for him.
Then he strove to console himself by thinking that he might take
a pride in his love, even though it were so intolerable a burden
to him. Was it not something to be able to love as he loved?
Was it not something at any rate that she to whom he had
condescended to stoop was worthy of all love? But even here he
could get no comfort,--being in truth unable to see very closely
into the condition of the thing. It was a disgrace to him,--to
him within his own bosom,--that she should have preferred to him
such a one as Ferdinand Lopez, and this disgrace he exaggerated,
ignoring the fact that the girl herself might be deficient in
judgement, or led away into her love by falsehood and counterfeit
attractions. To him she was such a goddess that she must be
right--and therefore his own inferiority to such a one as
Ferdinand Lopez was proved. He could take no pride in his
rejected love. He would rid himself of it at a moment's notice
if he knew the way. He would throw himself at the feet of some
second-rate, tawdry, well-born, well-known beauty of the day,--
only that there was not now left to him strength to pretend the
feeling that would be necessary. Then he heard steps, and
jumping up from his seat, stood just in the way of Emily Wharton
and her cousin Mary. 'Ain't you going to dress for dinner, young
man?' said the latter.
'I shall have time if you have, anyway,' said Arthur,
endeavouring to pluck up his spirits.
'That's nice of him;--isn't it?' said Mary. 'Why, we are
dressed. What more do you want? We came out to look for you,
though we didn't mean to come as far as this. It's past seven
now, and we are supposed to dine at a quarter past.'
'Five minutes will do for me.'
'But you've got to get to the house. You needn't be in a
tremendous hurry, because papa has only just come in from
haymaking. They've got up the last load, and there has been the
usual ceremony. Emily and I have been looking at them.'
'I wish I'd been there all the time,' said Emily. 'I do so hate
London in July.'
'So do I,' said Arthur,--'in July and all other times.'
'You hate London?' said Mary.
'Yes,--and Hertfordshire,--and other places generally. If I've
got to dress I'd better go across the park as quick as I can go,'
and so he left them. Mary turned around and looked at her
cousin, but at the moment said nothing. Arthur's passion was
well known to Mary Wharton, but Mary had as yet heard nothing of
NEVER RUN AWAY!
During the whole of that evening there was a forced attempt on
the part of all the party at Wharton Hall to be merry,--which,
however, as is the case whenever such attempts are forced, was a
failure. There had been a haymaking harvest-home which was
supposed to give special occasion for mirth, as Sir Alured farmed
the land around the park himself, and was great in hay. 'I don't
think it pays very well,' he said with a gentle smile, 'but I
like to employ some of the people myself. I think the old people
find it easier with me than with the tenants.'
'I shouldn't wonder,' said his cousin;--'but that's charity; not
'No, no,' exclaimed the baronet. 'They work for their wages and
do their best. Powell sees to that.' Powell was the bailiff,
who knew the length of his master's foot to a quarter of an inch,
and was quite aware that the Wharton haymakers were not to be
overtasked. 'Powell doesn't keep any cats about the place, but
what catch mice. But I am not quite sure that haymaking does
'How do the tenants manage?'
'Of course they look to things closer. You wouldn't wish me to
let the land up to the house next door.'
'I think,' said old Mrs Fletcher, 'that a landlord should consent
to lose a little by his own farming. It does good in the long
run.' Both Mr Wharton and Sir Alured felt that this might be
very well at Longbarns, though it could hardly be afforded at
'I don't think I lose much by my farming,' said the squire of
Longbarns. 'I have four hundred acres on hand, and I keep my
accounts pretty regularly.'
'Johnson is a very good man, I dare say,' said the baronet.
'Like most of the others,' continued the squire, 'he's very well
as long as he's looked after. I think I know as much about it as
Johnson. Of course, I don't expect a farmer's profit; but I do
expect my rent, and I get it.'
'I don't think I manage it in quite that way,' said the baronet
in a melancholy tone.
'I'm afraid not,' said the barrister.
'John is as hard upon the men as any one of the tenants,' said
John's wife, Mrs Fletcher of Longbarns.
'I'm not hard at all,' said John, 'and you understand nothing
about it. I'm paying three shillings a week more to every man,
and eighteen pence a week more to every woman, than I did three
'That's because of the Unions,' said the barrister.
'I don't care a straw for the Unions. If the Unions interfered
with my comfort, I'd let the land and leave the place.'
'Oh, John!' ejaculated John's mother.
'I would not consent to be made a slave even for the sake of the
country. But the wages had to be raised,--having raised them I
expect to get proper value for my money. If anything has to be
given away, let it be given away,--so that the people should
know what it is that they receive.'
'That's just what we don't want to do here,' said Lady Wharton,
who did not often join in any of these arguments.
'You're wrong, my lady,' said her stepson. 'You're only breeding
idleness when you teach people to think that they are earning
wages without working for their money. Whatever you do with
them, let them know and feel the truth. It'll be the best in the
'I'm sometimes happy when I think that I shan't live to see the
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