The Prime Minister
Part 6 out of 16
it to be unsatisfactory. No doubt the 3,000 pounds would be
given; but that, as far as she could understand her father's
words, was to be the whole of her fortune. She had never known
anything of her father's affairs or his intentions, but she had
certainly supposed that her fortune would be very much more than
this. She had learned in some indirect way that a large sum of
money would have gone with her hand to Arthur Fletcher, could she
have brought herself to marry that suitor favoured by her family.
And now, having learned, as she had learned, that money was of
vital importance to her husband, she was dismayed at what seemed
to her to be parental parsimony. But he was overjoyed,--so much
so that for a while he lost that restraint over himself which was
habitual to him. He ate his breakfast in a state of exultation,
and talked,--not alluding specially to this 3,000 pounds,--as
though he had the command of almost unlimited means. He ordered
a carriage and drove her out, and bought presents for her,--
things as to which they had both before decided that they should
not be bought because of the expense. 'Pray don't spend your
money for me,' she said to him. 'It's nice to have you giving me
things, but it would be nicer to me even than that to think that
I could save you expense.'
But he was not in a mood to be denied. 'You don't understand,'
he said. 'I don't want to be saved from little extravagances of
this sort. Owing to circumstances, your father's money was at
this moment of importance to me,--but he has answered to the
whip and the money is there, and the trouble is over. We can
enjoy ourselves now. Other troubles will spring up, no doubt,
She did not quite like being told that her father 'had answered
to the whip',--but she was willing to believe that it was a
phrase common among men to which it would be prudish to make
objection. There was, also, something in her husband's elation
which was distasteful to her. Could it be that reverses of
fortune with reference to moderate sums of money, such as this
which was now coming into his hands, would always affect him in
the same way? Was it not almost unmanly, or at any rate was it
not undignified? And yet she tried to make the best of it, and
lent herself to his holiday mood as well as she was able. 'Shall
I write and thank papa?' she said that evening.
'I have been thinking of that,' he said. 'You can write if you
like, and of course you will. But I shall also write, and had
better do so a post or two before you. As he has come round I
suppose I ought to show myself civil. What he says about the
rest of his money is of course absurd. I shall ask him nothing
about it, but no doubt after a bit he will make permanent
arrangements.' Everything in the business wounded her more or
less. She now perceived that he regarded this 3,000 pounds only
as the first instalment of what he might get, and that his joy
was due simply to this temporary success. And then he called her
father absurd to her face. For a moment she thought that she
would defend her father; but she could not as yet bring herself
to question her husband's words even on such a subject as that.
He did write to Mr Wharton, but in doing so he altogether laid
aside that flighty manner which for a while had annoyed her. He
thoroughly understood that the wording of the letter might be
very important to him, and he took much trouble with it. It must
be now the great work of his life to ingratiate himself with this
old man, so that, at any rate at the old man's death, he might
possess at least half of the old man's money. He must take care
that there should be no division between his wife and her father
of such a nature as to make the father think that his son ought
to enjoy any special privilege of primogeniture or of male
inheritance. And if it could be so managed that the daughter
should before the old man's death, become his favourite child,
that also would be well. He was therefore very careful about the
letter, which was as follows:
MY DEAR MR WHARTON
I cannot let your letter to Emily pass without thanking
you myself for the very liberal response made by you to
what was of course a request from myself. Let me in the
first place assure you that had you, before our marriage,
made any inquiry about my money affairs, I would have
told you everything with accuracy; but as you did not do
so I thought that I should seem to intrude upon you, if I
introduced the subject. It is too long for a letter, but
whenever you may like to allude to it, you will find that
I will be quite open with you.
I am engaged in business which often requires the use of
considerable amount of capital. It has so happened that
ever since we were married the immediate use of sum of
money became essential to me to save me from sacrificing
a cargo of guano, which will be of greatly increased
value in three months' time, but which otherwise must
have gone for what it would now fetch. Your kindness
will see me through that difficulty.
Of course there is something precarious in such a
business as mine,--but I am endeavouring to make it less
so from day to day, and hope very shortly to bring into
that humdrum groove which best befits a married man.
Should I ask further assistance from you in doing this,
perhaps you will not refuse it if I can succeed in making
the matter clear to you. As it is I thank you sincerely
for what you have done. I will ask you to pay the 3,000
pounds you have so kindly promised to my account at
Messrs. Hunky and Sons, Lombard Street. They are not
regular bankers, but I have an account there.
We are wandering about and enjoying ourselves mightily in
the properly romantic manner. Emily sometimes seems to
think that she would like to give up business, and
London, and all subsidiary troubles, in order that she
might settle herself for life under an Italian sky. But
the idea does not generally remain with her very long.
Already she is beginning to show symptoms of home
sickness in regard to Manchester Square.
Yours always most faithfully,
To this letter Lopez received no reply;--nor did he expect one.
Between Emily and her father a few letters passed, not very long;
nor as regarded those from Mr Wharton, were they very
interesting. In none of them, however, was there any mention of
money. But early in January, Lopez received a more pressing,--
we might almost say an agonising letter from his friend Parker.
The gist of the letter was to make Lopez understand that Parker
must at once sell certain interests in a coming cargo of guano,--
at whatever sacrifice,--unless he could be certified as that
money which must be paid in February, and which he, Parker, must
pay, should Ferdinand Lopez be at that moment be unable to meet
his bond. The answer sent to Parker shall be given to the
MY DEAR OLD AWFULLY SILLY, AND ABSURDLY, IMPATIENT FRIEND
You are always like a toad under a harrow, and that
without the slightest cause. I have money lying at
Hunky's more than double enough for those bills. Why
can't you trust a man? If you won't trust me in saying
so, you can go to Mills Happerton and ask him. But,
remember, I shall be very much annoyed if you do so,--
and that such an inquiry cannot but be injurious to me.
If, however, you won't believe me, you can go and ask. At
any rate, don't meddle with the guano. We should lose
over 4,000 pounds each of us, if you were to do so. By
George, a man should neither marry, nor leave London for
a day, if he has to do with a fellow as nervous as you
are. As it is I think I shall be back in a week or two
before my time is properly up, lest you and one or two
others should think that I have levanted altogether.
I have no hesitation in saying that more fortunes are
lost in business by trembling cowardice than by any
amount of imprudence or extravagance. My hair stands on
end when you talk of parting with guano in December
because there are bills which have to be met in February.
Pluck up your heart, man, and look around, and see what
is done by men with good courage.
These were the only communications between our married couple and
their friends at home with which I need trouble my readers. Nor
need I tell any further tales of their honeymoon. If the time
was not one of complete and unalloyed joy to Emily,--and we must
fear that it was not,--it is to be remembered that but very
little complete and unalloyed joy is allowed to sojourners in
that vale of tears, even though they have been but two months
married. In the first week in February they appeared in the
Belgrave mansion, and Emily Lopez took possession of her new home
with a heart as full of love for her husband as it had been when
she walked out of the church in Vere Street, though it may be
that some of her sweetest illusions had already been dispelled.
THE DUKE'S MISERY.
We must go back for a while to Gatherum Castle and see the guests
whom the Duchess had collected there for her Christmas
festivities. The hospitality of the Duke's house had been
maintained almost throughout the autumn. Just at the end of
October they went to Matching, for what the Duchess called a
quiet month--which, however, at the Duke's urgent request,
became six weeks. But even here the house was full all the time,
though from deficiency of bedrooms the guests were very much less
numerous. But at Matching the Duchess had been uneasy and almost
cross. Mrs Finn had gone with her husband to Ireland, and she
had taught herself to fancy that she could not live without Mrs
Finn. And her husband had insisted upon having round him
politicians of his own sort, men who really preferred work to
archery, or even to hunting, and who discussed the evils of
direct taxation absolutely in the drawing-room. The Duchess was
assured that the country could not be governed by the support of
such men as these, and was very glad to get back to Gatherum,--
whither also came Phineas Finn with his wife, and St Bungay
people, and Barrington Erle, and Mr Monk, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, with Lord and Lady Cantrip, and Lord and Lady
Drummond,--Lord Drummond being the only representative of the
other or coalesced party. And Major Pountney was there, having
been urgent with the Duchess,--and having fully explained to his
friend Captain Gunner that he had acceded to the wishes of his
hostess only on the assurance of her Grace that the house would
not be again troubled with the presence of Ferdinand Lopez. Such
assurances were common between the two friends, but were
innocent, as, of course, neither believed the other. And Lady
Rosina was again there,--with many others. The melancholy
poverty of Lady Rosina had captivated the Duke. 'She shall come
and live here, if you like,' the Duchess had said in answer to a
request from her husband on his new friend's behalf,--'I've no
doubt she will be willing.' The place was not crowded as it had
been before, but still about thirty guests sat down to dinner
daily, and Locock, Millepois, and Mrs Pritchard were all kept
hard at work. Nor was our Duchess idle. She was always making
up the party,--meaning the coalition,--doing something to
strengthen the buttresses, writing letters to little people, who,
little as they were, might become big by amalgamation. 'One
always has to be binding one's faggot,' she said to Mrs Finn,
having read her Aesop, not altogether in vain. 'Where should we
have been without you?' she had whispered to Sir Orlando Drought
when that gentleman was leaving Gatherum at the termination of
his second visit. She had particularly disliked Sir Orlando, and
was aware that her husband had been peculiarly shy of Sir Orlando
since the day on which they had walked together in the park,--
and consequently, the Duchess had whispered to him. 'Don't bind
your faggot too conspicuously,' Mrs Finn had said to her. Then
the Duchess had fallen to a seat almost exhausted by labour,
mingled with regrets, and by the doubts which from time to time
pervaded even her audacious spirit. 'I'm not a god,' she said,
'or a Pitt, or an Italian with a long name beginning with M.,
that I should be able to do these things without ever making a
mistake. And yet they must be done. And as for him,--he does
not help me in the least. He wanders about among the clouds of
the multiplication table, and thinks that a majority will drop
into his mouth because he does not shut it. Can you tie the
faggot any better?' 'I think I would leave it untied,' said Mrs
Finn. 'You would not do anything of the kind. You'd be just as
fussy as I am.' And thus the game was carried on at Gatherum
Castle from week to week.
'But you won't leave him?' This was said to Phineas Finn by his
wife a day or two before Christmas, and the question was
introduced to ask whether Phineas Finn thought of giving up his
'Not if I can help it.'
'You like the work.'
'That has but little to do with the question, unfortunately. I
certainly like having something to do. I like earning money.'
'I don't know why you like that especially,' said the wife
'I do at any rate,--and, in a certain sense, I like authority.
But in serving with the Duke I find a lack of that sympathy which
one should have with one's chief. He would never say a word to
me unless I spoke to him. And when I do speak, though he is
studiously civil,--much too courteous,--I know that he is
bored. He has nothing to say to me about the country. When he
has anything to communicate, he prefers to write a minute for
Warburton, who then writes to Morton,--and so it reaches me.'
'Doesn't it do as well?'
'It may do with me. There are reasons which bind me to him,
which will not bind other men. Men don't talk to me about it,
because they know I am bound to him through you. But I am aware
of the feeling which exists. You can't be really loyal to a king
if you never see him,--if he be always locked up in some almost
'A king may make himself too common, Phineas.'
'No doubt. A king has to know where to draw the line. But the
Duke draws no intentional line at all. He is not by nature
gregarious or communicative, and is therefore hardly fitted to be
the head of a ministry.'
'It will break her heart if anything goes wrong.'
'She ought to remember that Ministries seldom live very long,'
said Phineas. 'But she'll recover even if she does break her
heart. She is too full of vitality to be much repressed by
calamity. Have you heard what is to be done about Silverbridge?'
'The Duchess wants to get it for this man, Ferdinand Lopez.'
'But it has not been promised yet.'
'The seat is not vacant,' said Mrs Finn, 'and I don't know when
it will be vacant. I think there is a hitch about it,--and I
think the Duchess is going to be made very angry.'
Throughout the autumn the Duke had been an unhappy man. While
the absolute work of the Session had lasted he had found
something to console him; but now, though he was surrounded by
private secretaries, and though dispatch boxes went and came
twice a day, though there were dozens of letters as to which he
had to give some instruction,--yet, there was in truth nothing
for him to do. It seemed to him that all the real work of
Government had been filched from him by his colleagues, and that
he was stuck up in pretended authority,--a kind of wooden Prime
Minister, from whom no real ministration was demanded. His first
real fear had been that he was himself unfit;--but now he was
uneasy, fearing that others thought him to be unfit. There was
Mr Monk with his budget, and Lord Drummond with his three or four
dozen half-rebellious colonies, and Sir Orlando Drought with the
House to lead and a ship to build, and Phineas Finn with his
scheme of municipal Home Rule for Ireland, and Lord Ramsden with
a codified Statute Book,--all full of work, all with something
special to be done. But for him,--he had to arrange who should
attend the Queen, what ribbons should be given away, and what
middle-aged young man should move the address. He sighed as he
thought of those happy days in which he used to fear that his
mind and body would both give way under the pressure of decimal
But Phineas Finn had read the Duke's character right in saying
that he was neither gregarious nor communicative, and therefore
but little fitted to rule Englishmen. He had thought that it was
so himself, and now from day to day he was becoming more assured
of his own deficiency. He could not throw himself into cordial
relations with the Sir Orlando Droughts, or even the Mr Monks.
But, though he had never wished to be put into his present high
office, now that he was there he dreaded the sense of failure
which would follow his descent from it. It is this feeling
rather than genuine ambition, rather than the love of power or
patronage or pay, which induces men to cling to place. The
absence of real work, and the quantity of mock work, both alike
made the life wearisome to him; but he could not endure the idea
that it should be written in history that he had allowed himself
to be made a faineant Prime Minister, and than had failed even in
that. History would forget what he had done as a working
Minister in recording the feebleness of the Ministry which would
bear his name.
The one man with whom he could talk freely, and from whom he
could take advice, was now with him, here at his Castle. He was
shy at first even with the Duke of St Bungay, but that shyness he
could generally overcome, after a few words. But though he was
always sure of his old friend's sympathy and of his friend's
wisdom, yet he doubted his old friend's capacity to understand
himself. The young Duke felt the old Duke to be thicker-
skinned than himself and therefore unable to appreciate the
thorns which so sorely worried his own flesh. 'They talk to me
about a policy,' said the host. They were closeted at this time
in the Prime Minister's own sanctum, and there yet remained an
hour before they need dress for dinner.
'Who talks about a policy?'
'Sir Orlando Drought especially.' For the Duke of Omnium had
never forgotten the arrogance of that advice given in the park.
'Sir Orlando is of course entitled to speak, though I do not know
that he is likely to say anything very well worth of hearing.
What is his special policy?'
'If he had any, of course, I would hear him. It is not that he
wants any special thing to be done, but he thinks that I should
get up some special thing in order that Parliament may be
'If you wanted to create a majority that might be true. Just
listen to him and have done with it.'
'I cannot go on in that way. I cannot submit to what amounts to
complaint from the gentlemen who are acting with me. Nor would
they submit long to my silence. I am beginning to feel that I
have been wrong.'
'I don't think you have been wrong at all.'
'A man is wrong if he attempts to carry a weight too great for
'A certain nervous sensitiveness, from which you should free
yourself as from a disease, is your only source of weakness.
Think about your business as a shoemaker thinks of his. Do your
best, and then let your customers judge for themselves. Caveat
emptor. A man should never endeavour to price himself, but
should accept the price which others put on him,--only being
careful that he should learn what that price is. Your policy
should be to keep your government together by a strong majority.
After all, the making of new laws is too often but an unfortunate
necessity laid on us by the impatience of the people. A
lengthened period of quiet and therefore good government with a
minimum of new laws would be the greatest benefit the country
could receive. When I recommended you to comply with the Queen's
behest I did so because I thought you might inaugurate such a
period more certainly than any other one man.' This old Duke was
quite content with the state of things such as he described. He
had been a Cabinet Minister for more than half his life. He
liked being a Cabinet Minister. He thought it well for the
country generally that his party should be in power,--and if not
his party in its entirety, then as much of his party as might be
possible. He did not expect to be written of as Pitt or a
Somers, but he thought that memoirs would speak of him as a
useful nobleman,--and he was contented. He was not only not
ambitious himself, but the effervescence and general turbulence
of ambition in other men was distasteful to him, and the power of
submitting to defeat without either shame or sorrow had become
perfect with him by long practice. He would have made his
brother Duke such as he was himself,--had not his brother Duke
been so lamentably thin-skinned.
'I suppose we must try it for another Session?' said the Duke of
Omnium with a lachrymose voice.
'Of course we must,--and for others after that, I both hope and
trust,' said the Duke of St Bungay, getting up. 'If I don't go
upstairs I shall be late, and then her Grace will look at me with
On the following day after lunch the Prime Minister took a walk
with Lady Rosina De Courcy. He had fallen into a habit of
walking with Lady Rosina almost every day of his life, till the
people in the Castle began to believe that Lady Rosina was the
mistress of some deep policy of her own. For there were many
there who did in truth think that statecraft could never be
absent from a minister's mind, day or night. But in truth Lady
Rosina chiefly made herself agreeable to the Prime Minister by
never making the most distant allusion to public affairs. It
might be doubted whether she even knew that the man who paid her
so much honour was the Head of the British Government as well as
the Duke of Omnium. She was a tall, thin, shrivelled-up old
woman,--not very old, fifty perhaps, but looking at least ten
years more,--very melancholy, and sometimes very cross. She had
been notably religious, but that was gradually wearing off as she
advanced in years. The rigid strictness of Sabbatarian practice
requires the full energy of middle life. She had been left
entirely alone in the world, with a very small income, and not
many friends who were in any way interested in her existence.
But she knew herself to be Lady Rosina De Courcy, and felt that
the possession of that name ought to be more to her than money or
friends, or even than brothers and sisters. 'The weather is not
frightening you,' said the Duke. Snow had fallen, and the paths,
even where they had been swept, were wet and sloppy.
'Weather never frightens me, your Grace. I always have thick
boots,--I am very particular about that;--and cork soles.'
'Cork soles are admirable.'
'I think I owe my life to cork soles,' said Lady Rosina
enthusiastically. 'There is a man named Sprout in Silverbridge
who makes them. Did you Grace ever try him for boots?'
'I don't think I ever did,' said the Prime Minister.
'Then you had better. He's very good and very cheap too. Those
London tradesmen never think they can charge you enough. I find
I can wear Sprout's boots the whole winter through and then have
them resoled. I don't suppose you ever think of such things?'
'I like to keep my feet dry.'
'I have got to calculate what they cost.' They then passed Major
Pountney, who was coming and going between the stables and the
house, and who took off his hat and who saluted the host and his
companion with perhaps more flowing courtesy than was necessary.
'I never found out what that gentleman's name is yet,' said Lady
'Pountney. I think, I believe they call him Major Pountney.'
'Oh, Pountney! There are Pountneys in Leicestershire. Perhaps
he is one of them.'
'I don't know where he comes from,' said the Duke,--'nor, to
tell the truth where he goes to.' Lady Rosina looked up at him
with an interested air. 'He seems to be one of those idle men
who get into people's houses heaven knows why, and never do
'I suppose you asked him?' said Lady Rosina.
'The Duchess did, I dare say.'
'How odd it must be if she were to suppose that you had asked
'The Duchess, no doubt, knows all about it.' Then there was a
little pause. 'She is obliged to have all sorts of people,' said
the Duke apologetically.
'I suppose so;--when you have so many coming and going. I am
sorry to say that my time is up to-morrow, so that I shall make
way for somebody else.'
'I hope you won't think of going, Lady Rosina,--unless you are
engaged elsewhere. We are delighted to have you.'
'The Duchess has been very kind, but--'
'The Duchess, I fear, is almost to much engaged to see as much of
her guests individually as she ought to do. To me your being
here is a great pleasure.'
'You are too good to me,--much too good. But I shall have
stayed out my time, and I think, Duke, I will go to-morrow. I am
very methodical, you know, and always act by rule. I have walked
my two miles now, and I will go in. If you do want boots with
cork soles mind you go to Sprout's. Dear me, there is that Major
Pountney again. That is four times he has been up and down that
path since we have been walking here.'
Lady Rosina went in, and the Duke turned back, thinking of his
friend and perhaps thinking of the cork soles of which she had to
be so careful and which was so important to her comfort. It
could not be that he fancied Lady Rosina to be clever, nor can we
imagine that her conversation satisfied any of those wants to
which he and all of us are subject. But nevertheless he liked
Lady Rosina, and was never bored by her. She was natural, and
she wanted nothing from him. When she talked about cork soles
she meant cork soles. And then she did not tread on any of his
numerous corns. As he walked on he determined that he would
induce his wife to persuade Lady Rosina to stay a little longer
at the Castle. In meditating upon this he made another turn in
the grounds, and again came upon Major Pountney as that gentleman
was returning from the stables. 'A very cold afternoon,' he
said, feeling it to be ungracious to pass one of his own guests
in his own grounds without a word of salutation.
'Very cold indeed, your Grace,--very cold.' The Duke had
intended to pass on, but the Major managed to stop him by
standing in the pathway. The Major did not in the least know his
man. He had heard the Duke was shy, and therefore thought that
he was timid. He had not hitherto been spoken to by the Duke,--
a condition of things which he attributed to the Duke's shyness
and timidity. But, with much thought on the subject, he had
resolved that he would have a few words with his host, and had
therefore passed backwards and forwards between the house and the
stables rather frequently. 'Very cold indeed, but yet we've had
beautiful weather. I don't know when I have enjoyed myself so
much altogether as I have at Gatherum Castle.' The Duke bowed,
and made a little but a vain effort to get on. 'A splendid
pile!' said the Major, stretching his hand gracefully towards the
'It's a big house,' said the Duke.
'A noble mansion;--perhaps the noblest mansion in the three
kingdoms,' said Major Pountney. 'I have seen a great many of the
best country residences in England, but nothing that at all
equals Gatherum.' Then the Duke made a little effort at
progression, but was still stopped by the daring Major. 'By-the-
by, your Grace, if your Grace has a few minutes to spare,--just
a half a minute,--I wish you would allow me to say something.'
The Duke assumed a look of disturbance, but he bowed and walked
on, allowing the Major to walk by his side. 'I have the greatest
possible desire, my Lord Duke, to enter public life.'
'I thought you were already in the army,' said the Duke.
'So I am,--was on Sir Bartholomew Bone's staff in Canada for two
years, and have seen as much of what I call home service as any
man going. One of my chief objects is to take up the army.'
'I seems that you have taken it up.'
'I mean in Parliament, your Grace. I am very fairly off as
regards private means, and would stand all the racket of the
expense of a contest myself,--if there were one. But the
difficulty is to get a seat, and, of course, if it can be
privately managed, it is very comfortable.' The Duke looked at
him again,--this time without bowing. But the Major, who was
not observant, rushed on to his destruction. 'We all know that
Silverbridge will soon be vacant. Let me assure your Grace that
if it might be consistent with your Grace's plans in other
respects to turn your kind countenance towards me, you would find
that you have a supporter than whom none would be more staunch,
and perhaps I may say one who in the House would not be the least
useful!' That portion of the Major's speech which referred to
the Duke's kind countenance had been learned by heart, and was
thrown trippingly off the tongue with a kind of twang. The Major
perceived that he had not been at once interrupted when he began
to open the budget of political aspirations, and had allowed
himself to indulge in pleasing auguries. 'Nothing ask and
nothing have,' had been adopted as the motto of his life, and
more than once he had expressed to Captain Gunner his conviction
that,--'By George, if you've only cheek enough, there is nothing
you cannot get.' On this emergency the Major certainly was not
deficient in cheek. 'If I might be allowed to consider myself as
your Grace's candidate, I should indeed be a happy man,' said the
'I think, sir,' said the Duke, 'that your proposition is the most
unbecoming and the most impertinent that ever was addressed to
me.' The Major's mouth fell, and he stared with all his eyes as
he looked up into the Duke's face. 'Good afternoon,' said the
Duke, turning quickly round and walking away. The Major stood
for while transfixed to the place, and cold as was the weather,
was bathed in perspiration. A keen sense of having 'put his foot
in it' almost crushed him for a time. Then he assured himself
that, after all, the Duke 'could not eat him', and with that
consolatory reflection he crept back to the house and up to his
To put the man down had of course been an easy task to the Duke,
but he was not satisfied with that. To the Major it seemed that
the Duke had passed on with easy indifference,--but, in truth,
he was very far from being easy. The man's insolent request had
wounded him at many points. It was grievous to him that he
should have as a guest in his own house a man whom he had been
forced to insult. It was grievous to him that he himself should
not have been held in personal respect high enough to protect him
from such an insult. It was grievous to him that he should be
openly addressed,--addressed by an absolute stranger,--as a
boroughmongering lord, who would not scruple to give away a seat
in Parliament as seats were given away in former days. And it
was specially grievous to him that all these misfortunes should
have come upon him as part of the results of his wife's manner of
exercising his hospitality. If this was to be the Prime Minister
he certainly would not be Prime Minister much longer! Had any
aspirant to political life dared so to address Lord Brock, or
Lord de Terrier, or Mr Mildmay, the old Premiers whom he
remembered? He thought not. They had managed differently. They
had been able to defend themselves from such attacks by personal
dignity. And would it have been possible that any man should
have dared so to speak to his uncle, the late Duke? He thought
not. As he shut himself up in his own room he grieved inwardly
with a deep grief. After a while he walked off to his wife's
room, still perturbed in spirit. The perturbation had indeed
increased from minute to minute. He would rather give up
politics altogether and shut himself up in absolute seclusion
than find himself subject to the insolence of any Pountney that
might address him. With his wife he found Mrs Finn. Now for
this lady personally he entertained what for him was a warm
regard. In various matters of much importance he and she had
been brought together, and she had, to his thinking, invariably
behaved well. And an intimacy had been established which had
enabled him to be at ease with her,--so that her presence was
often a comfort to him. But at the present moment he had not
wished to find anyone with his wife, and felt that she was in his
way. 'Perhaps I am disturbing you,' he said in a tone of voice
that was solemn and almost funereal.
'Not at all,' said the Duchess, who was in high spirits. 'I want
to get your promise about Silverbridge. Don't mind her. Of
course she knows everything.' To be told that anybody knew
everything was another shock to him. 'I have just got a letter
from Mr Lopez.' Could it be right that his wife should be
corresponding on such a subject with a person so little known as
this Mr Lopez? 'May I tell him that he shall have your interest
when the seat is vacant?'
'Certainly not,' said the Duke, with a scowl that was terrible
even to his wife. 'I wish to speak to you, but I wish to speak
to you alone.'
'I beg a thousand pardons,' said Mrs Finn, preparing to go.
'Don't stir, Marie,' said the Duchess, 'he is going to be cross.'
'If Mrs Finn will allow me, with every feeling of the most
perfect respect and sincerest regard, to ask her to leave me with
you for a few minutes, I shall be obliged. And if, with her
usual hearty kindness, she will pardon my abruptness--' Then he
could not go on, his emotions being too great; but he put out his
hand, and taking hers raised it to his lips and kissed it. The
moment had become too solemn for any further hesitation as to the
lady's going. The Duchess for a moment was struck dumb, and Mrs
Finn, of course, left the room.
'Who is Major Pountney?'
'Who is Major Pountney! How on earth should I know? He is--
Major Pountney. He is about everywhere.'
'Do not let him be asked into any house of mine again. But that
is a trifle.'
'Anything about Major Pountney must, I should think, be a trifle.
Have tidings come that the heavens are going to fall? Nothing
short of that could make you so solemn.'
'In the first place, Glencora, let me ask you not to speak to me
again about the seat for Silverbridge. I am not at present
prepared to argue the matter with you, but I have resolved that,
I will know nothing about the election. As soon as the seat is
vacant, if it should be vacated, I shall take care that my
determination be known in Silverbridge.'
'Why should you abandon your privileges in that way? It is sheer
'The interference of any peer is unconstitutional.'
'There is Braxon,' said the Duchess energetically, 'where the
Marquis of Crumber returns the member regularly, in spirt of all
their Reform bills, and Bamford and Cobblesborough;--and look at
Lord Lumley with a whole county in his pocket, not to speak of
two boroughs! What nonsense, Plantagenet! Anything is
constitutional, or anything is unconstitutional, just as you
choose to look at it.' It was clear that the Duchess had really
studied the subject carefully.
'Very well, my dear, let it be nonsense. I only beg to assure
you that it is my intention, and I request you to act
accordingly. And there is another thing I have to say to you. I
shall be sorry to interfere in any way with the pleasure which
you may derive from society, but as long as I am burdened with
the office which has been imposed upon me, I will not again
entertain any guests in my own house.'
'You cannot turn the people out who are here now; but I beg that
they may be allowed to go when the time comes, and that their
place may not be filled by further invitations.'
'But further invitations have gone out ever so long ago, and have
been accepted. You must be ill, dear.'
'Ill at ease,--yes. At any rate let none others be sent out.'
Then he remembered a kindly purpose, which he had formed early in
the day, and fell back on that. 'I should, however, be glad if
you would ask Lady Rosina De Courcy to remain here.' The Duchess
stared at him, really thinking now that something was amiss with
him. 'The whole thing is a failure and I will have no more of
it. It is degrading me.' Then without allowing her a moment in
which to answer him, he marched back to his own room.
But even here his spirit was not as yet at rest. That Major must
not go unpunished. Though he hated all fuss and noise he must do
something. So he wrote as follows to the Major:
The Duke of Omnium trusts that Major Pountney will not
find it inconvenient to leave Gatherum Castle shortly.
Should Major Pountney wish to remain at the Castle over
the night, the Duke of Omnium hopes that he will not
object to be served with his dinner and with his
breakfast in his own room. A carriage with horses will
be ready for Major Pountney's use, to take him to
Silverbridge, as soon as Major Pountney may express to
the servants his wish to that effect.
Gatherum Castle,--December, 18--
This note the Duke sent by the hands of his own servant, having
said enough to the man as to the carriage and the possible dinner
in the Major's bedroom, to make the man understand almost exactly
what had occurred. A note from the Major was brought to the Duke
while he was dressing. The Duke having glanced at the note threw
it into the fire; and the Major that evening ate his dinner at
the Palliser's Arms Inn at Silverbridge.
THE DUCHESS'S MIND IS TROUBLED.
It is hardly possible that one man should turn another out of his
house without any people knowing it, and when the one person is a
Prime Minister and the other such as Major Pountney, the affair
is likely to be talked about very widely. The Duke of course
never opened his mouth on the subject, except in answer to
questions from the Duchess; but all the servants knew it.
'Pritchard tells me you have sent that wretched man out of the
house with a flea in his ear,' said the Duchess.
'I sent him out of the house, certainly.'
'He was hardly worth your anger.'
'He is not at all worth my anger;--but I could not sit down to
dinner with a man who insulted me.'
'What did he say, Plantagenet? I know it was something about
Silverbridge.' To this question the Duke gave no answer, but in
respect to Silverbridge he was stern as adamant. Two days after
the departure of the Major it was known in Silverbridge generally
that in the event of there being an election the Duke's agent
would not as usual suggest a nominee. There was a paragraph on
the subject in the County paper, and another in the London
"Evening Pulpit". The Duke of Omnium,--that he might show his
respect to the law, not only as to the letter of the law, but as
to the spirit also,--had made it known to his tenantry in and
round Silverbridge generally that he would in no way influence
their choice of candidate in the event of an election. But these
newspapers did not say a word about Major Pountney.
The clubs of course knew all about it, and no man at any club
ever knew more than Captain Gunner. Soon after Christmas he met
his friend the Major on the steps of the new military club, The
Active Service, which was declared by many men in the army to
have left all the other military clubs 'absolutely nowhere'.
'Halloa, Punt!' he said, 'you seem to have made a mess of it at
last down at the Duchess's.'
'I wonder what you know about it.'
'You had to come away pretty quick, I take it.'
'Of course I came away pretty quick.' So much as that the Major
was aware must be known. There were details which he could deny
safely, as it would be impossible that they should be supported
by evidence, but there were matters which must be admitted.
'I'll bet a fiver that beyond that you know nothing about it.'
'The Duke ordered you off, I take it.'
'After a fashion he did. There are circumstances in which a man
cannot help himself.' This was diplomatical because it left the
Captain to suppose that the Duke was the man who could not help
'Of course I was not there,' said Gunner, 'and I can't absolutely
know, but I suppose you had been interfering with the Duchess
about Silverbridge. Glencora will bear a great deal,--but since
she has taken up politics, by George, you had better not touch
her there.' At last it came to be believed that the Major had
been turned out by the order of the Duchess because he had
ventured to put himself forward as an opponent to Ferdinand
Lopez, and the Major felt himself really grateful to his friend
the Captain for this arrangement of the story. And there came at
last to be mixed up with the story some half-understood innuendo
that the Major's jealousy against Lopez had been of a double
nature,--in reference both to the Duchess and the borough,--so
that he escaped from much of that disgrace which naturally
attracts itself to a man who has been kicked out of another man's
house. There was a mystery;--and when there is a mystery a man
should never be condemned. Where there is a woman in the case a
man cannot be expected to tell the truth. As for calling out or
in any punishing the Prime Minister, that of course was out of
the question. And so it went on till at last the Major was
almost proud of what he had done, and talked about it willingly
with mysterious hints, in which practice made him perfect.
But with the Duchess the affair was very serious, so much so that
she was driven to call in for advice,--not only from her
constant friend, Mrs Finn, but afterwards from Barrington Erle,
from Phineas Finn, and lastly even from the Duke of St Bungay, to
whom she was hardly willing to subject herself, the Duke being
the special friend of her husband. But the matter became so
important to her that she was unable to trifle with it. At
Gatherum the expulsion of Major Pountney soon became a forgotten
affair. When the Duchess learned the truth she quite approved of
the expulsion, only hinting to Barrington Erle that the act of
kicking out should have been more absolutely practical. And the
loss of Silverbridge, though it hurt her sorely, could be
endured. She must write to her friend Ferdinand Lopez, when the
time should come, excusing herself as best she might, and must
lose the exquisite delight of making a Member of Parliament out
of her own hand. The newspapers, however, had taken that matter
up in the proper spirit, and political capital might to some
extent be made of it. The loss of Silverbridge, though it
bruised, broke no bones. But the Duke again expressed himself
with unusual sternness respecting her ducal hospitalities, and
had reiterated the declaration of his intention to live out the
remainder of his period of office in republican simplicity. 'We
have tried it and it has failed, and let there be an end of it,'
he said to her. Simple and direct disobedience to such an order
was as little in her way as simple or direct obedience. She knew
her husband well, and knew how he could be managed and how he
could not be managed. When he declared that there should be 'an
end of it',--meaning an end of the very system by which she
hoped to perpetuate his power,--she did not dare argue with him.
And yet he was so wrong! The trial had been no failure. The
thing had been done and well done, and had succeeded. Was
failure to be presumed because one impertinent puppy had found
his way into the house? And then to abandon the system at once,
whether it had failed or whether it had succeeded, would be to
call the attention of all the world to an acknowledged failure,--
to a failure so disreputable that its acknowledgement must lead
to the loss of everything! It was known now,--so argued the
Duchess to herself,--that she had devoted herself to the work of
cementing and consolidating the Coalition by the graceful
hospitality which the wealth of herself and her husband enabled
her to dispense. She had made herself a Prime Ministress by the
manner in which she opened her saloons, her banqueting halls, and
her gardens. It had never been done before, and now it had been
well done. There had been no failure. And yet everything was to
be broken down because his nerves had received a shock!
'Let it die out,' Mrs Finn had said. 'The people will come here
and will go away, and then, when you are up in London, you will
soon fall into your old ways.' But this did not suit the new
ambition of the Duchess. She had so fed her mind with daring
hopes that she could not bear that it 'should die out'. She had
arranged a course of things in her own mind by which she should
come to be known as the great Prime Minister's wife, and she had,
perhaps unconsciously, applied the epithet more to herself than
to her husband. She, too, wished to be written of in memoirs,
and to make a niche for herself in history. And now she was told
that she was to let it 'die out'.
'I suppose he is a little bilious,' Barrington Erle had said.
'Don't you think he'll forget about it when he gets up to
London?' The Duchess was sure that her husband would not forget
anything. He never did forget anything. 'I want him to be
told,' said the Duchess, 'that everybody thinks he is doing very
well. I don't mean about politics exactly, but as to keeping the
party together. Don't you think that we have succeeded?'
Barrington Erle thought upon the whole they had succeeded; but
suggested at the same time that there were seeds of weakness.
'Sir Orlando and Sir Timothy Beeswax are not sound, you know,'
said Barrington Erle. 'He can't make them sounder by shutting
himself up like a hermit,' said the Duchess. Barrington Erle,
who had peculiar privileges of his own, promised that if he could
by any means make an occasion, he would let the Duke know that
their side of the Coalition was more than contented with the way
in which he did his work.
'You don't think we've made a mess of it?' said the Duchess to
Phineas, asking him a question. 'I don't think that the Duke has
made a mess of it,--or you,' said Phineas, who had come to love
the Duchess because his wife loved her. 'But it won't go on for
ever, Duchess.' 'You know what I have done,' said the Duchess,
who took it for granted that Mr Finn knew all that his wife knew.
'Has it answered?' Phineas was silent for a moment. 'Of course
you will tell me the truth. You won't be so bad as to flatter me
now that I am much in earnest.' 'I almost think,' said Phineas,
'that the time has gone by for what one may call drawing-room
influences. They used to be very great. Old Lord Brock used
them extensively, though by no means as your Grace has done. But
the spirit of the world has changed since then.' 'The spirit of
the world never changes,' said the Duchess in her soreness.
But her strongest dependence was on the old Duke. The party of
the Castle was almost broken up when she consulted him. She had
been so far true to her husband as not to ask another guest to
the house since his command;--but they who had been asked before
came and went as had been arranged. Then, when the place was
nearly empty, and when Locock and Millepois and Pritchard were
wondering among themselves at this general collapse, she asked
her husband's leave to invite their old friend again for a day or
two. 'I do so want to see him, and I think he'll come,' said the
Duchess. The Duke gave his permission with a ready smile,--not
because the proposed visitor was his own confidential friend, but
because it suited his spirit to grant such a request as to anyone
after the order that he had given. Had she named Major Pountney,
I think he would have smiled and acceded.
The Duke came, and to him she poured out her whole soul. 'It has
been for him and for his honour that I have done it;--that men
and women might know how really gracious he is, and how good. Of
course, there has been money spent, but he can afford it without
hurting the children. It has been so necessary that with a
Coalition people should know each other! There was some absurd
little row here. A man who was a mere nobody, one of the
travelling butterfly men that fill up spaces and talk to girls,
got hold of him and was impertinent. He is so thin-skinned that
he could not shake the creature into the dust as you would have
done. It annoyed him,--that, and I think, seeing so many
strange faces,--so that he came to me and declared that as long
as he remained in office he would not have another person in the
house, either here or in London. He meant it literally, and he
meant me to understand it literally. I had to get special leave
before I could ask so dear an old friend as your Grace.'
'I don't think he would object to me,' said the Duke, laughing.
'Of course not. He was only too glad to think you would come.
But he took the request as being quite the proper thing. It will
kill me if this is to be carried out. After all that I have
done, I could show myself nowhere. And it will be so injurious
to him! Could you not tell him, Duke? No one else in the world
can tell him but you. Nothing unfair has been attempted. No job
has been done. I have endeavoured to make his house pleasant to
people, in order that they might look upon him with grace and
favour. Is that wrong? Is that unbecoming in a wife?'
The old Duke patted her on the head as though she were a little
girl, and was more comforting to her than her other counsellors.
He would say nothing to her husband now;--but they must both be
up in London at the meeting of Parliament, and then he would tell
his friend that, in his opinion, no sudden change should be made.
'This husband of yours is a very peculiar man,' he said smiling.
'His honesty is not like the honesty of other men. It is more
downright;--more absolutely honest; less capable of bearing even
the shadow which the stain from another's dishonesty might throw
upon it. Give him credit for all that, and remember that you
cannot find everything combined in the same person. He is very
practical in some things, but the question is whether he is not
too scrupulous to be practical in all things.' At the close of
the interview the Duchess kissed him and promised to be guided by
him. The occurrences of the last few weeks had softened the
THE TWO CANDIDATES FOR SILVERBRIDGE.
On his arrival in London Ferdinand Lopez found a letter waiting
for him from the Duchess. This came into his hand immediately on
his reaching the rooms at Belgrave Mansions and was of course the
first object of his care. 'That contains my fate,' he said to
his wife, putting his hand down upon the letter. He had talked
to her much of the chance that had come in his way, and had shown
himself to be very ambitious of the honour offered to him. She
of course had sympathized with him, and was willing to think all
good things both of the Duchess and the Duke, if they would
between them put her husband into Parliament. He paused a moment
still holding the letter under his hand. 'You would hardly think
that I should be such a coward that I don't like to open it,' he
'You've got to do it.'
'Unless I make you do it for me,' he said, holding out the letter
to her. 'You will have to learn how weak I am. When I am really
anxious I become like a child.'
'I do not think you are ever weak,' she said, caressing him. 'If
there were a thing to be done you would do it at once. But I'll
open it if you like.' Then he tore off the envelope with an air
of comic importance, and stood for a few minutes while he read
'What I first perceive is that there has been a row about it,' he
'A row about it! What sort of row?'
'My dear friend the Duchess has not quite hit it off with my less
dear friend the Duke.'
'She does not say so?'
Oh dear no! My friend the Duchess is much too discreet for that;
--but I can see that it has been so.'
'Are you to be the new member? If that is arranged I don't care
a bit about the Duke and Duchess.'
'These things do not settle themselves quite so easily as that.
I am not to have the seat at any rate without fighting for it.
There's the letter.'
The Duchess's letter to her new adherent shall be given, but it
must first be understood that many different ideas had passed
through the writer's mind between the writing of the letter and
the order given by the Prime Minister to his wife concerning the
borough. She of course became aware at once that Mr Lopez must
be informed that she could not do for him what she had suggested
that she would do. But there was no necessity of writing at the
instant. Mr Grey had not yet vacated the seat, and Mr Lopez was
away on his travels. The month of January was passed in
comparative quiet at the Castle, and during that time it became
known at Silverbridge that the election would be open. The Duke
would not even make a suggestion, and would neither express, nor
feel, resentment should a member be returned altogether hostile
to his Ministry. By degrees the Duchess accustomed herself to
this condition of affairs, and as the consternation caused by her
husband's very imperious conduct wore off, she began to ask
herself whether even yet she need not quite give up the game.
She could not make a Member of Parliament altogether out of her
own hand, as she had once fondly hoped she might do; but still
she might do something. She would in nothing disobey her
husband, but if Mr Lopez were to stand for Silverbridge, it could
not but be known in the borough that Mr Lopez was her friend.
Therefore she wrote the following letter:
MY DEAR MR LOPEZ,
I remember that you said that you would be at home at
this time, and therefore I write to you about the
borough. Things are changed since you went away, and I
fear, not changed for your advantage.
We understand that Mr Grey will apply for the Chiltern
Hundreds at the end of March, and that the election will
take place in April. No candidates will appear as
favoured from hence. We need to run a favourite, and our
favourite would sometimes win,--would sometimes even
have a walk over, but good times are gone. All the good
times are going, I think. There is no reason that I know
why you should not stand as well as anyone else. You can
be early in the field;--because it is only now known
that there will be no Gatherum interest. And I fancy it
has already leaked out that you would have been the
favourite had there been a favourite;--which might be
I need hardly say that I do not wish my name to be
mentioned in the matter.
Sprugeon, the ironmonger, would I do not doubt, be proud
to nominate you.
'I don't understand much about it,' said Emily.
'I dare say not. It is not meant that any novice should
understand much about it. Of course you will not mention her
'She intends to do the very best she can for me. I have no doubt
that some understrapper from the Castle has had some
communication with Mr Sprugeon. The fact is that the Duke won't
be seen in it, but that the Duchess does not mean that the
borough shall quite slip through their fingers.'
'Shall you try it?'
'If I do I must send an agent down to see Mr Sprugeon on the sly,
and the sooner I do the better. I wonder what your father will
say about it.'
'He is an old Conservative.'
'But would he not like his son-in-law to be in Parliament?'
'I don't know that he would care about it very much. He seems
always to laugh at people who want to get into Parliament. But
if you have set your heart upon it, Ferdinand--'
'I have not set my heart on spending a great deal of money. When
I first thought of Silverbridge the expense would have been
almost nothing. It would have been a walk over, as the Duchess
calls it. But now there will certainly be a contest.'
'Give it up if you cannot afford it.'
'Nothing venture nothing have. You don't think your father would
help me doing it? It would add almost as much to your position
as to mine.' Emily shook her head. She had always heard her
father ridicule the folly of men who spent more than they could
afford in the vanity of writing two letters after their name, and
she now explained that it had always been so with him. 'You
would not mind asking him,' he said.
'I will ask him if you wish it, certainly.' Ever since their
marriage he had been teaching her,--intentionally teaching her,
--that it would be the duty of both of them to get all they could
from her father. She had learned the lesson, but it had been
very distasteful to her. It had not induced her to think ill of
her husband. She was too much engrossed with him, too much in
love with him for that. But she was beginning to feel that the
world in general was hard and greedy and uncomfortable. If it
was proper that a father should give his daughter money when she
was married, why did not her father do so without being asked?
And yet, if he were unwilling to do so, would it not be better to
leave him to his pleasure in the matter? But now she began to
perceive that her father was to be regarded as a milch cow, and
that she was to be the dairy-maid. Her husband at times would
become terribly anxious on the subject. On receiving the promise
of 3,000 pounds he had been elated, but since that he had
continually talked of what more her father ought to do for them.
'Perhaps I had better take the bull by the horns,' he said, 'and
do it myself. Then I shall find out whether he really has our
interest at heart, or whether he looks on you as a stranger
because you've gone away from him.'
'I don't think he will look upon me as a stranger.'
'We'll see,' said Lopez.
It was not long before he made the experiment. He had called
himself a coward as to the opening of the Duchess's letter, but
he had in truth always courage for perils of this nature. On
the day of their arrival they dined with Mr Wharton in Manchester
Square, and certainly the old man had received his daughter with
great delight. He had been courteous to Lopez, and Emily, amidst
the pleasure of his welcome, had forgotten some of her troubles.
The three were alone together, and when Emily had asked after her
brother, Mr Wharton had laughed and said that Everett was an ass.
'You have quarrelled with him?' she said. He ridiculed the idea
of any quarrel, but again said Everett was an ass.
After dinner Mr Wharton and Lopez were left together, as the old
man, whether alone or in company, always sat for half an hour
sipping port wine after the manner of his forefathers. Lopez had
already determined that he would not let the opportunity escape
him, and began his attack at once. 'I have been invited, sir,'
he said with his sweetest smile, 'to stand for Silverbridge.'
'You too?' said Mr Wharton. But though there was a certain
amount of satire in the exclamation, it had been good-humoured
'Yes sir. We all get bit sooner or later, I suppose.'
'I never was bit.'
'Your sagacity and philosophy have been the wonder of the world,
sir. There can be no doubt that in my profession a seat in the
House would be of the greatest possible advantage to me. It
enables a man to do a great many things which he could not touch
'It may be so. I don't know anything about it.'
'And then it is a great honour.'
'That depends on how you get it, and how you use it,--very much
also on whether you are fit for it.'
'I shall get it honestly if I do get it. I hope I may use it
well. And as for my fitness, I must leave that to be ascertained
when I am there. I am sorry to say there will probably be a
'I suppose so. A seat in Parliament without a contest does not
drop into every young man's mouth.'
'It very nearly dropped into mine.' Then he told his father-in-
law almost all the particulars of the offer which had been made
to him, and of the manner in which the seat was now suggested to
him. He somewhat hesitated in the use of the name of the
Duchess, leaving an impression on Mr Wharton that the offer had
in truth come from the Duke. 'Should there be a contest, would
you help me?'
'In what way? I could not canvass at Silverbridge, if you mean
'I was not thinking of giving you personal trouble.'
'I don't know a soul in the place. I shouldn't know that there
was such a place except that it returns members of Parliament.'
'I meant with money, sir.'
'To pay the election bills! No, certainly not. Why should I?'
'For Emily's sake.'
'I don't think it would do Emily any good, or you either. It
would certainly do me none. It is a kind of luxury that a man
should not attempt unless he can afford it easily.'
'Yes, a luxury; just as much as a four-in-hand coach, or a yacht.
Men go into Parliament because it gives them fashion, position,
'I should go to serve my country.'
'Success in your profession I thought you said was your object.
Of course you must go as you please. If you ask me my advice, I
advise you not to try it. But certainly I will not help you with
money. That ass Everett is quarrelling with me at this moment
because I won't give him money to go and stand somewhere.'
'Not at Silverbridge?'
'I'm sure I can't say. But don't let me do him an injury. To
give him his due, he is more reasonable than you, and only wants
a promise from me that I will pay his electioneering bills for
him at the next general election. I have refused him,--though
for reasons which I need not mention I think him better fitted
for Parliament than you. I must certainly also refuse you. I
cannot imagine any circumstances which would induce me to pay a
shilling towards getting you into Parliament. If you won't drink
any more wine, we'll join Emily upstairs.'
This had been very plain speaking, and by no means comfortable to
Lopez. What of personal discourtesy there had been in the
lawyer's words,--and they had certainly not been flattering,--
he could throw off from him as meaning nothing. As he could not
afford to quarrel with his father-in-law, he thought it probable
that he might have to bear a good deal of incivility from the old
man. He was quite prepared to bear it as long as he could see a
chance of a reward;--though, should there be no such chance, he
would be ready to avenge it. But there had been a decision in
the present refusal which made him quite sure that it would be
vain to repeat his request. 'I shall find out, sir,' he said,
'whether it may probably be a costly affair, and if so I shall
give up. You are rather hard upon me as to my motives.'
'I only repeated what you told me yourself.'
'I am quite sure of my own intentions, and know that I need not
be ashamed of them.'
'Not if you have plenty of money. It all depends on that. If
you have plenty of money, and your fancy goes that way, it is all
very well. Come, we'll go upstairs.'
The next day he saw Everett Wharton, who welcomed him back with
warm affection. 'He'll do nothing for me;--nothing at all. I
am almost beginning to doubt whether he'll ever speak to me
'I tell you everything, you know,' said Everett. 'In January I
lost a little money at whist. They got plunging at the club, and
I was in it. I had to tell him, of course. He keeps me so short
that I can't stand any blow without going to him like a school-
'Was it much?'
'No;--to him no more than half-a-crown to you. I had to ask him
for a hundred and fifty.'
'He refused it!'
'No;--he didn't do that. Had it been ten times as much, if I
owed the money, he would pay it. But he blew me up, and talked
'I should have taken that as a matter of course.'
'But I'm not a gambler. A man now and then may fall into a thing
of that kind, and if he's decently well off and don't do it
often, he can bear it.'
'I thought your quarrel had been altogether about Parliament.'
'Oh no! He has been always the same about that. He told me that
I was going head foremost to the dogs, and I couldn't stand that.
I shouldn't be surprised if he hasn't lost more at cards than I
have during the last two years.' Lopez made an offer to act as
go-between, to effect a reconciliation; but Everett declined the
offer. 'It would be making too much of an absurdity,' he said.
'When he wants to see me, I suppose he'll send for me.'
Lopez did dispatch an agent down to Mr Sprugeon at Silverbridge,
and the agent found that Mr Sprugeon was a very discreet man. Mr
Sprugeon at first knew little or nothing,--seemed hardly to be
aware that there was a member of Parliament for Silverbridge, and
declared himself to be indifferent as to the parliamentary
character of the borough. But at last he melted a little, and by
degrees, over a glass of hot brandy-and-water with the agent at
the Palliser Arms, confessed to a shade of opinion that the
return of Mr Lopez for the borough would not be disagreeable to
some person or persons who did not live quite a hundred miles
away. The instructions given by Lopez to his agent were of the
most cautious kind. The agent was merely to feel the ground,
make a few inquiries, and do nothing. His client did not intend
to stand unless he could see the way to almost certain success
with very little outlay. But the agent, perhaps liking his job,
did a little outstep his employer's orders. Mr Sprugeon, when
the frost of his first modesty had been thawed, introduced the
agent to Mr Sprout, the maker of cork soles, and Mr Sprugeon and
Mr Sprout between them had soon decided that Mr Ferdinand Lopez
should be run for the borough as the 'Castle' candidate. 'The
Duke won't interfere,' said Sprugeon; 'and, of course, the Duke's
man of business can't do anything openly;--but the Duke's people
will know.' Then Mr Sprout told the agent that there was already
another candidate in the field, and in a whisper communicated the
gentleman's name. When the agent got back to London, he gave
Lopez to understand that he must certainly put himself forward.
The borough expected him. Sprugeon and Sprout considered
themselves pledged to bring him forward and support him,--on
behalf of the Castle. Sprugeon was quite sure that the Castle
influence was predominant. The Duke's name had never been
mentioned at Silverbridge,--hardly even that of the Duchess.
Since the Duke's declaration 'The Castle' had taken the part
which the old Duke used to play. The agent was quite sure that
no one would get in for Silverbridge without having the Castle on
His side. No doubt the Duke's declaration had the ill effect of
bringing in a competitor, and thus of causing expense. That
could not be helped. The agent was of the opinion that the Duke
had no alternative. The agent hinted that times were changing,
and that though dukes were still dukes, and could still exercise
ducal influences, they were driven by these changes to act in an
altered form. The proclamation had been especially necessary
because the Duke was Prime Minister. The agent did not think
that Mr Lopez should be in the least angry with the Duke.
Everything would be done that the Castle could do, and Lopez
would be no doubt returned,--though, unfortunately, not without
some expense. How would it cost? Any accurate answer to such a
question would be impossible, but probably about 600 pounds. It
might be 800 pounds;--could not possibly be above 1,000 pounds.
Lopez winced as he heard these sums named, but he did not decline
Then the name of the opposition candidate was whispered to Lopez.
It was Arthur Fletcher! Lopez started, and asked some question
as to Mr Fletcher's interest in the neighbourhood. The Fletchers
were connected with the De Courcys, and as soon as the
declaration of the Duke had been made known, the De Courcy
interest had aroused itself, and had invited that rising young
barrister, Arthur Fletcher, to stand for the borough on strictly
conservative views. Arthur Fletcher had acceded, and a printed
declaration of his purpose and political principles had been just
published. 'I have beaten him once,' said Lopez to himself, 'and
I think I can beat him again.'
'So you went to Happerton after all,' said Lopez to his ally, Mr
Sextus Parker. 'You couldn't believe me when I told you the
money was all right! What a cur you are!'
'That's right;--abuse me.'
'Well, it was horrid. Didn't I tell you that it must necessarily
injure me with the house? How are two fellows to get on together
unless they can put some trust in each other? Even if I did run
you into a difficulty, do you really think I'm ruffian enough to
tell you that the money was there if it was untrue?'
Sexty looked like a cur and felt like a cur, as he was being thus
abused. He was not angry with his friend for calling him bad
names, but only anxious to excuse himself. 'I was out of sorts,'
he said, 'and so d-d hippish. I didn't know what I was about.'
'Brandy-and-soda,' suggested Lopez.
'Perhaps a little of that;--though, by Jove, it isn't often I do
that kind of thing. I don't know a fellow who works harder for
his wife and children than I do. But when one sees such things
all round one,--a fellow utterly smashed here who had a string
of hunters yesterday, and another fellow buying a house in
Piccadilly and pulling it down because it isn't big enough, who
was contented with a little box in Hornsey last summer, one
doesn't quite know how to keep one's legs.'
'If you want to learn a lesson look at the two men, and see where
the difference lies. The one has had some heart about him, and
the other has been a coward.'
Parker scratched his head, balanced himself on the hind legs of
his stool, and tacitly acknowledged the truth of all that his
enterprising friend had said to him. 'Has old Wharton come down
well?' at last he asked.
'I have never said a word to old Wharton about money,' Lopez
replied,--'except as the cost of this election I was telling you
'And he wouldn't do anything in that?'
'He doesn't approve of the thing itself. I don't doubt but that
the old gentleman and I shall understand each other before long.'
'You've got the length of his foot.'
'But I don't mean to drive him. I can get along without that.
He's an old man, and he can't take his money along with him when
he goes the great journey.'
'There's a brother, Lopez,--isn't there?'
'Yes,--there's a brother; but Wharton has enough for two, and if
he were to put either out of his will it wouldn't be my wife.
Old men don't like parting with their money, and he's like other
old men. If it were not so I shouldn't bother myself coming into
the city at all.'
'Has he enough for that, Lopez?'
'I suppose he's worth a quarter of a million.'
'By Jove! And where did he get it?'
'Perseverance, sir. Put by a shilling a day, and let it have its
natural increase, and see what it will come to at the end of
fifty years. I suppose old Wharton has been putting two or three
thousand out of his professional income, at any rate for the last
thirty years, and never for a moment forgetting its natural
increase. That's one way to make a fortune.'
'It ain't rapid enough for you and me, Lopez.'
'No. That is the old-fashioned way, and the most sure. But, as
you say, it is not rapid enough; and it robs a man of the power
of enjoying his money when he has made it. But it's a very good
thing to be closely connected with a man who has already done
that kind of thing. There's not doubt about the money when it is
there. It does not take to itself wings and fly away.'
'But the man who has it sticks to it uncommon hard.'
'Of course he does;--but he can't take it away with him.'
'He can leave it to hospitals, Lopez. That's the devil.'
'Sexty, my boy, I see you have taken an outlook into human life
which does you credit. Yes, he can leave it to hospitals. But
why does he leave it to hospitals?'
'Something of being afraid about his soul, I suppose.'
'No; I don't believe in that. Such a man as this, who has been
hard-fisted all his life, and who has had his eyes thoroughly
open, who has made his own money in the sharp intercourse of man
to man, and who keeps it to the last gasp,--he doesn't believe
that he'll do his soul any good by giving it to hospitals when he
can't keep it himself any longer. His mind has freed itself from
those cobwebs long since. He gives his money to hospitals
because the last pleasure of which he is capable is that of
spitting his relations. And it is a great pleasure to an old
man, when his relations have been disgusted with him for being
old and loving his money. I rather think I should do it myself.'
'I'd give myself a chance of going to heaven, I think,' said
'Don't you know that men will rob and cheat on their death-beds,
and say their prayers all the time? Old Wharton won't leave his
money to hospitals if he's well handled by those about him.'
'And you'll handle him well;--eh, Lopez?'
'I won't quarrel with him, or tell him that he's a curmudgeon
because he doesn't do all that I want him. He's over seventy,
and he can't carry his money with him.'
All this left so vivid an impression of the wisdom of his friend
on the mind of Sextus Parker, that in spite of the harrowing
fears by which he had been tormented on more than one occasion
already, he allowed himself to be persuaded into certain fiscal
arrangements, by which Lopez would find himself put at ease with
reference to money at any rate for the next four months. He had
at once told himself that this election would cost him 1,000
pounds. When various sums were mentioned in reference to such an
affair, safety alone could be found in taking the outside sum;--
perhaps might generally be more securely found by adding fifty
per cent to that. He knew that he was wrong about the election,
but he assured himself that he had had no alternative. The
misfortune had been that the Duke should have made his
proclamation about the borough immediately after the offer made
by the Duchess. He had been almost forced to send the agent down
to inquire;--and the agent, when making his inquiries, had
compromised him. He must go on with it now. Perhaps some idea
of the pleasantness of increased intimacy with the Duchess of
Omnium encouraged him in his way of thinking. The Duchess was up
in town in February, and Lopez left a card in Carlton Terrace.
On the very next day the card of the Duchess was left for Mrs
Lopez at the Belgrave Mansions.
Lopez went into the city every day, leaving home at about eleven
o'clock, and not returning much before dinner. The young wife at
first found that she hardly knew what to do with her time. Her
aunt, Mrs Roby, was distasteful to her. She had already learned
from her husband that he had but little respect for Mrs Roby.
'You remember the sapphire brooch,' he said once. 'That was part
of the price I had to pay for being allowed to approach you.' He
was sitting at the time with his hand round her waist, looking
out on the beautiful scenery and talking of his old difficulties.
She could not find it in her heart to be angry with him, but the
idea brought to her mind was disagreeable to her. And she was
thoroughly angry with Mrs Roby. Of course in these days Mrs Roby.
came to see her, and of course when she was up in Manchester
Square, she went to the house round the corner,--but there was
no close intimacy between the aunt and the niece. And many of
her father's friends,--whom she regarded as the Hertfordshire
set,--were very cold to her. She had not made herself a glory
to Hertfordshire, and,--as all these people said,--had broken
the heart of the best Hertfordshire young man of the day. This
made a great falling-off in her acquaintance, which was the more
felt as she had never been, as a girl, devoted to a large circle
of dearest female friends. She whom she had loved best had been
Mary Wharton, and Mary Wharton had refused to be her bridesmaid
almost without an expression of regret. She saw her father
occasionally. Once he came and dined with them at their rooms,
on which occasion Lopez struggled hard to make up a well-sounding
party. There were Roby from the Admiralty, and the Happertons,
and Sir Timothy Beeswax, with whom Lopez had become acquainted at
Gatherum, and old Lord Mongrober. But the barrister, who had
dined out a good deal in his time, perceived the effort. Who,
that ever with difficulty scraped his dinner guests together, was
able afterwards to obliterate the signs of the struggle? It was,
however, a first attempt, and Lopez, whose courage was good,
thought that he might do better before long. If he could get
into the House and make his mark there people then would dine
with him fast enough. But while that was going on Emily's life
was rather dull. He had provided her with a brougham, and
everything around her was even luxurious, but there came upon her
gradually a feeling that by her marriage she had divided herself
from her own people. She did not for a moment allow this feeling
to interfere with her loyalty to him. Had she not known that
this division would surely take place? Had she not married him
because she loved him better than her own people? So she sat
herself down to read Dante,--for they had studied Italian
together during their honeymoon, and she found that he knew the
language well. And she was busy with her needle. And she
already began to anticipate the happiness which would come to her
when a child of his should be lying in her arms.
She was of course much interested about the election. Nothing
could as yet be done, because as yet there was no vacancy; but
still the subject was discussed daily between them. 'Who do you
think is going to stand against me?' he said one day with a
smile. 'A very old friend of yours.' She knew at once who the
man was and the blood came to her face. 'I think he might as
well have left it alone, you know,' he said.
'Did he know?' she asked in a whisper.
'Know;--of course he knew. He is doing it on purpose. But I
beat him once, old girl, didn't I? And I'll beat him again.'
She liked him to call her old girl. She loved the perfect
intimacy with which he treated her. But there was something
which grated against her feelings in the allusion by him to the
other man who had loved her. Of course she had told him the whole
story. She had conceived it to be her duty to do so. But then
the thing should have been over. It was necessary, perhaps, that
he should tell her who was his opponent. It was impossible that
she should not know when the fight came. But she did not like to
hear that he had beaten Arthur Fletcher once, and that he would
beat him again. By doing so he likened the sweet fragrance of
her love to the dirty turmoil of an electioneering contest.
He did not understand--how could he?--that though she had never
loved Arthur Fletcher, had never been able to bring herself to
love him when all her friends had wished it, her feelings to him
were nevertheless those of affectionate friendship;--that she
regarded him as being perfect in his way, a thorough gentleman, a
man who would not for worlds tell a lie, as most generous among
the generous, most noble among the noble. When the other
Whartons had thrown her off, he had not been cold to her. That
very day, as soon as her husband had left her, she looked again
at that little note. 'I am as I always have been!' And she
remembered that farewell down by the banks of the Wye. 'You will
always have one,--one besides him,--who will love you best in
the world.' They were dangerous words for her to remember; but
in recalling them to her memory she had often assured herself
that they should not be dangerous to her. She had loved the one
man and had not loved the other;--but yet, now when her husband
talked of beating him again, she could not but remember his
She did not think,--or rather had not thought,--that Arthur
Fletcher would willingly stand against her husband. It had
occurred to her at once that he must first have become a
candidate without knowing who would be his opponent. But
Ferdinand had assured her as a matter of fact that Fletcher had
known all about it. 'I suppose in politics men are different,'
she said to herself. Her husband had evidently supposed that
Arthur Fletcher had proposed himself as a candidate for
Silverbridge, with the express object of doing an injury to the
man who had carried off his love. And she repeated to herself
her husband's words, 'He's doing it on purpose.' She did not
like to differ from her husband, but she could hardly bring
herself to believe that revenge of this kind should have
recommended itself to Arthur Fletcher.
Some little time after this, when she had settled in London,
above a month, a letter was brought to her, and she at once
recognized Arthur Fletcher's writing. She was alone at the time,
and it occurred to her at first that perhaps she ought not to
open any communication from him without showing it to her
husband. But then it seemed that such a hesitation would imply a
doubt of the man, and almost a doubt of herself. Why should she
fear what any man might write to her? So she opened the letter,
and read it,--with infinite pleasure. It was as follows:
DEAR Mrs LOPEZ,
I think it best to make an explanation to you as to a
certain coincidence which might possibly be misunderstood
unless explained. I find that your husband and I are
opponents at Silverbridge. I wish to say that I had
pledged myself to the borough before I had heard his name
as connected with it. I have very old associations with
the neighbourhood, and was invited to stand by friends
who had known me all my life as soon as it was understood
that there would be an open contest. I cannot retire now
without breaking faith with my party, nor do I know that
there is a reason why I should do so. I should not,
however, have come forward had I known that Mr Lopez was
to stand. I think you had better tell him so, and tell
him also, with my compliments, that I hope we may fight
our political battle with mutual good-fellowship and good
Yours very sincerely,
Emily was very much pleased by this letter, and yet she wept over
it. She felt that she understood accurately all the motives that
were at work within the man's breast when he was writing it. As
to its truth,--of course the letter was gospel to her. Oh,--if
the man could become her husband's friend how sweet it would be!
Of course she wished, thoroughly wished, that her husband should
succeed at Silverbridge. But she could understand that such a
contest as this might be carried out without personal animosity.
The letter was so like Arthur Fletcher,--so good, so noble, so
generous, so true! The moment her husband came in she showed it
to him with delight. 'I was sure,' she said as he was reading
the letter, 'that he had not known you were to stand.'
'He knew it as well as I did,' he replied, and as he spoke there
came a dark scowl across his brow. 'His writing to you is a
piece of infernal impudence.'
'You don't understand, but I do. He deserves to be horsewhipped
for daring to write to you, and if I come across him he shall
'Oh;--for heaven's sake.'
'A man who was your rejected lover,--who has been trying to
marry you for the last two years, presuming to commence a
correspondence with you without your husband's sanction!'
'He meant you to see it. He says I'm to tell you.'
'Psha! That is simple cowardice. He meant you not to tell me;
and then when you answered him without telling me, he would have
had the whip-hand of you.'
'Oh, Ferdinand, what evil thoughts you have!'
'You are a child, my dear, and must allow me to dictate to you
what you ought to think in such a matter as this. I tell you he
knew all about my candidature, and that what he has said here to
the contrary is a mere lie,--yes, a lie.' He repeated the word
because he saw that she shrank at hearing it; but he did not
understand why she shrank,--that the idea of such an accusation
against Arthur Fletcher was intolerable to her. 'I have never
heard of such a thing,' he continued. 'Do you suppose it is
common for men who have been thrown over to write to the ladies
who have rejected them immediately after their marriage?'
'Do not the circumstances justify it?'
'No;--they make it infinitely worse. He should have felt himself
to be debarred from writing to you, both as being my wife and as
being the wife of the man whom he intends to oppose at
This he said with so much anger that he frightened her. 'It is
not my fault,' she said.
'No; it is not your fault. But you should regard it as a great
fault committed by him.'
'What am I to do?'
'Give me the letter. You, of course, can do nothing.'
'You will not quarrel with him?'
'Certainly I will. I have quarrelled with him already. Do you
think I will allow any man to insult my wife without quarrelling
with him? What I shall do I cannot as yet say, and whatever I
may do, you had better not know. I never thought much of these
Hertfordshire swells who believe themselves to be the very cream
of the earth, and now I think less of them than ever.'
He was then silent, and slowly she took herself out of the room,
and went away to dress. All this was very terrible. He had
never been rough to her before, and she could not at all
understand why he had been so rough to her now. Surely it was
impossible that he should be jealous because her old lover had
written to her such a letter as that which she had shown him!
And then she was almost stunned by the opinions he had expressed
about Fletcher, opinions which she knew,--was sure that she
knew,--to be absolutely erroneous. A liar! Oh, heavens! And
then the letter itself was so ingenuous and so honest! Anxious
as she was to do all that her husband bade her, she could not be
guided by him in this matter. And then she remembered his words:
'You must allow me to dictate to you what you ought to think.'
Could it be that marriage meant as much as that,--that a husband
was to claim to dictate to his wife what opinions she was to form
about this and that person,--about a person she had known so
well, whom he had never known? Surely she could only think in
accordance with her own experience and her own intelligence! She
was certain that Arthur Fletcher was no liar. Not even her own
husband could make her think that.
'YES;--WITH A HORSEWHIP IN MY HAND.'
Emily Lopez, when she crept out of her own room and joined her
husband just before dinner, was hardly able to speak to him so
thoroughly was she dismayed, and troubled, and horrified, by the
manner in which he had taken Arthur Fletcher's letter. While she
had been alone she had thought it all over, anxious if possible
to bring herself into sympathy with her husband; but the more she
thought of it the more evident did it become to her that he was
altogether wrong. He was so wrong that it seemed to her that she
would be a hypocrite if she pretended to agree with him. There
were half-a-dozen accusations conveyed against Mr Fletcher by her
husband's view of the matter. He was a liar, giving a false
account of his candidature;--and he was a coward; and an enemy
to her, who had laid a plot by which he had hoped to make her act
fraudulently towards her own husband, who had endeavoured to
creep into a correspondence with her, and so to compromise her!
All this, which her husband's mind so easily conceived, was not
only impossible to her, but so horrible that she could not
refrain from disgust at her husband's conception. The letter had
been left with him, but she remembered every word of it. She was
sure that it was an honest letter, meaning no more than had been
said,--simply intending to explain to her that he would not
willingly have stood in the way of a friend whom he had loved, by
interfering with her husband's prospects. And yet she was told
that she was to think as her husband bade her think! She could
not think so. She could not say that she thought so. If her
husband would not credit her judgement, let the matter be
referred to her father. Ferdinand would at any rate acknowledge
that her father could understand such a matter even if she could
During dinner he said nothing on the subject, nor did she. They
were attended by a page in buttons whom he had hired to wait upon
her, and the meal passed off almost in silence. She looked up at
him frequently and saw that his brow was still black. As soon as
they were alone she spoke to him, having studied during dinner
what words she would first say: 'Are you going down to the club
tonight!' He had told her that the matter of this election had
been taken up at the Progress, and that possibly he might have to
meet two or three persons there on this evening. There had been
a proposition that the club should bear a part of the
expenditure, and he was very solicitous that such an arrangement
should be made.
'No,' said he, 'I shall not go out to-night. I am not
'What makes you heavy-hearted, Ferdinand?'
'I should have thought you would have known.'
'I suppose I do know,--but I don't know why it should. I don't
know why you should be displeased. At any rate, I have done
'No;--not as to the letter. But it astonishes me that you
should be so--so bound to this man that-'
'Bound to him, Ferdinand!'
'No;--you are bound to me. But that you have so much regard for
him as not to see that he has grossly insulted you.'
'I have a regard for him.'
'And you dare to tell me so?'
'Dare! What should I be if I had any feeling which I did not
dare to tell you? There is no harm in regarding a man with
friendly feelings whom I have known since I was a child, and whom
all my family have loved.'
'Your family wanted you to marry him!'
'They did. But I have married you, because I loved you. But I
need not think badly of an old friend, because I did not love
him. Why should you be angry with him? What can you have to be
afraid of?' Then she came and sat on his knee and caressed him.
'It is he that shall be afraid of me,' said Lopez. 'Let him give
the borough up if he means what he says.'
'Who could ask him to do that?'
'I can ask him.'
'Could you, Ferdinand?'
'Yes;--with a horsewhip in my hand.'
'Indeed, indeed you do not know him. Will you do this;--will
you tell my father everything, and leave it to him to say whether
Mr Fletcher has behaved badly to you?'
'Certainly not. I will not have any interference from your
father between you and me. If I had listened to your father, you
would not have been here now. Your father is not as yet a friend
of mine. When he comes to know what I can do for myself, and
that I can rise higher than these Hertfordshire people, then
perhaps he may become my friend. But I will consult him in
nothing so peculiar to myself as my own wife. And you must
understand that in coming to me all obligation from you to him
become extinct. Of course he is your father; but in such a
matter as this he has no more say to you than any stranger.'
After that he hardly spoke to her; but sat for an hour with a
book in his hand, and then rose and said that he would go down to
the club. 'There is so much villainy about,' he said, 'that a
man if he means to do anything must keep himself on the watch.'
When she was alone she at once burst into tears; but she soon
dried her eyes, and putting down her work, settled herself to
think of it all. What did it mean? Why was he thus changed to
her? Could it be that he was the same Ferdinand to whom she had
given herself, without a doubt as to his personal merit? Every
word that he had spoken since she had shown him the letter from
Arthur Fletcher had been injurious to her, and offensive. It
almost seemed as though he had determined to show himself to be a
tyrant to her, and had only put off playing the part till the
first convenient opportunity after their honeymoon. But through
all this, her ideas were loyal to him. She would obey him in all
things where obedience was possible, and would love him better
than all the world. Oh yes;--for was he not her husband? Were
he to prove himself the worst of men she would still love him.
It had been for better or for worse; and as she had repeated the
words to herself, she had sworn that if the worst should come,
she would still be true.
But she could not bring herself to say that Arthur Fletcher had
behaved badly. She could not. She knew well that his conduct
had been noble and generous. Then unconsciously and
involuntarily,--or rather in opposition to her own will and
inward efforts,--her mind would draw comparisons between her
husband and Arthur Fletcher. There was some peculiar gift, or
grace, or acquirement belonging without dispute to the one, which
the other lacked. What was it? She had heard her father say
when talking of gentlemen,--of that race of gentlemen with whom
it had been his lot to live,--that you could not make a silk
purse out of a sow's ear. The use of the proverb had offended
her much, for she had known well whom he had then regarded as a
silk purse and whom a sow's ear. But now she perceived that
there had been truth in all this, though she was as anxious as
ever to think well of her husband, and to endow him with all
possible virtues. She had once ventured to form a doctrine for
herself, to preach to herself a sermon of her own, and to tell
herself that this gift of gentle blood and of gentle nurture, of
which her father thought so much, and to which something of
divinity was attributed down in Hertfordshire, was after all but
a weak, spiritless quality. It could exist without intellect,
without heart, and with very moderate culture. It was compatible
with many littlenesses and with many vices. As for that love of
honest, courageous truth which her father was wont to attribute
to it, she regarded his theory as based on legends, as in earlier
years was the theory of the courage, and constancy, and loyalty,
of the knights of those days. The beau ideal of a man which she
then pictured to herself was graced, first with intelligence,
then with affection, and lastly with ambition. She knew no
reason why such a hero as her fancy created should be born of
lords and ladies rather than of working mechanics, should be
English rather than Spanish or French. The man could not be her
hero without education, without attributes to be attained no
doubt more easily by the rich than the poor; but, with that
granted, with those attained, she did not see why she, or why the
world, should go beyond the man's own self. Such had been her
theories as to men and their attributes, and acting on that, she
had given herself and all her happiness into the keeping of
Ferdinand Lopez. Now, there was gradually coming upon her a
change in her convictions,--a change that was most unwelcome,
that she strove to reject,--one which she would not acknowledge
that she had adopted even while adopting it. But now,--ay, from
the very hour of her marriage,--she had commenced to learn what
it was that her father had meant when he spoke of the pleasure of
living with gentlemen. Arthur Fletcher certainly was a
gentleman. He would not have entertained the suspicion which her
husband had expressed. He could not have failed to believe such
assertions as had been made. He could never have suggested to
his own wife that another man had endeavoured to entrap her into
a secret correspondence. She seemed to hear the tones of Arthur
Fletcher's voice, as those of her husband still rang in her ear
when he bade her remember that she was now removed from her
father's control. Every now and then the tears would come to her
eyes, and she would sit pondering, listless, low in heart. Then
she would suddenly rouse herself with a shake, and take up her
book with a resolve that she would read steadily, would assure
herself as she did so that her husband should still be her hero.
The intelligence at any rate was there, and, in spite of his
roughness, the affection which she craved. And the ambition,
too, was there. But, alas, alas! why should such vile suspicions
have fouled his mind?
He was late that night, but when he came he kissed her brow as
she lay in bed, and she knew that his temper was again smooth.
She feigned to be sleepy, though not asleep, as she just put her
hand up to his cheek. She did not wish to speak to him again
that night, but she was glad to know that in the morning he would
smile on her. 'Be early at breakfast,' he said to her as he left
her next morning, 'for I'm going down to Silverbridge today.'
Then she started up. 'To-day!'
'Yes,--by the 11.20. There is plenty of time, only don't be
Of course she was something more than usually early, and when she
came out she found him reading his paper. 'It's all settled
now,' he said. 'Grey has applied for the Hundreds, and Mr
Rattler is to move for the new writ to-morrow. It has come
rather sudden at last, as these things always do after long
delays. But they say the suddenness is rather in my favour.'
'When will the election take place?'
'I suppose in about a fortnight;--perhaps a little longer.'
'And must you be at Silverbridge all that time?'
'Oh dear no. I shall stay there to-night, and perhaps to-morrow
night. Of course I shall telegraph you directly I find how it is
to be. I shall see the principal inhabitants, and probably make
a speech or two.'
'I do wish I could hear you.'
'You'd find it awfully dull work, my girl. And I shall find it
awfully dull too. I do not imagine that Mr Sprugeon and Mr
Sprout will be pleasant companions. Well; I shall stay there a
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