The Prime Minister
Part 8 out of 16
'I'm ever so much obliged. I think it's very kind of you.'
'I can't go in for a new life as you can. I can't take up
politics and Parliament. It's too late for me.'
'I'm going to. There's a bill coming on this very night that I'm
interested about. You mustn't be angry if I rush off a little
before ten. We are going to lend money to the parishes on the
security of the rates for draining bits of common land. Then we
shall sell the land and endow the unions, so as to lessen the
poor rates, and increase the cereal products of the country. We
think we can bring 300,000 acres under the plough in three years,
which now produce almost nothing, and in five years would pay all
the expenses. Putting the value of the land at 25 pounds an
acre, which is low, we shall have created property to the value
of seven million and a half. That's something, you know.'
'Oh, yes,' said Mr Wharton, who felt himself quite unable to
follow with any interest the aspirations of the young legislator.
'Of course it's complicated,' continued Arthur, 'but when you
come to look into it it comes out clear enough. It is one of the
instances of the omnipotence of capital. Parliament can do such
a thing, not because it has any creative power of its own, but
because it has the command of unlimited capital.' Mr Wharton
looked at him, sighing inwardly as he reflected that unrequited
love should have brought a clear-headed young barrister into
mists so thick and labyrinths so mazy as these. 'A very good
beef-steak indeed,' said Arthur; 'I don't know when I ate a
better one. Thank you, no;--I'll stick to the claret.' Mr
Wharton had offered him Madeira. 'Claret and brown meat always
go well together. Pancake? I don't object to a pancake. A
pancake's a very good thing. Now would you believe it, sir; they
can't make a pancake at the House.'
'And yet they sometimes fall very flat too,' said the lawyer,
making a real lawyer's joke.
But Mr Wharton still had something to say, though he hardly knew
how to say it. 'You must come and see us at the Square after a
'I wouldn't ask you to dine here to-day, because I thought we
should be less melancholy here;--but you mustn't cut us
altogether. You haven't seen Everett since you've been in town?'
'No, sir. I believe he lives a good deal,--a good deal with--
Mr Lopez. There was a little row down at Silverbridge. Of
course it will wear off, but just at present his lines and my
lines don't converge.'
'I'm very unhappy about him, Arthur.'
'There's nothing the matter?'
'My girl has married that man. I've nothing to say against him;
--but of course it wasn't to my taste, and I feel it as a
separation. And now Everett has quarrelled with me.'
'Quarrelled with you!'
Then the father told the story as well as he knew how. His son
had lost some money, and he had called him a gambler,--and
consequently his son would not come near him. 'It is bad to lose
them both, Arthur.'
'That is so unlike Everett.'
'It seems to me that everybody has changed,--except myself. Who
would have dreamed that she would have married that man? Not
that I have anything to say against him except that he was not of
our sort. He has been very good about Everett, and is very good
about him. But Everett will not come to me unless--I withdraw
the word;--say that I was wrong to call him a gambler. That is
a proposition no man should make to a father.'
'It is very unlike Everett,' repeated the other. 'Has he written
to you to that effect?'
'He has not written a word.'
'Why don't you go to see him yourself, and have it out with him?'
'Am I to go to that club after him?' said the father.
'Write to him and bid him come to you. I'll give up my seat if
he don't come to you. Everett was always a quaint fellow, a
little idle, you know,--mooning about after ideas--'
'He's no fool, you know,' said the father.
'Not at all;--only vague. But he's the last man in the world to
have nasty vulgar ideas of his own importance as distinguished
'I wouldn't quite trust Lopez.'
'He isn't a bad fellow in his way, Arthur. Of course he is not
what I would have liked for a son-in-law. I needn't tell you
that. But he is kind and gentle-mannered, and has always been
attached to Everett. You know he saved Everett's life at the
risk of his own.' Arthur could not but smile as he perceived how
the old man was being won round by the son-in-law, whom he had
treated so violently before the man had become his son-in-law.
'By-the-way, what was all that about a letter you wrote to him?'
'Emily,--I mean Mrs Lopez,--will tell you if you ask her.'
'I don't want to ask her. I don't want to appear to set the wife
against the husband. I am sure, my boy, you would write nothing
that could affront her.'
'I think not, Mr Wharton. If I know myself well at all, or my
own nature, it is not probable that I should affront your
'No; no; no. I know that, my dear boy. I was always sure of
that. Take some more wine.'
'No more, thank you. I must be off because I'm so anxious about
'I couldn't ask Emily about this letter. Now that they are
married I have to make the best of it,--for her sake. I
couldn't bring myself to say anything to her which might seem to
'I thought it right, sir, to explain to her that were I not in
the hands of other people, I would not do anything to interfere
with her happiness by opposing her husband. My language was more
'He destroyed the letter.'
'I have a copy of it if it comes to that,' said Arthur.
'It will be best, perhaps to say nothing further about it. Well;
--good night, my boy, if you must go.' Then Fletcher went off to
the House, wondering as he went at the change which had
apparently come over the character of his old friend. Mr Wharton
had always been a strong man, and now he seemed as weak as water.
As to Everett, Fletcher was sure that there was something wrong,
but he could not see his way to interfere himself. For the
present he was divided from the family. Nevertheless he told
himself again and again that the division should not be
permanent. Of all the world she must always be to him the
The first months of the session went on very much as the last
session had gone. The ministry did nothing brilliant. As far as
the outer world could see, they seemed to be firm enough. There
was no opposing party in the House strong enough to get a vote
against them on any subject. Outsiders, who only studied
politics in the columns of their newspapers, imagined the
Coalition to be very strong. But they who were inside, members
themselves, and the club quidnuncs who were always rubbing their
shoulders against members, knew better. The opposition to the
Coalition was within the Coalition itself. Sir Orlando Drought
had not been allowed to build his four ships, and was
consequently eager in his fears that the country would be invaded
by the combined forces of Germany and France, that India would be
sold by those powers to Russia, that Canada would be annexed to
the States, that a great independent Roman Catholic hierarchy
would be established in Ireland, and that Malta and Gibraltar
would be taken away from us;--all of which evils would be
averted by the building of four big ships. A wet blanket of so
terrible a size was in itself pernicious to the Cabinet, and
heartrending to the poor Duke. But Sir Orlando could do worse
even than this. As he was not to build his four ships, neither
should Mr Monk be allowed to readjust the country suffrage. When
the skeleton of Mr Monk's scheme was discussed in the Cabinet,
Sir Orlando would not agree to it. The gentlemen, he said, who
had joined the present Government with him, would never consent
to a measure which would be so utterly destructive of the
county's interest. If Mr Monk insisted on his measure in its
proposed form, he must, with very great regret, place his
resignation in the Duke's hands, and he believed that his friends
would find themselves compelled to follow the same course. Then
our Duke consulted the old Duke. The old Duke's advice was the
same as ever. The Queen's Government was the main object. The
present ministry enjoyed the support of the country, and he
considered it the duty of the First Lord of the Treasury to
remain at his post. The country was in no hurry, and the
question of suffrages in the counties might still be delayed.
Then he added a little counsel which might be called quite
private, as it was certainly intended for no other ears than
those of his younger friend. 'Give Sir Orlando rope enough and
he'll hang himself. His own party are becoming tired of him. If
you quarrel with him this session, Drummond, and Ramsden, and
Beeswax, would go out with him, and the Government would be
broken up; but next session you may get rid of him safely.'
'I wish it were broken up,' said the Prime Minister.
'You have your duty to do by the country and the Queen, and you
mustn't regard your own wishes. Next session, let Monk be ready
with his bill again,--the same measure exactly. Let Sir Orlando
resign then if he will. Should he do so I doubt whether anyone
would go with him. Drummond does not like him much better than
do you and I do.' The poor Prime Minister was forced to obey.
The old Duke was his only trusted counsellor, and he found
himself constrained by his conscience to do as that counsellor
counselled him. When, however, Sir Orlando, in his place as
Leader of the House, in answer to some question from a hot and
disappointed Radical, averred that the whole of Her Majesty's
Government had been quite in unison on this question of the
country's suffrage, he was hardly able to restrain himself. 'If
there be a difference of opinion they must be kept in the
background,' said the Duke of St Bungay. 'Nothing can justify a
direct falsehood,' said the Duke of Omnium. Thus it came to pass
that the only real measure which the Government had in hand was
one by which Phineas Finn hoped so to increase the power of Irish
municipalities as to make the Home Rulers believe that a certain
amount of Home Rule was being conceded to them. It was not a
great measure, and poor Phineas Finn hardly believed in it. And
thus the Duke's ministry came to be called the Faineants.
But the Duchess, though she had been much snubbed, still
persevered. Now and again she would declare herself to be broken-
hearted, and would say that things might go their own way, that
she would send in her resignation, that she would retire into
private life, and milk cows, that she would shake hands with no
more parliamentary cads and "cadesses",--a word which her Grace
condescended to coin for her own use, that she would spend the
next three years in travelling about the world; and lastly, that,
let there come whatever of it whatever might, Sir Orlando Drought
should never again be invited into any house of which she was the
mistress. This last threat, which was perhaps the most
indiscreet of them all, she absolutely made good--thereby adding
very greatly to her husband's difficulties.
But by the middle of June the parties at the house in Carlton
Terrace were as frequent and as large as ever. Indeed it was all
party with her. The Duchess possessed a pretty little villa down
at Richmond, on the river, called The Horns, and gave parties
there when there were none in London. She had picnics, and
flower parties, and tea parties, and afternoons, and evenings, on
the lawn,--till half London was always on its way to Richmond or
back again. How she worked! And yet from day to day she swore
that the world was ungrateful. Everybody went. She was so far
successful that nobody thought of despising her parties. It was
quite the thing to go to the Duchess's, whether at Richmond or in
London. But people abused her and laughed at her. They said
that she intrigued to get political support for her husband,--
and worse than that, they said that she failed. She did not fail
altogether. The world was not taken captive as she had intended.
Young members of Parliament did not become hotly enthusiastic in
support of her and her husband as she had hoped that they would
do. She had not become an institution of granite, as her dreams
had fondly told her might be possible,--for there had been
moments in which she had almost thought that she could rule
England by giving dinner and supper parties, by ices and
champagne. But in a dull, phlegmatic way, they who ate the ices
and drank the champagne were true to her. There was a feeling
abroad that 'Glencora' was a 'good sort of fellow' and ought to
be supported. And when the ridicule became too strong, or the
abuse too sharp, men would take up the cudgels for her, and fight
her battles;--a little too openly, perhaps, as they would do it
under her eyes, and in her hearing, and would tell her what they
had done, mistaking on such occasions her good humour for
sympathy. There was just enough success to prevent that
abandonment of her project which she so often threatened, but not
enough to make her triumphant. She was too clever not to see
that she was ridiculed. She knew that men called her Glencora
among themselves. She was herself quite alive to the fact that
she herself was wanting in dignity, and that with all the means
at her disposal, with all her courage and all her talents, she
did not quite play the part of the really great lady. But she
did not fail to tell herself that labour continued would at last
be successful, and she was strong to bear the buffets of the ill-
natured. She did not think that she brought first-class
materials to her work, but she believed,--a belief so erroneous
as, alas, it is common,--that first-rate results might be
achieved by second-rate means.
'We had such a battle about your Grace last night,' Captain
Gunner said to her.
'And were you my knight?'
'Indeed I was. I never heard such nonsense.'
'What were they saying?'
'Oh, the old story;--that you were like Martha, busying yourself
about many things.'
'Why shouldn't I busy myself about many things? It is a pity,
Captain Gunner, that some of you men have not something to busy
yourselves about.' All this was unpleasant. She could on such
an occasion make up her mind to drop any Captain Gunner who had
ventured to take too much upon himself: but she felt that in the
efforts she had made after popularity, she had submitted herself
to unpleasant familiarities;--and though persistent in her
course, she was still angry about herself.
When she had begun her campaign as the Prime Minister's wife, one
of her difficulties had been with regard to money. An abnormal
expenditure became necessary, for which her husband's express
sanction must be obtained, and steps taken in which his personal
assistance would be necessary;--but this had been done, and
there was now no further impediment in that direction. It seemed
to be understood that she was to spend what money she pleased.
There had been various contests between them, but in every
contest she had gained something. He had been majestically
indignant with her in reference to the candidature at
Silverbridge,--but, as is usual with many of us, had been unable
to maintain his anger about two things at the same time. Or,
rather, in the majesty of his anger about her interference, he
had disdained to descend to the smaller faults of her
extravagance. He had seemed to concede everything else to her,
on condition that he should be allowed to be imperious in
reference to the borough. In that matter she had given way,
never having opened her mouth about it after that one unfortunate
word to Mr Sprugeon. But, having done so, she was entitled to
squander her thousands without remorse,--and she squandered
them. 'It is your five-and-twenty thousand pounds, my dear,' she
once said to Mrs Finn, who often took upon herself to question
the prudence of all this expenditure. This referred to a certain
sum of money which had been left by the old Duke to Madame
Goesler, as she was then called,--a legacy which that lady had
repudiated. The money had, in truth, been given away to a
relation of the Duke's by the joint consent of the lady and the
Duke himself, but the Duchess was pleased to refer to it
occasionally as a still existing property.
'My five-and-twenty thousand pounds, as you call it, would not go
'What's the use of money if you don't spend it? The Duke would
go on collecting it and buying more property,--which always
means more trouble,--not because he is avaricious, but because
for the time that comes easier than spending. Supposing he had
married a woman without a shilling, he would still have been a
rich man. As it is, my property was more even than his own. If
we can do any good by spending the money, why shouldn't it be
'If you can do any good!'
'It all comes round to that. It isn't because I like always to
live in a windmill! I have come to hate it. At this moment I
would give worlds to be down at Matching with no one but the
children, and to go about in a straw hat and muslin gown. I have
a fancy that I could sit under a tree and read a sermon, and
think it the sweetest recreation. But I've made the attempt to
do all this, and it so mean to fail!'
'But where is to be the end of it?'
'There shall be no end as long as he is Prime Minister. He is
the first man in England. Some people would say the first in
Europe--or in the world. A Prince should entertain like a
'He need not be always entertaining.'
'Hospitality should run from a man with his wealth, and his
position, like water from a fountain. As his hand is known to be
full, so it should be known to be open. When the delight of his
friends is in question, he should know nothing of cost. Pearls
should drop from him as from a fairy. But I don't think you
'Not when the pearls are to be picked up by Captain Gunners, Lady
'I can't make the men any better,--nor yet the women. They are
poor mean creatures. The world is made up of such. I don't know
that Captain Gunner is worse than Sir Orlando Drought or Sir
Timothy Beeswax. People seen by the mind are exactly different
to things seen by the eye. They grow smaller and smaller as you
come nearer down to them, whereas things become bigger. I
remember when I used to think that members of the Cabinet were
almost gods, and now they seem to be no bigger than shoe-blacks,-
only less picturesque. He told me the other day of the time when
he gave up going into power for the sake of taking me abroad.
Ah! me; how much was happening then,--and how much has happened
since that! We didn't know you then.'
'He has been a good husband to you.'
'And I have been a good wife to him! I have never had him for an
hour out of my heart since that, or ever for a moment forgotten
his interest. I can't live with him because he shuts himself up
reading blue-books, and is always at his office or in the House;
--but I would if I could. Am I not doing it all for him? You
don't think that the Captain Gunnners are particularly pleasant
to me! Think of your life and of mine. You have had lovers.'
'One in my life,--when I was entitled to have one.'
'Well; I am the Duchess of Omnium, and I am the wife of the Prime
Minister, and I had a larger property of my own than any other
young woman that ever was born; and I am myself too,--Glencora
M'Cluskie that was, and I've made for myself a character that I'm
not ashamed of. But I'd be the curate's wife tomorrow, and make
puddings, if I could only have my own husband and my own children
with me. What's the use of it all? I like you better than
anybody else, but you do nothing but scold me.' Still the
parties went on, and the Duchess laboured hard among her guests,
and wore her jewels, and stood on her feet all the night, night
after night, being civil to one person, bright to a second,
confidential to a third, and sarcastic to an unfortunate fourth;
--and in the morning she would work hard with her lists, seeing
who had come to her and who had stayed away, and arranging who
should be asked and who should be omitted.
In the meantime the Duke altogether avoided those things. At
first he had been content to show himself, and escape as soon as
possible;--but now he was never seen at all in his own house,
except at certain heavy dinners. To Richmond he never went at
all, and in his own house in town very rarely ever passed through
the door that led into the reception rooms. He had not time for
ordinary society. So said the Duchess. And many, perhaps the
majority of those who frequented the house, really believed that
his official duties were too onerous to leave him time for
conversation. But in truth the hours wore heavily with him as he
sat alone in his study, sighing for some sweet parliamentary
task, and regretting the days in which he was privileged to sit
in the House of Commons till two o'clock in the morning, in the
hope that he might get a clause or two passed in his bill for
It was at The Horns at an afternoon party, given there in the
gardens by the Duchess, early in July, that Arthur Fletcher first
saw Emily after her marriage, and Lopez after the occurrence at
Silverbridge. As it happened he came out upon the lawn after
them, and found them speaking to the Duchess as they passed on.
She had put herself out of her way to be civil to Mr and Mrs
Lopez, feeling that she had in some degree injured him in
reference to the election, and had therefore invited both him and
his wife on more than one occasion. Arthur Fletcher was there as
a young man well known in the world and a supporter of the Duke's
government. The Duchess had taken up Arthur Fletcher,--as she
was wont to take up new men, and had personally become tired of
Lopez. Of course she had heard of the election, and had been
told that Lopez had behaved badly. Of Mr Lopez she did not know
enough to care anything, one way or the other;--but she still
encouraged him because she had caused him disappointment. She
had now detained them a minute on the terrace before the windows
while she said a word, and Arthur Fletcher became one of the
little party before he knew whom he was meeting. 'I am
delighted,' she said, 'that you two Silverbridge heroes should
meet together here as friends.' It was almost incumbent on her
to say something, though it would have been better for her not to
have alluded to their heroism. Mrs Lopez put out her hand, and
Arthur Fletcher of course took it. Then the two men bowed
slightly to each other, raising their hats. Arthur paused a
moment with them, as they passed on from the Duchess, thinking
that he would say something in a friendly tone. But he was
silenced by the frown on the husband's face, and was almost
constrained to go away without a word. It was very difficult for
him even to be silent, as her greeting had been kind. But yet it
was impossible for him to ignore the displeasure displayed in the
man's countenance. So he touched his hat, and asking her to
remember him affectionately to her father, turned off the path
and went away.
'Why did you shake hands with that man?' said Lopez. It was the
first time since their marriage that his voice had been that of
an angry man and an offended husband.
'Why not, Ferdinand? He and I are very old friends, and we have
'You must take up your husband's friendships and your husband's
quarrels. Did I not tell you that he had insulted you?'
'He never insulted me.'
'Emily, you must allow me to be the judge of that. He insulted
you, and then he behaved like a poltroon down at Silverbridge,
and I will not have you know him anymore. When I say so I
suppose that will be enough.' He waited for a reply, but she
said nothing. 'I ask you to tell me that you will obey me in
'Of course he will not come to my house, nor should I think of
going to his, if you disapproved.'
'Going to his house! He's unmarried.'
'Supposing he had a wife! Ferdinand, perhaps it will be better
that you and I should not talk about him.'
'By G-,' said Lopez, 'there shall be no subject on which I will
afraid to talk to my own wife. I insist upon your assuring me
that you will never speak to him again.'
He had taken her along one of the upper walks because it was
desolate, and he could there speak to her, as he thought,
without being heard. She had, almost unconsciously, made a faint
attempt to lead him down the lawn, no doubt feeling averse to
private conversations at the moment; but he had persevered, and
had resented the little effort. The idea in his mind that she
was unwilling to renounce the man, anxious to escape his order
for such renunciation, added fuel to his jealousy. It was not
enough for him that she had rejected this man and had accepted
him. The man had been her lover, and she should be made to
denounce the man. It might be necessary for him to control his
feelings before old Wharton;--but he knew enough of his wife to
be sure that would not speak evil of him or betray him to her
father. Her loyalty to him, which he could understand though not
appreciate, enabled him to be a tyrant to her. So now he
repeated his order to her, pausing in the path, with a voice
unintentionally loud, and frowning down upon her as he spoke.
'You must tell me, Emily, that you will never speak to him
She was silent, looking up into his face, not with tremulous
eyes, but with infinite woe written in them, had he been able to
read the writing. She knew that he was disgracing himself, and
yet he was the man whom she loved! 'If you bid me not to speak
to him, I will not,--but he must know the reason why.'
'He shall know nothing from you. You do not mean to say that you
would write to him.'
'Papa must tell him.'
'I will not have it so. In this matter, Emily, I will be the
master,--as it is fit that I should be. I will not have you
talk to your father about Mr Fletcher.'
'Why not, Ferdinand?'
'Because I have so decided. He is an old family friend. I can
understand that, and do not therefore wish to interfere between
him and your father. But he has taken upon himself to write an
insolent letter to you as my wife, and to interfere in my
affairs. As to what should be done between you and him, I must
be the judge and not your father.'
'And I must not speak to papa about it?'
'Ferdinand, you make too little, I think, of the associations and
affections of a whole life.'
'I will hear nothing about affection,' he said angrily.
'You cannot mean that,--that--you doubt me?'
'Certainly not. I think too much of myself and too little of
him.' It did not occur to him to tell her that he thought too
well of her for that. 'But the man who has offended me must be
held to have offended you also.'
'You might say the same if it were my father.'
He paused at this, but only for a moment. 'Certainly I might.
It is not probable, but no doubt I might do so. If your father
were to quarrel with me, you would not, I suppose, hesitate
'Nothing on earth could divide me from you.'
'Nor me from you. In this very matter I am only taking your
part, if you did but know it.' They had now passed on, and had
met other persons, having made their way through a little
shrubbery on to a further lawn; and she had hoped, as they were
surrounded by people, that he would allow the matter to drop.
She had been unable as yet to make up her mind as to what she
should say if he pressed her hard. But, if it could be passed
by,--if nothing more were demanded from her,--she would
endeavour to forget it all, saying to herself that it had come
from sudden passion. But he was too resolute for such a
termination as that, and too keenly alive to the expediency of
making her thoroughly subject to him. So he turned her round and
took her back through the shrubbery, and in the middle of it
stopped her again and renewed his demand.
'Promise me that you will not speak again to Mr Fletcher.'
'Then I must tell papa.'
'No;--you shall tell him nothing.'
'Ferdinand, if you exact a promise from me that I will not speak
to Mr Fletcher, or bow to him should circumstances bring us
together as they did just now, I must explain to my father why I
have done so.'
'You will wilfully disobey me?'
'In that I must.' He glared at her, almost as though he were
going to strike her, but she bore his look without flinching. 'I
have left all my old friends, Ferdinand, and have given my heart
and soul to you. No woman did so with a truer love or more
devoted intention of doing her duty to her husband. Your affairs
shall be my affairs.'
'Well; yes; rather.'
She was endeavouring to assure him of her truth, but could
understand the sneer which was conveyed in his acknowledgment.
'But you cannot, nor can I for your sake, abolish the things
which have been.'
'I wish you to abolish nothing that has been. I speak of the
'Between our family and that of Mr Fletcher there has been old
friendship which is still very dear to my father,--the memory of
which is still very dear to me. At your request I am willing to
put all that aside from me. There is no reason why I should ever
see any of the Fletchers again. Our lives will be apart. Should
we meet our greeting would be very slight. The separation can be
effected without words. But if you demand an absolute promise,--
I must tell my father.'
'We will go home at once,' he said instantly, and aloud. And
home they went, back to London, without exchanging a word on the
journey. He was absolutely black with rage, and she was content
to remain silent. The promise was not given, nor indeed, was it
exacted under the conditions which the wife had imposed upon it.
He was most desirous to make her subject to his will in all
things, and quite prepared to exercise tyranny over her to any
extent,--so that her father should know nothing of it. He could
not afford to quarrel with Mr Wharton. 'You had better go to
bed,' he said, when he got her back to town;--and she went, if
not to bed, at any rate into her own room.
SIR ORLANDO RETIRES.
'He is a horrid man. He came here and quarrelled with the other
man in my house, or rather down at Richmond, and made a fool of
himself, and then quarrelled with his wife and took her away.
What fools, what asses, what horrors men are! How impossible it
is to be civil and gracious without getting into a mess. I am
tempted to say that I will never know anybody any more.' Such
was the complaint made by the Duchess to Mrs Finn a few days
after the Richmond party, and from this it was evident that the
latter affair had not passed without notice.
'Did he make a noise about it?' asked Mrs Finn.
'There was not a row, but there was enough of a quarrel to be
visible and audible. He walked about and talked loud to the poor
woman. Of course it was my own fault. But the man was clever
and I liked him, and people told me that he was of the right
'The Duke heard of it?'
'No;--and I hope he won't. It would be such a triumph for him,
after all the fuss at Silverbridge. But he never heard of
anything. If two men fought a duel in his own dining-room he
would be the last man in London to know about it.'
'Then say nothing about it, and don't ask the men anymore.'
'You may be sure I won't ask the man with the wife any more. The
other man is in Parliament and can't be thrown over so easily--
and it wasn't his fault. But I'm getting so sick of it all! I'm
told that Sir Orlando has complained to Plantagenet that he isn't
asked to the dinners.'
'Don't you mention it, but he has. Warburton has told me so.'
Warburton was one of the Duke's private secretaries.
'What did the Duke say?'
'I don't quite know. Warburton is one of my familiars, but I
didn't like to ask him for more than he chose to tell me.
Warburton suggested that I should invite Sir Orlando at once; but
there I was obdurate. Of course, if Plantagenet tells me I'll
ask the man to come every day of the week;--but it is one of
those things that I shall need to be told directly. My idea is,
you know, that they had better get rid of Sir Orlando,--and that
if Sir Orlando chooses to kick over the traces, he may be turned
loose without any danger. One has little birds that give one all
manner of information, and one little bird has told me that Sir
Orlando and Mr Roby don't speak. Mr Roby is not very much
himself, but he is a good straw to show which way the wind blows.
Plantagenet certainly sent no message about Sir Orlando, and I'm
afraid the gentleman must look for his dinners elsewhere.'
The Duke had in truth expressed himself very plainly to Mr
Warburton; but with so much indiscreet fretfulness that the
discreet private secretary had not told it even to the Duchess.
'This kind of thing argues a want of cordiality that may be fatal
to us,' Sir Orlando had said somewhat grandiloquently to the
Duke, and the Duke had made--almost no reply. 'I suppose I may
ask my own guests into my own house,' he had said afterwards to
Mr Warburton, 'though in public life I am everybody's slave.' Mr
Warburton, anxious of course to maintain the unity of the party,
had told the Duchess so much as would, he thought, induce her to
give way, but he had not repeated the Duke's own observations,
which were, Mr Warburton thought, hostile to the interests of the
party. The Duchess only smiled and made a little grimace, with
which the private secretary was already well acquainted. And Sir
Orlando received no invitation.
In those days Sir Orlando was unhappy and irritable, doubtful of
further success as regarded the Coalition, but quite resolved to
put the house down about the ears of the inhabitants rather than
to leave it with gentle resignation. To him it seemed to be
impossible that the Coalition should exist without him. He too
had moments of high-vaulting ambition, in which he had almost
felt himself to be the great man required by the country, the one
ruler who could gather together in his grasp the reins of
government and drive the State coach single-handed safe through
its difficulties for the next half-dozen years. There are men
who cannot conceive of themselves that anything should be
difficult for them, and again others who cannot bring themselves
so to trust themselves as to think that they can ever achieve
anything great. Samples of each sort from time to time rise high
in political life, carried thither apparently by Epicurean
concourse of atoms; and it often happens that the more confident
samples are by no means the most capable. The concourse of atoms
had carried Sir Orlando so high that he could not but think
himself intended for something higher. But the Duke, who had
really been wafted to the very top, had always doubted himself,
believing himself capable of doing some one thing by dint of
industry, but with no further confidence in his own powers. Sir
Orlando had perceived something of his leader's weakness, and had
thought that he might profit by it. He was not only a
distinguished member of the Cabinet, but even the recognised
Leader of the House of Commons. He looked out the facts and
found that for five-and-twenty years out of the last thirty the
Leader of the House of Commons had been the Head of Government.
He felt that he would be mean not to stretch out his hand and
take the prize destined for him. The Duke was a poor timid man
who had very little to say for himself. Then came the little
episode about the dinners. It had become very evident to the
world that the Duchess of Omnium had cut Sir Orlando Drought,--
that the Prime Minister's wife, who was great in hospitality,
would not admit the First Lord of the Admiralty into her house.
The doings of Gatherum Castle, and in Carlton Terrace, and at The
Horns were watched much too closely by the world at large to
allow such omissions to be otherwise than conspicuous. Since the
commencement of the session there had been a series of articles
in the "People's Banner" violently abusive of the Prime Minister,
and in one or two of these the indecency of these exclusions had
been exposed with great strength of language. And the Editor of
the "People's Banner" had discovered that Sir Orlando Drought was
the one man in Parliament fit to rule the nation. Till
Parliament should discover this fact, or at least acknowledge it,
--the discovery having been happily made by the "People's
Banner",--the Editor of the "People's Banner" thought there
could be no hope for the country. Sir Orlando of course saw all
these articles, and his very heart believed that a man at length
sprung up among them fit to conduct a newspaper. The Duke also
unfortunately saw the "People's Banner". In his old happy days
two papers a day, one in the morning and the other before dinner,
sufficed to tell him all that he wanted to know. Now he felt it
necessary to see almost every rag that was published. And he
would skim through them all till he found lines in which he
himself was maligned, and then, with sore heart and irritated
nerves, would pause over every contumelious word. He would have
bitten his tongue out rather that have spoken of the tortures he
endured, but he was tortured and did endure. He knew the cause
of the bitter personal attacks upon him,--of the abuse with
which he was loaded, and of the ridicule, infinitely more painful
to him, with which his wife's social splendour was bespattered.
He remembered well the attempt with which Mr Quintus Slide had
made to obtain an entrance into his house, and his own scornful
rejection of that gentleman's overtures. He knew,--no man knew
better,--the real value of that able Editor's opinion. And yet
every word of it was gall and wormwood to him. In every
paragraph there was a scourge which hit him on the raw and opened
the wounds which he could show to no kind surgeon, for which he
could find solace in no friendly treatment. Not even to his wife
could he condescend to say that Mr Quintus Slide had hurt him.
Then Sir Orlando had come himself. Sir Orlando explained himself
gracefully. He of course could understand that no gentleman had a
right to complain because he was not asked to another gentleman's
house. But the affairs of the country were above private
considerations; and he, actuated by public feelings, would
condescend to do that which under other circumstances would be
impossible. The public press, which was every vigilant, had
suggested that there was some official estrangement, because Sir
Orlando had not been included in the list of guests invited by
His Grace. Did not his Grace think that there might be seeds of,
--he would not quite say decay for the Coalition, in such a state
of things? The Duke paused for a moment, and then said that he
thought there were no such seeds. Sir Orlando bowed haughtily
and withdrew,--swearing at that moment that the Coalition should
be made to fall into a thousand shivers. This had all taken
place a fortnight before the party at The Horns from which poor
Mrs Lopez had been withdrawn so hastily.
But Sir Orlando, when he commenced the proceeding consequent on
this resolution, did not find all that support which he had
expected. Unfortunately there had been an uncomfortable word or
two between him and Mr Roby, the political Secretary at the
Admiralty. Mr Roby had never quite seconded Sir Orlando's ardour
in the matter of the four ships, and Sir Orlando in his pride of
place had ventured to snub Mr Roby. Now Mr Roby could perhaps
bear a snubbing perhaps as well as any other official
subordinate,--but he was one who would study the question and
assure himself that it was, or that it was not, worth his while
to bear it. He, too, had discussed with his friends the
condition of the Coalition, and had come to some conclusions
rather adverse to Sir Orlando than otherwise. When, therefore,
the First Secretary sounded him as to the expediency of some step
in the direction of a firmer political combination than at
present existing,--by which of course was meant the dethronement
of the present Prime Minister,--Mr Roby had snubbed him! Then
there had been slight official criminations and recriminations,
till a state of things had come to pass which almost justified
the statement by the Duchess to Mrs Finn.
The Coalition had many component parts, some coalescing without
difficulty, but with no special cordiality. Such was the
condition of things between the very conservative Lord Lieutenant
of Ireland and his somewhat radical Chief Secretary, Mr Finn,--
between probably the larger number of those who were contented
with the duties of their own offices and the pleasures and
profits arising therefrom. Some by this time hardly coalesced at
all, as was the case with Sir Gregory Grogram and Sir Timothy
Beeswax, the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General;--and was
especially the case with the Prime Minister and Sir Orlando
Drought. But in one or two happy cases the Coalition was sincere
and loyal,--and in no case was this more so than with regard to
Mr Rattler and Mr Roby. Mr Rattler and Mr Roby had throughout
their long parliamentary lives belonged to opposite parties, and
had been accustomed to regard each other with mutual jealousy and
almost with mutual hatred. But now they had come to see how
equal, how alike, and how sympathetic were their tastes, and how
well each might help the other. As long as Mr Rattler could keep
his place at the Treasury,--and his ambition never stirred him
to aught higher,--he was quite contented that his old rival
should be happy at the Admiralty. And that old rival, when he
looked about him and felt his present comfort, when he remembered
how short-lived had been the good things which had hitherto come
in his way, and how little probable it was that long-lived good
things should be his when the Coalition was broken up, manfully
determined that loyalty to the present Head of Government was his
duty. He had sat for too many years on the same bench with Sir
Orlando to believe much in his power of governing the country.
Therefore, when Sir Orlando dropped his hint Mr Roby did not take
'I wonder whether it's true that Sir Orlando complained to the
Duke that he was not asked to dinner?' said Mr Roby to Mr
'I should hardly think so. I can't fancy that he would have the
pluck,' said Mr Rattler. 'The Duke isn't the easiest man in the
world to speak about such a thing as that.'
'It would be a monstrous thing for a man to do! But Drought's
head is quite turned. You can see that.'
'We never thought much about him, you know, on our side.'
'It was what your side thought about him,' rejoined Roby, 'that
put him where he is now.'
'It was the fate of accidents, Roby, which puts many of us in our
places, and arranges our work for us, and makes us little men or
big men. There are other men besides Drought who have been
tossed up in a blanket till they don't know whether their heads
or their heels are highest.'
'I quite believe the Duke,' said Mr Roby, almost alarmed by the
suggestion which his new friend had seemed to make.
'So do I, Roby. He has not the obduracy of Lord Brock, nor the
ineffable manner of Mr Mildmay, nor the brilliant intellect of Mr
'Nor the picturesque imagination of Mr Daubney,' said Mr Roby,
feeling himself bound to support the character of his late chief.
'Nor the audacity,' said Mr Rattler. 'But he has the peculiar
gift of his own, and gifts fitted for the peculiar combination of
circumstances, if he will only be content to use them. He is a
just, unambitious, intelligent man, in whom after a while the
country would come to have implicit confidence. But he is thin-
skinned and ungenial.'
'I have got into his boat,' said Roby, enthusiastically, 'and he
will find that I shall be true to him.'
'There is not better boat to be in at present,' said the slightly
sarcastic Rattler. 'As to the Drought pinnace, it will be more
difficult to get it afloat than the four ships themselves. To
tell the truth honestly, Roby, we have to rid ourselves of Sir
Orlando. I have a great regard for the man.'
'I can't say I ever liked him.'
'I don't talk about liking,--but he has achieved success, and is
to be regarded. Now he has lost his head, and he is bound to get
a fall. The question is,--who shall fall with him?'
'I do not feel myself at all bound to sacrifice myself.'
'I don't know who does. Sir Timothy Beeswax, I suppose, will
resent the injury done him. But I can hardly think that a strong
government can be formed by Sir Orlando Drought and Sir Timothy
Beeswax. Any secession is a weakness,--of course; but I think
we may survive it.' And so Mr Rattler and Mr Roby made up their
minds that the first Lord of the Admiralty might be thrown
overboard without much danger to the Queen's ship.
Sir Orlando, however, was quite in earnest. The man had spirit
enough to feel that no alternative was left to him after he had
condescended to suggest that he should be asked to dinner and had
been refused. He tried Mr Roby, and found that Mr Roby was a
mean fellow, wedded, as he told himself, to his salary. Then he
sounded Lord Drummond, urging various reasons. The country was
not safe without more ships. Mr Monk was altogether wrong about
revenue. Mr Finn's ideas about Ireland were revolutionary. But
Lord Drummond thought that, upon the whole, the present Ministry
served the country well, and considered himself bound to adhere
to it. 'He cannot beat the idea of being out of power,' said Sir
Orlando to himself. He next said a word to Sir Timothy; but Sir
Timothy was not the man to be led by the nose by Sir Orlando.
Sir Timothy had his grievance and meant to have his revenge, but
he knew how to choose his own time. 'The Duke's not a bad
fellow,' said Sir Timothy,--'perhaps a little weak, but well-
meaning. I think we ought to stand by him a little longer. As
for Finn's Irish bill, I haven't troubled myself about it.' Then
Sir Orlando declared himself that Sir Timothy was a coward, and
resolved that he would act alone.
About the middle of July he went to the Duke at the Treasury, was
closeted with him, and in a very long narration of his own
differences, difficulties, opinions, and grievances, explained to
the Duke that his conscience called upon him to resign. The Duke
listened and bowed his head, and with one or two very gently-
uttered word expressed his regret. Then Sir Orlando, in another
long speech, laid bare his bosom to the Chief whom he was
leaving, declaring the inexpressible sorrow with which he had
found himself called upon to take a step which he feared might be
prejudicial to the political status of a man whom he honoured so
much as he did the Duke of Omnium. Then the Duke bowed again,
but said nothing. The man had been guilty of the impropriety of
questioning the way in which the Duke's private hospitality was
exercised, and the Duke could not bring himself to be genially
civil to such an offender. Sir Orlando went on to say that he
would of course explain his views in the Cabinet, but that he had
thought it right to make them known to the Duke as soon as they
were formed. 'The best friends must part, Duke,' he said as he
took his leave. 'I hope not, Sir Orlando. I hope not,' said the
Duke. But Sir Orlando had been too full of himself and of the
words he had to speak, and of the thing he was about to do, to
understand either the Duke's words or his silence.
And so Sir Orlando resigned, and thus supplied the only morsel of
political interest which the Session produced. 'Take no more
notice of him than if your footman was going,' had been the
advice of the old Duke. Of course there was a Cabinet meeting on
the occasion, but even there the commotion was very slight, as
every member knew before entering the room what it was that Sir
Orlando intended to do. Lord Drummond said that the step was one
to be much lamented. 'Very much indeed,' said the Duke of St
Bungay. His word themselves were false and hypocritical, but the
tone of his voice took away all the deceit. 'I am afraid,' said
the Prime Minister, 'from what Sir Orlando has said to me
privately, that we cannot hope that he will change his mind.'
'That I certainly cannot do,' said Sir Orlando, with all the
dignified courage of a modern martyr.
On the next morning the papers were full of the political fact,
and were blessed with a subject on which they could exercise
their prophetical sagacity. The remarks made were generally
favourable to the Government. Three or four of the morning
papers were of opinion that though Sir Orlando had been a strong
man, and a good public servant, the Ministry might exist without
him. But the "People's Banner" was able to expound to the people
at large, that the only grain of salt by which the Ministry had
been kept from putrefaction had been cast out, and that
mortification, death and corruption, must ensue. It was one of
Mr Quintus Slide's greatest efforts.
'GET ROUND HIM.'
Ferdinand Lopez maintained his anger against his wife for more
than a week, after the scene at Richmond, feeding it with
reflections on what he called her disobedience. Nor was it a
make-believe anger. She had declared her intention to act in
opposition to his expressed orders. He felt that his present
condition was prejudicial to his interests, and that he must take
his wife back into favour, in order the he might make progress
with her father, but could hardly bring himself to swallow his
wrath. He thought it was her duty to obey him in everything,--
and that disobedience on a matter touching her old lover was an
abominable offence, to be visited with severest marital
displeasure, and with a succession of scowls that should make her
miserable for a month at least. Nor on her behalf would he have
hesitated, though the misery might have continued three months.
But then the old man was the main hope in his life, and must be
made its mainstay. Brilliant prospects were before him. He used
to think that Mr Wharton was a hale man, with some terribly
vexatious term of his life before him. But now, now that he was
seen more closely, he appeared to be very old. He would sit half
bent in the arm-chair in Stone Buildings, and look as though he
were near a hundred. And from day to day he seemed to lean more
upon his son-in-law, whose visits to him were continued, and
always well taken. The constant subject of discourse between
them was Everett Wharton, who had not yet seen his father since
the misfortune of their quarrel. Everett had declared to Lopez a
dozen times that he would go to his father if his father wished
it, and Lopez as often reported the father that Everett would not
go to him unless he expressed such a wish. And so they had been
kept apart. Lopez did not suppose that the old man would
disinherit his son altogether,--did not, perhaps, wish it. But
he thought that the condition of the old man's mind would affect
the partition of his property, and that the old man would surely
make some new will in the present state of his affairs. The old
man always asked after his daughter, begging that she would come
to see him, and at last it was necessary that an evening should
be fixed. 'We shall be delighted to come to-day or to-morrow,'
'We had better say to-morrow. There would be nothing to eat to-
day. The house isn't now what it used to be.' It was therefore
expedient that Lopez should drop his anger when he got home, and
prepare his wife to dine in Manchester Square in a proper frame
Her misery had been extreme;--very much more bitter than he had
imagined. It was not only that his displeasure made her life for
the time wearisome, and robbed the only society she had of all
its charms. It was not only that her heart was wounded by his
anger. Those evils might have been short-lived. But she had
seen,--she could not fail to see,--that his conduct was
unworthy of her and of her deep love. Though she struggled hard
against the feeling, she could not but despise the meanness of
his jealousy. She knew thoroughly well that there had been no
grain of offence in that letter from Arthur Fletcher,--and she
knew that no man, to true man, would have taken offence at it.
She tried to quench her judgement, and to silence the verdict
which her intellect gave against him, but her intellect was too
strong even for her heart. She was beginning to learn that the
god of idolatry was but a little human creature, and that she
should not have worshipped at so poor a shrine. But nevertheless
the love should be continued, and, if possible, the worship,
though the idol had been already found to have feet of clay. He
was her husband, and she would be true to him. As morning after
morning he left her still with that harsh, unmanly frown upon his
face, she would look up at him with entreating eyes, and when he
returned would receive him with her fondest smile. At length he,
too, smiled. He came to after that interview with Mr Wharton and
told her, speaking with the soft yet incisive voice which she
used to love so well, that they were to dine in the Square on the
following day. 'Let there be an end of all of this,' he said,
taking her in his arms and kissing her. Of course she did not
tell him that 'all this' had sprung from his ill-humour and not
from hers. 'I own I have been angry,' he continued. 'I will say
nothing more about it now; but that man did vex me.'
'I have been so sorry that you should have been vexed.'
'Well;--let it pass away. I don't think your father is looking
'He is not ill?'
'Oh no. He feels the loss of your society. He is so much alone.
You must be more with him.'
'Has he not seen Everett yet?'
'No. Everett is not behaving altogether well.' Emily was made
unhappy by this, and showed it. 'He is the best fellow in the
world. I may safely say there is no other man whom I regard so
warmly as I do your brother. But he takes wrong ideas into his
head, and nothing will knock them out. I wonder what your father
has done about his will.'
'I have not an idea. Nothing you may be sure will make him
unjust to Everett.'
'Ah!--You don't happen to know whether he ever made a will?'
'Not at all. He would be sure to say nothing to me about it,--
or to anybody.'
'That is the kind of secrecy which I think is wrong. It leads to
so much uncertainty. You wouldn't like to ask him?'
'It is astonishing to me how afraid you are of your father. He
hasn't any land, has he?'
'Real estate. You know what I mean. He couldn't well have
landed property without your knowing it.' She shook her head.
'It might make an immense difference to us, you know.'
'If he were to die without a will, any land,--houses and that
kind of property,--would go to Everett. I never knew a man who
told his children so little. I want you to understand these
things. You and I will be badly off if he doesn't do something
'You don't think he is really ill?'
'No;--not ill. Men above seventy are apt to die, you know.'
'Oh, Ferdinand,--what a way to talk of it!'
'Well, my love, the thing is so seriously matter-of-fact, that it
is better to look at it in a matter-of-fact way. I don't want
your father to die.'
'I hope not. I hope not.'
'But I should be very glad to learn what he means to do while he
lives. I want to get you into sympathy with me on this matter;--
but it is so difficult.'
'Indeed I sympathise with you.'
'The truth is that he has taken an aversion to Everett.'
'I am doing all I can to prevent it. But if he does throw
Everett over we ought to have advantage of it. There is no harm
in saying as much as that. Think what it should be if he should
take it into his head to leave his money to hospitals. My G-;
fancy what my condition would be if I were to hear of such a will
as that! If he destroyed the old will. Partly because he didn't
like our marriage, and partly in anger against Everett, and then
die without making another, the property would be divided,--
unless he bought land. You see how many dangers there are. Oh
dear! I can look forward and see myself mad,--or else myself so
proudly triumphant!' All this horrified her, but he did not see
her horror. He knew that she disliked it, but thought that
disliked the trouble, and that she dreaded her father. 'Now I do
think that you could help me a little,' he continued.
'What can I do?'
'Get round him when he's a little down in the mouth. That is the
way in which old men are conquered.' How utterly ignorant he was
of the very nature of her mind and disposition! To be told by
her husband that she was to 'get round' her father! 'You should
see him every day. He would be delighted if you would go to him
at his chambers. Or you could take care to be in the Square when
he comes home. I don't know whether we had not better leave this
and go an live near him. Would you mind that?'
'I would do anything you suggest as to living anywhere.'
'But you won't do anything I suggest as to your father.'
'As to my being with him, if I thought he wished it,--though I
had to walk my feet off, I would go to him.'
'There's no need of hurting your feet. There's the brougham.'
'I do so wish, Ferdinand, you would discontinue the brougham. I
don't at all want it. I don't at all dislike cabs. And I was
only joking about walking. I walk very well.'
'Certainly not. You fail altogether to understand my ideas about
things. If things were going bad with us, I would infinitely
prefer getting a pair of horses for you to putting down the one
you have.' She certainly did not understand his ideas.
'Whatever we do we must hold our heads up. I think he is coming
round to cotton to me. He is very close, but I can see that he
likes my going to him. Of course, as he gets older from day to
day, he'll constantly want someone to lean on more than
'I would go and stay with him if he wanted me.'
'I have thought of that too. Now that would be a saving,--
without any fall. And if we were both there we could hardly fail
to know what he was doing. You could offer that, couldn't you?
You could say as much as that?'
'I could ask him if he wished it.'
'Just so. Say that it occurs to you that he is lonely by
himself, and that we will both go to the Square at a moment's
notice if he thinks it will make him comfortable. I feel sure
that that will be the best step to take. I have already had an
offer for these rooms, and could get rid of the things we have
bought to advantage.'
This, too, was terrible to her, and at the same time altogether
unintelligible. She had been invited to buy little treasures to
make their home more comfortable, and had already learned to take
that delight in her belongings which is one of the greatest
pleasures of a young married woman's life. A girl in her old
home, before she is given up to a husband, has many sources of
interest, and probably from day to day sees many people. And the
man just married goes to his work, and occupies his time, and has
his thickly-peopled world around him. But the bride, when the
bridal honours of the honeymoon are over, when the sweet care of
the first cradle has not yet come to her, is apt to be lonely and
to be driven to the contemplation of the pretty things with which
her husband and her friends have surrounded her. It had
certainly been so with this young bride, whose husband left her
in the morning and only returned for their late dinner. And now
she was told that her household gods had had a price put on them,
and that they were to be sold. She had intended to suggest that
she would pay her father a visit, and her husband immediately
proposed that they should quarter themselves permanently on the
old man! She was ready to give up her brougham, though she liked
the comfort of it well enough, but to that he would not consent
because the possession of it gave him an air of wealth; but
without a moment's hesitation he could catch up the idea of
throwing upon her father the burden of maintaining both her and
himself! She understood the meaning of this. She could read his
mind so far. She endeavoured not to read the book too closely,--
but there it was, opened to her wider day by day, and she knew
that the lessons which it taught were vulgar and damnable.
And yet she had to hide from him her own perception of himself!
She had to sympathise with his desires and yet abstain from doing
that which his desires demanded from her. Alas, poor girl! She
soon knew that the marriage had been a mistake. There was
probably no one moment in which she made the confession to
herself. But the conviction was there, in her mind, as though
the confession had been made. Then there would come upon her
unbidden, unwelcome reminiscences of Arthur Fletcher,--thoughts
that she would struggle to banish, accusing herself of some
heinous crime because the thoughts would come back to her. She
remembered his light wavy hair, which she had loved as one who
loves the beauty of a dog, which had seemed to her young
imagination, to her in the ignorance of her early years to lack
something of a dreamed-of manliness. She remembered his eager,
boyish, honest entreaties to herself, which to her had been
without that dignity of a superior being which a husband should
possess. She became aware that she had thought the less of him
because he had thought more of her. She had worshipped this
other man because he had assumed superiority and had told her
that he was big enough to be her master. But now,--now that it
was all too late,--the veil had fallen from her eyes. She could
not see the difference between manliness and 'deportment'. Ah,--
that she should ever have been so blind, she who had given
herself credit for seeing so much clearer than they who were
their elders! And now, though at last she did see clearly, she
could not have the consolation of telling anyone what she had
seen. She must bear it all in silence, and live with it, and
still love this god of clay that she had chosen. And, above all,
she must never allow herself even to think of that other man with
the wavy light hair,--that man who was rising in the world, of
whom all people said good things, and who was showing himself to
be a man by the work he did, and whose true tenderness she could
Her father was left to her. She could still love her father. It
might be that it would be best for him that she should go back to
her old home, and take care of his old age. If he should wish
it, she would make no difficulty in parting with the things
around her. Of what concern were the prettinesses of life to one
whose inner soul was hampered with such ugliness! It might be
better that they should live in Manchester Square,--if her
father wished it. It was clear to her now that her husband was
in urgent need of money, though of his affairs, even of his way
of making money, she knew nothing. As that was the case, of
course she would consent to any practicable retrenchment which he
would propose. And then she thought of other coming joys and
coming troubles,--of how in future years she might have to teach
a girl falsely to believe that her father was a good man, and to
train a boy to honest purposes whatever parental lessons might
come from the other side.
But the mistake she had made was acknowledged. The man who could
enjoin her to 'get round' her father could never have been worthy
of the love she had given him.
'COME AND TRY IT.'
The husband was almost jovial when he came home just in time to
take his young wife to dine with their father. 'I've had such a
day in the city,' he said, laughing. 'I wish I could introduce
you to my friend, Mr Sextus Parker.'
'Cannot you do so?'
'Well, no; not exactly. Of course you'd like him, because he is
such a wonderful character, but he'd hardly do for your drawing-
room. He's the vulgarest little creature you ever put your eyes
on; and yet in a certain way he is my partner.'
'Then I suppose you trust him?'
'Indeed I don't;--but I make him useful. Poor little Sexty! I
do trust him to a degree, because he believes in me and thinks he
can do best by sticking to me. The old saying of "honour among
thieves" isn't without a dash of truth in it. When two men are
in a boat together, they must be true to each other, else neither
will get to the shore.'
'You don't attribute high motives to your friend.'
'I'm afraid there are not very many high motives in the world, my
girl, especially in the city;--nor yet at Westminster. It can
hardly be from high motives when a lot of men, thinking
differently on every possible subject, come together for the sake
of pay and power. I don't know whether, after all, Sextus Parker
mayn't have as high motives as the Duke of Omnium. I don't
suppose anyone ever had lower motives than the Duchess when she
chiselled me about Silverbridge. Never mind,--it'll all be one
a hundred years hence. Get ready, for I want you to be with your
father a little before dinner.'
Then, when they were in the brougham together, he began a course
of very plain instructions. 'Look here, dear, you had better get
him to talk to you before dinner. I dare say Mrs Roby will be
there, and I will get her on one side. At any rate you can
manage it, because we shall be early, and I'll take up a book
while you are talking to him.'
'What do you wish me to say to him, Ferdinand?'
'I have been thinking of your own proposal, and I am quite sure
that we had better join him in the Square. The thing is, I am in
a little mess about the rooms, and can't stay on without paying
very dearly for them.'
'I thought you had paid for them.'
'Well;--yes; in one sense I had, but you don't understand about
business. You had better not interrupt me now, as I have got a
good deal to say before we get to the Square. It will suit me to
give up the rooms. I don't like them, and they are very dear.
As you yourself said, it will be a capital thing for us to go and
live with your father.'
'I meant only for a visit.'
'It will be for a visit;--and we'll make it a long visit.' It
was odd that the man should have been so devoid of right feeling
himself as not to have known that the ideas which he expressed
were revolting! 'You can sound him. Begin by saying that you
are afraid he is desolate. He told me himself that he was
desolate, and you can refer to that. Then tell him that we are
both of us prepared to do anything that we can to relieve him.
Put your arm over him, and kiss him, and all that sort of thing.'
She shrunk from him into the corner of the brougham, and yet he
did not perceive it. 'Then say that you think he would be
happier if we were to join him here for a time. You can make him
understand that there would be no difficulty about the
apartments. But don't say it all in a set speech, as though it
were prepared,--though of course you can let him know that you
have suggested it to me, and that I am willing. Be sure to let
him understand that the idea began with you.'
'But it did not.'
'You proposed to go and stay with him. Tell him just that. And
you should explain to him that he can dine at the club just as
much as he likes. When you were alone with him here, of course,
he had to come home, but he needn't do that now unless he
chooses. Of course the brougham would be my affair. And if he
should say anything about sharing the house expenses, you can
tell him that I would do anything he might propose.' Her father
to share the household expenses in his own house, and with his
own children! 'You say as much as you can of all this before
dinner, so that when we are sitting below he may suggest it if he
pleases. It would suit me to get in there next week if
And so one lesson had been given. She had said little or nothing
in reply, and he had only finished as they entered the Square.
She had hardly a minute allowed her to think how far she might
follow, and in what she must ignore, her husband's instructions.
If she might use her own judgement, she would tell her father at
once that a residence for a time beneath his roof would be of
service to them pecuniarily. But this she might not do. She
understood that her duty to her husband did forbid her to
proclaim his poverty in opposition to his wishes. She would tell
nothing that he did not wish her to tell,--but make the
suggestion about their change of residence, and would make it
with proper affection;--but as regarded themselves she would
simply say that it would suit their views to give up their rooms
if it suited them.
Mr Wharton was all alone when they entered the drawing-room,--
but as Mr Lopez had surmised, had asked his sister-in-law round
the corner to come to dinner. 'Roby always likes an excuse to
get to his club,' said the old man, 'and Harriet likes an excuse
to go anywhere.' It was not long before Lopez began to play his
part by seating himself close to the open window and looking out
into the Square; and Emily when she found herself close to her
father, with her hand in his, could hardly divest herself of a
feeling that she also was playing her part. 'I see so very
little of you,' said the old man plaintively.
'I'd come oftener if I thought you'd like it.'
'It isn't liking, my dear. Of course you have to live with your
husband. Isn't it sad about Everett?'
'Very sad. But Everett hasn't lived here for ever so long.'
'I don't know why he shouldn't. He was a fool to go away when he
did. Does he go to you?'
'And what does he say?'
'I'm sure he would be with you at once if you would ask him.'
'I have asked him. I've sent word by Lopez over and over again.
If he means that I am to write to him and say that I'm sorry for
offending him, I won't. Don't talk of him any more. It makes me
so angry that I sometimes feel inclined to do things which I know
I should repent when dying.'
'Not anything to injure Everett, papa?'
'I wonder whether he ever thinks that I am an old man and all
alone, and that his brother-in-law is daily with me. But he's a
fool, and thinks of nothing. I know it is very sad being here
night after night by myself.' Mr Wharton forgot, no doubt, at
the moment, that he passed the majority of his evenings at the
Eldon,--though had he been reminded of it, he might have
declared with perfect truth that the delights of his club were
'Papa,' said Emily, 'would you like us to come and live here?'
'What,--you and Lopez;--here in the Square?'
'Yes,--for a time. He is thinking of giving up the place in
'I thought he had them for,--for ever so many months.'
'He does not like them, and they are expensive, and he can give
them up. If you would wish it, we would come here,--for a time.'
He turned round and looked at her almost suspiciously; and she,--
she blushed as she remembered how accurately she was obeying her
husband's orders. 'It would be such a joy to me to be near you
There was something in her voice which instantly reassured him.
'Well--;' he said, 'come and try it if it will suit him. The
house is big enough. It will ease his pocket and be a comfort to
me. Come and try it.'
It astonished her that the thing should be done so easily. Here
was all that her husband had proposed to arrange by deep
diplomacy settled in three words. And yet she felt ashamed of
herself,--as though she had taken her father in. That terrible
behest to 'get round him' still grated on her ears. Had she got
round him? Had she cheated him into this?
'Papa,' she said, 'do not do this unless you feel sure that you
will like it.'
'How is anybody to feel sure of anything, my dear?'
'But if you doubt, do not do it.'
'I feel sure of one thing, that is that it will be a great saving
to your husband, and I am nearly sure that ought not to be a
matter of indifference to him. There is plenty of room here, and
it will at any rate be a comfort to me to see you sometimes.'
Just at this moment Mrs Roby came in, and the old man began to
tell his news aloud. 'Emily has not gone away for long. She's
coming back like a bad shilling.'
'Not to live in the Square?' said Mrs Roby, looking round at
'Why not? There's room here for them, and it will be just as
well to save expense. When will you come, my dear?'
'Whenever the house may be ready, papa.'
'It's ready now. You ought to know that I am not going to
refurnish the rooms for you, or anything of that kind. Lopez can
come in an hang up his hat whenever it pleases him.'
During this time Lopez had hardly known how to speak or what to
say. He had been very anxious that his wife should pave the way
as he would have called it. He had been urgent with her to break
the ice to her father. But it had not occurred to him that the
matter would be settled without any reference to himself. Of
course he had heard every word that had been spoken, and was
aware that his own poverty had been suggested as the cause for
such a proceeding. It was a great thing for him in every way.
He would live for nothing, and would also have almost unlimited
power of being with Mr Wharton as old age grew on him. This
ready compliance with his wishes was a benefit far too precious
to be lost. But yet he felt that his own dignity required some
reference to himself. It was distasteful to him that his father-
in-law should regard him,--or, at any rate, that he should speak
of him,--as a pauper, unable to provide a home for his own wife.
'Emily's notion in suggesting it, sir,' he said, 'has been her
care for her comfort.' The barrister turned round and looked at
him, and Lopez did not quite like the look. 'It was she thought
of it first, and she certainly had no other idea than that. When
she mentioned it to me, I was delighted to agree.'
Emily heard it all and blushed. It was not absolutely untrue in
words,--this assertion of her husband's,--but altogether false
in spirit. And yet she could not contradict him. 'I don't see
why it should not do very well indeed,' said Mrs Roby.
'I hope it may,' said the barrister. 'Come, Emily, I must take
you down to dinner to-day. You are not at home yet, you know.
As you are to come, the sooner the better.'
During dinner not a word was said on the subject. Lopez exerted
himself to be pleasant, and told all that he had heard as to the
difficulties of the Cabinet. Sir Orlando had resigned, and the
general opinion was that the Coalition was going to pieces. Had
Mr Wharton seen the last article in the "People's Banner" about
the Duke? Lopez was strongly of the opinion that Mr Wharton ought
to see that article. 'I never had the "People's Banner" within
my fingers in my life,' said the barrister angrily, 'and I
certainly never will.'
'Ah, sir; this is an exception. You shall see this. When Slide
really means to cut a fellow up, he can do it. There's no one
like him. And the Duke has deserved it. He's a poor,
vacillating creature, led by the Duchess; and she,--according to
all that one hears,--she isn't much better than she should be.'
'I thought the Duchess was a great friend of yours.'
'I don't care much for such friendship. She threw me over most
'And therefore you are justified in taking away her character. I
never saw the Duchess of Omnium in my life, and should probably
be very uncomfortable if I found myself in her society; but I
believe her to be a good woman in her way.' Emily sat perfectly
silent, knowing that her husband had been rebuked, but feeling
that he had deserved it. He, however, was not abashed; but
changed the conversation, dashing into city rumours, and legal
reforms. The old man from time to time said sharp little things,
showing that his intellect was not senile, all of which his son-
in-law bore imperturbably. It was not that he liked it, or was
indifferent, but that he knew he could not get the good things
which Mr Wharton could do for him without making some kind of
payment. He must take the sharp words of the old man,--and take
all that he could get besides.
When the two men were alone together after dinner, Mr Wharton
used a different tone. 'If you are to come,' he said, 'you might
as well do it as soon as possible.'
'A day or two will be enough for us.'
'There are one or two things you should understand. I shall be
very happy to see your friends at any time, but I shall like to
know when they are coming before they come.'
'Of course, sir.'
'I dine out a good deal.'
'At the club,' suggested Lopez.
'Well;--at the club or elsewhere. It doesn't matter. There
will always be dinner for you and Emily, just as though I were at
home. I say this, so that there need be no questioning's or
doubts about it hereafter. And don't let there ever be any
question of money between us.'
'Everett has an allowance, and this will be tantamount to an
allowance to Emily. You have also had 3,500 pounds. I hope it
has been well expended;--except the 500 pounds at that election,
which has, of course, been thrown away.'
'The other was brought into the business.'
'I don't know what the business is. But you and Emily must
understand that the money has been given as her fortune.'
'Oh, quite so;--part of it, you mean.'
'I mean just what I say.'
'I call it part of it, because, as you observed just now, our
living here will be the same as though made Emily an allowance.'
'Ah;--well; you can look at it in that light, if you please.
John has the key to the cellar. He's a man I can trust. As a
rule I have port and sherry at table every day. If you like
claret, I will get some a little cheaper than what I use when
friends are here.'
'What wine I have is indifferent to me.'
'I like it good, and I have it good. I always breakfast at 9.30.
You can have yours earlier if you please. I don't know that
there's anything else to be said. I hope we shall get into the
way of understanding each other, and being mutually comfortable.
Shall we go upstairs to Emily and Mrs Roby?' And so it was
determined that Emily was to come back to her old house about
eight months after her marriage.
Mr Wharton himself sat late into the night all alone, thinking
about it. What had he done, he had done in a morose way, and he
was aware that it was so. He had not beamed with smiles, and
opened his arms lovingly, and, bidding God bless his dearest
children, told them that if they would only come and sit round
his hearth he should be the happiest old man in London. He had
said little or nothing of his own affection even for his
daughter, but had spoken of the matter as one which the pecuniary
aspect alone was important. He had found out that the saving so
effected would be material to Lopez, and had resolved that there
should be no shirking of the truth in what he was prepared to do.
He had been almost asked to take the young married couple in, and
feed them,--so that they might live free of expense. He was
willing to do it,--but was not willing that there should be any
soft-worded, high-toned false pretension. He almost read Lopez
to the bottom,--not, however giving the man credit for
dishonesty so deep or cleverness so great as he possessed. But
as regarded Emily, he was so actuated by a personal desire to
have her back again as an element of happiness to himself. He
had pined for her since he had been left alone, hardly knowing
what it was that he had wanted. And how as he thought of it all,
he was angry with himself that he had not been more loving and
softer in his manner to her. She at any rate was honest. No
doubt of that crossed his mind. And now he had been bitter to
her,--bitter in his manner,--simply because he had not wished
to appear to have been taken in by her husband. Thinking of all
this, he got up, and went to his desk, and wrote her a note,
which she would receive on the following morning after her
husband had left her. It was very short.
I am so overjoyed that you are coming back to me.
He had judged her quite rightly. The manner in which the thing
had been arranged had made her very wretched. There had been no
love in it;--nothing apparently but assertions on the one side
that much was being given, and on the other acknowledgments that
much was to be received. She was aware that in this her father
had condemned her husband. She also had condemned him;--and
felt, alas, that she also had been condemned. But this little
letter took away that sting. She could read into her father's
note all the action of his mind. He had known that he was bound
to acquit her, and he had done so with one of the old long-valued
expressions of his love.
THE VALUE OF A THICK SKIN.
Sir Orlando Drought must have felt bitterly the quiescence with
which he sank into obscurity on the second bench on the opposite
side of the House. One great occasion he had on which it was his
privilege to explain to four or five hundred gentlemen the
insuperable reasons which caused him to break away from those
right honourable friends to act with whom had been his comfort
and his duty, his great joy and his unalloyed satisfaction. Then
he occupied the best part of an hour in abusing those friends and
all their measures. This no doubt had been a pleasure, as
practice had made the manipulation of words easy to him,--and he
was able to reveal in that absence of responsibility which must
be as a fresh perfumed bath to a minister just freed from the
trammels of office. But the pleasure was surely followed by much
suffering when Mr Monk,--Mr Monk was to assume his place as
Leader of the House,--only took five minutes to answer him,
saying that he and his colleagues regretted much the loss of the
Right Honourable Baronet's services, but that it would hardly be
necessary for him to defend the Ministry on all those points on
which it had been attacked, as, were he to do so, he would have
to repeat the arguments by which every measure brought forward by
the present Ministry had been supported. Then Mr Monk sat down,
and the business of the House went on just as if Sir Orlando had
not moved his seat at all.
'What makes everybody and everything so dead?' said Sir Orlando
to his old friend Mr Boffin as they walked home together from the
House that night. They had in former days been staunch friends,
sitting night after night close together, united in opposition,
and sometimes a few halcyon months in the happier bonds of
office. But when Sir Orlando had joined the Coalition, and when
the sterner spirit of Mr Boffin had preferred principles to
place,--to use the language in which he was wont to speak to
himself and to his wife and family of his own abnegation,--there
had come a coolness between them. Mr Boffin, who was not a rich
man, nor by any means indifferent to the comforts of office, had
felt keenly the injury done to him when he was left hopelessly in
the cold by the desertion of his old friends. It had come to
pass that there had been no salt left in the opposition. Mr
Boffin in all his parliamentary experience had known nothing like
it. Mr Boffin had been sure that British honour was going to the
dogs and that British greatness was at an end. But the secession
of Sir Orlando gave a little fillip to his life. At any rate he
could walk home with his old friend and talk of the horrors of
the present day.
'Well, Drought, if you ask me, you know, I can only speak as I
feel. Everything must be dead when men holding different
opinions on every subject under the sun come together in order
that they may carry on a government as they would a trade
business. The work may be done, but it must be done without
'But it may be all important that the work should be done,' said
the Baronet, apologizing for his past misconduct.
'No doubt,--and I am very far from judging those who make the
attempt. It has been made more than once before, and has, I
think, always failed. I don't believe in it myself, and I think
that the death-like torpor of which you speak is one of its worst
consequences.' After that Mr Boffin admitted Sir Orlando back
into his heart of hearts.
Then the end of the Session came, very quietly and very early.
By the end of July there was nothing left to be done, and the
world of London was allowed to go down into the country almost a
fortnight before its usual time.
With many men, both in and out of Parliament, it became a
question whether all this was for good or evil. The Boffinites
had of course much to say for themselves. Everything was torpid.
There was no interest in the newspapers,--except when Mr Slide
took the tomahawk into his hands. A member of Parliament this
Session had not been by half so much bigger than another man as
in times of hot political warfare. One of the most moving
sources of our national excitement seemed to have vanished from
life. We all know what happens to stagnant waters. So said the
Boffinites, and so also now said Sir Orlando. But the Government
was carried on and the country was prosperous. A few useful
measures had been passed by unambitious men, and the Duke of St
Bungay declared that he had never known a Session of Parliament
more thoroughly satisfactory to the ministers.
But the old Duke in so saying had spoken as it were his public
opinion,--giving, truly enough, to a few of his colleagues, such
as Lord Drummond, Sir Gregory Grogram and others, the results of
his general experience, but in his own bosom and with a private
friend he was compelled to confess that there was a cloud in the
heavens. The Prime Minister had become so moody, so irritable,
and so unhappy, that the old Duke was forced to doubt whether
things could go on much longer as they were. He was wont to talk
of these things to his friend Lord Cantrip, who was not a member
of the Government, but who had been a colleague of both the
Dukes, and whom the old Duke regarded with peculiar confidence.
'I cannot explain it to you,' he said to Lord Cantrip. 'There is
nothing that ought to give him a moment's uneasiness. Since he
took office there hasn't once been a majority against him in
either House on any question that the Government has made on its
own. I don't remember such a state of things,--so easy for the
Prime Minister,--since the days of Lord Liverpool. He had one
thorn in his side, our friend who was at the Admiralty, and that
thorn like other thorns has worked itself out. Yet at this moment
it is impossible to get him to consent to the nomination of a
successor to Sir Orlando.' This was said a week before the
Session had closed.
'I suppose it is his health,' said Lord Cantrip.
'He's well enough as far as I can see;--though he will be ill
unless he can relieve himself from the strain of his nerves.'
'Do you mean by resigning?'
'Not necessarily. The fault is that he takes things too
seriously. If he could be got to believe that he might eat, and
sleep, and go to bed, and amuse himself like other men, he might
be a very good Prime Minister. He is over troubled by his
conscience. I have seen a good many Prime Ministers, Cantrip,
and I've taught myself to think that they are not very different
from other men. One wants in a Prime Minister a good many
things, but not very great things. He should be clever but need
not be a genius; he should be conscientious but by no means
strait-laced; he should be cautious but never timid, bold but
never venturesome; he should have a good digestion, genial
manners, and, above all, a thick skin. These are the gifts we
want, but we can't always get them, and have to do without them.
For my own part, I find that though Smith be a very good
Minister, the best perhaps to be had at the time, when he breaks
down Jones does nearly as well.'
'There will be a Jones, then, if your Smith does break down?'
'No doubt England wouldn't come to an end because the Duke of
Omnium shut himself up at Matching. But I love the man, and,
with some few exceptions, am contented with the party. We can't
do better, and it cuts me to the heart when I see him suffering,
knowing how much I did myself to make him undertake the work.'
'Is he going to Gatherum Castle?'
'No;--to Matching. There is some discomfort about that.'
'I suppose,' said Lord Cantrip,--speaking almost in a whisper,
although they were closeted together,--'I suppose the Duchess is
a little troublesome.'
'She's the dearest woman in the world,' said the Duke of St
Bungay. 'I love her almost as I do my own daughter. And she is
most zealous to serve him.'
'I fancy she overdoes it.'
'And that he suffers from perceiving it,' said Lord Cantrip.
'But a man hasn't a right to suppose that he shall have no
annoyances. The best horse in the world has some faults. He
pulls, or he shies, or is slow at his fences, or doesn't like
heavy ground. He has not right to expect that his wife shall know
everything and do everything without a mistake. And then he has
such faults of his own! His skin is so thin. Do you remember
dear old Brock? By heavens,--there was a covering, a hide
impervious to fire or steel! He wouldn't have gone into tantrums
because his wife asked too may people to the house.
Nevertheless, I won't give up all hope.'
'A man's skin may be thickened, I suppose.'
'No doubt;--as a blacksmith's arm.'
But the Duke of St Bungay, though he declared that he wouldn't
give up hope, was very uneasy on the matter. 'Why don't you let
me go?' the other Duke had said to him.
'What;--because such a man as Sir Orlando Drought throws up his
But in truth the Duke of Omnium had not been instigated to ask
the question by the resignation of Sir Orlando. At that very
moment the "People's Banner" had been put out of sight at the
bottom of a heap of other newspapers behind the Prime Minister's
chair, and his present misery had been produced by Mr Quintus
Slide. To have a festering wound and to be able to show the wound
to no surgeon, is wretchedness indeed! 'It's not Sir Orlando,
but a sense of general failure,' said the Prime Minister. Then
his old friend had made use of that argument of the ever-
recurring majorities to prove that there had been no failure.
'There seems to have come a lethargy upon the country,' said the
poor victim. Then the Duke of St Bungay knew that his friend had
read that pernicious article in the "People's Banner", for the
Duke had also read it and remembered that phrase of a 'lethargy
on the country', and understood at once how the poison had
It was a week before he would consent to ask any man to fill the
vacancy made by Sir Orlando. He would not allow suggestions to
be made to him and yet would name no one himself. The old Duke,
indeed, did make a suggestion, and anything coming from him was
of course borne with patience. Barrington Erle, he thought,
would do for the Admiralty. But the Prime Minister shook his
head. 'In the first place he would refuse, and that would be a
great blow to me.'
'I could sound him,' said the old Duke. But the Prime Minister
again shook his head and turned the subject. With all his
timidity he was becoming autocratic and peevishly imperious.
Then he went to Lord Cantrip, and when Lord Cantrip, with all the
kindness which he could throw into his words, stated the reasons
which induced him at present to decline office, he was again in
despair. At last he asked Phineas Finn to move to the Admiralty,
and, when our old friend somewhat reluctantly obeyed, of course
he had the same difficulty in filling the office Finn had held.
Other changes and other complications became necessary, and Mr
Quintus Slide, who hated Phineas Finn even worse than the poor
Duke, found ample scope for his patriotic indignation.
This all took place in the closing week of the Session, filling
our poor Prime Minister with trouble and dismay, just when other
people were complaining that there was nothing to think of and
nothing to do. Men do not really like leaving London before the
grouse calls them,--the grouse or rather the fashion of the
grouse. And some ladies were very angry at being separated so
soon from their swains in the city. The tradesmen too were
displeased,--so that there were voices to re-echo the abuse of
the "People's Banner". The Duchess had done her best to prolong
the Session by another week, telling her husband of the evil
consequences above suggested, but he had thrown wide his arms and
asked her with affected dismay whether he was to keep Parliament
sitting in order that more ribbons might be sold! 'There is
nothing to be done,' said the Duke almost angrily.
'Then you should make something to be done,' said the Duchess,
The Duchess had been at work with her husband for the last two
months in the hope of renewing her autumnal festivities, but had
been lamentably unsuccessful. The Duke had declared that there
should be no more rural crowds, no repetition of what he called
London turned loose on his own grounds. He could not forget the
necessity which had been imposed upon him of turning Major
Pountney out of his house, or the change that had been made in
his gardens, or his wife's attempt to conquer him at
Silverbridge. 'Do you mean,' she said, 'that we are to have
nobody?' He replied that he thought it would be best to go to
Matching. 'And live a Darby and Joan life?' said the Duchess.
'I said nothing of Darby and Joan. Whatever may be my feelings I
hardly think that you are fitted for that kind of thing.
Matching is not so big as Gatherum, but it is not a cottage. Of
course you can ask your own friends.'
'I don't know what you mean by my own friends. I endeavour
always to ask yours.'
'I don't know that Major Pountney, and Captain Gunner, and Mr
Lopez were ever among the number of my friends.'
'I suppose you mean Lady Rosina?' said the Duchess. 'I shall be
happy to have her at Matching, if you wish it.'
'I should like to see Lady Rosina De Courcy at Matching very
'And is there to be nobody else? I'm afraid I should find it
rather dull while you two were opening your hearts to each
other.' Here he looked at her angrily. 'Can you think of
anybody besides Lady Rosina?'
'I suppose you will wish to have Mrs Finn.'
'What an arrangement! Lady Rosina for you to flirt with, and Mrs
Finn for me to grumble to.'
'That is an odious word,' said the Prime Minister.
'What;--flirting? I don't see anything bad about the word. The
thing is dangerous. But you are quite at liberty if you don't go
beyond Lady Rosina. I should like to know whether you would wish
anybody else to come?' Of course he made no becoming answer to
this question, and of course no becoming answer was expected. He
knew that she was trying to provoke him because he would not let
her do this year as she had done last. The house, he had no
doubt, would be full to overflowing when he got there. He could
not help that. But as compared with Gatherum Castle the house at
Matching was small, and his domestic authority sufficed at any
rate for shutting up Gatherum for the time.
I do not know whether at times her sufferings were not as acute
as his own. He, at any rate, was Prime Minister, and it seemed
to her that she was to be reduced to nothing. At the beginning
of it all he had, with unwonted tenderness asked her for her
sympathy in his undertaking, and, according to her power, she had
given it to him with her whole heart. She had thought that she
had seen a way by which she might assist him in his great
employment, and she had worked at it like a slave. Every day she
told herself that she did not, herself, love the Captain Gunners
and Major Pountneys, nor the Sir Orlandos, nor, indeed the Lady
Rosinas. She had not followed the bent of her own inclination
when she had descended to sheets and towels, and busied herself
to establish an archery-ground. She had not shot an arrow during
the whole season, nor had she cared who had won and who had lost.
It had not been for her own personal delight that she had kept
open house for forty persons throughout four months of the year,
in doing which he had never taken an ounce of labour off her
shoulders by any single word or deed! It had all been done for
his sake,--that his reign might be long and triumphant, that the
world might say that his hospitality was noble and full, that his
name might be in men's mouths, and that he might prosper as a
British Minister. Such, at least, were the assertions which she
made to herself, when she thought of her own grievances and her
own troubles. And how she was angry with her husband. It was
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