The Prime Minister
Part 9 out of 16
very well for him to ask for her sympathy, but he had none to
give her in return! He could not pity her failures,--even
though he had himself caused them! If he had a grain of
intelligence about him he must, she thought, understand well
enough how sore it must be for her to descend from her princely
entertainments to solitude at Matching, and thus to own before
all the world that she was beaten. Then when she asked him for
advice, when she was really anxious to know how far she might go
in filling her house without offending him, he told her to ask
Lady Rosina De Courcy! If he chose to be ridiculous he might.
She would ask Lady Rosina De Courcy. In her active anger she did
write to Lady Rosina De Courcy a formal letter, in which she said
that the Duke hoped to have the pleasure of her ladyship's
company at Matching Park on the 1st August. It was an absurd
letter, somewhat long, written very much in the Duke's name, with
overwhelming expressions of affection, instigated in the writer's
mind partly by the fun of supposition that such a man as her
husband should flirt with such a woman as Lady Rosina. There was
something too of anger in what she wrote, some touch of revenge.
She sent off this invitation, and she sent no other. Lady Rosina
took it all in good part, and replied saying that she should have
the greatest pleasure in going to Matching! She had declared to
herself that she would ask none but those he had named, and in
accordance with her resolution she sent out no other written
He had also told her to ask Mrs Finn. Now this had become almost
a matter of course. There had grown up from accidental
circumstances so strong a bond between these two women, that it
was taken for granted by both their husbands that they should be
nearly always within reach of one another. And the two husbands
were also on kindly, if not affectionate, terms with each other.
The nature of the Duke's character was such that, with a most
loving heart, he was hardly capable of that opening out of
himself to another which is necessary for positive friendship.
There was a stiff reserve about him, of which he was himself only
too conscious, which almost prohibited friendship. But he liked
Mr Finn both as a man and a member of his party, and was always
satisfied to have him as a guest. The Duchess, therefore, had
taken it for granted that Mrs Finn would come to her,--and that
Mr Finn would come also any time that he might be able to escape
from Ireland. But, when the invitation was verbally conveyed, Mr
Finn had gone to the Admiralty, and had already made arrangements
for going to sea, as a gallant sailor should. 'We are going away
in the "Black Watch" for a couple of months,' said Mrs Finn. Now
the "Black Watch" was an Admiralty yacht.
'Heavens and earth!' ejaculated the Duchess.
'It is always done. The First Lord would have his epaulets
stripped if he didn't go to sea in August.'
'And must you go with him?'
'I have promised.'
'I think it very unkind,--very hard upon me. Of course you know
that I should want you.'
'But if my husband wants me too?'
'Bother your husband! I wish with all my heart I had never
helped make up the match.'
'It would have been made up all the same, Lady Glen.'
'You know that I cannot get on without you. And he ought to know
it too. There isn't another person in the world that I can
really say a thing to.'
'Why don't you have Mrs Grey?'
'She's going to Persia with her husband. And then she is not
wicked enough. She always lectured me, and she does it still.
What do you think is going to happen?'
'Nothing terrible, I hope,' said Mrs Finn, mindful of her
husband's new honours at the Admiralty, and hoping that the Duke
might not have repeated his threat of resigning.
'We are going to Matching.'
'So I supposed.'
'And whom do you think we are going to have?'
'Not Major Pountney?'
'No;--not at my asking.'
'Not Mr Lopez?'
'Nor yet Mr Lopez. Guess again.'
'I suppose there will be a dozen to guess.'
'No,' shrieked the Duchess. 'There will only be one. I have
asked one,--at his special desire,--and as you won't come I
shall ask nobody else. When I pressed him to name a second he
named you. I'll obey him to the letter. Now, my dear, who do
you think is the chosen one,--the one person who is to
solace the perturbed spirit of the Prime Minister for the three
months of the autumn.'
'Mr Warburton, I should say.'
'Oh, Mr Warburton! No doubt Mr Warburton will come as part of
his luggage and possibly half-a-dozen Treasury clerks. He
declares, however, that there is nothing to do, and therefore Mr
Warburton's strength alone may suffice to help him to do it.
There is to be one unnecessary guest,--unnecessary, that is, for
official purpose, though,--oh,--so much needed for his social
happiness. Guess one more.'
'Knowing the spirit of mischief that is in you,--perhaps it is
'Of course it is Lady Rosina,' said the Duchess, clapping her
hands together. 'And I should like to know what you mean by
spirit of mischief! I asked him, and he himself said that he
particularly wished to have Lady Rosina at Matching. Now, I'm
not a jealous woman,--am I?'
'Not of Lady Rosina.'
'I don't think they'll do any harm together, but it is
particular, you know. However, she is to come. And nobody else
is to come. I did count upon you.' Then Mrs Finn counselled her
very seriously as to the taste of such a joke, explaining to her
that the Duke had certainly not intended that invitations should
be confined to Lady Rosina. But it was not all joke with the
Duchess. She had been driven almost to despair, and was very
angry with her husband. He had brought the thing upon himself,
and must now make the best of it. She would ask nobody else.
She declared that there was nobody whom she could ask with
propriety. She was tired of asking. Let her ask whom she would,
he was dissatisfied. The only two people he cared to see were
Lady Rosina and the old Duke. She had asked Lady Rosina for his
sake. Let him ask his old friend himself if he pleased.
The Duke and Duchess with all the family went down together, and
Mr Warburton went with them. The Duchess had said not a word
more to her husband about his guests, nor had he alluded to the
subject. But each was labouring under a conviction that the
other was misbehaving, and with that feeling it was impossible
that there should be confidence between them. He busied himself
with books and papers,--always turning over those piles of
newspapers to see what evil was said of himself,--and speaking
only now and again to his private secretary. She engaged herself
with the children or pretended to read a novel. Her heart was
sore within her. She had wished to punish him, but in truth she
was punishing herself.
On the day of their arrival, the father and mother, with Lord
Silverbridge, the eldest son, who was from Eton, and the private
Secretary dined together. As the Duke sat at table, he began to
think how long it was since such a state of things had happened
before, and his heart softened towards her. Instead of being made
angry by the strangeness of the proceeding, he took delight in
it, and in the course of the evening spoke a word to signify his
satisfaction. 'I'm afraid it won't last long,' she said, 'for
Lady Rosina comes tomorrow.'
'You bid me to ask her yourself.'
Then he perceived it all;--how she had taken advantage of his
former answer to her and had acted upon it in a spirit of
contradictory petulance. But he resolved that he would forgive
it and endeavour to bring her back to him. 'I thought we were
both joking,' he said good-humouredly.
'Oh no! I never suspected you of a joke. At any rate she is
'She will do neither of us any harm. And Mrs Finn?'
'You have sent her to sea.'
'She may be at sea,--and he too; but it is without my sending.
The First Lord, I believe, usually does go a cruise. Is there
'Nobody else,--unless you have asked anyone.'
'Not a creature. Well;--so much the better. I dare say Lady
Rosina will get on very well.'
'You will have to talk to her,' said the Duchess.
'I will do my best.'
Lady Rosina came and no doubt did think it odd. But she did not
say so, and it really did seem to the Duchess as though all her
vengeance had been blown away by the winds. And she too laughed
at the matter,--to herself and began to feel less cross and less
perverse. The world did not come to an end because she and her
husband with Lady Rosina and her boy and the private Secretary
sat down to dinner every day together. The parish clergyman with
the neighbouring squire and his wife and daughter did come one
day,--to the relief of M. Millepois, who had begun to feel that
the world had collapsed. And every day at a certain hour the
Duke and Lady Rosina walked together for an hour and a half in
the Park. The Duchess would have enjoyed it, instead of
suffering, could she only have had her friend, Mrs Finn, to hear
her jokes. 'Now, Plantagenet,' she said, 'do tell me one thing.
What does she talk about?'
'The troubles of her family generally, I think.'
'That can't last for ever.'
'She wears cork soles to her boots and she thinks a good deal
'And you listen to her?'
'Why not? I can talk about cork soles as well as anything else.
Anything that may do material good to the world at large, or even
to yourself privately, is a fit subject for conversation to
'I suppose I never was one of them.'
'But I can talk upon anything,' continued the Duke, 'as long as
the talker talks in good faith and does not say things that
should not be said, or deal with matters that are offensive. I
could talk for an hour about bankers' accounts, but I should not
expect a stranger to ask me the state of my own. She almost
persuaded me to send to Mr Sprout of Silverbridge and get some
cork soles of my own.'
'Don't do anything of the kind,' said the Duchess with animation;
--as though she had secret knowledge that cork soles were
specially fatal to the family of the Pallisers.
'Why not, my dear?'
'He was a man who especially, above all others, threw me over at
Silverbridge.' Then again there came upon his brow that angry
frown which during the last few days had been dissipated by the
innocence of Lady Rosina's conversation. 'Of course I don't mean
to ask you to take any interest in the borough again. You have
said that you wouldn't, and you are always as good as your word.'
'I hope so.'
'But I certainly would not employ a tradesman just at your elbow
who has directly opposed what was generally understood in the
town to be your interests.'
'What did Mr Sprout do? This is the first I have heard of it.'
'He got Mr Du Boung to stand against Mr Lopez.'
'I am very glad for the sake of the borough that Mr Lopez did not
'So am I. But that has nothing to do with it. Mr Sprout knew at
any rate what my wishes were, and went directly against them.'
'You were not entitled to have wishes in the matter, Glencora.'
'That's all very well;--but I had, and he knew it. As for the
future, of course the thing is over. But you have done
everything for the borough.'
'You mean the borough has done much for me.'
'I know what I mean very well;--and I shall take it very ill if
a shilling out of the Castle ever goes into Mr Sprout's pocket
It is needless to trouble the reader at length with the sermon
which he preached her on the occasion,--showing the utter
corruption which must come from the mixing up of politics with
trade, or with the scorn which she threw into the few words with
which she interrupted him from time to time. 'Whether a man
makes good shoes, at a reasonable price, and charges for them
honestly,--that is what you have to consider,' said the Duke
'I'd rather pay double for bad shoes to a man who did not thwart
'You should not condescend to be thwarted in such a matter. You
lower yourself by admitting such a feeling.' And yet he writhed
himself under the lashes of Mr Slide!
'I know an enemy when I see him,' said the Duchess, 'and as long
as I live I'll treat an enemy as an enemy.'
There was ever so much of it, in the course of which the Duke
declared his purpose of sending at once to Mr Sprout for ever so
many cork soles, and the Duchess,--most imprudently,--declared
her purpose of ruining Mr Sprout. There was something in this
threat which grated terribly against the Duke's sense of honour;
--that his wife should threaten to ruin a poor tradesman, that
she should do so in reference to the political affairs of the
borough which he all but owned, that she should do so in declared
opposition to him! Of course he ought to have known that her sin
consisted simply in her determination to vex him at the moment.
A more good-natured woman did not live;--or one less prone to
ruin anyone. But any reference to the Silverbridge election
brought back upon him the remembrance of the cruel attacks which
had been made upon him, and rendered him for the time moody,
morose, and wretched. So they again parted ill friends, and
hardly spoke when they met at dinner.
The next morning there reached Matching a letter which greatly
added to his bitterness of spirit against the world in general
and against her in particular. The letter, though marked
'private', had been opened, as were all letters, by Mr Warburton,
but the private Secretary thought it necessary to show the letter
to the Prime Minister. He, when he had read it, told Warburton
that it did not signify, and maintained for half an hour an
attitude of quiescence. Then he walked forth, having the letter
hidden in his hand, and finding his wife alone, gave it her to
read. 'See what you have brought upon me,' he said, 'by your
interference and disobedience.' The letter was as follows:
Manchester Square, August 3, 187-
MY LORD DUKE,
I consider myself entitled to complain to your Grace of
the conduct with which I am treated at the last election
at Silverbridge, whereby I was led into very heavy
expenditure without the least chance of being returned
for the borough. I am aware that I had no direct
conversation with your Grace on the subject, and that
your Grace can plead that, as between man and man, I had
no authority from yourself for supposing that I should
receive your Grace's support. But I was distinctly asked
by the Duchess to stand, and was assured by her that if I
did so I should have all the assistance that your Grace's
influence could procure for me;--and it was also
explained to me that your Grace's official position made
it inexpedient that your Grace on this special occasion
should have any personal conference with your own
candidate. Under these circumstances I submit to your
Grace that I am entitled to complain of the hardship I
I had not been long in the borough before I found that my
position was hopeless. Influential men in the town who
had been represented to me as being altogether devoted to
your Grace's interests started a third candidate,--a
Liberal as myself,--and the natural consequence was that
neither of us succeeded, though my return as your Grace's
candidate would have been certain had not this been done.
That all this was preconcerted there can be no doubt,
but, before the mine was sprung on me,--immediately,
indeed, on my arrival, if I remember rightly,--an
application was made to me for 500 pounds, so that the
money might be exacted before the truth was known to me.
Of course I should not have paid the 500 pounds had I
known that your Grace's usual agents in the town,--I may
name Mr Sprout especially,--were prepared to act against
me. But I did pay the money, and I think your Grace will
agree with me that a very opprobrious term might be
applied without injustice to the transaction.
My Lord Duke, I am a poor man,--ambitious I will own,
whether that be a sin or a virtue,--and willing, perhaps
to incur expenditure which can hardly be justified in
pursuit of certain public objects. But I do not feel
inclined to sit down tamely under such a loss as this. I
should not have dreamed of interfering in the election at
Silverbridge had not the Duchess exhorted me to do so. I
would not even run the risk of a doubtful contest. But I
came forward at the suggestion of the Duchess, backed by
the personal assurance that the seat was certain as being
in your Grace's hands. It was no doubt understood that
your Grace would not yourself interfere, but it was
equally well understood that your Grace's influence was
for the time deputed to the Duchess. The Duchess herself
will, I am sure, confirm my statement that I had her
distinct authority for regarding myself as your Grace's
I can of course bring an action against Mr Wise, the
gentleman to whom I paid the money, but I feel that as a
gentleman I should not do so without reference to your
Grace, as circumstances might possibly be brought out in
evidence,--I will not say prejudicial to your Grace,-
but which would be unbecoming. I cannot, however, think
that your Grace will be willing that a poor man like
myself, in search for an entrance into public life,
should be mulcted to so heavy an extent in consequence of
an error on the part of the Duchess. Should your Grace
be able to assist me in my view of getting into
Parliament for any other seat I shall be willing to abide
by the loss I have incurred. I hardly, however,
dare to hope for such assistance. In this case I think
your grace ought to see that I am reimbursed.
I have the honour to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's faithful Servant
The Duke stood over her in her own room upstairs, with his back
to the fireplace and his eyes fixed upon her while she was
reading this letter. He gave her ample time, and she did not
read it very quickly. Much of it indeed she perused twice,
turning very red in the face as she did so. She was thus
studious partly because the letter astounded even her, and partly
because she wanted time to consider how she would meet his wrath.
'Well,' said he, 'what do you say to that?'
'The man is a blackguard,--of course.'
'He is so;--though I do not know that I wish to hear him called
such a name by your lips. Let him be what he may he was your
'He was my acquaintance.'
'He was the man whom you selected to be your candidate for the
borough in opposition to my wishes, and whom you continued to
support in direct disobedience to my orders.'
'Surely, Plantagenet, we had all that about disobedience out
'You cannot have such things "out",--as you call it. Evil-doing
will not bury itself out of the way and be done with. Do you
feel no shame at having your name mentioned a score of times with
reprobation as that man mentions it,--at being written about by
such a man as that?'
'Do you want me to roll in the gutter because I mistook him for a
'That was not all,--nor half. In your eagerness to serve such a
miserable creature as this you forgot my entreaties, my commands,
my position! I explained to you why, I, of all men, and you, of
all women, as part of me, should not do this thing, and yet you
did it, mistaking such a cur for a man! What am I to do? How am
I to free myself from the impediments which you make for me? My
enemies I can overcome,--but I cannot escape the pitfalls which
are made for me by my own wife. I can only retire into private
life and hope to console myself with my children and my books.'
There was a reality of tragedy about him which for the moment
overcame her. She had no joke ready, no sarcasm, no feminine
counter-grumble. Little as she agreed with him when he spoke of
the necessity of retiring into private life because a man had
written to him such a letter as this, incapable as she was of
understanding fully the nature of the irritation which tormented
him, still she knew that he was suffering, and acknowledged to
herself that she had been the cause of the agony. 'I am sorry,'
she ejaculated at last. 'What more can I say?'
'What am I to do? What can be said to the man? Warburton read
the letter, and gave it me in silence. He could see the terrible
'Tear it in pieces, and then let there be an end of it.'
'I do not feel sure but that he has right on his side. He is, as
you say, certainly a blackguard, or he would not make such a
claim. He is taking advantage of the mistake made by a good-
natured woman through her folly and her vanity;'--as he said
this the Duchess gave an absurd little pout, but luckily he did
not see it,--'and he knows very well that he is doing so. But
still he has a show of justice on his side. There was, I
suppose, no chance for him at Silverbridge after I had made
myself fully understood. The money was absolutely wasted. It
was your persuasion and your continued encouragement that led him
to spend the money.'
'Pay it then. The loss will not hurt you.'
'Ah;--if we could but get out of our difficulty by paying!
Suppose that I do pay it. I begin to think that I must pay it,--
that after all I cannot allow such a plea to remain unanswered.
But when it is paid;--what then? Do you think such a payment
made by the Queen's Minister will not be known to all the
newspapers, and that I shall escape the charge of having bribed
the man to hold his tongue?'
'It will be no bribe if you pay him because you think you ought.'
'But how shall I excuse it? There are things done which are holy
as the heavens,--which are clear before God as the light of the
sun, which leave no stain on the conscience, and which yet the
malignity of man can invest with the very blackest of hell! I
shall know why I pay this 500 pounds. Because she who of all the
world is the nearest and dearest to me,'--she looked up into his
face with amazement, as he stood stretching his arms out in
energy,--'has in her impetuous folly committed a grievous
blunder, from which she would not allow her husband to save her,
this sum must be paid to the wretched craven. But I cannot tell
the world that. I cannot say abroad that this small sacrifice of
money was the justest means of retrieving the injury which you
'Say it abroad. Say it everywhere.'
'Do you think I would have you spare me if it was my fault? And
how would it hurt me? Will it be new to anyone that I have done
a foolish thing? Will the newspapers disturb my peace? I
sometimes think, Plantagenet, that I should have been the man, my
skin is so thick; and that you should have been the woman, your
is so tender.'
'But it is not so.'
'Take the advantage, nevertheless, of my toughness. Send him the
500 pounds without a word,--or make Warburton do so, or Mr
Moreton. Make no secret of it. Then if the papers talk about
'A question might be asked about it in the House.'
'Or if questioned in any way,--say what I did. Tell the exact
truth. You are always saying that nothing but truth ever serves.
Let the truth serve now. I shall not blench. Your saying it all
in the House of Lords won't wound me half so much as your looking
at me as you did now.'
'Did I wound you? God knows I would not hurt you willingly.'
'Never mind. Go on. I know you think I have brought it all on
myself by my own wickedness. Pay this man the money, and then if
anything is said about it, explain that it was my fault, and say
that you paid the money because I had done wrong.'
When he came in she had been seated on a sofa, which she
constantly used herself, and he had stood over her, masterful,
imperious, and almost tyrannical. She had felt this tyranny, but
had resented it less than usual,--or rather had been less
determined in holding her own against him and asserting herself
as his equal,--because she confessed to herself that she had
injured him. She had, she thought, done but little, but that
which she had done had produced this injury. So she had sat and
endured the oppression of his standing posture. But now he sat
down by her, very close to her, and put his hand upon her
shoulder,--almost round her waist.
'Cora,' he said, 'you do not quite understand it.'
'I never understand anything, I think,' she answered.
'Not in this case,--perhaps never,--what it is that a husband
feels about his wife. Do you think that I could say a word
against you, even to a friend?'
'I never did. I never could. If my anger were at the hottest I
would not confess to a human being that you were not perfect,--
except to yourself.'
'Oh, thank you! If you were to scold me vicariously I should
feel it less.'
'Do not joke with me now, for I am so much in earnest. And if I
could not consent that your conduct should be called in question
even by a friend, do you suppose it possible that I could
contrive an escape from a public censure by laying the blame
publicly on you?'
'Stick to the truth;--that's what you always say.'
'I certainly shall stick to the truth. A man and his wife are
one. For what she does he is responsible.'
'They couldn't hang you, you know, because I committed a murder.'
'I should be willing that they should do so. No;--if I pay this
money I shall take the consequences. I shall not do it in any
way under the rose. But I wish you would remember--'
'Remember what? I know I shall never forget all this trouble
about that dirty little town, which I never will enter again as
long as I live.'
'I wish you would think that in all that you do you are dealing
with my feelings, with my heartstrings, with my reputation. You
cannot divide yourself from me; nor, for the value of it all,
would I wish that such a division were possible. You say that I
'Certainly you are. What people call a delicate organization,--
whereas I am rough and thick and monstrously commonplace.'
'Then should you too be thin-skinned for my sake.'
'I wish I could make you thick-skinned for your own. It's the
only way to be decently comfortable in such a coarse, rough-and-
tumble world as this is.'
'Let us both do our best,' he said, now putting his arm round her
and kissing her. 'I think I shall send the man his money at
once. It is the best of two evils. And now let there never be a
word more about it between us.'
Then he left her and went back,--not to the study in which he
was wont, when at Matching, to work with his private secretary,--
but to a small inner closet of his own, in which many a bitter
moment was spent while he thought over that abortive system of
decimal coinage by which he had once hoped to make himself one of
the great benefactors of his nation, revolving in his mind the
troubles which his wife brought upon him, and regretting the
golden inanity of the coronet which in the very prime of life had
expelled him from the House of Commons. Here he seated himself,
and for an hour neither stirred from his seat, nor touched a pen,
nor opened a book. He was trying to calculate in his mind what
might be the consequences of paying the money to Mr Lopez. But
when the calculation slipped from him,--as it did,--then he
demanded of himself whether strict high-minded justice did not
call upon him to pay the money let the consequences be what they
might. And here his mind was truer to him, and he was able to
fix himself to a purpose,--though the resolution to which he
came was not, perhaps, wise.
When the hour was over he went to his desk, drew a cheque for 500
pounds in favour of Ferdinand Lopez, and then caused his
Secretary to send it in the following note:
Matching, August 4, 187-
The Duke of Omnium has read the letter you have addressed
to him, dated the 3rd instant. The Duke of Omnium,
feeling that you may have been induced to undertake the
late contest at Silverbridge by misrepresentations made
to you at Gatherum Castle, directs me to enclose a cheque
for 500 pounds, that being the sum stated by you to have
been expended in carrying on the contest at Silverbridge.
I am, sir,
Your obedient servant,
Ferdinand Lopez, Esq.
The reader will no doubt think that Ferdinand Lopez must have
been very hardly driven indeed by circumstances before he would
have made such an appeal to the Duke as given in the last
chapter. But it was not the want of money only that had brought
it about. It may be remembered that the 500 pounds had already
been once repaid him by his father-in-law,--that special sum
having been given to him for that special purpose. And Lopez,
when he wrote to the Duke, assured himself that if, by any
miracle, his letter should produce pecuniary results in the shape
of a payment from the Duke, he would refund the money so obtained
to Mr Wharton. But when he wrote the letter he did not expect to
get the money,--nor, indeed, did he expect that aid towards
another seat, to which he alluded at the close of the letter. He
expected probably nothing but to vex the Duke, and to drive the
Duke into correspondence with him.
Though this man had lived nearly all his life in England, he had
not quite acquired that knowledge of the way in which things are
done which is general among men of a certain class, and so rare
among those beneath them. He had not understood that the
Duchess's promise of her assistance at Silverbridge might be
taken by him for what it was worth, and that her aid might be
used as far as it went,--but, that in the event of its failing
him, he was bound in honour to take the result without
complaining, whatever that result might be. He felt that a
grievous injury,--even though it were against a woman. He just
knew that he could not very well write to the Duchess herself,--
though there was sometimes present to his mind a plan for
attacking her in public, and telling her what evil she had done
him. He had half resolved that he would do so in her own garden
at The Horns;--but on that occasion the apparition of Arthur
Fletcher had disturbed him, and he had vented his anger in
another direction. But still his wrath against the Duke and
Duchess remained, and he was wont to indulge it with very violent
language as he sat upon one of the chairs in Sexty Parker's
office, talking somewhat loudly of his own position, of the
things that he would do, and of the injury done him. Sexty
Parker sympathized with him to the full,--especially as that
first 500 pounds, which he had received from Mr Wharton, had gone
into Sexty's coffers. At that time Lopez and Sexty were together
committed to large speculations in the guano trade, and Sexty's
mind was by no means easy in the early periods of the day. As he
went into town by his train he would think of his wife and family
and of the terrible things that might happen to them. But yet,
up to this period, money had always been forthcoming from Lopez
when absolutely wanted, and Sexty was quite alive to the fact
that he was living with a freedom of expenditure in his own
household that he had never known before, and that without
apparent damage. Whenever, therefore, at some critical moment, a
much-needed sum of money was produced Sexty would become light-
hearted, triumphant, and very sympathetic. 'Well;--I never
heard such a story,' he had said when Lopez was insisting on his
wrongs. 'That's what the Dukes and Duchesses call honour among
thieves! Well, Ferdy, my boy, if you stand that you'll stand
anything.' In these latter days Sexty had become very intimate
with his partner.
'I don't mean to stand it,' Lopez had replied, and then on the
spot had written the letter which he had dated from Manchester
Square. He had certainly contrived to make that letter as
oppressive as possible. He had been clever enough to put into it
words which were sure to wound the poor Duke and to confound the
Duchess. And having written it he was very careful to keep the
first draft, so that if occasion came he might use it again and
push for vengeance farther. But he certainly had not expected
such a result as it produced.
When he received the private Secretary's letter with the money he
was sitting opposite his father-in-law at breakfast, while his
wife was making the tea. Not many of his letters came to
Manchester Square. Sexty Parker's office or his club were more
convenient addresses, but in this case he had thought that
Manchester Square would have a better sound and appearance. When
he opened the letter the cheque of course appeared bearing the
Duke's own signature. He had seen that and the amount before he
had read the letter, and as he saw it his eye travelled quickly
across the table to his father-in-law's face. Mr Wharton might
certainly have seen the cheque and even the amount, probably also
the signature, without the slightest suspicion as to the nature
of the payment made. As it was, he was eating his toast, and had
thought nothing about the letter. Lopez, having concealed the
cheque, read the few words which the private Secretary had
written, and then put the document with its contents into his
pocket. 'So you think, sir, of going down to Hertfordshire on
the 15th,' he said in a very cheery voice. The cheery voice was
still pleasant to the old man, but the young wife had already
come to distrust it. She had learned, though she was hardly
conscious how the lesson had come to her, that a certain tone of
cheeriness indicated, if not deceit, at any rate concealment of
something. It grated against her spirit, and when this tone
reached her ears a frown or look of sorrow would come cross her
brow. And her husband also had perceived that it was so, and
knew at such times that he was rebuked. He was hardly aware what
doings, and especially what feelings, were imputed to him as
faults,--not understanding the lines which separate right from
wrong, but he knew that he was often condemned by his wife, and
he lived in fear that he should also be condemned by his wife's
father. Had it been his wife only he thought that he could soon
have quenched her condemnation. He would soon have made her
tired of showing her disapproval. But he had put himself into
the old man's house, where the old man could see not only him but
his treatment of his wife, and the old man's good-will and good
opinion were essential to him. Yet he could not restrain one
glance of anger at her when she saw that look upon her face.
'I suppose I shall,' said the barrister, 'I must go somewhere.
My going need not disturb you.'
'I think we have made up our mind,' said Lopez, 'to take a
cottage at Dovercourt. It is not a very lively place, nor yet
fashionable. But it is very healthy, and I can run up to town
easily. Unfortunately my business won't let me be altogether
away this autumn.'
'I wish my business would keep me,' said the barrister.
'I did not understand that you had made up your mind to go to
Dovercourt,' said Emily. He had spoken to Mr Wharton of their
joint action in the matter, and as the place had only once been
named by him to her, she resented what seemed to be a falsehood.
She knew that she was to be taken or left as it suited him. If
he had said boldly,--'We'll go to Dovercourt. That's what I've
settled on. That's what will suit me,' she would have been
contented. She quite understood that he meant to have his own
way in such things. But it seemed to her that he wanted to be a
tyrant without having the courage for tyranny.
'I thought you seemed to like it,' he said.
'I don't dislike it at all.'
'Then, as it suits my business, we might as well consider it
settled.' So saying, he left the room and went off to the city.
The old man was still sipping his tea and lingering over his
breakfast in a way that was not usual with him. He was generally
anxious to get away to Lincoln's Inn, and on most mornings had
left the house before his son-in-law. Emily of course remained
with him, sitting silent in her place opposite to the teapot,
meditating perhaps on her prospects of happiness at Dovercourt,-
a place of which she had never heard even the name two days ago,
and in which it was hardly possible that she should find even an
acquaintance. In former years these autumn months, passed in
Hertfordshire, had been the delight of her life.
Mr Wharton also had seen the cloud on his daughter's face, and
had understood the nature of the little dialogue about
Dovercourt. And he was aware,--that the young wife's manner and
tone to her husband was not that of perfect conjugal sympathy.
He had already said to himself more than once that she had made
her bed for herself, and must lie upon it. She was the man's
wife, and must take her husband as he was. If she suffered under
this man's mode and manner of life, he, as her father, could not
assist her,--could do nothing for her, unless the man should
become absolutely cruel. He had settled that within his own mind
already;--but yet his heart yearned towards her, and when he
thought that she was unhappy, he longed to comfort her and tell
her that she still had a father. But the time had not come as
yet in which he could comfort her by sympathizing with her
against her husband. There had never fallen from her lips a
syllable of complaint. When she had spoken to him a chance word
respecting her husband, it had always carried with it some tone
of affection. But still he longed to say to her something which
might tell her that his heart was soft towards her. 'Do you like
the idea of going to this place?' he said.
'I don't at all know what it will be like. Ferdinand says it
will be cheap.'
'Is that of such a vital consequence?'
'Ah;--yes, I fear it.'
This was very sad to him. Lopez had already had from him a
considerable sum of money, having not yet been married twelve
months, and was now living in London almost free of expense.
Before his marriage he had always spoken of himself, and had
contrived to be spoken of, as a wealthy man, and now he was
obliged to choose some small English seaside place to which to
retreat, because thus he might have a low rate! Had they been
married as poor people there would have been nothing to regret in
this;--there would be nothing that might be done with entire
satisfaction. But, as it was, it told a bad tale for the future!
'Do you understand his money matters, Emily?'
'Not at all, papa.'
'I do not in the least mean to make inquiry. Perhaps I should
have asked before,--but if I did make inquiry now it would be of
him. But I think a wife should know.'
'I know nothing.'
'What is his business?'
'I have no idea. I used to think he was connected with Mr Mills
Happerton and with Messrs Hunky and Sons.'
'Is he not connected with Hunky's business?'
'I think not. He has a partner of the name of Parker, who is,--
who is not, I think, quite--quite a gentleman. I never saw
'What does he do with Mr Parker?'
'I believe they buy guano.'
'Ah;--that, I fancy, was only one affair.'
'I'm afraid he lost money, papa, by that election at
'I paid that,' said Mr Wharton sternly. Surely he would have
told his wife that he had received that money from her family!
'Did you? That was very kind. I am afraid, papa, we are a great
burden to you.'
'I should not mind it, my dear, if there were confidence and
happiness. What matter would it be to me whether you had your
money now or hereafter, so that you might have it in the manner
that would be most beneficial to you? I wish he would be open
with me, and tell me everything.'
'Shall I let him know that you say so?'
He thought for a minute or two before he answered her. Perhaps
the man would be more impressed if the message came to him
through his wife. 'If you think that he will not be annoyed with
you, you may do so.'
'I don't know why he should,--but if it be right, that must be
borne. I am not afraid to say anything to him.'
'Then tell him so. Tell him that it will be better that he
should let me know the whole condition of his affairs. God bless
you, dear.' Then he stooped over her, and kissed her, and went
his way to Stone Buildings.
It was not as he sat at the breakfast table that Ferdinand Lopez
made up his mind to pocket the Duke's money and to say nothing
about it to Mr Wharton. He had been careful to conceal the
cheque, but he had done so with the feeling that the matter was
one to be considered in his own mind before to took any step. As
he left the house, already considering it, he was inclined to
think the money must be surrendered. Mr Wharton had very
generously paid his electioneering expenses, but had not done so
simply with the view of making him a present of money. He wished
the Duke had taken him at his word. In handing this cheque over
to Mr Wharton, he would be forced to tell the story of his letter
to the Duke, and was sure that Mr Wharton would not approve of
his having written such a letter. How could anyone approve of
his having applied for a sum of money which had already been paid
to him? How could such a one as Mr Wharton,--an old-fashioned
English gentleman,--approve of such an application being made
under any circumstances? Mr Wharton would very probably insist
on having the cheque sent back to the Duke,--which would be a
sorry end to the triumph as at present achieved. And the more he
thought of it the more he sure he was that it would be imprudent
to mention to Mr Wharton his application to the Duke. The old
men of the present day were, he said to himself, such fools that
they understood nothing. And then the money was very convenient
to him. He was intent on obtaining Sexty Parker's consent to a
large speculation, and knew that he could not do so without a
show of funds. By the time, therefore, that he had reached the
city he had resolved that at any rate for the present he would
use the money and say nothing about it to Mr Wharton. Was it not
spoil got from the enemy by his own courage and cleverness? When
he was writing his acknowledgement for the money to Warburton he
had taught himself to look upon the sum extracted from the Duke
as a matter quite distinct from the payment made to him by his
It was evident on that day to Sexty Parker that his partner was a
man of great resources. Though things sometimes looked very bad,
yet money always 'turned up'. Some of their buyings and sellings
had answered pretty well. Some had been great failures. No
great stroke had been made as yet, but then the great stroke was
always being expected. Sexty's fears were greatly exaggerated by
the feeling that the coffee and guano were not always real coffee
and guano. His partner, indeed, was of the opinion that in such
a trade as this they were following there was no need at all of
real coffee or real guano, and explained his theory with
considerable eloquence. 'If I buy a ton of coffee and keep it
six weeks, why do I buy it and keep it, and why does the seller
sell it instead of keeping it? The seller sells it because he
thinks he can do best by parting with it now at a certain
price. I buy it because I think I can make money by keeping it.
It is just the same as though we were back to our opinions. He
backs the fall. I back the rise. You needn't have coffee and
you needn't have guano to do this. Indeed the possession of the
coffee or guano is only a very clumsy addition to the trouble of
your profession. I make it my study to watch the markets;--but
I needn't buy everything I see in order to make money by my
labour and intelligence.' Sexty Parker before his lunch always
thought that his partner was wrong, but after that ceremony he
almost daily became a convert to the great doctrine. Coffee and
guano still had to be bought because the world was dull and would
not learn the tricks of trade as taught by Ferdinand Lopez,--
also possibly because somebody might want such articles,--but
our enterprising hero looked for a time in which no such dull
burden should be imposed on him.
On this day, when the Duke's 500 pounds was turned into the
business, Sexty yielded in a large matter which his partner had
been pressing upon him for the last week. They bought a cargo
of Kauri gum, coming from New Zealand. Lopez had reasons for
thinking that Kauri gum must have a great rise. There was an
immense demand for amber, and Kauri gum might be used as a
substitute, and in six months' time would be double its present
value. This unfortunately was a real cargo. He could not find
an individual so enterprising as to venture to deal in a cargo of
Kauri gum after his fashion. But the next best thing was done.
The real cargo was bought, and his name and Sexty's name were on
the bills given for the goods. On that day he returned home in
high spirits for he did believe in his own intelligence and good
MR WHARTON THINKS OF A NEW WILL.
On that afternoon, immediately on the husband's return to the
house, his wife spoke to him as her father had desired. On that
evening Mr Wharton was dining at his club, and therefore there
was the whole evening before them; but the thing to be done was
disagreeable, and therefore she did it at once,--rushing into
the matter almost before he had seated himself in the arm-chair
which he had appropriated to his use in the drawing-room. 'Papa
was talking about our affairs after you left this morning, and he
thinks that it would be so much better if you would tell him
'What made him talk of that today?' he said, turning at her
almost angrily and thinking at once of the Duke's cheque.
'I suppose it is natural that he should be anxious about us,
Ferdinand;--and the more natural as he has money to give if he
chooses to give it.'
'I have asked him for nothing lately;--though, by George, I
intend to ask him and that very roundly. Three thousand pounds
isn't much of a sum of money for your father to have given you.'
'And he paid the election bill;--didn't he?'
'He has been complaining of that behind my back,--has he? I
didn't ask him for it, he offered it. I wasn't such a fool as to
refuse, but he needn't bring that up as a grievance to you.'
'It wasn't brought up as a grievance. I was saying that your
standing had been a heavy expenditure--'
'Why did you say so? What made you talk about it at all? Why
should you be discussing my affairs behind my back?'
'To my own father! And that too when you are telling me every
day that I am to induce him to help you.'
'Not by complaining that I am poor. But how did it all begin?'
She had to think for a moment before she could recollect how it
did begin. 'There has been something,' he said, 'which you are
ashamed to tell me.'
'There is nothing I am ashamed to tell you. There never has been
and never will be anything.' And she stood up as she spoke, with
open eyes and extended nostrils. 'Whatever may come, however
wretched it may be, I shall not be ashamed of myself.'
'But of me!'
'Why do you say so? Why do you try to make unhappiness between
'You have been talking of--my poverty.'
'My father asked why you should go to Dovercourt,--and whether
it was because it would save expense.'
'You want to go somewhere?'
'Not at all. I am contented to stay in London. But I said that I
thought the expense had a good deal to do with it. Of course it
'Where do you want to be taken? I suppose Dovercourt is not
'I want nothing.'
'If you are thinking of travelling abroad, I can't spare the
time. It isn't an affair of money, and you had no business to
say so. I thought of the place because it is quiet and because I
can get up and down easily. I am sorry that I ever came to live
in this house.'
'Why do you say that, Ferdinand?'
'Because you and your father make cabals behind my back. If
there is anything I hate it is that kind of thing.'
'You are very unjust,' she said to him sobbing. 'I have never
caballed. I have never done anything against you. Of course
papa ought to know.'
'Why ought he to know? Why is your father to have the right of
inquiry into all my affairs?'
'Because you want his assistance. It is only natural. You
always tell me to get him to assist you. He spoke to me kindly,
saying that he would like to know how things are.'
'Then he won't know. As for wanting his assistance, of course I
want the fortune which he ought to give to you. He is a man of
the world enough to know that as I am in business capital must be
useful to me. I should have thought that you would understand as
much as that yourself.'
'I do understand it, I suppose.'
'Then why don't you act as my friend rather than his? Why don't
you take my part? It seems to me that you are much more his
daughter than my wife.'
'That is most unfair.'
'If you had any pluck you would make him understand that for your
sake he ought to say what he means to do, so that I might have
the advantage of the fortune which I suppose he means to give you
some day. If you had the slightest anxiety to help me you could
influence him. Instead of that you talk to him about my poverty.
I don't want him to think that I am a pauper. That's not the way
to get round a man like your father, who is rich himself and who
thinks it a disgrace in other men not to be rich too.'
'I can't tell him in the same breath that you are rich and that
you want money.'
'Money is the means by which men make money. If he was confident
of my business he'd sell out his cash quick enough! It is
because he has been taught to think that I am in a small way.
He'll find his mistake some day.'
'You won't speak to him then?'
'I don't say that at all. If I find that it will answer my own
purpose I shall speak to him. But it would be very much easier
to me if I could get you to be cordial in helping me.'
Emily by this time quite knew what such cordiality meant. He had
been so free in his words to her that there could be no mistake.
He had instructed her to 'get round' her father. And now again
he spoke of her influence over her father. Although her
illusions were all melting away,--oh, so quickly vanishing,--
still she knew that it was her duty to be true to her husband,
and to be his wife rather than her father's daughter. But what
could she say on his behalf, knowing nothing of his affairs? She
had no idea what was his business, what was his income, what
amount of money she ought to spend as his wife. As far as she
could see,--and her common sense in seeing such things was good,
--he had no regular income, and was justified in no expenditure.
On her own account she would ask for no information. She was too
proud to request that from him which should be given without any
request. But in her own defence she must tell him that she could
use no influence with her father as she knew none of the
circumstances by which her father would be guided. 'I cannot
tell you in the manner you mean,' she said, 'because I know
'You know that you can trust me to do the best with your money if
I could get hold of it, I suppose?' She certainly did not know
this, and held her tongue. 'You could assure him of that?'
'I could only tell him to judge for himself.'
'What you mean is that you'd see me d-d before you would open
your mouth for me to the old man!'
He had never sworn at her before, and now she burst out into a
flood of tears. It was to her a terrible outrage. I do not know
that a woman is very much the worse because her husband may
forget himself on an occasion to 'rap out an oath at her', as he
would call it when making the best of his own sin. Such an
offence is compatible with uniform kindness and most affectionate
consideration. I have known ladies who would think little or
nothing about it,--who would go no farther than the mildest
protest,--'Do remember where you are!' or 'My dear John!'--if
no stranger were present. But then a wife should be initiated
into it by degrees and there are different tones of bad language,
of which by far the most general is the good-humoured tone. We
all of us know men who never damn their servants or inferiors, or
strangers, or women,--who in fact keep it all for their bosom
friends, and if a little does sometimes flow over in the freedom
of domestic life, the wife is apt to remember that she is the
bosomer of her husband's friends, and so to pardon the
transgression. But here the word had been uttered with all its
foulest violence, with virulence and vulgarity. It seemed to the
victim to be the sign of a terrible crisis in her early married
life,--as though the man who had spoken to her could never again
love her, never again be kind to her, never again be sweetly
gentle and like a love. And as he spoke it he looked at her as
though he would like to tear her limbs asunder. She was
frightened as well as horrified and astounded. She had not a
word to say to him. She did not know in what language to make
her complaint of such treatment. She burst into tears, and
throwing herself on the sofa, hid her face in her hands. 'You
provoke me to be violent,' he said. But still she could not
speak to him. 'I come away from the city, tired with work and
troubled with a thousand things, and you have not had a kind word
to say to me.' Then there was a pause, during which she still
sobbed. 'If your father has anything to say to me, let him say
it. I shall not run away. But as to going to him of my own
accord with a story as long as my arm about my affairs, I don't
mean to do it.' Then he paused a moment again. 'Come, old girl,
cheer up! Don't pretend to be broken-hearted because I used a
hard word. There are worse things than that to be borne in the
'I--I--I was so startled, Ferdinand.'
'A man can't always remember that he isn't with another man.
Don't think anything more about it, but do bear this in mind,--
that, situated as we are, your influence with your father may be
the making or marring of me.' And so he left the room.
She had sat for the next ten minutes thinking of it all. The
words which he had spoken were so horrible that she could not get
them out of her mind,--could not bring herself to look upon them
as a trifle. The darkness of his countenance still dwelt with
her,--and that absence of all tenderness, that coarse, un-
marital and yet marital roughness, which should not at any rate
have come to him so soon. The whole man too was so different
from what she had thought him to be. Before their marriage no
word as to money had ever reached her ears from his lips. He had
talked to her of books,--and especially of poetry. Shakespeare
and Moliere, Dante and Goethe, had been or had seemed to be, dear
to him. And he had been full of fine ideas about women, and
about men in their intercourse with women. For his sake she had
separated herself from all her old friends. For his sake she had
hurried into a marriage altogether distasteful to her father.
For his sake she had closed her heart against the other lover.
Trusting altogether in him she had ventured to think that she had
known what was good for her better than all those who had been
her counsellors, and had given herself to him utterly. Now she
was awake, her dream was over, and the natural language of the man
was still ringing in her ears.
They met together at dinner and passed the evening without a
further allusion to the scene which had been acted. He sat with
a magazine in his hand, every now and then making some remark
intended to be pleasant but which grated on her ears as being
fictitious. She would answer him,--because it was her duty to
do so, and because she would not condescend to sulk; but she
could not bring herself even to say to herself that all should be
with her as though that horrid word had not been spoken. She sat
over her work till ten, answering him when he spoke in a voice
which was also fictitious, and then took herself off to her bed
that she might weep alone. It would, she knew, be late before he
would come to her.
On the next morning there came a message to him as he was
dressing. Mr Wharton wished to speak to him. Would he come down
before breakfast, or would he call on Mr Wharton in Stone
Buildings? He sent down word that he would do the latter at an
hour to be fixed, and then did not show himself in the breakfast-
room till Mr Wharton was gone. 'I've got to go to your father
to-day,' he said to his wife, 'and I thought it best not to begin
till we come to the regular business. I hope he does not mean to
be unreasonable.' To this she made no answer. 'Of course you
think the want of reason will be all on my side.'
'I don't know why you should say so.'
'Because I can read your mind. You do think so. You've been in
the same boat with your father all your life, and you can't get
out of that boat and get into mine. I was wrong to come and live
here. Of course it was not the way to withdraw you from his
influence.' She had nothing to say that would not anger him, and
was therefore silent. 'Well; I must do the best I can by myself,
I suppose. Good-bye,' and so he was off.
'I want to know,' said Mr Wharton, on whom was thrown by
premeditation on the part of Lopez the task of beginning the
conversation,--'I want to know what is the nature of your
operation. I have never been quite able to understand it.'
'I do not know that I quite understand it myself,' said Lopez
'No man alive,' continued the old barrister almost solemnly, 'has
a greater objection to thrust himself into another man's affairs
than I have. And I didn't ask the question before your marriage,
--as perhaps I ought to have done,--I should not do so now, were
it not that the disposition of some part of my earnings of my
life must depend on the condition of your affairs.' Lopez
immediately perceived that it behoved him to be very much on the
alert. It might be that if he showed himself to be very poor,
his father-in-law would see the necessity of assisting him at
once, or it might be, that unless he could show himself to be in
prosperous circumstances, his father-in-law would not assist him
at all. 'To tell you the plain truth, I am minded to make a new
will. I had of course made arrangements as to my property before
Emily's marriage. Those arrangements I think I shall now alter.
I am greatly distressed with Everett, and from what I see and
from a few words that have dropped from Emily, I am not, to tell
you the truth, quite happy as to your position. If I understand
rightly you are a general merchant, buying and selling goods in
'That's about it, sir.'
'What capital have you in the business?'
'Yes;--how much did you put into it at starting?'
Lopez paused a moment. He had got his wife. The marriage could
not be undone. Mr Wharton had money enough for them all, and
certainly would not discard his daughter. Mr Wharton could place
him on a really equal footing, and might not improbably do so if
he could be made to feel some confidence in his son-in-law. At
this moment there was much doubt with the son-in-law whether he
had better not tell the simple truth. 'It has gone in by degrees,'
he said. 'Altogether I have about 8,000 pounds in it.' In truth
he had never been possessed of a shilling.
'Does that include the 3,000 pounds you had from me?'
'Yes; it does.'
'Then you have married my girl and started into the world with a
business based on 5,000 pounds, and which had so far miscarried
that within a month of two after your marriage you were driven to
apply to me for funds!'
'I wanted money for a certain purpose.'
'Have you any partner, Mr Lopez?' This address was felt to be
'Yes. I have a partner who is possessed of capital. His name is
'Then his capital is your capital.'
'Well;--I can't explain it, but it is not so.'
'What is the name of your firm?'
'We haven't a registered name.'
'Have you a place of business?'
'Parker has a place of business in Little Tankard Yard.'
Mr Wharton turned to a directory and found out Parker's name.
'Mr Parker is a stockbroker. Are you also a stockbroker?'
'No,--I am not.'
'Then, sir, it seems to me that you are a commercial adventurer.'
'I am not at all ashamed of the name, Mr Wharton. According to
your manner of reckoning half the business of the City of London
is done by commercial adventurers. I watch the markets and buy
goods,--and sell them at a profit. Mr Parker is a moneyed man,
who happens also to be a stockbroker. We can very easily call
ourselves merchants, and put up the names of Lopez and Parker
over the door.'
'Do you sign bills together?'
'As Lopez and Parker?'
'No. I sign them and he signs them. I trade also by myself, and
so, I believe, does he.'
'One other question, Mr Lopez. On what income have you paid
income-tax for the last three years?'
'On 2,000 pounds a year,' said Lopez. This was a direct lie.
'Can you make out any schedule showing your exact assets and
liabilities at the present time?'
'Certainly I can.'
'Then do so, and send it to me before I go into Hertfordshire.
My will as it stands at present would not be to your advantage.
But I cannot change it till I know more of your circumstances
than I do now.' And so the interview was over.
MRS SEXTY PARKER.
Though Mr Wharton and Lopez met every day for the next week,
nothing more was said about the schedule. The old man was
thinking about it every day, and so was Lopez. But Mr Wharton
had made his demand, and, as he thought, nothing more was to be
said on the subject. He could not continue the subject as he
would have done with his son. But as day after day passed by he
became more and more convinced that his son-in-law's affairs were
not in a state which could bear to see the light. He had
declared his purpose of altering his will in the man's favour, if
the man would satisfy him. And yet nothing was done and nothing
Lopez had come among them and robbed him of his daughter. Since
the man had become intimate in his house he had not known an
hour's happiness. The man had destroyed all the plans of his
life, broken through his castle, and violated his very hearth.
No doubt he himself had vacillated. He was aware of that. No
present mood was severe enough in judging himself. In his
desolation he had tried to take the man to his heart,--had been
kind to him, and had even opened his house to him. He had told
himself that as the man was the husband of his daughter he had
better make the best of it. He had endeavoured to make the best
of it, but between him and the man there were such differences
that they were poles asunder. And now it became clear to him
that the man was, as he had declared to the man's face, no better
than an adventurer!
By his will as it at present stood he had left two-thirds of his
property to Everett, and one-third to his daughter, with
arrangements for settling her share on her children, should she
be married and have children at the time of his death. This will
had been made many years ago, and he had long since determined to
alter it, in order that he might divide his property equally
between his children;--but he had postponed the matter,
intending to give a large portion of Emily's share to her
directly on her marriage with Arthur Fletcher. She had not
married Arthur Fletcher;--but it was still necessary that a new
will should be made.
When he left town for Hertfordshire he had not yet made up his
mind how this should be done. He had at one time thought that he
would give some considerable sum to Lopez at once, knowing that
to a man in business such assistance would be useful. And he had
not altogether abandoned that idea, even when he had asked for
the schedule. He did not relish the thought of giving his hard-
earned money to Lopez, but still the man's wife was his daughter,
and he must do the best that he could for her. Her taste in
marrying the man was inexplicable to him. But that was done;--
and now how might he best arrange his affairs so as to serve her
About the middle of August he went to Hertfordshire and she to
the seaside in Essex,--to the little place which Lopez had
selected. Before the end of the month the father-in-law wrote a
line to his son-in-law.
(not without premeditation had he departed from the sternness of
that 'Mr Lopez', which in his anger he had used at the chambers.)
When we were discussing your affairs I asked you for a
schedule of your assets and liabilities. I can make no
new arrangement of my property until I receive this.
Should I die leaving my present will as the instrument
under which my property would be conveyed to my heirs,
Emily's share would go into the hands of trustees for the
use of herself and her possible children. I tell you
this that you may understand that it is for your own
interest to comply with my requisition.
Of course questions were asked him as to how the newly married
couple were getting on. At Wharton these questions were mild and
easily put off. Sir Alured was contented with a slight shake of
his head, and Lady Wharton only remarked for the fifth or sixth
time that it 'was a pity'. But when they all went to Longbarns,
the difficulty became greater. Arthur was not there, and old Mrs
Fletcher was in full strength. 'So the Lopezes have come to live
with you in Manchester Square?' Mr Wharton acknowledged that it
was so with an affirmative grunt. 'I hope he's a pleasant
inmate.' There was a scorn in the old woman's voice as she said
this, which ought to have provoked any man.
'More so than most men would be,' said Mr Wharton.
'He is courteous and forbearing, and does not think that
everything around him should be suited to his own peculiar
'I am glad you are contented with the marriage, Mr Wharton.'
'Who said that I am contented with it? No one ought to
understand or to share my discontent so cordially as yourself,
Mrs Fletcher;--and no one ought to be more chary of speaking of
it. You and I hoped for other things, and old people do not like
to be disappointed. But I needn't paint the devil blacker than
'I'm afraid that, as usual, he is rather black.'
'Mother,' said John Fletcher, 'the thing has been done and you
might as well let it be. We are all sorry that Emily has not
come nearer to us, but she has a right to choose for herself, and
I for one wish,--as does my brother also,--that she may be
happy in the lot she has chosen.'
'His conduct to Arthur at Silverbridge was so nice!' said the
pertinacious old woman.
'Never mind his conduct, mother. What is it to us?'
'That's all very well, John, but according to that nobody is to
talk about anybody.'
'I would much prefer, at any rate,' said Mr Wharton, 'that you
would not talk about Mr Lopez in my hearing.'
'I don't like Lopez, you know,' Mr Wharton said to John Fletcher
afterwards. 'How should it be possible that I should like such a
man? But there can be no good got by complaints. It is not what
your mother suffers, or what evil I can suffer,--or, worse
again, what Arthur may suffer, that makes the sadness of all
this. What will be her life? That is the question. And it is
too near me, too important to me, for the endurance either of
scorn or pity. I was glad you asked your mother to be silent.'
'I can understand it,' said John. 'I do not think that she will
trouble you again.'
In the meantime Lopez received Mr Wharton's letter at Dovercourt,
and had to consider what answer he should give to it. No answer
could be satisfactory,--unless he could impose a false answer on
his father-in-law so as to make it credible. The more he thought
of it, the more he believed this would be impossible. The
cautious old lawyer would not accept unverified statements. A
certain sum of money,--by no means illiberal at present,--he
had already extracted from the old man. What he wanted was a
further and much larger grant. Though Mr Wharton was old he did
not want to have to wait for the death even of an old man. The
next two or three years,--probably the very next year,--might
be the turning-point of his life. He had married the girl, and
ought to have the girl's fortune,--down on the nail! As he
thought of this he cursed his ill luck. The husbands of other
girls had their fortunes conveyed to them immediately on their
marriage. What would not 20,000 pounds do for him, if he could
get it into his hand? And so he taught himself to regard the old
man as a robber and himself as a victim. Who among us is there
who does not teach himself the same lesson? And then too how
cruelly, how damnably he had been used by the Duchess of Omnium!
And how Sexty Parker, whose fortune he was making for him, whose
fortune he at any rate intended to make, was troubling him in
various ways. 'We're in a boat together,' Sexty had said.
'You've had the use of my money, and by heavens you have it
still. I don't see why you should be so stiff. Do you bring
your missus to Dovercourt, and I'll take mine, and let 'em know
each other.' There was a little argument on the subject, but
Sexty Parker had the best of it, and in this way the trip to
Dovercourt was arranged.
Lopez was in a very good humour when he took his wife down, and
he walked her round the terraces and esplanades of that not
sufficiently well-known marine paradise, now bidding her admire
the sea and now laughing at the finery of the people, till she
became gradually filled with the idea that he was making himself
pleasant, she also ought to do the same. Of course she was not
happy. The gilding had so completely and so rapidly been washed
off her idol that she could not be very happy. But she also
could be good-humoured. 'And now,' said he, smiling, 'I have got
something for you to do for me,--something that you will find
'What is it? It won't be very bad, I'm sure.'
'It will be very bad, I'm afraid. My excellent but horribly
vulgar partner, Sexty Parker, when he found that I was coming
here, insisted on bringing his wife and children also. I want
you to know them.'
'Is that all? She must be very bad indeed if I can't put up with
'In one sense she isn't bad at all. I believe her to be an
excellent woman, intent on spoiling her children and giving her
husband a good dinner every day. But I think you will find that
she is,--well,--not quite what you would call a lady.'
'I shan't mind that in the least. I'll help her spoil the
'You can get a lesson there, you know,' he said, looking into her
face. The little joke was one which a young wife might take with
pleasure from her husband, but her life had already been too much
embittered for any such delight. Yes; the time was coming when
that trouble also would be added to her. She dreaded she knew
not what, and had often told herself that it would be better that
she should be childless.
'Do you like him?' she said.
'Like him. No;--I can't say I like him. He is useful, and in
one sense honest.'
'Is he not honest in all senses?'
'That's a large order. To tell you the truth, I don't know any
man who is.'
'Everett is honest.'
'He loses money at play which he can't pay without assistance
from his father. If his father had refused, where would then
have been his honesty? Sexty is as honest as others, I dare say,
but I shouldn't like to trust him much farther than I could see
him. I shan't go up to town to-morrow, and we'll both look in on
them after luncheon.'
In the afternoon the call was made. The Parkers, having
children, had dined early, and he was sitting out on a little
porch smoking his pipe, drinking whisky and water, and looking at
the sea. His eldest girl was standing between his legs, and his
wife, with the other three children round her, was sitting on the
door-step. 'I've brought my wife to see you,' said Lopez,
holding his hand to Mrs Parker, as she rose from the ground.
'I told her that you'd be coming,' said Sexty, 'and she wanted me
to put off my pipe and little drop of drink; but I said that if
Mrs Lopez was the lady I took her to be she wouldn't begrudge a
hard-working fellow his pipe and glass on a holiday.'
There was a soundness of sense in this which mollified any
feeling of disgust which Emily might have felt at the man's
vulgarity. 'I think you are quite right, Mr Parker. I should be
very sorry if,--if--'
'If I was to put my pipe out. Well, I won't. You'll take a
glass of sherry, Lopez? Though I'm drinking spirits myself. I
brought down a hamper of sherry wine. Oh, nonsense;--you must
take something. That's right, Jane. Let us have the stuff and
the glasses, and then they can do as they like.' Lopez lit a
cigar, and allowed his host to pour out for him a glass of
'sherry wine', while Mrs Lopez went into the house with Mrs
Parker and the children.
Mrs Parker opened herself out to her new friend immediately. She
hoped that they two might see 'a deal of each other,--that is,
if you don't think it's too pushing'. Sextus, she said, was so
much away, coming down to Dovercourt only every other day! And
then, within the half hour which was consumed by Lopez with his
cigar, the poor woman got upon the general troubles of her life.
Did Mrs Lopez think that 'all this speckelation was just the
'I don't think I know anything about it, Mrs Parker.'
'But you ought;--oughtn't you, now? Don't you think that a wife
ought to know what it is that her husband is after;--specially
if there's children? A good bit of money was mine, Mrs Lopez,
and though I don't begrudge it, not one bit, if any good is to
come out of it to him or them, a woman doesn't like what her
father has given her should be made ducks and drakes of.'
'But are they making ducks and drakes?'
'When he don't tell me I'm always afeard. And I'll tell you what
I know just as well as two and two. When he comes home a little
flustered, and then takes more than his regular allowance, he's
been at something as don't quite satisfy him. He's never that
way when he's done a good day's work at his regular business. He
takes to the children then, and has one glass after his dinner,
and tells me all about it,--down to the shillings and pence.
But it's very seldom he's that way now.'
'You may think it very odd, Mrs Parker, but I don't in the least
know what my husband is--in business.'
'And you never ask?'
'I haven't been very long married, you know,--only about two
'I'd had my fust by that time.'
'Only nine months, I think, indeed.'
'Well; I wasn't very long after that. But I took care to know
what it was he was a-doing of in the city long before that time.
And I did use to know everything, till--' She was going to say,
till Lopez had come upon the scene. But she did not wish, at any
rate as yet, to be harsh to her new friend.
'I hope it is all right,' said Emily.
'Sometimes he's as though the Bank of England was all his own.
And there's been more money come into the house;--that I must
say. And there isn't an open-handeder one than Sexty anywhere.
He'd like to see me in a silk gown every day of my life;--and as
for the children, there's nothing smart enough for them. Only
I'd sooner have a little and safe, than anything ever so fine,
and never be sure whether it wasn't going to come to an end.'
'There I agree with you, quite.'
'I don't suppose men feels it as we do; but, oh, Mrs Lopez, give
me a little safe, so that I may know that I shan't see my
children want. When I thinks what it would be to have them
darlings' little bellies empty, and nothing in the cupboard, I
get that low that I'm nigh fit for Bedlam.'
In the meantime the two men outside the porch were discussing
their affairs in somewhat the same spirit. At last Lopez showed
the friend Wharton's letter, and told him of the expected
schedule. 'Schedule be d-d, you know,' said Lopez. 'How am I to
put down a rise of 12s.6d a ton on Kauri gum in a schedule? But
when you come to 2,000 tons it's 1,250 pounds.'
'He's very old, isn't he?'
'But as strong as a horse.'
'He's got the money?'
'Yes;--he has got it safe enough. There's no doubt about the
'What he talks about is only a will. Now you want the money at
'Of course I do;--and he talks to me as if I were some old fogy
with an estate of my own. I must concoct a letter and explain my
views; and the more I can make him understand how things really
are the better. I don't suppose he wants to see his daughter
come to grief.'
'Then the sooner you write it the better,' said Mr Parker.
'HE WANTS TO GET RICH TOO QUICK.'
As they strolled home Lopez told his wife that he had accepted an
invitation to dine the next day at the Parker's cottage. In
doing this his manner was not quite so gentle as when he had
asked her to call on them. He had been a little ruffled by what
had been said, and now exhibited his temper. 'I don't suppose it
will be very nice,' he said, 'but we may have to put up with
worse things than that.'
'I have made no objection.'
'But you don't seem to take it very cordially.'
'I had thought I had got on very well with Mrs Parker. If you
can eat your dinner with them, I'm sure I can. You do not seem
to like him altogether, and I wish you had got a partner more to
'Taste indeed! When you come to this kind of thing it isn't a
matter of taste. The fact is, that I am in the fellow's hands to
an extent I don't like to think of, and don't see my way out of
it unless your father will do as he ought to do. You altogether
refuse to help me with your father, and you must, therefore, put
up with Sexty Parker and his wife. It is quite on the cards that
worse things may come even than Sexty Parker.' To this she made
no immediate answer, but walked on, increasing her pace, not only
unhappy, but also very angry. It was becoming a matter of doubt
to her whether she could continue to bear the repeated attacks
about her father's money. 'I can see how it is,' he continued.
'You think that a husband should bear all the troubles of life,
and that a wife should never be made to hear of them.'
'Ferdinand,' she said, 'I declare I did not think that any man
could be so unfair to a woman as you are to me.'
'Of course! Because I haven't got thousands a year to spend on
you I am unfair.'
'I am content to live in any way that you may direct. If you are
poor, I am satisfied to be poor. If you are even ruined, I am
content to be ruined.'
'Who is talking about ruin?'
'If you are in want of everything, I also will be in want and
will never complain. Whatever our joint lot may bring to us I
will endure and endeavour to endure with cheerfulness. But I
will not ask my father for money, either for you or for myself.
He knows what he ought to do. I trust him implicitly.'
'And me not at all.'
'He is, I know, in communication with you about what should be
done. I can only say,--tell him everything.'
'My dear, that is a matter in which it may be possible that I
understand my own interest best.'
'Very likely. I certainly understand nothing, for I do not even
know the nature of your business. How can I tell him that he
ought to give you money?'
'You might have asked him for your own.'
'I have got nothing. Did I ever tell you that I had?'
'You ought to have known.'
'Do you mean that when you asked me to marry you I should have
refused you because I did not know what money my papa would give
me? Why did you not ask papa?'
'Had I known him then as well as I do now you may be quite sure
that I should have done so.'
'Ferdinand, it will be better that we should not speak about my
father. I will in all things strive to do as you would have me,
but I cannot hear him abused. If you have anything to say, go to
'Yes;--when he is such a gambler that your father won't even
speak to him. Your father will be found dead in bed some day,
and all his money will have been left to some cursed hospital.'
They were at their own door when this was said, and she, without
further answer, went up to her bedroom.
All these bitter things had been said, not because Lopez had
thought that he could further his own views by saying them;--he
knew indeed that he was injuring himself by every display of ill-
temper;--but she was in his power, and Sexty Parker was
rebelling. He thought a good deal that day on the delight he
would have in 'kicking that ill-conditioned cur', if only he
could afford to kick him. But his wife was his own, and she
must be taught to endure his will, and must be made to know that
though she was not to be kicked, yet she was to be tormented and
ill-used. And it might be possible that he should cow her
spirits as to bring her to act as she should direct. Still, as
he walked alone along the sea-shore, he knew that it would be
better for him to control his temper.
On that evening he did write to Mr Wharton,--as follows,--and
he dated the letter from Little Tankard Yard, so that Mr Wharton
might suppose that that was his own place of business, and that
he was there, at his work:
MY DEAR SIR,
You have asked for a schedule of my affairs, and I have
found it quite impossible to give it. As it was with the
merchants whom Shakespeare and the other dramatists
described,--so it is with me. My caravels are out at
sea, and will not always come home in time. My property
at this moment consists of certain shares of cargoes of
jute, Kauri gum, guano, and sulphur, worth altogether at
the present moment something over 26,000 pounds, of which
Mr Parker possesses a half;--but then of this property
only a portion is paid for,--perhaps something more than
a half. For the other half our bills are in the market.
But in February next these articles will probably be sold
for considerably more than 30,000 pounds. If I had 5,000
pounds placed to my credit now, I should be worth about
15,000 pounds by the end of next February. I am engaged
in sundry other smaller ventures, all returning profits;
--but in such a condition of things it is impossible that
I should make a schedule.
I am undoubtedly in the condition of a man trading beyond
his capital. I have been tempted by fair offers, and
what I think I may call something beyond an average
understanding of such matters, to go into ventures beyond
my means. I have stretched my arm out too far. In such a
position it is not perhaps unnatural that I should ask a
wealthy father-in-law to assist me. It is certainly not
unnatural that I should wish him to do so.
I do not think I am a mercenary man. When I married your
daughter I raised no question of her fortune. Being
embarked in trade I no doubt thought that her means,--
whatever they might be,--would be joined with my own. I
know that a sum of 20,000 pounds, with my expeditious use
of the money, would give us a noble income. But I would
not condescend to ask a question which might lead to a
supposition that I was marrying her for her money and not
because I loved her.
You now know, I think, all that I can tell you. If there
be any other questions I would willingly answer them. It
is certainly the case that Emily's fortune, whatever you
may choose to give her, would be of infinitely greater
use to me now,--and consequently to her,--than at a
future date which I sincerely pray may be very long
Believe me to be, your affectionate son-in-law
A. Wharton, Esq.
This letter he himself took up to town on the following day, and
there posted, addressing it to Wharton Hall. He did not expect
very great results from it. As he read it over, he was painfully
aware that all this trash about caravels and cargoes of sulphur
would not go very far with Mr Wharton. But it might go farther
than nothing. He was bound not to neglect Mr Wharton's letter to
him. When a man is in difficulty about money, even a lie,--even
a lie that is sure to be found out to be a lie,--will serve his
immediate turn better than silence. There is nothing that the
courts hate so much as contempt;--not even perjury. And Lopez
felt that Mr Wharton was the judge before whom he was bound to
He returned to Dovercourt on that day, and he and his wife dined
with the Parkers. No woman of her age had known better what were
the manners of ladies and gentlemen than Emily Wharton. She had
thoroughly understood that when in Hertfordshire she was
surrounded by people of that class, and that when she was with
her aunt, Mrs Roby, she was not quite so happily placed. No
doubt she had been terribly deceived by her husband,--but the
deceit had come from the fact that his manners gave no indication
of his character. When she found herself in Mrs Parker's little
sitting-room, with Mr Parker making florid speeches to her, she
knew that she had fallen among people for whose society she had
not been intended. But this was a part, and only a very trifling
part, of the punishment which she felt that she deserved. If
that, and things like that, were all, she would bear them without
'Now I call Dovercourt a dooced nice little place,' said Mrs
Parker, as he helped her to the 'bit fish', which he told her he
had brought down with him from London.
'It is very healthy, I should think.
'Just the thing for the children, ma'am. You've none of your
own, Mrs Lopez, but there's a good time coming. You were up to-
day, weren't you, Lopez. Any news?'
'Things seemed to be very quiet in the city.'
'Too quiet, I'm afraid. I hate having 'em quiet. You must come
and see me in Little Tankard Yard some of these days, Mrs Lopez.
We can give you a glass of champagne and the wing of a chicken;--
can't we, Lopez?'
'I don't know. It's more than you ever gave me,' said Lopez,
trying to look good-humoured.
'But you ain't a lady.'
'Or me,' said Mrs Parker.
'You're only a wife. If Mrs Lopez will make a day of it we'll
treat her well in the city;--won't we, Ferdinand?' A black
cloud come across 'Ferdinand's' face, but he said nothing. Emily
of a sudden drew herself up unconsciously,--and then at once
relaxed her features and smiled. If her husband chose that it
should be so, she would make no objection.
'Upon my honour, Sexty, you are very familiar,' said Mrs Parker.
'It's a way we have in the city,' said Sexty. Sexty knew what he
was about. His partner called him Sexty, and why shouldn't he
call his partner Ferdinand?
'He'll call you Emily before long,' said Lopez.
'When you call my wife Jane, I shall,--and I've no objection in
life. I don't see why people ain't to call each other by their
Christian names. Take a glass of champagne, Mrs Lopez. I
brought down half-a-dozen to-day so that we might be jolly. Care
killed a cat. Whatever we call each other, I'm very glad to see
you here, Mrs Lopez, and I hope it's the first of a great many.
Here's to your health.'
It was all his ordering, and if he bade her dine with a crossing-
sweeper she would do it. But she could not but remember that not
long since he had told her that his partner was not a person with
whom she could fitly associated; and she did not fail to perceive
that he must be going down in the world to admit such
associations for her after he had so spoken. And as she sipped
the mixture which Sexty called champagne, she thought of
Hertfordshire and the banks of the Wye, and--alas, alas,--she
thought of Arthur Fletcher. Nevertheless, come what might, she
would do her duty, even though it might call upon her to sit at
dinner with Mr Parker three days in the week. Lopez was her
husband, and would be the father of her child, and she would make
herself one with him. It mattered not what people might call
him,--or even her. She had acted on her own judgement in
marrying him, and had been a fool; and now she would bear the
punishment without complaint.
When dinner was over Mrs Parker helped the servant to remove the
dinner things from the single sitting-room, and the two men went
out to smoke their cigars in the covered porch. Mrs Parker
herself took out the whisky and hot water, and sugar and lemons,
and then returned to have a little matronly discourse with her
guest. 'Does Mr Lopez ever take a drop too much?'
'Never,' said Mrs Lopez.
'Perhaps it don't affect him as it do Sexty. He ain't a drinker;
--certainly not. And he's one that works hard every day of his
life. But he's getting fond of it these last twelve months, and
though he don't take very much it hurries him and flurries him.
If I speaks at night he gets cross;--and in the morning when he
gets up, which he always do regular, though it's ever so bad with
him, then I haven't the heart to scold him. It's very hard
sometimes for a wife to know what to do, Mrs Lopez.'
'Yes, indeed.' Emily could not but think how soon she herself
had learned that lesson.
'Of course I'd anything for Sexty,--the father of my bairns, and
has always been a good husband to me. You don't know him, of
course, but I do. A right good man at bottom; but so weak!'
'If he,--if he,--injures his health, shouldn't you talk to him
'It isn't the drink as is the evil, Mrs Lopez, but that which
makes him drink. He's not one as goes a mucker merely for the
pleasure. When things are going right he'll sit out in our arbour
at home, and smoke pipe after pipe, playing with the children,
and one glass of gin and water will see him to bed. Tobacco,
dry, do agree with him, I think. But when he comes to three or
four goes of hot toddy, I know it's not as it should be.'
'You should restrain him, Mrs Parker.'
'Of course I should;--but how? Am I to walk off with the bottle
and disgrace him before the servant girl? Or am I to let the
children know as their father takes too much? If I was as much
as to make one fight of it, it'd be all over Ponder's End that
he's a drunkard;--which he ain't. Restrain him;--oh yes! If I
could restrain that gambling instead of regular business. That's
what I would like to restrain.'
'Does he gamble?'
'What is it but gambling that he and Mr Lopez is a-doing
together? Or course, ma'am, I don't know you, and you are
different from me. I ain't foolish enough not to know all that.
My father stood in Smithfield and sold hay, and your father is a
gentleman as has been high up in the Courts all his life. But
it's your husband is a-doing this.'
'Oh, Mrs Parker!'
'He is then. I don't know about commerce, Mrs Lopez, because I'm
only a woman; but it can't be fair. They goes and buys things
that they haven't got the money to pay for, and then waits to see
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