Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 2/Evan Harrington - Part 2
EVAN HARRINGTON; or, HE WOULD BE A GENTLEMAN.
BY GEORGE MEREDITH.
CHAPTER IV.ON BOARD THE IOCASTA.
From the Tagus to the Thames the Government sloop-of-war, Iocasta, had made a prosperous voyage, bearing that precious freight, a removed diplomatist and his family; for whose uses let a sufficient vindication be found in the exercise he affords our crews in the science of seamanship. She entered our noble river somewhat early on a fine July morning. Early as it was, two young people, who had nothing to do with the trimming or guiding of the vessel, stood on deck, and watched the double-shores beginning to embrace them more and more closely as they sailed onward. One, a young lady, very young in manner, wore a black felt hat with a floating scarlet feather, and was clad about the shoulders in a mantle of foreign style and pattern. The other you might have taken for a wandering Don, were such an object ever known; so simply he assumed the dusky sombrero and little dangling cloak, of which one fold was flung across his breast and drooped behind him. The line of an adolescent dark moustache ran along his lip, and only at intervals could you see that his eyes were blue and of the land he was nearing. For the youth was meditative, and held his head much down. The young lady, on the contrary, permitted an open inspection of her countenance, and seemed, for the moment at least, to be neither caring nor thinking of what kind of judgment would be passed on her. Her pretty nose was up, sniffing the still salt breeze with vivacious delight.
“Oh!” she cried, clapping her hands, “there goes a dear old English gull! How I have wished to see him! I haven’t seen one for two years and seven months. When I’m at home, I’ll leave my window open all night, just to hear the rooks, when they wake in the morning. There goes another dear old gull! I’m sure they’re not like foreign ones! Do you think they are?”
Without waiting for a reply, she tossed up her nose again, exclaiming:
“I’m sure I smell England nearer and nearer! Don’t you? I smell the fields, and the cows in them. I declare I’d have given anything to be a dairy-maid for half an hour! I used to lie and pant in that stifling air, among those stupid people, and wonder why anybody ever left England. Aren’t you glad to come back?”
This time the fair speaker lent her eyes to the question, and shut her lips: sweet, cold, chaste lips she had: a mouth that had not yet dreamed of kisses, and most honest eyes.
The young man felt that they were not to he satisfied by his own, and after seeking to fill them with a doleful look, which was immediately succeeded by one of superhuman indifference, he answered:
“Yes! We shall soon have to part!” and commenced tapping with his foot the cheerful martyr’s march.
Speech that has to be hauled from the depths usually betrays the effort. Listening an instant to catch the import of this cavernous gasp upon the brink of sound, the girl said:
“Part? what do you mean?”
Apparently it required a yet vaster effort to pronounce an explanation. The doleful look, the superhuman indifference were repeated in due order: sound, a little more distinct, uttered the words:
“We cannot remain as we have been, in England!” and then the cheerful martyr took a few steps further.
“Why, you don’t mean to say you’re going to give me up, and not be friends with me, because we’ve come back to England?” cried the girl in a rapid breath, eyeing him seriously.
Most conscientiously he did not mean it; but he replied with the quietest negative.
“No?” she mimicked him. “Why do you say ‘No’ like that? Why are you so mysterious, Evan? Won’t you promise me to come and stop with us for weeks? Haven’t you said we would ride, and hunt, and fish together, and read books, and do all sorts of things?”
He replied with the quietest affirmative.
“Yes? What does ‘Yes!’ mean?” She lifted her chest to shake out the dead-alive monosyllable, as he had done. “Why are you so singular this morning, Evan? Have I offended you? You are so touchy!”
The slur on his reputation for sensitiveness induced the young man to attempt being more explicit.
“I mean,” he said, hesitating; “why, we must part. We shall not see each other every day. Nothing more than that.” And away went the cheerful martyr in his sublimest mood.
“Oh! and that makes you sorry?” A shade of archness was in her voice.
The girl waited as if to collect something in her mind, and was now a patronising woman.
“Why, you dear sentimental boy! You don’t suppose we could see each other every day for ever?”
It was perhaps the cruelest question that could have been addressed to the sentimental boy from her mouth. But he was a cheerful martyr!
“You dear Don Doloroso!” she resumed. “I declare if you are not just like those young Portugals this morning; and over there you were such a dear English fellow; and that’s why I liked you so much! Do change! Do, please, be lively, and yourself again! Or mind! I’ll call you Don Doloroso, and that shall be your name in England. See there!—that’s—that’s?—what’s the name of that place? Hoy! Mr. Skerne!” She hailed the boatswain, passing, “do tell me the name of that place.”
Mr. Skerne righted about to satisfy her minutely, and then coming up to Evan, he touched his hat, and said:
“I mayn’t have another opportunity—we shall be busy up there—of thankin’ you again, sir, for what you did for my poor drunken brother Bill, and you may take my word I won’t forget it, sir,he does; and I suppose he’ll be drowning his memory just as he was near drowning himself.”
Evan muttered something, grimaced civilly, and turned away. The girl’s observant brows were moved to a faintly critical frown, and nodding intelligently to the boatswain’s remark, that the young gentleman did not seem quite himself, now that he was nearing home, she went up to Evan, and said:
“I’m going to give you a lesson in manners, to be quits with you. Listen, sir! Why did you turn away so ungraciously from Mr. Skerne, while he was thanking you for having saved his brother’s life? Now there’s where you’re too English. Can’t you bear to be thanked?”
“I don’t want to be thanked because I can swim,” said Evan.
“But it is not that. Oh, how you trifle!” she cried. “There’s nothing vexes me so much as that way you have. Wouldn’t my eyes have sparkled if anybody had come up to me to thank me for such a thing? I would let them know how glad I was to have done such a thing! Doesn’t it make them happier, dear Evan?”
“My dear Miss Jocelyn!”
Evan was silent. The honest grey eyes fixed on him, narrowed their enlarged lids. She gazed before her on the deck, saying:
“I’m sure I can’t understand you. I suppose it’s because I’m a girl, and I never shall till I’m a woman. Heigho!”
A youth who is engaged in the occupation of eating his heart, cannot shine to advantage, and is as much a burden to himself as he is an enigma to others. Evan felt this; but he could do nothing and say nothing; so he retired deeper into the folds of the Don, and remained picturesque and scarcely pleasant.
They were relieved by a summons to breakfast from below.
She brightened, and laughed. “Now, what will you wager me, Evan, that the Countess doesn’t begin: ‘Sweet child! how does she this morning? blooming?’ when she kisses me?”
Her capital imitation of his sister’s manner constrained him to join in her laugh, and he said:
“I’ll back against that, I get three fingers from your uncle, and ‘Morrow, young sir!’”
Down they ran together, laughing; and, sure enough, the identical words of the respective greetings were employed, which they had to enjoy with all the discretion they could muster.
Rose went round the table to her little cousin Alec, aged seven, kissed his reluctant cheek, and sat beside him, announcing a sea appetite and great capabilities, while Evan silently broke bread. The Count de Saldar, a diminutive tawny man, just a head and neck above the tablecloth, sat sipping chocolate and fingering dry toast, which he would now and then dip in jelly, and suck with placidity, in the intervals of a curt exchange of French with the wife of the Hon. Melville, a ringleted English lady, or of Portuguese with the Countess, who likewise sipped chocolate and fingered dry toast, and was mournfully melodious. The Hon. Melville, as became a tall islander, carved beef, and ate of it, like a ruler of men. Beautiful to see was the compassionate sympathy of the Countess’s face when Rose offered her plate for a portion of the world-subjugating viand, as who should say: “Sweet child! thou knowest not yet of sorrows, thou canst ballast thy stomach with beef!” In any other than an heiress, she would probably have thought: “This is indeed a disgusting little animal, and most unfeminine conduct!”
Rose, unconscious of praise or blame, rivalled her uncle in enjoyment of the fare, and talked of her delight in seeing England again, and anything that belonged to her native land. Mr. Melville perceived that it pained the refugee Countess, and gave her the glance intelligible; but the Countess never missed glances, or failed to interpret them. She said:
“Let her. I love to hear the sweet child’s prattle.”
“It was fortunate” (she addressed the diplomatist) “that we touched at Southampton and procured fresh provision!”
“Very lucky for us!" said he, glaring shrewdly between a mouthful.
The Count heard the word “Southampton,” and wished to know how it was composed. A passage of Portuguese ensued, and then the Countess said:
“Silva, you know, desired to relinquish the vessel at Southampton. He does not comprehend the word ‘expense,’ but” (she shook a dumb Alas!) “I must think of that for him now!”
“Oh! always avoid expense,” said the Hon. Melville, accustomed to be paid for by his country.
“At what time shall we arrive, may I ask, do you think?” the Countess gently inquired.
The watch of a man who had his eye on Time was pulled out, and she was told it might be two hours before dark. Another reckoning, keenly balanced, informed the company that the day’s papers could be expected on board somewhere about three o’clock in the afternoon.
“And then,” said the Hon. Melville, nodding general gratulation, “we shall know how the world wags.”
How it had been wagging the Countess’s straining eyes under closed eyelids were eloquent of.
“Too late, I fear me, to wait upon Lord Livelyston to-night?” she suggested.
“To-night?” The Hon. Melville gazed blank astonishment at the notion. “Oh! certainly, too late to-night. A—hum! I think, madam, you had better not be in too great a hurry to see him. Repose a little. Recover your fatigue.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the Countess, with a beam of utter confidence in him, “I shall be too happy to place myself in your hands—believe me.”
This was scarcely more to the taste of the diplomatist. He put up his mouth, and said, blandly:
“I fear—you know, madam, I must warn you beforehand—I, personally, am but an insignificant unit over here, you know; I, personally, can’t guarantee much assistance to you—not positive. What I can do—of course, very happy!” And he fell to again upon the beef.
“Not so very insignificant!” said the Countess, smiling, as at a softly radiant conception of him.
“Have to bob and bow like the rest of them over here,” he added, proof against the flattery.
“But then you will not forsake Silva, that I am convinced,” said the Countess; and, paying little heed to his brief “Oh! what I can do,” continued, “for over here, in England, we are almost friendless. My relations—such as are left of them—are not in high place.” She turned to Mrs. Melville, and renewed the confession with a proud humility. “Truly, I have not a distant cousin in the Cabinet!”
Mrs. Melville met her sad smile, and returned it, as one who understood its entire import.
“My brother-in-law—my sister, I think, you know—married a—a brewer! He is rich; but, well! such was her taste! My brother-in-law is indeed in Parliament, and he—”
“Very little use, seeing he votes with the opposite party,” the diplomatist interrupted her.
“Ah! but he will not,” said the Countess, serenely. “I can trust with confidence that, if it is for Silva’s interest, he will assuredly so dispose of his influence as to suit the desiderations of his family, and not in any way oppose his opinions to the powers that would willingly stoop to serve us!”
It was impossible for the Hon. Melville to withhold a slight grimace at his beef, when he heard this extremely alienised idea of the nature of a member of the Parliament of Great Britain. He allowed her to enjoy her delusion, as she pursued:
“No. So much we could offer in repayment. It is little! But this, in verity, is a case. Silva’s wrongs have only to be known in England, and I am most assured that the English people will not permit it. In the days of his prosperity, Silva was a friend to England, and England should not—should not—forget it now. Had we money! But of that arm our enemies have deprived us; and, I fear, without it we cannot hope to have the justice of our cause pleaded in the English papers. Mr. Redner, you know, the correspondent in Lisbon, is a sworn foe to Silva. And why but because I would not procure him an invitation to Court! The man was so horridly vulgar; his gloves were never clean; I had to hold a bouquet to my nose when I talked to him. That, you say, was my fault! Truly so. But what woman can be civil to a low-bred, pretentious, offensive man?”
Mrs. Melville, again appealed to, smiled perfect sympathy, and said, to account for his character:
“Yes. He is the son of a small shopkeeper of some kind, in Southampton, I hear.”
“A very good fellow, in his way,” said her husband.
“Oh! I can’t bear that class of people,” Rose exclaimed. “I always keep out of their way. You can always tell them.”
The Countess smiled considerate approbation of her exclusiveness and discernment. So sweet a smile!
“You were on deck early, my dear?” she asked Evan, rather abruptly.
Master Alec answered for him: “Yes, he was, and so was Rose. They made an appointment, just as they used to do under the oranges.”
“Children!” the Countess smiled to Mrs. Melville.
“They always whisper when I’m by,” Alec appended.
“Children!” the Countess’s sweetened visage entreated Mrs. Melville to re-echo; but that lady thought it best for the moment to direct Rose to look to her packing, now that she had done breakfast.
“And I will take a walk with my brother on deck,” said the Countess. “Silva is too harassed for converse.”
The parties were thus divided. The silent Count was left to meditate on his wrongs in the saloon; and the diplomatist, alone with his lady, thought fit to say to her, shortly: “Perhaps it would be as well to draw away from these people a little. We’ve done as much as we could for them, in bringing them over here. They may be trying to compromise us. That woman’s absurd. She’s ashamed of the brewer, and yet she wants to sell him—or wants us to buy him. Ha! I think she wants us to send a couple of frigates, and threaten bombard of the capital, if they don’t take her husband back, and receive him with honours.”
“Perhaps it would be as well,” said Mrs. Melville. “Rose’s invitation to him goes for nothing.”
“Rose? inviting the Count? down to Hampshire?” The diplomatist’s brows were lifted.
“No. I mean the other,” said the diplomatist’s wife.
“Oh! the young fellow! very good young fellow. Gentlemanly. No harm in him.”
“Perhaps not,” said the diplomatist’s wife.
“You don’t suppose he expects us to keep him on, or provide for him over here—eh?”
The diplomatist’s wife informed him that such was not her thought, that he did not understand, and that it did not matter: and as soon as the Hon. Melville saw that she was brooding something essentially feminine, and which had no relationship to the great game of public life, curiosity was extinguished in him.
On deck the Countess paced with Evan, and was for a time pleasantly diverted by the admiration she could, without looking, perceive that her sorrow-subdued graces had aroused in the breast of a susceptible naval lieutenant. At last she spoke:
“My dear! remember this. Your last word to Mr. Jocelyn will be: ‘I will do myself the honour to call upon my benefactor early.’ To Rose you will say: ‘Be assured, Miss Jocelyn’—Miss Jocelyn is better just then—‘I shall not fail in hastening to pay my respects to your family in Hampshire.’ You will remember to do it, in the exact form I speak it.”
Evan laughed: “What! call him benefactor to his face? I couldn’t do it.”
“Ah! my child!”
“Besides, he isn’t a benefactor at all. His private secretary died, and I stepped in to fill the post, because nobody else was handy.”
“And tell me of her who pushed you forward, Evan?”
“My dear sister, I’m sure I’m not ungrateful.”
“No; but headstrong: opinionated. Now these people will endeavour—Oh! I have seen it in a thousand little things—they wish to shake us off. Now, if you will but do as I indicate! Put your faith in an older head, Evan. It is your only chance of society in England. For your brother-in-law—I ask you, what sort of people will you meet at the Cogglesbys? Now and then a nobleman, very much out of his element. In short, you have fed upon a diet which will make you to distinguish, and painfully to know the difference! Indeed! Yes, you are looking about for Rose. It depends upon your behaviour now, whether you are to see her at all in England. Do you forget? You wished once to inform her of your origin. Think of her words at the breakfast this morning!”
The Countess imagined she had produced an impression. Evan said: “Yes, and I should have liked to have told her this morning that I’m myself nothing more than the son of a—"
“Stop!” cried his sister, glancing about in horror. The admiring lieutenant met her eye. Blushingly she smiled on him: “Most beautiful weather for a welcome to dear England?” and passed with majesty.
“Boy!” she resumed, “are you mad?”
“I hate being such a hypocrite, madam.”
“Then you do not love her, Evan?”
This may have been dubious logic, but it resulted from a clear sequence of ideas in the lady’s head. Evan did not contest it.
“And assuredly you will lose her, Evan. Think of my troubles! I have to intrigue for Silva; I look to your future; I smile, Oh, Heaven! how do I not smile when things are spoken that pierce my heart! This morning at the breakfast!”
Evan took her hand, and patted it tenderly.
“What is your pity?” she sighed.
“If it had not been for you, my dear sister, I should never have held my tongue.”
“You are not a Harrington! You are a Dawley!” she exclaimed, indignantly.
Evan received the accusation of possessing more of his mother’s spirit than his father’s in silence.
“You would not have held your tongue,” she said, with fervid severity; “and you would have betrayed yourself! and you would have said you were that! and you in that costume! Why, goodness gracious! could you bear to appear so ridiculous?”
The poor young man involuntarily surveyed his person. The pains of an impostor seized him. The deplorable image of the Don making confession became present to his mind. It was a clever stroke of this female intriguer. She saw him redden grievously, and blink his eyes; and not wishing to probe him so that he would feel intolerable disgust at his imprisonment in the Don, she continued:
“But you have the sense to see your duties, Evan. You have an excellent sense, in the main. No one would dream—to see you. You did not, I must say, you did not make enough of your gallantry. A Portuguese who had saved a man’s life, Evan, would he have been so boorish? You behaved as if it was a matter of course that you should go overboard after anybody, in your clothes, on a dark night. So, then, the Jocelyns took it. I barely heard one compliment to you. And Rose—what an effect it should have had on her! But, owing to your manner, I do believe the girl thinks it nothing but your ordinary business to go overboard after anybody, in your clothes, on a dark night. ’Pon my honour, I believe she expects to see you always dripping!” The Countess uttered a burst of hysterical humour. “So you miss your credit. That inebriated sailor should really have been gold to you. Be not so young and thoughtless.”
The Countess then proceeded to tell him how foolishly he had let slip his great opportunity. A Portuguese would have fixed the young lady long before. By tender moonlight, in captivating language, beneath the umbrageous orange-groves, a Portuguese would have accurately calculated the effect of the perfume of the blossom on her sensitive nostrils, and known the exact moment when to kneel, and declare his passion sonorously.
“Yes,” said Evan, “one of them did. She told me.”
“She told you? And you—what did you do?”
“Laughed at him with her, to be sure.”
“Laughed at him! She told you, and you helped her to laugh at love! Have you no perceptions? Why did she tell you?”
“Because she thought him such a fool, I suppose.”
“You never will know a woman,” said the Countess, with contempt.
Much of his worldly sister at a time was more than Evan could bear. Accustomed to the symptoms of restiveness, she finished her discourse, enjoyed a quiet parade up and down under the gaze of the lieutenant, and could find leisure to note whether she at all struck the inferior seamen, even while her mind was absorbed by the multiform troubles and anxieties for which she took such innocent indemnification.
The appearance of the Hon. Melville Jocelyn on deck, and without his wife, recalled her to business. It is a peculiarity of female diplomatists that they fear none save their own sex. Men they regard as their natural prey: in women they see rival hunters using their own weapons. The Countess smiled a slowly-kindling smile up to him, set her brother adrift, and delicately linked herself to Evan’s benefactor.
“I have been thinking,” she said, “knowing your kind and most considerate attentions, that we may compromise you in England.”
He at once assured her he hoped not, he thought not at all.
“The idea is due to my brother,” she went on; “for I—women know so little!—and most guiltlessly should we have done so. My brother perhaps does not think of us foremost; but his argument I can distinguish. I can see that, were you openly to plead Silva’s cause, you might bring yourself into odium, Mr. Jocelyn; and Heaven knows I would not that! May I then ask, that in England we may be simply upon the same footing of private friendship?”
The diplomatist looked into her uplifted visage, that had all the sugary sparkles of a crystallised preserved fruit of the Portugal clime, and observed, confidently, that, with every willingness in the world to serve her, he did think it would possibly be better, for a time, to be upon that footing, apart from political consideration.
“I was very sure my brother would apprehend your views,” said the Countess. “He, poor boy! his career is closed. He must sink into a different sphere. He will greatly miss the intercourse with you and your sweet family.”
Further relieved, the diplomatist delivered a high opinion of the young gentleman, his abilities, and his conduct, and trusted he should see him frequently.
By an apparent sacrifice, the lady thus obtained what she wanted.
Near the hour speculated on by the diplomatist, the papers came on board, and he, unaware how he had been manœuvred for lack of a wife at his elbow, was quickly engaged in appeasing the great British hunger for news; second only to that for beef, it seems, and equally acceptable salted when it cannot be had fresh.
Leaving the devotee of statecraft with his legs crossed, and his face wearing the cognisant air of one whose head is above the waters of events, to enjoy the mighty meal of fresh and salted at discretion, the Countess dived below.
Meantime the Iocasta, as smoothly as before she was ignorant of how the world wagged, slipped up the river with the tide; and the sun hung red behind the forest of masts, burnishing a broad length of the serpentine haven of the nations of the earth. A young Englishman returning home can hardly look on this scene without some pride of kinship. Evan stood at the fore part of the vessel. Rose, in quiet English attire, had escaped from her aunt to join him, singing in his ears, to spur his senses: “Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it beautiful? Dear old England!”
“What do you find so beautiful?” he asked.
“Oh, you dull fellow! Why the ships, and the houses, and the smoke, to be sure.”
“The ships? Why, I thought you despised trade, mademoiselle?”
“And so I do. That is, not trade, but tradesmen. Of course, I mean shopkeepers.”
“It’s they who send the ships to and fro, and make the picture that pleases you, nevertheless.”
“Do they?” said she, indifferently, and then with a sort of fervour, “Why do you always grow so cold to me whenever we get on this subject?”
“I, cold?” Evan responded. The incessant fears of his diplomatic sister had succeeded in making him painfully jealous of this subject. He turned it off. “Why, our feelings are just the same. Do you know what I was thinking when you came up? I was thinking that I hoped I might never disgrace the name of an Englishman.”
“Now, that’s noble!” cried the girl. “And I’m sure you never will. Of an English gentleman, Evan. I like that better.”
“Would you rather be called a true English lady than a true English woman, Rose?”
“Don’t think I would, my dear,” she answered pertly; “but ‘gentleman’ always means more than ‘man’ to me.”
“And what’s a gentleman, mademoiselle?”
“Can’t tell you, Don Doloroso. Something you are, sir,” she added, surveying him.
Evan sucked the bitter and the sweet of her explanation. His sister, in her anxiety to put him on his guard, had not beguiled him to forget his real state.
His sister, the diplomatist and his lady, the refugee Count, with ladies’ maids, servants, and luggage, were now on the main-deck, and Master Alec, who was as good as a newspaper correspondent for private conversations, put an end to the colloquy of the young people. They were all assembled in a circle when the vessel came to her moorings. The diplomatist glutted with news, and thirsting for confirmations; the Count dumb, courteous, and quick-eyed; the honourable lady complacent in the consciousness of boxes well packed; the Countess breathing mellifluous long-drawn adieux that should provoke invitations. Evan and Rose regarded each other.
The boat to convey them on shore was being lowered, and they were preparing to move forward. Just then the vessel was boarded by a stranger.
“Dio!” exclaimed the Countess. “Is that one of the creatures of your Customs? I did imagine we were safe from them.”
The diplomatist laughingly requested her to save herself anxiety on that score while under his wing. But she had drawn attention to the intruder, who was seen addressing one of the midshipmen. He was a man in a long brown coat and loose white neckcloth, spectacles on nose, which he wore considerably below the bridge and peered over, as if their main use were to sight his eye; a beaver hat, with broadish brim, on his head. A man of no station, it was evident to the ladies at once, and they would have taken no further notice of him had he not been seen stepping towards them in the rear of the young midshipman.
The latter came to Evan, and said: “A fellow of the name of Goren wants you. Says there’s something the matter at home.” Evan advanced, and bowed stiffly.
Mr. Goren held out his hand. “You don’t remember me, young man? I cut out your first suit for you when you were breeched, though! Yes—ah! Your poor father wouldn’t put his hand to it. Goren!”
Embarrassed, and not quite alive to the chapter of facts this name should have opened to him, Evan bowed again.
“Goren!” continued the possessor of the name. He had a cracked voice that, when he spoke a word of two syllables, commenced with a lugubrious crow, and ended in what one might have taken for a curious question.
“It is a bad business brings me, young man. I’m not the best messenger for such tidings. It’s a black suit, young man! It’s your father!”
The diplomatist and his lady gradually edged back; but Rose remained beside the Countess, who breathed quick, and seemed to have lost her self-command.
Thinking he was apprehended, Mr. Goren said: “I’m going down to-night to take care of the shop. He’s to be buried in his own uniform. You had better come with me by the night-coach, if you would see the last of him, young man.”
Breaking an odd pause that had fallen, the Countess cried aloud, suddenly:
“In his uniform!”
Mr. Goren felt his arm seized and his legs hurrying him some paces into isolation. “Thanks! thanks!” was murmured in his ear. “Not a word more. Evan cannot bear it. Oh! you are good to have come, and we are grateful. My father! my father!”
She had to tighten her hand and wrist against her bosom to keep herself up. She had to reckon in a glance how much Rose had heard, or divined. She had to mark whether the Count had understood a syllable. She had to whisper to Evan to hasten away with the horrible man. She had to enliven his stunned senses, and calm her own. And with mournful images of her father in her brain, the female Spartan had to turn to Rose, and speculate on the girl’s reflective brows, while she said, as over a distant relative, sadly, but without distraction: “A death in the family!” and preserved herself from weeping her heart out, that none might guess the thing who did not positively know it.
Evan touched the hand of Rose without meeting her eyes. He was soon cast off in Mr. Goren’s boat. Then the Countess murmured final adieux; twilight under her lids, but yet a smile, stately, affectionate, almost genial. Rose, her sweet Rose, she must kiss. She could have slapped Rose for appearing so reserved and cold. She hugged Rose, as to hug oblivion of the last few minutes into her. The girl lent her cheek, and bore the embrace, looking on her with a kind of wonder.
Only when alone with the Count, in the brewer’s carriage awaiting her on shore, did the lady give a natural course to her grief; well knowing that her Silva would attribute it to the darkness of their common exile. She wept: but in the excess of her misery, two words of strangely opposite signification, pronounced by Mr. Goren; two words that were at once poison and antidote, sang in her brain; two words that painted her dead father from head to foot, his nature and his fortune: these were the Shop, and the Uniform.
Oh! what would she have given to have seen and bestowed on her beloved father one last kiss! Oh! how she hoped that her inspired echo of Uniform, on board the Iocasta, had drowned the memory, eclipsed the meaning, of that fatal utterance of Shop!