Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Evan Harrington - Part 21
EVAN HARRINGTON; or, HE WOULD BE A GENTLEMAN.
BY GEORGE MEREDITH.
CHAPTER XXVII.EXHIBITS ROSE'S GENERALSHIP; EVAN'S PERFORMANCE
ON THE SECOND FIDDLE; AND THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THE COUNTESS.
We left Rose and Evan on their way to Lady Jocelyn. At the library-door Rose turned to him, and with her chin archly lifted sideways, said:
"I know what you feel; you feel foolish."
Now the sense of honour, and of the necessity of acting the part it imposes on him, may be very strong in a young man; but certainly, as a rule, the sense of ridicule is more poignant, and Evan was suffering horrid pangs. We none of us like to play second fiddle. To play second fiddle to a woman is an abomination to us all. But to have to perform upon that instrument to the darling of our hearts—would we not rather die? nay, almost rather end the duct precipitately and with vioEvan, when he passed Drummond into the house, and quietly returned his gaze, endured the There could be lirst shock of this strange feeling. no doubt that he was playing second fiddle to
Aftd what was he al)Out to do ? Oh, to stand like a criminal, and say, or
worse, have said for him, things to tip the ears To tell the yoimg lady's mother that with fire he had won her daughter's love, and meant he mean ? He knew not. Alas he did what was second fiddle he coidd only mean what she Evan loved Eose deeply and com})letely, meant. but noble manhood was strong in him. You may We have been sneer at us if you please, ladies. educated in a theory, that when you lead off with is the order of Nature the bov/, reversed, and it is no wonder, therefore, that, having stript us of one attribute, our tine feathers monlt, and the
majestic cock-like march which distinguishes lis You imsex us, if I may dare to say degenerates. so. Ceasing to be men, what are we ? If we are to please you rightlj, always allow us to play First.
Whether Eose saw feel foolish. had a loving feminine intuition and was aware of the golden rule I have just down, we need not inquire. She hit the and he could only stammer, and bid her ojien
Poor Evan did it
in his walk, or it,
the door. she said, after a slight hesitation, "it should speak to mama Walk out on the lawn, dear, and
be better that I
alone, I see. wait for me.
you meet Drummond,
don't be angry with him. Drummond. is very fond of me, and of course I shall teach him to what be fond of you. He only thinks I is not true, because he does not know you. do thoroiighly, and there, you see, I give you my hand." Evan drew the dear hand hum1)Iy to his lips. Eose then nodded meaningly, and let her eyes dwell on him, and went in to her mother to ojien .
be that a flame had sprung up in those ? Once they were like morning How soft and warm and tenderly transjiareut they coidd now be Assuredly she loved him. And he, beloved by the noblest girl ever fashioned, wh}' shoidd he hang his head, and shrink at the thought of human faces, like a wretch doomed to the pillory ? He visioned her last glance, and lightning emotions of pride and
grey eyes latterly before sunrise.
The genehappiness flashed through his veins. rous, brave heart Y^es, with her hand in his, he coidd stand at bay meet any fate. Evan accepted Eose because he believed in her love, and judged it by the strength of his own; her sacrifice of her position he accepted, because in his soul he knew he shoidd have done no less. He mounted to the level of her nobleness, and losing nothing of the beauty of what she did, it was not so strange to him. Still there was the balefid reflection that he was second fiddle to his beloved. No harmonj' came of it in his mind. How coidd he take an initiative ? He walked forth on the lawn, where a had under the shade of a maple, group gathered !
Drummond Forth, Mrs. Evremonde, Mrs. Shorne, Mr. George Uploft, Seymour Jocelittle apart Juliana and Ferdinand Laxley. Bonner was walking with Miss Carrington. Jidiher left saw when she him, ana, companion, and passing him swiftly, said, "Follow me presently into the conservatory." Evan strolled near the group, and bowed to Mrs. Shorne, whom he had not seen that consisting of
The lady's acknowledgment of his salute was constrained, and but a shade on the side of recognition. They were silent till he was out of ear-
noticed that his second approach proIn the conservatory same effect. Juliana was awaiting him. " It is not to roses I called you here, give you Mr. Harrington," she said. shot.
I beg one ? he responded. but you do not want them from It depends on the person." ' '
Evan, pointing to a white
She put her fingers to the stem. "What folly " she cried, and turned from !
afraid that I shall
asked Evan. " You care for me too little for that." " " dear Miss Bonner
long did you know Eose before you " called her by her Christian name ? Evan really coidd not rememljer, and v/as
beginning to wonder what he had beeu called The little lady had feverish eyes and fingers, and seemed to be burning to speak, but
there for. afraid.
" I thought you had gone," she dropped her " without wishing me good bye." " I certainly shoidd not do that, Miss Bonner." "Formal!" she exclaimed, half to herself. "Miss Bonner thanks you. Do you think I wish No friend of yours would wish it. j^ou to stay ? of Y'ou do not know the selfishness brutal these people of birth, as they call it." " I have met with nothing but kindness here," voice,
go while you can feel that," she an" for it cannot last another hour. Here is the rose." She broke it from tlie stem and handed " You it to him. may wear that, and they are not so likely to caU you an adventurer, and names of that sort. I am hardly considered a lady by them." An adventurer The full meaning of the phrase Miss struck Evan's senses when he was alone.
Bonner knew something of his condition, evidently. Perhaps it was generally known, and perhaps it was thought that he had come to win Eose for his worldly advantage The idea was overwhelmingly !
woidd renounce her. It is no insignificant contest when love has to crush self-love utterly. At moments it can be done. Love has divine moments. There are times also when Love draws part of his being from self-love, and can find no support without
But how could he renounce