Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Evan Harrington - Part 23
EVAN HARRINGTON; or, HE WOULD BE A GENTLEMAN.
BY GEORGE MEREDITH.
CHAPTER XXIX.PRELUDE TO AN ENGAGEMENT.
Money was a strong point with the Elburne brood. The Jocelyns very properly respected blood; but being, as Harry, their youngest representative, termed them, poor as rats, they were justified in considering it a marketable stuff; and when they married they married for money. The Hon. Miss Jocelyn had espoused a manufacturer, who failed in his contract, and deserved his death. The diplomatist, Melville, had not stepped aside from the family traditions in his alliance with Miss Black, the daughter of a bold bankrupt, educated in affluence; and if he touched nothing but 5000l. and some very pretty ringlets, that was not his fault. Sir Franks, too, mixed his pure stream with gold. As yet, however, the gold had done little more than shine on him; and, belonging to expectancy, it might be thought unsubstantial. Beckley Court was in the hands of Mrs. Bonner, who, with the highest sense of duty towards her only living child, was the last to appreciate Lady Jocelyn’s entire absence of demonstrative affection, and severely reprobated her daughter’s philosophic handling of certain serious subjects. Sir Franks, no doubt, came better off than the others. Her ladyship brought him twenty thousand pounds, and Harry had ten in the past tense, and Rose in the future; but living, as he had done, a score of years anticipating the demise of an incurable invalid, he, though an excellent husband and father, could scarcely be taught to imagine that the Jocelyn object of his bargain was attained. He had the semblance of wealth, without the personal glow which absolute possession brings. It was his habit to call himself a poor man, and it was his dream that Rose should marry a rich one. Harry was hopeless. He had been his grandmother’s pet up to the years of adolescence: he was getting too old for any prospect of a military career: he had no turn for diplomacy, no taste for any of the walks open to blood and birth, and was in headlong disgrace with the fountain of goodness at Beckley Court, where he was still kept in the tacit understanding that, should Juliana inherit the place, he must be at hand to marry her instantly, after the fashion of the Jocelyns. They were an injured family; for what they gave was good, and the commercial world had not behaved honourably to them.
Now Ferdinand Laxley was just the match for Rose. Born to a title and fine estate, he was evidently fond of her, and there had been a gentle hope in the bosom of Sir Franks that the family fatality would cease, and that Rose would marry both money and blood.
From this happy delusion poor Sir Franks was awakened to hear that his daughter had plighted herself to the son of a tradesman: that, as the climax to their evil fate, she who had some blood and some money of her own—the only Jocelyn who had ever united the two—was desirous of wasting herself on one who had neither. The idea was so utterly opposed to the principles Sir Franks had been trained in, that his intellect could not grasp it. He listened to his sister, Mrs. Shorne: he listened to his wife: he agreed with all they said, though what they said was widely diverse: he consented to see and speak to Evan, and he did so, and was much the most distressed. For Sir Franks liked many things in life, and hated one thing alone—which was “bother.” A smooth world was his delight. Rose knew this, and her instruction to Evan was: “You cannot give me up—you will go, but you cannot give me up while I am faithful to you: tell him that.” She knew that to impress this fact at once on the mind of Sir Franks would be a great gain; for in his detestation of bother he would soon grow reconciled to things monstrous; and hearing the same on both sides, the matter would assume an inevitable shape to him. Mr. Second Fiddle had no difficulty in declaring the eternity of his sentiments; but he toned them with a despair Rose did not contemplate, and added also his readiness to repair, in any way possible, the evil done. He spoke of his birth and position. Sir Franks, with a gentlemanly delicacy natural to all lovers of a smooth world, begged him to see the main and the insurmountable objection. Birth was to be desired, of course, and position, and so forth: but without money how can two young people marry? Evan’s heart melted at this generous way of putting it. He said he saw it, he had no hope: he would go and be forgotten: and begged that for any annoyance his visit might have caused Sir Franks and Lady Jocelyn, they would pardon him. Sir Franks shook him by the hand, and the interview ended in an animated dialogue on the condition of the knees of Black Lymport, and on horseflesh in Portugal and Spain.
Following Evan, Rose went to her father and gave him a good hour’s excitement, after which the worthy gentleman hurried for consolation to Lady Jocelyn, whom he found reading a book of French memoirs, in her usual attitude, with her feet stretched out, as if she made a footstool of trouble. Her ladyship read him a piquant story, and Sir Franks capped it with another from memory; whereupon her ladyship held him wrong in one turn of the story, and Sir Franks rose to get the volume to verify, and while he was turning over the leaves, Lady Jocelyn told him incidentally of old Tom Cogglesby’s visit and proposition. Sir Franks found the passage, and that her ladyship was right, which it did not move her countenance to hear.
“Ah!” said he, finding it no use to pretend there was no bother in the world, “here’s a pretty pickle! Rose says she will have that fellow.”
“Hum! it’s a nuisance,” replied her ladyship. “And if she keeps her mind a couple of years, it will be a wonder.”
“Very bad for her, this sort of thing—talked about,” muttered Sir Franks. “Ferdinand was just the man.”
“Well, yes; I suppose it’s her mistake to think brains an absolute requisite,” said Lady Jocelyn, opening her book again, and scanning down a column.
Sir Franks, being imitative, adopted a similar refuge, and the talk between them was varied by quotations and choice bits from the authors they had recourse to. Both leaned back in their chairs, and spoke with their eyes on their books.
“Julia’s going to write to her mother,” said he.
“Very filial and proper,” said she.
“There’ll be a horrible hubbub, you know, Emily.”
“Most probably. I shall get the blame; cela se conçoit.”
“Young Harrington goes the day after to-morrow. Thought it better not to pack him off in a hurry.”
“And just before the pic-nic; no, certainly. I suppose it would look odd.”
“How are we to get rid of the Countess?”
“Eh? This Bautru is amusing, Franks; but he’s nothing to Vandy. Homme incomparable! On the whole I find Ménage rather dull. The Countess? what an accomplished liar that woman is! She seems to have stepped out of Tallemant’s Gallery. Concerning the Countess, I suppose you had better apply to Melville.”
“Where the deuce did this young Harrington get his breeding from?”
“He comes of a notable sire.”
“Yes, but there’s no sign of the snob in him.”
“And I exonerate him from the charge of ‘adventuring’ after Rose. George Uploft tells me—I had him in just now—that the mother is a woman of mark and strong principle. She has probably corrected the too luxuriant nature of Mel in her offspring. That is to say, in this one. Pour les autres, je ne dis pas. Well, the young man will go; and if Rose chooses to become a monument of constancy, we can do nothing. I shall give my advice; but as she has not deceived me, and she is a reasonable being, I shan’t interfere. Putting the case at the worst, they will not want money. I have no doubt Tom Cogglesby means what he says, and will do it. So there we will leave the matter till we hear from Elburne House.
Sir Franks groaned at the thought.
“How much does he offer to settle on them?” he asked.
“A thousand a-year on the marriage, and the same amount to the first child. I dare say the end would be that they would get all.”
Sir Franks nodded, and remained with one eye-brow pitiably elevated above the level of the other.
“Anything but a tailor!” he exclaimed presently, half to himself.
“There is a prejudice against that craft, isn’t there?” her ladyship acquiesced. “Béranger—let me see—your favourite Frenchman, Franks, wasn’t it his father?—no, his grandfather. ‘Mon pauvre et humble grandpère,’ I think, was a tailor. Hum! the degrees of the thing, I confess, don’t affect me. One trade I imagine to be no worse than another.”
“Ferdinand’s allowance is about a thousand,” said Sir Franks, meditatively.
“And won’t be a farthing more till he comes to the title,” added her ladyship.
“Well, resumed Sir Franks, “it’s a horrible bother!”
His wife philosophically agreed with him, and the subject was dropped.
Lady Jocelyn felt with her husband, more than she chose to let him know, and Sir Franks could have burst into anathemas against fate and circumstance, more than his love of a smooth world permitted. He, however, was subdued by her calmness; and she, with ten times the weight of brain, was manœuvred by the wonderful dash of General Rose Jocelyn. For her ladyship, thinking, “I shall get the blame of all this,” rather sided insensibly with the offenders against those who condemned them jointly; and seeing that Rose had been scrupulously honest and straightforward in a very delicate matter, this lady was so constituted that she could not but applaud her daughter in her heart. A worldly woman would have acted, if she had not thought, differently, but her ladyship was not a worldly woman. Evan’s bearing and character had, during his residence at Beckley Court, become so thoroughly accepted as those of a gentleman, and one of their own rank, that, after an allusion to the origin of his breeding, not a word more was said by either of them on that topic. Besides, Rose had dignified him by her decided conduct.
By the time poor Sir Franks had read himself into tranquillity, Mrs. Shorne, who knew him well, and was determined that he should not enter upon his usual negotiation with an unpleasantness, that is to say, to forget it, joined them in the library, bringing with her Sir John Loring and Hamilton Jocelyn. Her first measure was to compel Sir Franks to put down his book. Lady Jocelyn subsequently had to do the same.
“Well, what have you done, Franks?” said Mrs. Shorne.
“Done?” answered the poor gentleman. “What is there to be done? I’ve spoken to young Harrington.”
“Spoken to him! He deserves horsewhipping! Have you not told him to quit the house instantly?”
Lady Jocelyn came to her husband’s aid: “It wouldn’t do, I think, to kick him out. In the first place, he hasn’t deserved it.”
“Not deserved it, Emily!—the commonest of low, vile, adventuring tradesmen!”
“In the second place,” pursued her ladyship, “it’s not advisable to do anything that will make Rose enter into the young woman’s sublimities. It’s better not to let a lunatic see that you think him stark mad, and the same holds with young women afflicted with the love-mania. The sound of sense, even if they can’t understand it, flatters them so as to keep them within bounds. Otherwise you drive them into excesses best avoided.”
“Really, Emily,” said Mrs. Shorne, “you speak almost, one would say, as an advocate of such unions.”
“You must know perfectly well that I entirely condemn them,” replied her ladyship, who had once, and once only, delivered her opinion of the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Shorne.
In self-defence, and to show the total difference between the cases, Mrs. Shorne interjected: “An utterly penniless young adventurer!”
“Oh, no; there’s money,” remarked Sir Franks.
“Money, is there?” quoth Hamilton, respectfully.
“And there’s wit,” added Sir John, “if he has half his sister’s talent.”
“Astonishing woman!” Hamilton chimed in; adding, with a shrug, “But, egad!”
“Well, we don’t want him to resemble his sister,” said Lady Jocelyn. “I acknowledge she’s amusing.”
“Amusing, Emily!” Mrs. Shorne never encountered her sister-in-law’s calmness without indignation. “I could not rest in the house with such a person, knowing her what she is. A vile adventuress, as I firmly believe. What does she do all day with your mother? Depend upon it, you will repent her visit in more ways than one.”
“A prophecy?” asked Lady Jocelyn, smiling.
On the grounds of common sense, on the grounds of propriety, and consideration of what was due to themselves, all agreed to condemn the notion of Rose casting herself away on Evan. Lady Jocelyn agreed with Mrs. Shorne; Sir Franks with his brother, and Sir John. But as to what they were to do, they were divided. Lady Jocelyn said she should not prevent Rose from writing to Evan, if she had the wish to do so.
“Folly must come out,” said her ladyship. “It’s a combustible material. I won’t have her health injured. She shall go into the world more. She will be presented at Court, and if it’s necessary to give her a dose or two to counteract her vanity, I don’t object. This will wear off, or, si c’est véritablement une grande passion, eh bien! we must take what Providence sends us.”
“And which we might have prevented if we had condescended to listen to the plainest worldly wisdom,” added Mrs. Shorne.
“Yes?” said Lady Jocelyn, equably, “you know, you and I, Julia, argue from two distinct points. Girls may be shut up, as you propose. I don’t think nature intended to have them the obverse of men. I’m sure their mothers never designed that they should run away with footmen, riding-masters, chance curates, as they occasionally do, and wouldn’t, if they had points of comparison. My opinion is that Prospero was just saved by the Prince of Naples being wrecked on his island, from a shocking misalliance between his daughter and the son of Sycorax. I see it clearly. Poetry conceals the extreme probability, but from what I know of my sex, I should have no hesitation in turning prophet also, as to that.”
What could Mrs. Shorne do? Mrs. Melville, when she arrived to take part in the conference, which gradually swelled to a family one, was equally unable to make Lady Jocelyn perceive that her plan of bringing up Rose was, in the present result of it, other than unlucky.
Now the two generals—Rose Jocelyn and the Countess de Saldar—had brought matters to this pass; and from the two tactical extremes: the former by openness and dash: the latter by subtlety, and her own interpretations of the means extended to her by Providence. I will not be so bold as to state which of the two I think right. Good and evil work together in this world. If the Countess had not woven the tangle, and gained Evan time, Rose would never have seen his blood,—never have had her spirit hurried out of all shows and form, and habits of thought, up to the gates of existence, as it were, where she took him simply as God created him and her, and clave to him. Again, had Rose been secret, when this turn in her nature came, she would have forfeited the strange power she received from it, and which endowed her with decision to say what was in her heart, and stamp it lastingly there. The two generals were quite antagonistic, but no two, in perfect ignorance of one another’s proceedings, ever worked so harmoniously towards the main result. The Countess was the skilful engineer: Rose the general of cavalry. And it did really seem that with Tom Cogglesby and his thousands in reserve, the victory was about to be gained. The male Jocelyns, an easy race, decided that, if the worst came to the worst, and Rose proved a wonder, there was money, which was something.
But social prejudice was about to claim its champion. Hitherto there had been no general on the opposite side. Love, aided by the Countess, had engaged an inert mass. The champion was discovered in the person of the provincial Don Juan, Mr. Harry Jocelyn. Harry had gone on a mysterious business of his own to London. He returned with a green box under his arm, which, five minutes after his arrival, was entrusted to Conning, in company with a genial present for herself, of a kind not perhaps so fit for exhibition, at least they both thought so, for it was given in the shades. Harry then went to pay his respects to his mother, who received him with her customary ironical tolerance. His father, to whom he was an incarnation of bother, likewise nodded to him and gave him a finger. Duty done, Harry looked around him for pleasure, and observed nothing but glum faces. Even the face of Mr. John Raikes was heavy. He had been hovering about the Duke and Miss Current for an hour, hoping the Countess would come and give him a promised introduction. The Countess stirred not from above, and Jack drifted from group to group on the lawn, and grew conscious that wherever he went he brought silence with him. His isolation made him humble, and when Harry shook his hand, and said he remembered Fallowfield and the fun there, Mr. Raikes thanked him, and in a small speech, in which he contrived to introduce the curricle, remarked that the Hampshire air suited his genius, and that the friendship of Mr. Harry Jocelyn would be agreeable to him.
“Where’s the tailor?” cried Harry, laughing.
“Tailor!” Jack exclaimed, reprovingly, “oh! now, my dear fellow, you must positively drop that. Harrington’s sisters! consider! superb women! unmatched for style! No, no; Harrington’s father was an officer. I know it. A distant relative of Sir Abraham Harrington, the proud baronet of Torquay, who refused to notice them. Why? Because of the handle to his name. One could understand a man of genius!—a member of parliament! but proud of a baronetcy! His conduct was hideous. The Countess herself informed me.”
“Ha! ha!” laughed Harry, “I was only joking. I shall see you again.” And Mr. Raikes was left to fresh meditation.
Harry made his way to join his friend Ferdinand, and furnished him with the latest London news not likely to appear in the papers. Laxley was distant and unamused. From the fact, too, that Harry was known to be the Countess’s slave, his presence produced the same effect in the different circles about the grounds, as did that of Mr. John Raikes. Harry began to yawn and wish very ardently for his sweet lady. She, however, had too fine an instinct to descend.
An hour before dinner, Juliana sent him a message that she desired to see him.
“Jove! I hope that girl’s not going to be blowing hot again,” sighed the conqueror.
He had nothing to fear from Juliana. The moment they were alone she asked him, “Have you heard of it?”
Harry shook his head and shrugged.
“They haven’t told you? Rose has engaged herself to Mr. Harrington, a tradesman, a tailor!”
“Pooh! have you got hold of that story?” said Harry. “But I’m sorry for old Ferdy. He was fond of Rosey. Here’s another bother!”
“You don’t believe me, Harry?”
Harry was mentally debating whether, in this new posture of affairs, his friend Ferdinand would press his claim for certain monies lent.
“Oh, I believe you,” he said. “Harrington has the knack with you women. Why, you made eyes at him. It was a toss-up between you and Rosey once.”
Juliana let this accusation pass.
“He is a tradesman. He has a shop in Lymport, I tell you, Harry, and his name on it. And he came here on purpose to catch Rose. And now he has caught her, he tells her. And his mother is now at one of the village inns, waiting to see him. Go to Mr. George Uploft; he knows the family. Yes, the Countess has turned your head, of course; but she has schemed and schemed, and told such stories—God forgive her!”—
The girl had to veil her eyes in a spasm of angry weeping.
“Oh, come! Juley!” murmured her killing cousin. Harry boasted an extraordinary weakness at the sight of feminine tears. “I say! Juley! you know if you begin crying I’m done for, and it isn’t fair.”
He dropped his arm on her waist to console her, and generously declared to her that he always had been very fond of her. These scenes were not foreign to the youth. Her fits of crying, from which she would burst in a frenzy of contempt at him, had made Harry say stronger things; and the assurances of profound affection uttered in a most languid voice will sting the hearts of women.
Harry still went on with his declarations, heating them rapidly, so as to bring on himself the usual outburst and check. She was longer in coming to it this time, and he had a horrid fear, that instead of dismissing him fiercely, and so annulling his words, the strange little person was going to be soft, and hold him to them. There were her tears, however, which she could not stop.
“Well, then, Juley, look. I do, upon my honour, yes—there, don’t cry any more—I do love you.”
Harry held his breath in awful suspense. Juliana quietly disengaged her waist, and looking at him, said, “Poor Harry! You need not lie any more to please me.”
Such was Harry’s astonishment, that he exclaimed, “It isn’t a lie! I say, I do love you.” And for an instant he thought and hoped that he did love her.
“Well, then, Harry, I don’t love you,” said Juliana; which at once revealed to our friend that he had been utterly mistaken in his own emotions. Nevertheless, his vanity was hurt when he saw she was sincere, and he listened to her, a moody being. This may account for his excessive wrath at Evan Harrington after Juliana had given him proofs of the truth of what she said.
But the Countess was Harrington’s sister! The image of the Countess swam before him. Was it possible? Harry went about asking everybody he met. The initiated were discreet; those who had the whispers were open. A bare truth is not so convincing as one that discretion confirms. Harry found the detestable news perfectly true.
“Stop it by all means if you can,” said his father.
“Yes, try a fall with Rose,” said his mother.
“And I must sit down to dinner to day with a confounded fellow, the son of a tailor, who’s had the —— impudence to make love to my sister!” cried Harry. “I’m determined to kick him out of the house!—half.”
“To what is the modification of your determination due?” Lady Jocelyn inquired, probably suspecting the sweet and gracious person who divided Harry’s mind.
Her ladyship treated her children as she did mankind generally, from her intellectual eminence. Harry was compelled to fly from her cruel shafts. He found comfort with his Aunt Shorne, as the wicked called that honourable lady. Mrs. Shorne as much as told Harry that he was the head of the house, and must take up the matter summarily. It was expected of him. Now was the time for him to show his manhood.
Harry could think of but one way to do that.
“Yes, and if I do—all up with the old lady,” he said, and had to explain that his grandmama Bonner would never leave a penny to a fellow who had fought a duel.
“A duel!” said Mrs. Shorne. “No, there are other ways. Insist upon his renouncing her. And Rose—treat her with a high hand, as becomes you. Your mother is incorrigible, and as for your father, one knows him of old. This devolves upon you. Our family honour is in your hands, Harry.”
Considering Harry’s reputation, the family honour must have got low. Harry, of course, was not disposed to think so. He discovered a great deal of unused pride within him, for which he had hitherto not found an agreeable vent. He vowed to his aunt that he would not suffer the disgrace, and while still that blandishing olive-hued visage swam before his eyes, he pledged his word to Mrs. Shorne that he would come to an understanding with Harrington that night.
“Quietly,” said she. “No scandal, pray.”
“Oh, never mind how I do it,” returned Harry, manfully. “How am I to do it, then?” he added, suddenly remembering his debt to Evan.
Mrs. Shorne instructed him how to do it quietly, and without fear of scandal. The miserable champion replied that it was very well for her to tell him to say this and that, but—and she thought him demented—he must, previous to addressing Harrington in those terms, have money.
“Money!” echoed the lady. “Money!”
“Yes, money!” he iterated doggedly, and she learnt that he had borrowed a sum of Harrington, and the amount of the sum.
It was a disastrous plight, for Mrs. Shorne was penniless.
She cited Ferdinand Laxley as a likely lender.
“Oh, I’m deep with him already,” said Harry, in apparent dejection.
“How dreadful are these everlasting borrowings of yours!” exclaimed his aunt, unaware of a trifling incongruity in her sentiments. “You must speak to him without—pay him by and by. We must scrape the money together. I will write to your grandfather.”
“Yes; speak to him! How can I when I owe him? I can’t tell a fellow he’s a blackguard when I owe him, and I can’t speak any other way. I ain’t a diplomatist. Dashed if I know what to do!”
“Juliana,” murmured his aunt.
“Can’t ask her, you know.”
Mrs. Shorne combatted the one prominent reason for the objection: but there were two. Harry believed that he had exhausted Juliana’s treasury. Reproaching him further for his wastefulness, Mrs. Shorne promised him the money should be got, by hook or by crook, next day.
“And you will speak to this Mr. Harrington to-night, Harry. No allusion to the loan till you return it. Appeal to his sense of honour.”
The dinner-bell assembled the inmates of the house. Evan was not among them. He had gone, as the Countess said aloud, on a diplomatic mission to Fallowfield, with Andrew Cogglesby. The truth being that he had finally taken Andrew into his confidence concerning the letter, the annuity, and the bond. Upon which occasion Andrew had burst into a laugh, and said he could lay his hand on the writer of the letter.
“Trust old Tom for plots, Van! He’ll blow you up in a twinkling. Cunning old dog! He pretends to be hard—he’s as soft as I am, if it wasn’t for his crotchets. We’ll hand him back the cash, and that’s ended. And—eh? what a dear girl she is! Not that I’m astonished. My Harry might have married a lord—sit at top of any table in the land! And you’re as good as any man. That’s my opinion. But I say she’s a wonderful girl to see it.”
Chattering thus, Andrew drove with the dear boy into Fallowfield. Evan was still in his dream. To him the generous love and valiant openness of Rose, though they were matched and mated in his own bosom, seemed scarcely human. Almost as noble to him were the gentlemanly plain-speaking of Sir Franks and Lady Jocelyn’s kind common sense. But the more he esteemed them, the more unbounded and miraculous appeared the prospect of his calling their daughter by the sacred name, and kneeling with her at their feet. Did the dear heavens have that in store for him? The horizon edges were dimly lighted.
Harry looked about under his eyelids for Evan, trying at the same time to compose himself for the martyrdom he had to endure in sitting at table with the presumptuous fellow. The Countess signalled him to come within the presence. As he was crossing the room, Rose entered, and moved to meet him, with: “Ah, Harry! back again? Glad to see you.”
Harry gave her a blunt nod, to which she was inattentive.
“What!” whispered the Countess, after he pressed the tips of her fingers. “Have you brought back the grocer?”
Now this was hard to stand. Harry could forgive her her birth, and pass it utterly by if she chose to fall in love with him; but to hear the grocer mentioned, when he knew of the tailor, was a little too much, and what Harry felt his ingenuous countenance was accustomed to exhibit. The Countess saw it. She turned her head from him to the diplomatist, and he had to remain like a sentinel at her feet. He did not want to be thanked for the green box: still he thought she might have favoured him with one of her much-embracing smiles.
In the evening, after wine, when he was warm, and had almost forgotten the insult to his family and himself, their representative, the Countess snubbed him. It was unwise on her part: but she had the ghastly thought that facts were oozing out, and were already half known. She was therefore sensitive tenfold to appearances: savage if one failed to keep up her lie to her, and was guilty of a shadow of difference of behaviour. The pic-nic over, our General would evacuate Beckley Court, and shake the dust off her shoes, and leave the harvest of what she had sown to Providence. Till then, respect, and the honours of war! So the Countess snubbed him, and he being full of wine, fell into the hands of Juliana, who had witnessed the little scene.
“She has made a fool of others as well as of you,” said Juliana.
“How has she?” he inquired.
“Never mind. Do you want to make her humble and crouch to you?”
“I want to see Harrington,” said Harry.
“He will not return to-night from Fallowfield. He has gone there to get Mr. Andrew Cogglesby’s brother to do something for him. You won’t have such another chance of humbling them both—both! I told you his mother is at an inn here. The Countess has sent Mr. Harrington to Fallowfield to be out of the way, and she has told her mother all sorts of falsehoods.”
“How do you know all that?” quoth Harry. “By Jove, Juley! talk about plotters! No keeping anything from you, ever!”
“Never mind. The mother is here. She must be a vulgar woman. Oh! if you could manage, Harry, to get this woman to come—you could do it so easily!—while they are at the pic-nic to-morrow. It would have the best effect on Rose. She would then understand! And the Countess!”
“I could send the old woman a message!” cried Harry, rushing into the scheme, inspired by Juliana’s fiery eyes. “Send her a sort of message to say where we all were.”
“Let her know that her son is here, in some way,” Juley resumed.
“And, egad! what an explosion!” pursued Harry. “But, suppose—”
“No one shall know, if you leave it to me—if you do just as I tell you, Harry. You won’t be treated as you were this evening after that, if you bring down her pride. And, Harry, I hear you want money—I can give you some.”
“You’re a perfect trump, Juley!” exclaimed her enthusiastic cousin. “But, no; I can’t take it. I must kiss you, though.”
He put a kiss upon her cheek. Once his kisses had left a red waxen stamp; she was callous to these compliments now.
“Will you do what I advise you to-morrow?” she asked.
After a slight hesitation, during which the olive-hued visage flitted faintly in the distances of his brain, Harry said:
“It’ll do Rose good, and make Harrington cut. Yes! I declare I will!”
Then they parted. Juliana went to her bed-room, and flung herself upon the bed, hysterically. As the tears came thick and fast, she jumped up to lock the door, for this outrageous habit of crying had made her contemptible in the eyes of Lady Jocelyn, and an object o pity to Rose. Some excellent and noble natures cannot tolerate disease, and are mystified by its ebullitions. It was sad to see the slight thin frame grasped by those wan hands to contain the violence of the frenzy that possessed her! the pale, hapless face rigid above the torment in her bosom! She had prayed to be loved like other girls, and her readiness to give her heart in return had made her a by-word in the house. She went to the window and leaned out on the casement, looking towards Fallowfield over the downs, weeping bitterly, with a hard shut mouth. One brilliant star hung above the ridge, and danced on her tears.
“Will he forgive me?” she murmured. “Oh, my God! I wish we were dead together!”
Her weeping ceased, and she closed the window, and undressed as far away from the mirror as she could get, but its force was too much for her, and drew her to it. Some undefined hope had sprung in her suddenly. With nervous slow steps she approached the glass, and first brushing back the masses of black hair from her brow, looked as for some new revelation. Long and anxiously she perused her features: the wide bony forehead; the eyes deep-set and rounded with the scarlet of recent tears, the thin nose—sharp as the dead; the weak irritable mouth and sunken cheeks. She gazed like a spirit disconnected with what she saw. Presently a sort of forlorn negative was indicated by the motion of her head.
“I can pardon him,” she said, and sighed. “How could he love such a face!”
I doubt if she really thought so, seeing that she did not pardon him.