Frank Greystock stayed till the following Monday at Portray, but could not be induced to hunt on the Saturday, on which day the other sporting men and women went to the meet. He could not, he said, trust to that traitor MacFarlane, and he feared that his friend Mr. Nappie would not give him another mount on the gray horse. Lizzie offered him one of her two darlings, an offer which he, of course, refused; and Lord George also proposed to put him up. But Frank averred that he had ridden his hunt for that season, and would not jeopardise the laurels he had gained. “And moreover,” said he, “I should not dare to meet Mr. Nappie in the field.” So he remained at the castle and took a walk with Mr. Mealyus. Mr. Mealyus asked a good many questions about Portray, and exhibited the warmest sympathy with Lizzie’s widowed condition. He called her a “sweet, gay, unsophisticated, light-hearted young thing.”
“She is very young,” replied her cousin. “Yes,” he continued, in answer to further questions; “Portray is certainly very nice. I don’t know what the income is. Well, yes. I should think it is over a thousand. Eight! No, I never heard it said that it was as much as that.” When Mr. Mealyus put it down in his mind 14 as five, he was not void of acuteness, as very little information had been given to him.
There was a joke throughout the castle that Mr. Mealyus had fallen in love with Miss Macnulty. They had been a great deal together on those hunting days; and Miss Macnulty was unusually enthusiastic in praise of his manner and conversation. To her, also, had been addressed questions as to Portray and its income, all of which she had answered to the best of her ability; not intending to betray any secret, for she had no secret to betray; but giving ordinary information on that commonest of all subjects, our friends’ incomes. Then there had risen a question whether there was a vacancy for such promotion to Miss Macnulty. Mrs. Carbuncle had certainly heard that there was a Mrs. Emilius. Lucinda was sure that there was not, an assurance which might have been derived from a certain eagerness in the reverend gentleman’s demeanour to herself on a former occasion. To Lizzie, who at present was very good-natured, the idea of Miss Macnulty having a lover, whether he were a married man or not, was very delightful. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” said Miss Macnulty. “I don’t suppose Mr. Emilius had any of the kind.” Upon the whole, however, Miss Macnulty liked it.
On the Saturday nothing especial happened. Mr. Nappie was out on his gray horse, and condescended to a little conversation with Lord George. He wouldn’t have minded, he said, if Mr. Greystock had come forward; but he did think Mr. Greystock hadn’t come forward as he ought to have done. Lord George professed that he had observed the same thing; but then, as he whispered into Mr. Nappie’s ear, Mr. 15 Greystock was particularly known as a bashful man. “He didn’t ride my ’orse anyway bashful,” said Mr. Nappie—all of which was told at dinner in the evening amidst a great deal of laughter. There had been nothing special in the way of sport, and Lizzie’s enthusiasm for hunting, though still high, had gone down a few degrees below fever heat. Lord George had again coached her; but there had been no great need for coaching, no losing of her breath, no cutting down of Lucinda, no river, no big wall—nothing, in short, very fast. They had been much in a big wood; but Lizzie, in giving an account of the day to her cousin, had acknowledged that she had not quite understood what they were doing at any time.
“It was a-blowing of horns and a-galloping up and down all the day,” she said; “and then Morgan got cross again and scolded all the people. But there was one nice paling, and Dandy flew over it beautifully. Two men tumbled down, and one of them was a good deal hurt. It was very jolly—but not at all like Wednesday.”
Nor had it been like Wednesday to Lucinda Roanoke, who did not fall into the water, and who did accept Sir Griffin when he again proposed to her in Sarkie wood. A great deal had been said to Lucinda on the Thursday and the Friday by Mrs. Carbuncle—which had not been taken at all in good part by Lucinda. On those days Lucinda kept as much as she could out of Sir Griffin’s way, and almost snapped at the baronet when he spoke to her. Sir Griffin swore to himself that he wasn’t going to be treated that way. He’d have her, by George! There are men in whose love a good deal of hatred is mixed—who love as the 16 huntsman loves the fox, towards the killing of which he intends to use all his energies and intellects. Mrs. Carbuncle, who did not quite understand the sort of persistency by which a Sir Griffin can be possessed, feared greatly that Lucinda was about to lose her prize, and spoke out accordingly.
“Will you, then, just have the kindness to tell me what it is you propose to yourself?” asked Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I don’t propose anything.”
“And where will you go when your money’s done?”
“Just where I am going now,” said Lucinda. By which it may be feared that she indicated a place to which she should not on such an occasion have made an allusion.
“You don’t like anybody else?” suggested Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I don’t like anybody or anything,” said Lucinda.
“Yes, you do—you like horses to ride, and dresses to wear.”
“No, I don’t. I like hunting because, perhaps, some day I may break my neck. It’s no use your looking like that, Aunt Jane. I know what it all means. If I could break my neck it would be the best thing for me.”
“You’ll break my heart, Lucinda.”
“Mine’s broken long ago.”
“If you’ll accept Sir Griffin, and just get a home round yourself, you’ll find that everything will be happy. It all comes from the dreadful uncertainty. Do you think I have suffered nothing? Carbuncle is always threatening that he’ll go back to New York; 17 and as for Lord George, he treats me that way I’m sometimes afraid to show my face.”
“Why should you care for Lord George?”
“It’s all very well to say, why should I care for him. I don’t care for him, only one doesn’t want to quarrel with one’s friends. Carbuncle says he owes him money.”
“I don’t believe it,” said Lucinda.
“And he says Carbuncle owes him money.”
“I do believe that,” said Lucinda.
“Between it all, I don’t know which way to be turning. And now, when there’s this great opening for you, you won’t know your own mind.”
“I know my mind well enough.”
“I tell you you’ll never have such another chance. Good looks isn’t everything. You’ve never a word to say to anybody; and when a man does come near you, you’re as savage and cross as a bear.”
“Go on, Aunt Jane.”
“What with your hatings and dislikings, one would suppose you didn’t think God Almighty made men at all.”
“He made some of ’em very bad,” said Lucinda. “As for some others, they’re only half made. What can Sir Griffin do, do you suppose?”
“He’s a gentleman.”
“Then if I were a man, I should wish not to be a gentleman; that’s all. I’d a deal sooner marry a man like that huntsman, who has something to do and knows how to do it.” Again she said, “Don’t worry any more, Aunt Jane. It doesn’t do any good. It seems to me that to make myself Sir Griffin’s wife would be impossible; but I’m sure your talking won’t 18 do it.” Then her aunt left her, and, having met Lord George, at his bidding went and made civil speeches to Lizzie Eustace.
That was on the Friday afternoon. On the Saturday afternoon Sir Griffin, biding his time, found himself, in a ride with Lucinda, sufficiently far from other horsemen for his purpose. He wasn’t going to stand any more nonsense. He was entitled to an answer, and he knew that he was entitled, by his rank and position, to a favourable answer. Here was a girl who, as far as he knew, was without a shilling, of whose birth and parentage nobody knew anything, who had nothing but her beauty to recommend her—nothing but that and a certain capacity for carrying herself in the world as he thought ladies should carry themselves; and she was to give herself airs with him, and expect him to propose to her half a dozen times! By George! he had a very good mind to go away and let her find out her mistake. And he would have done so—only that he was a man who always liked to have all that he wanted. It was intolerable to him that anybody should refuse him anything. “Miss Roanoke,” he said; and then he paused.
“Sir Griffin,” said Lucinda, bowing her head.
“Perhaps you will condescend to remember what I had the honour of saying to you as we rode into Kilmarnock last Wednesday.”
“I had just been dragged out of a river, Sir Griffin, and I don’t think any girl ought to be asked to remember what was said to her in that condition.”
“If I say it again now, will you remember?”
“I cannot promise, Sir Griffin.”
“Will you give me an answer?”19
“That must depend.”
“Come, I will have an answer. When a man tells a lady that he admires her, and asks her to be his wife, he has a right to an answer. Don’t you think that in such circumstances a man has a right to expect an answer?”
Lucinda hesitated for a moment, and he was beginning again to remonstrate impatiently, when she altered her tone, and replied to him seriously: “In such circumstances a gentleman has a right to expect an answer.”
“Then give me one. I admire you above all the world, and I ask you to be my wife. I’m quite in earnest.”
“I know that you are in earnest, Sir Griffin. I would do neither you nor myself the wrong of supposing that it could be otherwise.”
“Very well then. Will you accept the offer that I make you?”
Again she paused. “You have a right to an answer, of course; but it may be so difficult to give it. It seems to me that you have hardly realised how serious a question it is.”
“Haven’t I though? By George, it is serious.”
“Will it not be better for you to think it over again?”
He now hesitated for a moment. Perhaps it might be better. Should she take him at his word there would be no going back from it. But Lord George knew that he had proposed before. Lord George had learned this from Mrs. Carbuncle, and had shown that he knew it. And then, too, he had made up his mind about it. He wanted her, and he meant to have her. “It requires no more thinking with me, Lucinda. I’m 20 not a man who does things without thinking; and when I have thought I don’t want to think again. There’s my hand—will you have it?”
“I will,” said Lucinda, putting her hand into his. He no sooner felt her assurance than his mind misgave him that he had been precipitate, that he had been rash, and that she had taken advantage of him. After all, how many things are there in the world more precious than a handsome girl. And she had never told him that she loved him.
“I suppose you love me?” he asked.
“H’sh; here they all are.” The hand was withdrawn, but not before both Mrs. Carbuncle and Lady Eustace had seen it.
Mrs. Carbuncle, in her great anxiety, bided her time, keeping close to her niece. Perhaps she felt that if the two were engaged, it might be well to keep the lovers separated for a while, lest they should quarrel before the engagement should have been so confirmed by the authority of friends as to be beyond the power of easy annihilation. Lucinda rode quite demurely with the crowd. Sir Griffin remained near her, but without speaking. Lizzie whispered to Lord George that there had been a proposal. Mrs. Carbuncle sat in stately dignity on her horse, as though there was nothing which at that moment especially engaged her attention. An hour almost had passed before she was able to ask the important question, “Well—what have you said to him?”
“Oh; just what you would have me.”
“You have accepted him?”
“I suppose I was obliged. At any rate I did. You shall know one thing, Aunt Jane, at any rate, and I 21 hope it will make you comfortable. I hate a good many people; but of all the people in the world I hate Sir Griffin Tewett the worst.”
“It shall be nonsense, if you please; but it’s true. I shall have to lie to him, but there shall be no lying to you, however much you may wish it. I hate him!”
This was very grim, but Mrs. Carbuncle quite understood that to persons situated in great difficulty things might be grim. A certain amount of grimness must be endured. And she knew, too, that Lucinda was not a girl to be driven without showing something of an intractable spirit in harness. Mrs. Carbuncle had undertaken the driving of Lucinda, and had been not altogether unsuccessful. The thing so necessary to be done was now effected. Her niece was engaged to a man with a title, to a man reported to have a fortune, to a man of family, and a man of the world. Now that the engagement was made, the girl could not go back from it, and it was for Mrs. Carbuncle to see that neither should Sir Griffin go back. Her first steps must be taken at once. The engagement should be made known to all the party, and should be recognised by some word spoken between herself and the lover. The word between herself and the lover must be the first thing. She herself, personally, was not very fond of Sir Griffin; but on such an occasion as this she could smile and endure the bear. Sir Griffin was a bear—but so also was Lucinda. “The rabbits and hares All go in pairs; And likewise the bears In couples agree.” Mrs. Carbuncle consoled herself with the song, and assured herself that it would all come right. No doubt the she-bears were not as civil to the he-bears as 22 the turtle doves are to each other. It was perhaps her misfortune that her niece was not a turtle dove; but, such as she was, the best had been done for her.
“Dear Sir Griffin,” she said on the first available opportunity, not caring much for the crowd, and almost desirous that her very words should be overheard, “my darling girl has made me so happy by what she has told me.”
“She hasn’t lost any time,” said Sir Griffin.
“Of course she would lose no time. She is the same to me as a daughter. I have no child of my own, and she is everything to me. May I tell you that you are the luckiest man in Europe?”
“It isn’t every girl that would suit me, Mrs. Carbuncle.”
“I am sure of that. I have noticed how particular you are. I won’t say a word of Lucinda’s beauty; men are better judges of that than women; but for high chivalrous spirit, for true principle and nobility, and what I call downright worth, I don’t think you will easily find her superior. And she is as true as steel.”
“And about as hard, I was beginning to think.”
“A girl like that, Sir Griffin, does not give herself away easily. You will not like her the less for that now that you are the possessor. She is very young, and has known my wish that she should not engage herself to any one quite yet. But as it is, I cannot regret anything.”
“I dare say not,” said Sir Griffin.
That the man was a bear was a matter of course, and bears probably do not themselves know how bearish they are. Sir Griffin, no doubt, was unaware of the extent of his own rudeness. And his rudeness mattered 23 but little to Mrs. Carbuncle, so long as he acknowledged the engagement. She had not expected a lover’s raptures from the one more than from the other. And was not there enough in the engagement to satisfy her? She allowed, therefore, no cloud to cross her brow as she rode up alongside of Lord George. “Sir Griffin has proposed, and she has accepted him,” she said in a whisper. She was not now desirous that any one should hear her but he to whom she spoke.
“Of course she has,” said Lord George.
“I don’t know about that, George. Sometimes I thought she would, and sometimes that she wouldn’t. You have never understood Lucinda.”
“I hope Griff will understand her, that’s all. And now that the thing is settled, you’ll not trouble me about it any more. Their woes be on their own head. If they come to blows Lucinda will thrash him, I don’t doubt. But while it’s simply a matter of temper and words, she won’t find Tewett so easy-going as he looks.”
“I believe they’ll do very well together.”
“Perhaps they will. There’s no saying who may do well together. You and Carbuncle get on au marvel. When is it to be?”
“Of course nothing is settled yet.”
“Don’t be too hard about settlements, or, maybe, he’ll find a way of wriggling out. When a girl without a shilling asks very much, the world supports a man for breaking his engagement. Let her pretend to be indifferent about it; that will be the way to keep him firm.”
“What is his income, George?”24
“I haven’t an idea. There never was a closer man about money. I believe he must have the bulk of the Tewett property some day. He can’t spend above a couple of thousand now.”
“He’s not in debt, is he?”
“He owes me a little money—twelve hundred or so—and I mean to have it. I suppose he is in debt, but not much, I think. He makes stupid bets, and the devil won’t break him of it.”
“Lucinda has two or three thousand pounds, you know.”
“That’s a flea-bite. Let her keep it. You’re in for it now, and you’d better say nothing about money. He has a decent solicitor, and let him arrange about the settlements. And look here, Jane; get it done as soon as you can.”
“You’ll help me?”
“If you don’t bother me, I will.”
On their way home Mrs. Carbuncle was able to tell Lady Eustace. “You know what has occurred?”
“Oh, dear, yes,” said Lizzie laughing.
“Has Lucinda told you?”
“Do you think I’ve got no eyes? Of course it was going to be. I knew that from the very moment Sir Griffin reached Portray. I am so glad that Portray has been useful.”
“Oh, so useful, dear Lady Eustace! Not but what it must have come off anywhere, for there never was a man so much in love as Sir Griffin. The difficulty has been with Lucinda.”
“She likes him, I suppose?”
“Oh, yes, of course,” said Mrs. Carbuncle with energy.25
“Not that girls ever really care about men now. They’ve got to be married, and they make the best of it. She’s very handsome, and I suppose he’s pretty well off.”
“He will be very rich indeed. And they say he’s such an excellent young man when you know him.”
“I dare say most young men are excellent when you come to know them. What does Lord George say?”
“He’s in raptures. He is very much attached to Lucinda, you know.” And so that affair was managed. They hadn’t been home a quarter of an hour before Frank Greystock was told. He asked Mrs. Carbuncle about the sport, and then she whispered to him, “An engagement has been made.”
“Sir Griffin?” suggested Frank. Mrs. Carbuncle smiled and nodded her head. It was well that everybody should know it.26
“So, miss, you’ve took him,” said the joint Abigail of the Carbuncle establishment that evening to the younger of her two mistresses. Mrs. Carbuncle had resolved that the thing should be quite public.
“Just remember this,” replied Lucinda, “I don’t want to have a word said to me on the subject.”
“Only just to wish you joy, miss.”
Lucinda turned round with a flash of anger at the girl. “I don’t want your wishing. That’ll do. I can manage by myself. I won’t have you come near me if you can’t hold your tongue when you’re told.”
“I can hold my tongue as well as anybody,” said the Abigail with a toss of her head.
This happened after the party had separated for the evening. At dinner Sir Griffin had, of course, given Lucinda his arm; but so he had always done since they had been at Portray. Lucinda hardly opened her mouth at table, and had retreated to bed with a headache when the men, who on that day lingered a few minutes after the ladies, went into the drawing-room. This Sir Griffin felt to be almost an affront, as there was a certain process of farewell for the night which he had anticipated. If she was going to treat him like that, he would cut up rough, and she should know it.27
“Well, Griff, so it’s all settled,” said Lord George in the smoking-room. Frank Greystock was there, and Sir Griffin did not like it.
“What do you mean by settled? I don’t know that anything is settled.”
“I thought it was. Weren’t you told so?” And Lord George turned to Greystock.
“I thought I heard a hint,” said Frank.
“I’m —— if I ever knew such people in my life,” said Sir Griffin. “They don’t seem to have an idea that a man’s own affairs may be private.”
“Such an affair as that never is private,” said Lord George. “The women take care of that. You don’t suppose they’re going to run down their game, and let nobody know it.”
“If they take me for game——”
“Of course you’re game. Every man’s game. Only some men are such bad game that they ain’t worth following. Take it easy, Griff; you’re caught.”
“No, I ain’t.”
“And enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that she’s about the handsomest girl out. As for me, I’d sooner have the widow. I beg your pardon, Mr. Greystock.” Frank merely bowed. “Simply, I mean, because she rides about two stone lighter. It’ll cost you something to mount Lady Tewett.”
“I don’t mean that she shall hunt,” said Sir Griffin. It will be seen, therefore, that the baronet made no real attempt to deny his engagement.
On the following day, which was Sunday, Sir Griffin, having ascertained that Miss Roanoke did not intend to go to church, stayed at home also. Mr. Emilius had been engaged to preach at the nearest Episcopal place 28 of worship, and the remainder of the party all went to hear him. Lizzie was very particular about her Bible and Prayer-book, and Miss Macnulty wore a brighter ribbon on her bonnet than she had ever been known to carry before. Lucinda, when she had heard of the arrangement, had protested to her aunt that she would not go down-stairs till they had all returned; but Mrs. Carbuncle, fearing the anger of Sir Griffin, doubting whether in his anger he might not escape them altogether, said a word or two which even Lucinda found to be rational. “As you have accepted him, you shouldn’t avoid him, my dear. That is only making things worse for the future. And then it’s cowardly, is it not?” No word that could have been spoken was more likely to be efficacious. At any rate, she would not be cowardly.
As soon then as the wheels of the carriage were no longer heard grating upon the road, Lucinda, who had been very careful in her dress, so careful as to avoid all appearance of care, with slow majestic step descended to a drawing-room which they were accustomed to use on mornings. It was probable that Sir Griffin was smoking somewhere about the grounds, but it could not be her duty to go after him out of doors. She would remain there, and, if he chose, he might come to her. There could be no ground of complaint on his side if she allowed herself to be found in one of the ordinary sitting-rooms of the house. In about half an hour he sauntered upon the terrace, and flattened his nose against the window. She bowed and smiled to him, hating herself for smiling. It was perhaps the first time that she had endeavoured to put on a pleasant face wherewithal to greet him. He said nothing then, 29 but passed round the house, threw away the end of his cigar, and entered the room. Whatever happened, she would not be a coward. The thing had to be done. Seeing that she had accepted him on the previous day, had not run away in the night or taken poison, and had come down to undergo the interview, she would undergo it at least with courage. What did it matter, even though he should embrace her? It was her lot to undergo misery, and as she had not chosen to take poison, the misery must be endured. She rose as he entered and gave him her hand. She had thought what she would do, and was collected and dignified. He had not, and was very awkward.
“So you haven’t gone to church, Sir Griffin, as you ought,” she said, with another smile.
“Come, I’ve gone as much as you.”
“But I had a headache. You stayed away to smoke cigars.”
“I stayed to see you, my girl.” A lover may call his lady-love his girl, and do so very prettily. He may so use the word that she will like it, and be grateful in her heart for the sweetness of the sound. But Sir Griffin did not do it nicely. “I’ve got ever so much to say to you.”
“I won’t flatter you by saying that I stayed to hear it.”
“But you did; didn’t you now?” She shook her head; but there was something almost of playfulness in her manner of doing it. “Ah, but I know you did. And why shouldn’t you speak out, now that we are to be man and wife? I like a girl to speak out. I suppose if I want to be with you, you want as much to be with me; eh?”
“I don’t see that that follows.”30
“By ——, if it doesn’t I’ll be off.”
“You must please yourself about that, Sir Griffin.”
“Come; do you love me? You have never said you loved me.” Luckily perhaps for her, he thought that the best assurance of love was a kiss. She did not revolt, or attempt to struggle with him; but the hot blood flew over her entire face, and her lips were very cold to his, and she almost trembled in his grasp. Sir Griffin was not a man who could ever have been the adored of many women, but the instincts of his kind were strong enough within him to make him feel that she did not return his embrace with passion. He had found her to be very beautiful; but it seemed to him that she had never been so little beautiful as when thus pressed close to his bosom. “Come,” he said, still holding her, “you’ll give me a kiss?”
“I did do it,” she said.
“No; nothing like it. Oh, if you won’t, you know——.”
On a sudden she made up her mind, and absolutely did kiss him. She would sooner have leaped at the blackest, darkest, dirtiest river in the county. “There,” she said, “that will do,” gently extricating herself from his arms. “Some girls are different, I know; but you must take me as I am, Sir Griffin; that is, if you do take me.”
“Why can’t you drop the Sir?”
“Oh yes; I can do that.”
“And you do love me?” There was a pause, while she tried to swallow the lie. “Come; I’m not going to marry any girl who is ashamed to say that she loves me. I like a little flesh and blood. You do love me?”31
“Yes,” she said. The lie was told; and for the moment he had to be satisfied. But in his heart he didn’t believe her. It was all very well for her to say that she wasn’t like other girls. Why shouldn’t she be like other girls? It might, no doubt, suit her to be made Lady Tewett; but he wouldn’t make her Lady Tewett if she gave herself airs with him. She should lie on his breast and swear that she loved him beyond all the world, or else she should never be Lady Tewett. Different from other girls indeed! She should know that he was different from other men. Then he asked her to come and take a walk about the grounds. To that she made no objection. She would get her hat and be with him in a minute.
But she was absent more than ten minutes. When she was alone she stood before her glass looking at herself, and then she burst into tears. Never before had she been thus polluted. The embrace had disgusted her. It made her odious to herself. And if this, the beginning of it, was so bad, how was she to drink the cup to the bitter dregs? Other girls, she knew, were fond of their lovers—some so fond of them that all moments of absence were moments, if not of pain, at any rate of regret. To her, as she stood there ready to tear herself because of the vileness of her own condition, it now seemed as though no such love as that were possible to her. For the sake of this man who was to be her husband, she hated all men. Was not everything around her base, and mean, and sordid? She had understood thoroughly the quick divulgings of Mrs. Carbuncle’s tidings, the working of her aunt’s anxious mind. The man, now that he had been caught, was not to be 32 allowed to escape. But how great would be the boon if he would escape. How should she escape? And yet she knew that she meant to go on and bear it all. Perhaps by study and due practice she might become—as were some others—a beast of prey and nothing more. The feeling that had made these few minutes so inexpressibly loathsome to her might, perhaps, be driven from her heart. She washed the tears from her eyes with savage energy, and descended to her lover with a veil fastened closely under her hat. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting,” she said.
“Women always do,” he replied laughing. “It gives them importance.”
“It is not so with me, I can assure you. I will tell you the truth. I was agitated, and I cried.”
“Oh, ay; I dare say.” He rather liked the idea of having reduced the haughty Lucinda to tears. “But you needn’t have been ashamed of my seeing it. As it is, I can see nothing. You must take that off presently.”
“Not now, Griffin.” Oh, what a name it was! It seemed to blister her tongue as she used it without the usual prefix.
“I never saw you tied up in that way before. You don’t do it out hunting. I’ve seen you when the snow has been driving in your face, and you didn’t mind it—not so much as I did.”
“You can’t be surprised that I should be agitated now.”
“But you’re happy, ain’t you?”
“Yes,” she said. The lie once told must of course be continued.
“Upon my word, I don’t quite understand you,” 33 said Sir Griffin. “Look here, Lucinda; if you want to back out of it you can, you know.”
“If you ask me again, I will.” This was said with the old savage voice, and it at once reduced Sir Griffin to thraldom. To be rejected now would be the death of him. And should there come a quarrel, he was sure that it would seem to be that he had been rejected.
“I suppose it’s all right,” he said; “only when a man is only thinking how he can make you happy, he doesn’t like to find nothing but crying.” After this there was but little more said between them before they returned to the castle.34
On the Monday Frank took his departure. Everybody at the castle had liked him except Sir Griffin, who, when he had gone, remarked to Lucinda that he was an insufferable legal prig, and one of those chaps who think themselves somebody because they are in Parliament. Lucinda had liked Frank, and said so very boldly. “I see what it is,” replied Sir Griffin; “you always like the people I don’t.”
When he was going, Lizzie left her hand in his for a moment, and gave one look up into his eyes. “When is Lucy to be made blessed?” she asked.
“I don’t know that Lucy will ever be made blessed,” he replied, “but I am sure I hope she will.” Not a word more was said, and he returned to London.
After that Mrs. Carbuncle and Lucinda remained at Portray Castle till after Christmas, greatly overstaying the original time fixed for their visit. Lord George and Sir Griffin went and returned, and went again and returned again. There was much hunting and a great many love passages, which need not be recorded here. More than once during these six or seven weeks there arose a quarrel, bitter, loud, and pronounced, between Sir Griffin and Lucinda; but Lord George and Mrs. Carbuncle between them managed to throw oil upon the waters, and when Christmas came the engagement 35 was still an engagement. The absolute suggestion that it should be broken, and abandoned, and thrown to the winds, always came from Lucinda; and Sir Griffin, when he found that Lucinda was in earnest, would again be moved by his old desires, and would determine that he would have the thing he wanted. Once he behaved with such coarse brutality that nothing but an abject apology would serve the turn. He made the abject apology, and after that became conscious that his wings were clipped, and that he must do as he was bidden. Lord George took him away, and brought him back again, and blew him up; and at last, under pressure from Mrs. Carbuncle, made him consent to the fixing of a day. The marriage was to take place during the first week in April. When the party moved from Portray he was to go up to London and see his lawyer. Settlements were to be arranged, and something was to be fixed as to future residence.
In the midst of all this Lucinda was passive as regarded the making of the arrangements, but very troublesome to those around her as to her immediate mode of life. Even to Lady Eustace she was curt and uncivil. To her aunt she was at times ferocious. She told Lord George more than once to his face that he was hurrying her to perdition.
“What the d—— is it you want?” Lord George said to her.
“Not to be married to this man.”
“But you have accepted him. I didn’t ask you to take him. You don’t want to go into a workhouse, I suppose?”
Then she rode so hard that all the Ayrshire lairds were startled out of their propriety, and there was 36 a general fear that she would meet some terrible accident. And Lizzie, instigated by jealousy, learned to ride as hard, and as they rode against each other every day, there was a turmoil in the hunt. Morgan, scratching his head, declared that he had known “drunken rampaging men,” but had never seen ladies so wicked. Lizzie did come down rather badly at one wall, and Lucinda got herself jammed against a gate-post. But when Christmas was come and gone, and Portray Castle had been left empty, no very bad accident had occurred.
A great friendship had sprung up between Mrs. Carbuncle and Lizzie, so that both had become very communicative. Whether both or either had been candid may, perhaps, be doubted. Mrs. Carbuncle had been quite confidential in discussing with her friend the dangerous varieties of Lucinda’s humours, and the dreadful aversion which she still seemed to entertain for Sir Griffin. But then these humours and this aversion were so visible, that they could not well be concealed; and what can be the use of confidential communications if things are kept back which the confidante would see even if they were not told?
“She would be just like that, whoever the man was,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I suppose so,” said Lizzie, wondering at such a phenomenon in female nature. But with this fact, understood between them to be a fact—namely, that Lucinda would be sure to hate any man whom she might accept—they both agreed that the marriage had better go on.
“She must take a husband some day, you know,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.37
“Of course,” said Lizzie.
“With her good looks, it would be out of the question that she shouldn’t be married.”
“Quite out of the question,” repeated Lizzie.
“And I really don’t see how she’s to do better. It’s her nature, you know. I have had enough of it, I can tell you. And at the pension, near Paris, they couldn’t break her in at all. Nobody could ever break her in. You see it in the way she rides.”
“I suppose Sir Griffin must do it,” said Lizzie, laughing.
“Well—that, or the other thing, you know.” But there was no doubt about this—whoever might break or be broken, the marriage must go on. “If you don’t persevere with one like her, Lady Eustace, nothing can be done.” Lizzie quite concurred. What did it matter to her who should break, or who be broken, if she could only sail her own little bark without dashing it on the rocks? Rocks there were. She didn’t quite know what to make of Lord George, who certainly was a Corsair—who had said some very pretty things to her, quite à la Corsair. But in the mean time, from certain rumours that she heard, she believed that Frank had given up, or at least was intending to give up, the little chit who was living with Lady Linlithgow. There had been something of a quarrel—so, at least, she had heard through Miss Macnulty, with whom Lady Linlithgow still occasionally corresponded in spite of their former breaches. From Frank Lizzie heard repeatedly but Frank in his letters never mentioned the name of Lucy Morris. Now, if there should be a division between Frank and Lucy, then, she thought, Frank would return to her. And if so, for a permanent holding rock 38 of protection in the world, her cousin Frank would be at any rate safer than the Corsair.
Lizzie and Mrs. Carbuncle had quite come to understand each other comfortably about money. It suited Mrs. Carbuncle very well to remain at Portray. It was no longer necessary that she should carry Lucinda about in search of game to be run down. The one head of game needed had been run down, such as it was—not, indeed, a very noble stag; but the stag had been accepted; and a home for herself and her niece, which should have about it a sufficient air of fashion to satisfy public opinion—out of London—better still, in Scotland, belonging to a person with a title, enjoying the appurtenances of wealth, and one to which Lord George and Sir Griffin could have access—was very desirable. But it was out of the question that Lady Eustace should bear all the expense. Mrs. Carbuncle undertook to find the stables, and did pay for that rick of hay and for the cartload of forage which had made Lizzie’s heart quake as she saw it dragged up the hill towards her own granaries. It is very comfortable when all these things are clearly understood. Early in January they were all to go back to London. Then for a while—up to the period of Lucinda’s marriage—Lizzie was to be Mrs. Carbuncle’s guest at the small house in May Fair, but Lizzie was to keep the carriage. There came at last to be some little attempt, perhaps, at a hard bargain at the hand of each lady, in which Mrs. Carbuncle, as the elder, probably got the advantage. There was a question about the liveries in London. The footman there must appertain to Mrs. Carbuncle, whereas the coachman would as necessarily be one of Lizzie’s retainers. Mrs. Carbuncle assented at last to finding the double 39 livery—but, like a prudent woman, arranged to get her quid pro quo. “You can add something, you know, to the present you’ll have to give Lucinda. Lucinda shall choose something up to forty pounds.”
“We’ll say thirty,” said Lizzie, who was beginning to know the value of money.
“Split the difference,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, with a pleasant little burst of laughter—and the difference was split. That the very neat and even dandified appearance of the groom who rode out hunting with them should be provided at the expense of Mrs. Carbuncle was quite understood; but it was equally well understood that Lizzie was to provide the horse on which he rode, on every third day. It adds greatly to the comfort of friends living together when these things are accurately settled.
Mr. Emilius remained longer than had been anticipated, and did not go till Lord George and Sir Griffin took their departure. It was observed that he never spoke of his wife; and yet Mrs. Carbuncle was almost sure that she had heard of such a lady. He had made himself very agreeable, and was, either by art or nature, a courteous man, one who paid compliments to ladies. It was true, however, that he sometimes startled his hearers, by things which might have been considered to border on coarseness if they had not been said by a clergyman. Lizzie had an idea that he intended to marry Miss Macnulty. And Miss Macnulty certainly received his attentions with pleasure. In these circumstances his prolonged stay at the castle was not questioned; but when toward the end of November Lord George and Sir Griffin took their departure, he was obliged to return to his flock.40
On the great subject of the diamonds Lizzie had spoken her mind freely to Mrs. Carbuncle early in the days of their friendship—immediately, that is, after the bargaining had been completed. “Ten thousand pounds!” ejaculated Mrs. Carbuncle, opening wide her eyes. Lizzie nodded her head thrice, in token of reiterated assurance. “Do you mean that you really know their value?” The ladies at this time were closeted together, and were discussing many things in the closest confidence.
“They were valued for me by jewellers.”
“Ten thousand pounds! And Sir Florian gave them to you?”
“Put them round my neck, and told me they were to be mine, always.”
“Ah, if you had but known him!” said Lizzie, just touching her eye with her handkerchief.
“I dare say. And now the people claim them. I’m not a bit surprised at that, my dear. I should have thought a man couldn’t give away so much as that, not just as one makes a present that costs forty or fifty pounds.” Mrs. Carbuncle could not resist the opportunity of showing that she did not think so very much of that coming thirty-five-pound “gift” for which the bargain had been made.
“That’s what they say. And they say ever so many other things besides. They mean to prove that it’s an—heirloom.”
“Perhaps it is.”
“But it isn’t. My cousin Frank, who knows more about law than any other man in London, says that they can’t make a necklace an heirloom. If it was a brooch 41 or a ring, it would be different. I don’t quite understand it, but it is so.”
“It’s a pity Sir Florian didn’t say something about it in his will,” suggested Mrs. Carbuncle.
“But he did; at least, not just about the necklace.” Then Lady Eustace explained the nature of her late husband’s will, as far as it regarded chattels to be found in the castle of Portray at the time of his death; and added the fiction, which had now become common to her, as to the necklace having been given to her in Scotland.
“I shouldn’t let them have it,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I don’t mean,” said Lizzie.
“I should sell them,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.
“Because there are so many accidents. A woman should be very rich indeed before she allows herself to walk about with ten pounds upon her shoulders. Suppose somebody broke into the house and stole them. And if they were sold, my dear, so that some got to Paris, and others to St. Petersburg, and others to New York, they’d have to give it up then.” Before the discussion was over Lizzie tripped up-stairs and brought the necklace down and put it on Mrs. Carbuncle’s neck. “I shouldn’t like to have such property in my house, my dear,” continued Mrs. Carbuncle. “Of course diamonds are very nice. Nothing is so nice. And if a person had a proper place to keep them, and all that——”
“I’ve a very strong iron case,” said Lizzie.
“But they should be at the bank, or at the jeweller’s, or somewhere quite—quite safe. People might steal the case and all. If I were you I should sell 42 them.” It was explained to Mrs. Carbuncle on that occasion that Lizzie had brought them down with her in the train from London, and that she intended to take them back in the same way. “There’s nothing the thieves would find easier than to steal them on the way,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.
It was some days after this that there came down to her by post some terribly frightful documents, which were the first results, as far as she was concerned, of the filing of a bill in Chancery; which hostile proceeding was, in truth, effected by the unaided energy of Mr. Camperdown, although Mr. Camperdown put himself forward simply as an instrument used by the trustees of the Eustace property. Within eight days she was to enter an appearance, or go through some preliminary ceremony toward showing why she should not surrender her diamonds to the Lord Chancellor, or to one of those satraps of his, the Vice-Chancellors, or to some other terrible myrmidon. Mr. Camperdown in his letter explained that the service of this document upon her in Scotland would amount to nothing, even were he to send it down by a messenger; but that no doubt she would send it to her attorney, who would see the expediency of avoiding exposure by accepting the service. Of all which explanation Lizzie did not understand one word. Messrs. Camperdown’s letter and the document which it contained did frighten her considerably, although the matter had been discussed so often that she had accustomed herself to declare that no such bugbear as that should have any influence on her. She had asked Frank whether, in the event of such missiles reaching her, she might send them to him. He had told her that they should be at once 43 placed in the hands of her attorney; and consequently she now sent them to Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus, with a very short note from herself. “Lady Eustace presents her compliments to Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus, and encloses some papers she has received about her diamonds. They are her own diamonds, given to her by her late husband. Please do what is proper, but Mr. Camperdown ought to be made to pay all the expenses.”
She had, no doubt, allowed herself to hope that no further steps would be taken in the matter; and the very name of the Vice-Chancellor did for a few hours chill the blood at her heart. In those few hours she almost longed to throw the necklace into the sea, feeling sure that, if the diamonds were absolutely lost, there must be altogether an end of the matter. But, by degrees, her courage returned to her, as she remembered that her cousin had told her that, as far as he could see, the necklace was legally her own. Her cousin had, of course, been deceived by the lies which she had repeated to him; but lies which had been efficacious with him might be efficacious with others. Who could prove that Sir Florian had not taken the diamonds to Scotland, and given them to her there, in that very house which was now her own?
She told Mrs. Carbuncle of the missiles which had been hurled at her from the London courts of law, and Mrs. Carbuncle evidently thought that the diamonds were as good as gone. “Then I suppose you can’t sell them,” said she.
“Yes, I could; I could sell them to-morrow. What is to hinder me? Suppose I took them to jewellers in Paris?”44
“The jewellers would think you had stolen them.”
“I didn’t steal them,” said Lizzie. “They’re my very own. Frank says that nobody can take them away from me. Why shouldn’t a man give his wife a diamond necklace as well as a diamond ring? That’s what I can’t understand. What may he give her so that men sha’n’t come and worry her life out of her in this way? As for an heirloom, anybody who knows anything, knows it can’t be an heirloom. A pot or a pan may be an heirloom; but a diamond necklace cannot be an heirloom. Everybody knows that, that knows anything.”
“I dare say it will all come right,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, who did not in the least believe Lizzie’s law about the pot and pan.
In the first week in January Lord George and Sir Griffin returned to the castle with the view of travelling up to London with the three ladies. This arrangement was partly thrown over by circumstances, as Sir Griffin was pleased to leave Portray two days before the others and to travel by himself. There was a bitter quarrel between Lucinda and her lover, and it was understood afterwards by Lady Eustace that Sir Griffin had had a few words with Lord George; but what those few words were, she never quite knew. There was no open rupture between the two gentlemen, but Sir Griffin showed his displeasure to the ladies, who were more likely to bear patiently his ill-humour in the present circumstances, than was Lord George. When a man has shown himself to be so far amenable to feminine authority as to have put himself in the way of matrimony, ladies will bear a great deal from him. There was nothing which Mrs. 45 Carbuncle would not endure from Sir Griffin, just at present; and, on behalf of Mrs. Carbuncle, even Lizzie was long-suffering. It cannot, however, be said that this Petruchio had as yet tamed his own peculiar shrew. Lucinda was as savage as ever, and would snap and snarl, and almost bite. Sir Griffin would snarl too, and say very bearish things. But when it came to the point of actual quarrelling, he would become sullen, and in his sullenness would yield.
“I don’t see why Carruthers should have it all his own way,” he said, one hunting morning, to Lucinda.
“I don’t care twopence who have their way,” said Lucinda, “I mean to have mine; that’s all.”
“I’m not speaking about you. I call it downright interference on his part. And I do think you give way to him. You never do anything that I suggest.”
“You never suggest anything that I like to do,” said Lucinda.
“That’s a pity,” said Sir Griffin, “considering that I shall have to suggest so many things that you will have to do.”
“I don’t know that at all,” said Lucinda.
Mrs. Carbuncle came up during the quarrel, meaning to throw oil upon the waters. “What children you are!” she said laughing. “As if each of you won’t have to do what the other suggests.”
“Mrs. Carbuncle,” began Sir Griffin, “if you will have the great kindness not to endeavour to teach me what my conduct should be now or at any future time, I shall take it as a kindness.”
“Sir Griffin, pray don’t quarrel with Mrs. Carbuncle,” said Lizzie.
“Lady Eustace, if Mrs. Carbuncle interferes with me, 46 I shall quarrel with her. I have borne a great deal more of this kind of thing than I like. I’m not going to be told this and told that because Mrs. Carbuncle happens to be the aunt of the future Lady Tewett—if it should come to that. I’m not going to marry a whole family; and the less I have of this kind of thing the more likely it is that I shall come up to scratch when the time is up.”
Then Lucinda rose and spoke. “Sir Griffin Tewett,” she said, “there is not the slightest necessity that you should ‘come up to scratch.’ I wonder that I have not as yet been able to make you understand that if it will suit your convenience to break off our match, it will not in the least interfere with mine. And let me tell you this, Sir Griffin, that any repetition of your unkindness to my aunt will make me utterly refuse to see you again.”
“Of course you like her better than you do me.”
“A great deal better,” said Lucinda.
“If I stand that I’ll be ——,” said Sir Griffin, leaving the room. And he left the castle, sleeping that night in the inn at Kilmarnock. The day, however, was passed in hunting; and though he said nothing to either of the three ladies, it was understood by them as they returned to Portray that there was to be no quarrel. Lord George and Sir Griffin had discussed the matter, and Lord George took upon himself to say that there was no quarrel. On the morning but one following, there came a note from Sir Griffin to Lucinda just as they were leaving home for their journey up to London, in which Sir Griffin expressed his regret if he had said anything displeasing to Mrs. Carbuncle.47
Something as to the jewels had been told to Lord George; and this was quite necessary, as Lord George intended to travel with the ladies from Portray to London. Of course he had heard of the diamonds, as who had not? He had heard too of Lord Fawn, and knew why it was that Lord Fawn had peremptorily refused to carry out his engagement. But, till he was told by Mrs. Carbuncle, he did not know that the diamonds were then kept within the castle, nor did he understand that it would be part of his duty to guard them on their way back to London.
“They are worth ever so much, ain’t they?” he said to Mrs. Carbuncle, when she first gave him the information.
“Ten thousand pounds,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, almost with awe.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” said Lord George.
“She says that they’ve been valued at that, since she’s had them.”
Lord George owned to himself that such a necklace was worth having, as also, no doubt, were Portray Castle and the income arising from the estate, even though they could be held in possession only for a single life. Hitherto in his very checkered career he had escaped the trammels of matrimony, and among his many modes of life had hardly even suggested to 48 himself the expediency of taking a wife with a fortune, and then settling down for the future, if submissively, still comfortably. To say that he had never looked forward to such a marriage as a possible future arrangement, would probably be incorrect. To men such as Lord George it is too easy a result of a career to be altogether banished from the mind. But no attempt had ever yet been made, nor had any special lady ever been so far honoured in his thoughts as to be connected in them with any vague ideas which he might have formed on the subject. But now it did occur to him that Portray Castle was a place in which he could pass two or three months annually without ennui; and that if he were to marry, little Lizzie Eustace would do as well as any other woman with money whom he might chance to meet. He did not say all this to anybody, and therefore cannot be accused of vanity. He was the last man in the world to speak on such a subject to any one. And as even Lizzie certainly bestowed upon him many of her smiles, much of her poetry, and some of her confidence, it cannot be said that he was not justified in his views. But then she was such an—“infernal little liar.” Lord George was quite able to discover so much of her.
“She does lie, certainly,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, “but then who doesn’t?”
On the morning of their departure the box with the diamonds was brought down into the hall just as they were about to depart. The tall London footman again brought it down, and deposited it on one of the oak hall-chairs, as though it were a thing so heavy that he could hardly stagger along with it. How Lizzie did hate the man as she watched him, and regret that she 49 had not attempted to carry it down herself. She had been with her diamonds that morning, and had had them out of the box and into it. Few days passed on which she did not handle them and gaze at them. Mrs. Carbuncle had suggested that the box, with all her diamonds in it, might be stolen from her, and as she thought of this her heart almost sank within her. When she had them once again in London she would take some steps to relieve herself from this embarrassment of carrying about with her so great a burden of care. The man, with a vehement show of exertion, deposited the box on a chair, and then groaned aloud. Lizzie knew very well that she could lift the box by her own unaided exertions, and the groan was at any rate unnecessary.
“Supposing somebody were to steal that on the way,” said Lord George to her, not in his pleasantest tone.
“Do not suggest anything so horrible,” said Lizzie, trying to laugh.
“I shouldn’t like it at all,” said Lord George.
“I don’t think it would make me a bit unhappy. You’ve heard about it all. There never was such a persecution. I often say that I should be well pleased to take the bauble and fling it into the ocean waves.”
“I should like to be a mermaid and catch it,” said Lord George.
“And what better would you be? Such things are all vanity and vexation of spirit. I hate the shining thing.” And she hit the box with the whip she held in her hand.
It had been arranged that the party should sleep at Carlisle. It consisted of Lord George, the three ladies, 50 the tall man servant, Lord George’s own man, and the two maids. Miss Macnulty, with the heir and the nurses, were to remain at Portray for yet a while longer. The iron box was again put into the carriage, and was used by Lizzie as a footstool. This might have been very well, had there been no necessity for changing their train. At Troon the porter behaved well, and did not struggle much as he carried it from the carriage on to the platform. But at Kilmarnock, where they met the train from Glasgow, the big footman interfered again, and the scene was performed under the eyes of a crowd of people. It seemed to Lizzie that Lord George almost encouraged the struggling, as though he were in league with the footman to annoy her. But there was no further change between Kilmarnock and Carlisle, and they managed to make themselves very comfortable. Lunch had been provided; for Mrs. Carbuncle was a woman who cared for such things, and Lord George also liked a glass of champagne in the middle of the day. Lizzie professed to be perfectly indifferent on such matters; but nevertheless she enjoyed her lunch, and allowed Lord George to press upon her a second, and perhaps a portion of a third glass of wine. Even Lucinda was roused up from her general state of apathy, and permitted herself to forget Sir Griffin for a while.
During this journey to Carlisle Lizzie Eustace almost made up her mind that Lord George was the very Corsair she had been expecting ever since she had mastered Lord Byron’s great poem. He had a way of doing things and of saying things, of proclaiming himself to be master, and at the same time of making himself thoroughly agreeable to his dependants, and 51 especially to the one dependant whom he most honoured at the time, which exactly suited Lizzie’s ideas of what a man should be. And then he possessed that utter indifference to all conventions and laws, which is the great prerogative of Corsairs. He had no reverence for aught divine or human, which is a great thing. The Queen and Parliament, the bench of bishops, and even the police, were to him just so many fungi and parasites, and noxious vapours, and false hypocrites. Such were the names by which he ventured to call these bugbears of the world. It was so delightful to live with a man who himself had a title of his own, but who could speak of dukes and marquises as being quite despicable by reason of their absurd position. And as they became gay and free after their luncheon he expressed almost as much contempt for honesty as for dukes, and showed clearly that he regarded matrimony and marquises to be equally vain and useless. “How dare you say such things in our hearing?” exclaimed Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I assert that if men and women were really true, no vows would be needed; and if no vows, then no marriage vows. Do you believe such vows are kept?”
“Yes,” said Mrs. Carbuncle enthusiastically.
“I don’t,” said Lucinda.
“Nor I,” said the Corsair. “Who can believe that a woman will always love her husband because she swears she will? The oath is false on the face of it.”
“But women must marry,” said Lizzie. The Corsair declared freely that he did not see any such necessity.
And then, though it could hardly be said that this Corsair was a handsome man, still he had fine Corsair eyes, full of expression and determination, eyes that 52 could look love and bloodshed almost at the same time; and then he had those manly properties—power, bigness, and apparent boldness—which belong to a Corsair. To be hurried about the world by such a man, treated sometimes with crushing severity, and at others with the tenderest love, not to be spoken to for one fortnight, and then to be embraced perpetually for another, to be cast every now and then into some abyss of despair by his rashness, and then raised to a pinnacle of human joy by his courage—that, thought Lizzie, would be the kind of life which would suit her poetical temperament. But then, how would it be with her if the Corsair were to take to hurrying about the world without carrying her with him, and were to do so always at her expense? Perhaps he might hurry about the world and take somebody else with him. Medora, if Lizzie remembered rightly, had had no jointure or private fortune. But yet a woman must risk something if the spirit of poetry is to be allowed any play at all! “And now these weary diamonds again,” said Lord George, as the carriage was stopped against the Carlisle platform. “I suppose they must go into your bedroom, Lady Eustace?”
“I wish you’d let the man put the box in yours, just for this night,” said Lizzie.
“No, not if I know it,” said Lord George. And then he explained. Such property would be quite as liable to be stolen when in his custody as it would in hers; but if stolen while in his would entail upon him a grievous vexation which would by no means lessen the effect of her loss. She did not understand him, but finding that he was quite in earnest she directed that the box should be again taken to her own chamber. 53 Lord George suggested that it should be intrusted to the landlord; and for a moment or two Lizzie submitted to the idea. But she stood for that moment thinking of it, and then decided that the box should go to her own room.
“There’s no knowing what that Mr. Camperdown mightn’t do,” she whispered to Lord George. The porter and the tall footman, between them, staggered along under their load, and the iron box was again deposited in the bedroom of the Carlisle inn.
The evening at Carlisle was spent very pleasantly. The ladies agreed that they would not dress—but of course they did so with more or less of care. Lizzie made herself to look very pretty, though the skirt of the gown in which she came down was that which she had worn during the journey. Pointing this out with much triumph, she accused Mrs. Carbuncle and Lucinda of great treachery, in that they had not adhered to any vestige of their travelling raiment. But the rancour was not vehement, and the evening was passed pleasantly. Lord George was infinitely petted by the three Houris around him, and Lizzie called him a Corsair to his face.
“And you are the Medora,” said Mrs. Carbuncle.
“Oh no. That is your place, certainly,” said Lizzie.
“What a pity Sir Griffin isn’t here,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, “that we might call him the Giaour.” Lucinda shuddered, without any attempt at concealing her shudder. “That’s all very well, Lucinda, but I think Sir Griffin would make a very good Giaour.”
“Pray don’t, aunt. Let one forget it all just for a moment.”
“I wonder what Sir Griffin would say if he was to hear this,” said Lord George.54
Late in the evening Lord George strolled out, and of course all the ladies discussed his character in his absence. Mrs. Carbuncle declared that he was the soul of honour. In regard to her own feeling for him, she averred that no woman had ever had a truer friend. Any other sentiment was of course out of the question, for was she not a married woman? Had it not been for that accident Mrs. Carbuncle really thought that she could have given her heart to Lord George. Lucinda declared that she always regarded him as a kind of supplementary father.
“I suppose he is a year or two older than Sir Griffin,” said Lizzie.
“Lady Eustace, why should you make me unhappy?” said Lucinda.
Then Mrs. Carbuncle explained that whereas Sir Griffin was not yet thirty, Lord George was over forty.
“All I can say is, he doesn’t look it,” urged Lady Eustace enthusiastically.
“Those sort of men never do,” said Mrs. Carbuncle. Lord George, when he returned, was greeted with an allusion to angels’ wings, and would have been a good deal spoiled among them were it in the nature of such an article to receive injury. As soon as the clock had struck ten the ladies all went away to their beds.
Lizzie, when she was in her own room, of course found her maid waiting for her. It was necessarily part of the religion of such a woman as Lizzie Eustace that she could not go to bed, or change her clothes, or get up in the morning, without the assistance of her own young woman. She would 55 not like to have it thought that she could stick a pin into her own belongings without such assistance. Nevertheless it was often the case with her that she was anxious to get rid of her girl’s attendance. It had been so on this morning and before dinner, and was so now again. She was secret in her movements, and always had some recess in her boxes and bags and dressing apparatuses to which she did not choose that Miss Patience Crabstick should have access. She was careful about her letters, and very careful about her money. And then as to that iron box in which the diamonds were kept! Patience Crabstick had never yet seen the inside of it. Moreover it may be said, either on Lizzie’s behalf or to her discredit, as the reader may be pleased to take it, that she was quite able to dress herself, to brush her own hair, to take off her own clothes; and that she was not, either by nature or education, an incapable young woman. But that honour and glory demanded it, she would almost as lief have had no Patience Crabstick to pry into her most private matters. All which Crabstick knew, and would often declare her missus to be “of all missuses the most slyest and least come-at-able.” On this present night she was very soon despatched to her own chamber. Lizzie, however, took one careful look at the iron box before the girl was sent away.
Crabstick, on this occasion, had not far to go to seek her own couch. Alongside of Lizzie’s larger chamber there was a small room, a dressing-room with a bed in it, which, for this night, was devoted to Crabstick’s accommodation. Of course she departed from attendance on her mistress by the door which opened from the one room to the other; but this had no sooner 56 been closed than Crabstick descended to complete the amusements of the evening. Lizzie, when she was alone, bolted both the doors on the inside, and then quickly retired to rest. Some short prayer she said, with her knees close to the iron box. Then she put certain articles of property under her pillow, her watch and chain, and the rings from her fingers, and a packet which she had drawn from her travelling-desk, and was soon in bed, thinking that, as she fell away to sleep, she would revolve in her mind that question of the Corsair: would it be good to trust herself and all her belongings to one who might perhaps take her belongings away, but leave herself behind? The subject was not unpleasant, and while she was considering it she fell asleep.
It was, perhaps, about two in the morning when a man, very efficient at the trade which he was then following, knelt outside Lady Eustace’s door, and, with a delicately-made saw, aided probably by some other equally well-finished tools, absolutely cut out that portion of the bedroom door on which the bolt was fastened. He must have known the spot exactly, for he did not doubt a moment as he commenced his work; and yet there was nothing on the exterior of the door to show where the bolt was placed. The bit was cut out without the slightest noise, and then, when the door was opened, was placed just inside upon the floor. The man then with perfectly noiseless step entered the room, knelt again—just where poor Lizzie had knelt as she said her prayers—so that he might the more easily raise the iron box without a struggle, and left the room with it in his arms without disturbing the lovely sleeper. He then 57 descended the stairs, passed into the coffee-room at the bottom of them, and handed the box through an open window to a man who was crouching on the outside in the dark. He then followed the box, pulled down the window, put on a pair of boots which his friend had ready for him; and the two, after lingering a few moments in the shade of the dark wall, retreated with their prize round a corner. The night itself was almost pitch-dark, and very wet. It was as nearly black with darkness as a night can be. So far, the enterprising adventurers had been successful, and we will now leave them in their chosen retreat, engaged on the longer operation of forcing open the iron safe. For it had been arranged between them that the iron safe should be opened then and there. Though the weight to him who had taken it out of Lizzie’s room had not been oppressive, as it had oppressed the tall serving-man, it might still have been an incumbrance to gentlemen intending to travel by railway with as little observation as possible. They were, however, well supplied with tools, and we will leave them at their work.
On the next morning Lizzie was awakened earlier than she had expected, and found not only Patience Crabstick in her bedroom, but also a chambermaid, and the wife of the manager of the hotel. The story was soon told to her. Her room had been broken open, and her treasure was gone. The party had intended to breakfast at their leisure, and proceed to London by a train leaving Carlisle in the middle of the day; but they were soon disturbed from their rest. Lady Eustace had hardly time to get her slippers from her feet, and to wrap herself in her dressing-gown, 58 to get rid of her dishevelled nightcap, and make herself just fit for public view, before the manager of the hotel, and Lord George, and the tall footman, and the boots were in her bedroom. It was too plainly manifest to them all that the diamonds were gone. The superintendent of the Carlisle police was there almost as soon as the others; and following him very quickly came the important gentleman who was at the head of the constabulary of the county.
Lizzie, when she first heard the news, was awe-struck rather than outwardly demonstrative of grief. “There has been a regular plot,” said Lord George. Captain Fitzmaurice, the gallant chief, nodded his head.
“Plot enough,” said the superintendent, who did not mean to confide his thoughts to any man, or to exempt any human being from his suspicion. The manager of the hotel was very angry, and at first did not restrain his anger. Did not everybody know that if articles of value were brought into a hotel they should be handed over to the safe-keeping of the manager? He almost seemed to think that Lizzie had stolen her own box of diamonds.
“My dear fellow,” said Lord George, “nobody is saying a word against you or your house.”
“No, my lord; but——”
“Lady Eustace is not blaming you, and do not you blame anybody else,” said Lord George. “Let the police do what is right.”
At last the men retreated, and Lizzie was left with Patience and Mrs. Carbuncle. But even then she did not give way to her grief, but sat upon the bed awestruck and mute. “Perhaps I had better get dressed,” she said at last.59
“I feared how it might be,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, holding Lizzie’s hand affectionately.
“Yes; you said so.”
“The prize was so great.”
“I was always a-telling my lady——” began Crabstick.
“Hold your tongue!” said Lizzie angrily. “I suppose the police will do the best they can, Mrs. Carbuncle?”
“Oh yes; and so will Lord George.”
“I think I’ll lie down again for a little while,” said Lizzie. “I feel so sick I hardly know what to do. If I were to lie down for a little I should be better.” With much difficulty she got them to leave her. Then, before she again undressed herself, she bolted the door that still had a bolt, and turned the lock in the other. Having done this, she took out from under her pillow the little parcel which had been in her desk, and, untying it, perceived that her dear diamond necklace was perfect, and quite safe.
The enterprising adventurers had, indeed, stolen the iron case, but they had stolen nothing else. The reader must not suppose that because Lizzie had preserved her jewels, she was therefore a consenting party to the abstraction of the box. The theft had been a genuine theft, planned with great skill, carried out with much ingenuity, one in the perpetration of which money had been spent, a theft which for a while baffled the police of England, and which was supposed to be very creditable to those who had been engaged in it. But the box, and nothing but the box, had fallen into the hands of the thieves.
Lizzie’s silence when the abstraction of the box was 60 made known to her, her silence as to the fact that the necklace was at that moment within the grasp of her own fingers, was not at first the effect of deliberate fraud. She was ashamed to tell them that she brought the box empty from Portray, having the diamonds in her own keeping because she had feared that the box might be stolen. And then it occurred to her, quick as thought could flash, that it might be well that Mr. Camperdown should be made to believe that they had been stolen. And so she kept her secret. The reflections of the next half-hour told her how very great would now be her difficulties. But, as she had not disclosed the truth at first, she could hardly disclose it now.
“I don’t suppose Mr. Emilius had any idea of the kind.”
missing word “idea” supplied from Fortnightly Review
Two men tumbled down, and one of them was a good deal hurt. It was very jolly
[A juxtaposition that could only have come out of Lizzie Eustace’s mouth.]
If I could break my neck it would be the best thing for me.
[A warning sign, if only there were someone around to see it.]
I’d a deal sooner marry a man like that huntsman, who has something to do and knows how to do it.
[She said something very similar at the end of Chapter XXXVII. At the time I didn’t believe her, but now I wish Lucinda’s case could be taken over by a different writer.]
“The rabbits and hares All go in pairs; And likewise the bears In couples agree.”
[Was Trollope quoting from memory? The song “Widow Machree” (by Samuel Lover, 1797–1868) was only published in 1847, so it hadn’t had much time to pick up alternate wordings. As published, it includes the lines
See the birds go in pairs,
And the rabbits and hares,
Why even the bears
In couples agree,
And the mute little fish,
Though they can’t spake, they wish,
Och hone! Widow Machree. ]
She is the same to me as a daughter.
[I never did figure out if the reader is supposed to suspect Lucinda actually is Mrs. Carbuncle’s daughter (fathered by Lord George, not by the unseen Mr. Carbuncle).]
a pleasant face wherewithal to greet him
[Not a mistake but an archaism; Fortnightly Review has the same form.]
before she allows herself to walk about with ten thousand pounds upon her shoulders
text has thousands
Lord George, when he returned, was greeted with an allusion to angels’ wings
[“Speaking of angels, one is apt to hear the rustling of their wings”—Rose in Bloom. It’s the G-rated version of “speak of the devil”.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.