When we left Lady Eustace alone in her bedroom at the Carlisle hotel after the discovery of the robbery, she had very many cares upon her mind. The necklace was, indeed, safe under her pillow in the bed; but when all the people were around her—her own friends, and the police, and they who were concerned with the inn—she had not told them that it was so, but had allowed them to leave her with the belief that the diamonds had gone with the box. Even at this moment, as she knew well, steps were being taken to discover the thieves, and to make public the circumstances of the robbery. Already, no doubt, the fact that her chamber had been entered in the night, and her jewel-box withdrawn, was known to the London police officers. In such circumstances how could she now tell the truth? But it might be that already had the thieves been taken. In that case would not the truth be known, even though she should not tell it? Then she thought for a while that she would get rid of the diamonds altogether, so that no one should know aught of them. If she could only think of a place fit for such purpose, she would so hide them that no human ingenuity could discover them. Let the thieves say what they might, her word would, in such case, be better than that of the thieves. She would declare that the jewels had been in the box when 62 the box was taken. The thieves would swear that the box had been empty. She would appeal to the absence of the diamonds, and the thieves—who would be known as thieves—would be supposed, even by their own friends and associates, to have disposed of the diamonds before they had been taken. There would be a mystery in all this, and a cunning cleverness, the idea of which had in itself a certain charm for Lizzie Eustace. She would have all the world at a loss. Mr. Camperdown could do nothing further to harass her; and would have been, so far, overcome. She would be saved from the feeling of public defeat in the affair of the necklace, which would be very dreadful to her. Lord Fawn might probably be again at her feet. And in all the fuss and rumour which such an affair would make in London, there would be nothing of which she need be ashamed. She liked the idea, and she had grown to be very sick of the necklace.
But what should she do with it? It was, at this moment, between her fingers beneath the pillow. If she were minded, and she thought she was so minded, to get rid of it altogether, the sea would be the place. Could she make up her mind absolutely to destroy so large a property, it would be best for her to have recourse to “her own broad waves,” as she called them even to herself. It was within the “friendly depths of her own rock-girt ocean” that she should find a grave for her great trouble. But now her back was to the sea, and she could hardly insist on returning to Portray without exciting a suspicion that might be fatal to her.
And then might it not be possible to get altogether quit of the diamonds and yet to retain the power of future possession? She knew that she was running into 63 debt, and that money would, some day, be much needed. Her acquaintance with Mr. Benjamin, the jeweller, was a fact often present to her mind. She might not be able to get ten thousand pounds from Mr. Benjamin; but if she could get eight, or six, or even five, how pleasant would it be! If she could put away the diamonds for three or four years, if she could so hide them that no human eyes could see them till she should again produce them to the light, surely, after so long an interval, they might be made available! But where should be found such hiding-place? She understood well how great was the peril while the necklace was in her own immediate keeping. Any accident might discover it, and if the slightest suspicion were aroused, the police would come upon her with violence and discover it. But surely there must be some such hiding-place, if only she could think of it! Then her mind reverted to all the stories she had ever heard of mysterious villanies. There must be some way of accomplishing this thing, if she could only bring her mind to work upon it exclusively. A hole dug deep into the ground; would not that be the place? But then, where should the hole be dug? In what spot should she trust the earth? If anywhere, it must be at Portray. But now she was going from Portray to London. It seemed to her to be certain that she could dig no hole in London that would be secret to herself. Nor could she trust herself, during the hour or two that remained to her, to find such a hole in Carlisle.
What she wanted was a friend; some one that she could trust. But she had no such friend. She could not dare to give the jewels up to Lord George. So tempted, would not any Corsair appropriate the treasure? 64 And if, as might be possible, she were mistaken about him and he was no Corsair, then would he betray her to the police. She thought of all her dearest friends, Frank Greystock, Mrs. Carbuncle, Lucinda, Miss Macnulty, even of Patience Crabstick, but there was no friend whom she could trust. Whatever she did she must do alone! She began to fear that the load of thought required would be more than she could bear. One thing, however, was certain to her: she could not now venture to tell them all that the necklace was in her possession, and that the stolen box had been empty.
Thinking of all this, she went to sleep, still holding the packet tight between her fingers, and in this position was awakened at about ten by a knock at the door from her friend Mrs. Carbuncle. Lizzie jumped out of bed, and admitted her friend, admitting also Patience Crabstick. “You had better get up now, dear,” said Mrs. Carbuncle. “We are all going to breakfast.” Lizzie declared herself to be so fluttered that she must have her breakfast up-stairs. No one was to wait for her. Crabstick would go down and fetch for her a cup of tea, and just a morsel of something to eat.
“You can’t be surprised that I shouldn’t be quite myself,” said Lizzie.
Mrs. Carbuncle’s surprise did not run at all in that direction. Both Mrs. Carbuncle and Lord George had been astonished to find how well she bore her loss. Lord George gave her credit for real bravery. Mrs. Carbuncle suggested, in a whisper, that perhaps she regarded the theft as an easy way out of a lawsuit.
“I suppose you know, George, they would have got 65 it from her.” Then Lord George whistled, and, in another whisper, declared that, if the little adventure had all been arranged by Lady Eustace herself with the view of getting the better of Mr. Camperdown, his respect for that lady would be very greatly raised.
“If,” said Lord George, “it turns out that she has had a couple of bravos in her pay, like an old Italian marquis, I shall think very highly of her indeed.” This had occurred before Mrs. Carbuncle came up to Lizzie’s room; but neither of them for a moment suspected that the necklace was still within the hotel.
The box had been found, and a portion of the fragments were brought into the room while the party were still at breakfast. Lizzie was not in the room, but the news was at once taken up to her by Crabstick, together with a pheasant’s wing and some buttered toast. In a recess beneath an archway running under the railroad, not distant from the hotel above a hundred and fifty yards, the iron box had been found. It had been forced open, so said the sergeant of police, with tools of the finest steel, peculiarly made for such purpose. The sergeant of police was quite sure that the thing had been done by London men who were at the very top of their trade. It was manifest that nothing had been spared. Every motion of the party must have been known to them, and probably one of the adventurers had travelled in the same train with them. And the very doors of the bedroom in the hotel had been measured by the man who had cut out the bolt. The sergeant of police was almost lost in admiration; but the superintendent of police, whom Lord George saw more than once, was discreet and silent. To the superintendent of police it was by no 66 means sure that Lord George himself might not be fond of diamonds. Of a suspicion flying so delightfully high as this, he breathed no word to any one; but simply suggested that he should like to retain the companionship of one of the party. If Lady Eustace could dispense with the services of the tall footman, the tall footman might be found useful at Carlisle. It was arranged, therefore, that the tall footman should remain; and the tall footman did remain, though not with his own consent.
The whole party, including Lady Eustace herself and Patience Crabstick, were called upon to give their evidence to the Carlisle magistrates before they could proceed to London. This Lizzie did, having the necklace at that moment locked up in her desk at the inn. The diamonds were supposed to be worth ten thousand pounds. There was to be a lawsuit about them. She did not for a moment doubt that they were her property. She had been very careful about the diamonds because of the lawsuit. Fearing that Mr. Camperdown might wrest them from her possession, she had caused the iron box to be made. She had last seen the diamonds on the evening before her departure from Portray. She had then herself locked them up, and she now produced the key. The lock was still so far uninjured that the key would turn it. That was her evidence. Crabstick, with a good deal of reticence, supported her mistress. She had seen the diamonds, no doubt, but had not seen them often. She had seen them down at Portray, but not for ever so long. Crabstick had very little to say about them; but the clever superintendent was by no means sure that Crabstick did not know more than she said. 67 Mrs. Carbuncle and Lord George had also seen the diamonds at Portray. There was no doubt whatever as to the diamonds having been in the iron box; nor was there, said Lord George, any doubt but that this special necklace had acquired so much public notice from the fact of the threatened lawsuit, as might make its circumstances and value known to London thieves. The tall footman was not examined, but was detained by the police under a remand given by the magistrates.
Much information as to what had been done oozed out in spite of the precautions of the discreet superintendent. The wires had been put into operation in every direction, and it had been discovered that one man whom nobody knew had left the down mail train at Annan, and another at Dumfries. These men had taken tickets by the train leaving Carlisle between four and five A.M., and were supposed to have been the two thieves. It had been nearly seven before the theft had been discovered, and by that time not only had the men reached the towns named, but had had time to make their way back again or further on into Scotland. At any rate, for the present, all trace of them was lost. The sergeant of police did not doubt but that one of these men was making his way up to London with the necklace in his pocket. This was told to Lizzie by Lord George; and though she was awe-struck by the danger of her situation, she nevertheless did feel some satisfaction in remembering that she and she only held the key of the mystery. And then as to those poor thieves! What must have been their consternation when they found, after all the labour and perils of the night, that the box contained no diamonds—that the treasure was not there, and that they were nevertheless 68 bound to save themselves by flight and stratagem from the hands of the police! Lizzie, as she thought of this, almost pitied the poor thieves. What a consternation there would be among the Camperdowns and Garnetts, among the Mopuses and Benjamins, when the news was heard in London. Lizzie almost enjoyed it. As her mind went on making fresh schemes on the subject, a morbid desire of increasing the mystery took possession of her. She was quite sure that nobody knew her secret, and that nobody as yet could even guess it. There was great danger, but there might be delight and even profit if she could safely dispose of the jewels before suspicion against herself should be aroused. She could understand that a rumour should get to the police that the box had been empty, even if the thieves were not taken; but such rumour would avail nothing if she could only dispose of the diamonds. As she first thought of all this, the only plan hitherto suggested to herself would require her immediate return to Portray. If she were at Portray she could find a spot in which she could bury the necklace. But she was obliged to allow herself now to be hurried up to London. When she got into the train the little parcel was in her desk, and the key of her desk was fastened round her neck.
They had secured a for themselves from Carlisle to London, and of course filled four seats. “As I am alive,” said Lord George as soon as the train had left the station, “that head policeman thinks that I am the thief.” Mrs. Carbuncle laughed. Lizzie protested that this was absurd. Lucinda declared that such a suspicion would be vastly amusing. “It’s a 69 fact,” continued Lord George. “I can see it in the fellow’s eye, and I feel it to be a compliment. They are so very ’cute that they delight in suspicions. I remember when the altar-plate was stolen from Barchester cathedral some years ago, a splendid idea occurred to one of the police that the bishop had taken it.”
“Really?” asked Lizzie.
“Oh, yes—really. I don’t doubt but that there is already a belief in some of their minds that you have stolen your own diamonds for the sake of getting the better of Mr. Camperdown.”
“But what could I do with them if I had?” asked Lizzie.
“Sell them, of course. There is always a market for such goods.”
“But who would buy them?”
“If you have been so clever, Lady Eustace, I’ll find a purchaser for them. One would have to go a good distance to do it—and there would be some expense. But the thing could be done. Vienna, I should think, would be about the place.”
“Very well, then,” said Lizzie. “You won’t be surprised if I ask you to take the journey for me.” Then they all laughed, and were very much amused. It was quite agreed among them that Lizzie bore her loss very well.
“I shouldn’t care the least for losing them,” said Lizzie, “only that Florian gave them to me. They have been such a vexation to me that to be without them will be a comfort.” Her desk had been brought into the carriage, and was now used as a foot-stool in place of the box which was gone.70
They arrived at Mrs. Carbuncle’s house in Hertford street quite late, between ten and eleven; but a note had been sent from Lizzie to her cousin Frank’s address from the Euston Square station by a commissionnaire. Indeed, two notes were sent—one to the House of Commons, and the other to the Grosvenor Hotel. “My necklace has been stolen. Come to me early to-morrow at Mrs. Carbuncle’s house, No. — Hertford street.” And he did come, before Lizzie was up. Crabstick brought her mistress word that Mr. Greystock was in the parlour soon after nine o’clock. Lizzie again hurried on her clothes so that she might see her cousin, taking care as she so that though her toilet might betray haste, it should not be other than charming. And as she dressed she endeavoured to come to some conclusion. Would it not be best for her that she should tell everything to her cousin, and throw herself upon his mercy, trusting to his ingenuity to extricate her from her difficulties? She had been thinking of her position almost through the entire night, and had remembered that at Carlisle she had committed perjury. She had sworn that the diamonds had been left by her in the box. And should they be found with her, it might be that they would put her in jail for stealing them. Little mercy could she expect from Mr. Camperdown should she fall into that gentleman’s hands! But Frank, if she would even yet tell him everything honestly, might probably save her.
“What is this about the diamonds?” he asked as soon as he saw her. She had flown almost into his arms as though carried there by the excitement of the moment. “You don’t really mean that they have been stolen?”71
“I do, Frank.”
“On the journey?”
“Yes, Frank—at the inn at Carlisle.”
“Box and all?” Then she told him the whole story—not the true story, but the story as it was believed by all the world. She found it to be impossible to tell him the true story. “And the box was broken open, and left in the street?”
“Under an archway,” said Lizzie.
“And what do the police think?”
“I don’t know what they think. Lord George says that they believe he is the thief.”
“He knew of them,” said Frank, as though he imagined that the suggestion was not altogether absurd.
“Oh, yes—he knew of them.”
“And what is to be done?”
“I don’t know. I’ve sent for you to tell me.” Then Frank averred that information should be immediately given to Mr. Camperdown. He would himself call on Mr. Camperdown, and would also see the head of the London police. He did not doubt but that all the circumstances were already known in London at the police office; but it might be well that he should see the officer. He was acquainted with the gentleman, and might perhaps learn something. Lizzie at once acceded, and Frank went direct to Mr. Camperdown’s offices.
“If I had lost ten thousand pounds in that way,” said Mrs. Carbuncle, “I think I should have broken my heart.” Lizzie felt that her heart was bursting rather than being broken, because the ten thousand pounds’ worth of diamonds was not really lost.72
Lucy Morris went to Lady Linlithgow early in October, and was still with Lady Linlithgow when Lizzie Eustace returned to London in January. During these three months she certainly had not been happy. In the first place, she had not once seen her lover. This had aroused no anger or suspicion in her bosom against him, because the old countess had told her that she would have no lover come to the house, and that, above all, she would not allow a young man with whom she herself was connected to come in that guise to her companion. “From all I hear,” said Lady Linlithgow, “it’s not at all likely to be a match; and at any rate it can’t go on here.” Lucy thought that she would be doing no more than standing up properly for her lover by asserting her conviction that it would be a match; and she did assert it bravely; but she made no petition for his presence, and bore that trouble bravely. In the next place, Frank was not a satisfactory correspondent. He did write to her occasionally; and he wrote also to the old countess immediately on his return to town from Bobsborough a letter which was intended as an answer to that which she had written to Mrs. Greystock. What was said in that letter Lucy never knew; but she did know that Frank’s few letters to herself were not full and hearty—were not such 73 thorough-going love-letters as lovers write to each other when they feel unlimited satisfaction in the work. She excused him, telling herself that he was overworked, that with his double trade of legislator and lawyer he could hardly be expected to write letters, that men, in respect of letter-writing, are not as women are, and the like; but still there grew at her heart a little weed of care, which from week to week spread its noxious, heavy-scented leaves, and robbed her of her joyousness. To be loved by her lover, and to feel that she was his, to have a lover of her own to whom she could thoroughly devote herself, to be conscious that she was one of those happy women in the world who find a mate worthy of worship as well as love—this to her was so great a joy that even the sadness of her present position could not utterly depress her. From day to day she assured herself that she did not doubt and would not doubt—that there was no cause for doubt; that she would herself be base were she to admit any shadow of suspicion. But yet his absence, and the shortness of those little notes, which came perhaps once a fortnight, did tell upon her in opposition to her own convictions. Each note as it came was answered—instantly; but she would not write except when the notes came. She would not seem to reproach him by writing oftener than he wrote. When he had given her so much, and she had nothing but her confidence to give in return, would she stint him in that? There can be no love, she said, without confidence, and it was the pride of her heart to love him.
The circumstances of her present life were desperately weary to her. She could hardly understand why it was that Lady Linlithgow should desire her presence. 74 She was required to do nothing. She had no duties to perform, and, as it seemed to her, was of no use to any one. The countess would not even allow her to be of ordinary service in the house. Lady Linlithgow, as she had said of herself, poked her own fires, carved her own meat, lit her own candles, opened and shut the doors for herself, wrote her own letters, and did not even like to have books read to her. She simply chose to have some one sitting with her to whom she could speak and make little cross-gained, sarcastic, and ill-natured remarks. There was no company at the house in Brook street, and when the countess herself went out, she went out alone. Even when she had a cab to go shopping, or to make calls, she rarely asked Lucy to go with her; and was benevolent chiefly in this—that if Lucy chose to walk round the square or as far as the park, her ladyship’s maid was allowed to accompany her for protection. Poor Lucy often told herself that such a life would be unbearable, were it not for the supreme satisfaction she had in remembering her lover. And then the arrangement had been made only for six months. She did not feel quite assured of her fate at the end of those six months, but she believed that there would come to her a residence in a sort of outer garden to that sweet Elysium in which she was to pass her life. The Elysium would be Frank’s house; and the outer garden was the deanery at Bobsborough.
Twice during the three months Lady Fawn, with two of the girls, came to call upon her. On the first occasion she was unluckily out, taking advantage of the protection of her ladyship’s maid in getting a little air. Lady Linlithgow had also been away, and Lady Fawn had seen no one. Afterwards, both Lucy and 75 her ladyship were found at home, and Lady Fawn was full of graciousness and affection. “I dare say you’ve got something to say to each other,” said Lady Linlithgow, “and I’ll go away.”
“Pray don’t let us disturb you,” said Lady Fawn.
“You’d only abuse me if I didn’t,” said Lady Linlithgow.
As soon as she was gone Lucy rushed into her friend’s arms. “It is so nice to see you again!”
“Yes, my dear, isn’t it? I did come before, you know.”
“You have been so good to me! To see you again is like the violets and primroses.” She was crouching close to Lady Fawn, with her hand in that of her friend Lydia. “I haven’t a word to say against Lady Linlithgow, but it is like winter here, after dear Richmond.”
“Well, we think we’re prettier at Richmond,” said Lady Fawn.
“There were such hundreds of things to do there,” said Lucy. “After all, what a comfort it is to have things to do.”
“Why did you come away?” said Lydia.
“Oh, I was obliged. You mustn’t scold me now that you have come to see me.”
There were a hundred things to be said about Fawn Court and the children, and a hundred more things about Lady Linlithgow and Bruton street. Then, at last, Lady Fawn asked the one important question. “And now, my dear, what about Mr. Greystock?”
“Oh, I don’t know; nothing particular, Lady Fawn. It’s just as it was, and I am—quite satisfied.”
“You see him sometimes?”
“No, never. I have not seen him since the last time 76 he came down to Richmond. Lady Linlithgow doesn’t allow—followers.” There was a pleasant little spark of laughter in Lucy’s eye as she said this, which would have told to any bystander the whole story of the affection which existed between her and Lady Fawn.
“That’s very ill-natured,” said Lydia.
“And he’s a sort of a cousin, too,” said Lady Fawn.
“That’s just the reason why,” said Lucy, explaining. “Of course Lady Linlithgow thinks that her sister’s nephew can do better than marry her companion. It’s a matter of course she should think so. What I am most afraid of is that the dean and Mrs. Greystock should think so too.”
No doubt the dean and Mrs. Greystock would think so. Lady Fawn was very sure of that. Lady Fawn was one of the best women breathing, unselfish, motherly, affectionate, appreciative, and never happy unless she was doing good to somebody. It was her nature to be soft, and kind, and beneficent. But she knew very well that if she had had a son, a second son, situated as was Frank Greystock, she would not wish him to marry a girl without a penny, who was forced to earn her bread by being a governess. The sacrifice on Mr. Greystock’s part would, in her estimation, be so great, that she did not believe that it would be made. Womanlike, she regarded the man as being so much more important than the woman that she could not think that Frank Greystock would devote himself simply to such a one as Lucy Morris. Had Lady Fawn been asked which was the better creature of the two, her late governess or the rising barrister who had declared himself to be that governess’s lover, she would have said that no man could be better than 77 Lucy. She knew Lucy’s worth and goodness so well that she was ready herself to do any act of friendship on behalf of one so sweet and excellent. For herself and her girls Lucy was a companion and friend in every way satisfactory. But was it probable that a man of the world, such as was Frank Greystock, a rising man, a member of Parliament, one who, as everybody knew, was especially in want of money—was it probable that such a man as this would make her his wife just because she was good, and worthy, and sweet-natured? No doubt the man had said that he would do so, and Lady Fawn’s fears betrayed on her ladyship’s part a very bad opinion of men in general. It may seem to be a paradox to assert that such bad opinion sprung from the high idea which she entertained of the importance of men in general; but it was so. She had but one son, and of all her children he was the least worthy; but he was more important to her than all her daughters. Between her own girls and Lucy she hardly made any difference; but when her son had chosen to quarrel with Lucy, it had been necessary to send Lucy to eat her meals up-stairs. She could not believe that Mr. Greystock should think so much of such a little girl as to marry her. Mr. Greystock would no doubt behave very badly in not doing so; but then men do so often behave very badly! And at the bottom of her heart she almost thought that they might be excused for doing so. According to her view of things, a man out in the world had so many things to think of, and was so very important, that he could hardly be expected to act at all times with truth and sincerity.
Lucy had suggested that the dean and Mrs. Greystock would dislike the marriage, and upon that hint 78 Lady Fawn spoke. “Nothing is settled, I suppose, as to where you are to go when the six months are over?”
“Nothing as yet, Lady Fawn.”
“They haven’t asked you to go to Bobsborough?”
Lucy would have given the world not to blush as she answered, but she did blush. “Nothing is fixed, Lady Fawn.”
“Something should be fixed, Lucy. It should be settled by this time, shouldn’t it, dear? What will you do without a home, if at the end of the six months Lady Linlithgow should say that she doesn’t want you any more?”
Lucy certainly did not look forward to a condition in which Lady Linlithgow should be the arbitress of her destiny. The idea of staying with the countess was almost as bad to her as that of finding herself altogether homeless. She was still blushing, feeling herself to be hot and embarrassed. But Lady Fawn sat waiting for an answer. To Lucy there was only one answer possible. “I will ask Mr. Greystock what I am to do.” Lady Fawn shook her head. “You don’t believe in Mr. Greystock, Lady Fawn; but I do.”
“My darling girl,” said her ladyship, making the special speech for the sake of making which she had travelled up from Richmond, “it is not exactly a question of belief, but one of common prudence. No girl should allow herself to depend on a man before she is married to him. By doing so she will be apt to lose even his respect.”
“I didn’t mean for money,” said Lucy, hotter than ever, with her eyes full of tears.
“She should not be in any respect at his disposal 79 till he has bound himself to her at the altar. You may believe me, Lucy, when I tell you so. It is only because I love you so that I say so.”
“I know that, Lady Fawn.”
“When your time here is over, just put up your things and come back to Richmond. You need fear nothing with us. Frederic quite liked your way of parting with him at last, and all that little affair is forgotten. At Fawn Court you’ll be safe; and you shall be happy, too, if we can make you happy. It’s the proper place for you.”
“Of course you’ll come,” said Diana Fawn.
“You’ll be the worst little thing in the world if you don’t,” said Lydia. “We don’t know what to do without you. Do we, mamma?”
“Lucy will please us all by coming back to her old home,” said Lady Fawn. The tears were now streaming down Lucy’s face, so that she was hardly able to say a word in answer to all this kindness. And she did not know what word to say. Were she to accept the offer made to her, and acknowledge that she could do nothing better than creep back under her old friend’s wing, would she not thereby be showing that she doubted her lover? But she could not go to the dean’s house unless the dean and his wife were pleased to take her; and, suspecting as she did that they would not be pleased, would it become her to throw upon her lover the burden of finding for her a home with people who did not want her? Had she been welcome at Bobsborough, Mrs. Greystock would surely have so told her before this. “You needn’t say a word, my dear,” said Lady Fawn. “You’ll come, and there’s an end of it.”80
“But you don’t want me any more,” said Lucy from amid her sobs.
“That’s just all that you know about it,” said Lydia. “We do want you—more than anything.”
“I wonder whether I may come in now,” said Lady Linlithgow, entering the room. As it was the countess’s own drawing-room, as it was now mid-winter, and as the fire in the dining-room had been allowed, as was usual, to sink almost to two hot coals, the request was not unreasonable. Lady Fawn was profuse in her thanks, and immediately began to account for Lucy’s tears, pleading their dear friendship and their long absence, and poor Lucy’s emotional state of mind. Then she took her leave, and Lucy, as soon as she had been kissed by her friends outside the drawing-room door, took herself to her bedroom and finished her tears in the cold.
“Have you heard the news?” said Lady Linlithgow to her companion about a month after this. Lady Linlithgow had been out, and asked the question immediately on her return. Lucy, of course, had heard no news. “Lizzie Eustace has just come back to London, and has had all her jewels stolen on the road.”
“The diamonds?” asked Lucy with amaze.
“Yes, the Eustace diamonds! And they didn’t belong to her any more than they did to you. They’ve been taken any way, and from what I hear I shouldn’t be at all surprised if she had arranged the whole matter herself.”
“Arranged that they should be stolen?”
“Just that, my dear. It would be the very thing for Lizzie Eustace to do. She’s clever enough for anything.”81
“But, Lady Linlithgow——”
“I know all about that. Of course it would be very wicked, and if it were found out she’d be put in the dock and tried for her life. It is just what I expect she’ll come to some of these days. She has gone and got up a friendship with some disreputable people, and was travelling with them. There was a man who calls himself Lord George de Bruce Carruthers. I know him, and can remember when he was errand boy to a disreputable lawyer at Aberdeen.” This assertion was a falsehood on the part of the countess. Lord George had never been an errand boy, and the Aberdeen lawyer—as provincial Scotch lawyers go—had been by no means disreputable. “I’m told that the police think that he has got them.”
“How very dreadful!”
“Yes; it’s dreadful enough. At any rate, men got into Lizzie’s room at night and took away the iron box and diamonds and all. It may be she was asleep at the time; but she’s one of those who pretty nearly always sleep with one eye open.”
“She can’t be so bad as that, Lady Linlithgow.”
“Perhaps not. We shall see. They had just begun a lawsuit about the diamonds, to get them back. And then all at once they’re stolen. It looks what the men call—fishy. I’m told that all the police in London are up about it.”
On the very next day who should come to Brook street but Lizzie Eustace herself. She and her aunt had quarrelled, and they hated each other; but the old woman had called upon Lizzie, advising her, as the reader will perhaps remember, to give up the diamonds, and now Lizzie returned the visit. “So you’re 82 here, installed in poor Macnulty’s place,” began Lizzie to her old friend, the countess at the moment being out of the room.
“I am staying with your aunt for a few months as her companion. Is it true, Lizzie, that all your diamonds have been stolen?” Lizzie gave an account of the robbery, true in every respect except in regard to the contents of the box. Poor Lizzie had been wronged in that matter by the countess, for the robbery had been quite genuine. The man had opened her room and taken her box, and she had slept through it all. And then the broken box had been found, and was in the hands of the police, and was evidence of the fact.
“People seem to think it possible,” said Lizzie, “that Mr. Camperdown the lawyer arranged it all.” As this suggestion was being made, Lady Linlithgow came in, and then Lizzie repeated the whole story of the robbery. Though the aunt and niece were open and declared enemies, the present circumstances were so peculiar and full of interest, that conversation for a time almost amicable took place between them. “As the diamonds were so valuable, I thought it right, Aunt Susanna, to come and tell you myself.”
“It’s very good of you, but I’d heard it already. I was telling Miss Morris yesterday what very odd things there are being said about it.”
“Weren’t you very much frightened?” asked Lucy.
“You see, my child, I knew nothing about it till it was all over. The man cut the bit out of the door in the most beautiful way, without my ever hearing the least sound of the saw.”
“And you that sleep so light,” said the countess.83
“They say that perhaps something was put into the wine at dinner to make me sleep.”
“Ah!” ejaculated the countess, who did not for a moment give up her own erroneous suspicion; “very likely.”
“And they do say these people can do things without making the slightest tittle of noise. At any rate the box was gone.”
“And the diamonds?” asked Lucy.
“Oh yes, of course. And now there is such a fuss about it! The police keep on coming to me almost every day.”
“And what do the police think?” asked Lady Linlithgow. “I am told that they have their suspicions.”
“No doubt they have their suspicions,” said Lizzie.
“You travelled up with friends, I suppose.”
“Oh yes, with Lord George de Bruce Carruthers; and with Mrs. Carbuncle, who is my particular friend, and with Lucinda Roanoke, who is just going to be married to Sir Griffin Tewett. We were quite a large party.”
“No. I left Miss Macnulty at Portray with my darling. They thought he had better remain a little longer in Scotland.”
“Ah, yes; perhaps Lord George de Bruce Carruthers does not care for babies. I can easily believe that. I wish Macnulty had been with you.”
“Why do you wish that?” said Lizzie, who already was beginning to feel that the countess intended, as usual, to make herself disagreeable.
“She’s a stupid, dull, pig-headed creature; but one can believe what she says.”84
“And don’t you believe what I say?” demanded Lizzie.
“It’s all true, no doubt, that the diamonds are gone.”
“Indeed it is.”
“But I don’t know much about Lord George de Bruce Carruthers.”
“He’s the brother of a marquis, anyway,” said Lizzie, who thought that she might thus best answer the mother of a Scotch earl.
“I remember when he was plain George Carruthers, running about the streets of Aberdeen, and it was well with him when his shoes weren’t broken at the toes and down at heel. He earned his bread then, such as it was. Nobody knows how he gets it now. Why does he call himself de Bruce, I wonder?”
“Because his godfathers and godmothers gave him that name when he was made a child of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven,” said Lizzie, ever so pertly.
“I don’t believe a bit of it.”
“I wasn’t there to see, Aunt Susanna; and therefore I can’t swear to it. That’s his name in all the peerages, and I suppose they ought to know.”
“And what does Lord George de Bruce say about the diamonds?”
Now it had come to pass that Lady Eustace herself did not feel altogether sure that Lord George had not had a hand in this robbery. It would have been a trick worthy of a genuine Corsair, to arrange and carry out such a scheme for the appropriation of so rich a spoil. A watch or a brooch would, of course, be beneath the notice of a good genuine Corsair—of a 85 Corsair who was written down in the peerage as a marquis’s brother; but diamonds worth ten thousand pounds are not to be had every day. A Corsair must live, and if not by plunder rich as that, how then? If Lord George had concocted this little scheme, he would naturally be ignorant of the true event of the robbery till he should meet the humble executors of his design, and would, as Lizzie thought, have remained unaware of the truth till his arrival in London. That he had been ignorant of the truth during the journey was evident to her. But they had now been three days in London, during which she had seen him once. At that interview he had been sullen and almost cross, and had said next to nothing about the robbery. He made but one remark about it. “I have told the chief man here,” he said, “that I shall be ready to give any evidence in my power when called upon. Till then I shall take no further steps in the matter. I have been asked questions that should not have been asked.” In saying this he had used a tone which prevented further conversation on the subject, but Lizzie, as she thought of it all, remembered his jocular remark, made in the railway carriage, as to the suspicion which had already been expressed on the matter in regard to himself. If he had been the perpetrator, and had then found that he had only stolen the box, how wonderful would be the mystery!
“He hasn’t got anything to say,” replied Lizzie to the question of the countess.
“And who is your Mrs. Carbuncle?” asked the old woman.
“A particular friend of mine with whom I am staying at present. You don’t go about a great deal, 86 Aunt Linlithgow, but surely you must have met Mrs. Carbuncle.”
“I’m an ignorant old woman, no doubt. My dear, I’m not at all surprised at your losing your diamonds. The pity is that they weren’t your own.”
“They were my own.”
“The loss will fall on you, no doubt, because the Eustace people will make you pay for them. You’ll have to give up half your jointure for your life. That’s what it will come to. To think of your travelling about with those things in a box!”
“They were my own, and I had a right to do what I liked with them. Nobody accuses you of taking them.”
“That’s quite true. Nobody will accuse me. I suppose Lord George has left England for the benefit of his health. It would not at all surprise me if I were to hear that Mrs. Carbuncle had followed him; not in the least.”
“You’re just like yourself, Aunt Susanna,” said Lizzie, getting up and taking her leave. “Good-by, Lucy. I hope you’re happy and comfortable here. Do you ever see a certain friend of ours now?”
“If you mean Mr. Greystock, I haven’t seen him since I left Fawn Court,” said Lucy, with dignity.
When Lizzie was gone Lady Linlithgow spoke her mind freely about her niece. “Lizzie Eustace won’t come to any good. When I heard that she was engaged to that prig, Lord Fawn, I had some hopes that she might be kept out of harm. That’s all over, of course. When he heard about the necklace he wasn’t going to put his neck into that scrape. But now she’s getting among such a set that nothing can save her. 87 She has taken to hunting, and rides about the country like a mad woman.”
“A great many ladies hunt,” said Lucy.
“And she’s got hold of this Lord George, and of that horrid American woman that nobody knows anything about. They’ve got the diamonds between them, I don’t doubt. I’ll bet you sixpence that the police find out all about it, and that there is some terrible scandal. The diamonds were no more hers than they were mine, and she’ll be made to pay for them.”
The necklace, the meanwhile, was still locked up in Lizzie’s desk—with a patent Bramah key—in Mrs. Carbuncle’s house, and was a terrible trouble to our unhappy friend.88
Before the end of January everybody in London had heard of the great robbery at Carlisle; and most people had heard also that there was something very peculiar in the matter—something more than a robbery. Various rumours were afloat. It had become widely known that the diamonds were to be the subject of litigation between the young widow and the trustees of the Eustace estate; and it was known also that Lord Fawn had engaged himself to marry the widow, and had then retreated from his engagement simply on account of this litigation. There were strong parties formed in the matter; whom we may call Lizzieites and Antilizzieites. The Lizzieites were of opinion that poor Lady Eustace was being very ill-treated—that the diamonds did probably belong to her, and that Lord Fawn, at any rate, clearly ought to be her own. It was worthy of remark that these Lizzieites were all of them Conservatives. Frank Greystock had probably set the party on foot; and it was natural that political opponents should believe that a noble young Under-Secretary of State on the liberal side—such as Lord Fawn—had misbehaved himself. When the matter at last became of such importance as to demand leading articles in the newspapers, those journals which had devoted themselves to upholding the conservative politicians of the 89 day were very heavy indeed upon Lord Fawn. The whole force of the Government, however, was Antilizzieite; and as the controversy advanced every good Liberal became aware that there was nothing so wicked, so rapacious, so bold, or so cunning but that Lady Eustace might have done it, or caused it to be done, without delay, without difficulty, and without scruple. Lady Glencora Palliser for a while endeavoured to defend Lizzie in liberal circles—from generosity rather than from any real belief, and instigated, perhaps, by a feeling that any woman in society who was capable of doing anything extraordinary ought to be defended. But even Lady Glencora was forced to abandon her generosity, and to confess, on behalf of her party, that Lizzie Eustace was—a very wicked young woman indeed. All this, no doubt, grew out of the diamonds, and chiefly arose from the robbery; but there had been enough of notoriety attached to Lizzie before the affair at Carlisle to make people fancy that they had understood her character long before that.
The party assembled at Matching Priory, a country house belonging to Mr. Palliser, in which Lady Glencora took much delight, was not large, because Mr. Palliser’s uncle, the Duke of Omnium, who was with them, was now a very old man, and one who did not like very large gatherings of people. Lord and Lady Chiltern were there—that Lord Chiltern who had been known so long and so well in the hunting counties of England, and that Lady Chiltern who had been so popular in London as the beautiful Violet Effingham; and Mr. and Mrs. Grey were there, very particular friends of Mr. Palliser’s. Mr. Grey was now sitting for the borough of Silverbridge, in which the 90 Duke of Omnium was still presumed to have a controlling influence, in spite of all Reform bills, and Mrs. Grey was in some distant way connected with Lady Glencora. And Madame Max Goesler was there—a lady whose society was still much affected by the old duke; and Mr. and Mrs. Bonteen—who had been brought there, not perhaps altogether because they were greatly loved, but in order that the gentleman’s services might be made available by Mr. Palliser in reference to some great reform about to be introduced in monetary matters. Mr. Palliser, who was now Chancellor of the Exchequer, was intending to alter the value of the penny. Unless the work should be too much for him, and he should die before he had accomplished the self-imposed task, the future penny was to be made, under his auspices, to contain five farthings, and the shilling ten pennies. It was thought that if this could be accomplished, the arithmetic of the whole world would be so simplified that henceforward the name of Palliser would be blessed by all schoolboys, clerks, shopkeepers, and financiers. But the difficulties were so great that Mr. Palliser’s hair was already gray from toil, and his shoulders bent by the burden imposed upon them. Mr. Bonteen, with two private secretaries from the Treasury, was now at Matching to assist Mr. Palliser; and it was thought that both Mr. and Mrs. Bonteen were near to madness under the pressure of the five-farthing penny. Mr. Bonteen had remarked to many of his political friends that those two extra farthings that could not be made to go into the shilling would put him into his cold grave before the world would know what he had done—or had rewarded him for it with a handle to his name, and 91 a pension. Lord Fawn was also at Matching—a suggestion having been made to Lady Glencora by some leading Liberals that he should be supported in his difficulties by her hospitality.
The mind of Mr. Palliser himself was too deeply engaged to admit of its being interested in the great necklace affair; but, of all the others assembled, there was not one who did not listen anxiously for news on the subject. As regarded the old duke, it had been found to be quite a godsend; and from post to post as the facts reached Matching they were communicated to him. And, indeed, there were some there who would not wait for the post, but had the news about poor Lizzie’s diamonds down by the wires. The matter was of the greatest moment to Lord Fawn, and Lady Glencora was perhaps justified, on his behalf, in demanding a preference for her affairs over the messages which were continually passing between Matching and the Treasury respecting those two ill-conditioned farthings.
“Duke,” she said, entering rather abruptly the small, warm, luxurious room in which her husband’s uncle was passing the morning—“Duke, they say now that after all the diamonds were not in the box when it was taken out of the room at Carlisle.” The duke was reclining in an easy-chair, with his head leaning forward on his breast, and Madame Goesler was reading to him. It was now three o’clock, and the old man had been brought down to this room after his breakfast. Madame Goesler was reading the last famous new novel, and the duke was dozing. That, probably, was the fault neither of the reader nor of the novelist, as the duke was wont to doze in these days. But Lady Glencora’s tidings awakened him completely. She had the telegram in 92 her hand—so that he could perceive that the very latest news was brought to him.
“The diamonds not in the box!” he said—pushing his head a little more forward in his eagerness, and sitting with the extended fingers of his two hands touching each other.
“Barrington Erle says that Major Mackintosh is almost sure the diamonds were not there.” Major Mackintosh was an officer very high in the police force, whom everybody trusted implicitly, and as to whom the outward world believed that he could discover the perpetrators of any iniquity, if he would only take the trouble to look into it. Such was the pressing nature of his duties that he found himself compelled in one way or another to give up about sixteen hours a day to them; but the outer world accused him of idleness. There was nothing he couldn’t find out—only he would not give himself the trouble to find out all the things that happened. Two or three newspapers had already been very hard upon him in regard to the Eustace diamonds. Such a mystery as that, they said, he ought to have unravelled long ago. That he had not unravelled it yet was quite certain.
“The diamonds not in the box!” said the duke.
“Then she must have known it,” said Madame Goesler.
“That doesn’t quite follow, Madame Max,” said Lady Glencora.
“But why shouldn’t the diamonds have been in the box?” asked the duke. As this was the first intimation given to Lady Glencora of any suspicion that the diamonds had not been taken with the box, and as this had been received by telegraph, she could not answer 93 the duke’s question with any clear exposition of her own. She put up her hands and shook her head. “What does Plantagenet think about it?” asked the duke. Plantagenet Palliser was the full name of the duke’s nephew and heir. The duke’s mind was evidently much disturbed.
“He doesn’t think that either the box or the diamonds were ever worth five farthings,” said Lady Glencora.
“The diamonds not in the box!” repeated the duke. “Madame Max, do you believe that the diamonds were not in the box?” Madame Goesler shrugged her shoulders and made no answer; but the shrugging of her shoulders was quite satisfactory to the duke, who always thought that Madame Goesler did everything better than anybody else. Lady Glencora stayed with her uncle for the best part of an hour, and every word spoken was devoted to Lizzie and her necklace; but as this new idea had been broached, and as they had no other information than conveyed in the telegram, very little light could be thrown upon it. But on the next morning there came a letter from Barrington Erle to Lady Glencora, which told so much, and hinted so much more, that it will be well to give it to the reader.
“Travellers’, 29 Jan., 186-.
“My dear Lady Glencora: I hope you got my telegram yesterday. I had just seen Mackintosh, on whose behalf, however, I must say that he told me as little as he possibly could. It is leaking out, however, on every side, that the police believe that when the box was taken out of the room at Carlisle, the diamonds were not in it. As far as I can learn, they ground this suspicion 94 on the fact that they cannot trace the stones. They say that, if such a lot of diamonds had been through the thieves’ market in London, they would have left some track behind them. As far as I can judge, Mackintosh thinks that Lord George has them, but that her ladyship gave them to him; and that this little game of the robbery at Carlisle was planned to put John Eustace and the lawyers off the scent. If it should turn out that the box was opened before it left Portray, that the door of her ladyship’s room was cut by her ladyship’s self, or by his lordship with her ladyship’s aid, and that the fragments of the box were carried out of the hotel by his lordship in person, it will altogether have been so delightful a plot, that all concerned in it ought to be canonised or at least allowed to keep their plunder. An old detective told me that the opening of the box under the arch of the railway, in an exposed could hardly have been executed so neatly as was done; that no thief so situated would have given the time necessary to it; and that, if there had been thieves at all at work, they would have been traced. Against this, there is the certain fact, as I have heard from various men engaged in the inquiry, that certain persons among the community of thieves are very much at loggerheads with each other, the higher, or creative department in thiefdom, accusing the lower or mechanical department of gross treachery in having appropriated to its own sole profit plunder, for the taking of which it had undertaken to receive a certain stipulated price. But then it may be the case that his lordship and her ladyship have set such a rumour abroad for the sake of putting the police off the scent. Upon the whole, the little mystery is quite delightful; and has put the ballot, 95 and poor Mr. Palliser’s five-farthinged penny, quite out of joint. Nobody now cares for anything except the Eustace diamonds. Lord George, I am told, has offered to fight everybody or anybody, beginning with Lord Fawn and ending with Major Mackintosh. Should he be innocent, which of course is possible, the thing must be annoying. I should not at all wonder myself if it should turn out that her ladyship left them in Scotland. The place there, however, has been searched, in compliance with an order from the police and by her ladyship’s consent.
“Don’t let Mr. Palliser quite kill himself. I hope the Bonteen plan answers. I never knew a man who could find more farthings in a shilling than Mr. Bonteen. Remember me very kindly to the duke, and pray enable poor Fawn to keep up his spirits. If he likes to arrange a meeting with Lord George, I shall be only too happy to be his friend. You remember our last duel. Chiltern is with you, and can put Fawn up to the proper way of getting over to Flanders, and of returning, should he chance to escape.
“Yours always most faithfully,
“Of course I’ll keep you posted in everything respecting the necklace till you come to town yourself.”
The whole of this letter Lady Glencora read to the duke, to Lady Chiltern, and to Madame Goesler; and the principal contents of it she repeated to the entire company. It was certainly the general belief at Matching that Lord George had the diamonds in his possession, either with or without the assistance of their late fair possessor.96
The duke was struck with awe when he thought of all the circumstances. “The brother of a marquis!” he said to his nephew’s wife. “It’s such a disgrace to the peerage!”
“As for that, duke,” said Lady Glencora, “the peerage is used to it by this time.”
“I never heard of such an affair as this before.”
“I don’t see why the brother of a marquis shouldn’t turn thief as well as anybody else. They say he hasn’t got anything of his own; and I suppose that is what makes men steal other people’s property. Peers go into trade, and peeresses gamble on the Stock Exchange. Peers become bankrupt, and the sons of peers run away, just like other men. I don’t see why all enterprises should not be open to them. But to think of that little purring cat, Lady Eustace, having been so very—very clever! It makes me quite envious.”
All this took place in the morning—that is, about two o’clock; but after dinner the subject became general. There might be some little reticence in regard to Lord Fawn’s feelings, but it was not sufficient to banish a subject so interesting from the minds and lips of the company. “The Tewett marriage is to come off, after all,” said Mrs. Bonteen. “I’ve a letter from dear Mrs. Rutter, telling me so as a fact.”
“I wonder whether Miss Roanoke will be allowed to wear one or two of the diamonds at the wedding,” suggested one of the private secretaries.
“Nobody will dare to wear a diamond at all next season,” said Lady Glencora. “As for my own, I sha’n’t think of having them out. I should always feel that I was being inspected.”
“Unless they unravel the mystery,” said Madame Goesler.97
“I hope they won’t do that,” said Lady Glencora. “The play is too good to come to an end so soon. If we hear that Lord George is engaged to Lady Eustace, nothing, I suppose, can be done to stop the marriage.”
“Why shouldn’t she marry if she pleases?” asked Mr. Palliser.
“I’ve not the slightest objection to her being married. I hope she will, with all my heart. I certainly think she should have her husband after buying him at such a price. I suppose Lord Fawn won’t forbid the banns.” These last words were only whispered to her next neighbour, Lord Chiltern; but poor Lord Fawn saw the whisper, and was aware that it must have had reference to his condition.
On the next morning there came further news. The police had asked permission from their occupants to search the rooms in which lived Lady Eustace and Lord George, and in each case the permission had been refused. So said Barrington Erle in his letter to Lady Glencora. Lord George had told the applicant, very roughly, that nobody should touch an article belonging to him without a search-warrant. If any magistrate would dare to give such a warrant, let him do it. “I’m told that Lord George acts the indignant madman uncommonly well,” said Barrington Erle in his letter. As for poor Lizzie, she had fainted when the proposition was made to her. The request was renewed as soon as she had been brought to herself; and then she refused, on the advice, as she said, of her cousin, Mr. Greystock. Barrington Erle went on to say that the police were very much blamed. It was believed that no information could be laid before a magistrate sufficient to justify a search-warrant; and, 98 in such circumstances, no search should have been attempted. Such was the public verdict, as declared in Barrington Erle’s last letter to Lady Glencora.
Mr. Palliser was of opinion that the attempt to search the lady’s house was iniquitous. Mr. Bonteen shook his head, and rather thought that, if he were Home Secretary, he would have had the search made. Lady Chiltern said that, if policemen came to her, they might search everything she had in the world. Mrs. Grey reminded them that all they really knew of the unfortunate woman was, that her jewel-box had been stolen out of her bedroom at her hotel. Madame Goesler was of opinion that a lady who could carry such a box about the country with her deserved to have it stolen. Lord Fawn felt himself obliged to confess that he agreed altogether with Madame Goesler. Unfortunately, he had been acquainted with the lady, and now was constrained to say that her conduct had been such as to justify the suspicions of the police.
“Of course we all suspect her,” said Lady Glencora, “and of course we suspect Lord George too; and Mrs. Carbuncle and Miss Roanoke. But then, you know, if I were to lose my diamonds, people would suspect me just the same, or perhaps Plantagenet. It is so delightful to think that a woman has stolen her own property, and put all the police into a state of ferment.”
Lord Chiltern declared himself to be heartily sick of the whole subject; and Mr. Grey, who was a very just man, suggested that the evidence, as yet, against anybody, was very slight.
“Of course it’s slight,” said Lady Glencora. “If it were more than slight, it would be just like any other robbery, and there would be nothing in it.”99
On the same morning Mrs. Bonteen received a second letter from her friend Mrs. Rutter. The Tewett marriage had been certainly broken off. Sir Griffin had been very violent, misbehaving himself grossly in Mrs. Carbuncle’s house, and Miss Roanoke had declared that under no circumstances would she ever speak to him again. It was Mrs. Rutter’s opinion, however, that this violence had been “put on” by Sir Griffin, who was desirous of escaping from the marriage because of the affair of the diamonds.
“He’s very much bound up with Lord George,” said Mrs. Rutter, “and is afraid that he may be implicated.”
“In my opinion he’s quite right,” said Lord Fawn.
All these matters were told to the duke by Lady Glencora and Madame Goesler in the recesses of his grace’s private room; for the duke was now infirm, and did not dine in company unless the day was very auspicious to him. But in the evening he would creep into the drawing-room, and on this occasion he had a word to say about the Eustace diamonds to every one in the room. It was admitted by them all that the robbery had been a godsend in the way of amusing the duke.
“Wouldn’t have her boxes searched, you know,” the duke. “That looks uncommonly suspicious. Perhaps, Lady Chiltern, we shall hear to-morrow morning something more about it.”
“Poor dear duke,” said Lady Chiltern to her husband.
“Doting old idiot!” he replied.100
When such a man as Barrington Erle undertakes to send information to such a correspondent as Lady Glencora in reference to such a matter as Lady Eustace’s diamonds, he is bound to be full rather than accurate. We may say, indeed, that perfect accuracy would be detrimental rather than otherwise, and would tend to disperse that feeling of mystery which is so gratifying. No suggestion had in truth been made to Lord George de Bruce Carruthers as to the searching of his lordship’s boxes and desks. That very eminent detective officer, Mr. Bunfit, had, however, called upon Lord George more than once, and Lord George had declared very plainly that he did not like it.
“If you’ll have the kindness to explain to me what it is you want, I’ll be much obliged to you,” Lord George had said to Mr. Bunfit.
“Well, my lord,” said Bunfit, “what we want is these diamonds.”
“Do you believe that I’ve got them?”
“A man in my situation, my lord, never believes anything. We has to suspect, but we never believes.”
“You suspect that I stole them?”
“No, my lord; I didn’t say that. But things are very queer; aren’t they?” The immediate object of Mr. Bunfit’s visit on this morning had been to ascertain 101 from Lord George whether it was true that his lordship had been with Messrs. Harter and Benjamin, the jewellers, on the morning after his arrival in town. No one from the police had as yet seen either Harter or Benjamin in connection with this robbery; but it may not be too much to say that the argus eyes of Major Mackintosh were upon Messrs. Harter and Benjamin’s whole establishment, and it was believed that if the jewels were in London they were locked up in some box within that house. It was thought more than probable by Major Mackintosh and his myrmidons, that the jewels were already at Hamburg; and by this time, as the major had explained to Mr. Camperdown, every one of them might have been reset, or even recut. But it was known that Lord George had been at the house of Messrs. Harter and Benjamin early on the morning after his return to town, and the ingenuous Mr. Bunfit, who, by reason of his situation, never believed anything and only suspected, had expressed a very strong opinion to Major Mackintosh that the necklace had in truth been transferred to the Jews on that morning. That there was nothing “too hot or too heavy” for Messrs. Harter and Benjamin, was quite a creed with the police of the west end of London. Might it not be well to ask Lord George what he had to say about the visit? Should Lord George deny the visit, such denial would go far to confirm Mr. Bunfit. The question was asked, and Lord George did not deny the visit.
“Unfortunately they hold acceptances of mine,” said Lord George, “and I am often there.”
“We know as they have your lordship’s name to paper,” said Mr. Bunfit, thanking Lord George, however, 102 for his courtesy. It may be understood that all this would be unpleasant to Lord George, and that he should be indignant almost to madness.
But Mr. Erle’s information, though certainly defective in regard to Lord George de Bruce Carruthers, had been more correct when he spoke of the lady. An interview that was very terrible to poor Lizzie did take place between her and Mr. Bunfit in Mrs. Carbuncle’s house on Tuesday the 30th of January. There had been many interviews between Lizzie and various members of the police force in reference to the diamonds, but the questions put to her had always been asked on the supposition that she might have mislaid the necklace. Was it not possible that she might have thought that she locked it up, but have omitted to place it in the box? As long as these questions had reference to a possible oversight in Scotland, to some carelessness which she might have committed on the night before she left her home, Lizzie upon the whole seemed rather to like the idea. It certainly was possible. She believed thoroughly that the diamonds had been locked by her in the box, but she acknowledged that it might be the case that they had been left on one side. This had happened when the police first began to suspect that the necklace had not been in the box when it was carried out of the Carlisle hotel, but before it had occurred to them that Lord George had been concerned in the robbery, and possibly Lady Eustace herself. Men had been sent down from London, of course at considerable expense, and Portray Castle had been searched, with the consent of its owner, from the weathercock to the foundation-stone, much to the consternation of Miss Macnulty and to the delight of Andy 103 Gowran. No trace of the diamonds was found, and Lizzie had so far fraternised with the police. But when Mr. Bunfit called upon her, perhaps for the fifth or sixth time, and suggested that he should be allowed, with the assistance of the female whom he had left behind him in the hall, to search all her ladyship’s boxes, drawers, presses, and receptacles in London, the thing took a very different aspect. “You see, my lady,” said Mr. Bunfit, excusing the peculiar nature of his request, “it may have got anywhere among your ladyship’s things unbeknownst.” Lady Eustace and Mrs. Carbuncle were at the time sitting together, and Mrs. Carbuncle was the first to protest. If Mr. Bunfit thought that he was going to search her things, Mr. Bunfit was very much mistaken. What she had suffered about this necklace no man or woman knew, and she meant that there should be an end of it. It was her opinion that the police should have discovered every stone of it days and days ago. At any rate her house was her own, and she gave Mr. Bunfit to understand that his repeated visits were not agreeable to her. But when Mr. Bunfit, without showing the slightest displeasure at the evil things said of him, suggested that the search should be confined to the rooms used exclusively by Lady Eustace, Mrs. Carbuncle absolutely changed her views, and recommended that he should be allowed to have his way.
At that moment the condition of poor Lizzie Eustace very sad. He who recounts these details has scorned to have a secret between himself and his readers. The diamonds were at this moment locked up within Lizzie’s desk. For the last three weeks they had been there—if it may not be more truly said that 104 they were lying heavily on her heart. For three weeks had her mind with constant stretch been working on that point—whither should she take the diamonds, and what should she do with them? A certain very wonderful strength she did possess, or she could not have endured the weight of so terrible an anxiety; but from day to day the thing became worse and worse with her, as gradually she perceived that suspicion was attached to herself. Should she confide the secret to Lord George, or to Mrs. Carbuncle, or to Frank Greystock? She thought she could have borne it all if only some one would have borne it with her. But when the moments came in which such confidence might be made, her courage failed her. Lord George she saw frequently; but he was unsympathetic and almost rough with her. She knew that he also was suspected, and she was almost disposed to think that he had planned the robbery. If it were so, if the robbery had been his handiwork, it was not singular that he should be unsympathetic with the owner and probable holder of the prey which he had missed. Nevertheless Lizzie thought that if he would have been soft with her, like a dear, good, genuine Corsair, for half an hour, she would have told him all, and placed the necklace in his hands. And there were moments in which she almost resolved to tell her secret to Mrs. Carbuncle. She had stolen nothing; so she averred to herself. She had intended only to defend and save her own property. Even the lie that she had told, and the telling of which was continued from day to day, had in a measure been forced upon her by circumstances. She thought that Mrs. Carbuncle would sympathise with her in that feeling which had prevented her from speaking the truth when 105 first the fact of the robbery was made known to herself in her own bedroom. Mrs. Carbuncle was a lady who told many lies, as Lizzie well knew, and surely could not be horrified at a lie told in such circumstances. But it was not in Lizzie’s nature to trust a woman. Mrs. Carbuncle would tell Lord George, and that would destroy everything. When she thought of confiding everything to her cousin, it was always in his absence. The idea became dreadful to her as soon as he was present. She could not dare to own to him that she had sworn falsely to the magistrate at Carlisle. And so the burden had to be borne, increasing every hour in weight, and the poor creature’s back was not broad enough to bear it. She thought of the necklace every waking minute, and dreamed of it when she slept. She could not keep herself from unlocking her desk and looking at it twenty times a day, although she knew the peril of such nervous solicitude. If she could only rid herself of it altogether, she was sure now that she would do so. She would throw it into the ocean fathoms deep, if only she could find herself alone upon the ocean. But she felt that, let her go where she might, she would be watched. She might declare tomorrow her intention of going to Ireland, or, for that matter, to America. But, were she to do so, some horrid policeman would be on her track. The iron box had been a terrible nuisance to her; but the iron box had been as nothing compared to the necklace locked up in her desk. From day to day she meditated a plan of taking the thing out into the streets and dropping it in the dark; but she was sure that were she to do so some one would have watched her while she dropped it. She was unwilling to trust her old friend 106 Mr. Benjamin; but in these days her favourite scheme was to offer the diamonds for sale to him at some very low price. If he would help her, they might surely be got out of their present hiding-place into his hands. Any man would be powerful to help if there were any man whom she could trust. In furtherance of this scheme she went so far as to break a brooch—a favourite brooch of her own—in order that she might have an excuse for calling at the jewellers’. But even this she postponed from day to day. Circumstances, as they had occurred, had taught her to believe that the police could not insist on breaking open her desk unless some evidence could be brought against her. There was no evidence, and her desk was so far safe. But the same circumstances had made her understand that she was already suspected of some intrigue with reference to the diamonds—though of what she was suspected she did not clearly perceive. As far as she could divine the thoughts of her enemies, they did not seem to suppose that the diamonds were in her possession. It seemed to be believed by those enemies that they had passed into the hands of Lord George. As long as her enemies were on a scent so false, might it not be best that she should remain quiet?
But all the ingenuity, the concentrated force, and trained experience of the police of London would surely be too great and powerful for her in the long run. She could not hope to keep her secret and the diamonds till they should acknowledge themselves to be baffled. And then she was aware of a morbid desire on her own part to tell the secret—of a desire that amounted almost to a disease. It would soon burst her bosom open, unless she could share her 107 knowledge with some one. And yet, as she thought of it all, she told herself that she had no friend so fast and true as to justify such confidence. She was ill with anxiety, and—worse than that—Mrs. Carbuncle knew that she was ill. It was acknowledged between them that this affair of the necklace was so terrible as to make a woman ill. Mrs. Carbuncle at present had been gracious enough to admit so much as that. But might it not be probable that Mrs. Carbuncle would come to suspect that she did not know the whole secret? Mrs. Carbuncle had already, on more than one occasion, said a little word or two which had been unpleasant.
Such was Lizzie’s condition when Mr. Bunfit came, with his authoritative request to be allowed to inspect Lizzie’s boxes—and when Mrs. Carbuncle, having secured her own privacy, expressed her opinion that Mr. Bunfit should be allowed to do as he desired.
Not once in the entire book—all eighty chapters—is the word “insure” or “insurance” mentioned. (I checked.) Lizzie should be kicking herself for not having insured the diamonds, which would have left her £10,000 to the good, without the continuing burden of lugging around the necklace itself. One of her friends and hangers-on—Lord George, most likely, or else Mrs. Carbuncle—might be expected to ask nosily how much they were insured for. In future chapters, nobody connected with law enforcement makes inquiries into an insurance claim. It’s almost as if the idea of insuring the diamonds didn’t occur to the author.
They had secured a department for themselves from Carlisle to London
text unchanged: expected compartment
They are so very ’cute that they delight in suspicions.
[I do believe this was the first time—on my original reading of this book, a good many years ago—I encountered the earlier sense of “cute” as a contraction of “acute”.]
taking care as she did so
text has as she did, with superfluous comma
[Corrected from Fortnightly Review. (I would have accepted a comma after “did so”, but after “did” makes no sense.)]
By this time, every right-thinking reader must be wishing that some new man—someone more deserving than Frank Greystock, which is a fairly low bar—would come into Lucy Morris’s life. But this is Trollope, so I doubt we will have any such luck.
She had no duties to perform
[Since, as previously established, she is not receiving a salary, that seems only fair.]
if it were found out she’d be put in the dock and tried for her life
[Lady Linlithgow is exaggerating, or at least betraying her age. It’s 1872; theft—even of a necklace valued at ten thousand pounds—is no longer a capital crime. Even transportation, which might be considered a fate worse than death, was discontinued a few years ago.]
“People seem to think it possible,” said Lizzie, “that Mr. Camperdown the lawyer arranged it all.”
[Given Lizzie’s well-established points of similarity to a certain well-known political figure, I don’t hesitate to say that she is making this up in hopes that people will start to think it possible.]
If I were more conversant with the works of Anthony Trollope, I would be able to say how many of this chapter’s characters are making encore appearances from earlier novels. All of them, possibly.
the future penny was to be made, under his auspices, to contain five farthings, and the shilling ten pennies
[Sit tight, Mr. Palliser. Decimalization is less than a century away.]
if this could be accomplished, the arithmetic of the whole world would be so simplified
[As far as I’m concerned, if a person is incapable of remembering that a rupee is sixteen annas and an anna is four paise—and a paisa is three pies, not that you can buy much with those—then that person should not be trusted with money.]
they had no other information than that conveyed in the telegram
text has than than conveyed
[Corrected from Fortnightly Review.]
the opening of the box under the arch of the railway, in an exposed place,
comma after “place” supplied from Fortnightly Review
I don’t see why the brother of a marquis shouldn’t turn thief as well as anybody else
[They are no members of the common throng; / They are all noblemen, who have gone wrong!]
[The mind leaps at once to “delicate” or perhaps “interesting” condition. At least, mine does. But alas, this is not that kind of book.]
Tuesday the 30th of January
[So far, so good; this date fits the current year, 1872.]
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.