Lizzie’s interview with the lawyer took place on the Wednesday afternoon, and, on her return to Hertford street she found a note from Mrs. Carbuncle.
“I have made arrangements for dining out to-day, and shall not return till after ten. I will do the same to-morrow, and on every day till you leave town, and you can breakfast in your own room. Of course you will carry out your plan for leaving this house on Monday. After what has passed, I shall prefer not to meet you again. J. C.”
And this was written by a woman who, but a few days since, had borrowed £150 from her, and who at this moment had in her hands fifty pounds’ worth of silver-plate, supposed to have been given to Lucinda, and which clearly ought to have been returned to the donor, when Lucinda’s marriage was postponed—as the newspapers had said. Lucinda, at this time, had left the house in Hertford street, but Lizzie had not been informed whither she had been taken. She could not apply to Lucinda for restitution of the silver, which was, in fact, held at that moment by the Albemarle street hotel-keeper as part security for his debt; and she was quite sure that any application 396 to Mrs. Carbuncle for either the silver or the debt would be unavailing. But she might, perhaps, cause annoyance by a letter, and could, at any rate, return insult for insult. She therefore wrote to her late friend.
“Madam: I certainly am not desirous of continuing an acquaintance into which I was led by false representations, and in the course of which I have been almost absurdly hospitable to persons altogether unworthy of my kindness. Yourself and niece, and your especial friend, Lord George Carruthers, and that unfortunate young man, your niece’s lover, were entertained at my country-house, as my guests, for some months. I am here, in my own right, by arrangement; and, as I pay more than a proper share of the expense of the establishment, I shall stay as long as I please, and go when I please.
“In the mean time, as we are about to part, certainly forever, I must beg you at once to repay me the sum of £150, which you have borrowed from me; and I must also insist on your letting me have back the present of silver which was prepared for your niece’s marriage. That you should retain it as a perquisite for yourself cannot for a moment be thought of, however convenient it might be to yourself.
As far as the application for restitution went, or indeed in regard to the insult, she might as well have written to a milestone. Mrs. Carbuncle was much too strong, and had fought her battle with the world much too long, to regard such word-pelting as that. She paid no attention to the note, and as she had come to 397 terms with the agent of the house, by which she was to evacuate it on the following Monday, a fact which was communicated to Lizzie by the servant, she did not much regard Lizzie’s threat to remain there. She knew, moreover, that arrangements were already being made for the journey to Scotland.
Lizzie had come back from the attorney’s chambers in triumph, and had been triumphant, when she wrote her note to Mrs. Carbuncle; but her elation was considerably repressed by a short notice which she read in the fashionable evening paper of the day, She always took the fashionable evening paper, and had taught herself to think that life without it was impossible. But on this afternoon she quarrelled with that fashionable evening paper forever. The popular and well-informed organ of intelligence in question informed its readers, that the Eustace diamonds—etc., etc. In fact, it told the whole story; and then expressed a hope that, as the matter had from the commencement been one of great interest to the public, who had sympathised with Lady Eustace deeply as to the loss of her diamonds, Lady Eustace would be able to explain that part of her conduct, which certainly, at present, was quite unintelligible. Lizzie threw the paper from her with indignation, asking what right newspaper scribblers could have to interfere with the private affairs of such persons as herself.
But on this evening the question of her answer to Lord Fawn was the one which most interested her. Lord Fawn had taken long in the writing of his letter, and she was justified in taking what time she pleased in answering it; but, for her own sake, it had better be answered quickly. She had tried her hand at two 398 different replies, and did not at all doubt but what she would send the affirmative answer, if she were sure that these latter discoveries would not alter Lord Fawn’s decision. Lord Fawn had distinctly told her that, if she pleased, he would marry her. She would please; having been much troubled by the circumstances of the past six months. But then, was it not almost a certainty that Lord Fawn would retreat from his offer on learning the facts which were now so well known as to have been related in the public papers? She thought that she would take one more night to think of it.
Alas; she took one night too many. On the next morning, while she was still in bed, a letter was brought to her from Lord Fawn, dated from his club the preceding evening.
“Lord Fawn presents his compliments to Lady Eustace. Lady Eustace will be kind enough to understand that Lord Fawn recedes altogether from the proposition made by him in his letter to Lady Eustace dated March 28th last. Should Lady Eustace think proper to call in question the propriety of this decision on the part of Lord Fawn, she had better refer the question to some friend, and Lord Fawn will do the same. Lord Fawn thinks it best to express his determination, under no circumstances, to communicate again personally with Lady Eustace on this subject, or, as far as he can see at present, on any other.”
The letter was a blow to her, although she had felt quite certain that Lord Fawn would have no difficulty in escaping from her hands as soon as the story of the diamonds should be made public. It was a blow to 399 her, although she had assured herself a dozen times that a marriage with such a one as Lord Fawn, a man who had not a grain of poetry in his composition, would make her unutterably wretched. What escape would her heart have had from itself in such a union? This question she had asked herself over and over again, and there had been no answer to it. But then why had she not been beforehand with Lord Fawn? Why had she not rejected his second offer with the scorn which such an offer deserved? Ah, there was her misfortune; there was her fault!
But, with Lizzie Eustace, when she could not do a thing which it was desirable that she should be known to have done, the next consideration was whether she could not so arrange as to seem to have done it. The arrival of Lord Fawn’s note just as she was about to write to him, was unfortunate. But she would still write to him, and date her letter before the time that his was dated. He probably would not believe her date. She hardly ever expected to be really believed by anybody. But he would have to read what she wrote; and writing on this pretence, she would avoid the necessity of alluding to his last letter.
Neither of the notes which she had by her quite suited the occasion, so she wrote a third. The former letter in which she declined his offer was, she thought, very charmingly insolent, and the allusion to his lordship’s scullion would have been successful, had it been sent on the moment, but now a graver letter was required; and the graver letter, the date of which, it will be observed, was the day previous to the morning on which she had received Lord Fawn’s last note, was as follows:400
“Hertford St., Wednesday, April 3.
“My Lord: I have taken a week to answer the letter which your lordship has done me the honour of writing to me, because I have thought it best to have time for consideration in a matter of such importance. In this I have copied your lordship’s official caution.
“I think I never read a letter so false, so unmanly, and so cowardly, as that which you have found yourself capable of sending to me.
“You became engaged to me when, as I admit with shame, I did not know your character. You have since repudiated me and vilified my name, simply because, having found that I had enemies, and being afraid to face them, you wished to escape from your engagement. It has been cowardice from the beginning to the end. Your whole conduct to me has been one long, unprovoked insult, studiously concocted, because you have feared that there might possibly be some trouble for you to encounter. Nobody ever heard of anything so mean, either in novels or in real life.
“And now you again offer to marry me—because you are again afraid. You think you will be thrashed, I suppose, if you decline to keep your engagement; and feel that if you offer to go on with it, my friends cannot beat you. You need not be afraid. No earthly consideration would induce me to be your wife. And if any friend of mine should look at you as though he meant to punish you, you can show him this letter, and make him understand that it is I who have refused to be your wife, and not you who have refused to be my husband.
This epistle Lizzie did send, believing she could add nothing to its insolence, let her study it as she might. And she thought, as she read it for the fifth time, that it sounded as though it had been written before her receipt of the final note from himself, and that it would, therefore, irritate him the more.
This was to be the last week of her sojourn in town, and then she was to go down and bury herself at Portray, with no other companionship than that of the faithful Macnulty, who had been left in Scotland for the last three months as nurse-in-chief to the little heir. She must go and give her evidence before the magistrate on Friday, as to which she had already received an odious slip of paper—but Frank would accompany her. Other misfortunes had passed off so lightly that she hardly dreaded this. She did not quite understand why she was to be so banished, and thought much on the subject. She had submitted herself to Frank’s advice when first she had begun to fear that her troubles would be insuperable. Her troubles were now disappearing; and, as for Frank—what was Frank to her, that she should obey him? Nevertheless, her trunks were being already packed, and she knew that she must go. He was to accompany her on her journey, and she would still have one more chance with him.
As she was thinking of all this, Mr. Emilius, the clergyman, was announced. In her loneliness she was delighted to receive any visitor, and she knew that Mr. Emilius would be at least courteous to her. When he had seated himself, he at once began to talk about the misfortune of the unaccomplished marriage, and in a very low voice hinted that from the beginning to end 402 there had been something wrong. He had always feared that an alliance based on a footing that was so openly “pecuniary”—he declared that the word pecuniary expressed his meaning better than any other epithet—could not lead to matrimonial happiness. “We all know,” said he, “that our dear friend, Mrs. Carbuncle, had views of her own, quite distinct from her niece’s happiness. I have the greatest possible respect for Mrs. Carbuncle, and I may say esteem; but it is impossible to live long in any degree of intimacy with Mrs. Carbuncle without seeing that she is—mercenary.”
“Mercenary! indeed she is,” said Lizzie.
“You have observed it? Oh, yes; it is so, and it casts a shadow over a character which otherwise has so much to charm.”
“She is the most insolent and the most ungrateful woman that I ever heard of!” exclaimed Lizzie with energy. Mr. Emilius opened his eyes, but did not contradict her assertion. “As you have mentioned her name, Mr. Emilius, I must tell you. I have done everything for that woman. You know how I treated her down in Scotland.”
“With a splendid hospitality,” said Mr. Emilius.
“Of course she did not pay for anything there.”
“Oh, no!” The idea of any one being called upon to pay for what one ate and drank at a friend’s house was peculiarly painful to Mr. Emilius.
“And I have paid for everything here. That is to say, we have made an arrangement, very much in her favour. And she has borrowed large sums of money from me.”
“I am not at all surprised at that,” said Mr. Emilius.403
“And when that poor unfortunate girl, her niece, was to be married to poor Sir Griffin Tewett, I gave her a whole service of plate.”
“What unparalleled generosity!”
“Would you believe she has taken the whole for her own base purposes? And then what do you think she has done?”
“My dear Lady Eustace, hardly anything would astonish me.”
Lizzie suddenly found a difficulty in describing to her friend the fact that Mrs. Carbuncle was endeavouring to turn her out of the house, without also alluding to her own troubles about the robbery. “She has actually told me,” she continued, “that I must leave the house without a day’s warning. But I believe the truth is, that she has run so much into debt that she cannot remain!”
“I know that she is very much in debt, Lady Eustace.”
“But she owed me some civility. Instead of that, she has treated me with nothing but insolence. And why, do you think? It is all because I would not allow her to take that poor, insane young woman to Portray Castle.”
“You don’t mean that she asked to go there?”
“She did, though.”
“I never heard such impertinence in my life—never,” said Mr. Emilius, again opening his eyes and shaking his head.
“She proposed that I should ask them both down to Portray, for—for—of course it would have been almost forever. I don’t know how I should have got rid of them. And that poor young woman is mad, 404 you know—quite mad. She never recovered herself after that morning. Oh, what I have suffered about that unhappy marriage, and the cruel, cruel way in which Mrs. Carbuncle urged it on. Mr. Emilius, you can’t conceive the scenes which have been acted in this house during the last month. It has been dreadful! I wouldn’t go through such a time again for anything that could be offered to me. It has made me so ill that I am obliged to go down to Scotland to recruit my health.”
“I heard that you were going to Scotland, and I wished to have an opportunity of saying just a word to you in private before you left.” Mr. Emilius had thought a good deal about this interview, and had prepared himself for it with considerable care. He knew, with tolerable accuracy, the whole story of the necklace, having discussed it with Mrs. Carbuncle, who, as the reader will remember, had been told the tale by Lord George. He was aware of the engagement with Lord Fawn, and of the growing intimacy which had existed between Lord George and Lizzie. He had been watchful, diligent, patient, and had at last become hopeful. When he learned that his beloved was about to start for Scotland, he felt that it would be well that he should strike a blow before she went. As to a journey down to Ayrshire, that would be nothing to one so enamoured as was Mr. Emilius; and he would not scruple to show himself at the castle door without invitation. Whatever may have been his deficiencies, Mr. Emilius did not lack the courage needed to carry such an enterprise as this to a happy conclusion. As far as pluck and courage might serve a man, he was well served by his own gifts. He could, without 405 a blush, or a quiver in his voice, have asked a duchess to marry him, with ten times Lizzie’s income. He had now considered deeply whether, with the view of prevailing, it would be better that he should allude to the lady’s trespasses in regard to the diamonds, or that he should pretend to be in ignorance; and he had determined that ultimate success might, with most probability, be achieved by a bold declaration of the truth. “I know how desperately you must be in want of some one to help you through your troubles, and I know also that your grand lovers will avoid you because of what you have done, and therefore you had better take me at once. Take me, and I’ll bring you through everything. Refuse me, and I’ll crush you.” Such were the arguments which Mr. Emilius had determined to use, and such the language—of course with some modifications. He was now commencing his work, and was quite resolved to leave no stone unturned in carrying it to a successful issue. He drew his chair nearer to Lizzie as he announced his desire for a private interview, and leaned over toward her with his two hands closed together between his knees. He was a dark, hookey-nosed, well-made man, with an exuberance of greasy hair, who would have been considered handsome by many women had there not been something, almost amounting to a squint, amiss with one of his eyes. When he was preaching it could hardly be seen, but in the closeness of private conversation it was disagreeable.
“Oh, indeed;” said Lizzie, with a look of astonishment, perfectly well-assumed. She had already begun to consider whether, after all, Mr. Emilius—would do.406
“Yes; Lady Eustace; it is so. You and I have known each other now for many months, and I have received the most unaffected pleasure from the acquaintance, may I not say from the intimacy, which has sprung up between us?” Lizzie did not forbid the use of the pleasant word, but merely bowed. “I think that as a devoted friend and a clergyman, I shall not be thought to be intruding on private ground in saying that circumstances have made me aware of the details of the robberies by which you have been so cruelly persecuted.” So the man had come about the diamonds and not to make an offer! Lizzie raised her eyebrows, and bowed her head with the slightest possible motion. “I do not know how far your friends or the public may condemn you, but——”
“My friends don’t condemn me at all, sir.”
“I am so glad to hear it!”
“Nobody has dared to condemn me except this impudent woman here, who wants an excuse for not paying me what she owes me.”
“I am delighted. I was going to explain that although I am aware you have infringed the letter of the law, and made yourself liable to proceedings which may, perhaps, be unpleasant——”
“I ain’t liable to anything unpleasant at all, Mr. Emilius.”
“Then my mind is greatly relieved. I was about to remark, having heard in the outer world that there were those who ventured to accuse you of—of perjury——”
“Nobody has dared to accuse me of anything. What makes you come here and say such things?”
“Ah, Lady Eustace. It is because these calumnies are spoken so openly behind your back.”407
“Who speaks them? Mrs. Carbuncle and Lord George Carruthers, my enemies.”
Mr. Emilius was beginning to feel that he was not making progress. “I was on the point of observing to you that, according to the view of the matter which I as a clergyman have taken, you were altogether justified in the steps which you took for the protection of property which was your own, but which had been attacked by designing persons.”
“Of course I was justified,” said Lizzie.
“You know best, Lady Eustace, whether any assistance I can offer will avail you anything.”
“I don’t want any assistance, Mr. Emilius, thank you.”
“I certainly have been given to understand that they who ought to stand by you with the closest devotion have, in this period of what I may, perhaps, call—tribulation, deserted your side with cold selfishness.”
“But there isn’t any tribulation, and nobody has deserted my side.”
“I was told that Lord Fawn——”
“Lord Fawn is an idiot.”
“Quite so; no doubt.”
“And I have deserted him. I wrote to him this very morning in answer to a pressing letter from him to renew our engagement, to tell him that that was out of the question. I despise Lord Fawn, and my heart never can be given where my respect does not accompany it.”
“A noble sentiment, Lady Eustace, which I reciprocate completely. And now, to come to what I may call the inner purport of my visit to you this morning—the sweet cause of my attendance on you, let me 408 assure you that I should not now offer you my heart unless with my heart went the most perfect respect and esteem which any man ever felt for a woman.” Mr. Emilius had found the necessity of coming to the point by some direct road, as the lady had refused to allow him to lead up to it in the manner he had proposed to himself. He still thought that what he had said might be efficacious, as he did not for a moment believe her assertions as to her own friends and the nonexistence of any trouble as to the oaths which she had falsely sworn; but she carried the matter with a better courage than he had expected to find, and drove him out of his intended line of approach. He had, however, seized his opportunity without losing much time.
“What on earth do you mean, Mr. Emilius?”
“I mean to lay my heart, my hand, my fortunes, my profession, my career at your feet. I make bold to say of myself that I have, by my own unaided eloquence and intelligence, won for myself a great position in this swarming metropolis. Lady Eustace, I know your great rank. I feel your transcendent beauty, ah, too acutely. I have been told that you are rich; but I, myself, who venture to approach you as a suitor for your hand, am also somebody in the world. The blood that runs in my veins is as illustrious as your own, having descended to me from the great and ancient nobles of my native country. The profession which I have adopted is the grandest which ever filled the heart of man with aspirations. I have barely turned my thirty-second year, and I am known as the greatest preacher of my day, though I preach in a language which is not my own. Your House of Lords would be open to me as a spiritual peer would I condescend 409 to come to terms with those who crave the assistance which I could give them. I can move the masses. I can touch the hearts of men. And in this great assemblage of mankind which you call London, I can choose my own society, among the highest of the land. Lady Eustace, will you share with me my career and my fortunes? I ask you because you are the only woman whom my heart has stooped to love.”
The man was a nasty, greasy, lying, squinting Jew preacher; an impostor, over forty years of age, whose greatest social success had been achieved when, through the agency of Mrs. Carbuncle, he made his way into Portray Castle. He was about as near an English mitre as had been that great man of a past generation, the Deputy Shepherd. He was a creature to loathe, because he was greasy and a liar and an impostor. But there was a certain manliness in him. He was not afraid of the woman; and in pleading his cause with her he could stand up for himself courageously. He had studied his speech, and having studied it he knew how to utter the words. He did not blush nor stammer nor cringe. Of grandfather or grandmother belonging to himself he had probably never heard, but he could so speak of his noble ancestors as to produce belief in Lizzie’s mind; and almost succeeded in convincing her that he was, by the consent of mankind, the greatest preacher of the day. While he was making his speech she almost liked his squint. She certainly liked the grease and nastiness. Presuming, as she naturally did, that something of what he said was false, she liked the lies. There was a dash of poetry about him; and poetry, as she thought, was not compatible with humdrum truth. A man, to be a man in 410 her eyes, should be able to swear that all his geese are swans; should be able to reckon his swans by the dozen, though he have not a feather belonging to him, even from a goose’s wing. She liked his audacity; and then when he was making love he was not afraid of talking out boldly about his heart. Nevertheless he was only Mr. Emilius the clergyman; and she had means of knowing that his income was not generous. Though she admired his manner and his language, she was quite aware that he was in pursuit of her money; and, from the moment in which she first understood his object, she was resolved that she would never become the wife of Mr. Emilius as long as there was a hope as to Frank Greystock.
“I was told, Mr. Emilius,” she said, “that you, some time since, had a wife.”
“It was a falsehood, Lady Eustace. From motives of pure charity I gave a home to a distant cousin. I was then in a land of strangers, and my life was misinterpreted. I made no complaint, but sent the lady back to her native country. My compassion could supply her wants there as well as here.”
“Then you still support her?”
Mr. Emilius, thinking there might be danger in asserting that he was subject to such an encumbrance, replied, “I did do so, till she found a congenial home as the wife of an honest man.”
“Oh, indeed. I’m quite glad to hear that.”
“And now, Lady Eustace, may I venture to hope for a favourable answer?”
Upon this, Lizzie made him a speech as long, and almost as well-turned as his own. Her heart had of late been subject to many vicissitudes. She had lost 411 the dearest husband that a woman had ever worshipped. She had ventured, for purposes with reference to her child, which she could not now explain, to think once again of matrimony with a person of high rank, who had turned out to be unworthy of her. She had receded (Lizzie, as she said this, acted the part of receding, with a fine expression of scornful face) and after that she was unwilling to entertain any further idea of marriage. Upon hearing this, Mr. Emilius bowed low, and before the street door was closed against him had begun to calculate how much a journey to Scotland would cost him.412
On the Wednesday and Thursday Lizzie had been triumphant; for she had certainly come out unscathed from Mr. Camperdown’s chambers, and a lady may surely be said to triumph when a gentleman lays his hand, his heart, his fortunes, and all that he has got, at her feet; but when the Friday came, though she was determined to be brave, her heart did sink within her bosom. She understood well that she would be called upon to admit in public the falseness of the oaths she had sworn upon two occasions; and that, though she would not be made amenable to any absolute punishment for her perjury, she would be subject to very damaging remarks from the magistrate, and, probably, also from some lawyers employed to defend the prisoners. She went to bed in fairly good spirits, but in the morning she was cowed and unhappy. She dressed herself from head to foot in black, and prepared for herself a heavy, black veil. She had ordered from the livery-stable a brougham for the occasion, thinking it wise to avoid the display of her own carriage. She breakfasted early, and then took a large glass of wine to support her. When Frank called for her, at a quarter to ten, she was quite ready, and grasped his hand almost without a word. But she looked into his face with her eyes filled with tears.413
“It will soon be over,” he said. She pressed his hand, and made him a sign, to show that she was ready to follow him to the door. “The case will come on at once,” he said, “so that you will not be kept waiting.”
“Oh, you are so good; so good to me.” She pressed his arm, and did not speak again till they reached the police-court.
There was a great crowd about the office, which was in a little by-street, and so circumstanced that Lizzie’s brougham could hardly make its way up to the door. But way was at once made for her when Frank handed her out of it, and the policemen about the place were as courteous to her as though she had been the Lord Chancellor’s wife. Evil-doing will be spoken of with bated breath and soft words even by policemen, when the evil-doer comes in a carriage and with a title. Lizzie was led at once into a private room, and told that she would be kept there only a very few minutes. Frank made his way into the court and found that two magistrates had just seated themselves on the bench. One would have sufficed for the occasion; but this was a case of great interest, and even police-magistrates are human in their interests. Greystock was allowed to get round to the bench and whisper a word or two to the gentleman who was to preside. The magistrate nodded his head, and the case began.
The unfortunate Mr. Benjamin had been sent back in durance vile from Vienna, and was present in the court. With him, as joint malefactor, stood Mr. Smiler, the great housebreaker, a huge, ugly, resolute-looking scoundrel, possessed of enormous strength, who was very intimately known to the police, with whom he had had various dealings since he had been turned out 414 upon the town to earn his bread some fifteen years before. Indeed, long before that he had known the police—as far as his memory went back he had always known them. But the sportive industry of his boyish years was not now counted up against him. In the last fifteen years his biography had been written with all the accuracy due to the achievements of a great man; and during those hundred and eighty months he had spent over one hundred in prison, and had been convicted twenty-three times. He was now growing old, as a thief, and it was thought by his friends that he would be settled for life in some quiet retreat. Mr. Benjamin was a very respectable-looking man of about fifty, with slightly grizzled hair, with excellent black clothes, and showing, by a surprised air, his astonishment at finding himself in such a position. He spoke constantly, both to his attorney and to the barrister who was to show cause why he should not be committed, and throughout the whole morning was very busy. Smiler, who was quite at home, and who understood his position, never said a word to any one. He stood, perfectly straight, looking at the magistrate, and never for a moment leaning on the rail before him during the four hours that the case consumed. Once, when his friend, Billy Cann, was brought into court to give evidence against him, dressed up to the eyes, serene and sleek, as when we saw him once before at the “Rising Sun,” in Meek street, Smiler turned a glance upon him which, to the eyes of all present, contained a threat of most bloody revenge. But Billy knew the advantages of his situation, and nodded at his old comrade, and smiled. His old comrade was very much stronger than he, and possessed of many 415 natural advantages; but, perhaps, upon the whole, his old comrade had been the less intelligent thief of the two. It was thus that the by-standers read the meaning of Billy’s smile.
The case was opened very shortly and very clearly by the gentleman who was employed for the prosecution. It would all, he said, have laid in a nut-shell, had it not been complicated by a previous robbery at Carlisle. Were it necessary, he said, there would be no difficulty in convicting the prisoners for that offence also, but it had been thought advisable to confine the prosecution to the act of burglary committed in Hertford street. He stated the facts of what had happened at Carlisle, merely for explanation, but would state nothing that could not be proven. Then he told all that the reader knows about the iron box. But the diamonds were not then in the box; and he told that story also, treating Lizzie with great tenderness as he did so. Lizzie, all this time, was sitting behind her veil in the private room, and did not hear a word of what was going on. Then he came to the robbery in Hertford street. He would prove by Lady Eustace that the diamonds were left by her in a locked desk, were so deposited, though all her friends believed them to have been taken at Carlisle; and he would, moreover, prove by accomplices that they were stolen by two men, the younger prisoner at the bar being one of them, and the witness who would be adduced, the other; that they were given up by these men to the elder prisoner, and that a certain sum had been paid by him for the execution of the two robberies. There was much more of it; but to the reader, who knows all, it would be but a thrice-told tale. He then said that he first proposed 416 to take the evidence of Lady Eustace, the lady who had been in possession of the diamonds when they were stolen. Then Frank Greystock left the court, and returned with poor Lizzie on his arm.
She was handed to a chair, and, after she was sworn, was told that she might sit down; but she was requested to remove her veil, which she had replaced as soon as she had kissed the book. The first question asked her was very easy. Did she remember the night at Carlisle? Would she tell the history of what occurred on that night? When the box was stolen, were the diamonds in it? No; she had taken the diamonds out for security, and had kept them under her pillow. Then came a bitter moment, in which she had to confess her perjury before the Carlisle bench; but even that seemed to pass off smoothly. The magistrate asked one severe question.
“Do you mean to say, Lady Eustace, that you gave false evidence on that occasion, knowing it to be false?”
“I was in such a state, sir, from fear, that I did not know what I was saying,” exclaimed Lizzie, bursting into tears, and stretching forth toward the bench her two clasped hands with the air of a suppliant.
From that moment the magistrate was altogether on her side, and so were the public. Poor, ignorant, ill-used young creature; and then so lovely! That was the general feeling. But she had not as yet come beneath the harrow of that learned gentleman on the other side, whose best talents were due to Mr. Benjamin. Then she told all she knew about the other robbery. She certainly had not said, when examined on that occasion, that the diamonds had then been taken. 417 She had omitted to name the diamonds in her catalogue of the things stolen; but she was sure that she had never said that they were not then taken. She had said nothing about the diamonds, knowing them to be her own, and preferring to lose them, to the trouble of again referring to the night at Carlisle. Such was her evidence for the prosecution, and then she was turned over to the very learned and very acute gentleman whom Mr. Benjamin had hired for his defence, or rather, to show cause why he should not be sent for trial.
It must be owned that poor Lizzie did receive from his hands some of that punishment which she certainly deserved. This acute and learned gentleman seemed to possess for the occasion the blandest and most dulcet voice that ever was bestowed upon an English barrister. He addressed Lady Eustace with the softest words, as though he hardly dared to speak to a woman so eminent for wealth, rank, and beauty; but nevertheless he asked her some very disagreeable questions.
“Was he to understand that she went of her own will before the bench of magistrates at Carlisle, with the view of enabling the police to capture certain persons for stealing certain jewels, while she knew that the jewels were actually in her own possession?”
Lizzie, confounded by the softness of his voice as joined to the harshness of the question, could hardly understand him, and he repeated it thrice, becoming every time more and more “Yes,” said Lizzie at last.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Lizzie.
“Your ladyship did send the Cumberland police after 418 men for stealing jewels which were in your ladyship’s own hands when you swore the information?”
“Yes,” said Lizzie.
“And your ladyship knew that the information was untrue?”
“Yes,” said Lizzie.
“And the police were pursuing the men for many weeks?”
“Yes,” said Lizzie.
“On your information?”
“Yes,” said Lizzie, through her tears.
“And your ladyship knew, all the time, that the poor men were altogether innocent of taking the jewels?”
“But they took the box,” said Lizzie, through her tears.
“Yes,” said the acute and learned gentleman, “somebody took your ladyship’s iron box out of the room, and you swore that the diamonds had been taken. Was it not the fact that legal proceedings were being taken against you for the recovery of the diamonds by persons who claimed the property?”
“Yes,” said Lizzie.
“And these persons withdrew their proceedings as soon as they heard that the diamonds had been stolen?”
Soft as he was in his manner, he nearly reduced Lizzie Eustace to fainting. It seemed to her that the questions would never end. It was in vain that the magistrate pointed out to the learned gentleman that Lady Eustace had confessed her own false swearing, both at Carlisle and in London, a dozen times, for he continued his questions over and over again, harping chiefly on the affair at Carlisle, and saying very little as 419 to the second robbery in Hertford street. His idea was to make it appear that Lizzie had arranged the robbery with the view of defrauding Mr. Camperdown, and that Lord George Carruthers was her accomplice. He even asked her, almost in a whisper, and with the sweetest smile, whether she was not engaged to marry Lord George. When Lizzie denied this, he still suggested that some such alliance might be in contemplation. Upon this, Frank Greystock called upon the magistrate to defend Lady Eustace from such unnecessary vulgarity, and there was a scene in the court. Lizzie did not like the scene, but it helped to protect her from the contemplation of the public, who, of course, were much gratified by high words between two barristers.
Lady Eustace was forced to remain in the private room during the examination of Patience Crabstick and Mr. Cann, and so did not hear it. Patience was a most obdurate and difficult witness—extremely averse to say evil of herself, and on that account unworthy of the good things which she had received. But Billy Cann was charming—graceful, communicative, and absolutely accurate. There was no shaking him. The learned and acute gentleman who tried to tear him in pieces could do nothing with him. He was asked whether he had not been a professional thief for ten years.
“Ten or twelve,” said he.
“Did he expect that any juryman would believe him on his oath?”
“Not unless I am fully corroborated.”
“Can you look that man in the face—that man who is at any rate so much honester than yourself?” asked 420 the learned gentleman with pathos. Billy said that he thought he could, and the way in which he smiled upon Smiler caused a roar through the whole court.
The two men were, as a matter of course, committed for trial at the Central Criminal Court, and Lizzie Eustace was bound by certain penalties to come forward when called upon, and give her evidence again.
“I am glad that it is over,” said Frank, as he left her at Mrs. Carbuncle’s hall door.
“Oh, Frank, dearest Frank, where should I be if it were not for you?”421
Lady Eustace did not leave the house during the Saturday and Sunday, and engaged herself exclusively with preparing for her journey. She had no further interview with Mrs. Carbuncle, but there were messages between them, and even notes were written. They resulted in nothing. Lizzie was desirous of getting back the spoons and forks, and, if possible, some of her money. The spoons and forks were out of Mrs. Carbuncle’s power—in Albemarle street—and the money had, of course, been spent. Lizzie might have saved herself the trouble, had it not been that it was a pleasure to her to insult her late friend, even though, in doing so, new insults were heaped upon her own head. As for the trumpery spoons, they—so said Mrs. Carbuncle—were the property of Miss Roanoke, having been made over to her, unconditionally, long before the wedding, as a part of a separate pecuniary transaction. Mrs. Carbuncle had no power of disposing of Miss Roanoke’s property. As to the money which Lady Eustace claimed, Mrs. Carbuncle asserted that, when the final accounts should be made up between them, it would be found that there was a considerable balance due to Mrs. Carbuncle; but even were there anything due to Lady Eustace, Mrs. Carbuncle would decline to pay it, as she was informed that all moneys possessed 422 by Lady Eustace were now confiscated to the Crown by reasons of the PERJURIES—the word was doubly scored in Mrs. Carbuncle’s note—which Lady Eustace had committed. This, of course, was unpleasant; but Mrs. Carbuncle did not have the honours of the battle all to herself. Lizzie also said some unpleasant things which, perhaps, were the more unpleasant because they were true. Mrs. Carbuncle had come pretty nearly to the end of her career, whereas Lizzie’s income, in spite of her perjuries, was comparatively untouched. The undoubted mistress of Portray Castle, and mother of the Sir Florian Eustace of the day, could still despise and look down upon Mrs. Carbuncle, although she were known to have told fibs about the family diamonds.
Lord George always came to Hertford street on a Sunday, and Lady Eustace left word for him, with the servant, that she would be glad to see him before her journey into Scotland. “Goes to-morrow, does she?” said Lord George to the servant. “Well, I’ll see her.” And he was shown up to her room before he went to Mrs. Carbuncle.
Lizzie, in sending for him, had some half-formed idea of a romantic farewell. The man, she thought, had behaved very badly to her; had accepted very much from her hands, and had refused to give her anything in return; had become the first repository of her great secret, and had placed no mutual confidence in her. He had been harsh to her, and unjust; and then, too, he had declined to be in love with her! She was full of spite against Lord George, and would have been glad to injure him; but, nevertheless, there would be some excitement 423 in a farewell, in which some mock affection might be displayed—and she would have an opportunity of abusing Mrs. Carbuncle.
“So you are off to-morrow?” said Lord George, taking his place on the rug before her fire, and looking down at her with his head a little on one side. Lizzie’s anger against the man chiefly arose from a feeling that he treated her with all a Corsair’s freedom without any of a Corsair’s tenderness. She could have forgiven the want of deferential manner, had there been any devotion—but Lord George was both impudent and indifferent.
“Yes,” she said. “Thank goodness, I shall get out of this frightful place to-morrow, and soon have once more a roof of my own over my head. What an experience I have had since I have been here!”
“We have all had an experience,” said Lord George, still looking at her with that half-comic turn of his face—almost as though he were investigating some curious animal of which so remarkable a specimen had never before come under his notice.
“No woman ever intended to show a more disinterested friendship than I have done; and what has been my return?”
“You mean to me—disinterested friendship to me?” And Lord George tapped his breast lightly with his fingers. His head was still a little on one side, and there was still the smile upon his face.
“I was alluding particularly to Mrs. Carbuncle.”
“Lady Eustace, I cannot take charge of Mrs. Carbuncle’s friendships. I have enough to do to look after my own. If you have any complaint to make against me, I will at least listen to it.”424
“God knows I do not want to make complaints,” said Lizzie, covering her face with her hands.
“They don’t do much good—do they? It’s better to take people as you find ’em, and then make the best of ’em. They’re a queer lot; ain’t they—the sort of people one meets about in the world?”
“I don’t know what you mean by that, Lord George.”
“Just what you were saying when you talked of your experiences. These experiences do surprise one. I have knocked about the world a great deal, and would have almost said that nothing would surprise me. You are no more than a child to me, but you have surprised me.”
“I hope I have not injured you, Lord George.”
“Do you remember how you rode to hounds the day your cousin took that other man’s horse? That surprised me.”
“Oh, Lord George, that was the happiest day of my life. How little happiness there is for people!”
“And when Tewett got that girl to say she’d marry him, the coolness with which you bore all the abomination of it in your house—for people who were nothing to you; that surprised me!”
“I meant to be so kind to you all.”
“And when I found that you always travelled with ten thousand pounds’ worth of diamonds in a box, that surprised me very much. I thought that you were a very dangerous companion.”
“Pray don’t talk about the horrid necklace.”
“Then came the robbery, and you seemed to lose your diamonds without being at all unhappy about them. Of course, we understand that now.” On 425 hearing this, Lizzie smiled, but did not say a word. “Then I perceived that I—I was supposed to be the thief. You—you yourself couldn’t have suspected me of taking the diamonds, because—because you’d got them, you know, all safe in your pocket. But you might as well own the truth now. Didn’t you think that it was I who stole the box?”
“I wish it had been you,” said Lizzie laughing.
“All that surprised me. The police were watching me every day as a cat watches a mouse, and thought that they surely had got the thief when they found that I had dealings with Benjamin. Well, you—you were laughing at me in your sleeve all the time.”
“Not laughing, Lord George.”
“Yes, you were. You had got the kernel yourself, and thought that I had taken all the trouble to crack the nut and had found myself with nothing but the shell. Then, when you found you couldn’t eat the kernel, that you couldn’t get rid of the swag without assistance, you came to me to help you. I began to think then that you were too many for all of us. By Jove, I did! Then I heard of the second robbery, and, of course, I thought you had managed that too.”
“Oh, no,” said Lizzie.
“Unfortunately you didn’t; but I thought you did. And you thought that I had done it! Mr. Benjamin was too clever for us both, and now he is going to have penal servitude for the rest of his life. I wonder who will be the better of it all. Who’ll have the diamonds at last?”
“I do not in the least care. I hate the diamonds. Of course I would not give them up, because they were my own.”426
“The end seems to be that you have lost your property, and sworn ever so many false oaths, and have brought all your friends into trouble, and have got nothing by it. What was the good of being so clever?”
“You need not come here to tease me, Lord George.”
“I came here because you sent for me. There’s my poor friend Mrs. Carbuncle, declares that all her credit is destroyed, and her niece unable to marry, and her house taken away from her—all because of her connection with you.”
“Mrs. Carbuncle is—is—is—. Oh, Lord George, don’t you know what she is?”
“I know that Mrs. Carbuncle is in a very bad way, and that that girl has gone crazy, and that poor Griff has taken himself off to Japan, and that I am so knocked about that I don’t know where to go; and somehow it seems all to have come from your little manœuvres. You see we have all of us been made remarkable; haven’t we?”
“You are always remarkable, Lord George.”
“And it is all your doing. To be sure you have lost your diamonds for your pains. I wouldn’t mind it so much if anybody were the better for it. I shouldn’t have begrudged even Benjamin the pull, if he’d got it.”
He stood there, still looking down upon her, speaking with a sarcastic submissive tone, and, as she felt, intending to be severe to her. Though she believed that she hated him, she would have liked to get up some show of an affectionate farewell; some scene, in which there might have been tears, and tenderness, and 427 poetry, and perhaps a parting caress; but with his jeering words and sneering face, he was as hard as a rock. He was now silent, but still looking down upon her as he stood motionless on the rug, so that she was compelled to speak again. “I sent for you, Lord George, because I did not like the idea of parting with you forever, without one word of adieu.”
“You are going to tear yourself away, are you?”
“I am going to Portray on Monday.”
“And never coming back any more? You’ll be up here before the season is over, with fifty more wonderful schemes in your little head. So Lord Fawn is done with, is he?”
“I have told Lord Fawn that nothing shall induce me ever to see him again.”
“And cousin Frank?”
“My cousin attends me down to Scotland.”
“Oh—h. That makes it altogether another thing. He attends you down to Scotland, does he? Does Mr. Emilius go too?”
“I believe you are trying to insult me, sir.”
“You can’t expect but what a man should be a little jealous, when he has been so completely cut out himself. There was a time, you know, when even cousin Frank wasn’t a better fellow than myself.”
“Much you thought about it, Lord George.”
“Well—I did. I thought about it a good deal, my lady. And I liked the idea of it very much.” Lizzie pricked up her ears. In spite of all his harshness, could it be that he should be the Corsair still? “I am a rambling, uneasy, ill-to-do sort of man, but still I thought about it. You are pretty, you know—uncommonly pretty.”428
“Don’t, Lord George.”
“And I’ll acknowledge that the income goes for much. I suppose that’s real at any rate?”
“Well—I hope so. Of course it’s real. And so is the prettiness, Lord George—if there is any.”
“I never doubted that, Lady Eustace. But when it came to my thinking that you had stolen the diamonds, and you thinking that I had stolen the box——! I’m not a man to stand on trifles, but, by George! it wouldn’t do then.”
“Who wanted it to do?” said Lizzie. “Go away. You are very unkind to me. I hope I may never see you again. I believe you care more for that odious vulgar woman down-stairs than you do for anybody else in the world.”
“Ah dear! I have known her for many years, Lizzie, and that both covers and discovers many faults. One learns to know how bad one’s old friends are, but then one forgives them, because they are old friends.”
“You can’t forgive me—because I’m bad, and only a new friend.”
“Yes, I will. I forgive you all, and hope you may do well yet. If I may give you one bit of advice at parting, it is to caution you against being clever when there is nothing to get by it.”
“I ain’t clever at all,” said Lizzie, beginning to whimper.
“Good-by, my dear.”
“Good-by,” said Lizzie. He took her hand in one of his; patted her on the head with the other, as though she had been a child, and then left her.429
Frank Greystock, the writer fears, will not have recommended himself to those readers of this tale who think the part of lover to the heroine should be always filled by a young man with heroic attributes. And yet the young member for Bobsborough was by no means deficient in fine qualities, and perhaps was quite as capable of heroism as the majority of barristers and members of Parliament among whom he consorted, and who were to him the world. A man born to great wealth may, without injury to himself or his friends, do pretty nearly what he likes in regard to marriage, always presuming that the wife he selects be of his own rank. He need not marry for money, nor need he abstain from marriage because he can’t support a wife without money. And the very poor man, who has no pretension to rank or standing, other than that which honesty may give him, can do the same. His wife’s fortune will consist in the labour of her hands, and in her ability to assist him in his home. But between these there is a middle class of men, who, by reason of their education, are peculiarly susceptible to the charms of womanhood, but who literally cannot marry for love, because their earnings will do no more than support themselves. As to this special young man, it must be confessed that his earnings should have done much 430 more than that; but not the less did he find himself in a position in which marriage with a penniless girl seemed to threaten him and her with ruin. All his friends told Frank Greystock that he would be ruined were he to marry Lucy Morris; and his friends were people supposed to be very good and wise. The dean, and the dean’s wife, his father and mother, were very clear that it would be so. Old Lady Linlithgow had spoken of such a marriage as quite out of the question. The Bishop of Bobsborough, when it was mentioned in his hearing, had declared that such a marriage would be a thousand pities. And even dear old Lady Fawn, though she wished it for Lucy’s sake, had many times prophesied that such a thing was quite impossible. When the rumour of the marriage reached Lady Glencora, Lady Glencora told her friend, Madame Max Goesler, that that young man was going to blow his brains out. To her thinking the two actions were equivalent. It is only when we read of such men that we feel that truth to his sweetheart is the first duty of man. I am afraid that it is not the advice which we give to our sons.
But it was the advice which Frank Greystock had most persistently given to himself since he had first known Lucy Morris. Doubtless he had vacillated, but on the balance of his convictions as to his own future conduct he had been much nobler than his friends. He had never hesitated for a moment as to the value of Lucy Morris. She was not beautiful. She had no wonderful gifts of nature. There was nothing of a goddess about her. She was absolutely penniless. She had never been what the world calls well-dressed. And yet she had been everything to him. There had 431 grown up a sympathy between them quite as strong on his part as on hers, and he had acknowledged it to himself. He had never doubted his own love, and when he had been most near to convincing himself that in his peculiar position he ought to marry his rich cousin because of her wealth, then, at those moments, he had most strongly felt that to have Lucy Morris close to him was the greatest charm in existence. Hitherto his cousin’s money, joined to flatteries and caresses—which if a young man can resist he is almost more than a young man—had tempted him; but he had combated the temptation. On one memorable evening his love for Lucy had tempted him. To that temptation he had yielded, and the letter by which he became engaged to her had been written. He had never meant to evade it; had always told himself that it should not be evaded; but gradually days had been added to days, and months to months, and he had allowed her to languish without seeing him, and almost without hearing from him.
She too had heard from all sides that she was deserted by him, and she had written to him to give him back his troth; but she had not sent her letters. She did not doubt that the thing was over—she hardly doubted; and yet she would not send any letter. Perhaps it would be better that the matter should be allowed to drop without any letter-writing. She would never reproach him, though she would ever think him to be a traitor. Would not she have starved herself for him? Could she so have served him? And yet he could bear for her sake no touch of delay in his prosperity! Would she not have been content to wait, and always to wait, so that he, with some word of love, 432 would have told her that he waited also? But he would not only desert her, but would give himself to that false, infamous woman, who was so wholly unfitted to be his wife. For Lucy, though to herself she would call him a traitor, and would think him to be a traitor, still regarded him as the best of mankind; as one who, in marrying such a one as Lizzie Eustace, would destroy all his excellence, as a man might mar his strength and beauty by falling into a pit. For Lizzie Eustace Lucy Morris had now no forgiveness. Lucy had almost forgotten Lizzie’s lies, and her bribe, and all her meanness, when she made that visit to Hertford street. Then when Lizzie claimed this man as her lover, a full remembrance of all the woman’s iniquities came back on Lucy’s mind. The statement that Lizzie then made Lucy did believe. She did think that Frank, her Frank, the man whom she worshipped, was to take this harpy to his bosom as his wife; and if it were to be so, was it not better that she should be so told? But from that moment poor Lizzie’s sins were ranker to Lucy Morris than even to Mr. Camperdown or Mrs. Hittaway. She could not refrain from saying a word even to old Lady Linlithgow. The countess had called her niece a little liar.
“Liar!” said Lucy, “I do not think Satan himself can lie as she does.”
“Heighty-tighty,” said the countess. “I suppose, then, there’s to be a match between Lady Satan and her cousin Frank?”
“They can do as they like about that,” said Lucy, walking out of the room.
Then came the paragraph in the fashionable evening newspaper; after that, the report of the examination 433 before the magistrate; and then certain information that Lady Eustace was about to proceed to Scotland together with her cousin, Mr. Greystock, the Member for Bobsborough. “It is a large income,” said the countess, “but, upon my word, she’s dear at the money.” Lucy did not speak, but she bit her lip till the blood ran into her mouth. She was going down to Fawn Court almost immediately, to stay there with her old friends till she should be able to find some permanent home for herself. Once, and once only, would she endure discussion, and then the matter should be banished forever from her tongue.
Early on the appointed morning Frank Greystock, with a couple of cabs, was at Mrs. Carbuncle’s door in Hertford street. Lizzie had agreed to start by a very early train—at eight A.M.—so that she might get through to Portray in one day. It had been thought expedient, both by herself and by her cousin, that for the present there should be no more sleeping at the Carlisle hotel. The robbery was probably still talked about in that establishment; and the report of the proceedings at the police-court had no doubt travelled as far north as the border city. It was to be a long day, and could hardly be other than sad. Lizzie, understanding this, feeling that though she had been in a great measure triumphant over her difficulties before the magistrate, she ought still to consider herself, for a short while, as being under a cloud, crept down into the cab and seated herself beside her cousin, almost without a word. She was again dressed in black, and again wore the thick veil. Her maid, with the luggage, followed them, and they were driven to Euston Square almost without a word. On this occasion no tall footman 434 accompanied them. “Oh, Frank; dear Frank,” she had said, and that was all. He had been active about the luggage and useful in giving orders; but beyond his directions and inquiries as to the journey he spoke not a word. Had she breakfasted? Would she have a cup of tea at the station? Should he take any luncheon for her? At every question she only looked into his face and shook her head. All thoughts as to creature comforts were over with her now forever. Tranquillity, a little poetry, and her darling boy, were all that she needed for the short remainder of her sojourn upon earth. These were the sentiments which she intended to convey when she shook her head and looked up into his eyes. The world was over for her. She had had her day of pleasure, and found how vain it was. Now she would devote herself to her child. “I shall see my boy again to-night,” she said, as she took her seat in the carriage.
Such was the state of mind, or such, rather, the resolutions, with which she commenced her journey. Should he become bright, communicative, and pleasant, or even tenderly silent, or perhaps, now at length, affectionate and demonstrative, she no doubt might be able to change as he changed. He had been cousinly but gloomy at the police-court; in the same mood when he brought her home; and, as she saw with the first glance of her eye, in the same mood again when she met him in the hall this morning. Of course she must play his tunes. Is it not the fate of women to play the tunes which men dictate, except in some rare case in which the woman can make herself the dictator? Lizzie loved to be a dictator; but at the present moment she knew that circumstances were against her.435
She watched him—so closely. At first he slept a good deal. He was never in bed very early, and on this morning had been up at six. At Rugby he got out and ate what he said was his breakfast. Would she not have a cup of tea? Again she shook her head and smiled. She smiled as some women smile when you offer them a third glass of champagne. “You are joking with me, I know. You cannot think that I would take it.” This was the meaning of Lizzie’s smile. He went into the refreshment-room, growled at the heat of the tea and the abominable nastiness of the food provided, and then, after the allotted five minutes, took himself to a smoking-carriage. He did not rejoin his cousin till they were at Crewe. When he went back to his old seat, she only smiled again. He asked her whether she had slept, and again she shook her head. She had been repeating to herself the address to Ianthe’s soul, and her whole being was pervaded with poetry.
It was absolutely necessary, as he thought, that she should eat something, and he insisted that she should dine upon the road, somewhere. He, of course, was not aware that she had been nibbling biscuits and chocolate while he had been smoking, and had had recourse even to the comfort of a sherry flask which she carried in her dressing-bag. When he talked of dinner she did more than smile and refuse. She expostulated. For she well knew that the twenty minutes for dinner were allowed at the Carlisle station; and even if there had been no chocolate and no sherry, she would have endured on, even up to absolute inanition, rather than step out upon this well-remembered platform. “You must eat, or you’ll be starved,” he said. “I’ll fetch you something.” So he bribed a special 436 waiter, and she was supplied with cold chicken and more sherry. After this Frank smoked again, and did not reappear till they had reached Dumfries.
Hitherto there had been no tenderness—nothing but the coldest cousinship. He clearly meant her to understand that he had submitted to the task of accompanying her back to Portray Castle as a duty, but that he had nothing to say to one who had so misbehaved herself. This was very irritating. She could have taken herself home to Portray without his company, and have made the journey more endurable without him than with him, if this were to be his conduct throughout. They had had the carriage to themselves all the way from Crewe to Carlisle, and he had hardly spoken a word to her. If he would have rated her soundly for her wickednesses, she could have made something of that. She could have thrown herself on her knees, and implored his pardon; or, if hard pressed, have suggested the propriety of throwing herself out of the carriage-window. She could have brought him round if he would only have talked to her, but there is no doing anything with a silent man. He was not her master. He had no power over her. She was the lady of Portray, and he could not interfere with her. If he intended to be sullen with her to the end, and to show his contempt for her, she would turn against him. “The worm will turn,” she said to herself. And yet she did not think herself a worm.
A few stations beyond Dumfries they were again alone. It was now quite dark, and they had already been travelling over ten hours. They would not reach their own station till eight, and then again there would be the journey to Portray. At last he spoke to her.437
“Are you tired, Lizzie?”
“Oh, so tired!”
“You have slept, I think?”
“No, not once; not a wink. You have slept.” This she said in a tone of reproach.
“Indeed I have.”
“I have endeavoured to read, but one cannot command one’s mind at all times. Oh, I am so weary. Is it much farther? I have lost all reckoning as to time and place.”
“We change at the next station but one. It will soon be over now. Will you have a glass of sherry? I have some in my flask.” Again she shook head. “It is a long way down to Portray, I must own.”
“Oh, I am so sorry that I have given you the trouble to accompany me.”
“I was not thinking of myself. I don’t mind it. It was better that you should have somebody with you—just for this journey.”
“I don’t know why this journey should be different from any other,” said Lizzie crossly. She had not done anything that made it necessary that she should be taken care of—like a naughty girl.
“I’ll see you to the end of it now, anyway.”
“And you’ll stay a few days with me, Frank? You won’t go away at once? Say you’ll stay a week. Dear, dear Frank; say you’ll stay a week. I know that the House doesn’t meet for ever so long. Oh, Frank, I do so wish you’d be more like yourself.” There was no reason why she should not make one other effort, and as she made it every sign of fatigue passed away from her.
“I’ll stay over to-morrow certainly,” he replied.438
“Only one day!”
“Days with me mean money, Lizzie, and money is a thing which is at present very necessary to me.”
“I hate money.”
“That’s very well for you because you have plenty of it.”
“I hate money. It is the only thing that one has that one cannot give to those one loves. I could give you anything else—though it cost a thousand pounds.”
“Pray don’t. Most people like presents, but they only bore me.”
“Because you are so indifferent, Frank; so cold. Do you remember giving me a little ring?”
“Very well indeed. It cost eight and sixpence.”
“I never thought what it cost; but there it is.” This she said drawing off her glove and showing him her finger. “And when I am dead there it will be. You say you want money, Frank. May I not give it you? Are not we brother and sister?”
“My dear Lizzie, you say you hate money. Don’t talk about it.”
“It is you that talk about it. I only talk about it because I want to give it you; yes, all that I have. When I first knew what was the real meaning of my husband’s will, my only thought was to be of assistance to you.”
In real truth Frank was becoming very sick of her. It seemed to him now to have been almost impossible that he should ever soberly have thought of making her his wife. The charm was all gone, and even her prettiness had in his eyes lost its value. He looked at her, asking himself whether in truth she was pretty. She 439 had been travelling all day, and perhaps the scrutiny was not fair. But he thought that even after the longest day’s journey Lucy would not have been soiled, haggard, dishevelled, and unclean, as was this woman.
Travellers again entered the carriage, and they went on with a crowd of persons till they reached the platform at which they changed the carriage for Troon. Then they were again alone, for a few minutes, and Lizzie with infinite courage determined that she would make her last attempt. “Frank,” she said, “you know what it is that I mean. You cannot feel that I am ungenerous. You have made me love you. Will you have all that I have to give?” She was leaning over close to him, and he was observing that her long lock of hair was out of curl and untidy, a thing that ought not to have been during such a journey as this.
“Do you not know,” he said, “that I am engaged to marry Lucy Morris?”
“No; I do not know it.”
“I have told you so more than once.”
“You cannot afford to marry her.”
“Then I shall do it without affording.”
Lizzie was about to speak, had already pronounced her rival’s name, in that tone of contempt which she so well knew how to use, when he stopped her. “Do not say anything against her, Lizzie, in my hearing, for I will not bear it. It would force me to leave you at the Troon station, and I had better see you now to the end of the journey.” Lizzie flung herself back into the corner of her carriage, and did not utter another word till she reached Portray Castle. He handed her out of the railway carriage and into her own vehicle which was waiting for them, attended to the maid, and 440 got the luggage; but still she did not speak. It would be better that she should quarrel with him. That little snake Lucy would of course now tell him of the meeting between them in Hertford street, after which anything but quarrelling would be impossible. What a fool the man must be, what an idiot, what a soft-hearted, mean-spirited fellow! Lucy, by her sly, quiet little stratagems, had got him once to speak the word, and now he had not courage enough to go back from it! He had less strength of will even than Lord Fawn! What she offered to him would be the making of him. With his position, his seat in Parliament, such a country house as Portray Castle, and the income which she would give him, there was nothing that he might not reach! And he was so infirm of purpose that though he had hankered after it all he would not open his hand to take it, because he was afraid of such a little thing as Lucy Morris! It was thus that she thought of him as she leaned back in the carriage without speaking. In giving her all that is due to her we must acknowledge that she had less feeling of the injury done to her charms as a woman than might have been expected. That she hated Lucy was a matter of course; and equally so that she should be very angry with Frank Greystock; but the anger arose from general disappointment rather than from any sense of her own despised beauty. “Ah, now I shall see my child,” she said, as the carriage stopped at the castle gate.
When Frank Greystock went to his supper Miss Macnulty brought to him his cousin’s compliments with a message saying that she was too weary to see him again that night. The message had been intended to be curt and uncourteous, but Miss Macnulty had 441 softened it, so that no harm was done. “She must be very weary,” said Frank.
“I supposed though that nothing would ever really tire Lady Eustace,” said Miss Macnulty. “When she is excited nothing will tire her. Perhaps the journey has been dull.”
“Exceedingly dull!” said Frank, as he helped himself to the collops which the Portray cook had prepared for his supper.
Miss Macnulty was very attentive to him and had many questions to ask. About the necklace she hardly dared to speak, merely observing how sad it was that all those precious diamonds should have been lost forever. “Very sad indeed,” said Frank with his mouth full. She then went on to the marriage—the marriage that was no marriage. Was not that very dreadful? Was it true that Miss Roanoke was really—out of her mind? Frank acknowledged that it was dreadful, but thought that the marriage had it been completed would have been more so. As for the young lady he only knew that she had been taken somewhere out of the way. Sir Griffin, he had been told, had gone to Japan.
“To Japan!” said Miss Macnulty, really interested. Had Sir Griffin gone no farther than Boulogne her pleasure in the news would certainly have been much less. Then she asked some single question about Lord George, and from that came to the real marrow of her anxiety. Had Mr. Greystock lately seen the—the Rev. Mr. Emilius? Frank had not seen the clergyman, and could only say of him that had Lucinda Roanoke and Sir Griffin Tewett been made one, the knot would have been tied by Mr. Emilius.442
“Would it indeed? Did you not think Mr. Emilius very clever when you met him down here?”
“I don’t doubt but what he is a sharp sort of fellow.”
“Oh, Mr. Greystock, I don’t think that that’s the word for him at all. He did promise me when he was here that he would write to me occasionally, but I suppose that the increasing duties of his position have rendered that impossible.” Frank, who had no idea of the extent of the preacher’s ambition, assured Miss Macnulty that among his multifarious clerical labours it was out of the question that Mr. Emilius should find time to write letters.
Frank had consented to stay one day at Portray, and did not now like to run away without again seeing his cousin. Though much tempted to go at once, he did stay the day, and had an opportunity of speaking a few words to Mr. Gowran. Mr. Gowran was very gracious, but said nothing of his journey up to London. He asked various questions concerning her “leddyship’s” appearance at the police-court, as to which tidings had already reached Ayrshire, and pretended to be greatly shocked at the loss of the diamonds.
“When they talk o’ ten thoosand poond that’s a lee nae doobt?” asked Andy.
“No lie at all, I believe,” said Greystock.
“And her leddyship wad tak’ aboot wi’ her ten thoosand poond in a box?” Andy still showed much doubt by the angry glance of his eye and the close compression of his lips and the great severity of his demeanour as he asked the question.
“I know nothing about diamonds myself, but that is what they say they were worth.”443
“Her leddyship her ain sell seems nae to ha’ been in ain story aboot the box, Muster Greystock?” But Frank could not stand to be cross-questioned on this delicate matter, and walked off, saying that as the thieves had not yet been tried for the robbery, the less said about it the better.
At four o’clock on that afternoon he had not seen Lizzie, and then he received a message from her to the effect that she was still so unwell from the fatigue of her journey that she could bear no one with her but her child. She hoped that her cousin was quite comfortable, and that she might be able to see him after breakfast on the following day. But Frank was determined to leave Portray very early on the following day, and therefore wrote a note to his cousin. He begged that she would not disturb herself, that he would leave the castle the next morning before she could be up, and that he had only further to remind her that she must come up to London at once as soon as she should be summoned for the trial of Mr. Benjamin and his comrade. It had seemed to Frank that she had almost concluded that her labours connected with that disagreeable matter were at end.
“The examination may be long, and I will attend you if you wish it,” said her cousin. Upon receiving this she thought it expedient to come down to him, and there was an interview for about a quarter of an hour in her own little sitting-room, looking out upon the sea. She had formed a project, and at once suggested it to him. If she found herself ill when the day of the trial came, could they make her go up and give her evidence? Frank told her that they could and that they would. She was very clever about it.444
“They couldn’t go back to what I said at Carlisle, you know; because they already have made me tell all that myself.” As she had been called upon to criminate herself she could not now be tried for the crime. Frank, however, would not listen to this, and told her that she must come. “Very well, Frank. I know you like to have your own way. You always did. And you think so little of my feelings? I shall make inquiry and if I must why I suppose I must.”
“You’d better make up your mind to come.”
“Very well. And now, Frank, as I am so very tired, if you please, I’ll say good-by to you. I am very much obliged to you for coming with me. Good-by.” And so they parted.
Wednesday, April 3
[Anthony Trollope turns over a page in his calendar, and suddenly it’s 1872 again.]
This epistle Lizzie did send
[I hope she got a lot of satisfaction out of it. She won’t get anything else, since the letter—with its fictitious date—utterly destroys any chance of winning big in a breach-of-promise suit.]
I wrote to him this very morning
I have barely turned my thirty-second year
[I am glad the author makes it clear Emilius is lying. I have been picturing him all along as being well into middle age.]
and he repeated it thrice, becoming every time more and more mellifluous.
text has , for .
[Corrected from Fortnightly Review.]
As for the trumpery spoons, they—so said Mrs. Carbuncle—were the property of Miss Roanoke, having been made over to her, unconditionally
[Why would they ever not have been Lucinda Roanoke’s property? Wedding presents are given to the bride, not to her nearest and greediest relative.]
Lizzie’s lies, and her proffered bribe
text has proferred
[Corrected from Fortnightly Review.]
“Ah, now I shall see my child,” she said
[“But it was an hour every day.” —The Dowager Countess of Grantham.]
“I know nothing about diamonds myself, but that is what they say they were worth.”
[The end of the line is invisible and was filled in from Fortnightly Review:]
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.