Let it not be supposed that Lady Eustace during these summer weeks was living the life of a recluse. The London season was in its full splendour, and she was by no means a recluse. During the first year of her widowhood she had been every inch a widow, as far as crape would go, and a quiet life either at Bobsborough or Portray Castle. During this year her child was born, and she was in every way thrown upon her good behaviour, living with bishops’ wives and deans’ daughters. Two years of retreat from the world is generally thought to be the proper thing for a widow. Lizzie had not quite accomplished her two years before she reopened the campaign in Mount street with very small remnants of weeds, and with her crape brought down to a minimum; but she was young and rich, and the world is aware that a woman of twenty-two can hardly afford to sacrifice two whole years. In the matter of her widowhood Lizzie did not encounter very much reproach. She was not shunned, or so ill spoken of as to have a widely-spread bad name among the streets and squares in which her carriage-wheels rolled. People called her a flirt, held up their hands in surprise at Sir Florian’s foolish generosity—for the accounts of Lizzie’s wealth were greatly exaggerated—and said that of course she would marry again.200
The general belief which often seizes upon the world in regard to some special falsehood is very surprising. Everybody on a sudden adopts an idea that some particular man is over head and ears in debt, so that he can hardly leave his house for fear of the bailiffs; or that some ill-fated woman is cruelly ill-used by her husband; or that some eldest son has ruined his father; whereas the man doesn’t owe a shilling, the woman never hears a harsh word from her lord, and the eldest son in question has never succeeded in obtaining a shilling beyond his allowance. One of the lies about London this season was founded on the extent of Lady Eustace’s jointure. Indeed the lie went to state that the jointure was more than a jointure. It was believed that the property in Ayrshire was her own, to do what she pleased with it. That the property in Ayrshire was taken at double its value was a matter of course. It had been declared, at the time of his marriage, that Sir Florian had been especially generous to his penniless wife, and the generosity was magnified in the ordinary way. No doubt Lizzie’s own diligence had done much to propagate the story as to her positive ownership of Portray. Mr. Camperdown had been very busy denying this. John Eustace had denied it whenever occasion offered. The bishop in his quiet way had denied it. Lady Linlithgow had denied it. But the lie had been set on foot and had thriven, and there was hardly a man about town who didn’t know that Lady Eustace had eight or nine thousand a year, altogether at her own disposal, down in Scotland. Of course a woman so endowed, so rich, so beautiful, so clever, so young, would marry again, and would marry well. No doubt, added to this there was a feeling that 201 “Lizzie,” as she was not uncommonly called by people who had hardly ever seen her, had something amiss with it all. “I don’t know where it is she’s lame,” said that very clever man, Captain Boodle, who had lately reappeared among his military friends at his club, “but she don’t go flat all round.”
“She has the devil of a temper, no doubt,” said Lieutenant Griggs.
“No mouth, I should say,” said Boodle. It was thus that Lizzie was talked about at the clubs; but she was asked to dinners and balls, and gave little dinners herself, and to a certain extent was the fashion. Everybody had declared that of course she would marry again, and now it was known everywhere that she was engaged to Lord Fawn.
“Poor dear Lord Fawn!” said Lady Glencora Palliser to her dear friend Madame Max Goesler; “do you remember how violently he was in love with Violet Effingham two years ago?”
“Two years is a long time, Lady Glencora; and Violet Effingham has chosen another husband.”
“But isn’t this a fall for him? Violet was the sweetest girl out, and at one time I really thought she meant to take him.”
“I thought she meant to take another man whom she did not take,” said Mme. Goesler, who had her own recollections, who was a widow herself, and who, at the period to which Lady Glencora was referring, had thought that perhaps she might cease to be a widow. Not that she had ever suggested to herself that Lord Fawn might be her second husband.
“Poor Lord Fawn!” continued Lady Glencora. “I suppose he is terribly in want of money.”202
“But surely Lady Eustace is very pretty.”
“Yes; she is very pretty; nay more, she is quite lovely to look at. And she is clever, very. And she is rich, very. But——”
“Well, Lady Glencora. What does your ‘but’ mean?”
“Who ever explains a ‘but’? You’re a great deal too clever, Mme. Goesler, to want any explanation. And I couldn’t explain it. I can only say I’m sorry for poor Lord Fawn, who is a gentleman, but will never set the Thames on fire.”
“No, indeed. All the same, I like Lord Fawn extremely,” said Mme. Goesler, “and I think he’s just the man to marry Lady Eustace. He’s always at his office or at the House.”
“A man may be a great deal at his office, and a great deal more at the House than Lord Fawn,” said Lady Glencora laughing, “and yet think about his wife, my dear.” For of all men known, no man spent more hours at the House or in his office than did Lady Glencora’s husband, Mr. Palliser, who at this time, and had now for more than two years, filled the high place of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This conversation took place in Mme. Goesler’s little drawing-room in Park Lane; but, three days after this, the same two ladies met again at the house then occupied by Lady Chiltern in Portman Square—Lady Chiltern, with whom, as Violet Effingham, poor Lord Fawn had been much in love. “I think it the nicest match in the world for him,” Lady Chiltern had said to Mme. Goesler.
“But have you heard of the diamonds?” asked Lady Glencora.
“What diamonds?” “Whose diamonds?” Neither 203 of the others had heard of the diamonds, and Lady Glencora was able to tell her story. Lady Eustace had found all the family jewels belonging to the Eustace family in the strong plate-room at Portray Castle, and had taken possession of them as property found in her own house. John Eustace and the bishop had combined in demanding them on behalf of the heir, and a lawsuit had been commenced! The diamonds were the most costly belonging to any Commoner in England, and had been valued at twenty-four thousand pounds! Lord Fawn had retreated from his engagement the moment he heard that any doubt was thrown on Lady Eustace’s right to their possession! Lady Eustace had declared her intention of bringing an action against Lord Fawn, and had also secreted the diamonds! The reader will be aware that this statement was by no means an accurate history of the difficulty as far as it had as yet progressed. It was, indeed, absolutely false in every detail; but it sufficed to show that the matter was becoming public.
“You don’t mean to say that Lord Fawn is off?” asked Mine. Goesler.
“I do,” said Lady Glencora.
“Poor Lord Fawn!” exclaimed Lady Chiltern. “It really seems as though he never would be settled.”
“I don’t think he has courage enough for such conduct as that,” said Mme. Goesler.
“And besides, Lady Eustace’s income is quite certain,” said Lady Chiltern, “and poor dear Lord Fawn does want money so badly.”
“But it is very disagreeable,” said Lady Glencora, “to believe that your wife has got the finest diamonds in England, and then to find that she has only stolen 204 them. I think Lord Fawn is right. If a man does marry for money, he should have the money. I wonder she ever took him. There is no doubt about her beauty, and she might have done better.”
“I won’t hear Lord Fawn belittled,” said Lady Chiltern.
“Done better!” said Mme. Goesler. “How could she have done better? He is a peer, and her son would be a peer. I don’t think she could have done better.” Lady Glencora in her time had wished to marry a man who had sought her for her money. Lady Chiltern in her time had refused to be Lady Fawn. Mme. Goesler in her time had declined to marry an English peer. There was, therefore, something more of interest in the conversation to each of them than was quite expressed in the words spoken. “Is she to be at your party on Friday, Lady Glencora?” asked Mme. Goesler.
“She has said she would come, and so has Lord Fawn; for that matter, Lord Fawn dines with us. She’ll find that out, and then she’ll stay away.”
“Not she,” said Lady Chiltern. “She’ll come for the sake of the bravado. She’s not the woman to show the white feather.”
“If he’s ill-using her she’s quite right,” said Mme. Goesler.
“And wear the very diamonds in dispute,” said Lady Chiltern. It was thus that the matter was discussed among ladies in the town.
“Is Fawn’s marriage going on?” This question was asked of Mr. Legge Wilson by Barrington Erle. Mr. Legge Wilson was the Secretary of State for India, and Barrington Erle was in the Government.205
“Upon my word I don’t know,” said Mr. Wilson. “The work goes on at the office; that’s all I know about Fawn. He hasn’t told me of his marriage, and therefore I haven’t spoken to him about it.”
“He hasn’t made it official?”
“The papers haven’t come before me yet,” said Mr. Wilson.
“When they do they’ll be very awkward papers, as far as I hear,” said Barrington Erle. “There is no doubt they were engaged, and I believe there is no doubt that he has declared off, and refused to give any reason.”
“I suppose the money is not all there,” suggested Mr. Wilson.
“There’s a queer story going about as to some diamonds. No one knows whom they belong to, and they say that Fawn has accused her of stealing them. He wants to get hold of them, and she won’t give them up. I believe the lawyers are to have a shy at it. I’m sorry for Fawn. It’ll do him a deal of mischief.”
“You’ll find he won’t come out much amiss,” said Mr. Legge Wilson. “He’s as cautious a man as there is in London. If there is anything wrong——”
“There’s a great deal wrong,” said Barrington Erle.
“You’ll find it will be on her side.”
“And you’ll find also that she’ll contrive that all the blame shall lie upon him. She’s clever enough for anything! Who’s to be the new bishop?”
“I have not heard Gresham say as yet; Jones, I should think,” said Mr. Wilson.
“And who is Jones?”
“A clergyman, I suppose, of the safe sort. I don’t 206 know that anything else is necessary.” From which it will be seen that Mr. Wilson had his own opinion about church matters, and also that people very high up in the world were concerning themselves about poor Lizzie’s affairs.
Lady Eustace did go to Lady Glencora’s evening party, in spite of Mr. Camperdown and all her difficulties. Lady Chiltern had been quite right in saying that Lizzie was not the woman to show the white feather. She went, knowing that she would meet Lord Fawn, and she did wear the diamonds. It was the first time that they had been round her neck since the occasion in respect to which Sir Florian had placed them in her hands, and it had not been without much screwing up of her courage that she had resolved to appear on this occasion with the much talked-of ornament upon her person. It was now something over a fortnight since she had parted with Lord Fawn at Fawn Court; and, although they were still presumed to be engaged to marry each other, and were both living in London, she had not seen him since. A sort of message had reached her, through Frank Greystock, to the effect that Lord Fawn thought it as well that they should not meet till the matter was settled. Stipulations had been made by Frank on her behalf, and this had been inserted among them. She had received the message with scorn—with a mixture of scorn and gratitude—of scorn in regard to the man who had promised to marry her, and of affectionate gratitude to the cousin who had made the arrangement. “Of course I shall not wish to see him while he chooses to entertain such an idea,” she had said, “but I shall not keep out of his way. You would not wish me to keep 207 out of his way, Frank?” When she received a card for Lady Glencora’s party, very soon after this, she was careful to answer it in such a manner as to impress Lady Glencora with a remembrance of her assent. Lord Fawn would probably be there, unless he remained away in order to avoid her. Then she had ten days in which to make up her mind as to wearing the diamonds. Her courage was good; but then her ignorance was so great! She did not know whether Mr. Camperdown might not contrive to have them taken by violence from her neck, even on Lady Glencora’s stairs. Her best security, so she thought, would be in the fact that Mr. Camperdown would not know of her purpose. She told no one, not even Miss Macnulty, but she appeared before that lady, arrayed in all her beauty, just as she was about to descend to her carriage.
“You’ve got the necklace on!” said Miss Macnulty.
“Why should I not wear my own necklace?” she asked, with assumed anger.
Lady Glencora’s rooms were already very full when Lizzie entered them, but she was without a gentleman, and room was made for her to pass quickly up the stairs. The diamonds had been recognised by many before she had reached the drawing-room; not that these very diamonds were known, or that there was a special memory for that necklace; but the subject had been so generally discussed, that the blaze of the stones immediately brought it to the minds of men and women. “There she is, with poor Eustace’s twenty thousand pounds round her neck,” said Laurence Fitzgibbon to his friend Barrington Erle. “And there is Lord Fawn going to look after them,” replied the other.208
Lord Fawn thought it right, at any rate, to look after his bride. Lady Glencora had whispered into his ear before they went down to dinner that Lady Eustace would be there in the evening, so that he might have the option of escaping or remaining. Could he have escaped without any one knowing that he had escaped, he would not have gone up-stairs after dinner; but he knew that he was observed; he knew that people were talking about him; and he did not like it to be said that he had run away. He went up, thinking much of it all, and as soon as he saw Lady Eustace he made his way to her and accosted her. Many eyes were upon them, but no ear probably heard how infinitely unimportant were the words which they spoke to each other. Her manner was excellent. She smiled and gave him her hand—just her hand without the slightest pressure—and spoke a half-whispered word, looking into his face, but betraying nothing by her look. Then he asked her whether she would dance. Yes; she would stand up for a quadrille; and they did stand up for a quadrille. As she danced with no one else, it was clear that she treated Lord Fawn as her lover. As soon as the dance was done she took his arm and moved for a few minutes about the room with him. She was very conscious of the diamonds, but she did not show the feeling in her face. He also was conscious of them, and he did show it. He did not recognise the necklace, but he knew well that this was the very bone of contention. They were very beautiful, and seemed to him to outshine all other jewelry in the room. And Lady Eustace was a woman of whom it might almost be said that she ought to wear diamonds. She was made to sparkle, to be bright with outside 209 garniture—to shine and glitter, and be rich in apparel. The only doubt might be whether paste diamonds might not better suit her character. But these were not paste, and she did shine and glitter and was very rich. It must not be brought as an accusation against Lady Glencora’s guests that they pressed round to look at the necklace. Lady Glencora’s guests knew better than to do that. But there was some slight ferment—slight, but still felt both by Lord Fawn and by Lady Eustace. Eyes were turned upon the diamonds, and there were whispers here and there. Lizzie bore it very well; but Lord Fawn was uncomfortable.
“I like her for wearing them,” said Lady Glencora to Lady Chiltern.
“Yes—if she means to keep them. I don’t pretend, however, to know anything about it. You see the match isn’t off.”
“I suppose not. What do you think I did? He dined here, you know, and, before going down-stairs, I told him that she was coming. I thought it only fair.”
“And what did he say?”
“I took care that he shouldn’t have to say anything; but, to tell the truth, I didn’t expect him to come up.”
“There can’t be any quarrel at all,” said Lady Chiltern.
“I’m not sure of that,” said Lady Glencora. “They are not so very loving.”
Lady Eustace made the most of her opportunity. Soon after the quadrille was over she asked Lord Fawn to get her carriage for her. Of course he got it, and of course he put her into it, passing up and down stairs 210 twice in his efforts on her behalf. And of course all the world saw what he was doing. Up to the last moment not a word had been spoken between them that might not have passed between the most ordinary acquaintance; but, as she took her seat, she put her face forward and did say a word. “You had better come to me soon,” she said.
“I will,” said Lord Fawn.
“Yes; you had better come soon. All this is wearing me—perhaps more than you think.”
“I will come soon,” said Lord Fawn, and then he returned among Lady Glencora’s guests, very uncomfortable. Lizzie got home in safety and locked up her diamonds in the iron box.211
It was now the end of June, and Frank Greystock had been as yet but once at Fawn Court since he had written to Lucy Morris asking her to be his wife. That was three weeks since, and as the barrier against him at Fawn Court had been removed by Lady Fawn herself, the Fawn girls thought that as a lover he was very slack; but Lucy was not in the least annoyed. Lucy knew that it was all right; for Frank, as he took his last walk round the shrubbery with her during that visit, had given her to understand that there was a little difference between him and Lady Fawn in regard to Lizzie Eustace. “I am her only relative in London,” Frank had said.
“Lady Linlithgow,” suggested Lucy.
“They have quarrelled, and the old woman is as bitter as gall. There is no one else to stand up for her, and I must see that she isn’t ill-used. Women do hate each other so virulently, and Lady Fawn hates her future daughter-in-law.” Lucy did not in the least grudge her lover’s assistance to his cousin. There was nothing of jealousy in her feeling. She thought that Lizzie was unworthy of Frank’s goodness, but on such an occasion as this she would not say so. She told him nothing of the bribe that had been offered her, nor on that subject had she said a word to any of the Fawns. 212 She understood, too, that as Frank had declared his purpose of supporting Lizzie, it might be as well that he should see just at present as little of Lady Fawn as possible. Not a word, however, had Lady Fawn said to Lucy disparaging her lover for his conduct. It was quite understood now at Fawn Court, by all the girls, and no doubt by the whole establishment, that Lizzie Eustace was to be regarded as an enemy. It was believed by them all that Lord Fawn had broken off the match—or, at least, that he was resolved to break it; but various stratagems were to be used, and terrible engines of war were to be brought up if necessary, to prevent an alliance which was now thought to be disreputable. Mrs. Hittaway had been hard at work, and had found out something very like truth in regard to the whole transaction with Mr. Benjamin. Perhaps Mrs. Hittaway had found out more than was quite true as to poor Lizzie’s former sins; but what she did find out she used with all her skill, communicating her facts to her mother, to Mr. Camperdown, and to her brother. Her brother had almost quarrelled with her, but still she continued to communicate her facts.
At this period Frank Greystock was certainly somewhat unreasonable in reference to his cousin. At one time, as the reader will remember, he had thought of asking her to be his wife—because she was rich; but even then he had not thought well of her, had hardly believed her to be honest, and had rejoiced when he found that circumstances rather than his own judgment had rescued him from that evil. He had professed to be delighted when Lord Fawn was accepted—as being happy to think that his somewhat dangerous cousin was provided with so safe a husband; and, when he had 213 first heard of the necklace, he had expressed an opinion that of course it would be given up. In all this then he had shown no strong loyalty to his cousin, no very dear friendship, nothing to make those who knew him feel that he would buckle on armour in her cause. But of late—and that, too, since his engagement with Lucy—he had stood up very stoutly as her friend, and the armour was being buckled on. He had not scrupled to say that he meant to see her through this business with Lord Fawn, and had somewhat astonished Mr. Camperdown by raising a doubt on the question of the necklace.
“He can’t but know that she has no more right to it than I have,” Mr. Camperdown had said to his son with indignation. Mr. Camperdown was becoming unhappy about the necklace, not quite knowing how to proceed in the matter.
In the mean time Frank had obeyed his better instincts, and had asked Lucy Morris to be his wife. He had gone to Fawn Court in compliance with a promise to Lizzie Eustace that he would call upon her there. He had walked with Lucy because he was at Fawn Court. And he had written to Lucy because of the words he had spoken during the walk. In all this the matter had arranged itself as such matters do, and there was nothing, in truth, to be regretted. He really did love the girl with all his heart. It may, perhaps, be said that he had never in truth loved any other woman. In the best humours of his mind he would tell himself—had from old times told himself often—that unless he married Lucy Morris he could never marry at all. When his mother, knowing that poor Lucy was penniless, had, as mothers will do, begged him to 214 beware, he had spoken up for his love honestly, declaring to her that in his eyes there was no woman living equal to Lucy Morris. The reader has seen him with the words almost on his tongue with which to offer his hand to his cousin, Lizzie Eustace, knowing as he did so that his heart had been given to Lucy—knowing also that Lucy’s heart had been given to him! But he had not done it, and the better humour had prevailed.
Within the figure and frame and clothes and cuticle, within the bones and flesh of many of us, there is but one person, a man or woman, with a preponderance either of good or evil, whose conduct in any emergency may be predicted with some assurance of accuracy any one knowing the man or woman. Such persons are simple, single, and perhaps generally safe. They walk along lines in accordance with certain fixed instincts or principles, and are to-day as they were yesterday, and will be to-morrow as they are to-day. Lady Eustace was such a person, and so was Lucy Morris. Opposite in their characters as the two poles, they were each of them a simple entity; and any doubt or error in judging of the future conduct of either of them would come from insufficient knowledge of the woman. But there are human beings who, though of necessity single in body, are dual in character; in whose breasts not only is evil always fighting against good, but to whom evil is sometimes horribly, hideously evil, but is sometimes also not hideous at all. Of such men it may be said that Satan obtains an intermittent grasp, from which, when it is released, the rebound carries them high amid virtuous resolutions and a thorough love of things good and noble. Such men or women may hardly perhaps debase themselves with the more 215 vulgar vices. They will not be rogues, or thieves, or drunkards, or perhaps liars; but ambition, luxury, self-indulgence, pride, and covetousness will get a hold of them, and in various moods will be to them virtues in lieu of vices. Such a man was Frank Greystock, who could walk along the banks of the quiet, trout-giving Bob, at Bobsborough, whipping the river with his rod, telling himself that the world lost for love would be a bad thing well lost for a fine purpose; and who could also stand, with his hands in his trousers pockets, looking down upon the pavement, in the purlieus of the courts at Westminster, and swear to himself that he would win the game, let the cost to his heart be what it might. What must a man be who would allow some undefined feeling, some inward ache which he calls a passion and cannot analyse, some desire which has come of instinct and not of judgment, to interfere with all the projects of his intellect, with all the work which he has laid out for his accomplishment? Circumstances had thrown him into a path of life for which, indeed, his means were insufficient, but which he regarded as of all paths the noblest and the manliest. If he could be true to himself—with such truth as at these moments would seem to him to be the truest truth—there was nothing in rank, nothing in ambition, which might not be within his reach. He might live with the highest, the best-educated, and the most beautiful; he might assist in directing national councils by his intelligence; and might make a name for himself which should be remembered in his country, and of which men would read the records in the histories written in after ages. But to do this he must walk warily. He, an embarrassed man, a man already in debt, a man with no realised 216 property coming to him in reversion, was called upon to live, and to live as though at his ease, among those who had been born to wealth. And, indeed, he had so cleverly learned the ways of the wealthy that he hardly knew any longer how to live at his ease among the poor.
But had he walked warily when he went down to Richmond, and afterward, sitting alone in the obscurity of his chamber, wrote the letter which had made Lucy Morris so happy? It must be acknowledged that he did in truth love the girl—that he was capable of a strong feeling. She was not beautiful, hardly even pretty, small, in appearance almost insignificant, quite penniless, a governess! He had often asked himself what it was that had so vanquished him. She always wore a pale gray frock, with perhaps a gray ribbon, never running into any bright form of clothing. She was educated, very well educated; but she owned no great accomplishment. She had not sung his heart away or ravished him with the harp. Even of her words she was sparing, seeming to care more to listen than to speak; a humble little thing to look at—one of whom you might say that she regarded herself as well-placed if left in the background. Yet he had found her out and knew her. He had recognised the treasure, and had greatly desired to possess it. He had confessed to himself that, could splendour and ambition be laid aside, that little thing would be all the world to him. As he sat in court or in the House, patient from practice as he half-listened to the ponderous speeches of advocates or politicians, he would think of the sparkle in her eye, of the dimple in her chin, of the lines of the mouth which could plead so eloquently, 217 though with few words. To sit on some high seat among his countrymen and also to marry Lucy Morris, that would be a high ambition. He had chosen his way now, and she was engaged to be his wife.
As he thought of it after he had done it, it was not all happiness, all contentment with him. He did feel that he had crippled himself—impeded himself in running the race, as it were with a log round his leg. He had offered to marry her, and he must do so at once, or almost at once, because she could now find no other home but his. He knew, as well as did Lady Fawn, that she could not go into another family as governess; and he knew also that she ought not to remain in Lady Fawn’s house an hour longer than she should be wanted there. He must alter his plan of living at once, give up the luxury of his rooms at the Grosvenor, take a small house somewhere, probably near the Swiss Cottage, come up and down to his chambers by the underground railway, and in all probability abandon Parliament altogether. He was not sure whether in good faith he should not at once give notice of his intended acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds to the electors of Bobsborough. Thus meditating, under the influence of that intermittent evil grasp, almost angry with himself for the open truth which he had spoken, or rather written, and perhaps thinking more of Lizzie and her beauty than he should have done, in the course of three weeks he had paid but one visit to Fawn Court. Then, of a sudden, finding himself one afternoon relieved from work, he resolved to go there. The days were still almost at their longest, and he did not scruple to present himself before Lady Fawn between eight and nine in the evening. They were all at tea, and he was welcomed 218 kindly. Lucy, when he was announced, at once got up and met him almost at the doorway, sparkling with just a tear of joy in her eye, with a look in her face and a loving manner, which for the moment made him sure that the little house near the Swiss Cottage would, after all, be the only Elysium upon earth. If she spoke a word he hardly heard it, but her hand was in his, so cool and soft, almost trembling in its grasp, with no attempt to withdraw itself, frank, loving, and honest. There was a perfect satisfaction in her greeting which at once told him that she had no discontented thoughts—had had no such thoughts—because he had been so long without coming. To see him was a great joy. But every hour of her life was a joy to her, knowing, as she did know, that he loved her.
Lady Fawn was gracious, the girls were hospitable, and he found himself made very welcome amidst all the women at the tea-table. Not a word was said about Lizzie Eustace. Lady Fawn talked about Parliament, and professed to pity a poor lover who was so bound to his country that he could not see his mistress above once a fortnight. “But there’ll be a good time coming next month,” she said; for it was now July. “Though the girls can’t make their claims felt, the grouse can.”
“It isn’t the House altogether that rules me with a rod of iron, Lady Fawn,” said Frank, “but the necessity of earning daily bread by the sweat of my brow. A man who has to sit in court all day must take the night—or, indeed, any time that he can get—to read up his cases.”
“But the grouse put a stop to all work,” said Lady Fawn. “My gardener told me just now that he wanted 219 a day or two in August. I don’t doubt but that he is going to the moors. Are you going to the moors, Mr. Greystock?”
As it happened, Frank Greystock did not quite know whether he was going to the moors or not. The Ayrshire grouse-shooting is not the best in Scotland; but there is grouse-shooting in Ayrshire; and the shooting on the Portray mountains is not the worst shooting in the county. The castle at Portray overhangs the sea, but there is a wild district attached to it stretching far back inland, in regard to which Lizzie Eustace was very proud of talking of “her shooting.” Early in the spring of the present year she had asked her cousin Frank to accept the shooting for the coming season, and he had accepted it. “I shall probably be abroad,” she said, “but there is the old castle.” She had offered it as though he had been her brother, and he had said that he would go down for a couple of weeks—not to the castle, but to a little lodge some miles up from the sea, of which she told him when he declined the castle. When this invitation was given there was no engagement between her and Lord Fawn. Since that date, within the last day or two, she had reminded him of it.
“Won’t his lordship be there?” he had said laughingly.
“Certainly not,” she had answered with serious earnestness. Then she had explained that her plan of going abroad had been set aside by circumstances. She did mean to go down to Portray. “I couldn’t have you at the castle,” she said smiling; “but even an Othello couldn’t object to a first cousin at a little cottage ever so many miles off.” It wasn’t for him to suggest what objections might rise to the brain of a 220 modern Othello; but after some hesitation he said that he would be there. He had promised the trip to a friend, and would like to keep his promise. But, nevertheless, he almost thought that he ought to avoid Portray. He intended to support his cousin as far as he might do so honestly; but he was not quite minded to stand by her through good report and evil report. He did not desire to be specially known as her champion, and yet he felt that that position would be almost forced upon him. He foresaw danger, and consequently he was doubting about his journey to Scotland.
“I hardly know whether I am or not,” said Frank, and he almost felt that he was blushing.
“I hope you are,” said Lucy. “When a man has to work all day and nearly all night, he should go where he may get fresh air.”
“There’s very good air without going to Scotland for it,” said Lady Fawn, who kept up an excellent house at Richmond, but who, with all her daughters, could not afford autumn trips. The Fawns lived at Fawn Court all the year round, and consequently Lady Fawn thought that air was to be found in England sufficiently good for all purposes of vitality and recreation.
“It’s not quite the same thing,” said Lucy; “at least, not for a man.”
After that she was allowed to escape into the grounds with her lover, and was made happy with half an hour of unalloyed bliss. To be alone with the girl to whom he is not engaged is a man’s delight; to be alone with the man to whom she engaged is the woman’s. When the thing is settled there is always present to the man something of a feeling of clipped wings; whereas the 221 woman is conscious of a new power of expanding her pinions. The certainty of the thing is to him repressive. He has done his work, and gained his victory, and by conquering has become a slave. To her the certainty of the thing is the removal of a restraint which has hitherto always been on her. She can tell him everything, and be told everything, whereas her previous confidences, made with those of her own sex, have been tame, and by comparison valueless. He has no new confidence to make, unless when he comes to tell her he likes his meat well done, and wants his breakfast to be punctual. Lucy now not only promised herself, but did actually realise a great joy. He seemed to be to her all that her heart desired. He was a man whose manner was naturally caressing and demonstrative, and she was to him, of all women, the sweetest, the dearest, the most perfect, and all his own. “But, Frank”—she had already been taught to call him Frank when they were alone together—“what will come of all this about Lizzie Eustace?”
“They will be married, of course.”
“Do you think so? I am sure Lady Fawn doesn’t think so.”
“What Lady Fawn thinks on such a matter cannot be helped. When a man asks a woman to marry him, and she accepts, the natural consequence is that they will be married. Don’t you think so?”
“I hope so, sometimes,” said Lucy, with her two hands joined upon his arm, and hanging to it with all her little weight.
“You really do hope it?” he said.
“Oh, I do; you know I do. Hope it! I should die if I didn’t hope it.”222
“Then why shouldn’t she?” He asked his question with a quick, sharp voice, and then turned upon her for an answer.
“I don’t know,” she said, very softly, and still clinging to him. “I sometimes think there is a difference in people.”
“There is a difference; but, still, we hardly judge of people sufficiently by our own feelings. As she accepted him, you may be sure that she wishes to marry him. She has more to give than he has.”
“And I have nothing to give,” she said.
“If I thought so, I’d go back even now,” he answered. “It is because you have so much to give—so much more than most others—that I have thought of you, dreamed of you as my wife, almost ever since I first knew you.”
“I have nothing left to give,” she said. “What I ever had is all given. People call it the heart. I think it is heart, and brain, and mind, and body, and almost soul. But, Frank, though Lizzie Eustace is your cousin, I don’t want to be likened to her. She is very clever, and beautiful, and has a way with her that I know is charming. But——”
“But what, Lucy?”
“I don’t think she cares so much as some people. I dare say she likes Lord Fawn very well, but I do not believe she loves him as I love you.”
“They’re engaged,” said Frank, “and the best thing they can do is to marry each other. I can tell you this at any rate,”—and his manner again became serious—“if Lord Fawn behaves ill to her, I, as her cousin, shall take her part.”
“You don’t mean that you’ll—fight him!”223
“No, my darling. Men don’t fight each other nowadays—not often, at least—and Fawn and I are not of the fighting sort. I can make him understand what I mean and what others will mean without fighting him. He is making a paltry excuse.”
“But why should he want to excuse himself—without reason?”
“Because he is afraid. People have got hold of him and told him lies, and he thinks there will be a scrape about this necklace, and he hates a scrape. He’ll marry her at last, without a doubt, and Lady Fawn is only making trouble for herself by trying to prevent it. You can’t do anything.”
“Oh no—I can’t do anything. When she was here it became at last quite disagreeable. She hardly spoke to them, and I’m sure that even the servants understood that there was a quarrel.” She did not say a word of Lizzie’s offer of the brooch to herself, nor of the stories which by degrees were reaching her ears as to the old debts, and the diamonds, and the young bride’s conduct to Lady Linlithgow as soon as she married her grand husband, Sir Florian. She did think badly of Lizzie, and could not but regret that her own noble, generous Frank should have to expend his time and labour on a friend unworthy of his friendship; but there was no shade of jealousy in her feeling, and she uttered no word against Lizzie more bitter than that in which she declared that there was a difference between people.
And then there was something said as to their own prospects in life. Lucy at once and with vehemence declared that she did not look for or expect an immediate marriage. She did not scruple to tell him that she knew well how difficult was the task before him, and 224 that it might be essential for his interest that he should remain as he was for a year or two. He was astonished to find how completely she understood his position, and how thoroughly she sympathised with his interests. “There is only one thing I couldn’t do for you,” she said.
“And what is the one thing?”
“I couldn’t give you up. I almost thought that I ought to refuse you because I can do nothing—nothing to help you. But there will always come a limit to self-denial. I couldn’t do that! Could I?”
The reader will know how this question was answered, and will not want to be told of the long, close, clinging, praiseworthy kiss with which the young barrister assured her that would have been on her part an act of self-denial which would to him have been absolutely ruinous. It was agreed, however, between them, that Lady Fawn should be told that they did not propose to marry till some time in the following year, and that she should be formally asked to allow Lucy to have a home at Fawn Court in the interval.225
Lord Fawn had promised, as he put Lizzie into her carriage, that he would come to her soon—but he did not come soon. A fortnight passed and he did not show himself. Nothing further had been done in the matter of the diamonds, except that Mr. Camperdown had written to Frank Greystock, explaining how impossible it was that the question of their possession should be referred to arbitration. According to him they belonged to the heir, as did the estate; and no one would have the power of accepting an arbitration respecting them—an arbitration which might separate them from the estate of which an infant was the owner for his life—any more than such arbitration could be accepted as to the property of the estate itself. “Possession is nine points of the law,” said Frank to himself, as he put the letter aside—thinking at the same time that possession in the hands of Lizzie Eustace included certainly every one of those nine points. Lizzie wore her diamonds again and then again. There may be a question whether the possession of the necklace and the publicity of its history—which, however, like many other histories, was most inaccurately told—did not add something to her reputation as a lady of fashion. In the mean time Lord Fawn did 226 not come to see her. So she wrote to him. “My dear Frederic: Had you not better come to me? Yours affectionately, L. I go to the North at the end of this month.”
But Frank Greystock did visit her, more than once. On the day after the above letter was written he came to her. It was on Sunday afternoon, when July was more than half over, and he found her alone. Miss Macnulty had gone to church, and Lizzie was lying listlessly on a sofa with a volume of poetry in her hand. She had, in truth, been reading the book, and in her way enjoying it. It told her the story of certain knights of old, who had gone forth in quest of a sign from heaven, which sign, if verily seen by them, might be taken to signify that they themselves were esteemed holy, and fit for heavenly joy. One would have thought that no theme could have been less palatable to such a one as Lizzie Eustace; but the melody of the lines had pleased her ear, and she was always able to arouse for herself a false enthusiasm on things which were utterly outside herself in life. She thought she too could have travelled in search of that holy sign, and have borne all things, and abandoned all things, and have persevered, and of a certainty have been rewarded. But as for giving up a string of diamonds, in common honesty, that was beyond her.
“I wonder whether men ever were like that?” she said, as she allowed her cousin to take the book from her hands.
“Let us hope not.”
“They were, no doubt, as fanatic and foolish as you please. If you will read to the end——”227
“I have read it all, every word of it,” said Lizzie, enthusiastically.
“Then you know that Arthur did not go on the search, because he had a job of work to do, by the doing of which the people around him might perhaps be somewhat benefited.”
“I like Launcelot better than Arthur,” said Lizzie.
“So did the Queen,” replied Frank.
“Your useful, practical man, who attends vestries and sits at boards, and measures out his gifts to others by the ounce, never has any heart. Has he, Frank?”
“I don’t know what heart means. I sometimes fancy that it is a talent for getting into debt, and running away with other men’s wives.”
“You say that on purpose to make me quarrel with you. You don’t run away with other men’s wives, and you have heart.”
“But I get into debt, unfortunately; and as for other men’s wives, I am not sure that I may not do even that some day. Has Lord Fawn been here?” She shook her head. “Or written?” Again she shook her head. As she did so the long curl waved and was very near to him, for he was sitting close to the sofa, and she had raised herself so that she might look into his face and speak to him almost in a whisper. “Something should be settled, Lizzie, before you leave town.”
“I wrote to him yesterday, one line, and desired him to come. I expected him here to-day, but you have come instead. Shall I say that I am disappointed?”
“No doubt you are so.”
“Oh, Frank, how vain you men are! You want 228 me to swear to you that I would sooner have you with me than him. You are not content with—thinking it, unless I tell you that it is so. You know that it is so. Though he is to be my husband—I suppose he will be my husband—his spirit is not congenial to mine, as is yours.”
“Had you not loved him you would not have accepted him.”
“What was I to do, Frank? What am I to do? Think how desolate I am, how unfriended, how much in want of some one whom I can call a protector! I cannot have you always with me. You care more for the little finger of that prim piece of propriety down at the old dowager’s than you do for me and all my sorrows.” This was true, but Frank did not say that it was true. “Lord Fawn is at any rate respectable. At least I thought he was so when I accepted his offer.”
“He is respectable enough.”
“Just that—isn’t it?—and nothing more. You do not blame me for saying that I would be his wife? If you do, I will unsay it, let it cost me what it may. He is treating me so badly that I need not go far for an excuse.” Then she looked into his face with all the eagerness of her gaze, clearly implying that she expected a serious answer. “Why do you not answer me, Frank?”
“What am I to say? He is a timid, cautious man. They have frightened him about this trumpery necklace, and he is behaving badly. But he will make a good husband. He is not a spendthrift. He has rank. All his people are respectable. As Lady Fawn any house in England will be open to you. He is not rich, but together you will be rich.”229
“What is all that without love?”
“I do not doubt his love. And when you are his own he will love you dearly.”
“Ah, yes; as he would a horse or a picture. Is there anything of the rapture of love in that? Is that your idea of love? Is it so you love your Miss Demure?”
“Don’t call names, Lizzie.”
“I shall say what I please of her. You and I are to be friends, and I may not speak? No; I will have no such friendship! She is demure. If you like it, what harm is there in my saying it? I am not demure. I know that. I do not, at least, pretend to be other than I am. When she becomes your wife, I wonder whether you will like her ways?” He had not yet told her that she was to be his wife, nor did he so tell her now. He thought for a moment that he had better tell her, but he did not do so. It would, he said to himself, add an embarrassment to his present position. And as the marriage was to be postponed for a year, it might be better, perhaps, for Lucy that it should not be declared openly. It was thus he argued with himself, but yet, no doubt, he knew well that he did not declare the truth because it would take away something of its sweetness from this friendship with his cousin Lizzie.
“If I ever do marry,” he said, “I hope I shall like my wife’s ways.”
“Of course you will not tell me anything. I do not expect confidence from you. I do not think a man is ever able to work himself up to the mark of true confidence with his friend. Men together, when they like each other, talk of politics, or perhaps of money; but 230 I doubt whether they ever really tell their thoughts and longings to each other.”
“Are women more communicative?”
“Yes; certainly. What is there I would not tell you if you cared to hear it? Every thought I have is open to you if you choose to read it. I have that feeling regarding you that I would keep nothing back from you. Oh, Frank, if you understood me, you could save me—I was going to say—from all unhappiness.”
She did it so well that he would have been more than man had he not believed some of it. She was sitting almost upright now, though her feet were still on the sofa, and was leaning over towards him, as though imploring him for his aid, and her eyes were full of tears, and her lips were apart as though still eager with the energy of expression, and her hands were clasped together. She was very lovely, very attractive, almost invincible. For such a one as Frank Greystock opposition to her in her present mood was impossible. There are men by whom a woman, if she have wit, beauty, and no conscience, cannot be withstood. Arms may be used against them, and a sort of battle waged, against which they can raise no shield—from which they can retire into no fortress—in which they can parry no blow. A man so weak and so attacked may sometimes run; but even the poor chance of running is often cut off from him. How unlike she was to Lucy! He believed her—in part; and yet that was the idea that occurred to him. When Lucy was much in earnest, in her eye, too, a tear would sparkle, the smallest drop, a bright liquid diamond that never fell; and all her face would be bright and eloquent with feeling; but how unlike were the two! 231 He knew that the difference was that between truth and falsehood; and yet he partly believed the falsehood. “If I knew how to save you from an hour’s uneasiness, I would do it,” he said.
“No—no—no!” she murmured.
“Would I not? You do not know me then.” He had nothing further to say, and it suited her to remain silent for the moment, while she dried her eyes and recovered her composure, and prepared herself to carry on the battle with a smile. She would carry on the battle, using every wile she knew, straining every nerve to be victorious, encountering any and all dangers, and yet she had no definite aim before her. She herself did not know what she would be at. At this period of her career she did not want to marry her cousin—having resolved that she would be Lady Fawn. Nor did she intend that her cousin should be her lover—in the ordinary sense of love. She was far too wary in the pursuit of the world’s goods to sacrifice herself to any such wish as that. She did want him to help her about the diamonds; but such help as that she might have, as she knew well, on much easier terms. There was probably an anxiety in her bosom to cause him to be untrue to Lucy Morris; but the guiding motive of her conduct was the desire to make things seem to be other than they were. To be always acting a part rather than living her own life was to her everything. “After all we must come to facts,” he said, after a while. “I suppose it will be better that you should marry Lord Fawn.”
“If you wish it.”
“Nay; I cannot have that said. In this matter you must rule yourself by your own judgment. If you are 232 averse to it——” She shook her head. “Then you will own that it had better be so.” Again she shook her head. “Lizzie, for your sake and my own, I must declare that if you have no opinion in this matter, neither will I have any. You shall never have to say that I pressed you into this marriage or debarred you from marrying. I could not bear such an accusation.”
“But you might tell me what I ought to do.”
“No; certainly not.”
“Think how young I am, and—by comparison—how old you are. You are eight years older than I am. Remember, after all that I have gone through, I am but twenty-two. At my age other girls have their friends to tell them. I have no one, unless you will tell me.”
“You have accepted him?”
“I suppose he is not altogether indifferent to you?”
She paused, and again shook her head. “Indeed I do not know. If you mean, do I love him, as I could love some man whose heart was quite congenial to my own, certainly I do not.” She continued to shake her head very sadly. “I esteemed him—when he asked me.”
“Say at once that, having made up your mind, you will go through with it.”
“You think that I ought?”
“You think so—yourself.”
“So be it, Frank. I will. But, Frank, I will not give up my property. You do not wish me to do that. It would be weak now—would it not? I am sure that it is my own.”
“His faith to you should not depend on that.”233
“No, of course not; that is just what I mean. He can have no right to interfere. When he asked me to be his wife, he said nothing about that. But if he does not come to me, what shall I do?”
“I suppose I had better see him,” said Frank slowly.
“Will you? That will be so good of you. I feel that I can leave it all safely in your hands. I shall go out of town, you know, on the 30th. I feel that I be better away, and I am sick of all the noise, and glitter, and worldliness of London. You will come on the 12th?”
“Not quite so soon as that,” he said, after a pause.
“But you will come?”
“Yes; about the 20th.”
“And of course, I shall see you?”
“So that I may have some one to guide me that I can trust. I have no brother, Frank; do you ever think of that?” She put out her hand to him, and he clasped it, and held it tight in his own; and then, after a while, he pulled her towards him. In a moment she was on the ground, kneeling at his feet, and his arm was round her shoulder, and his hand was on her back, and he was embracing her. Her face was turned up to him, and he pressed his lips upon her forehead. “As my brother,” she said, stretching back her head and looking up into his face.
“Yes; as your brother.”
They were sitting, or rather acting their little play together, in the back drawing-room, and the ordinary entrance to the two rooms was from the landing-place into the larger apartment; of which fact Lizzie was 234 probably aware, when she permitted herself to fall into a position as to which a moment or two might be wanted for recovery. When, therefore, the servant in livery opened the door, which he did as Frank thought somewhat suddenly, she was able to be standing on her legs before she was caught. The quickness with which she sprung from her position, and the facility with which she composed not her face only, but the loose lock of her hair and all her person, for the reception of the coming visitor, was quite marvellous. About her there was none of the look of having been found out, which is so very disagreeable to the wearer of it; whereas Frank, when Lord Fawn was announced, was aware that his manner was awkward, and his general appearance flurried. Lizzie was no more flurried than if she had stepped that moment from out of the hands of her tirewoman. She greeted Lord Fawn very prettily, holding him by the hand long enough to show that she had more claim to do so than could any other woman, and then she just murmured her cousin’s name. The two men shook hands, and looked at each other as men who know they are not friends, and think that they may live to be enemies. Lord Fawn, who rarely forgot anything, had certainly not forgotten the Sawab; and Frank was aware that he might soon be called on to address his lordship in anything but friendly terms. They said, however, a few words about Parliament and the weather, and the desirability of escaping from London.
“Frank,” said Lady Eustace, “is coming down in August to shoot my three annual grouse at Portray. He would keep one for you, my lord, if he thought you would come for it.”235
“I’ll promise Lord Fawn a fair third at any rate,” said Frank.
“I cannot visit Portray this August, I’m afraid,” said his lordship, “much as I might wish to do so. One of us must remain at the India Office——”
“Oh, that weary India Office!” exclaimed Lizzie.
“I almost think that you official men are worse off than we barristers,” said Frank. “Well, Lizzie, good-by. I dare say I shall see you again before you start.”
“Of course you will,” said Lizzie. And then the two lovers were left together. They had met once, at Lady Glencora’s ball, since the quarrel at Fawn Court, and there, as though by mutual forbearance, had not alluded to their troubles. Now he had come especially to speak of the matter that concerned them both so deeply. As long as Frank Greystock was in the room his work was comparatively easy, but he had known beforehand that he would not find it all easy should he be left alone with her. Lizzie began. “My lord,” she said, “considering all that has passed between us you have been a truant.”
“Yes; I admit it—but——”
“With me, my lord, a fault admitted is a fault forgiven.” Then she took her old seat on the sofa, and he placed himself on the chair which Frank Greystock had occupied. He had not intended to own a fault, and certainly not to accept forgiveness; but she had been too quick for him; and now he could not find words by which to express himself. “In truth,” she continued, “I would always rather remember one kindness than a dozen omissions on the part of a friend.”
“Lady Eustace, I have not willingly omitted anything.”236
“So be it. I will not give you the slightest excuse for saying that you have heard a reproach from me. You have come at last, and you are welcome. Is that enough for you?”
He had much to say to her about the diamonds, and when he was entering the room he had not a word to say to her about anything else. Since that another subject had sprung up before him. Whether he was or was not to regard himself as being at this moment engaged to marry Lady Eustace, was a matter to him of much doubt; but of this he was sure, that if she were engaged to him as his wife, she ought not to be entertaining her cousin Frank Greystock down at Portray Castle unless she had some old lady, not only respectable in life but high in rank also, to see that everything was right. It was almost an insult to him that such a visit should have been arranged without his sanction or cognisance. Of course, if he were bound by no engagement—and he had been persuaded by his mother and sister to wish that he were not bound—then the matter would be no affair of his. If, however, the diamonds were abandoned, then the engagement was to be continued: and in that case it was out of the question that his elected bride should entertain another young man, even though she was a widow and the young man was her cousin. Of course he should have spoken of the diamonds first; but the other matter had obtruded itself upon him, and he was puzzled. “Is Mr. Greystock to accompany you into Scotland?” he asked.
“Oh dear, no. I go on the 30th of this month. I hardly know when he means to be there.”
“He follows you to Portray?”237
“Yes; he follows me of course. ‘The king himself has followed her, when she has gone before.’” Lord Fawn did not remember the quotation, and was more puzzled than ever. “Frank will follow me, just as the other shooting men will follow me.”
“He goes direct to Portray Castle?”
“Neither directly nor indirectly. Just at present, Lord Fawn, I am in no mood to entertain guests—not even one that I love so well as my cousin Frank. The Portray mountains are somewhat extensive, and at the back of them there is a little shooting-lodge.”
“Oh, indeed,” said Lord Fawn, feeling that he had better dash at once at the diamonds.
“If you, my lord, could manage to join us for a day, my cousin and his friend would, I am sure, come over to the castle, so that you should not suffer from being left alone with me and Miss Macnulty.”
“At present it is impossible,” said Lord Fawn; and then he paused. “Lady Eustace, the position in which you and I stand to each other is one not altogether free from trouble.”
“You cannot say that it is of my making,” she said with a smile. “You once asked—what men think a favour from me—and I granted it, perhaps too easily.”
“I know how greatly I am indebted to your goodness, Lady Eustace——” And then again he paused.
“I trust you will believe that nothing can be further from me than that you should be harassed by any conduct of mine.”
“I am harassed, my lord.”
“And so am I. I have learned that you are in possession 238 of certain jewels which I cannot allow to be held by my wife.”
“I am not your wife, Lord Fawn.” As she said this she rose from her reclining posture and sat erect.
“That is true. You are not. But you said you would be.”
“Go on, sir.”
“It was the pride of my life to think that I had attained to so much happiness. Then came this matter of the diamonds.”
“What business have you with my diamonds more than any other man?”
“Simply that I am told that they are not yours.”
“Who tells you so?”
“Various people. Mr. Camperdown.”
“If you, my lord, intend to take an attorney’s word against mine, and that on a matter as to which no one but myself can know the truth, then you are not fit to be my husband. The diamonds are my own, and should you and I become man and wife, they must remain so by special settlement. While I choose to keep them they will be mine, to do with them as I please. It will be my pleasure, when my boy marries, to hang them round his bride’s neck.” She carried herself well, and spoke her words with dignity.
“What I have got to say is this,” began Lord Fawn. “I must consider our engagement as at an end unless you will give them up to Mr. Camperdown.”
“I will not give them up to Mr. Camperdown.”
“And I make bold to tell you, Lord Fawn, that you are not behaving to me like a man of honour. I shall now leave the matter in the hands of my cousin, Mr. 239 Greystock.” Then she sailed out of the room, and Lord Fawn was driven to escape from the house as he might. He stood about the room for five minutes with his hat in his hand, and then walked down and let himself out of the front door.240
The 30th of July came round, and Lizzie was prepared for her journey down to Scotland. She was to be accompanied by Miss Macnulty and her own maid and her own servants, and to travel of course like a grand lady. She had not seen Lord Fawn since the meeting recorded in the last chapter, but had seen her cousin Frank nearly every other day. He, after much consideration, had written a long letter to Lord Fawn, in which he had given that nobleman to understand that some explanation was required as to conduct which Frank described as being to him “at present unintelligible.” He then went at considerable length into the matter of the diamonds, with the object of proving that Lord Fawn could have no possible right to interfere in the matter. And though he had from the first wished that Lizzie would give up the trinket, he made various points in her favour. Not only had they been given to his cousin by her late husband; but even had they not been so given, they would have been hers by will. Sir Florian had left her everything that was within the walls of Portray Castle, and the diamonds had been at Portray at the time of Sir Florian’s death. Such was Frank’s statement—untrue indeed, but believed by him to be true. This was one of Lizzie’s lies, forged as soon as she understood that some subsidiary claim 241 might be made upon them on the ground that they formed a portion of property left by will away from her; some claim subsidiary to the grand claim, that the necklace was a family heirloom. Lord Fawn was not in the least shaken in his conviction that Lizzie had behaved, and was behaving badly, and that, therefore, he had better get rid of her; but he knew that he must be very wary in the reasons he would give for jilting her. He wrote, therefore, a very short note to Greystock, promising that any explanation needed should be given as soon as circumstances should admit of his forming a decision. In the mean time the 30th of July came, and Lady Eustace was ready for her journey.
There is, or there was, a train leaving London for Carlisle at eleven A.M., by which Lizzie purposed to travel, so that she might sleep in that city and go on through Dumfries to Portray the next morning. This was her scheme; but there was another part of her scheme as to which she had felt much doubt. Should she leave the diamonds, or should she take them with her? The iron box in which they were kept was small; and so far portable that a strong man might carry it without much trouble. Indeed, Lizzie could move it from one part of the room to the other, and she had often done so. But it was so heavy that it could not be taken with her without attracting attention. The servant would know what it was, and the porter would know, and Miss Macnulty would know. That her own maid should know was a matter of course; but even to her own maid the journey of the jewels would be remarkable because of the weight of the box, whereas if they went with her other jewels in her dressing-case, there would be nothing remarkable. 242 She might even have taken them in her pocket, had she dared. But she did not dare. Though she was intelligent and courageous, she was wonderfully ignorant as to what might and what might not be done for the recovery of the necklace by Mr. Camperdown. She did not dare to take them without the iron box, and at last she decided that the box should go. At a little after ten, her own carriage—the job-carriage, which was now about to perform its last journey in her service—was at the door, and a cab was there for the servants. The luggage was brought down, and with the larger boxes was brought the iron case with the necklace. The servant, certainly making more of the weight than he need have done, deposited it as a foot-stool for Lizzie, who then seated herself, and was followed by Miss Macnulty. She would have it placed in the same way beneath her feet in the railway carriage, and again brought into her room at the Carlisle Hotel. What though the porter did know! There was nothing illegal in travelling about with a heavy iron box full of diamonds, and the risk would be less this way, she thought, than were she to leave them behind her in London. The house in Mount street, which she had taken for the season, was to be given up; and whom could she trust in London? Her very bankers, she feared, would have betrayed her, and given up her treasure to Mr. Camperdown. As for Messrs. Harter & Benjamin, she felt sure that they would be bribed by Mr. Camperdown. She once thought of asking her cousin to take the charge of them, but she could not bring herself to let them out of her own hands. Ten thousand pounds! If she could only sell them and get the money, from what a world of trouble would she be 243 relieved. And the sale, for another reason, would have been convenient; for Lady Eustace was already a little in debt. But she could not sell them, and therefore when she got into the carriage there was the box under her feet.
At that very moment who should appear on the pavement, standing between the carriage and the house-door, but Mr. Camperdown? And with Mr. Camperdown there was another man—a very suspicious-looking man, whom Lizzie at once took to be a detective officer of police. “Lady Eustace!” said Mr. Camperdown, taking off his hat. Lizzie bowed across Miss Macnulty, and endeavoured to restrain the telltale blood from flying to her cheeks. “I believe,” said Mr. Camperdown, “that you are now starting for Scotland.”
“We are, Mr. Camperdown; and we are very late.”
“Could you allow me two minutes’ conversation with you in the house?”
“Oh dear, no. We are late, I tell you. What a time you have chosen for coming, Mr. Camperdown!”
“It is an awkward hour, Lady Eustace. I only heard this morning that you were going so soon, and it is imperative that I should see you.”
“Had you not better write, Mr. Camperdown?”
“You will never answer my letters, Madame.”
“I—I—I really cannot see you now. William, the coachman must drive on. We cannot allow ourselves to lose the train. I am really very sorry, Mr. Camperdown, but we must not lose the train.”
“Lady Eustace,” said Mr. Camperdown, putting his hand on the carriage-door, and so demeaning himself that the coachman did not dare to drive on, “I must 244 ask you a question.” He spoke in a low voice, but he was speaking across Miss Macnulty. That lady, therefore, heard him, and so did William, the servant, who was standing close to the door. “I must insist on knowing where are the Eustace diamonds.” Lizzie felt the box beneath her feet, and, without showing that she did so, somewhat widened her drapery.
“I can tell you nothing now. William, make the coachman drive on.”
“If you will not answer me, I must tell you that I shall be driven in the execution of my duty to obtain a search-warrant, in order that they may be placed in proper custody. They are not your property, and must be taken out of your hands.”
Lizzie looked at the suspicious man with a frightened gaze. The suspicious man was, in fact, a very respectable clerk in Mr. Camperdown’s employment, but Lizzie for a moment felt that the search was about to begin at once. She had hardly understood the threat, and thought that the attorney was already armed with the powers of which he spoke. She glanced for a moment at Miss Macnulty, and then at the servant. Would they betray her? If they chose to use force to her, the box certainly might be taken from her. “I know I shall lose the train,” she said. “I know I shall. I must insist that you let my servant drive on.” There was now a little crowd of a dozen persons on the pavement, and there was nothing to cover her diamonds but the skirt of her travelling-dress.
“Are they in this house, Lady Eustace?”
“Why doesn’t he go on?” shouted Lizzie. “You have no right, sir, to stop me. I won’t be stopped.”
“Or have you got them with you?”245
“I shall answer no questions. You have no right to treat me in this way.”
“Then I shall be forced, on behalf of the family, to obtain a search-warrant, both here and in Ayrshire, and proceedings will be taken also against your ladyship personally.” So saying, Mr. Camperdown withdrew, and at last the carriage was driven on.
As it happened, there was time enough for catching the train, and to spare. The whole affair in Mount street had taken less than ten minutes. But the effect upon Lizzie was very severe. For a while she could not speak, and at last she burst out into hysteric tears—not a sham fit, but a true convulsive agony of sobbing. All the world of Mount street, including her own servants, had heard the accusation against her. During the whole morning she had been wishing that she had never seen the diamonds; but now it was almost impossible that she should part with them. And yet they were like a load upon her chest, a load as heavy as though she was compelled to sit with the iron box on her lap day and night. In her sobbing she felt the thing under her feet and knew that she could not get rid of it. She hated the box, and yet she must cling to it now. She was thoroughly ashamed of the box, and yet she must seem to take a pride in it. She was horribly afraid of the box, and yet she must keep it in her own very bedroom. And what should she say about the box now to Miss Macnulty, who sat by her side, stiff and scornful, offering her smelling-bottles, but not offering her sympathy? “My dear,” she at said last, “that horrid man has quite upset me.”
“I don’t wonder that you should be upset,” said Miss Macnulty.246
“And so unjust, too—so false—so—so—so—— They are my own as much as that umbrella is yours, Miss Macnulty.”
“I don’t know,” said Miss Macnulty.
“But I tell you,” said Lizzie.
“What I mean is, that it is such a pity there should be a doubt.”
“There is no doubt,” said Lizzie; “how dare you say there is a doubt? My cousin, Mr. Greystock, says that there is not the slightest doubt. He is a barrister, and must know better than an attorney like that Mr. Camperdown.” By this time they were at the Euston Square station, and then there was more trouble with the box. The footman struggled with it into the waiting-room, and the porter struggled with it from the waiting-room to the carriage. Lizzie could not but look at the porter as he carried it, and she felt sure that the man had been told of its contents and was struggling with the express view of adding to her annoyance. The same thing happened at Carlisle, where the box was carried up into Lizzie’s bedroom by the footman, and where she was convinced that her treasure had become the subject of conversation for the whole house. In the morning people looked at her as she walked down the long platform with the box still struggling before her. She almost wished that she had undertaken its carriage herself, as she thought that even she could have managed with less outward show of effort. Her own servants seemed to be in league against her, and Miss Macnulty had never before been so generally unpleasant. Poor Miss Macnulty, who had a conscientious idea of doing her duty, and who always attempted to give an adequate return for the bread she 247 ate, could not so far overcome the effect of Mr. Camperdown’s visit as to speak on any subject without being stiff and hard. And she suffered, too, from the box, to such a degree that she turned over in her mind the thought of leaving Lizzie if any other possible home might be found for her. Who would willingly live with a woman who always travelled about with a diamond necklace worth ten thousand pounds, locked up in an iron safe—and that necklace not her own property?
But at last Lady Eustace, and Miss Macnulty, and the servants—and the iron box—reached Portray Castle in safety.
“A man may be a great deal at his office, and a great deal more at the House than Lord Fawn . . . and yet think about his wife, my dear.”
[Funny, I thought Mme. Goesler meant it the other way around: Lord Fawn is never at home, so his wife never needs to think about him.]
“Poor Lord Fawn!” exclaimed Lady Chiltern. “It really seems as though he never would be settled.”
[I haven’t read any of the (surprisingly many) other books in which Lord Fawn appears. But I learn from the Trollope Society that all three of the women present at this conversation might conceivably have become Lady Fawn. The same source, incidentally, reveals that his exact rank is Viscount—something the present book never bothers to mention, so I’d assumed he was a lowly Baron.]
The only doubt might be whether paste diamonds might not better suit her character.
predicted with some assurance of accuracy by any one knowing the man or woman
text has by / by at line break
his intended acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds
[It is not long since I looked this up in connection with a similar mention in Doctor Victoria, there concerning an MP who was simply getting old and tired. Under a law dating back to 1624, Members of Parliament are not allowed to resign their seats. Instead, according to the horse’s mouth:
Death, disqualification and expulsion are the only means by which a Member’s seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a Parliament. There are two such offices that are used for disqualification: Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds and of the Manor of Northstead.
It was generous of the lawmakers to allow an MP’s term to end prematurely if he happens to die.]
to be alone with the man to whom she is engaged
text has to whom she engaged
[Corrected from Fortnightly Review.]
his manner again became serious—“if Lord Fawn behaves ill to her
text has seriousM“if
[Really. How a capital M fell into the em-dash bin is a matter for the typesetter to explain.]
“Ah, yes; as he would a horse or a picture.
[Today I learned . . . that
He will hold thee, when his passion
shall have spent its novel force,
Something better than his dog,
a little dearer than his horse.
is not, as I had always thought, a bit of doggerel by someone nobody has heard of. It is from Tennyson, “Locksley Hall”—published 1842, in plenty of time for Trollope to have read it. Oops.]
Is it so you love your Miss Demure?” / “Don’t call names, Lizzie.”
[Chapter by chapter the similarities pile up.]
I feel that I shall be better away
final l in “shall” invisible at line-end
‘The king himself has followed her, when she has gone before.’” Lord Fawn did not remember the quotation
[That makes two of us. It’s a paraphrase, whether intentional or otherwise: “The King himself has followed her / When she has walked before” from An Elegy on the Glory of Her Sex, Mrs. Mary Blaize by Oliver Goldsmith. I really ought to remember that, since it’s one of my three-hundred-odd titles from Project Gutenberg.]
The diamonds are my own, and . . . must remain so by special settlement.
[I espy an escape clause for Lord Fawn. His attorneys could easily draw up a settlement that says he makes no claim on the diamonds—while carefully not taking any position on the question of who does own them.]
Sir Florian had left her everything that was within the walls of Portray Castle, and the diamonds had been at Portray at the time of Sir Florian’s death.
[I really, really doubt this interpretation would stand up in court. “Everything within the walls” means furniture and paintings and kitchen utensils . . . not random chattel property that just happens to be physically located in Portray Castle at the moment of the testator’s death.]
deposited it as a foot-stool for Lizzie
[Or, if you prefer, “footstool” without hyphen. Volume II offers one of each at mid-line. (Fortnightly Review is no help, as it coincidentally also has a line break at this point.)]
so demeaning himself that the coachman did not dare to drive on
[A quick visit to the OED confirms that the word has a wide range of earlier meanings, letting the sentence be read as “put on such a demeanor”.]
go on through Dumfries to Portray
[Looking it up, I was amused or perhaps bemused to see that the road from Carlisle to Dumfries—they are not far apart—passes through Gretna Green. Useful, that.]
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.