Mr. Thomas Dove, familiarly known among clubmen, attorneys’ clerks, and, perhaps, even among judges when very far from their seats of judgment, as Turtle Dove, was a counsel learned in the law. He was a counsel so learned in the law, that there was no question within the limits of an attorney’s capability of putting to him that he could not answer with the aid of his books. And when he had once given an opinion, all Westminster could not move him from it—nor could Chancery Lane and Lincoln’s Inn and the Temple added to Westminster. When Mr. Dove had once been positive, no man on earth was more positive. It behooved him, therefore, to be right when he was positive; and though, whether wrong or right, he was equally stubborn, it must be acknowledged that he was seldom proved to be wrong. Consequently the attorneys believed in him, and he prospered. He was a thin man, over fifty years of age, very full of scorn and wrath, impatient of a fool, and thinking most men to be fools; afraid of nothing on earth—and, so his enemies said, of nothing elsewhere; eaten up by conceit; fond of law, but fonder, perhaps, of dominion; soft as milk to those who acknowledged his power, but a tyrant to all who contested it; conscientious, thoughtful, sarcastic, bright-witted, and laborious. He was a 296 man who never spared himself. If he had a case in hand, though the interest to himself in it was almost nothing, he would rob himself of rest for a week, should a point arise which required such labour. It was the theory of Mr. Dove’s life that he would never be beaten. Perhaps it was some fear in this respect that had kept him from Parliament and confined him to the courts and the company of attorneys. He was, in truth, a married man with a family; but they who knew him as the terror of opponents and as the divulger of legal opinions heard nothing of his wife and children. He kept all such matters quite to himself, and was not given to much social intercourse with those among whom his work lay. Out at Streatham, where he lived, Mrs. Dove probably had her circle of acquaintance; but Mr. Dove’s domestic life and his forensic life were kept quite separate.
At the present moment Mr. Dove is interesting to us solely as being the learned counsel in whom Mr. Camperdown trusted—to whom Mr. Camperdown was willing to trust for an opinion in so grave a matter as that of the Eustace diamonds. A case was made out and submitted to Mr. Dove immediately after that scene on the pavement in Mount street, at which Mr. Camperdown had endeavoured to induce Lizzie to give up the necklace; and the following is the opinion which Mr. Dove gave:
“There is much error about heirlooms. Many think that any chattel may be made an heirloom by any owner of it. This is not the case. The law, however, does recognise heirlooms; as to which the Exors. or Admors. are excluded in favour of the successor; and when there are such heirlooms they go to the heir by 297 special custom. Any devise of an heirloom is necessarily void, for the will takes place after death, and the heirloom is already vested in the heir by custom. We have it from Littleton that law prefers custom to devise.
“Brooke says that the best thing of every sort may be an heirloom—such as the best bed, the best table, the best pot or pan.
“Coke says that heirlooms are so by custom, and not by law.
“Spelman says, in defining an heirloom, that it may be ‘Omne utensil robustius;’ which would exclude a necklace.
“In the ‘Termes de Ley,’ it is defined as, ‘Ascun parcel des utensils.’
“We are told in ‘Coke upon Littleton’ that crown jewels are heirlooms, which decision—as far as it goes—denies the right to other jewels.
“Certain chattels may undoubtedly be held and claimed as being in the nature of heirlooms—as swords, pennons of honour, garter and collar of S. S. See case of the Earl of Northumberland; and that of the Pusey horn—Pusey v. Pusey. The journals of the House of Lords, delivered officially to peers, may be so claimed. See Upton v. Lord Ferrers.
“A devisor may clearly devise or limit the possession of chattels, making them inalienable by devisees in succession. But in such cases they will become the absolute possession of the first person seized in tail, even though an infant, and in case of death without will would go to the Exors. Such arrangement, therefore, can only hold good for lives in existence and for 21 years afterwards. Chattels so secured would not be 298 heirlooms. See Carr v. Lord Erroll, 14 Vesey, and Rowland v. Morgan.
“Lord Eldon remarks that such chattels held in families are ‘rather favourites of the court.’ This was in the Ormonde case. Executors, therefore, even when setting aside any claim as for heirlooms, ought not to apply such property in payment of debts unless obliged.
“The law allows of claims for paraphernalia for widows, and, having adjusted such claims, seems to show that the claim may be limited.
“If a man deliver cloth to his wife, and die, she shall have it, though she had not fashioned it into the garment intended.
“Pearls and jewels, even though only worn on state occasions, may go to the widow as paraphernalia, but with a limit. In the case of Lady Douglas, she being the daughter of an Irish Earl and widow of the King’s Sergeant (temp. Car. I.), it was held that £370 was not too much, and she was allowed a diamond and a pearl chain to that value.
“In 1674 Lord Keeper Finch declared that he would never allow paraphernalia, except to the widow of a nobleman.
“But in 1721 Lord Macclesfield gave Mistress Tipping paraphernalia to the value of £200—whether so persuaded by law and precedent, or otherwise, may be uncertain.
“Lord Talbot allowed a gold watch as paraphernalia.
“Lord Hardwicke went much further, and decided that Mrs. Northey was entitled to wear jewels to the value of £3,000, saying that value made no difference; but seems to have limited the nature of her possession 299 in the jewels by declaring her to be entitled to wear them only when full-dressed.
“It is, I think, clear that the Eustace estate cannot claim the jewels as an heirloom. They are last mentioned, and, so far as I know, only mentioned as an heirloom in the will of the great-grandfather of the present baronet, if these be the diamonds then named by him. As such he could not have devised them to the present claimant, as he died in 1820, and the present claimant is not yet two years old.
“Whether the widow could claim them as paraphernalia is more doubtful. I do not know that Lord Hardwicke’s ruling would decide the case; but if so, she would, I think, be debarred from selling, as he limits the use of jewels of lesser value than these to the wearing of them when full-dressed. The use being limited, possession with power of alienation cannot be intended.
“The lady’s claim to them as a gift from her husband amounts to nothing. If they are not hers by will, and it seems that they are not so, she can only hold them as paraphernalia belonging to her station.
“I presume it to be capable of proof that the diamonds were not in Scotland when Sir Florian made his will or when he died. The former fact might be used as tending to show his intention when the will was made. I understand that he did leave to his widow by will all the chattels in Portray Castle. J. D.
“15 August, 18—.”
When Mr. Camperdown had thrice read this opinion, he sat in his chair an unhappy old man. It was undoubtedly the case that he had been a lawyer for upward of forty years, and had always believed that any 300 gentleman could make any article of value an heirloom in his family. The title-deeds of vast estates had been confided to his keeping, and he had had much to do with property of every kind; and now he was told that in reference to property of a certain description—property which by its nature could only belong to such as they who were his clients—he had been long without any knowledge whatsoever. He had called this necklace an heirloom to John Eustace above a score of times; and now he was told by Mr. Dove not only that the necklace was not an heirloom, but that it couldn’t have been an heirloom. He was a man who trusted much in a barrister, as was natural with an attorney; but he was now almost inclined to doubt Mr. Dove. And he was hardly more at ease in regard to the other clauses of the opinion. Not only could not the estate claim the necklace as an heirloom, but that greedy siren, that heartless snake, that harpy of a widow—for it was thus that Mr. Camperdown in his solitude spoke to himself of poor Lizzie, perhaps throwing in a harder word or two—that female swindler could claim it as—paraphernalia!
There was a crumb of comfort for him in the thought that he could force her to claim that privilege from a decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench, and that her greed would be exposed should she do so. And she could be prevented from selling the diamonds. Mr. Dove seemed to make that quite clear. But then there came that other question as to the inheritance of the property under the husband’s will. That Sir Florian had not intended that she should inherit the necklace, Mr. Camperdown was quite certain. On that point he suffered no doubt. But would he be able to prove 301 that the diamonds had never been in Scotland since Sir Florian’s marriage? He had traced their history from that date with all the diligence he could use, and he thought that he knew it. But it might be doubtful whether he could prove it. Lady Eustace had first stated—had so stated before she had learned the importance of any other statement—that Sir Florian had given her the diamonds in London as they passed through London from Scotland to Italy, and that she had carried them thence to Naples, where Sir Florian had died. If this were so, they could not have been at Portray Castle till she took them there as a widow, and they would undoubtedly be regarded as a portion of that property which Sir Florian habitually kept in London. That this was so Mr. Camperdown entertained no doubt. But now the widow alleged that Sir Florian had given the necklace to her in Scotland, whither they had gone immediately after their marriage, and that she herself had brought them up to London. They had been married on the 5th of September; and by the jewellers’ books it was hard to tell whether the trinket had been given up to Sir Florian on the 4th or 24th of September. On the 24th Sir Florian and his young bride had undoubtedly been in London. Mr. Camperdown anathematised the carelessness of everybody connected with Messrs. Garnett’s establishment. “Those sort of people have no more idea of accuracy than—than—;” than he had had of heirlooms, his conscience whispered to him, filling up the blank.
Nevertheless he thought he could prove that the necklace was first put into Lizzie’s hands in London. The middle-aged and very discreet man at Messrs. 302 Garnett’s, who had given up the jewel-case to Sir Florian, was sure that he had known Sir Florian to be a married man when he did so. The lady’s maid who had been in Scotland with Lady Eustace, and who was now living in Turin, having married a courier, had given evidence before an Italian man of law, stating that she had never seen the necklace till she came to London. There were, moreover, the probabilities of the case. Was it likely that Sir Florian should take such a thing down in his pocket to Scotland? And there was the statement as first made by Lady Eustace herself to her cousin Frank, repeated by him to John Eustace, and not to be denied by any one. It was all very well for her now to say that she had forgotten; but would any one believe that on such a subject she could forget?
But still the whole thing was very uncomfortable. Mr. Dove’s opinion, if seen by Lady Eustace and her friends, would rather fortify them than frighten them. Were she once to get hold of that word paraphernalia, it would be as a tower of strength to her. Mr. Camperdown specially felt this, that whereas he had hitherto believed that no respectable attorney would take up such a case as that of Lady Eustace, he could not now but confess to himself that any lawyer seeing Mr. Dove’s opinion would be justified in taking it up. And yet he was as certain as ever that the woman was robbing the estate which it was his duty to guard, and that should he cease to be active in the matter the necklace would be broken up and the property sold and scattered before a year was out, and then the woman would have got the better of him! “She shall find that we have not done with her yet,” he said to himself, as he wrote a line to John Eustace.303
But John Eustace was out of town, as a matter of course; and on the next day Mr. Camperdown himself went down and joined his wife and family at a little cottage which he had at Dawlish. The necklace, however, interfered much with his holiday.304
Frank Greystock certainly went over to Portray too often—so often that the pony was proved to be quite necessary. Miss Macnulty held her tongue and was gloomy, believing that Lady Eustace was still engaged to Lord Fawn, and feeling that in that case there should not be so many visits to the rocks. Mr. Gowran was very attentive, and could tell on any day, to five minutes, how long the two cousins were sitting together on the seashore. Arthur Herriot, who cared nothing for Lady Eustace, but who knew that his friend had promised to marry Lucy Morris, was inclined to be serious on the subject; but—as is always the case with men—was not willing to speak about it.
Once, and once only, the two men dined together at the castle, for the doing of which it was necessary that a gig should be hired all the way from Prestwick. Herriot had not been anxious to go over, alleging various excuses—the absence of dress clothes, the calls of Stone and Toddy, his bashfulness, and the absurdity of paying fifteen shillings for a gig. But he went at last, constrained by his friend, and a very dull evening he passed. Lizzie was quite unlike her usual self, was silent, grave, and solemnly courteous; Miss Macnulty had not a word to say for herself; and even Frank was 305 dull. Arthur Herriot had not tried to exert himself, and the dinner had been a failure.
“You don’t think much of my cousin, I dare say,” said Frank, as they were driving back.
“She is a very pretty woman.”
“And I should say that she does not think much of you.”
“Why on earth wouldn’t you speak to her? I went on making speeches to Miss Macnulty on purpose to give you a chance. Lizzie generally talks about as well as any young woman I know; but you had not a word to say to her, nor she to you.”
“Because you devoted yourself to Miss Mac——whatever her name is.”
“That’s nonsense,” said Frank; “Lizzie and I are more like brother and sister than anything else. She has no one else belonging to her, and she has to come to me for advice, and all that sort of thing. I wanted you to like her.”
“I never like people and people never like me. There is an old saying that you should know a man seven years before you poke his fire. I want to know persons seven years before I can ask them how they do. To take me out to dine in this way was of all things the most hopeless.”
“But you do dine out in London.”
“That’s different. There’s a certain routine of conversation going, and one falls into it. At such affairs as that this evening one has to be intimate or it is a bore. I don’t mean to say anything against Lady Eustace. Her beauty is undeniable, and I don’t doubt her cleverness.”306
“She is sometimes too clever,” said Frank.
“I hope she is not becoming too clever for you. You’ve got to remember that you’re due elsewhere; eh, old fellow?” This was the first word that Herriot had said on the subject, and to that word Frank Greystock made no answer. But it had its effect, as also did the gloomy looks of Miss Macnulty, and the not unobserved presence of Mr. Andy Gowran on various occasions.
Between them they shot more grouse—so the keeper swore—than had ever been shot on these mountains before. Herriot absolutely killed one or two himself, to his own great delight, and Frank, who was fairly skilful, would get four or five in a day. There were excursions to be made, and the air of the hills was in itself a treat to both of them. Though Greystock was so often away at the castle, Herriot did not find the time hang heavily on his hands, and was sorry when his fortnight was over. “I think I shall stay a couple of days longer,” Frank said, when Herriot spoke of their return. “The truth is, I must see Lizzie again. She is bothered by business, and I have to see her about a letter that came this morning. You needn’t pull such a long face. There’s nothing of the kind you’re thinking of.”
“I thought so much of what you once said to me about another girl that I hope she at any rate may never be in trouble.”
“I hope she never may, on my account,” said Frank. “And what troubles she may have, as life will be troublesome, I trust that I may share and lessen.”
On that evening Herriot went, and on the next morning Frank Greystock again rode over to Portray 307 Castle; but when he was alone after Herriot’s departure he wrote a letter to Lucy Morris. He had expressed a hope that he might never be a cause of trouble to Lucy Morris, and he knew that his silence would trouble her. There could be no human being less inclined to be suspicious than Lucy Morris. Of that Frank was sure. But there had been an express stipulation with Lady Fawn that she should be allowed to receive letters from him, and she would naturally be vexed when he did not write to her. So he wrote.
“Portray Cottage, September 3, 18—.
“Dearest Lucy: We have been here for a fortnight, shooting grouse, wandering about the mountains, and going to sleep on the hillsides. You will say that there never was a time so fit for the writing of letters, but that will be because you have not learned yet that the idler people are the more inclined they are to be idle. We hear of lord chancellors writing letters to their mothers every day of their lives; but men who have nothing on earth to do cannot bring themselves to face a sheet of paper. I would promise that when I am lord chancellor I would write to you every day were it not that when that time comes I shall hope to be always with you.
“And, in truth, I have had to pay constant visits to my cousin, who lives in a big castle on the seaside, ten miles from here, over the mountains, and who is in a peck of troubles: in spite of her prosperity one of the unhappiest women, I should say, that you could meet anywhere. You know so much of her affairs that without breach of trust I may say so much. I wish she had a father or a brother to manage her matters for 308 her; but she has none, and I cannot desert her. Your Lord Fawn is behaving badly to her; and so, as far as I can see, are the people who manage the Eustace property. Lizzie, as you know, is not the most tractable of women, and altogether I have more to do in the matter than I like. Riding ten times backwards and forwards so often over the same route on a little pony is not good fun, but I am almost glad the distance is not less. Otherwise I might have been always there. I know you don’t quite like Lizzie, but she is to be pitied.
“I go up to London on Friday, but shall only be there for one or two days, that is, for one night. I go almost entirely on her business, and must, I fear, be here again, or at the castle, before I can settle myself either for work or happiness. On Sunday night I go down to Bobsborough, where, indeed, I ought to have been earlier. I fear I cannot go to Richmond on the Saturday, and on the Sunday Lady Fawn would hardly make me welcome. I shall be at Bobsborough for about three weeks, and there, if you have commands to give, I will obey them.
“I may, however, tell you the truth at once—though it is a truth you must keep very much to yourself. In the position in which I now stand as to Lord Fawn—being absolutely forced to quarrel with him on Lizzie’s behalf—Lady Fawn could hardly receive me with comfort to herself. She is the best of women; and, as she is your dear friend, nothing is further from me than any idea of quarrelling with her; but of course she takes her son’s part, and I hardly know how all allusion to the subject could be avoided.
“This, however, dearest, need ruffle no feather between 309 you and me, who love each other better than we love either the Fawns or the Lizzies. Let me find a line at my chambers to say that it is so and always shall be so.
“God bless my own darling.
“Ever and always your own,
On the following day he rode over to the castle. He had received a letter from John Eustace, who had found himself forced to run up to London to meet Mr. Camperdown. The lawyer had thought to postpone further consideration of the whole matter till he and everybody else would be naturally in London—till November that might be, or perhaps even till after Christmas. But his mind was ill at ease; and he knew that so much might be done with the diamonds in four months! They might even now be in the hands of some Benjamin or of some Harter, and it might soon be beyond the power either of lawyers or of policemen to trace them. He therefore went up from Dawlish and persuaded John Eustace to come from Yorkshire. It was a great nuisance, and Eustace freely anathematised the necklace. “If only some one would steal it, so that we might hear no more of the thing,” he said. But, as Mr. Camperdown had frequently remarked, the value was too great for trifling, and Eustace went up to London. Mr. Camperdown put into his hands the Turtle Dove’s opinion, explaining that it was by no means expedient that it should be shown to the other party. Eustace thought that the opinion should be common to them all. “We pay for it,” said Mr. Camperdown, “and they can get their opinion from 310 any other barrister if they please.” But what was to be done? Eustace declared that as to the present whereabouts of the necklace he did not in the least doubt that he could get the truth from Frank Greystock. He therefore wrote to Greystock, and with that letter in his pocket Frank rode over to the castle for the last time.
He, too, was heartily sick of the necklace; but unfortunately he was not equally sick of her who held it in possession. And he was, too, better alive to the importance of the value of the trinket than John Eustace, though not so keenly as was Mr. Camperdown. Lady Eustace was out somewhere among the cliffs, the servant said. He regretted this as he followed her, but he was obliged to follow her. Half-way down to the seashore, much below the knob on which she had attempted to sit with her Shelley, but yet not below the need of assistance, he found her seated in a little ravine. “I knew you would come,” she said. Of course she had known that he would come. She did not rise, or even give him her hand, but there was a spot close beside her on which it was to be presumed that he would seat himself. She had a volume of Byron in her hand—the “Corsair,” “Lara,” and the “Giaour”—a kind of poetry which was in truth more intelligible to her than “Queen Mab.” “You go to-morrow?”
“Yes; I go to-morrow.”
“And Lubin has gone?” Arthur Herriot was Lubin.
“Lubin has gone. Though why Lubin I cannot guess. The normal Lubin to me is a stupid fellow always in love. Herriot is not stupid and is never in love.”311
“Nevertheless, he is Lubin if I choose to call him so. Why did he twiddle his thumbs instead of talking. Have you heard anything of Lord Fawn?”
“I have had a letter from your brother-in-law.”
“And what is John the Just pleased to say?”
“John the Just, which is a better name for the man than the other, has been called up to London, much against his will, by Mr. Camperdown.”
“Who is Samuel the Unjust.” Mr. Camperdown’s name was Samuel.
“And now wants to know where this terrible necklace is at this present moment.” He paused a moment, but Lizzie did not answer him. “I suppose you have no objection to telling me where it is.”
“None in the least, or to giving it you to keep for me, only that I would not so far trouble you. But I have an objection to telling them. They are my enemies. Let them find out.”
“You are wrong, Lizzie. You do not want, or at any rate should not want, to have any secret in the matter.”
“They are here, in the castle; in the very place in which Sir Florian kept them when he gave them to me. Where should my own jewels be but in my own house? What does that Mr. Dove say who was to be asked about them? No doubt they can pay a barrister to say anything.”
“Lizzie, you think too hardly of people.”
“And do not people think too hardly of me? Does not all this amount to an accusation against me that I am a thief? Am I not persecuted among them? Did not this impudent attorney stop me in the public street and accuse me of theft before my very servants? Have 312 they not so far succeeded in misrepresenting me that the very man who is engaged to be my husband betrays me? And now you are turning against me? Can you wonder that I am hard?”
“I am not turning against you.”
“Yes; you are. You take their part and not mine in everything. I tell you what, Frank, I would go out in that boat that you see yonder and drop the bauble into the sea did I not know that they’d drag it up again with their devilish ingenuity. If the stones would burn I would burn them. But the worst of it all is that you are becoming my enemy.” Then she burst into violent and almost hysteric tears.
“It will be better that you should give them into the keeping of some one whom you can both trust, till the law has decided to whom they belong.”
“I will never give them up. What does Mr. Dove say?”
“I have not seen what Mr. Dove says. It is clear that the necklace is not an heirloom.”
“Then how dare Mr. Camperdown say so often that it was?”
“He said what he thought,” pleaded Frank.
“And he is a lawyer!”
“I am a lawyer, and I did not know what is or what is not an heirloom. But Mr. Dove is clearly of opinion that such a property could not have been given away simply by a word of mouth.” John Eustace in his letter had made no allusion to that complicated question of paraphernalia.
“But it was,” said Lizzie. “Who can know but myself, when no one else was present?”
“The jewels are here now?”313
“Not in my pocket. I do not carry them about with me. They are in the castle.”
“And will they go back with you to London?”
“Was ever lady so interrogated? I do not know yet that I shall go back to London. Why am I asked such questions? As to you, Frank, I would tell you everything, my whole heart, if only you cared to know it. But why is John Eustace to make inquiry as to personal ornaments which are my own property? If I go to London I will take them there, and wear them at every house I enter. I will do so in defiance of Mr. Camperdown and Lord Fawn. I think, Frank, that no woman was ever so ill-treated as I am.”
He himself thought that she was ill-treated. She had so pleaded her case, and had been so lovely in her tears and her indignation, that he began to feel something like true sympathy for her cause. What right had he, or had Mr. Camperdown, or any one, to say that the jewels did not belong to her? And if her claim to them was just, why should she be persuaded to give up the possession of them? He knew well that were she to surrender them with the idea that they should be restored to her if her claim were found to be just, she would not get them back very soon. If once the jewels were safe, locked up in Mr. Garnett’s strong box, Mr. Camperdown would not care how long it might be before a jury or a judge should have decided on the case. The burden of proof would then be thrown upon Lady Eustace. In order that she might recover her own property she would have to thrust herself forward as a witness, and appear before the world a claimant, greedy for rich ornaments. Why should he advise her to give them up? “I am only thinking,” 314 said he, “what may be the best for your own peace.”
“Peace!” she exclaimed. “How am I to have peace? Remember the condition in which I find myself! Remember the manner in which that man is treating me, when all the world has been told of my engagement to him! When I think of it my heart is so bitter that I am inclined to throw, not the diamonds, but myself, from off the rocks. All that remains to me is the triumph of getting the better of my enemies. Mr. Camperdown shall never have the diamonds. Even if they could prove that they did not belong to me they should find them—gone.”
“I don’t think they can prove it.”
“I’ll flaunt them in the eyes of all of them till they do; and then—they shall be gone. And I’ll have such revenge on Lord Fawn before I have done with him that he shall know that it may be worse to have to fight a woman than a man. Oh, Frank, I do not think that I am hard by nature, but these things make a woman hard.” As she spoke she took his hand in hers, and looked up into his eyes through her tears. “I know that you do not care for me and you know how much I care for you.”
“Not care for you, Lizzie?”
“No; that little thing at Richmond is everything to you. She is tame and quiet, a cat that will sleep on the rug before the fire, and you think that she will never scratch. Do not suppose that I mean to abuse her. She was my dear friend before you had ever seen her. And men, I know, have tastes which women do not understand. You want what you call—repose.”
“We seldom know what we want, I fancy. We 315 take what the gods send us.” Frank’s words were perhaps more true than wise. At the present moment the gods had clearly sent Lizzie Eustace to him, and unless he could call up some increased strength of his own, quite independent of the gods, or of what we may perhaps call chance, he would have to put up with the article sent.
Lizzie had declared that she would not touch Lord Fawn with a pair of tongs, and in saying so had resolved that she could not and would not now marry his lordship, even were his lordship in her power. It had been decided by her as quickly as thoughts flash, but it was decided. She would torture the unfortunate lord, but not torture him by becoming his wife. And, so much being fixed as the stars in heaven, might it be possible that she should even yet induce her cousin to take the place that had been intended for Lord Fawn? After all that had passed between them she need hardly hesitate to tell him of her love. And with the same flashing thoughts she declared to herself that she did love him, and that therefore this arrangement would be so much better than that other one which she had proposed to herself. The reader, perhaps, by this time, has not a high opinion of Lady Eustace, and may believe that among other drawbacks on her character there is especially this, that she was heartless. But that was by no means her own opinion of herself. She would have described herself—and would have meant to do so with truth—as being all heart. She probably thought that an over-amount of heart was the malady under which she specially suffered. Her heart was overflowing now toward the man who was sitting by her side. And then it would be so pleasant to punish that 316 little chit who had spurned her gift and had dared to call her mean! This man, too, was needy, and she was wealthy. Surely were she to offer herself to him the generosity of the thing would make it noble. She was still dissolved in tears and was still hysteric. “Oh, Frank!” she said, and threw herself upon his breast.
Frank Greystock felt his position to be one of intense difficulty, but whether this difficulty was increased or diminished by the appearance of Mr. Andy Gowran’s head over a rock at the entrance of the little cave in which they were sitting it might be difficult to determine. But there was the head. And it was not a head that just popped itself up and then retreated, as a head would do that was discovered doing that which made it ashamed of itself. The head, with its eyes wide open, held its own, and seemed to say, “Ay, I’ve caught you, have I?” And the head did speak, though not exactly in those words. “Coosins!” said the head; and then the head was wagged. In the meantime Lizzie Eustace, whose back was turned to the head, raised her own, and looked up into Greystock’s eyes for love. She perceived at once that something was amiss, and, starting to her feet, turned quickly round.
“How dare you intrude here?” she said to the head.
“Coosins!” replied the head, wagging itself.
It was clearly necessary that Greystock should take some steps, if only with the object of proving to the impudent factotum that he was not altogether overcome by the awkwardness of his position. That he was a good deal annoyed, and that he felt not altogether quite equal to the occasion, must be acknowledged. “What is it that the man wants?” he said, glaring at the head.317
“Coosins!” said the head, wagging itself again.
“If you don’t take yourself off, I shall have to thrash you,” said Frank.
“Coosins!” said Andy Gowran, stepping from behind the rock and showing his full figure. Andy was a man on the wrong side of fifty, and therefore on the score of age, hardly fit for thrashing. And he was compact, short, broad, and as hard as flint; a man bad to thrash, look at it from what side you would. “Coosins!” he said yet again. “Ye’re mair couthie than coosinly, I’m thinking.”
“Andy Gowran, I dismiss you my service for your impertinence,” said Lady Eustace.
“It’s ae one to Andy Gowran for that, my leddie. There’s timber and a world o’ things aboot the place as wants proteection on behalf o’ the heir. If your leddieship is minded to be quit o’ my sarvices, I’ll find a maister in Mr. Camper-doon, as’ll nae allow me to be thrown out o’ employ. Coosins!”
“Walk off from this,” said Frank Greystock, coming forward and putting his hand upon the man’s breast. Mr. Gowran repeated the objectionable word yet once again, and then retired.
Frank Greystock immediately felt how very bad for him was his position. For the lady, if only she could succeed in her object, the annoyance of the interruption would not matter much after its first absurdity had been endured. When she had become the wife of Frank Greystock there would be nothing remarkable in the fact that she had been found sitting with him in a cavern by the seashore. But for Frank the difficulty of extricating himself from his dilemma was great, not in regard to Mr. Gowran, but in reference to his cousin 318 Lizzie. He might, it was true, tell her that he was engaged to Lucy Morris; but then why had he not told her so before? He had not told her so; nor did he tell her on this occasion. When he attempted to lead her away up the cliff she insisted on being left where she was. “I can find my way alone,” she said, endeavouring to smile through her tears. “The man has annoyed me by his impudence, that is all. Go, if you are going.”
Of course he was going; but he could not go without a word of tenderness. “Dear, dear Lizzie,” he said, embracing her.
“Frank, you’ll be true to me?”
“I will be true to you.”
“Then go now,” she said. And he went his way up the cliff, and got his pony, and rode back to the cottage, very uneasy in his mind.319
Lucy Morris got her letter and was contented. She wanted some demonstration of love from her lover, but very little sufficed for her comfort. With her it was almost impossible that a man should be loved and suspected at the same time. She could not have loved the man, or at any rate confessed her love, without thinking well of him; and she could not think good and evil at the same time. She had longed for some word from him since she last saw him; and now she had got a word. She had known that he was close to his fair cousin—the cousin whom she despised, and whom, with womanly instinct, she had almost regarded as a rival. But to her the man had spoken out; and though he was far away from her, living close to the fair cousin, she would not allow a thought of trouble on that score to annoy her. He was her own, and let Lizzie Eustace do her worst, he would remain her own. But she had longed to be told that he was thinking of her, and at last the letter had come. She answered it that same night with the sweetest, prettiest little letter, very short, full of love and full of confidence. Lady Fawn, she said, was the dearest of women; but what 320 was Lady Fawn to her, or all the Fawns, compared with her lover? If he could come to Richmond without disturbance to himself, let him come; but if he felt that, in the present unhappy condition of affairs between him and Lord Fawn, it was better that he should stay away, she had not a word to say in the way of urging him. To see him would be a great delight. But had she not the greater delight of knowing that he loved her? That was quite enough to make her happy. Then there was a little prayer that God might bless him, and an assurance that she was in all things his own, own Lucy. When she was writing her letter she was in all respects a happy girl.
But on the very next day there came a cloud upon her happiness, not in the least, however, affecting her full confidence in her lover. It was a Saturday, and Lord Fawn came down to Richmond. Lord Fawn had seen Mr. Greystock in London on that day, and the interview had been by no means pleasant to him. The Under-Secretary of State for India was as dark as a November day when he reached his mother’s house, and there fell upon every one the unintermittent cold drizzling shower of his displeasure from the moment in which he entered the house. There was never much reticence among the ladies at Richmond in Lucy’s presence, and since the completion of Lizzie’s unfortunate visit to Fawn Court they had not hesitated to express open opinions adverse to the prospects of the proposed bride. Lucy herself could say but little in defence of her old friend, who had lost all claim upon that friendship since the offer of the bribe had been made, so that it was understood among them all that Lizzie was to be regarded as a black sheep; but hitherto Lord Fawn 321 himself had concealed his feelings before Lucy. Now unfortunately he spoke out, and in speaking was especially bitter against Frank. “Mr. Greystock has been most insolent,” he said as they were all sitting together in the library after dinner. Lady Fawn made a sign to him and shook her head. Lucy felt the hot blood fly into both her cheeks, but at the moment she did not speak. Lydia Fawn put out her hand beneath the table and took hold of Lucy’s.
“We must all remember that he is her cousin,” said Augusta.
“His relationship to Lady Eustace cannot justify ungentlemanlike impertinence to me,” said Lord Fawn. “He has dared to use words to me which would make it necessary that I should call him out, only——”
“Frederic, you shall do nothing of the kind,” said Lady Fawn, jumping up from her chair.
“Oh, Frederic, pray, pray don’t,” said Augusta, springing on to her brother’s shoulder.
“I am sure Frederic does not mean that,” said Amelia.
“Only that nobody does call anybody out now,” added the pacific lord. “But nothing on earth shall ever induce me to speak again to a man who is so little like a gentleman.” Lydia now held Lucy’s hand still tighter, as though to prevent her rising, “He has never forgiven me,” continued Lord Fawn, “because he was so ridiculously wrong about the Sawab.”
“I am sure that had nothing to do with it,” said Lucy.
“Miss Morris, I shall venture to hold my own opinion,” said Lord Fawn.
“And I shall hold mine,” said Lucy bravely. “The 322 Sawab of Mygawb had nothing to do with what Mr. Greystock may have said or done about his cousin. I am quite sure of it.”
“Lucy, you are forgetting yourself,” said Lady Fawn.
“Lucy, dear, you shouldn’t contradict my brother,” said Augusta.
“Take my advice, Lucy, and let it pass by,” said Amelia.
“How can I hear such things said and not notice them?” demanded Lucy. “Why does Lord Fawn say them when I am by?”
Lord Fawn had now condescended to be full of wrath against his mother’s governess. “I suppose I may express my own opinion, Miss Morris, in my mother’s house.”
“And I shall express mine,” said Lucy. “Mr. Greystock is a gentleman. If you say that he is not a gentleman, it is not true.” Upon hearing these terrible words spoken, Lord Fawn rose from his seat and slowly left the room. Augusta followed him with both her arms stretched out. Lady Fawn covered her face with her hands, and even Amelia was dismayed.
“Oh, Lucy! why could you not hold your tongue?” said Lydia.
“I won’t hold my tongue,” said Lucy, bursting out into tears. “He is a gentleman.”
Then there was great commotion at Fawn Court. After a few moments Lady Fawn followed her son without having said a word to Lucy, and Amelia went with her. Poor Lucy was left with the younger girls, and was no doubt very unhappy. But she was still indignant and would yield nothing. When Georgina, the fourth daughter, pointed out to her that, in accordance 323 with all rules of good breeding, she should have abstained from asserting that her brother had spoken an untruth, she blazed up again. “It was untrue,” she said.
“But, Lucy, people never accuse each other of untruth. No lady should use such a word to a gentleman.”
“He should not have said so. He knows that Mr. Greystock is more to me than all the world.”
“If I had a lover,” said Nina, “and anybody were to say a word against him, I know I’d fly at them. I don’t know why Frederic is to have it all his own way.”
“Nina, you’re a fool,” said Diana.
“I do think it was very hard for Lucy to bear,” said Lydia.
“And I won’t bear it,” exclaimed Lucy. “To think that Mr. Greystock should be so mean as to bear malice about a thing like that wild Indian because he takes his own cousin’s part! Of course I’d better go away. You all think that Mr. Greystock is an enemy now; but he never can be an enemy to me.”
“We think that Lady Eustace is an enemy,” said Cecilia, “and a very nasty enemy, too.”
“I did not say a word about Lady Eustace,” said Lucy. “But Mr. Greystock is a gentleman.”
About an hour after this Lady Fawn sent for Lucy, and the two were closeted together for a long time. Lord Fawn was very angry, and had hitherto altogether declined to overlook the insult offered. “I am bound to tell you,” declared Lady Fawn, with much emphasis, “that nothing can justify you in having accused Lord Fawn of telling an untruth. Of course, I was sorry 324 that Mr. Greystock’s name should have been mentioned in your presence; but as it was mentioned, you should have borne what was said with patience.”
“I couldn’t be patient, Lady Fawn.”
“That is what wicked people say when they commit murder, and then they are hung for it.”
“I’ll go away, Lady Fawn——”
“That is ungrateful, my dear. You know that I don’t wish you to go away. But if you behave badly, of course I must tell you of it.”
“I’d sooner go away. Everybody here thinks ill of Mr. Greystock. But I don’t think ill of Mr. Greystock, and I never shall. Why did Lord Fawn say such very hard things about him?”
It was suggested to her that she should be down-stairs early the next morning, and apologise to Lord Fawn for her rudeness; but she would not, on that night, undertake to do any such thing. Let Lady Fawn say what she might, Lucy thought that the injury had been done to her, and not to his lordship. And so they parted hardly friends. Lady Fawn gave her no kiss as she went, and Lucy, with obstinate pride, altogether refused to own her fault. She would only say that she had better go, and when Lady Fawn over and over again pointed out to her that the last thing that such a one as Lord Fawn could bear was to be accused of an untruth, she would continue to say that in that case he should be careful to say nothing that was untrue. All this was very dreadful, and created great confusion and unhappiness at Fawn Court. Lydia came into her room that night, and the two girls talked the matter over for hours. In the morning Lucy was up early, and found Lord Fawn walking in 325 the grounds. She had been told that he would probably be found walking in the grounds, if she were willing to tender to him any apology.
Her mind had been very full of the subject—not only in reference to her lover, but as it regarded her own conduct. One of the elder Fawn girls had assured her that under no circumstances could a lady be justified in telling a gentleman that he had spoken an untruth, and she was not quite sure but that the law so laid down was right. And then she could not but remember that the gentleman in question was Lord Fawn, and that she was Lady Fawn’s governess. But Mr. Greystock was her affianced lover, and her first duty was to him. And then, granting that she herself had been wrong in accusing Lord Fawn of untruth, she could not refrain from asking herself whether he had not been much more wrong in saying in her hearing that Mr. Greystock was not a gentleman? And his offence had preceded her offence, and had caused it! She hardly knew whether she did or did not owe an apology to Lord Fawn, but she was quite sure that Lord Fawn owed an apology to her.
She walked straight up to Lord Fawn, and met him beneath the trees. He was still black and solemn, and was evidently brooding over his grievance; but he bowed to her, and stood still as she approached him. “My lord,” said she, “I am very sorry for what happened last night.”
“And so was I, very sorry, Miss Morris.”
“I think you know that I am engaged to marry Mr. Greystock?”
“I cannot allow that that has anything to do with it.”326
“When you think that he must be dearer to me than all the world, you will acknowledge that I couldn’t hear hard things said of him without speaking.” His face became blacker than ever, but he made no reply. He wanted an abject begging of unconditional pardon from the little girl who loved his enemy. If that were done, he would vouchsafe his forgiveness; but he was too small by nature to grant it on other terms. “Of course,” continued Lucy, “I am bound to treat you with special respect in Lady Fawn’s house.” She looked almost beseechingly into his face as she paused for a moment.
“But you treated me with especial disrespect,” said Lord Fawn.
“And how did you treat me, Lord Fawn?”
“Miss Morris, I must be allowed, in discussing matters with my mother, to express my own opinions in such language as I may think fit to use. Mr. Greystock’s conduct to me was—was—was altogether most ungentlemanlike.”
“Mr. Greystock is a gentleman.”
“His conduct was most offensive, and most ungentlemanlike. Mr. Greystock disgraced himself.”
“It isn’t true,” said Lucy. Lord Fawn gave one start, and then walked off to the house as quick as his legs could carry him.327
The scene between Lord Fawn and Greystock had taken place in Mr. Camperdown’s chambers, and John Eustace had also been present. The lawyer had suffered considerable annoyance, before the arrival of the two first-named gentlemen, from reiterated assertions made by Eustace that he would take no further trouble whatsoever about the jewels. Mr. Camperdown had in vain pointed out to him that a plain duty lay upon him as executor and guardian to protect the property on behalf of his nephew; but Eustace had asserted that, though he himself was comparatively a poor man, he would sooner replace the necklace out of his own property than be subject to the nuisance of such a continued quarrel. “My dear John; ten thousand pounds!” Mr. Camperdown had said. “It is a fortune for a younger son.”
“The boy is only two years old, and will have time enough to make fortunes for his own younger sons, if he does not squander everything. If he does, ten thousand pounds will make no difference.”
“But the justice of the thing, John!”
“Justice may be purchased too dearly.”
“Such a harpy as she is, too!” pleaded the lawyer. Then Lord Fawn had come in, and Greystock had followed immediately afterward.328
“I may as well say at once,” said Greystock, “that Lady Eustace is determined to maintain her right to the property; and that she will not give up the diamonds till some adequate court of law shall have decided that she is mistaken in her views. Stop one moment, Mr. Camperdown. I feel myself bound to go further than that, and express my own opinion that she is right.”
“I can hardly understand such an opinion as coming from you,” said Mr. Camperdown.
“You have changed your mind, at any rate,” said John Eustace.
“Not so, Eustace. Mr. Camperdown, you’ll be good enough to understand that my opinion expressed here is that of a friend, and not that of a lawyer. And you must understand, Eustace,” continued Greystock, “that I am speaking now of my cousin’s right to the property. Though the value be great, I have advised her to give up the custody of it for a while, till the matter shall be clearly decided. That has still been my advice to her, and I have in no respect changed my mind. But she feels that she is being cruelly used, and with a woman’s spirit will not, in such circumstances, yield anything. Mr. Camperdown actually stopped her carriage in the street.”
“She would not answer a line that anybody wrote to her,” said the lawyer.
“And I may say plainly—for all here know the circumstances—that Lady Eustace feels the strongest possible indignation at the manner in which she is being treated by Lord Fawn.”
“I have only asked her to give up the diamonds till the question should be settled,” said Lord Fawn.329
“And you backed your request, my lord, by a threat! My cousin is naturally most indignant; and, my lord, you must allow me to tell you that I fully share the feeling.”
“There is no use in making a quarrel about it,” said Eustace.
“The quarrel is already made,” replied Greystock. “I am here to tell Lord Fawn in your presence, and in the presence of Mr. Camperdown, that he is behaving to a lady with ill-usage, which he would not dare to exercise did he not know that her position saves him from legal punishment, as do the present usages of society from other consequences.”
“I have behaved to her with every possible consideration,” said Lord Fawn.
“That is a simple assertion,” said the other. “I have made one assertion, and you have made another. The world will have to judge between us. What right have you to take upon yourself to decide whether this thing or that belongs to Lady Eustace or to any one else?”
“When the thing was talked about I was obliged to have an opinion,” said Lord Fawn, who was still thinking of words in which to reply to the insult offered him by Greystock without injury to his dignity as an Undersecretary of State.
“Your conduct, sir, has been altogether inexcusable.” Then Frank turned to the attorney. “I have been given to understand that you are desirous of knowing where this diamond necklace is at present. It is at Lady Eustace’s house in Scotland; at Portray Castle.” Then he shook hands with John Eustace, bowed to Mr. Camperdown, and succeeded in leaving the room 330 before Lord Fawn had so far collected his senses as to be able to frame his anger into definite words.
“I will never willingly speak to that man again,” said Lord Fawn. But as it was not probable that Greystock would greatly desire any further conversation with Lord Fawn, this threat did not carry with it any powerful feeling of severity.
Mr. Camperdown groaned over the matter with thorough vexation of spirit. It seemed to him as though the harpy, as he called her, would really make good her case against him, at any rate would make it seem to be good for so long a time that all the triumph of success would be hers. He knew that she was already in debt, and gave her credit for a propensity to fast living, which almost did her an injustice. Of course the jewels would be sold for half their value, and the harpy would triumph. Of what use to him or to the estate would be a decision of the courts in his favour when the diamonds should have been broken up and scattered to the winds of heaven? Ten thousand pounds! It was, to Mr. Camperdown’s mind, a thing quite terrible that, in a country which boasts of its laws and of the execution of its laws, such an impostor as was this widow should be able to lay her dirty, grasping fingers on so great an amount of property, and that there should be no means of punishing her. That Lizzie Eustace had stolen the diamonds, as a pickpocket steals a watch, was a fact as to which Mr. Camperdown had in his mind no shadow of a doubt. And, as the reader knows, he was right. She had stolen them. Mr. Camperdown knew that she had stolen them, and was a wretched man. From the first moment of the late Sir Florian’s infatuation about this 331 woman, she had worked woe for Mr. Camperdown. Mr. Camperdown had striven hard, to the great and almost permanent offence of Sir Florian, to save Portray from its present condition of degradation; but he had striven in vain. Portray belonged to the harpy for her life; and moreover, he himself had been forced to be instrumental in paying over to the harpy a large sum of Eustace money almost immediately on her becoming a widow. Then had come the affair of the diamonds—an affair of ten thousand pounds!—as Mr. Camperdown would exclaim to himself, throwing his eyes up to the ceiling. And now it seemed that she was to get the better of him even in that, although there could not be a shadow of doubt as to her falsehood and fraudulent dishonesty! His luck in the matter was so bad! John Eustace had no backbone, no spirit, no proper feeling as to his own family. Lord Fawn was as weak as water, and almost disgraced the cause by the accident of his adherence to it. Greystock, who would have been a tower of strength, had turned against him, and was now prepared to maintain that the harpy was right. Mr. Camperdown knew that the harpy was wrong, that she was a harpy, and he would not abandon the cause; but the difficulties in his way were great and the annoyance to which he was subjected was excessive. His wife and daughters were still at Dawlish, and he was up in town in September, simply because the harpy had the present possession of these diamonds.
Mr. Camperdown was a man turned sixty, handsome, gray-haired, healthy, somewhat florid, and carrying in his face and person external signs of prosperity and that kind of self-assertion which prosperity always produces. 332 But they who knew him best were aware that he did not bear trouble well. In any trouble, such as was this about the necklace, there would come over his face a look of weakness which betrayed the want of real inner strength. How many faces one sees which, in ordinary circumstances, are comfortable, self-asserting, sufficient, and even bold; the lines of which, under difficulties, collapse and become mean, spiritless, and insignificant. There are faces which, in their usual form, seem to bluster with prosperity, but which the loss of a dozen points at whist will reduce to that currish aspect which reminds one of a dog-whip. Mr. Camperdown’s countenance, when Lord Fawn and Mr. Eustace left him, had fallen away into this meanness of appearance. He no longer carried himself as a man owning a dog-whip, but rather as the hound that feared it.
A better attorney for the purposes to which his life was devoted did not exist in London than Mr. Camperdown. To say that he was honest is nothing. To describe him simply as zealous would be to fall very short of his merits. The interests of his clients were his own interests, and the legal rights of the properties of which he had the legal charge were as dear to him as his own blood. But it could not be said of him that he was a learned lawyer. Perhaps in that branch of a solicitor’s profession in which he had been called upon to work experience goes further than learning. It may be doubted, indeed, whether it is not so in every branch of every profession. But it might, perhaps, have been better for Mr. Camperdown had he devoted more hours of his youth to reading books on conveyancing. He was now too old for such studies, and could trust only 333 to the reading of other people. The reading, however, of other people was always at his command, and his clients were rich men who did not mind paying for an opinion. To have an opinion from Mr. Dove, or some other learned gentleman, was the every-day practice of his life; and when he obtained, as he often did, little coigns of legal vantage and subtle definitions as to property which were comfortable to him, he would rejoice to think that he could always have a Dove at his hand to tell him exactly how far he was justified in going in defence of his clients’ interests. But now there had come to him no comfort from his corner of legal knowledge. Mr. Dove had taken extraordinary pains in the matter, and had simply succeeded in throwing over his employer. “A necklace can’t be an heirloom!” said Mr. Camperdown to himself, telling off on his fingers half a dozen instances in which he had either known or had heard that the head of a family had so arranged the future possession of the family jewels. Then he again read Mr. Dove’s opinion, and actually took a law-book off his shelves with the view of testing the correctness of the barrister in reference to some special assertion. A pot or a pan might be an heirloom, but not a necklace! Mr. Camperdown could hardly bring himself to believe that this was law. And then as to paraphernalia! Up to this moment, though he had been called upon to arrange great dealings in reference to widows, he had never as yet heard of a claim made by a widow for paraphernalia. But then the widows with whom he had been called upon to deal had been ladies quite content to accept the good things settled upon them by the liberal prudence of their friends and husbands, not greedy, blood-sucking 334 harpies such as this Lady Eustace. It was quite terrible to Mr. Camperdown that one of his clients should have fallen into such a pit. Mors omnibus est communis. But to have left such a widow behind one!
“John,” he said, opening his door. John was his son and partner, and John came to him, having been summoned by a clerk from another room. “Just shut the door. I’ve had such a scene here; Lord Fawn and Mr. Greystock almost coming to blows about that horrid woman.”
“The Upper House would have got the worst of it, as it usually does,” said the younger attorney.
“And there is John Eustace cares no more what becomes of the property than if he had nothing to do with it; absolutely talks of replacing the diamonds out of his own pocket; a man whose personal interest in the estate is by no means equal to her own.”
“He wouldn’t do it, you know,” said Camperdown Junior, who did not know the family.
“It’s just what he would do,” said the father, who did. “There’s nothing they wouldn’t give away when once the idea takes them. Think of that woman having the whole Portray estate, perhaps for the next sixty years—nearly the fee-simple of the property—just because she made eyes to Sir Florian.”
“That’s done and gone, father.”
“And here’s Dove tells us that a necklace can’t be an heirloom unless it belongs to the Crown.”
“Whatever he says, you’d better take his word for it.”
“I’m not so sure of that! It can’t be. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll go over and see him. We can 335 file a bill in Chancery, I don’t doubt, and prove that the property belongs to the family and must go by the will. But she’ll sell them before we can get the custody of them.”
“Perhaps she has done that already.”
“Greystock says they are at Portray, and I believe they are. She was wearing them in London only in July, a day or two before I saw her as she was leaving town. If anybody like a jeweller had been down at the castle, I should have heard of it. She hasn’t sold ’em yet, but she will.”
“She could do that just the same if they were an heirloom.”
“No, John. I think not. We could have acted much more quickly and have frightened her.”
“If I were you, father, I’d drop the matter altogether and let John Eustace replace them if he pleases. We all know that he would never be called on to do anything of the kind. It isn’t our sort of business.”
“Not ten thousand pounds!” said Camperdown Senior, to whom the magnitude of the larceny almost ennobled the otherwise mean duty of catching the thief. Then Mr. Camperdown rose, and slowly walked across the New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, under the low archway, by the entrance to the old court in which Lord Eldon used to sit, to the Old Square, in which the Turtle Dove had built his legal nest on a first floor, close to the old gateway.
Mr. Dove was a gentleman who spent a very great portion of his life in this somewhat gloomy abode of learning. It was not now term time, and most of his brethren were absent from London, recruiting their 336 strength among the Alps, or drinking in vigour for fresh campaigns with the salt sea breezes of Kent and Sussex, or perhaps shooting deer in Scotland, or catching fish in Connemara. But Mr. Dove was a man of iron, who wanted no such recreation. To be absent from his law-books and the black, littered, ink-stained old table on which he was wont to write his opinions, was, to him, to be wretched. The only exercise necessary to him was that of putting on his wig and going into one of the courts that were close to his chambers; but even that was almost distasteful to him. He preferred sitting in his old arm-chair, turning over his old books in search of old cases, and producing opinions which he would be prepared to back against all the world of Lincoln’s Inn. He and Mr. Camperdown had known each other intimately for many years, and though the rank of the two men in their profession differed much, they were able to discuss questions of law without any appreciation of that difference between themselves. The one man knew much, and the other little; the one was not only learned, but possessed also of great gifts, while the other was simply an ordinary clear-headed man of business; but they had sympathies in common which made them friends; they were both honest and unwilling to sell their services to dishonest customers; and they equally entertained a deep-rooted contempt for that portion of mankind who thought that property could be managed and protected without the intervention of lawyers. The outside world to them was a world of pretty, laughing, ignorant children; and lawyers were the parents, guardians, pastors, and masters, by whom the children should be protected from the evils incident to their childishness.337
“Yes, sir; he’s here,” said the Turtle Dove’s clerk. “He is talking of going away, but he won’t go. He’s told me I can have a week, but I don’t know that I like to leave him. Mrs. Dove and the children are down at Ramsgate, and he’s here all night. He hadn’t been out for so long that when he wanted to go as far as the Temple yesterday we couldn’t find his hat.” Then the clerk opened the door, and ushered Mr. Camperdown into the room. Mr. Dove was the younger man by five or six years, and his hair was still black. Mr. Camperdown’s was nearer white than gray; but, nevertheless, Mr. Camperdown looked as though he were the younger man. Mr. Dove was a long, thin man, with a stoop in his shoulders, with deep-set, hollow eyes, and lantern cheeks, and sallow complexion, with long, thin hands, who seemed to acknowledge by every movement of his body and every tone of his voice that old age was creeping on him; whereas the attorney’s step was still elastic, and his speech brisk. Mr. Camperdown wore a blue frock-coat, and a coloured cravat, and a light waistcoat. With Mr. Dove every visible article of his raiment was black, except his shirt, and he had that peculiar blackness which a man achieves when he wears a dress-coat over a high black waistcoat in the morning.
“You didn’t make much, I fear, of what I sent you about heirlooms,” said Mr. Dove, divining the purport of Mr. Camperdown’s visit.
“A great deal more than I wanted, I can assure you, Mr. Dove.”
“There is a common error about heirlooms.”
“Very common, indeed, I should say. God bless 338 my soul! when one knows how often the word occurs in family deeds, it does startle one to be told that there isn’t any such thing.”
“I don’t think I said quite so much as that. Indeed, I was careful to point out that the law does acknowledge heirlooms.”
“But not diamonds,” said the attorney.
“I doubt whether I went quite so far as that.”
“Only the Crown diamonds.”
“I don’t think I even debarred all other diamonds. A diamond in a star of honour might form a part of an heirloom; but I do not think that a diamond itself could be an heirloom.”
“If in a star of honour, why not in a necklace?” argued Mr. Camperdown almost triumphantly.
“Because a star of honour, unless tampered with by fraud, would naturally be maintained in its original form. The setting of a necklace will probably be altered from generation to generation. The one, like a picture or a precious piece of furniture——”
“Or a pot or a pan,” said Mr. Camperdown, with sarcasm.
“Pots and pans may be precious, too,” replied Mr. Dove. “Such things can be traced, and can be held as heirlooms without imposing too great difficulties on their guardians. The Law is generally very wise and prudent, Mr. Camperdown; much more so often than are they who attempt to improve it.”
“I quite agree with you there, Mr. Dove.”
“Would the Law do a service, do you think, if it lent its authority to the special preservation in special hands of trinkets only to be used for vanity and ornament? Is that a kind of property over which an 339 owner should have a power of disposition more lasting, more autocratic, than is given him even in regard to land? The land, at any rate, can be traced. It is a thing fixed and known. A string of pearls is not only alterable, but constantly altered, and cannot easily be traced.”
“Property of such enormous value should, at any rate, be protected,” said Mr. Camperdown indignantly.
“All property is protected, Mr. Camperdown; although, as we know too well, such protection can never be perfect. But the system of heirlooms, if there can be said to be such a system, was not devised for what you and I mean when we talk of protection of property.”
“I should have said that that was just what it was devised for.”
“I think not. It was devised with the more picturesque idea of maintaining chivalric associations. Heirlooms have become so, not that the future owners of them may be assured of so much wealth, whatever the value of the thing so settled may be, but that the son or grandson or descendant may enjoy the satisfaction which is derived from saying, My father or my grandfather or my ancestor sat in that chair, or looked as he now looks in that picture, or was graced by wearing on his breast that very ornament which you now see lying beneath the glass. Crown jewels are heirlooms in the same way, as representing not the possession of the sovereign, but the time-honoured dignity of the Crown. The Law, which, in general, concerns itself with our property or lives and our liberties, has in this matter bowed gracefully to the spirit of chivalry and has lent its aid to romance! but it certainly did not do 340 so to enable the discordant heirs of a rich man to settle a simple dirty question of money, which, with ordinary prudence, the rich man should himself have settled before he died.”
The Turtle Dove had spoken with emphasis and had spoken well, and Mr. Camperdown had not ventured to interrupt him while he was speaking. He was sitting far back on his chair, but with his neck bent and with his head forward, rubbing his long thin hands slowly over each other, and with his deep bright eyes firmly fixed on his companion’s face. Mr. Camperdown had not unfrequently heard him speak in the same fashion before, and was accustomed to his manner of unravelling the mysteries and searching into the causes of Law with a spirit which almost lent a poetry to the subject. When Mr. Dove would do so, Mr. Camperdown would not quite understand the words spoken, but he would listen to them with an undoubting reverence. And he did understand them in part, and was conscious of an infusion of a certain amount of poetic spirit into his own bosom. He would think of these speeches afterwards, and would entertain high but somewhat cloudy ideas of the beauty and the majesty of Law. Mr. Dove’s speeches did Mr. Camperdown good, and helped to preserve him from that worst of all diseases, a low idea of humanity.
“You think, then, we had better not claim them as heirlooms?” he asked.
“I think you had better not.”
“And you think that she could claim them—as paraphernalia?”
“That question has hardly been put to me, though I allowed myself to wander into it. But for my intimacy 341 with you, I should hardly have ventured to stray so far.”
“I need hardly say how much obliged we are. But we will submit one or two other cases to you.”
“I am inclined to think the court would not allow them to her as paraphernalia, seeing that their value is excessive as compared with her income and degree; but if it did, it would do so in a fashion that would guard them from alienation.”
“She would sell them—under the rose.”
“Then she would be guilty of stealing them, which she would hardly attempt, even if not restrained by honesty, knowing, as she would know, that the greatness of the value would almost assuredly lead to detection. The same feeling would prevent buyers from purchasing.”
“She says, you know, that they were given to her, absolutely.”
“I should like to know the circumstances.”
“Yes; of course.”
“But I should be disposed to think that in equity no allegation by the receiver of such a gift, unsubstantiated either by evidence or by deed, would be allowed to stand. The gentleman left behind him a will, and regular settlements. I should think that the possession of these diamonds—not, I presume, touched on in the settlements——”
“Oh dear no; not a word about them.”
“I should think, then, that, subject to any claim to paraphernalia, the possession of the diamonds would be ruled by the will.” Mr. Camperdown was rushing into the further difficulty of chattels in Scotland and those in England, when the Turtle Dove stopped him, 342 declaring that he could not venture to discuss matters as to which he knew none of the facts.
“Of course not; of course not,” said Mr. Camperdown. “We’ll have cases prepared. I’d apologise for coming at all, only that I get so much from a few words.”
“I’m always delighted to see you, Mr. Camperdown,” said the Turtle Dove, bowing.
The word “paraphernalia” means, narrowly, things that can be carried around on the person, such as clothing or jewelry.
as to which the Exors. or Admors. are excluded in favour of the successor
[I hope this means “Executors or Administrators”—that is, the people who would ordinarily make decisions about a decedent’s property.]
We are told in ‘Coke upon Littleton’ that crown jewels are heirlooms, which decision—as far as it goes—denies the right to other jewels.
[I don’t see how this follows. It could mean that all crown jewels are, by definition, heirlooms—the Queen can’t sell them or give them away—while other jewels might or might not be heirlooms.]
in spite of her prosperity one of the unhappiest women, I should say, that you could meet anywhere
[The points of comparison just keep piling up. At least if you assume Frank is simply parroting Lizzie’s own assessment of her position.]
As far as I can make out, the “untruth” that figures so prominently in this chapter is not a question of objective fact, but of interpreting the character or motivations of an absent person. Lord Fawn and his mother therefore align themselves with those who flare out “Are you calling me a liar?” when it is merely suggested that they have been guilty of an error of fact.
Mr. Greystock has been most insolent . . . . has dared to use words to me which would make it necessary that I should call him out
[It’s hard to reconcile these two utterances. The word “insolent” implies that Lord Fawn considers Frank his inferior, while the reference to calling him out implies that Frank is at least his equal. You don’t call out a lackey who disses you.]
“I am sure Frederic does not mean that,” said Amelia.
[Since Amelia has previously been identified as the smart one, this may be the prescriptive use of “I am sure”.]
Georgina, the fourth daughter
[In Chapter IX she was the third daughter, and her name was spelled Georgiana. She will only be named once more in the book, again as Georgina. She could be counted as the third unmarried daughter, the fourth overall.]
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.