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"I don't know whether they are particularly fine or not. There are a great lot of them of one sort or another." Then there was a little pause, and then like a man rushing full tilt at a fence, Borrough dale burst out, "I'd like you to have them all for the matter of that, Miss Holland." Then, after another momentary pause: "Will you?" he added.
Poor Katherine gave a gasp. Could he possibly have been taking more wine than was prudent that evening? she not unnat urally asked herself. Every one had now come up-stairs again from supper; the rooms, neither of them very large, were full to overflowing. Every one, moreover, she could see, had his or her head turned towards the sofa. Every one was more or less on the qui vive as to the meaning and the outcome of this most remarkable conversation which was being carried on thus audaciously under their very noses -two of the Miss Macmanuses, who happened to be nearest the sofa, having their heads turned directly towards them with an expression of anything but satisfaction imprinted upon their countenances. To affect to be any longer in doubt as to the goal towards which these remarkably direct observations were tending would have been nothing short of sheer affectation. Unless some stop was then and there put to his proceedings he would be asking her plump to marry him before ten minutes were out, if indeed he might not have been said to have practically done so already. What then, she asked herself, was to be done? Possibly, under other circumstances, she might not have been more averse to such a public act of homage than another woman. At present, however, she was thinking much less of herself than of him. Like all who cared for Borroughdale even slightly, a large share of protectiveness, of a sort of tenderness, mingled with her liking; and to hinder him from making such a ridiculous exhibition of himself before all these inquisitive people to choke back, if possible, this declaration, which seemed to be even then trembling upon his lips-became an overwhelming desire, towards which all her energies were immediately directed.
"I don't believe you have ever seen Professor Macmanus's famous collection, Lord Borroughdale?" she exclaimed, ignoring his last remark, and catching eagerly at the nearest chance of effecting a diversion. "Are you aware that it is said to be the richest of its kind in the world? that there are numbers of species in it of
which neither the British Museum or the Paris collections have a specimen? You ought not to leave the house without seeing it. Do let me be cicerone and show them to you."
But her well-intended efforts were perfectly useless. The young man's pertinacity was not so to be stayed.
"I don't care two straws about the professor's collection, or any other collection," he said loudly. "I want you to give me an answer."
- er me
"An answer, Lord Borroughdale ? poor Katherine said helplessly. "Yes, about those things those -er jewels we were talking of my jewels. I want to know whether you will-erhave them, you know; and too?" The last two words were said in a somewhat lower tone, but when Katherine, instead of answering, sat simply staring at him in blank-eyed, open-mouthed dismay, he added, in his previous highly audible tones, “Do say yes;" then, even more distinctly, "You will, won't you?"
This was perfectly appalling! There was a nearly absolute silence in the room. Conversation, it is true, had broken out here and there by fits and starts, but had been lulled again by the overpowering curiosity of the entire company. away, at the extreme end of the inner room, an elderly gentlemen was to be heard laying down the law to his neighbor about the scandalously crowded condition of the City omnibuses. Even his voice, however, suddenly dropped in the sort of breathless awe which had fallen upon the entire assemblage. That last appallingly distinct “You will, won't you?" had evidently made itself plainly heard from one end of the house to the other. Had the speaker even been an unknown nobody the situation would not have been without zest, but when it was considered who he was, and what those advantages which were being laid thus publicly at a young lady's feet as though he had been a Corydon and she a Phillis in the safe seclusion of their own native woods and meadows, it must be owned that a certain amount of curiosity was not human merely, but excusable.
Katherine Holland, at any rate, could stand it no longer. She got up, saying something incoherent but decisive about her aunt, and the necessity of going downstairs in search of her and so saying, moved resolutely towards the door.
Borroughdale, after a moment's pause of bewilderment, followed her, catching her up as she was upon the stairs. She
was in momentary terror lest he should begin again upon the same subject; this, however, happily, he abstained from doing, and having found Mrs. Holland, and listened in stoical silence to her elaborate explanation as to the causes that had detained her down-stairs, he volunteered to go in search of their carriage, and having found it, and put the two ladies into it, he stood back so as to allow them to drive away.
honestly. Did Miss Holland say she wasn't going ever to be at home to me in future?"
The prim parlor-maid, utterly taken aback by his so much uncalled-for vehemence, opened her mouth and her eyes to their widest extent, and for the moment completely lost her starched demeanor in the extremity of her astonishment.
"Why good laws a mussy me, my lord, in course not! Miss Holland she never said nothing of the sort - leastways not to me. She and Mrs. Holland have only gone to the Soho Bazaar, as I heard missus say she wanted some new hearthbrooms!
After all this it need hardly be said that the next afternoon he called at the house in Bayswater. His mood, however, had completely changed in the interval; that overmastering determination, which had seemed strong enough at the time to move "Oh, that's all right," Borroughdale mountains and to carry him over a thou- answered, rather ashamed of his own imsand obstacles, had completely gone, and petuosity. "You can keep the sovereign, he had fallen back upon all his previous you know; and -er-look here, you can fluctuations of despondency. Oddly say I'll probably be at the Institution toenough, now that he was thus seriously morrow evening," he added, as he turned and strenuously in love, those more ob-away for the second time. vious and impersonal advantages which had previously seemed so perilously to overweight any suit he might prefer, had become of little or no account in his mind. He hardly thought of them in summing up the probabilities for or against a successful issue in his suit. His own stupidity, his awkwardness, his general incapac ity for social purposes, all seemed so many rocks which rose up menacingly, at times absolutely forbidding his hoping that that issue would be other than disastrous. It was in this desponding mood that he rang the door-bell that afternoon at Mrs. Holland's house, nor was his previous gloom lightened upon being informed by the prim parlor-maid with that The lecture was a brilliant one, deair of satisfaction with which such mes-livered by one of the greatest of living sages generally are delivered, that the ladies were not at home.
Borroughdale stood still, staring blankly for a moment at the woman, as if in so saying she had uttered something preposterous, something utterly inconceivable, and unheard of; then he turned and slowly descended the steps, and, still like a man in a dream, got into his phaton, which was waiting at the door, and mechanically gathered up the reins in his hands. Just as the horses were beginning to get into motion, however, he suddenly checked them, flung down the reins so hurriedly that it was as much as the groom, who was mounting, could do to get to their heads in time, and bounced up the steps again.
"I say-er-look here, my good girl," he exclaimed breathlessly, "here is a sovereign for you, and tell me the truth
Next evening, accordingly, he duly appeared in Albemarle Street, arriving late, after the lecture had already begun, and thereby earning for himself not a few unuttered maledictions from the owners of the various skirts and feet over which he ruthlessly trampled on his way to his seat. A place had been reserved for him between Professor Holland and his niece Mrs. Holland did not care for lecturesinto which he dropped, and sat staring blankly into the arena with the expression of a man who has just lost or is expecting to lose every farthing which he possesses in the world.
proficients in that line, and was received with reiterated bursts of applause not unmingled with laughter. As far as Borroughdale, however, was concerned, it might just as well have been uttered in the tongue of the Cherokees or of the dwellers in Cochin China for any single intelligent idea which adhered to him during its utterance; all his thoughts, every idea which he had in his head, being solely and absolutely concentrated upon one point. How was he to get an answer to this ill-fated, this all-important question of his? That it behoved him, being a man and having once spoken, to get such an answer, and, moreover, to get it quickly, was clear to him; but how his first effort having so egregiously failed - he was to do this was more than he could see. Indeed he shrank from again, as it were in cold blood, adventuring his fate,
reflecting, not without a certain measure Her words were by no means so ready of satisfaction, that it was almost humanly as they ought to have been. impossible that any such opportunity could present itself that evening.
In this, however, he was mistaken. It was the last lecture, as it happened, of that season, and no sooner was it over than the professor, begging them kindly to wait a few minutes for him, hastily descended the steps in order to exchange certain words of wisdom with other blackcapped and spectacled sages who, followed by their feminine belongings, were now rapidly converging into the narrow circular space in the centre. Borroughdale and Miss Holland were thus left for the time being absolutely tête-à-tête, seated side by side upon one of the red-covered benches. All around them similar red-covered benches were fast emptying of the groups which had lately filled them, the few remaining people being assiduously bent upon discovering stray capes or shawls, so that to all practical intents our two young people were as much alone as though they had been in the centre of the great Sahara.
Something in this sudden sensation of solitude, something in the encompassing yet indistinguishable volume of sound gave Borroughdale sudden courage, and with hands shaking and knees knocking, but with an inward dogged resolution to have the thing out and get it over, he began huskily,
"Miss Holland, er-you wouldn't give me, er any answer the other evening, will you, please, give me one now?"
He stopped, physically incapable for the moment of uttering another syllable. Her embarrassment was hardly less than his.
"I couldn't, Lord Borrougdale. Indeed, indeed, I couldn't," she said in a tone of distress. How could you think of speaking to me upon such a subject before all those people? Didn't you see that they were listening?"
"No, I didn't see it; but if they were, what then? What did the people matter? I shouldn't have cared for my part if all London had been listening. I'm not a bit afraid of people; I'm only afraid of you."
"Of course I needn't say how very, very grateful I am to you, Lord Borroughdale," she began hesitatingly.
"That's all stuff," he responded bluntly. "No, it is not stuff at all. I consider it a very great honor; a far greater one than I ever thought of receiving."
"Now, look here, Miss Holland, please don't talk like that. You must have seen, at least I think you must have seen, for a good while back that I wanted to speak to you; to-er-say what I said the other night, only that I haven't—er - I mean I couldn't er I mean stopped dead short and then began again. "You must have known, I say, that I cared for you. Any one, I think, would have known it."
"I didn't know it, I assure you."
"Well then, if you didn't you know it now. It sounds like nothing, I dare say," he went on, “but you don't know what it is to me. I thought all that sort of thing was sheer balderdash, but if so then balderdash is the only thing worth having. I know I'd give every single sixpence I have in the world to get my own way in this. To have.
Now that he was at last fairly launched he might have gone on for some time longer, but she broke in upon him in a tone of distress.
"Lord Borroughdale, please please do not say anything more. I am grateful, indeed more grateful than I can say, but
"But you don't like me simply; say it out at once and have done with it."
"I do like you very much, but it cannot indeed indeed it cannot be." "Why cannot it be?
"Because because of so many reasons. Think how short a time you have known me. And then again ——” voice, which had been embarrassed became suddenly firmer. "Remember, what would your own relatives say remember the difference of our position. People would say that you ought to marry some one nearer to your own rank," the last word being uttered with a clear, almost a contemptuous emphasis.
She tried to laugh. "I didn't know that I was so very for- of a snort of disdain and defiance. midable," she said.
Borroughdale gave utterance to a sort
"You are to me. When a fellow is awfully anxious about a thing he necessa rily is frightened."
Again he waited as if to give her time to speak.
"Rank, stuff! People, bosh!" he exclaimed. "Why, my rank, as you call it, has been simply the bane and nothing else of my life, and it will be ten times over my bane if it is going to come between you and me. No, don't think of what
people say, or of any such rubbish and of inquiry. "I promise," she then said nonsense as that. One thing there is gravely, and that was all that passed bethough that I do want to know, that Itween them. must ask you, is there any one, some one ever so much cleverer, handsomer, that you've known longer than you have me, whom you like, whom you er-care for er-better?" Miss Holland looked for a moment slightly puzzled, her dark eyes resting full upon his with an expression of inquiry, which, however, gave way a moment later to a slight blush.
No, Lord Borroughdale, there is no such person," she said decidedly.
"Very well, then, that's all I want to know. If not, it's all right, and there's nothing in the world to hinder your marrying me."
"Forgive me, but there is. As I say you hardly know me."
"I know you quite well enough." "Well then, I do not know you enough, and if you press me for an answer now I must say no."
"All right, then, I won't press you for an answer now, so don't say no. Look here, I'll promise, if you like, not to ask you again for two months, or three months -any time you choose. Of course I don't imagine it's particularly likely that you'd get to care for me all in a hurry, but I know that I care for you, and I've never yet changed my mind about anything, so that I'm not very likely to begin about this. Unless, therefore, you go and marry some other fellow, you'll see that you'll not be able to get rid of me; you'll find me sticking to you like a burr."
She smiled a little.
"I don't know that I particularly want to get rid of you, Lord Borroughdale; certainly not that way."
"Very well then, now you know the only way in which you can, so I give you fair warning. Once I've made up my mind to a thing I stick to it like grim death, and I know that I shall care for you always just as much as I do this evening. However, I don't want to persecute you about it, and I'll go away from London to-morrow and not ask you again for another three months if that will do. Only you must promise upon your sacred word and honor to think of me sometimes in the mean time, and to try to get to like me. Will you?" he added, detaining her resolutely as she was moving down the steps in obedience to a signal from her uncle.
Miss Holland paused, and her eyes, nearly on a level with his, rested full upon his face for a moment with an expression
BORROUGHDALE kept his word and departed from London the very next day, without even going to take leave of any one. He did not, however, go down to Fellshire, having indeed already made arrangements for otherwise disposing of his summer.
In the course of the last few months he had made acquaintance with a young man rejoicing in the name of Jeptha Jenkinson, professor of comparative anatomy at that time in the London University, and one of the minor curators of the British Museum. Professor Jenkinson was a very remarkable man in his way, and was destined in many competent people's opinion to fill a very considerable sphere in the future. Of indomitable energy, of iron will, of almost superhuman powers of work, he was curt, he was taciturn, he was ungainly almost to repulsiveness, and a sworn foe above all to social observance of every sort and kind. These latter and less agreeable traits of his it was, to the full as much as the force of his character or the brilliancy of his attainments, that had moved Lord Borroughdale to strike up a sort of intimacy with him. In Professor Jenkinson he seemed to see a sort of second self; a cleverer, an abler, an altogether immensely more largely endowed self, without on the other hand any of those, to his mind, more than dubious advantages which had shaped, and to a certain extent, as he believed, warped his own life and the bent of his own inclina. tions.
Early in their acquaintance he had ascertained that one of the main objects which the professor had set before himself, was the working out of certain still obscure problems only to be adequately solved by means of a more thoroughly intimate acquaintance with certain equally obscure organisms to be met with at considerable depths in the northern seas. Borroughdale, whose enthusiasm upon such matters was at that time only equalled by his ignorance, had at once offered to fit out a yacht with all the needful appliances for the prosecution of such investigations, and to place them and it absolutely and unreservedly at the professor's disposal, upon the sole condi. tion of accompanying him in the charac ter at once of host and disciple. This proposal had been naturally enough im
mediately caught at, and by the time the end of the season arrived all the needful preparations had been made, and the yacht, fully equipped, was lying at anchor at Sheerness, waiting only for her owner and his guest to come on board.
Throughout what remained of that summer, and throughout the early part of the autumn, the two men accordingly lived together upon the yacht, toiling almost day and night at their self-imposed task; dredging often for eight and ten hours at a time, and more often than not with what appeared perfectly inadequate results; blistered with the sun at one time, half frozen with sudden snowstorms at another, drenched to the skin with brine and snow, and hail and rain, they still held their way doggedly onward. And by the time the two months they spent together had come to an end, and the professor's aims had to a considerable degree at all events been realized, without perhaps exactly becoming closer friends, each had learnt to feel a certain half-grudging respect for those qualities in the other which each secretly cherished and set most store by in himself.
Paragraphs concerning the movements and objects of the Marquis of Borroughdale's screw steamer, “Cormorant,” had, of course, long before this found their way into most of the society newspapers, and even in more strictly scientific quarters, not a little interest had been evinced with regard to the proceedings of that bird herself, if not of that bird's owner. This species of fame took Mr. Vansittart not a little by surprise. As long as his son had simply contented himself with doing nothing at all, he had always felt that there was a chance of his being some time or other rescued, and turned into, at all events, a passably creditable member of society. When, however, Borroughdale | took to cleaning out crabs, and interesting himself about the insides of sea anemones, then indeed, as we have seen, that unhappy father did feel that all was at an end. A young man-one born to so great a sphere who could thus deliberately and wantonly degrade himself, take up with such undesirable, nay, such truly disgusting monomanias as these, was, it was only too evident, hopelessly given over to oddity, and could never henceforward be regarded as anything but a trial, to be borne with all the philosophy which as a man, a Christian, and a father, he was able to summon to his aid.
What then, I say, was his surprise when he discovered that, far from being regard.
ed as feebly, if fortunately harmlessly, half-witted, Borroughdale appeared to be looked upon by a good many people as rather a fine fellow than otherwise, and a distinct improvement upon the average young man of his period. The climax of his parental astonishment came when one day the Duke of Ossian himself - leader at that moment of his own party in the Upper House-actually stopped him in the street, when they casually met on their way through London, for the express pur. pose of congratulating him upon the subject, lamenting loudly at the same time that none of his own sons or nephews showed the smallest inclination to follow in the same direction. "I tell them if they don't look out and bestir themselves they'll be wiped clean out of the record before they know where they are!" that advanced nobleman declared in stentorian tones. "But Borroughdale is upon the right track. I only wish to heaven there were a few more like him!"
All this was very astonishing indeed to that much belauded young man's father, but it is only fair to add that it was eminently gratifying also. And when at the end of his two months' cruise Borroughdale himself reappeared upon the scene, looking older, manlier, more stalwart, with a face as red as a lobster, and a beard of seven weeks' growth upon his chin, Mr. Vansittart experienced a glow of parental pride and satisfaction to which his breast, six months earlier, had certainly been an absolute stranger.
Upon Granville Farquart on the other hand, the effect of this unlooked-for ovation was less gratifying than perplexing, and even it must be owned to some degree mortifying. Heaven knows, he said to himself, he didn't grudge poor Borroughdale such small chips of credit as might happen to come in his way! At the same time there was something irritating in a contingency occurring which so clever a man as himself perhaps ought to have anticipated, but certainly never had dreamt of doing so. He experienced too, a little of that aggrieved feeling which a gentleman who has piqued himself upon the liking shown to him, and to him alone, by some ungainly puppy, feels when the puppy suddenly takes to finding out new friends for himself, and even promises to grow up not such a very ill-favored animal after all.
That by any conceivable or inconceiva. ble possibility he could come to feel jeal ous of his poor, puzzle-witted friend, of all men upon earth, was a suggestion which