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is queer. Don't she take to anybody in | better connections, and really possessed the house?" something of her own, whereas her lover "She is fond of Frederick, I think," had nothing, his friends did not hesitate said Mrs. Eastwood, faltering. Jenny to say among themselves that Mrs. Eastformed his lips into the appearance of wood had long had her eye upon him, that saying "Whew!" He was taken by sur- the Eastwoods had "made a dead set at prise. him," and many other flattering expressions of the same kind, such as are liberally used in polite society whenever a young man is "caught" according to the equally polite expression, by the young woman who, of course, has been angling for him all her life long. This was the way in which the matter was regarded by Ernest's family, who were very much like other people, neither better nor worse, and took the conventional way of treating the subject. They had not a word to say against Nelly, but were convinced she "had made a dead set at him." Such is the way of the world.
A whole week passed before the Molyneuxes took any notice, and then it was announced to Mrs. Eastwood that the head of the house, the future Judge, was to call upon her before he went to his chambers in the morning. Mrs. Eastwood had been put upon her dignity by this treatment of her, and though she had allowed Ernest to come to the Elms constantly, and to dine there every evening, her manner had become day by day a little colder to him. This made Nelly unhappy, who coaxed and hung about her mother with appealing eyes.
"Fond of Frederick, and not care for them!" he said to himself, under his breath; this was a very curious indication of character. I am not sure that Jenny did not think, like most other human creatures, that it was possible his own attractions and influence might "bring out" Innocent. He gave her a considerable share of his attention that evening, and kept his eyes upon her. He was a theoretical sort of boy, and had read a great deal of modern poetry, and liked to think that he could analyze character like Mr. Browning. He tried to throw himself so strongly into her position that he should see the workings of her mind, and why she looked like a ghost. How Jenny succeeded in this noble pursuit of his will be seen hereafter. It occupied his mind very much all that Sunday, during which Nelly and young Molyneux were still in the ascendant, though the first novelty of their glory was beginning to fade.
A MOMENTOUS INTERVIEW.
"But you like Ernest? You are sure you like him?" she would ask ten times a day.
"I have nothing to say against Ernest. It is his family, who are not acting as we have a right to expect them," answered her mother; and she received with great gravity the announcement of Mr. Molyneux's intended visit. She would not allow to any one that she was excited by
THE Course of Nelly's true love did not, however, run so absolutely smooth as might have been supposed from this beginning. Her own family received it, as has been recorded, as a matter concerning Nelly's happiness, with little of those grave considerations about means and money which generally attend the formation of such contracts. Perhaps this might be because she had no father to consider that part of the question, it, but the family breakfasted half an though Mrs. Eastwood did her best to be hour earlier on that particular morning, businesslike. But then Mrs. Eastwood, in order that everything might be cleared being only a woman, believed in love, and away, and the room in order for this inchiefly considered Nelly's happiness-terview. The dining-room was Mrs. which after all, if it were involved, was Eastwood's business room, where she of more importance than money. The transacted all her more important affairs. other side cared nothing about Nelly's There is something in the uncompromishappiness, and not very much for her ing character of a dining-room which lover's-it concerned itself with things suits business; the straight-backed chairs much more important, with the fact that up and down, without compromising five thousand pounds was but a small curves or softness, the severe square recsum to pay for the honour of being tangular lines of the table, the sideboard daughter-in-law to Mr. Molyneux, Q.C., ponderous and heavy, tons of solid maand that Ernest might have done better. hogany. even the pictures on the walls, And though Ellinor Eastwood was of which were all portraits, and of a gravely better blood than the Molyneuxes, and severe aspect made it an appropriate
"They have taken a step," she said, breathless, "which must very seriously affect their happiness
state chamber for great occasions. When | "So our children, ma'am, have been Mr. Molyneux was ushered in, he found making fools of themselves," he said, with Mrs. Eastwood seated on a hard chair be- a twinkle of his eyes, after the prelimfore the table, with a large inkstand and inary observations about her health and all her housekeeping books before her. the weather were over. He followed the He was amused by the pose, being clever words with a chuckle at the folly of the enough to perceive that it, at least, was idea; and Mrs. Eastwood, who was anxnot quite genuine, but he lacked the iously determined to fill the part of "mère power to go further, and immediately noble," was taken aback, and scarcely made a vulgar estimate of her, such as knew what to reply. vulgar-minded men invariably make of women whose youth and good looks are waning. Mr. Molyneux was a great speaker, a powerful pleader, but a vulgarminded man notwithstanding. He was loosely made and loosely dressed, with a certain largeness and breadth about him which impressed his hearers as if it had been a moral quality. and his face was loquacious, especially the mouth, which had large lips, and lines about them bearing token of perpetual motion. These lips, and the peculiar way in which, in repose, they closed upon each other, were enough to prove to any spectator that his powers of speech were not to be despised. It was not an eloquent mouth. There is a great difference between powerful loquacity and real eloquence. He was not eloquent. A lofty subject would have disconcerted him, and when he attempted to treat an ordinary subject in a lofty way, his grandeur became bathos, and called forth laughter when tears were intended. But he was tremendously fluent, and he was popular. He did almost what he liked with the ordinary British jury, and his name in a bad case was almost as good as a verdict of acquittal.
"Just so," said Mr. Molyneux, "and you and I must see what can be done about it. Ernest is not a bad fellow, ma'am, but he is sadly imprudent. He plunges into a step like this, without ever thinking what is to come of it. I suppose he has told you what his circumstances are ?"
Mrs. Eastwood replied by a somewhat stiff inclination of the head.
"Precisely like him," said his father, chuckling. "Not a penny to bless himself with, nor the least idea where to find one; and accordingly he goes and proposes to a pretty girl, and makes up his mind, I suppose, to set up housekeeping ing directly- Heaven help him!— upon nothing a year."
"This is not what he has said to me,"
When this man was ushered in by Brownlow with an importance befitting the occasion, Mrs. Eastwood momentarily felt her courage fail her. She knew him but slightly, and had never come into much personal contact with him, and she had that natural respect, just touched by a little dread of him, which women often entertain for men of public eminence who have gained for themselves a prominent place in the world. Nor did he do anything to diminish her agitation. He looked at her with cool grey eyes which twinkled from the folds and layers of eyelids that surrounded them, and with a half sarcastic smile on his face; and he called her "ma'am," as he was in the habit of doing when he meant to bully a female witness. Mrs. Eastwood, striving vaguely against the feeling, felt as if she too was going to be cross-examined and to commit herself, which was not a comfortable frame of mind.
said Mrs. Eastwood. "In the first place,
Mrs. Eastwood was interrupted here, by a low "Ho, ho!" of laughter from her visitor -a very uncomfortable kind of interruption. To tell the truth, feeling that things were against her, and determined not to let down Nelly's dignity, she had taken refuge in a grandeur of expression which she herself was conscious might be beyond the subject. No woman likes to be laughed at; and Mrs. Eastwood grew twenty times more dignified, as she became aware of the levity with which the other parent treated the whole affair.
"Ho! ho! ho! I recognize my boy in that," said Mr. Molyneux. "I beg your pardon, but Ernest is too great a wag to be resisted. Greater diligence in the pursuit of his profession! He ought to be made Lord Chancellor on the spot for that phrase. Are you aware, my dear ma'am, that he has never done anything, that boy of mine, in the pursuit of his profession, or otherwise, since he was born?"
"Am I to understand, Mr. Molyneux," | gain, we had better know exactly what said Mrs. Eastwood, slightly tremulous we mean on either side. I did not want with offence and agitation, "that your Ernest to marry now, and in case he did object is to break off the engagement be- marry, he ought to have looked higher. tween my daughter and your son?" I don't mean to be unpleasant, but I should have liked him to look out - let us say, brutally for more money. He has cost a deal of money in his day; and he ought to have brought in more. It is very likely, indeed, that your views were of a similar character. In that case, instead of wrangling, we ought to agree. Miss Nelly might have done better
"Nothing of the sort, ma'am ; nothing of the sort," said Mr. Molyneux, cheerfully. "I have no objections to your daughter; and if it did not happen with her, it would happen with some one else. It is for both our interests, though, that they don't do anything foolish. What they intend is that we should pay the piper
“A great deal better," said the mother, firmly, and with decision.
Exactly so. At bottom we mean the same thing, though I may speak too roughly; but, like a couple of young fools, they have gone and run their heads into a net. Privately, I admire your daughter very much," said Mr. Molyneux, with a certain oily change in his tone confession that the present subject under treatment was not to be bullied, but required more delicate dealing; "and though I say it that shouldn't, my son Ernest is a fine young fellow. They will make a handsome couple - just the kind of thing that would be delightful in a novel or in a poem where they could live happy ever after, and never feel the want of money. But in this prosaic world things don't go on so comfortably. They have not a penny; that is the question that remains between you and me." Nelly has five thousand pounds; and he has his profession," said Mrs. Eastwood, with a certain faltering in her voice. 'Well, well, well," said the wise man. "If we were all in a state of innocence, five thousand pounds would be something; and if we were a little wickeder, his profession might count; but the world is not so litigious as might be desired. My son is too grand to demean himself to criminal cases like that inconsiderable mortal, his father. And do you mean them to live in London, my dear ma'am, upon Miss Nelly's twopence-halfpenny a year?"
You must do me the favour to speak for yourself, and your son," said Mrs. Eastwood, with spirit. "My child has no such idea. She has never known anything about such calculations; and I am sure she will not begin now."
"I beg your pardon, and Miss Nelly's pardon," said the great man with an amused look. "I did not mean to reflect upon any one. But if she has not begun yet, I fear she will soon begin when she is Ernest's wife. They can't help it, ma'am. I am not blaming them. Once they are married, they must live; they must have a house over their heads, and a dinner daily. I've no doubt Miss Nelly's an angel; but even an angel, when she has weekly bills coming in, and nothing to pay them with, will begin to scheme."
Such a thing appears to me quite impossible," said Mrs. Eastwood, in a flutter of suppressed indignation, and then she added, pausing to recover herself: "I must say at once, Mr. Molyneux, that if this is the way in which you are disposed to look at the matter, I should prefer to end the discussion. My daughter's happiness is very dear to me; but her credit, and my own credit, ought to be still more dear
"My dear ma'am," cried Mr. Molyneux, "now tell me, as a matter of curiosity, how your credit is concerned, or why you should be angry? My point of view is that, of course, the young people mean to get as much as they can out of usPerhaps your son does, sir!" cried Mrs. Eastwood, exasperated. "You ought to know him best."
Of course, I know him best; and, of course, that is his object to get as much as he can out of me," said Mr. Molyneux, pausing upon the pronoun. "Since you don't like it, I will leave the other side out of the question. I have known Ernest these eight and twenty years, and I ought to know what stuff he is made of. Now, as there are two parties to this bar
"Indeed, I am not so foolish," cried Mrs. Eastwood; "beside thinking it wrong as a matter of principle. He must work, of course, before he can marry. He must have at least the prospect of a sufficient income before I should ever give my consent."
"A sufficient income earned by Ernest!" said Mr. Molyneux, with, again, that detestable "Ho, ho!” “Pardon me, my dear Mrs. Eastwood; but when I see how that boy has imposed upon you! No
- believe me, who know him better, that if anything is to come of it, it must be done by you and me."
"What I might be able to give my
"I do not understand, Mr. Moly-daughter?" said Mrs. Eastwood, in sur prise; "but I have nothing to do with it. I give her nothing she comes into it by her grandfather's will.”
"The five thousand pounds—yes, yes, I understand all about that," said Mr. Molyneux, with a mixture of disgust and weariness. This infinitesimal, but always recurring, morsel of money bored him. But he tried to keep his temper. He explained the duty of parents in such an emergency with great fulness. If a sacrifice had to be made, it must, he pointed out, be a mutual sacrifice. The question was not of five thousand pounds, or five thousand pence, but how to "make up an income " for the young people. Without an income there could be no marriage; it was not a matter of feeling, but of arrangement; if the one side did so much, the other side would do so much more. The great man explained the position with all his natural wealth of words, and with all the ease of wealth, to which a hundred or two more of expenditure in a year mattered comparatively little. But Mrs. Eastwood, who, as the reader is aware, had enough, but not too much, listened with a dismay which she could scarcely disguise. She, who had been obliged to put down her carriage, in order to free her son, was not in a position to give large allowances to either son or daughter. She made the best effort she could to maintain her ground.
"I should have thought that your son, in your profession, in which you are so eminent -" she began with an attempt to propitiate her amicable adversary, who had changed the question so entirely from what appeared to her its natural aspect.
"I quite believe it," he said, relapsing into carelessness just touched with contempt. "Ladies seldom understand such matters. If you will tell me the name of your solicitor, perhaps it would be better for me to talk the matter over with him."
"What is there to talk over?" said Mrs. Eastwood, once more roused into indignation. "I think, Mr. Molyneux, that we are speaking different languages. Nelly has her little fortune as you know- and I am willing to allow her to wait till Ernest is in a position to claim her. I should not allow this without your approval, as his father. But as, so far, you have given your approval, what more does there remain to say?"
The great lawyer looked at his simple antagonist with a kind of stupefaction.
"We are indeed talking two different languages," he said. "Tell me who is your solicitor, my dear lady, and he and I will talk it over
mine to some extent what I should give him."
"In a matter so important," said Mrs. Eastwood, plucking firmness from the emergency, "I prefer to act for myself."
Perhaps at this moment she achieved the greatest success of her life, though she did not know it. Mr. Molyneux was struck dumb. He stared at her, and he scratched his head like any bumpkin. He could not swear, nor storm, nor threaten, as he would sometimes do with the hapless people in the witness-box. He was obliged to be civil, and smooth-spoken, and to treat her with a certain degree of politeness; for though he believed that Ernest might have done better, he had no desire to defy his son, who was, in his way, a formidable opponent, and he did not quite venture, knowing the sort of young man he had to deal with, to break off the match, or do anything violent tending that way.
"Then I must try what can be done by plainer language," he said, hiding his bewilderment under a specious appearance of candour. "We must throw away all circumlocution. Let us be reasonable. I will give my son so much a year, if you will give your daughter so much a year. That is what it comes to. If we do this, there may be some possibility for them; but without this, nothing can be done; and of course, the allowance which you might be able to give her would deter
"In my profession, ma'am, a man stands on his own merits, not his father's," Mr. Molyneux answered, interrupting her with brusque decision. What was poor Mrs. Eastwood to do? She could not give to Nelly without being unjust to her other children, and yet how was she to have the heart to crush Nelly's happiness by refusing? A vision of her child, hollow-eyed and pale, casting pa thetic glances at her, which would be worse than reproaches, flitted before her eyes. Girls have died ere now of separation from their lovers, and Nelly (the mother thought) was the kind of girl to break her heart without a complaint. Could she risk the breaking of Nelly's
heart for a miserable question of money? and children, brother and sister, the first This was an influence infinitely more sub- thing it does in most cases is to make a tle and potent than Mr. Molyneux's elo- rent and division. It calls out the sense quence. While he talked the good moth- of self and personal identity, it breaks er fought it out in her own bosom. She the soft silken bonds of nature, and turns gave her consent that he should see her the hands a little while ago so closely solicitor and talk over the matter with a linked almost against each other. Nelly sort of despairing acquiescence and that thought her mother was hard to her desperate trust in Providence which Ernest, and Ernest thought his future springs up in an oppressed soul when mother-in-law was already developing the driven to its last resources. Something true mother-in-law character, and was might "come in the way." Nothing about to become his natural enemy. He could be resolved upon at once; neither could not help giving hints of this to his to-day nor to-morrow could call for imme- betrothed, which made Nelly unhappy. diate action, and something might come And then her mother would find her cryin the way. ing, and on asking why, would be assailed with pitiful remonstrances.
"Dear mamma, why should you turn against Ernest? You used to like him well enough. Is it because I am fond of him that you turn against him?" Thus Nelly would moan, rending her mother's heart.
Mr. Molyneux saw Nelly before he went away, and was kind and fatherly, kissing her on the forehead, an act which Mrs. Eastwood half resented, as somehow interfering with her absolute property in her child. The lover she tolerated, but the lover's father was odious to her. And this trial of her patience was all the more All this introduced the strangest new hard that she had to put the best face commotion into the peaceful household, upon it before Nelly, and to say that Mr. and the reader will not wonder that poor Molyneux and she did not quite agree on Mrs. Eastwood, thus held on the rack, some points, but that everything would was a little impatient of other annoyances. come right by-and-by. Nelly had always On the very evening of the day on which been her mother's confidant, knowing she had the interview with Mr. Molyneux everything and thrusting her ready youth-above recorded, when she was going ful opinion and daring undoubting advice through the hall on her way upstairs, aninto whatever was going on, and to shut other vexing and suggestive incident disher out now from all participation in this turbed her. The hall was square, with crowning care was unspeakably hard. one little deep window on one side of the door, the recess of which was filled with a window seat. Here some one was seated, half-visible in the darkness, with a head pressed against the window, gazing out. Nothing could be more unlike the large window of the Palazzo Scaramucci, but the attitude and act were the same. Mrs. Eastwood stopped, half alarmed, and watched the motionless figure. Then she went forward with a wondering uneasiness.
And then the nature of the vexation which she had thus to conceal within herself was so doubly odious a question of money, which made her appear even to herself as if she was a niggard where her child's happiness was involved, she who had never grudged Nelly anything all her life! Other disagreeables, too, mingled in the matter. To be roused from the pleasant confidence that all your friends think well of you by the sudden discovery that some of them, at least, hold very lightly the privilege of your special allíance, is not in itself consolatory. Everything connected with the subject turned somehow into pain. Since the time when the carriage was put down, no such incident had occurred in the family, and Frederick's debts, which were a kind of natural grief in their way (for has not every man debts ?), were not half so overwhelming as this, nor did they bring half so many troubles in their train.
"Is it you, Innocent?" she said.
"What are you doing here? It is too cold to stand about in the hall, and besides it is not a proper place for you. Go into the drawing-room dear, or come upstairs with me. What are you doing here?"
When the love of lovers comes into a house which has hitherto been kept warm and bright by the loves of parent VOL. II. 95
"I am waiting,” said Innocent. "For what, for whom?" said the mother, alarmed.
"For Frederick," said the girl, with a long drawing out of the breath, which was almost a sigh.