Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

THE LADIES LINDORES.

CHAPTER XXVII.

sheer value of the writing, and such | However deep his imagination led him to praise, if it be found to rest on no more descend into the dregs of society, he still practical foundation, will seem to them, breathed an untainted atmosphere around to use the words of one of Dickens's own him; he was still able to show by his own characters, pious, but not to the purpose. example that, even in dealing with the It is inevitable that much of his serious darkest scenes and most degraded charand sentimental work will have for future acters, genius could be clean and mirth generations neither the attraction nor the decent.”

MOWBRAY MORRIS. solidity that it had for his own. For the tears be sought to draw, the graver feelings he sought to move, he went too often, if I may use the word, to local sources,

From Blackwood's Magazine. too often to artificial. What Lamb said of comedy is surely true to a certain extent of all fiction : our “ fireside concerns,” attractive as they are to us, cannot

The drive bome would have been very in reason have the same attraction for embarrassing to the ladies had not Mille. those who have never warmed themselves fleurs been the perfect little gentleman he at our hearth. Each age has its own fire-was. Rintoul, though he ought to have side ; each age provides its own tears. been aware that his presence was specially The “ familiar matter of to-day” will not desirable, had abandoned his mother and be the familiar matter of to-inorrow. It sister; and the consciousness of the seis the splendid sorrows of a Priam or a cret, which was no secret, weighed upon Lear that touch the heart of Time. Lady Lindores so much, that it was The cease of majesty

scarcely possible for her to keep up any Dies not alone; but like a gulf doth draw

appearance of the easy indifference which What's near it with it; it is a massy wheel,

was her proper rôle in the circumstances, Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount

while it silenced Edith altogether. They To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser could scarcely look him in the face, knowthings

ing both the state of suspense in which Are mortised and adjoin’d: which when it falls he must be, and the false impression of Each small annexment, petty consequence, Edith's feelings which he was probably Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

entertaining. Lady Lindores felt certain

that he was aware she had been informed But the quality of a humor founded in by her husband of what had passed, and the roots of our common humanity can feared to look at him lest lie might, by never wax old nor die, and it seems im- some glance of intelligence, some look of possible to imagine a day when the world appeal, call upon her sympathy; while on will refuse to laugh with Dickens. The the other hand, it was all-essential to keep careless glance of curiosity, or the stu- him, if possible, from noticing the pale dent's all-ranging eye, may iurn a century consciousness of Edith, her silence and hence upon the little Nells and Pauls, the shrinking discomfort, so unlike her usual Joes and the Trotty Vecks; but the Wel. frank and friendly aspect. Millefleurs lers and the Pecksniffs, the Swivellers was far too quick-sighted not to observe and the Micawbers must surely abide for this unusual embarrassment; but there ever, unchanging and immortal - immor- was no more amiable young man in Entals of lesser note, and with more of mortal gland, and it was his part for the moment mixture, but still of the same lineage with to set them at their ease, and soothe the Falstaff. And then with the laughter that agitation which he could not but perceive. they stir will be remembered and con- He talked of everything but the matter fessed the real worth of the noble praise most near his lieart with that self-sacrifice Dean Stanley gave to their creator's of true politeness which is perhaps the memory, praise whose significance our truest as it is one of the most difficult own age has in truth too ample means for manifestations of social heroism. He judging : Remember, if there be any took pains to be amusing, to show himself who think you cannot be witty without unconcerned and unexcited; and, as was being wicked; who think that in order to natural, he got his reward. Lady Linamuse the world, and to awaken the inter- dores was almost piqued (though it was est of hearers or readers, you must de. so great a relief) that Edith's suitor should scend to filthy jests, and unclean sugges- be capable of such perfect calm; and tions, and debasing scenes, so wrote not Edith herself, though with a dim percepthe genial, loving humorist we now mourn. tion of the heroism in it, could not but

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

a

console herself with the thought that one the trees. He had possession of the so completely self-controlled would “get stage, as it were, during all that long way over” his disappointment easily. Their home, which to the ladies seemed about conversation at last came to be almost al twice as long as it had ever been before. monologue on his part. He discoursed Lord Lindores had not accompanied the on Tinto and its treasures as an easy sub-party. He did not come in contact with ject. “It has one great quality – it is his son-in-law, indeed, any more than he homogeneous," he said, " which is too big could help. Though he had taken up a word for a small fellow like me. It is Tinto so warmly at first, it was not to be all of a piece, don't you know. To think supposed that a man of bis refinement what lots of money those good people could have any pleasure in such society; must have spent on those great vases, and though he made a point of keeping and candelabra, and things ! We don't on scrupulously good terms with Tordo that sort of thing nowadays. We roam rance, even when the latter set himself in over all the world, and pick up our bric-à-opposition to the earl's plans, yet he kept brac cheap. But, don't you know, there's away from the spectacle afforded by his something fine in the other principle — daughter and her husband in their own there's a grand sort of spare-no-expense house. If Lord Lindores's private sentisentiment. I'd like to do it all over again i ments could have been divined, it would for them to clear away all that finery, probably have been apparent that in his which is mere Empire, and get something soul he thought it hard upon poor Caroline really good, don't you know. But at the to have married such a man. There were same time, I respect this sort of thing. reasons which made it very desirable, There is a thoroughness in it. It is going even necessary; but it was a pity, he felt. the whole aniinal,' as we say in America. In the present case, however, there was Mr. Torrance, who is a fine big man, just nothing but congratulations to be thought like his house, should, if you'll allow me of. Edith was, there could be no doubt, to say so, have carried out the principle a a thoroughly fortunate young woman. little further; he should not have gone so Nobody could say a word against Milleentirely into a different genre in his wife.” fleurs. He had shown himself eccentric,

“You mean that Carry is — that Carry but only in a way quite approved by his looks She is not very strong," said generation; and there was no doubt that Lady Lindores, with involuntary quicken. a wife, at once pretty and charming, and ing of attention, taking up instantly an sufficiently clever, was all that he wanted attitude of defence.

to settle him. Not Carry Carry was “Dear Lady Lindores,". cried little too intellectual, too superior altogether, Millefleurs, "entirely out of keeping! A for the democratic little marquis; but different genre altogether; a different Edith had just the combination of simplicdate - the finest ethical nineteenth cen.ity and mental competence that would tury against a background Empire: pre- suit his position. It was the most ad. posterous altogether. We have no style mirable arrangement that could have been to speak of in china, or that sort of thing devised. Lord Lindores sat in bis library

which is odd, considering how much with - much satisfaction of mind, and we think of it. We can't do anything thought over all the new combinations. better than go back to Queen Anne for He had no doubt of the duke's content our furniture. But in respect to women, with the alliance — and through the duke, it's quite different. We've got a Victo. the whole ministry would be affected. It rian type in that, don't you know. I am would be felt that to keep a man of Lord aware that it is the height of impertinence Lindores's abilities in the hopeless posito make remarks. But considering the tion of a mere Scotch lord, would be a family friendship to which you have been waste prejudicial to the country. With so good as to admit me, and my high ap- Millefleurs for his son-in-law, a mere rep. preciation – Lady Caroline, if you will resentative seat in the House of Lords no allow me to say so, is a different genre. longer seemed worth his while

- an En. She is out of keeping with the decoration glish peerage would be his, as a matter of of her house."

He had said a few words to * Poor Carry!” Lady Lindores said Rintoul on the subject before the party with a sigh; and they were thankful to left the house. There could be no harm Millefleurs when he ran on about the in drawing the bonds tighter which were china and the gilding. It was he, with to produce so admirable an effect. “There those keen little beady eyes of his, who is Lady Reseda, a very charming girl,” saw John Erskine disappearing among | he said. “It is time you were thinking

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

course.

"

of marrying, Rintoul. I don't know any it, he was angry with his son. Rintoul girl that has been more admired." ought to have been there to take the

“One doesn't care for one's wife having weight of the conversation upon him: been admired,” said Rintoul, somewhat Rintoul ought to have had more discrimsulkily. One would rather admire hier ination than to choose this day of all othone's self."

ers for absenting himself. His mother His father looked at him with some se was of the same opinion. She, too, was verity, and Rintoul colored in spite of almost wroth with Rintoul to leave her himself. Perhaps this was one reason unsupported without any aid at such a why his temper was so unpleasant at crisis was unpardonable.' But Millefleurs Tinto, and moved him to fling off from was quite equal to the emergency. He the party in the midst of their inspection took everything upon himself.

The serof the place, and declare that he would vants, closest of all critics, did not even walk home. In his present temper, per- guess that anything was going on in which haps he would not have been much help to the wee English lord” was involved. them, whereas Millefleurs managed it all They made their own remarks upon Lady capitally, being left to himself.

Edith's pallor and silence, and the preocThey got home only in time to dress for cupation of Lady Lindores. But Milledinner, at which meal Rintoul did not ap: fleurs was the life of the company; and pear. It was unlike him to stay behind not even the butler, who had seen a great and dine at Tinto; but still there was deal in his day, and divined most things, nothing impossible in it, and the minds of associated him with the present evident the four people who sat down together at crisis. It was amazing how much he table were all too much absorbed by the found to say, and how naturally he said immediate question before them to have it, as if nothing particular was going on, much time to consider Rintoul. Lady Lin- and no issues of any importance to him, dores's entire attention was given to Edith, at least, were involved. who, very pale and with a thrill of ner- When the ladies left the table, Lady vous trembling in her, which her mother Lindores would have detained her daughnoted without quite understanding, neither ter with her. “Come into the drawing. ate nor talked, but pretended, at least, to room with me first, Edith. Your father do the first, veiling herself from the eyes cannot be ready for you for some minutes of her lover behind the flowers which or- at least." namented the centre of the table. These “No, mamma. I must keep all my wits flowers, it must be allowed, are often a about me," Edith said, with a faint smile. nuisance and serious bindering of conver- They were in the corridor, where it was sation. On this occasion they performed always cold, and she shivered a little in a charitable office. There was one plume spite of herself. of ferns in particular which did Edith the “You are chilly, Edith - you are not most excellent service. She had been well, dear. I will go myself and tell your commanded to repair to the library when father you are not able to talk to him toshe left the table, to await her father night.” there. And if she tremb d, it was with Edith shook her head without saying the tension of high-strung nerves, not the anything. She waved her hand to her hesitation of weakness, as her mother mother as she turned away in the directhought. Lord Lindores, for his part, tion of the library. Lady Lindores stood watched her too, with an uneasy instinct. looking after her with that strange strug. He would not allow himself to imagine gle in her mind which only parents know, that she could have the folly to hesitate the impulse to take their children in even; and yet there was a sensation in their arms as of old, and bear their burhim, an unwilling conviction that, if Edith dens for them, contradicted by the conresisted, she would be, though she was sciousness that this cannot be done, not so clever, a different kind of antago that the time has come when ihese be. nist from poor Carry. There arose in loved children can no longer be carried him, as be glanced at her now and then, over their difficulties, but must stand for an impulse of war. He had no idea that themselves, with not another to interfere she would really attempt to resist him: between them and fate. Oh the surprise but if she did ! He, too, had little to say of this penetrating the heart! Lady Linduring dinner. He uttered a formal sen- dores went back to the drawing-room with tence now and then in discharge of his the wonder and pain of it piercing her duty as host, but that was all; and by in. like an arrow, to sit down and wait while tervals, when he had leisure to think of | Edith - little Edith - bore ber trial

a

[graphic]

alone. It was intolerable, yet it had to The question had been given against him be endured. She stood aside and let her before even it was put; but Edith would child do what had to be done; any trial not allow herself to consider why. No in the world would have been easier. doubt she knew why; but there are occaThe pang was complicated in every way. sions in which we do not wish to see what There seemed even an ingratitude in it, is going on in our spirits, just as there as if her child preferred to stand alone; are occasions when we turn out all the and yet it was all inevitable — a thing corners and summon everything to the that must be. She waited, the air all light. She heard the door of the diningrustling round ber, with expectation and room open, then the voices of the gentle. suspense. What would the girl find to men as they came out, with a sudden say? Caroline had wept and struggled, tightening of her breath. What if little but she had yielded. Edith would not Millefleurs himself were coming instead weep, she would stand fast like a little of her father? This idea brought a gleam rock; but, after all, what was there to of a smile over her face; but that was object to? Millefeurs was very different driven away as she heard the heavy, fafrom Torrance of Tinto. Why should miliar step approaching. Lord Lindores, be not please the girl's fancy as well as as he came along the corridor, had time another? He had so much in him to enough to say to himself that perhaps he please any girl's fancy; he was clever had been foolish. Why had be deter. and amusing, and romantic even in his mined upon speaking to Edith before he way. If Edith would but content herself allowed her lover to speak to her? Perwith him! True, he was little; but what haps it was a mistake. He had his readid that matter after all? He would no sons, but it might be that they were not doubt make the best of husbands – un. so powerful as he had supposed, and that questionably he would make the best of he would have done better not to have insons-in-law. And then, your mind must terfered. However it was now too late to be impartial indeed if you are impervious think of this. He went into the library, to the attractions of an English duke shutting the door deliberately, asking dom. Who could be indifferent to that? himself why he should have any trouble With a little laugh of nervous pleasure, about the matter, and what Edith could Lady Lindores permitted herself to think feel but happiness in having such a prohow amusing it would be to see her little posal made to her; but when he turned girl take precedence of her. Alas! things round and met Edith's eye bis delusions were far from being so advanced as that; Aed. Surely there was nobody so unfor. but yet she could not help more or less tunate as he was in his children. Instead being on the side of ambition this time. of their perceiving what was for their own The ambition that fixed upon Torrance of interest, he was met by a perpetual strug. Tinto was poor enough, and shamed her gle and attempt to put him in the wrong. to think of it; but the Marquis Mille. It was inconceivable. Was it not their fleurs, the Duke of Lavender, that was interest solely which moved bim? and yet an ambition which had some justification. they would resist as if he were plotting Not love him! Why should not she love nothing but wrong. But though these bim? Lady Lindores even went so far as thoughts passed through his mind with a to ask herself with some heat. He was sweep of bitterness, he would not indulge delightful; everything but his stature was them. He went up to Edith with great in his favor. He was excellent; his very urbanity, putting down all feelings less failings leant to virtue's side.

pleasant.

“I am glad to find you here,” While, however, her mother was thus he said. discussing the question with so strong a “ Yes, papa; you wanted me, my mothbias in favor of Millefleurs, Edith was er told me.' standing in her father's library waiting for “I wanted you. As I came along the him, not entering into any argument with corridor, I began to ask myself whether I herself at all. She would not sit down, was doing right in wanting you. Perhaps which would have seemed somehow like I ought to have let you hear what I am yielding, but stood with her hand upon the going to say from - some one who might inantelpiece, her heart beating loudly. have made it more agreeable, Edith.” - She had not summoned herself to the “Oh, let me hear what you want, please,

bar of her own judgment, or asked with from yourself, papa." any authority how it was that she neither He took her hand, which trembled in his could nor would for a moment take the hold, and looked down on ber with fatherqualities of Millefleurs into consideration. Ily eyes – eyes which were tender, and

>

[ocr errors]

ness.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

admiring, and kind. Could any one thing but honorable - to me? You forget doubt that he wished her well? He what kind of expressions you are using. wished her everything that was best in If he had that to say, it is to me he ought the world – wealth and title, and rank and to have come. He has taken an unkind importance, – everything we desire for a cruel advantage !” Edith cried. our children. He was not a bad man, “This is ridiculous,” said her father. desiring the sacrifice of his child's happi. "He has done what it is seemly and right

If he had, perhaps, made some to do – in his position and yours. If he thing of a mistake about Carry, there was had gone to you, as you say, like a village no mistake here.

lad to his lass, what advantage could " Edith, I want to speak to you about there have been in that? As it is, you Lord Millefleurs. He came here, I be. have your father's full sanction, which, I lieve, on your own invitation

hope, you reckon for something, Edith." At this Edith started with sudden “Father,” she said, somewhat breathaların, and her hand trembled still more in less, collecting herself with a little effort. her father's easy clasp. She had an in. The wave of hot color died off from her definite pang of fear, she could not tell face. She grew paler and paler as she why:

stood firmly opposite to him, holding fast “ He has been here now for some time. with her hand the cool marble of the I was glad to ratify your invitation by mantelpiece, which felt like a support. mine - nothing could have pleased me “Father, if he had come to me, as he better. I like his family. His father and ought to have done, this is what would I have always thought alike, and the have happened, — I should have told him duchess is a most excellent woman. That at once that it was a mistake, and he your mother and you should have taken would have left us quietly without giving him up so much, was very good for him, you any trouble. How much better that and quite a pleasure to me.'

would have been in every way!” “I don't know why you should say we “I don't understand you, Edith. A took him up very much,” said Edith, with mistake? I don't see that there is any some confusion. “He took us up - he mistake." came to us wherever we were. And then “ That is very likely, papa,” she said, he was Robin's friend. It was quite nat. with returning spirit, "since it is not you ural - there was nothing

She that are concerned. But I see it. I paused, with a painful eagerness to ex. should have told him quietly, and there cuse herself; and yet there was nothing would have been an end of the matter, if to excuse. This changed the position for he had not been so formal, so absurd the moment, and made everything much so old-fashioned - as to appeal to you." more easy for the indulgent father, who This counterblast took away Lord Linwas so ready to approve what his child dores's breath. He made a pause for a herself had done.

moment, and stared at her; he had never “It is perfectly natural, my dear been so treated before. “Old-fashioned," everything about it is natural. Lord Mille. he repeated, almost with bewilderment. fleurs has been quite consistent since" There is enough of this, Edith. If you he first saw you.

He has explained him- wish to take up the rôle of the advanced self to me in the most honorable way. young lady, I must tell you it is not He wishes – to marry you, Edith. I either suitable or becoming. Millefleurs don't suppose this is any surprise to will, no doubt, find an early opportunity you???

of making his own explanations to you, Edith

crimson; her temples and of course, if you choose to keep him throbbed with the rush of the blood, in hot water, it is, I suppose your right. which seemed to rise like an angry sea. But don't carry it too far.

The connec. “If it is so, he has had opportunity tion is one that is perfectly desirable enough to tell me so. Why has he taken excellent in every point of view.” so unfair an advantage? Why — why has " It is a pity, since you think so, that it he gone to you?

is impossible,” she said in a low tone. · He has behaved like an honorable Lord Lindores looked at her, fixing her

I see no unfair advantage. He has with his eye. He felt now that he had done what was right - what was respect- known it all along - that he had felt sure ful at once to you and to me."

there was a struggle before him, and that - honorable ! respectful!” | his only policy was to convince her that cried the girl. “What does that mean in he was deterinined from the very first. our position ? Could he have been any- “There is nothing impossible,” he said,

66

was

66

man.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

· On, papa,

« VorigeDoorgaan »