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on the following Sunday. He made a very happy speech in the capacity of amateur cabman, magnified the difficulty and responsibility of the profession, alluded to the frequent newspaper reports of wifebeating, condemned the practice as unmanly as well as cruel, and declared that cabmen never appeared to answer such charges; upon which one or two looked out of the corner of their eyes in a sheepish way, not unmarked by their reverend friend.
was the tallest of the three: she had a certain commanding air that went well with her impetuous speech and noble stature; her eyes were bright, her face sparkled with intellect, and there was a singular charm in her manner which the cabman was unable to resist. Maisie was smaller, younger, and less intellectual than her sisters, while in her lips the sweet voice common to all three became superlatively sweet. It would have been evident to a less acute perception than Mr. Forrester's, that the three were ladies whose breeding was equal to any occasion.
Alan," he observed, when the two were returning in the private hansom, you are a Radical and a philanthropist, and a liberty and fraternity man, and He sat on the extreme edge of a chair everything you ought not to be, in short. as near the door as possible, and deliberWhat would you say if a man in my posiately got into difficulties with his hat in a tion were to marry a clever, well-educated daughter of a · small tradesman?" "I should say, Mark," returned the Honorable and Reverend leveller quickly, "that you were an unmitigated ass."
"And you would say right," mused the other. For blood is thicker than water.
WHEN the evening dusk was gathering on the following Sunday, Mr. Forrester, arrayed from head to foot in such attire as he had observed upon the persons of younger cabmen, stood on the steps of Normandy Villa and knocked three slow, loud knocks on the door, feeling at the same time a succession of more aristocratic raps from within upon his own ribs.
The door was opened by a servant, who directed him to the second floor, upon the landing of which stood his hostess, all smiles to welcome him, though he observed that she did not offer her hand. He went through a good deal of puffing, and blowing, and scraping upon the mat in the narrow passage, and then entered a pretty little room, plainly furnished, but abounding in photographs, prints, and other objects of art, and having some tastefully arranged fresh flowers here and there. An easel and a piano stood in different parts of the room; it was full of books, and tea was laid upon the table.
It was the first time that he had seen the three sisters indoors and in a full light, and he was struck by their grace, and the easy manner in which they did the honors of their simple home. Neither of them was exactly pretty. Geraldine was a slim, graceful girl, with large, clear eyes, a bright manner, and a ready turn of speech; she was dressed in the high-art style, and looked like a picture. Olivia
sufficiently comic manner, which evoked no smile from the bright lips of the sisters, although their eyes were not unexpressive of mirth. Geraldine, however, suggested a place of repose for the hat upon a chair he felt that her manner in doing so would have put the clumsiest real cabman at his ease in a moment.
"You will have some tea, won't you, Forster?" Geraldine asked, pouring out the perfumed drink. "Greek is dreadfully dry to begin upon, whatever my sister may say, especially when one is grown up. Have you a father? And is he a cabman too? Perhaps he is old, and you support him, or help to do so?"
We want to hear all about your people," added Olivia, with her usual earnestness, "and then we will tell you all about ourselves."
Thus the cabman was led to confess a father, whose profession was that of gamekeeper, though he bad now retired from active business, and was fairly well off. On being pressed as to his present occupation, he said that he kept pigs, and a cow or two on a bit of land of his own, all of which was literally true.
“I wonder, Forster, that you didn't follow your father's calling, which is a very pleasant one," said the innocent Olivia, with the earnestness which made him long to speak to her as one with equal pretensions to culture with herself might have done.
"My eldest brother, he had the first chance, and took to the gamekeeping," he explained; upon which Olivia made some reflectious on the far-reaching injustice of primogeniture, which thus poisoned the happiness even of young gamekeepers.
"Has he a sister, has he a brother?" sang Maisie softly, while Geraldine gave
her a merry look, during the temporary submergence of the cabman's comely face in the saucer of tea, which he held in the style affected at his brother's big tea, carefully drawing the back of his hand across his lips afterwards.
"Yes, Miss Geraldine," he said, "I've got another brother. His name's Alan. He's a preacher. And a sister, name of Jane. No, she ain't married. She lives 'long with father and mother."
"And milks the cows, and helps feed the pigs?" asked Olivia.
Mark nodded his head. He knew that Lady Jane had a pet dairy, and had once boasted to him of having mastered the art of milking, so that things were very pleasant with his conscience.
"Do have some more cake. It does one good to see an honest working man eat," said Olivia. “We are sorry not to be able to keep you in countenance; but you see our work is sedentary, and after all, we are only women."
The cabman shuddered; but he remembered the performances of his professional brethren at the tea, and manfully attacked a fourth huge slice of cake.
"How nice it must be for you to have this sweet country home to think of!" continued Olivia. "And your brother, the preacher - I should like to hear him: such peasant preachers are truly apostolic, whatever you may say to the contrary, Gerry dear. And George the gamekeeper, and Jane milking her cows. We shall soon know them all for friends. And now about ourselves."
"I am a painter," said Geraldine; "I make my living chiefly by designs. My sisters call me a designing woman. These cups and saucers are my work. Maisie's calling you know."
"And I," said Olivia, with the frank smile that was rapidly turning her guest's head, am as yet little better than a drone. I am studying for a London university degree, and bringing a little grist to the mill in the mean time by giving lessons and writing."
"O Lord!" exclaimed the cabman, "to think now of fine-bred ladies doing that! Excuse me, miss, but you wasn't brought up to work. A cabman sees a good many ladies, and gets to know the real grit."
The sisters looked at each other, and burst into a merry laugh.
"Don't betray us, Forster," cried Olivia; "I knew you would find us out. But will you promise on your honor as a a true man - to keep our secret? Well, then, the fun of it is, that we need
not earn our living at all. We each have a tiny fortune of our own, though far too small for the station in which we were born. We have run away from our friends in order to lead a rational life." "We hated idleness," said Maisie. "We hated conventionality," added Geraldine.
"And we hated shams," continued Olivia, with a flushing cheek. "Our parents are dead, Forster, and we ran away from our brother and the trustees of our property, who wished to dictate our way of life to us. So we just wrote a note saying that we were off to Berlin under assumed names to teach English, and that they need trouble themselves no more about us. We did go to Berlin, but soon came back, convinced that London is the only place big enough to hide in—and here we are. Our name is De Wynter, spelt with a y, and our brother is Lord Northwynd. Our father was a baron, so we put honorable before our names. Northwynd tried to force Geraldine into a marriage, and he entered into negotiations with a certain Lord Grandveneur a much greater lord than my brother, Forster - to marry ine — me indeed! -to a son of his, the Hon. what was his name, Gerry? — something Forrester. That is our story, Forster."
"Thank 'ee, miss. I won't let it out. I'm game. I suppose this here Forrester wasn't much in the way of a husband?"
"He was not, Forster. But that was not the point. It was the indignity of being offered to him, and the deeper indignity of being told to accept his advances. He was coming to stay at Northcourt when we fled. He would have trotted me out, Forster, and looked at my points and my paces; and then, perhaps, he would have trotted me back again. I! who never mean to marry at all — whe will subject myself to no man's tutelage!"
"Seems to me it was rough on this here lord's son," observed Mark, who now distinctly recalled the invitation to Northcourt, and Lord Grandveneur's mystic discourse upon the duties of matrimony and the charms of Olivia De Wynter.
"Not in the least. He was better without a wife. A poor creature, Forster, with no profession, no duties, ever so much money, and devoted solely to his own amusement. A wife, forsooth, was to steady him, and keep him out of mischief, his father and Northwynd thought." Here Mark Forrester, little as he was given to admire his own moral rectitude, could not help thinking that the idea of
Lord Northwynd seeking to keep him out | of mischief was rather good. "When a man needs a wife to keep him steady, he is good for nothing."
"What could the poor chap have done, miss? I often pity them rich lords' sons, brought up with nothing to do and their victuals found."
"Nothing to do! Why, Forster, half the best work in England is done by rich men for nothing. But we have chatted too long. Now for Greek. Geraldine is going to evensong, and Maisie has her book. I hope you won't be discouraged by the queer forms of Greek letters. One soon gets used to them.
Of all tongues Mark Forrester loved Greek, and of all tongues he knew it best. Like De Quincey, he could have harangued an Athenian mob better than many men can speak to an English one. Thus, with a little care, he was able to conceal his perfect knowledge, and yet to shine as a pupil. He had fallen in love with Olivia during the first cup of tea, and quite irretrievably, as he acknowledged with sorrow, before the revelation of her parentage. But everybody who has experienced a precipitation into this sort of madness, well knows that it has no bottom; so that the victim, once plumped into it, may go on falling forever and ever, unless drawn back or suspended by some opposing force. Every time Mr. Forrester looked at his teacher's earnest, sparkling eyes, or met her sweet, patient smile, he received a fresh downward impulse which lowered him at least a fathom, so that by the time the lesson was ended, he was in very deep indeed; and what with this affliction, and the amount of sweet solid cake he had consumed, he was strung to a high pitch of misery.
Olivia heaved a deep sigh of weariness as she shut the book. I never had such a pupil before," she said, smiling him a couple of fathoms deeper down. "How I long to introduce you to Homer and Eschylus! You may perhaps have heard of Helen and Troy, and the wanderings of Ulysses?"
"I've been taking the liberty of thinking about that there brother of yours, miss," replied Mark, evading this question as dangerous. "Now if I had the charge of three young women under age, and they sloped, I should be in Queer Street, sisters or not."
English blood boils at the thought of restraint. Besides," she added, with a bitterness that recalled certain episodes in Northwynd's career to her listener, "we have no vices to repress we neither drink, bet, nor spend what we don't possess."
Mark smiled to himself. He was acquainted with Lord Northwynd, and had a shrewd suspicion that such failings in himself would appear to the young nobleman as virtues in comparison with his sisters' heinous wickedness in having a cabman to tea with them. No one knew better than he that men may commit every iniquity short of invading each other's purses, and be blameless, while women may not infract the most arbitrary convention without ruin.
"Livy and I are twins," said Geraldine, who had now come in from service. "We are twenty-four. Maisie is twenty-two.
Don't you think we are old enough to refuse to marry unless we please, and to decline to countenance any husband-hunting on our account?"
Here the chivalrous cabman ventured. to observe, with some diffidence, that he should have thought the ladies would have been called upon to enact the part of ardently chased prey rather than of hunters.
"Ah, Forster, how little you know of the miseries of the upper classes! In your fortunate circles a man looks to a wife as to a prize. But these men of rank and fortune walk into a crowded drawingroom like sultans, and know that they can pick where they like. However, we have renounced class distinctions now, and are going to do our best to bring the moul. dering old social fabric crashing to the ground."
Lord! what a dust it will make, Miss Geraldine !" observed the cabman tranquilly.
When he was gone, Olivia threw her arms round Geraldine's neck and kissed her. Only think!" she exclaimed, with rapture, "we have a real live cabman, a mere son of the people, for our friend."
"It's delicious," added Maisie, "and so comfortable. We can be as friendly as ever we like, because no one could pos. sibly fall in love with a cabman."
"And the cabman?" asked Geraldine, with a pensive air.
"Oh, my dear!" laughed the Radical and Socialist Olivia, with a look that be"My dear Forster, we are all over age," trayed all the blue blood of all the proud laughed Olivia; "and why should we be De Wynters," he would never dare aspire in anybody's charge? We are free wom-to that height. Besides, we have the aden, the citizens of a free country, and our vantage of not being pretty."
THE amateur cabman rushed home, tore off his disguise, and puffed fiercely at a cigar to assist his meditations. The only solace for such a misfortune as fall ing in love is a similar mischance to the cause of such dolor. The question now arose how to entangle poor Olivia in the meshes of such a bewilderment. He thought of Miss Hardcastle, and decided that a neat waiting-maid is a far more fascinating object than a Sunday cabman disguised in pomatum and false English. He remembered Zeus- the various disguises in which he had won the hearts of feminine mortals; but he doubted if even Zeus, in the guise of a cabman, would have made much impression upon the delicate female fancy. As for carrying on a regular siege in his proper person to Miss Olivia, that was quite out of the question after her expressed opinion upon his character. Besides, he had learned a good deal more than the Greek alphabet that evening: to see himself in other people's eyes (a thing that rarely ministers to vanity); to understand something of the position of women from their own point of view; and finally, to arrive at some solution of the dark mystery of husband-hunting, that last degradation of civilized humanity. How he envied Olivia her decided convictions! What would he give to share them! He would then no longer be a drone. Olivia in his position! What a world of good or of mischief she would do!
quences. He even consoled himself for the sublime misery of which Olivia was the innocent cause, by the opinion of the great Goethe, that to be in love with a woman is the only successful way of studying female character; though Goethe's affliction was always temporary, and though he usually contrived that that of the woman should be permanent, thus securing himself noble opportunities for human vivisection.
Now Lady M Whymper was a distant kinswoman of Mr. Forrester's, and she frequently reproached him for visiting her so rarely, and had given him a general invitation to dine with her on any night. She was an eccentric old woman, and had, as he knew, rebellious notions upon the subjection of her sex; and he sometimes reproached himself for caring so little for one who thought in some degree with his Olivia. Therefore one day he sent a note to say that he would dine with her, if quite convenient, and requested her to telegraph to his club in case his presence should be superfluous. Having been out shopping all day, Lady M'Whymper did not receive the missive till late in the afternoon, when it was too late to write; and nothing short of life-and-death urgency, or the prospect of losing large moneys, would have induced her to commit the extravagance of a telegram. She therefore ordered an extra cover to be laid, and shrugging her shoulders at the thought of her previously invited guest's objection to meet people, made herself happy in an armchair, and waited for her visitors.
Dugald's eyes close and her own chains snap. Nevertheless she had been good to him in his life, and mourned him with pity after death. In her the De Wynters had confided, and to her alone was their incognito known; and further, as fate would have it, Olivia had promised to dine with her on this very evening, and arrived, all unsuspecting, five minutes before the appointed hour.
He had some thoughts of taking Lady The late Sir Dugald had been a firm Jane into his confidence; but unfortu- upholder of marital authority, as well as nately, Lady Jane, though one of the a strict Calvinist; and though his lady sweetest of human beings, had never yet had been twenty years a widow, she still thought for herself, and was governed by sometimes shudderingly recalled the termaxims and prejudices the most anti-rible joy with which she had seen Sir quated. She would certainly condemn the rebellious De Wynters. Meanwhile the cab-driving and Greek lessons went merrily on, and Mr. Forrester loved Sunday as dearly as the hero of "Sally in our Alley." Like most persons afflicted with love, his principal solace was to aggravate his malady, and he took a melancholy satisfaction in feeling much worse every Sunday. But every affliction has its consolation; and however deeply one may be in love, it is a comfort to think that it can only be with one person at a time thus the blow having once descended, there is nothing more to fear. He was able, therefore, to study human nature, as revealed in Geraldine and Maisie, without dreading any pernicious conse
"And now, dear cousin," said Olivia, with her little imperial air, as she sank upon an ottoman by the old lady's side, "I must tell you all about our cabman. He is the most charming creature in the world, intelligent, but with a mind which is yet virgin soil; and I am teaching him Oh dear!"
Lady M'Whymper had listened but in- The dinner was not a success. differently her thoughts being preoccu-ners of three seldom are; particularly pied with the hope that any accident short when one of the three assumes the office of a broken limb might keep her other of a refrigerator, and makes the ice-pail a relative from his engagement-when the superfluity. Poor Lady M'Whymper, in dreadful sound of a carriage stopping at her efforts to conciliate Olivia and put the the door, followed by the yet more dread- young people on a pleasant footing, only ful announcement of Mr. Forrester, re-made things worse. All her little artiduced her to a state of temporary idiocy, fices for drawing them into conversation in which she did not observe the horror merely served to confirm Olivia in her and amazement of her guests, and in impression that the whole thing was a which she sought some comfort in the conspiracy, in which her hostess was reflection that she had saved the telegram arch-plotter, for effecting matrimony bemoney. In her confusion the miserable tween herself and the unworthy Forresold woman introduced Olivia by her proper ter, whose pleading glances and pathetic name. But surely, Livy, you remember humility were yet further evidence of the Mark Forrester?” she added, by way of crime. making things pleasanter. "You must have met at Northcourt. Or was it Lord Woodman? Northwynd and he were at Oxford together."
When the dreary festivity came to an end, and the unfortunate Mark found himself alone with his reflections, Olivia, after some minutes' indignant silence, Olivia stood at her full height, looking charged her hostess with her treachery, like a princess in her black velvet, dia- to the amazement of the innocent old lady, monds, and rich old lace; her nostrils who was completely bewildered by her quivered, and there was a dangerous flash young friend's references to cabmen with in her eye. Having first levelled a direct, matrimonial designs, and who stoutly steady, and indignant glance of three maintained that she had quite forgotten seconds' duration at the unfortunate Mark, the proposed alliance with Mark Forresshe made him a ceremonious salutation, ter. They were still playing wildly at and then turned and walked up to a table, cross-purposes, though Olivia had satis where she began examining some prints. fied herself that Lady M'Whymper was The whole thing seemed to flash through not guilty of complicity with her kins her mind at once, - her cousin's treach- man's designs, when Mark, instead of ery, the plot concocted between North- seizing, as his hostess devoutly hoped he wynd and Forrester, carried on for weeks, would, this opportunity for evanishing, and now brought to a crisis in the house reappeared in the drawing-room. of the traitress. Though it was at least five seconds before she recognized her pet cabman with his clumsy gestures, bad English, and pomatumed hair plastered down over his forehead in the gentleman before her, severely spotless and neat, with sable coat and snowy shirt, with short, crisp, waved hair innocent of grease, and nicely pointed moustache, with feet in slim, shining boots, so different from the clumsy high-lows in which he was wont to stump heavily up the stairs at Normandy Villa; but the eyes, the square brow, and, above all, the voice, were unmistakable.
The hostess attributed these tokens of indignation on Olivia's part to her anger at meeting a guest, but Mark's apparent dismay she was quite unable to account for. Macbeth's discomfiture at the sight of Banquo's ghost in his own chair was nothing to this. The only parallel Mark could think of was the tender anguish of Tancred when Clorinda's helmet fell off, and he found himself in mortal combat with the lady of his affections.
It was an unlucky moment; for Olivia's indignation was then at its hottest, and she was seeking some object upon which to pour out the vials of her wrath. "Cousin," she exclaimed, with a wave of her hand in the culprit's direction, "beware of that man! He is a falsehood! He is a cabman! He creeps into people's houses on false pretences! He gets people to teach him Greek. Does he look as if he needed to learn Greek? His father is a retired gamekeeper, and keeps a few pigs and poultry on a little bit of land of his own. His brother George is a gamekeeper. His brother Alan is a Methodist preacher. His sister Jane milks the cows. Does he look like a nilkmaid's brother and a retired gamekeeper's son ? Does he look as if he earned his living by cab-driving? Oh, he is a consummate actor! You should see him drinking tea out of a saucer, and hear him talking bad English! Beware of him, for there is no knowing what disguise he may assume next!""
So saying, the indignant Olivia van