Endymion, by Benjamin Disraeli

Chapter 45

On the following day, Mr. Neuchatel had good-naturedly invited Endymion down to Hainault, and when he arrived there, a servant informed him that Miss Ferrars wished to see him in her room.

It was a long interview and an agitated one, and when she had told her tale, and her brother had embraced her, she sat for a time in silence, holding his hand, and intimating, that, for a while, she wished that neither of them should speak. Suddenly, she resumed, and said, “Now you know all, dear darling; it is so sudden, and so strange, that you must be almost as much astounded as gratified. What I have sighed for, and prayed for — what, in moments of inspiration, I have sometimes foreseen — has happened. Our degradation is over. I seem to breathe for the first time for many years. I see a career, ay, and a great one; and what is far more important, I see a career for you.”

“At this moment, dear Myra, think only of yourself.”

“You are myself,” she replied, rather quickly, “never more so than at this moment;” and then she said in a tone more subdued, and even tender, “Lord Roehampton has every quality and every accident of life that I delight in; he has intellect, eloquence, courage, great station and power; and, what I ought perhaps more to consider, though I do not, a sweet disposition and a tender heart. There is every reason why we should be happy — yes, very happy. I am sure I shall sympathise with him; perhaps, I may aid him; at least, he thinks so. He is the noblest of men. The world will talk of the disparity of our years; but Lord Roehampton says that he is really the younger of the two, and I think he is right. My pride, my intense pride, never permitted to me any levity of heart.”

“And when is it to happen?” inquired Endymion.

“Not immediately. I could not marry till a year had elapsed after our great sorrow; and it is more agreeable, even to him, that our union should be delayed till the session is over. He wants to leave England; go abroad; have a real holiday. He has always had a dream of travelling in Spain; well, we are to realise the dream. If we could get off at the end of July, we might go to Paris, and then to Madrid, and travel in Andalusia in the autumn, and then catch the packet at Gibraltar, and get home just in time for the November cabinets.”

“Dear Myra! how wonderful it all seems!” involuntarily exclaimed Endymion.

“Yes, but more wonderful things will happen. We have now got a lever to move the world. Understand, my dear Endymion, that nothing is to be announced at present. It will be known only to this family, and the Penruddocks. I am bound to tell them, even immediately; they are friends that never can be forgotten. I have always kept up my correspondence with Mrs. Penruddock. Besides, I shall tell her in confidence, and she is perfectly to be depended on. I am going to ask my lord to let Mr. Penruddock marry us.”

“Oh! that will be capital,” said Endymion.

“There is another person, by the by, who must know it, at least my lord says so,” said Myra, “and that is Lady Montfort; you have heard of that lady and her plans. Well, she must be told — at least, sooner or later. She will be annoyed, and she will hate me. I cannot help it; every one is hated by somebody.”

During the three months that had to elapse before the happy day, several incidents occurred that ought to be noted. In the first place, Lady Montfort, though disappointed and very much astonished, bore the communication from Lord Roehampton more kindly than he had anticipated. Lord Roehampton made it by letter, and his letters to women were more happy even than his despatches to ministers, and they were unrivalled. He put the matter in the most skilful form. Myra had been born in a social position not inferior to his own, and was the daughter of one of his earliest political friends. He did not dilate too much on her charms and captivating qualities, but sufficiently for the dignity of her who was to become his wife. And then he confessed to Lady Montfort how completely his heart and happiness were set on Lady Roehampton being welcomed becomingly by his friends; he was well aware, that in these matters things did not always proceed as one could wish, but this was the moment, and this the occasion, to test a friend, and he believed he had the dearest, the most faithful, the most fascinating, and the most powerful in Lady Montfort.

“Well, we must put the best face upon it,” exclaimed that lady; “he was always romantic. But, as he says, or thinks, what is the use of friends if they do not help you in a scrape?”

So Lady Montfort made the acquaintance of Myra, and welcomed her new acquaintance cordially. She was too fine a judge of beauty and deportment not to appreciate them, even when a little prejudice lurked behind. She was amused also, and a little gratified, by being in the secret; presented Myra with a rare jewel, and declared that she should attend the wedding; though when the day arrived, she was at Princedown, and could not, unfortunately, leave her lord.

About the end of June, a rather remarkable paragraph appeared in the journal of society:

“We understand that His Royal Highness Prince Florestan, who has been for some little time in this country, has taken the mansion in Carlton Gardens, recently occupied by the Marquis of Katterfelto. The mansion is undergoing very considerable repairs, but it is calculated that it will be completed in time for the reception of His Royal Highness by the end of the autumn; His Royal Highness has taken the extensive moors of Dinniewhiskie for the coming season.”

In the earlier part of July, the approaching alliance of the Earl of Roehampton with Miss Ferrars, the only daughter of the late Right Honourable William Pitt Ferrars, of Hurstley Hall, in the county of Berks, was announced, and great was the sensation, and innumerable the presents instantly ordered.

But on no one did the announcement produce a greater effect than on Zenobia; that the daughter of her dearest friend should make so interesting and so distinguished an alliance was naturally most gratifying to her. She wrote to Myra a most impassioned letter, as if they had only separated yesterday, and a still longer and more fervent one to Lord Roehampton; Zenobia and he had been close friends in other days, till he wickedly changed his politics, and was always in office and Zenobia always out. This was never to be forgiven. But the bright lady forgot all this now, and sent to Myra the most wondrous bracelet of precious stones, in which the word “Souvenir” was represented in brilliants, rubies, and emeralds.

“For my part,” said Myra to Endymion, “my most difficult task are the bridesmaids. I am to have so many, and know so few. I feel like a recruiting sergeant. I began to Adriana, but my lord helps me very much out of his family, and says, when we have had a few family dinners, all will be right.”

Endymion did not receive the banter he expected at the office. The event was too great for a jest. Seymour Hicks, with a serious countenance, said Ferrars might get anywhere now — all the ministerial receptions of course. Jawett said there would be no ministerial receptions soon; they were degrading functions. Clear-headed Trenchard congratulated him quietly, and said, “I do not think you will stay much longer among us, but we shall always remember you with interest.”

At last the great day arrived, and at St. George’s, Hanover Square, the Right Honourable the Earl of Roehampton, K.G., was united to Miss Ferrars. Mr. Penruddock joined their hands. His son Nigel had been invited to assist him, but did not appear, though Myra had written to him. The great world assembled in force, and Endymion observed Mr. and Mrs. Rodney and Imogene in the body of the church. After the ceremony there was an entertainment in Portland Place, and the world ate ortolans and examined the presents. These were remarkable for number and splendour. Myra could not conceal her astonishment at possessing so many friends; but it was the fashion for all Lord Roehampton’s acquaintance to make him offerings, and to solicit his permission to present gifts to his bride. Mr. Neuchatel placed on her brow a diamond tiara, and Mrs. Neuchatel encircled her neck with one of her diamond necklaces. “I should like to give the other one to Adriana,” she observed, “but Adriana says that nothing will ever induce her to wear jewels.” Prince Florestan presented Lady Roehampton with a vase which had belonged to his mother, and which had been painted by Boucher for Marie Antoinette. It was matchless, and almost unique.

Not long after this, Lord Beaumaris, with many servants and many guns, took Waldershare and Endymion down with him to Scotland.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:19