The Eustace Diamonds, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter LXII

“You Know where My Heart is”

On the Sunday following, Frank, as usual, was in Hertford Street. He had become almost a favourite with Mrs. Carbuncle; and had so far ingratiated himself even with Lucinda Roanoke that, according to Lizzie’s report, he might if so inclined rob Sir Griffin of his prize without much difficulty. On this occasion he was unhappy and in low spirits; and when questioned on the subject made no secret of the fact that he was harassed for money. “The truth is, I have overdrawn my bankers by five hundred pounds, and they have, as they say, ventured to remind me of it. I wish they were not venturesome quite so often; for they reminded me of the same fact about a fortnight ago.”

“What do you do with your money, Mr. Greystock?” asked Mrs. Carbuncle laughing.

“Muddle it away, paying my bills with it, according to the very, very old story. The fact is I live in that detestable no man’s land, between respectability and insolvency, which has none of the pleasure of either. I am fair game for every creditor, as I am supposed to pay my way, and yet I never can pay my way.”

“Just like my poor dear father,” said Lizzie.

“Not exactly, Lizzie. He managed much better, and never paid anybody. If I could only land on terra firma, one side or the other, I shouldn’t much care which. As it is, I have all the recklessness, but none of the carelessness, of a hopelessly insolvent man. And it is so hard with us. Attorneys owe us large sums of money, and we can’t dun them very well. I have a lot of money due to me from rich men, who don’t pay me simply because they don’t think that it matters. I talk to them grandly, and look big, as though money was the last thing I thought of, when I am longing to touch my hat and ask them as a great favour to settle my little bill.” All this time Lizzie was full of matter which she must impart to her cousin, and could impart to him only in privacy.

It was absolutely necessary that she should tell him what she had heard of Patience Crabstick. In her heart of hearts she wished that Patience Crabstick had gone off safely with her plunder to the Antipodes. She had no wish to get back what had been lost, either in the matter of the diamonds or of the smaller things taken. She had sincerely wished that the police might fail in all their endeavours, and that the thieves might enjoy perfect security with their booty. She did not even begrudge Mr. Benjamin the diamonds — or Lord George, if in truth Lord George had been the last thief. The robbery had enabled her to get the better of Mr. Camperdown, and apparently of Lord Fawn; and had freed her from the custody of property which she had learned to hate. It had been a very good robbery. But now these wretched police had found Patience Crabstick and would disturb her again!

Of course she must tell her cousin. He must hear the news, and it would be better that he should hear it from her than from others. This was Sunday, and she thought he would be sure to know the truth on the following Monday. In this she was right: for on the Monday old Lady Linlithgow saw it stated in the newspapers that an arrest had been made. “I have something to tell you,” she said, as soon as she had succeeded in finding herself alone with him.

“Anything about the diamonds?”

“Well, no; not exactly about the diamonds; though perhaps it is. But first, Frank, I want to say something else to you.”

“Not about the diamonds?”

“Oh no; not at all. It is this. You must let me lend you that five hundred pounds you want.”

“Indeed, you shall do no such thing. I should not have mentioned it to you if I had not thought that you were one of the insolvent yourself. You were in debt yourself when we last talked about money.”

“So I am; and that horrid woman, Mrs. Carbuncle, has made me lend her one hundred and fifty pounds. But it is so different with you, Frank.”

“Yes; my needs are greater than hers.”

“What is she to me? while you are everything! Things can’t be so bad with me but what I can raise five hundred pounds. After all, I am not really in debt, for a person with my income; but if I were, still my first duty would be to help you if you want help.”

“Be generous first, and just afterwards. That’s it; isn’t it, Lizzie? But indeed, under no circumstances could I take a penny of your money. There are some persons from whom a man can borrow and some from whom he cannot. You are clearly one of those from whom I cannot borrow.”

“Why not?”

“Ah, one can’t explain these things. It simply is so. Mrs. Carbuncle was quite the natural person to borrow your money, and it seems that she has complied with nature. Some Jew who wants thirty per cent is the natural person for me. All these things are arranged, and it is of no use disturbing the arrangements and getting out of course. I shall pull through. And now let me know your own news.”

“The police have taken Patience.”

“They have, have they? Then at last we shall know all about the diamonds.” This was gall to poor Lizzie. “Where did they get her?”

“Ah! I don’t know that.”

“And who told you?”

“A policeman came here last night and said so. She is going to turn against the thieves and tell all that she knows. Nasty, mean creature.”

“Thieves are nasty, mean creatures generally. We shall get it all out now — as to what happened at Carlisle and what happened here. Do you know that everybody believes, up to this moment, that your dear friend Lord George de Bruce sold the diamonds to Mr. Benjamin the jeweller?”

Lizzie could only shrug her shoulders. She herself, among many doubts, was upon the whole disposed to think as everybody thought. She did believe — as far as she believed anything in the matter — that the Corsair had determined to become possessed of the prize from the moment that he saw it in Scotland; that the Corsair arranged the robbery in Carlisle, and that again he arranged the robbery in the London house as soon as he learned from Lizzie where the diamonds were placed. To her mind this had been the most ready solution of the mystery, and when she found that other people almost regarded him as the thief, her doubts became a belief. And she did not in the least despise or dislike him or condemn him for what he had done. Were he to come to her and confess it all, telling his story in such a manner as to make her seem to be safe for the future, she would congratulate him and accept him at once as her own dear, expected Corsair. But if so, he should not have bungled the thing. He should have managed his subordinates better than to have one of them turn evidence against him. He should have been able to get rid of a poor weak female like Patience Crabstick. Why had he not sent her to New York, or — or — or anywhere? If Lizzie were to hear that Lord George had taken Patience out to sea in a yacht — somewhere among the bright islands of which she thought so much — and dropped the girl overboard, tied up in a bag, she would regard it as a proper Corsair arrangement. Now she was angry with Lord George because her trouble was coming back upon her. Frank had suggested that Lord George was the robber in chief, and Lizzie merely shrugged her shoulders. “We shall know all about it now,” said he triumphantly.

“I don’t know that I want to know any more about it. I have been so tortured about these wretched diamonds that I never wish to hear them mentioned again. I don’t care who has got them. My enemies used to think that I loved them so well that I could not bear to part with them. I hated them always, and never took any pleasure in them. I used to think that I would throw them into the sea; and when they were gone I was glad of it.”

“Thieves ought to be discovered, Lizzie, for the good of the community.”

“I don’t care for the community. What has the community ever done for me? And now I have something else to tell you. Ever so many people came yesterday as well as that wretched policeman. Dear Lady Glencora was here again.”

“They’ll make a Radical of you among them, Lizzie.”

“I don’t care a bit about that. I’d just as soon be a Radical as a stupid old Conservative. Lady Glencora has been most kind, and she brought me the dearest message from the Duke of Omnium. The duke had heard how ill I had been treated.”

“The duke is doting.”

“It is so easy to say that when a man is old. I don’t think you know him, Frank.”

“Not in the least; nor do I wish.”

“It is something to have the sympathy of men high placed in the world. And as to Lady Glencora, I do love her dearly. She just comes up to my beau ideal of what a woman should be — disinterested, full of spirit, affectionate, with a dash of romance about her.”

“A great dash of romance, I fancy.”

“And a determination to be something in the world. Lady Glencora Palliser is something.”

“She is awfully rich, Lizzie.”

“I suppose so. At any rate, that is no disgrace. And then, Frank, somebody else came.”

“Lord Fawn was to have come.”

“He did come.”

“And how did it go between you?”

“Ah, that will be so difficult to explain. I wish you had been behind the curtain to hear it all. It is so necessary that you should know, and yet it is so hard to tell. I spoke up to him, and was quite high-spirited.”

“I dare say you were.”

“I told him out bravely of all the wrong he had done me. I did not sit and whimper, I can assure you. Then he talked about you — of your attentions.”

Frank Greystock, of course, remembered the scene among the rocks, and Mr. Gowran’s wagging head and watchful eyes. At the time he had felt certain that some use would be made of Andy’s vigilance, though he had not traced the connection between the man and Mrs. Hittaway. If Lord Fawn had heard of the little scene, there might doubtless be cause for him to talk of “attentions” “What did it matter to him?” asked Frank. “He is an insolent ass — as I have told him once, and shall have to tell him again.”

“I think it did matter, Frank.”

“I don’t see it a bit. He had resigned his rights — whatever they were.”

“But I had not accepted his resignation — as they say in the newspapers — nor have I now.”

“You would still marry him?”

“I don’t say that, Frank. This is an important business, and let us go through it steadily. I would certainly like to have him again at my feet. Whether I would deign to lift him up again is another thing. Is not that natural, after what he has done to me?”

“Woman’s nature.”

“And I am a woman. Yes, Frank. I would have him again at my disposal — and he is so. He is to write me a long letter; so like a Government-man — isn’t it? And he has told me already what he is to put in the letter. They always do, you know. He is to say that he’ll marry me if I choose.”

“He has promised to say that?”

“When he said that he would come, I made up my mind that he should not go out of the house till he had promised that. He couldn’t get out of it. What had I done?” Frank thought of the scene among the rocks. He did not, of course, allude to it, but Lizzie was not so reticent. “As to what that old rogue saw down in Scotland, I don’t care a bit about it, Frank. He has been up in London, and telling them all, no doubt. Nasty, dirty eavesdropper! But what does it come to? Psha! When he mentioned your name I silenced him at once. What could I have done, unless I had had some friend? At any rate, he is to ask me again in writing — and then what shall I say?”

“You must consult your own heart.”

“No, Frank; I need not do that. Why do you say so?”

“I know not what else to say.”

“A woman can marry without consulting her heart. Women do so every day. This man is a lord, and has a position. No doubt I despise him thoroughly — utterly. I don’t hate him, because he is not worth being hated.”

“And yet you would marry him?”

“I have not said so. I will tell you this truth, though perhaps you will say it is not feminine. I would fain marry some one. To be as I have been for the last two years is not a happy condition.”

“I would not marry a man I despised.”

“Nor would I— willingly. He is honest and respectable; and in spite of all that has come and gone would, I think, behave well to a woman when she was once his wife. Of course, I would prefer to marry a man that I could love. But if that is impossible, Frank ——”

“I thought that you had determined that you would have nothing to do with this lord.”

“I thought so too. Frank, you have known all that I have thought, and all that I have wished. You talk to me of marrying where my heart has been given. Is it possible that I should do so?”

“How am I to say?”

“Come, Frank, be true with me. I am forcing myself to speak truth to you. I think that between you and me, at any rate, there should be no words spoken that are not true. Frank, you know where my heart is.” As she said this she stood over him and laid her hand upon his shoulder. “Will you answer me one question?”

“If I can, I will.”

“Are you engaged to marry Lucy Morris?”

“I am.”

“And you intend to marry her?” To this question he made no immediate answer. “We are old enough now, Frank, to know that something more than what you call heart is wanted to make us happy when we marry. I will say nothing hard of Lucy, though she be my rival.”

“You can say nothing hard of her. She is perfect.”

“We will let that pass, though it is hardly kind of you, just at the present moment. Let her be perfect. Can you marry this perfection without a sixpence — you that are in debt, and who never could save a sixpence in your life? Would it be for her good — or for yours? You have done a foolish thing, sir, and you know that you must get out of it.”

“I know nothing of the kind.”

“You cannot marry Lucy Morris. That is the truth. My present need makes me bold. Frank, shall I be your wife? Such a marriage will not be without love, at any rate on one side, though there be utter indifference on the other.”

“You know I am not indifferent to you,” said he, with wicked weakness.

“Now at any rate,” she continued, “you must understand what must be my answer to Lord Fawn. It is you that must answer Lord Fawn. If my heart is to be broken, I may as well break it under his roof as another.”

“I have no roof to offer you,” he said. “But I have one for you.” she said, throwing her arm round his neck. He bore her embrace for a minute, returning it with the pressure of his arm; and then, escaping from it, seized his hat and left her standing in the room.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43