The Fixed Period, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter IX.

The New Governor.

“So,” said I to myself, “because of Jack and his love, all the aspirations of my life are to be crushed! The whole dream of my existence, which has come so near to the fruition of a waking moment, is to be violently dispelled because my own son and Sir Kennington Oval have settled between them that a pretty girl is to have her own way.” As I thought of it, there seemed to be a monstrous cruelty and potency in Fortune, which she never could have been allowed to exercise in a world which was not altogether given over to injustice. It was for that that I wept. I wept to think that a spirit of honesty should as yet have prevailed so little in the world. Here, in our waters, was lying a terrible engine of British power, sent out by a British Cabinet Minister, — the so-called Minister of Benevolence, by a bitter chance, — at the instance of that Minister’s nephew, to put down by brute force the most absolutely benevolent project for the governance of the world which the mind of man had ever projected. It was in that that lay the agony of the blow.

I remained there alone for many hours, but I must acknowledge that before I left the chambers I had gradually brought myself to look at the matter in another light. Had Eva Crasweller not been good-looking, had Jack been still at college, had Sir Kennington Oval remained in England, had Mr Bunnit and the bar-keeper not succeeded in stopping my carriage on the hill, — should I have succeeded in arranging for the final departure of my old friend? That was the question which I ought to ask myself. And even had I succeeded in carrying my success so far as that, should I not have appeared a murderer to my fellow-citizens had not his departure been followed in regular sequence by that of all others till it had come to my turn? Had Crasweller departed, and had the system then been stopped, should I not have appeared a murderer even to myself? And what hope had there been, what reasonable expectation, that the system should have been allowed fair-play?

It must be understood that I, I myself, have never for a moment swerved. But though I have been strong enough to originate the idea, I have not been strong enough to bear the terrible harshness of the opinions of those around me when I should have exercised against those dear to me the mandates of the new law. If I could, in the spirit, have leaped over a space of thirty years and been myself deposited in due order, I could see that my memory would have been embalmed with those who had done great things for their fellow-citizens. Columbus, and Galileo, and Newton, and Harvey, and Wilberforce, and Cobden, and that great Banting who has preserved us all so completely from the horrors of obesity, would not have been named with honour more resplendent than that paid to the name of Neverbend. Such had been my ambition, such had been my hope. But it is necessary that a whole age should be carried up to some proximity to the reformer before there is a space sufficiently large for his operations. Had the telegraph been invented in the days of ancient Rome, would the Romans have accepted it, or have stoned Wheatstone? So thinking, I resolved that I was before my age, and that I must pay the allotted penalty.

On arriving at home at my own residence, I found that our salon was filled with a brilliant company. We did not usually use the room; but on entering the house I heard the clatter of conversation, and went in. There was Captain Battleax seated there, beautiful with a cocked-hat, and an epaulet, and gold braid. He rose to meet me, and I saw that he was a handsome tall man about forty, with a determined face and a winning smile. “Mr President,” said he, “I am in command of her Majesty’s gunboat, the John Bright, and I have come to pay my respects to the ladies.”

“I am sure the ladies have great pleasure in seeing you.” I looked round the room, and there, with other of our fair citizens, I saw Eva. As I spoke I made him a gracious bow, and I think I showed him by my mode of address that I did not bear any grudge as to my individual self.

“I have come to your shores, Mr President, with the purpose of seeing how things are progressing in this distant quarter of the world.”

“Things were progressing, Captain Battleax, pretty well before this morning. We have our little struggles here as elsewhere, and all things cannot be done by rose-water. But, on the whole, we are a prosperous and well-satisfied people.”

“We are quite satisfied now, Captain Battleax,” said my wife.

“Quite satisfied,” said Eva.

“I am sure we are all delighted to hear the ladies speak in so pleasant a manner,” said First–Lieutenant Crosstrees, an officer with whom I have since become particularly intimate.

Then there was a little pause in the conversation, and I felt myself bound to say something as to the violent interruption to which I had this morning been subjected. And yet that something must be playful in its nature. I must by no means show in such company as was now present the strong feeling which pervaded my own mind. “You will perceive, Captain Battleax, that there is a little difference of opinion between us all here as to the ceremony which was to have been accomplished this morning. The ladies, in compliance with that softness of heart which is their characteristic, are on one side; and the men, by whom the world has to be managed, are on the other. No doubt, in process of time the ladies will follow — ”

“Their masters,” said Mrs Neverbend. “No doubt we shall do so when it is only ourselves that we have to sacrifice, but never when the question concerns our husbands, our fathers, and our sons.”

This was a pretty little speech enough, and received the eager compliments of the officers of the John Bright. “I did not mean,” said Captain Battleax, “to touch upon public subjects at such a moment as this. I am here only to pay my respects as a messenger from Great Britain to Britannula, to congratulate you all on your late victory at cricket, and to say how loud are the praises bestowed on Mr John Neverbend, junior, for his skill and gallantry. The power of his arm is already the subject discussed at all clubs and drawing-rooms at home. We had received details of the whole affair by water-telegram before the John Bright started. Mrs Neverbend, you must indeed be proud of your son.”

Jack had been standing in the far corner of the room talking to Eva, and was now reduced to silence by his praises.

“Sir Kennington Oval is a very fine player,” said my wife.

“And my Lord Marylebone behaves himself quite like a British peer,” said the wife of the Mayor of Gladstonopolis, — a lady whom he had married in England, and who had not moved there in quite the highest circles.

Then we began to think of the hospitality of the island, and the officers of the John Bright were asked to dine with us on the following day. I and my wife and son, and the two Craswellers, and three or four others, agreed to dine on board the ship on the next. To me personally an extreme of courtesy was shown. It seemed as though I were treated with almost royal honour. This, I felt, was paid to me as being President of the republic, and I endeavoured to behave myself with such mingled humility and dignity as might befit the occasion; but I could not but feel that something was wanting to the simplicity of my ordinary life. My wife, on the spur of the moment, managed to give the gentlemen a very good dinner. Including the chaplain and the surgeon, there were twelve of them, and she asked twelve of the prettiest girls in Gladstonopolis to meet them. This, she said, was true hospitality; and I am not sure that I did not agree with her. Then there were three or four leading men of the community, with their wives, who were for the most part the fathers and mothers of the young ladies. We sat down thirty-six to dinner; and I think that we showed a great divergence from those usual colonial banquets, at which the elders are only invited to meet distinguished guests. The officers were chiefly young men; and a greater babel of voices was, I’ll undertake to say, never heard from a banqueting-hall than came from our dinner-table. Eva Crasweller was the queen of the evening, and was as joyous, as beautiful, and as high-spirited as a queen should ever be. I did once or twice during the festivity glance round at old Crasweller. He was quiet, and I might almost say silent, during the whole evening; but I could see from the testimony of his altered countenance how strong is the passion for life that dwells in the human breast.

“Your promised bride seems to have it all her own way,” said Captain Battleax to Jack, when at last the ladies had withdrawn.

“Oh yes,” said Jack, “and I’m nowhere. But I mean to have my innings before long.”

Of what Mrs Neverbend had gone through in providing birds, beasts, and fishes, not to talk of tarts and jellies, for the dinner of that day, no one but myself can have any idea; but it must be admitted that she accomplished her task with thorough success. I was told, too, that after the invitations had been written, no milliner in Britannula was allowed to sleep a single moment till half an hour before the ladies were assembled in our drawing-room; but their efforts, too, were conspicuously successful.

On the next day some of us went on board the John Bright for a return dinner; and very pleasant the officers made it. The living on board the John Bright is exceedingly good, as I have had occasion to learn from many dinners eaten there since that day. I little thought when I sat down at the right hand of Captain Battleax as being the President of the republic, with my wife on his left, I should ever spend more than a month on board the ship, or write on board it this account of all my thoughts and all my troubles in regard to the Fixed Period. After dinner Captain Battleax simply proposed my health, paying to me many unmeaning compliments, in which, however, I observed that no reference was made to the special doings of my presidency; and he ended by saying, that though he had, as a matter of courtesy, and with the greatest possible alacrity, proposed my health, he would not call upon me for any reply. And immediately on his sitting down, there got up a gentleman to whom I had not been introduced before this day, and gave the health of Mrs Neverbend and the ladies of Britannula. Now in spite of what the captain said, I undoubtedly had intended to make a speech. When the President of the republic has his health drunk, it is, I conceive, his duty to do so. But here the gentleman rose with a rapidity which did at the moment seem to have been premeditated. At any rate, my eloquence was altogether stopped. The gentleman was named Sir Ferdinando Brown. He was dressed in simple black, and was clearly not one of the ship’s officers; but I could not but suspect at the moment that he was in some special measure concerned in the mission on which the gunboat had been sent. He sat on Mrs Neverbend’s left hand, and did seem in some respect to be the chief man on that occasion. However, he proposed Mrs Neverbend’s health and the ladies, and the captain instantly called upon the band to play some favourite tune. After that there was no attempt at speaking. We sat with the officers some little time after dinner, and then went ashore. “Sir Ferdinando and I,” said the captain, as we shook hands with him, “will do ourselves the honour of calling on you at the executive chambers to-morrow morning.”

I went home to bed with a presentiment of evil running across my heart. A presentiment indeed! How much of evil, — of real accomplished evil, — had there not occurred to me during the last few days! Every hope for which I had lived, as I then told myself, had been brought to sudden extinction by the coming of these men to whom I had been so pleasant, and who, in their turn, had been so pleasant to me! What could I do now but just lay myself down and die? And the death of which I dreamt could not, alas! be that true benumbing death which we think may put an end, or at any rate give a change, to all our thoughts. To die would be as nothing; but to live as the late President of the republic who had fixed his aspirations so high, would indeed be very melancholy. As President I had still two years to run, but it occurred to me now that I could not possibly endure those two years of prolonged nominal power. I should be the laughing-stock of the people; and as such, it would become me to hide my head. When this captain should have taken himself and his vessel back to England, I would retire to a small farm which I possessed at the farthest side of the island, and there in seclusion would I end my days. Mrs Neverbend should come with me, or stay, if it so pleased her, in Gladstonopolis. Jack would become Eva’s happy husband, and would remain amidst the hurried duties of the eager world. Crasweller, the triumphant, would live, and at last die, amidst the flocks and herds of Little Christchurch. I, too, would have a small herd, a little flock of my own, surrounded by no such glories as those of Little Christchurch, — owing nothing to wealth, or scenery, or neighbourhood, — and there, till God should take me, I would spend the evening of my day. Thinking of all this, I went to sleep.

On the next morning Sir Ferdinando Brown and Captain Battleax were announced at the executive chambers. I had already been there at my work for a couple of hours; but Sir Ferdinando apologised for the earliness of his visit. It seemed to me as he entered the room and took the chair that was offered to him, that he was the greater man of the two on the occasion, — or perhaps I should say of the three. And yet he had not before come on shore to visit me, nor had he made one at our little dinner-party. “Mr Neverbend,” began the captain, — and I observed that up to that moment he had generally addressed me as President, — “it cannot be denied that we have come here on an unpleasant mission. You have received us with all that courtesy and hospitality for which your character in England stands so high. But you must be aware that it has been our intention to interfere with that which you must regard as the performance of a duty.”

“It is a duty,” said I. “But your power is so superior to any that I can advance, as to make us here feel that there is no disgrace in yielding to it. Therefore we can be courteous while we submit. Not a doubt but had your force been only double or treble our own, I should have found it my duty to struggle with you. But how can a little State, but a few years old, situated on a small island, far removed from all the centres of civilisation, contend on any point with the owner of the great 250-ton swiveller-gun?”

“That is all quite true, Mr Neverbend,” said Sir Ferdinando Brown.

“I can afford to smile, because I am absolutely powerless before you; but I do not the less feel that, in a matter in which the progress of the world is concerned, I, or rather we, have been put down by brute force. You have come to us threatening us with absolute destruction. Whether your gun be loaded or not matters little.”

“It is certainly loaded,” said Captain Battleax.

“Then you have wasted your powder and shot. Like a highwayman, it would have sufficed for you merely to tell the weak and cowardly that your pistol would be made to go off when wanted. To speak the truth, Captain Battleax, I do not think that you excel us more in courage than you do in thought and practical wisdom. Therefore, I feel myself quite able, as President of this republic, to receive you with a courtesy due to the servants of a friendly ally.”

“Very well put,” said Sir Ferdinando. I simply bowed to him. “And now,” he continued, “will you answer me one question?”

“A dozen if it suits you to ask them.”

“Captain Battleax cannot remain here long with that expensive toy which he keeps locked up somewhere among his cocked-hats and white gloves. I can assure you he has not even allowed me to see the trigger since I have been on board. But 250-ton swivellers do cost money, and the John Bright must steam away, and play its part in other quarters of the globe. What do you intend to do when he shall have taken his pocket-pistol away?”

I thought for a little what answer it would best become me to give to this question, but I paused only for a moment or two. “I shall proceed at once to carry out the Fixed Period.” I felt that my honour demanded that to such a question I should make no other reply.

“And that in opposition to the wishes, as I understand, of a large proportion of your fellow-citizens?”

“The wishes of our fellow-citizens have been declared by repeated majorities in the Assembly.”

“You have only one House in your Constitution,” said Sir Ferdinando.

“One House I hold to be quite sufficient.”

I was proceeding to explain the theory on which the Britannulan Constitution had been formed, when Sir Ferdinando interrupted me. “At any rate, you will admit that a second Chamber is not there to guard against the sudden action of the first. But we need not discuss all this now. It is your purpose to carry out your Fixed Period as soon as the John Bright shall have departed?”

“Certainly.”

“And you are, I am aware, sufficiently popular with the people here to enable you to do so?”

“I think I am,” I said, with a modest acquiescence in an assertion which I felt to be so much to my credit. But I blushed for its untruth.

“Then,” said Sir Ferdinando, “there is nothing for it but that he must take you with him.”

There came upon me a sudden shock when I heard these words, which exceeded anything which I had yet felt. Me, the President of a foreign nation, the first officer of a people with whom Great Britain was at peace, — the captain of one of her gunboats must carry me off, hurry me away a prisoner, whither I knew not, and leave the country ungoverned, with no President as yet elected to supply my place! And I, looking at the matter from my own point of view, was a husband, the head of a family, a man largely concerned in business, — I was to be carried away in bondage — I, who had done no wrong, had disobeyed no law, who had indeed been conspicuous for my adherence to my duties! No opposition ever shown to Columbus and Galileo had come near to this in audacity and oppression. I, the President of a free republic, the elected of all its people, the chosen depository of its official life, — I was to be kidnapped and carried off in a ship of war, because, forsooth, I was deemed too popular to rule the country! And this was told to me in my own room in the executive chambers, in the very sanctum of public life, by a stout florid gentleman in a black coat, of whom I hitherto knew nothing except that his name was Brown!

“Sir,” I said, after a pause, and turning to Captain Battleax and addressing him, “I cannot believe that you, as an officer in the British navy, will commit any act of tyranny so oppressive, and of injustice so gross, as that which this gentleman has named.”

“You hear what Sir Ferdinando Brown has said,” replied Captain Battleax.

“I do not know the gentleman, — except as having been introduced to him at your hospitable table. Sir Ferdinando Brown is to me — simply Sir Ferdinando Brown.”

“Sir Ferdinando has lately been our British Governor in Ashantee, where he has, as I may truly say, ‘bought golden opinions from all sorts of people.’ He has now been sent here on this delicate mission, and to no one could it be intrusted by whom it would be performed with more scrupulous honour.” This was simply the opinion of Captain Battleax, and expressed in the presence of the gentleman himself whom he so lauded.

“But what is the delicate mission?” I asked.

Then Sir Ferdinando told his whole story, which I think should have been declared before I had been asked to sit down to dinner with him in company with the captain on board the ship. I was to be taken away and carried to England or elsewhere, — or drowned upon the voyage, it mattered not which. That was the first step to be taken towards carrying out the tyrannical, illegal, and altogether injurious intention of the British Government. Then the republic of Britannula was to be declared as non-existent, and the British flag was to be exalted, and a British Governor installed in the executive chambers! That Governor was to be Sir Ferdinando Brown.

I was lost in a maze of wonderment as I attempted to look at the proceeding all round. Now, at the close of the twentieth century, could oppression be carried to such a height as this? “Gentlemen,” I said, “you are powerful. That little instrument which you have hidden in your cabin makes you the master of us all. It has been prepared by the ingenuity of men, able to dominate matter though altogether powerless over mind. On myself, I need hardly say that it would be inoperative. Though you should reduce me to atoms, from them would spring those opinions which would serve altogether to silence your artillery. But the dread of it is to the generality much more powerful than the fact of its possession.”

“You may be quite sure it’s there,” said Captain Battleax, “and that I can so use it as to half obliterate your town within two minutes of my return on board.”

“You propose to kidnap me,” I said. “What would become of your gun were I to kidnap you?”

“Lieutenant Crosstrees has sealed orders, and is practically acquainted with the mechanism of the gun. Lieutenant Crosstrees is a very gallant officer. One of us always remains on board while the other is on shore. He would think nothing of blowing me up, so long as he obeyed orders.”

“I was going on to observe,” I continued, “that though this power is in your hands, and in that of your country, the exercise of it betrays not only tyranny of disposition, but poorness and meanness of spirit.” I here bowed first to the one gentleman, and then to the other. “It is simply a contest between brute strength and mental energy.”

“If you will look at the contests throughout the world,” said Sir Ferdinando, “you will generally find that the highest respect is paid to the greatest battalions.”

“What world-wide iniquity such a speech as that discloses!” said I, still turning myself to the captain; for though I would have crushed them both by my words had it been possible, my dislike centred itself on Sir Ferdinando. He was a man who looked as though everything were to yield to his meagre philosophy; and it seemed to me as though he enjoyed the exercise of the tyranny which chance had put into his power.

“You will allow me to suggest,” said he, “that that is a matter of opinion. In the meantime, my friend Captain Battleax has below a guard of fifty marines, who will pay you the respect of escorting you on board with two of the ship’s cutters. Everything that can be there done for your accommodation and comfort, — every luxury which can be provided to solace the President of this late republic, — shall be afforded. But, Mr Neverbend, it is necessary that you should go to England; and allow me to assure you, that your departure can neither be prevented nor delayed by uncivil words spoken to the future Governor of this prosperous colony.”

“My words are, at any rate, less uncivil than Captain Battleax’s marines; and they have, I submit, been made necessary by the conduct of your country in this matter. Were I to comply with your orders without expressing my own opinion, I should seem to have done so willingly hereafter. I say that the English Government is a tyrant, and that you are the instruments of its tyranny. Now you can proceed to do your work.”

“That having all been pleasantly settled,” said Sir Ferdinando, with a smile, “I will ask you to read the document by which this duty has been placed in my hands.” He then took out of his pocket a letter addressed to him by the Duke of Hatfield, as Minister for the Crown Colonies, and gave it to me to read. The letter ran as follows:—

COLONIAL OFFICE, CROWN COLONIES,
15th May 1980.

SIR, — I have it in command to inform your Excellency that you have been appointed Governor of the Crown colony which is called Britannula. The peculiar circumstances of the colony are within your Excellency’s knowledge. Some years since, after the separation of New Zealand, the inhabitants of Britannula requested to be allowed to manage their own affairs, and H.M. Minister of the day thought it expedient to grant their request. The country has since undoubtedly prospered, and in a material point of view has given us no grounds for regret. But in their selection of a Constitution the Britannulists have unfortunately allowed themselves but one deliberative assembly, and hence have sprung their present difficulties. It must be, that in such circumstances crude councils should be passed as laws without the safeguard coming from further discussion and thought. At the present moment a law has been passed which, if carried into action, would become abhorrent to mankind at large. It is contemplated to destroy all those who shall have reached a certain fixed age. The arguments put forward to justify so strange a measure I need not here explain at length. It is founded on the acknowledged weakness of those who survive that period of life at which men cease to work. This terrible doctrine has been adopted at the advice of an eloquent citizen of the republic, who is at present its President, and whose general popularity seems to be so great, that, in compliance with his views, even this measure will be carried out unless Great Britain shall interfere.

You are desired to proceed at once to Britannula, to reannex the island, and to assume the duties of the Governor of a Crown colony. It is understood that a year of probation is to be allowed to those victims who have agreed to their own immolation. You will therefore arrive there in ample time to prevent the first bloodshed. But it is surmised that you will find difficulties in the way of your entering at once upon your government. So great is the popularity of their President, Mr Neverbend, that, if he be left on the island, your Excellency will find a dangerous rival. It is therefore desired that you should endeavour to obtain information as to his intentions; and that, if the Fixed Period be not abandoned altogether, with a clear conviction as to its cruelty on the part of the inhabitants generally, you should cause him to be carried away and brought to England.

To enable you to effect this, Captain Battleax, of H.M. gunboat the John Bright, has been instructed to carry you out. The John Bright is armed with a weapon of great power, against which it is impossible that the people of Britannula should prevail. You will carry out with you 100 men of the North-north-west Birmingham regiment, which will probably suffice for your own security, as it is thought that if Mr Neverbend be withdrawn, the people will revert easily to their old habits of obedience.

In regard to Mr Neverbend himself, it is the especial wish of H.M. Government that he shall be treated with all respect, and that those honours shall be paid to him which are due to the President of a friendly republic. It is to be expected that he should not allow himself to make an enforced visit to England without some opposition; but it is considered in the interests of humanity to be so essential that this scheme of the Fixed Period shall not be carried out, that H.M. Government consider that his absence from Britannula shall be for a time insured. You will therefore insure it; but will take care that, as far as lies in your Excellency’s power, he be treated with all that respect and hospitality which would be due to him were he still the President of an allied republic.

Captain Battleax, of the John Bright, will have received a letter to the same effect from the First Lord of the Admiralty, and you will find him ready to co-operate with your Excellency in every respect. — I have the honour to be, sir, your Excellency’s most obedient servant,

HATFIELD.

This I read with great attention, while they sat silent. “I understand it; and that is all, I suppose, that I need say upon the subject. When do you intend that the John Bright shall start?”

“We have already lighted our fires, and our sailors are weighing the anchors. Will twelve o’clock suit you?”

“To-day!” I shouted.

“I rather think we must move to-day,” said the captain.

“If so, you must be content to take my dead body. It is now nearly eleven.”

“Half-past ten,” said the captain, looking at his watch.

“And I have no one ready to whom I can give up the archives of the Government.”

“I shall be happy to take charge of them,” said Sir Ferdinando.

“No doubt, — knowing nothing of the forms of our government, or — ”

“They, of course, must all be altered.”

“Or of the habits of our people. It is quite impossible. I, too, have the complicated affairs of my entire life to arrange, and my wife and son to leave though I would not for a moment be supposed to put these private matters forward when the public service is concerned. But the time you name is so unreasonable as to create a feeling of horror at your tyranny.”

“A feeling of horror would be created on the other side of the water,” said Sir Ferdinando, “at the idea of what you may do if you escape us. I should not consider my head to be safe on my own shoulders were it to come to pass that while I am on the island an old man were executed in compliance with your system.”

Alas! I could not but feel how little he knew of the sentiment which prevailed in Britannula; how false was his idea of my power; and how potent was that love of life which had been evinced in the city when the hour for deposition had become nigh. All this I could hardly explain to him, as I should thus be giving to him the strongest evidence against my own philosophy. And yet it was necessary that I should say something to make him understand that this sudden deportation was not necessary. And then during that moment there came to me suddenly an idea that it might be well that I should take this journey to England, and there begin again my career, — as Columbus, after various obstructions, had recommenced his, — and that I should endeavour to carry with me the people of Great Britain, as I had already carried the more quickly intelligent inhabitants of Britannula. And in order that I may do so, I have now prepared these pages, writing them on board H.M. gunboat, the John Bright.

“Your power is sufficient,” I said.

“We are not sure of that,” said Sir Ferdinando. “It is always well to be on the safe side.”

“Are you so afraid of what a single old man can do, — you with your 250-ton swivellers, and your guard of marines, and your North-north-west Birmingham soldiery?”

“That depends on who and what the old man may be.” This was the first complimentary speech which Sir Ferdinando had made, and I must confess that it was efficacious. I did not after that feel so strong a dislike to the man as I had done before. “We do not wish to make ourselves disagreeable to you, Mr Neverbend.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Unnecessarily disagreeable, I should have said. You are a man of your word.” Here I bowed to him. “If you will give us your promise to meet Captain Battleax here at this time to-morrow, we will stretch a point and delay the departure of the John Bright for twenty-four hours.” To this again I objected violently; and at last, as an extreme favour, two entire days were allowed for my departure.

The craft of men versed in the affairs of the old Eastern world is notorious. I afterwards learned that the stokers on board the ship were only pretending to get up their fires, and the sailors pretending to weigh their anchors, in order that their operations might be visible, and that I might suppose that I had received a great favour from my enemies’ hands. And this plan was adopted, too, in order to extract from me a promise that I would depart in peace. At any rate, I did make the promise, and gave these two gentlemen my word that I would be present there in my own room in the executive chambers at the same hour on the day but one following.

“And now,” said Sir Ferdinando, “that this matter is settled between us, allow me most cordially to shake you by the hand, and to express my great admiration for your character. I cannot say that I agree with you in theory as to the Fixed Period, — my wife and children could not, I am sure, endure to see me led away when a certain day should come, — but I can understand that much may be said on the point, and I admire greatly the eloquence and energy which you have devoted to the matter. I shall be happy to meet you here at any hour to-morrow, and to receive the Britannulan archives from your hands. You, Mr Neverbend, will always be regarded as the father of your country —

‘Roma patrem patriæ¦ Ciceronem libera dixit.’”

With this the two gentlemen left the room.

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