He Knew He Was Right, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter LXXVIII

Casalunga

Sir Marmaduke had been told at the Florence post-office that he would no doubt be able to hear tidings of Trevelyan, and to learn his address, from the officials in the post-office at Siena. At Florence he had been introduced to some gentleman who was certainly of importance, a superintendent who had clerks under him and who was a big man. This person had been very courteous to him, and he had gone to Siena thinking that he would find it easy to obtain Trevelyan’s address or to learn that there was no such person there. But at Siena he and his courier together could obtain no information. They rambled about the huge cathedral and the picturesque market-place of that quaint old city for the whole day, and on the next morning after breakfast they returned to Florence. They had learned nothing. The young man at the post-office had simply protested that he knew nothing of the name of Trevelyan. If letters should come addressed to such a name, he would keep them till they were called for; but, to the best of his knowledge, he had never seen or heard the name. At the guard-house of the gendarmerie they could not, or would not, give him any information, and Sir Marmaduke came back with an impression that everybody at Siena was ignorant, idiotic, and brutal. Mrs Trevelyan was so dispirited as to be ill, and both Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley were disposed to think that the world was all against them. ‘You have no conception of the sort of woman that man is going to marry,’ said Lady Rowley.

‘What man?’

‘Mr Glascock! A horrid American female, as old almost as I am, who talks through her nose, and preaches sermons about the rights of women. It is incredible! And Nora might have had him just for lifting up her hand.’ But Sir Marmaduke could not interest himself much about Mr Glascock. When he had been told that his daughter had refused the heir to a great estate and a peerage, it had been matter of regret; but he had looked upon the affair as done, and cared nothing now though Mr Glascock should marry a transatlantic Xantippe. He was angry with Nora because by her obstinacy she was adding to the general perplexities of the family, but he could not make comparisons on Mr Glascock’s behalf between her and Miss Spalding as his wife was doing, either mentally or aloud, from hour to hour. ‘I suppose it ‘is too late now,’ said Lady Rowley, shaking her head.

‘Of course it is too late. The man must marry whom he pleases. I am beginning to wonder that anybody should ever want to get married. I am indeed.’

‘But what are the girls to do?’

‘I don’t know what anybody is to do. Here is a man as mad as a March hare, and yet nobody can touch him. If it was not for the child, I should advise Emily to put him out of her head altogether.’

But though Sir Marmaduke could not bring himself to take any interest in Mr Glascock’s affairs, and would not ask a single question respecting the fearful American female whom this unfortunate man was about to translate to the position of an English peeress, yet circumstances so fell out that before three days were over he and Mr Glascock were thrown together in very intimate relations. Sir Marmaduke had learned that Mr Glascock was the only Englishman in Florence to whom Trevelyan had been known, and that he was the only person with whom Trevelyan had been seen to speak while passing through the city. In his despair, therefore, Sir Marmaduke had gone to Mr Glascock, and it was soon arranged that the two gentlemen should renew the search at Siena together, without having with them either Mrs Trevelyan or the courier. Mr Glascock knew the ways of the people better than did Sir Marmaduke, and could speak the language. He obtained a passport to the good offices of the police at Siena, and went prepared to demand rather than to ask for assistance. They started very early, before breakfast, and on arriving at Siena at about noon, first employed themselves in recruiting exhausted nature. By the time that they had both declared that the hotel at Siena was the very worst in all Italy, and that a breakfast without eatable butter was not to be considered a breakfast at all, they had become so intimate that Mr Glascock spoke of his own intended marriage. He must have done this with the conviction on his mind that Nora Rowley would have told her mother of his former intention, and that Lady Rowley would have told Sir Marmaduke; but he did not feel it to be incumbent on himself to say anything on that subject. He had nothing to excuse. He had behaved fairly and honourably. It was not to be expected that he should remain unmarried for ever for the sake of a girl who had twice refused him. ‘Of course there are very many in England,’ he said, ‘who will think me foolish to marry a girl from another country.’

‘It is done every day,’ said Sir Marmaduke.

‘No doubt it is. I admit, however, that I ought to be more careful than some other persons. There is a title and an estate to be perpetuated, and I cannot, perhaps, be justified in taking quite so much liberty as some other men may do; but I think I have chosen a woman born to have a high position, and who will make her own way in any society in which she may be placed.’

‘I have no doubt she will,’ said Sir Marmaduke, who had still sounding in his ears the alarming description which his wife had given him of this infatuated man’s proposed bride. But he would have been bound to say as much had Mr Glascock intended to marry as lowly as did King Cophetua.

‘She is highly educated, gentle-mannered, as sweetly soft as any English girl I ever met, and very pretty. You have met her, I think.’

‘I do not remember that I have observed her.’

‘She is too young for me, perhaps,’ said Mr Glascock; ‘but that is a fault on the right side.’ Sir Marmaduke, as he wiped his beard after his breakfast, remembered what his wife had told him about the lady’s age. But it was nothing to him.‘she is four-and-twenty, I think,’ said Mr Glascock. If Mr Glascock chose to believe that his intended wife was four-and-twenty instead of something over forty, that was nothing to Sir Marmaduke.

‘The very best age in the world,’ said he.

They had sent for an officer of the police, and before they had been three hours in Siena they had been told that Trevelyan lived about seven miles from the town, in a small and very remote country house, which he had hired for twelve months from one of the city hospitals. He had hired it furnished, and had purchased a horse and small carriage from a man in the town. To this man they went, and it soon became evident to them that he of whom they were in search was living at this house, which was called Casalunga, and was not, as the police officer told them, on the way to any place. They must leave Siena by the road for Rome, take a turn to the left about a mile beyond the city gate, and continue on along the country lane till they saw a certain round hill to the right. On the top of that round hill was Casalunga. As the country about Siena all lies in round hills, this was no adequate description, but it was suggested that the country people would know all about it. They got a small open carriage in the market-place, and were driven out. Their driver knew nothing of Casalunga, and simply went whither he was told. But by the aid of the country people they got along over the unmade lanes, and in little more than an hour were told, at the bottom of the hill, that they must now walk up to Casalunga. Though the hill was round-topped, and no more than a hill, still the ascent at last was very steep, and was paved with stones set edgeway in a manner that could hardly have been intended to accommodate wheels. When Mr Glascock asserted that the signor who lived there had a carriage of his own, the driver suggested that he must keep it at the bottom of the hill. It was clearly not his intention to attempt to drive up the ascent, and Sir Marmaduke and Mr Glascock were therefore obliged to walk. It was now in the latter half of May, and there was a blazing Italian sky over their heads. Mr Glascock was acclimated to Italian skies, and did not much mind the work; but Sir Marmaduke, who never did much in walking, declared that Italy was infinitely hotter than the Mandarins, and could hardly make his way as far as the house door.

It seemed to both of them to be a most singular abode for such a man as Trevelyan. At the top of the hill there was a huge entrance through a wooden gateway, which seemed to have been constructed with the intention of defying any intruders not provided with warlike ammunition. The gates were, indeed, open at the period of their visit, but it must be supposed that they were intended to be closed at any rate at night. Immediately on the right, as they entered through the gates, there was a large barn, in which two men were coopering wine vats. From thence a path led slanting to the house, of which the door was shut, and all the front windows blocked with shutters. The house was very long, and only of one story for a portion of its length. Over that end at which the door was placed there were upper rooms, and there must have been space enough for a large family with many domestics. There was nothing round or near the residence which could be called a garden, so that its look of desolation was extreme. There were various large barns and outhouses, as though it had been intended by the builder that corn and hay and cattle should be kept there; but it seemed now that there was nothing there except the empty vats at which the two men were coopering. Had the Englishmen gone farther into the granary, they would have seen that there were wine-presses stored away in the dark corners.

They stopped and looked at the men, and the men halted for a moment from their work and looked at them; but the men spoke never a word. Mr Glascock then asked after Mr Trevelyan, and one of the coopers pointed to the house. Then they crossed over to the door, and Mr Glascock finding there neither knocker nor bell, first tapped with his knuckles, and then struck with his stick. But no one came. There was not a sound in the house, and no shutter was removed. ‘I don’t believe that there is a soul here,’ said Sir Marmaduke.

‘We’ll not give it up till we’ve seen it all at any rate,’ said Mr Glascock. And so they went round to the other front.

On this side of the house the tilled ground, either ploughed or dug with the spade, came up to the very windows. There was hardly even a particle of grass to be seen. A short way down the hill there were rows of olive trees, standing in prim order and at regular distances, from which hung the vines that made the coopering of the vats necessary. Olives and vines have pretty names, and call up associations of landscape beauty. But here they were in no way beautiful. The ground beneath them was turned up, and brown, and arid, so that there was not a blade of grass to be seen. On some furrows the maize or Indian corn was sprouting, and there were patches of growth of other kinds, each patch closely marked by its own straight lines; and there were narrow paths, so constructed as to take as little room as possible. But all that had been done had been done for economy, and nothing for beauty. The occupiers of Casalunga had thought more of the produce of their land than of picturesque or attractive appearance.

The sun was blazing fiercely hot, hotter on this side, Sir Marmaduke thought, even than on the other; and there was not a wavelet of a cloud in the sky. A balcony ran the whole length of the house, and under this Sir Marmaduke took shelter at once, leaning with his back against the wall. ‘There is not a soul here at all,’ said he.

‘The men in the barn told us that there was,’ said Mr Glascock; ‘and, at any rate, we will try the windows.’ So saying, he walked along the front of the house, Sir Marmaduke following him slowly, till they came to a door, the upper half of which was glazed, and through which they looked into one of the rooms. Two or three of the other windows in this frontage of the house came down to the ground, and were made for egress and ingress; but they had all been closed with shutters, as though the house was deserted. But they now looked into a room which contained some signs of habitation. There was a small table with a marble top, on which lay two or three books, and there were two arm-chairs in the room, with gilded arms and legs, and a morsel of carpet, and a clock on, a shelf over a stove, and a rocking-horse. ‘The boy is here, you may be sure,’ said Mr Glascock. ‘The rocking-horse makes that certain. But how are we to get at any one!’

‘I never saw such a place for an Englishman to come and live in before,’ said Sir Marmaduke. ‘What on earth can he do here all day!’ As he spoke the door of the room was opened, and there was Trevelyan standing before them, looking at them through the window. He wore an old red English dressing-gown, which came down to his feet, and a small braided Italian cap on his head. His beard had been allowed to grow, and he had neither collar nor cravat. His trousers were unbraced, and he shuffled in with a pair of slippers, which would hardly cling to his feet. He was paler and still thinner than when he had been visited at Willesden, and his eyes seemed to be larger, and shone almost with a brighter brilliancy.

Mr Glascock tried to open the door, but found that it was closed. ‘Sir Marmaduke and I have come to visit you,’ said Mr Glascock, aloud. ‘Is there any means by which we can get into the house?’ Trevelyan stood still and stared at them. ‘We knocked at the front door, but nobody came,’ continued Mr Glascock. ‘I suppose this is the way you usually go in and out.’

‘He does not mean to let us in,’ whispered Sir Marmaduke.

‘Can you open this door,’ said Mr Glascock, ‘or shall we go round again?’ Trevelyan had stood still contemplating them, but at last came forward and put back the bolt. ‘That is all right,’ said Mr Glascock, entering. ‘I am sure you will be glad to see Sir Marmaduke.’

‘I should be glad to see him or you, if I could entertain you,’ said Trevelyan. His voice was harsh and hard, and his words were uttered with a certain amount of intended grandeur. ‘Any of the family would be welcome were it not —’

‘Were it not what?’ asked Mr Glascock.

‘It can be nothing to you, sir, what troubles I have here. This is my own abode, in which I had flattered myself that I could be free from intruders. I do not want visitors. I am sorry that you should have had trouble in coming here, but I do not want visitors. I am very sorry that I have nothing that I can offer you, Mr Glascock.’

‘Emily is in Florence,’ said Sir Marmaduke.

‘Who brought her? Did I tell her to come? Let her go back to her home. I have come here to be free from her, and I mean to be free. If she wants my money, let her take it.’

‘She wants her child,’ said Mr Glascock.

‘He is my child,’ said Trevelyan, ‘and my right to him is better than hers. Let her try it in a court of law, and she shall see. Why did she deceive me with that man? Why has she driven me to this? Look here, Mr Glascock my whole life is spent in this seclusion, and it is her fault.’

‘Your wife is innocent of all fault, Trevelyan,’ said Mr Glascock.

‘Any woman can say as much as that and all women do say it. Yet what are they worth?’

‘Do you mean, sir, to take away your wife’s character?’ said Sir Marmaduke, coming up in wrath. ‘Remember that she is my daughter, and that there are things which flesh and blood cannot stand.’

‘She is my wife, sir, and that is ten times more. Do you think that you would do more for her than I would do, drink more of Esill? You had better go away, Sir Marmaduke. You can do no good by coming here and talking of your daughter. I would have given the world to save her but she would not be saved.’

‘You are a slanderer!’ said Sir Marmaduke, in his wrath.

Mr Glascock turned round to the father, and tried to quiet him. It was so manifest to him that the balance of the poor man’s mind was gone, that it seemed to him to be ridiculous to upbraid the sufferer. He was such a piteous sight to behold, that it was almost impossible to feel indignation against him. ‘You cannot wonder,’ said Mr Glascock, advancing close to the master of the house, ‘that the mother should want to see her only child. You do not wish that your wife should be the most wretched woman in the world.’

‘Am not I the most wretched of men? Can anything be more wretched than this? Is her life worse than mine? And whose fault was it? Had I any friend to whom she objected? Was I untrue to her in a single thought?’

‘If you say that she was untrue, it is a falsehood,’ said Sir Marmaduke.

‘You allow yourself a liberty of expression, sir, because you are my wife’s father,’ said Trevelyan, ‘which you would not dare to take in other circumstances.’

‘I say that it is a false calumny, a lie! And I would say so to any man on earth who should dare to slander my child’s name.’

‘Your child, sir! She is my wife, my wife, my wife!’ Trevelyan, as he spoke, advanced close up to his father-inlaw; and at last hissed out his words, with his lips close to Sir Marmaduke’s face. ‘Your right in her is gone, sir. She is mine, mine, mine! And you see the way in which she has treated me, Mr Glascock. Everything I had was hers; but the words of a grey-haired sinner were sweeter to her than all my love. I wonder whether you think that it is a pleasant thing for such a one as I to come out here and live in such a place as this? I have not a friend, a companion, hardly a book. There is nothing that I can eat or drink! I do not stir out of the house, and I am ill, very ill! Look at me. See what she has brought me to! Mr Glascock, on my honour as a man, I never wronged her in a thought or a word.’

Mr Glascock had come to think that his best chance of doing any good was to get Trevelyan into conversation with himself, free from the interruption of Sir Marmaduke. The father of the injured woman could not bring himself to endure the hard words that were spoken of his daughter. During this last speech he had broken out once or twice; but Trevelyan, not heeding him, had clung to Mr Glascock’s arm. ‘Sir Marmaduke,’ said he, ‘would you not like to see the boy?’

‘He shall not see the boy,’ said Trevelyan. ‘You may see him. He shall not. What is he that he should have control over me?’

‘This is the most fearful thing I ever heard of,’ said Sir Marmaduke. ‘What are we to do with him?’

Mr Glascock whispered a few words to Sir Marmaduke, and then declared that he was ready to be taken to the child. ‘And he will remain here?’ asked Trevelyan.. A pledge was then given by Sir Marmaduke that he would not force his way farther into the house, and the two other men left the chamber together. Sir Marmaduke, as he paced up and down the room alone, perspiring at every pore, thoroughly uncomfortable and ill at ease, thought of all the hard positions of which he had ever read, and that his was harder than them all. Here was a man married to his daughter, in possession of his daughter’s child, manifestly mad, and yet he could do nothing to him! He was about to return to the seat of his government, and he must leave his own child in this madman’s power! Of course, his daughter could not go with him, leaving her child in this madman’s hands. He had been told that even were he to attempt to prove the man to be mad in Italy, the process would be slow; and, before it could be well commenced, Trevelyan would be off with the child elsewhere. There never was an embarrassment, thought Sir Marmaduke, out of which it was so impossible to find a clear way.

In the meantime, Mr Glascock and Trevelyan were visiting the child. It was evident that the father, let him be ever so mad, had discerned the expediency of allowing some one to see that his son was alive and in health. Mr Glascock did not know much of children, and could only say afterwards that the boy was silent and very melancholy, but clean, and apparently well. It appeared that he was taken out daily by his father in the cool hours of the morning, and that his father hardly left him from the time that he was taken up till he was put to bed. But Mr Glascock’s desire was to see Trevelyan alone, and this he did after they had left the boy. ‘And now, Trevelyan,’ he said, ‘what do you mean to do?’

‘To do?’

‘In what way do you propose to live? I want you to be reasonable with me.’

‘They do not treat me reasonably.’

‘Are you going to measure your own conduct by that of other people? In the first place, you should go back to England. What good can you do here?’ Trevelyan shook his head, but remained silent. ‘You cannot like this life.’

‘No, indeed. But whither can I go now that I shall like to live?’

‘Why not home?’

‘I have no home.’

‘Why not go back to England? Ask your wife to join you, and return with her. She would go at a word.’ The poor wretch again shook his head. ‘I hope you think that I speak as your friend,’ said Mr Glascock.

‘I believe you do.’

‘I will say nothing of any imprudence; but you cannot believe that she has been untrue to you?’ Trevelyan would say nothing to this, but stood silent waiting for Mr Glascock to continue. ‘Let her come back to you here; and then, as soon as you can arrange it, go to your own home.’

‘Shall I tell you something?’ said Trevelyan.

‘What is it?’

He came up close to Mr Glascock, and put his hand upon his visitor’s shoulder. ‘I will tell you what she would do at once. I dare say that she would come to me. I dare say that she would go with me. I am sure she would. And directly she got me there, she would say that I was mad! She my wife, would do it! He, that furious, ignorant old man below, tried to do it before. His wife said that I was mad.’ He paused a moment, as though waiting for a reply; but Mr Glascock had none to make. It had not been his object, in the advice which he had given, to entrap the poor fellow by a snare, and to induce him so to act that he should deliver himself up to keepers; but he was well aware that wherever Trevelyan might be, it would be desirable that he should be placed for awhile in the charge of some physician. He could not bring himself at the spur of the moment to repudiate the idea by which Trevelyan was actuated. ‘Perhaps you think that she would be right?’ said Trevelyan.

‘I am quite sure that she would do nothing that is not for the best,’ said Mr Glascock.

‘I can see it all. I will not go back to England, Mr Glascock. I intend to travel. I shall probably leave this and go to to to Greece, perhaps. It is a healthy place, this, and I like it for that reason; but I shall not stay here. If my wife likes to travel with me, she can come. But to England I will not go.’

‘You will let the child go to his mother?’

‘Certainly not. If she wants to see the child, he is here. If she will come without her father she shall see him. She shall not take him from hence. Nor shall she return to live with me, without full acknowledgment of her fault, and promises of an amended life. I know what I am saying, Mr Glascock, and have thought of these things perhaps more than you have done. I am obliged to you for coming to me; but now, if you please, I would prefer to be alone.’

Mr Glascock, seeing that nothing further could be done, joined Sir Marmaduke, and the two walked down to their carriage at the bottom of the hill. Mr Glascock, as he went, declared his conviction that the unfortunate man was altogether mad, and that it would be necessary to obtain some interference on the part of the authorities for the protection of the child. How this could be done, or whether it could be done in time to intercept a further flight on the part of Trevelyan, Mr Glascock could not say. It was his idea that Mrs Trevelyan should herself go out to Casalunga, and try the force of her own persuasion.

‘I believe that he would murder her,’ said Sir Marmaduke.

‘He would not do that. There is a glimmer of sense in all his madness, which will keep him from any actual violence.’

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