He Knew He Was Right, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter LXXXVI

Mr Glascock as Nurse

A message had been sent by the wires to Trevelyan, to let him know that Mr Glascock was himself coming for the boy. Whether such message would or would not be sent out to Casalunga Mr Glascock had been quite ignorant, but it could, at any rate, do no harm. He did feel it hard as in this hot weather he made the journey, first to Florence, and then on to Siena. What was he to the Rowleys, or to Trevelyan himself, that such a job of work should fall to his lot at such a period of his life? He had been very much in love with Nora, no doubt; but, luckily for him, as he thought, Nora had refused him. As for Trevelyan, Trevelyan had never been his friend. As for Sir Marmaduke, Sir Marmaduke was nothing to him. He was almost angry even with Mrs Trevelyan as he arrived tired, heated, and very dusty, at Siena. It was his purpose to sleep at Siena that night, and to go out to Casalunga early the next morning. If the telegram had not been forwarded, he would send a message on that evening. On inquiry, however, he found that the message had been sent, and that the paper had been put into the Signore’s own hand by the Sienese messenger. Then he got into some discourse with the landlord about the strange gentleman at Casalunga. Trevelyan was beginning to become the subject of gossip in the town, and people were saying that the stranger was very strange indeed. The landlord thought that if the Signore had any friends at all, it would be well that such friends should come and look after him. Mr Glascock asked if Mr Trevelyan was ill. It was not only that the Signore was out of health, so the landlord heard, but that he was also somewhat — and then the landlord touched his head. He eat nothing, and went nowhere, and spoke to no one; and the people at the hospital to which Casalunga belonged were beginning to be uneasy about their tenant. Perhaps Mr Glascock had come to take him away. Mr Glascock explained that he had not come to take Mr Trevelyan away but only to take away a little boy that was with him. For this reason he was travelling with a maid-servant, a fact for which Mr Glascock clearly thought it necessary that he should give an intelligible and credible explanation. The landlord seemed to think that the people at the hospital would have been much rejoiced had Mr Glascock intended to take Mr Trevelyan away also.

He started after a very early breakfast, and found himself walking up over the stone ridges to the house between nine and ten in the morning. He himself had sat beside the driver and had put the maid inside the carriage. He had not deemed it wise to take an undivided charge of the boy even from Casalunga to Siena. At the door of the house, as though waiting for him, he found Trevelyan, not dirty as he had been before, but dressed with much appearance of smartness. He had a brocaded cap on his head, and a shirt with a laced front, and a worked waistcoat, and a frockcoat, and coloured bright trowsers. Mr Glascock knew at once that all the clothes which he saw before him had been made for Italian and not for English wear; and could almost have said that they had been bought in Siena and not in Florence. ‘I had not intended to impose this labour on you, Mr Glascock,’ Trevelyan said, raising his cap to salute his visitor.

‘For fear there might be mistakes, I thought it better to come myself,’ said Mr Glascock. ‘You did not wish to see Sir Marmaduke?’

‘Certainly not Sir Marmaduke,’ said Trevelyan, with a look of anger that was almost grotesque.

‘And you thought it better that Mrs Trevelyan should not come.’

‘Yes, I thought it better, but not from any feeling of anger towards her. If I could welcome my wife here, Mr Glascock, without a risk of wrath on her part, I should be very happy to receive her. I love my wife, Mr Glascock. I love her dearly. But there have been misfortunes. Never mind. There is no reason why I should trouble you with them. Let us go in to breakfast. After your drive you will have an appetite.’

Poor Mr Glascock was afraid to decline to sit down to the meal which was prepared for him. He did mutter something about having already eaten, but Trevelyan put this aside with a wave of his hand as he led the way into a spacious room, in which had been set out a table with almost a sumptuous banquet. The room was very bare and comfortless, having neither curtains nor matting, and containing not above half a dozen chairs. But an effort had been made to give it an air of Italian luxury. The windows were thrown open, down to the ground, and the table was decorated with fruits and three or four long-necked bottles. Trevelyan waved with his hand towards an arm-chair, and Mr Glascock had no alternative but to seat himself. He felt that he was sitting down to breakfast with a madman; but if he did not sit down, the madman might perhaps break out into madness. Then Trevelyan went to the door and called aloud for Catarina. ‘In these remote places,’ said he, ‘one has to do without the civilisation of a bell. Perhaps one gains as much in quiet as one loses in comfort.’ Then Catarina came with hot meats and fried potatoes, and Mr Glascock was compelled to help himself.

‘I am but a bad trencherman myself,’ said Trevelyan, ‘but I shall lament my misfortune doubly if that should interfere with your appetite.’ Then he got up and poured out wine into Mr Glascock’s glass. ‘They tell me that it comes from the Baron’s vineyard,’ said Trevelyan, alluding to the wine-farm of Ricasoli, ‘and that there is none better in Tuscany. I never was myself a judge of the grape, but this to me is as palatable as any of the costlier French wines. How grand a thing would wine really be, if it could make glad the heart of man. How truly would one worship Bacchus if he could make one’s heart to rejoice. But if a man have a real sorrow, wine will not wash it away, not though a man were drowned in it, as Clarence was.’

Mr Glascock hitherto had spoken hardly a word. There was an attempt at joviality about this breakfast or, at any rate, of the usual comfortable luxury of hospitable entertainment which, coming as it did from Trevelyan, almost locked his lips. He had not come there to be jovial or luxurious, but to perform a most melancholy mission; and he had brought with him his saddest looks, and was prepared for a few sad words. Trevelyan’s speech, indeed, was sad enough, but Mr Glascock could not take up questions of the worship of Bacchus at half a minute’s warning. He eat a morsel, and raised his glass to his lips, and felt himself to be very uncomfortable. It was necessary, however, that he should utter a word. ‘Do you not let your little boy come in to breakfast?’ he said.

‘He is better away,’ said Trevelyan gloomily.

‘But as we are to travel together,’ said Mr Glascock, ‘we might as well make acquaintance.’

‘You have been a little hurried with me on that score,’ said Trevelyan. ‘I wrote certainly with a determined mind, but things have changed somewhat since then.’

‘You do not mean that you will not send him?’

‘You have been somewhat hurried with me, I say. If I remember rightly, I named no time, but spoke of the future. Could I have answered the message which I received from you, I would have postponed your visit for a week or so.’

‘Postponed it! Why, I am to be married the day after tomorrow. It was just as much as I was able to do, to come here at all.’ Mr Glascock now pushed his chair back from the table, and prepared himself to speak up. ‘Your wife expects her child now, and you will ever break her heart by refusing to send him.’

‘Nobody thinks of my heart, Mr Glascock.’

‘But this is your own offer.’

‘Yes, it was my own offer, certainly. I am not going to deny my own words, which have no doubt been preserved in testimony against me.’

‘Mr Trevelyan, what do you mean?’ Then, when he was on the point of boiling over with passion, Mr Glascock remembered that his companion was not responsible for his expressions. ‘I do hope you will let the child go away with me,’ he said. ‘You cannot conceive the state of his mother’s anxiety, and she will send him back at once if you demand it.’

‘Is that to be in good faith?’

‘Certainly, in good faith. I would lend myself to nothing, Mr Trevelyan, that was not said and done in good faith.’

‘She will not break her word, excusing herself, because I am mad?’

‘I am sure that there is nothing of the kind in her mind.’

‘Perhaps not now; but such things grow. There is no iniquity, no breach of promise, no treason that a woman will not excuse to herself — or a man either — by the comfortable self-assurance that the person to be injured is mad. A hound without a friend is not so cruelly treated. The outlaw, the murderer, the perjurer has surer privileges than the man who is in the way, and to whom his friends can point as being mad!’ Mr Glascock knew or thought that he knew that his host in truth was mad, and he could not, therefore, answer this tirade by an assurance that no such idea was likely to prevail. ‘Have they told you, I wonder,’ continued Trevelyan, ‘how it was that, driven to force and an ambuscade for the recovery of my own child, I waylaid my wife and took him from her? I have done nothing to forfeit my right as a man to the control of my own family. I demanded that the boy should be sent to me, and she paid no attention to my words. I was compelled to vindicate my own authority; and then, because I claimed the right which belongs to a father, they said that I was mad! Ay, and they would have proved it, too, had I not fled from my country and hidden myself in this desert. Think of that, Mr Glascock! Now they have followed me here, not out of love for me; and that man whom they call a governor comes and insults me; and my wife promises to be good to me, and says that she will forgive and forget! Can she ever forgive herself her own folly, and the cruelty that has made shipwreck of my life? They can do nothing to me here; but they would entice me home because there they have friends, and can fee doctors with my own money and suborn lawyers, and put me away somewhere in the dark, where I shall be no more heard of among men! As you are a man of honour, Mr Glascock tell me; is it not so?’

‘I know nothing of their plans beyond this, that you wrote me word that you would send them the boy.’

‘But I know their plans. What you say is true. I did write you word, and I meant it. Mr Glascock, sitting here alone from morning to night, and lying down from night till morning, without companionship, without love, in utter misery, I taught myself to feel that I should think more of her than of myself.’

‘If you are so unhappy here, come back yourself with the child. Your wife would desire nothing better.’

‘Yes and submit to her, and her father, and her mother. No Mr Glascock; never, never. Let her come to me.’

‘But you will not receive her.’

‘Let her come in a proper spirit, and I will receive her. She is the wife of my bosom, and I will receive her with joy. But if she is to come to me and tell me that she forgives me — forgives me for the evil that she has done — then, sir, she had better stay away. Mr Glascock, you are going to be married. Believe me no man should submit to be forgiven by his wife. Everything must go astray if that be done. I would rather encounter their mad doctors, one of them after another till they had made me mad; I would encounter anything rather than that. But, sir, you neither eat nor drink, and I fear that my speech disturbs you.’

It was like enough that it may have done so. Trevelyan, as he had been speaking, had walked about the room, going from one extremity to the other with hurried steps, gesticulating with his arms, and every now and then pushing back with his hands the long hair from off his forehead. Mr Glascock was in truth very much disturbed. He had come there with an express object; but, whenever he mentioned the child, the father became almost rabid in his wrath. ‘I have done very well, thank you,’ said Mr Glascock. ‘I will not eat any more, and I believe I must be thinking of going back to Siena.’

‘I had hoped you would spend the day with me, Mr Glascock.’

‘I am to be married, you see, in two days; and I must be in Florence early tomorrow. I am to meet my wife, as she will be, and the Rowleys, and your wife. Upon my word I can’t stay. Won’t you just say a word to the young woman and let the boy be got ready?’

‘I think not; no, I think not.’

‘And am I to have had all this journey for nothing? You will have made a fool of me in writing to me.’

‘I intended to be honest, Mr Glascock.’

‘Stick to your honesty, and send the boy back to his mother. It will be better for you, Trevelyan.’

‘Better for me! Nothing can be better for me. All must be worst. It will be better for me, you say; and you ask me to give up the last drop of cold water wherewith I can touch my parched lips. Even in my hell I had so much left to me of a limpid stream, and you tell me that it will be better for me to pour it away. You may take him, Mr Glascock. The woman will make him ready for you. What matters it whether the fiery furnace be heated seven times, or only six; in either degree the flames are enough! You may take him, you may take him!’ So saying, Trevelyan walked out of the window, leaving Mr Glascock seated in his chair. He walked out of the window and went down among the olive trees. He did not go far, however, but stood with his arm round the stem of one of them, playing with the shoots of a vine with his hand. Mr Glascock followed him to the window and stood looking at him for a few moments. But Trevelyan did not turn or move. There he stood gazing at the pale, cloudless, heat-laden, motionless sky, thinking of his own sorrows, and remembering too, doubtless, with the vanity of a madman, that he was probably being watched in his reverie.

Mr Glascock was too practical a man not to make the most of the offer that had been made to him, and he went back among the passages and called for Catarina. Before long he had two or three women with him, including her whom he had brought from Florence, and among them Louey was soon made to appear, dressed for his journey, together with a small trunk in which were his garments. It was quite clear that the order for his departure had been given before that scene at the breakfast-table, and that Trevelyan had not intended to go back on his promise. Nevertheless Mr Glascock thought it might be as well to hurry his departure, and he turned back to say the shortest possible word of farewell to Trevelyan in the garden. But when he got to the window, Trevelyan was not to be found among the olive trees. Mr Glascock walked a few steps down the hill, looking for him, but seeing nothing of him, returned to the house. The elder woman said that her master had not been there, and Mr Glascock started with his charge. Trevelyan was manifestly mad, and it was impossible to treat him as a sane man would have been treated. Nevertheless, Mr Glascock felt much compunction in carrying the child away without a final kiss or word of farewell from its father. But it was not to be so. He had got into the carriage with the child, having the servant seated opposite to him, for he was moved by some undefinable fear which made him determine to keep the boy close to him, and he had not, therefore, returned to the driver’s seat when Trevelyan appeared standing by the road-side at the bottom of the hill. ‘Would you take him away from me without one word!’ said Trevelyan bitterly.

‘I went to look for you, but you were gone,’ said Mr Glascock.

‘No, sir, I was not gone. I am here. It is the last time that I shall ever gladden my eyes with his brightness. Louey, my love, will you come to your father?’ Louey did not seem to be particularly willing to leave the carriage, but he made no loud objection when Mr Glascock held him up to the open space above the door. The child had realised the fact that he was to go, and did not believe that his father would stop him now; but he was probably of opinion that the sooner the carriage began to go on the better it would be for him. Mr Glascock, thinking that his father intended to kiss him over the door, held him by his frock; but the doing of this made Trevelyan very angry. ‘Am I not to be trusted with my own child in my arms?’ said he. ‘Give him to me, sir. I begin to doubt now whether I am right to deliver him to you.’ Mr Glascock immediately let go his hold of the boy’s frock and leaned back in the carriage. ‘Louey will tell papa that he loves him before he goes?’ said Trevelyan. The poor little fellow murmured something, but it did not please his father, who had him in his arms. ‘You are like the rest of them, Louey,’ he said; ‘because I cannot laugh and be gay, all my love for you is nothing — nothing! You may take him. He is all that I have, all that I have, and I shall never see him again!’ So saying he handed the child into the carriage, and sat himself down by the side of the road to watch till the vehicle should be out of sight. As soon as the last speck of it had vanished from his sight, he picked himself up, and dragged his slow footsteps back to the house.

Mr Glascock made sundry attempts to amuse the child, with whom he had to remain all that night at Siena; but his efforts in that line were not very successful. The boy was brisk enough, and happy, and social by nature; but the events, or rather the want of events of the last few months, had so cowed him, that he could not recover his spirits at the bidding of a stranger. ‘If I have any of my own,’ said Mr Glascock to himself, ‘I hope they will be of a more cheerful disposition.’

As we have seen, he did not meet Caroline at the station, thereby incurring his lady-love’s displeasure for the period of half-a-minute; but he did meet Mrs Trevelyan almost at the door of Sir Marmaduke’s lodgings. ‘Yes, Mrs Trevelyan; he is here.’

‘How am I ever to thank you for such goodness?’ said she. ‘And Mr Trevelyan — you saw him?’

‘Yes I saw him.’

Before he could answer her further she was upstairs, and had her child in her arms. It seemed to be an age since the boy had been stolen from her in the early spring in that unknown, dingy street near Tottenham Court Road. Twice she had seen her darling since that, twice during his captivity; but on each of these occasions she had seen him as one not belonging to herself, and had seen him under circumstances which had robbed the greeting of almost all its pleasure. But now he was her own again, to take whither she would, to dress and to undress, to feed, to coax, to teach, and to caress. And the child lay up close to her as she hugged him, putting up his little cheek to her chin, and burying himself happily in her embrace. He had not much as yet to say, but she could feel that he was contented.

Mr Glascock had promised to wait for her a few minutes, even at the risk of Caroline’s displeasure, and Mrs Trevelyan ran down to him as soon as the first craving of her mother’s love was satisfied. Her boy would at any rate be safe with her now, and it was her duty to learn something of her husband. It was more than her duty, if only her services might be of avail to him. ‘And you say he was well?’ she asked. She had taken Mr Glascock apart, and they were alone together, and he had determined that he would tell her the truth.

‘I do not know that he is ill, though he is pale and altered beyond belief.’

‘Yes I saw that.’

‘I never knew a man so thin and haggard.’

‘My poor Louis!’

‘But that is not the worst of it.’

‘What do you mean, Mr Glascock?’

‘I mean that his mind is astray, and that he should not be left alone. There is no knowing what he might do. He is so much more alone there than he would be in England. There is not a soul who could interfere.’

‘Do you mean that you think that he is in danger from himself?’

‘I would not say so, Mrs Trevelyan; but who can tell? I am sure of this, that he should not be left alone. If it were only because of the misery of his life, he should not be left alone.’

‘But what can I do? He would not even see papa.’

‘He would see you.’

‘But he would not let me guide him in anything. I have been to him twice, and he breaks out as if I were a bad woman.’

‘Let him break out. What does it matter?’

‘Am I to own to a falsehood, and such a falsehood?’

‘Own to anything, and you will conquer him at once. That is what I think. You will excuse what I say, Mrs Trevelyan.’

‘Oh, Mr Glascock, you have been such a friend! What should we have done without you!’

‘You cannot take to heart the words that come from a disordered reason. In truth, he believes no ill of you.’

‘But he says so.’

‘It is hard to know what he says. Declare that you will submit to him, and I think that he will be softened towards you. Try to bring him back to his own country. It may be that were he to die there, alone, the memory of his loneliness would be heavy with you in after days.’ Then, having so spoken, he rushed off, declaring, with a forced laugh, that Caroline Spalding would never forgive him.

The next day was the day of the wedding, and Emily Trevelyan was left all alone. It was of course out of the question that she should join any party the purport of which was to be festive. Sir Marmaduke went with some grumbling, declaring that wine and severe food in the mornings were sins against the plainest rules of life. And the three Rowley girls went, Nora officiating as one of the bridesmaids. But Mrs Trevelyan was left with her boy, and during the day she was forced to resolve what should be the immediate course of her life. Two days after the wedding her family would return to England. It was open to her to go with them, and to take her boy with her. But a few days since how happy she would have been could she have been made to believe that such a mode of returning would be within her power! But now she felt that she might not return and leave that poor, suffering wretch behind her. As she thought of him she tried to interrogate herself in regard to her feelings. Was it love, or duty, or compassion which stirred her? She had loved him as fondly as any bright young woman loves the man who is to take her away from everything else, and make her a part of his house and of himself. She had loved him as Nora now loved the man whom she worshipped and thought to be a god, doing godlike work in the dingy recesses of the D. R. office. Emily Trevelyan was forced to tell herself that all that was over with her. Her husband had shown himself to be weak, suspicious, unmanly — by no means like a god. She had learned to feel that she could not trust her comfort in his hands, that she could never know what his thoughts of her might be. But still he was her husband, and the father of her child; and though she could not dare to look forward to happiness in living with him, she could understand that no comfort would be possible to her, were she to return to England and to leave him to perish alone at Casalunga. Fate seemed to have intended that her life should be one of misery, and she must bear it as best she might.

The more she thought of it, however, the greater seemed to be her difficulties. What was she to do when her father and mother should have left her? She could not go to Casalunga if her husband would not give her entrance; and if she did go, would it be safe for her to take her boy with her? Were she to remain in Florence she would be hardly nearer to him for any useful purpose than in England; and even should she pitch her tent at Siena, occupying there some desolate set of huge apartments in a deserted palace, of what use could she be to him? Could she stay there if he desired her to go; and was it probable that he would be willing that she should be at Siena while he was living at Casalunga, no more than two leagues distant? How should she begin her work; and if he repulsed her, how should she then continue it?

But during these wedding hours she did make up her mind as to what she would do for the present. She would certainly not leave Italy while her husband remained there. She would for a while keep her rooms in Florence, and there should her boy abide. But from time to time, twice a week perhaps, she would go down to Siena and Casalunga, and there form her plans in accordance with her husband’s conduct. She was his wife, and nothing should entirely separate her from him, now that he so sorely wanted her aid.

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