In the meantime, Lady Roehampton was paying her farewell visit to her former pupil. They were alone, and Adriana was hanging on her neck and weeping.
“We were so happy,” she murmured.
“And are so happy, and will be,” said Myra.
“I feel I shall never be happy again,” sighed Adriana.
“You deserve to be the happiest of human beings, and you will be.”
Lady Roehampton could say no more; she pressed her friend to her heart, and left the room in silence.
When she arrived at her hotel, her brother was leaving the house. His countenance was disquieted; he did not greet her with that mantling sunniness of aspect which was natural to him when they met.
“I have made all my farewells,” she said; “and how have you been getting on?” And she invited him to reenter the hotel.
“I am ready to depart at this moment,” he said somewhat fiercely, “and was only thinking how I could extricate myself from that horrible dinner today at the Count of Ferroll’s.”
“Well, that is not difficult,” said Myra; “you can write a note here if you like, at once. I think you must have seen quite enough of the Count of Ferroll and his friends.”
Endymion sat down at the table, and announced his intended non-appearance at the Count’s dinner, for it could not be called an excuse. When he had finished, his sister said —
“Do you know, we were nearly having a travelling companion tomorrow?”
He looked up with a blush, for he fancied she was alluding to some previous scheme of Lady Montfort. “Indeed!” he said, “and who?”
“Adriana!” he repeated, somewhat relieved; “would she leave her family?”
“She had a fancy, and I am sure I do not know any companion I could prefer to her. She is the only person of whom I could truly say, that every time I see her, I love her more.”
“She seemed to like Paris very much,” said Endymion a little embarrassed.
“The first part of her visit,” said Lady Roehampton, “she liked it amazingly. But my arrival and Lady Montfort’s, I fear, broke up their little parties. You were a great deal with the Neuchatels before we came?”
“They are such a good family,” said Endymion; “so kind, so hospitable, such true friends. And Mr. Neuchatel himself is one of the shrewdest men that probably ever lived. I like talking with him, or rather, I like to hear him talk.”
“O Endymion,” said Lady Roehampton, “if you were to marry Adriana, my happiness would be complete.”
“Adriana will never marry,” said Endymion; “she is afraid of being married for her money. I know twenty men who would marry her, if they thought there was a chance of being accepted; and the best man, Eusford, did make her an offer — that I know. And where could she find a match more suitable? — high rank, and large estate, and a man that everybody speaks well of.”
“Adriana will never marry except for the affections; there you are right, Endymion; she must love and she must be loved; but that is not very unreasonable in a person who is young, pretty, accomplished, and intelligent.”
“She is all that,” said Endymion moodily.
“And she loves you,” said Lady Roehampton.
Endymion rather started, looked up for a moment at his sister, and then withdrew as hastily an agitated glance, and then with his eyes on the ground said, in a voice half murmuring, and yet scoffingly: “I should like to see Mr. Neuchatel’s face were I to ask permission to marry his daughter. I suppose he would not kick me downstairs; that is out of fashion; but he certainly would never ask me to dinner again, and that would be a sacrifice.”
“You jest, Endymion; I am not jesting.”
“There are some matters that can only be treated as a jest; and my marriage with Miss Neuchatel is one.”
“It would make you one of the most powerful men in England,” said his sister.
“Other impossible events would do the same.”
“It is not impossible; it is very possible,” said his sister, “believe me, trust in me. The happiness of their daughter is more precious to the Neuchatels even than their fortune.”
“I do not see why, at my age, I should be in such a hurry to marry,” said Endymion.
“You cannot marry too soon, if by so doing you obtain the great object of life. Early marriages are to be deprecated, especially for men, because they are too frequently imprudent; but when a man can marry while he is young, and at once realise, by so doing, all the results which successful time may bring to him, he should not hesitate.”
“I hesitate very much,” said Endymion. “I should hesitate very much, even if affairs were as promising as I think you may erroneously assume.”
“But you must not hesitate, Endymion. We must never forget the great object for which we two live, for which, I believe, we were born twins — to rebuild our house; to raise it from poverty, and ignominy, and misery and squalid shame, to the rank and position which we demand, and which we believe we deserve. Did I hesitate when an offer of marriage was made to me, and the most unexpected that could have occurred? True it is, I married the best and greatest of men, but I did not know that when I accepted his hand. I married him for your sake, I married him for my own sake, for the sake of the house of Ferrars, which I wished to release and raise from its pit of desolation. I married him to secure for us both that opportunity for our qualities which they had lost, and which I believed, if enjoyed, would render us powerful and great.”
Endymion rose from his seat and kissed his sister. “So long as you live,” he said, “we shall never be ignominious.”
“Yes, but I am nothing; I am not a man, I am not a Ferrars. The best of me is that I may be a transient help to you. It is you who must do the deed. I am wearied of hearing you described as Lady Roehampton’s brother, or Lord Roehampton’s brother-in-law. I shall never be content till you are greater than we are, and there is but one and only one immediate way of accomplishing it, it is by this marriage — and a marriage with whom? with an angelic being!”
“You take me somewhat by surprise, Myra. My thoughts have not been upon this matter. I cannot fairly describe myself at this moment as a marrying man.”
“I know what you mean. You have female friendships, and I approve of them. They are invaluable to youth, and you have been greatly favoured in this respect. They have been a great assistance to you; beware lest they become a hindrance. A few years of such feelings in a woman’s life are a blazoned page, and when it is turned she has many other chapters, though they may not be as brilliant or adorned. But these few years in a man’s life may be, and in your case certainly would be, the very marrow of his destiny. During the last five or six years, ever since our emancipation, there has been a gradual but continuous development in your life. All has been preparatory for a position which you have acquired. That position may lead to anything — in your case, I will still believe, to everything — but there must be no faltering. Having crossed the Alps, you must not find a Capua. I speak to you as I have not spoken to you of late, because it was not necessary. But here is an opportunity which must not be lost. I feel half inspired, as when we parted in our misery at Hurstley, and I bade you, poor and obscure, go forth and conquer the world.”
Late on the night of the day, their last day at Paris, on which this conversation took place, Endymion received a note in well-known handwriting, and it ran thus:
“If it be any satisfaction to you to know that you made me very unhappy by not dining here today, you may be gratified. I am very unhappy. I know that I was unkind this morning, and rude, but as my anger was occasioned by your leaving me, my conduct might annoy but surely could not mortify you. I shall see you tomorrow, however early you may depart, as I cannot let your dear sister leave Paris without my embracing her.
“Your faithful friend,
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:49