Had Frank Greystock known all that his cousin endured for his comfort, would he have been grateful? Women, when they are fond of men, do think much of men’s comfort in small matters, and men are apt to take the good things provided almost as a matter of course. When Frank Greystock and Herriot reached the cottage about nine o’clock in the morning, having left London over night by the limited mail train, the pony at once presented itself to them. It was a little shaggy, black beast, with a boy almost as shaggy as itself, but they were both good of their kind. “Oh, you’re the laddie with the pownie, are you?” said Frank, in answer to an announcement made to him by the boy. He did at once perceive that Lizzie had taken notice of the word in his note in which he had suggested that some means of getting over to Portray would be needed, and he learned from the fact that she was thinking of him and anxious to see him.
His friend was a man a couple of years younger than himself, who had hitherto achieved no success at the bar, but who was nevertheless a clever, diligent, well-instructed man. He was what the world calls penniless, having an income from his father just sufficient to keep him like a gentleman. He was not much known as a sportsman, his opportunities for shooting not having been great; but he dearly loved the hills and fresh air, and the few grouse which were — or were not — on Lady Eustace’s mountains would go as far with him as they would with any man. Before he had consented to come with Frank, he had specially inquired whether there was a game-keeper, and it was not till he had been assured that there was no officer attached to the estate worthy of such a name, that he had consented to come upon his present expedition. “I don’t clearly know what a gillie is,” he said in answer to one of Frank’s explanations. “If a gillie means a lad without any breeches on, I don’t mind; but I couldn’t stand a severe man got up in well-made velveteens, who would see through my ignorance in a moment, and make known by comment the fact that he had done so.” Greystock had promised that there should be, no severity, and Herriot had come. Greystock brought with him two guns, two fishing-rods, a man-servant, and a huge hamper from Fortnum and Mason’s. Arthur Herriot, whom the attorneys had not yet loved, brought some very thick boots, a pair of knickerbockers, together with Stone and Toddy’s “Digest of the Common Law.” The best of the legal profession consists in this — that when you get fairly at work you may give over working. An aspirant must learn everything; but a man may make his fortune at it, and know almost nothing. He may examine a witness with judgment, see through a case with precision, address a jury with eloquence, and yet be altogether ignorant of law. But he must be believed to be a very pundit before he will get a chance of exercising his judgment, his precision, or his eloquence. The men whose names are always in the newspapers never look at their Stone and Toddy — care for it not at all — have their Stone and Toddy got up for them by their juniors when cases require that reference shall be made to precedents. But till that blessed time has come, a barrister who means success should carry his Stone and Toddy with him everywhere. Greystock never thought of the law now, unless he had some special case in hand; but Herriot could not afford to go out on a holiday without two volumes of Stone and Toddy’s Digest in his portmanteau.
“You won’t mind being left alone for the first morning?” said Frank, as soon as they had finished the contents of one of the pots from Fortnum and Mason.
“Not in the least. Stone and Toddy will carry me through.”
“I’d go on the mountain if I were you, and get into a habit of steady loading.”
“Perhaps I will take a turn — just to find out how I feel in the knickerbockers. At what time shall I dine if you don’t come back?”
“I shall certainly be here to dinner,” said Frank, “unless the pony fails me or I get lost on the mountain.” Then he started, and Herriot at once went to work on Stone and Toddy, with a pipe in his mouth. He had travelled all night, and it is hardly necessary to say that in five minutes he was fast asleep.
So also had Frank travelled all night, but the pony and the fresh air kept him awake. The boy had offered to go with him, but that he had altogether refused; and, therefore, to his other cares was that of finding his way. The sweep of the valleys, however, is long and not abrupt, and he could hardly miss his road if he would only make one judicious turn through a gap in a certain wall which lay half way between the cottage and the castle. He was thinking of the work in hand, and he found the gap without difficulty. When through that he ascended the hill for two miles, and then the sea was before him, and Portray Castle, lying, as it seemed to him at that distance, close upon the seashore. “Upon my word, Lizzie has not done badly with herself,” he said almost aloud, as he looked down upon the fair sight beneath him, and round upon the mountains, and remembered that, for her life at least, it was all hers, and after her death would belong to her son. What more does any human being desire of such a property than that?
He rode down to the great doorway — the mountain track, which fell on to the road about half a mile from the castle, having been plain enough — and there he gave up the pony into the hands of no less a man that Mr. Gowran himself. Gowran had watched the pony coming down the mountain side, and had desired to see of what like was “her leddyship’s” cousin. In telling the whole truth of Mr. Gowran it must be acknowledged that he thought that his late master had made a very great mistake in the matter of his marriage. He could not imagine bad things enough of Lady Eustace, and almost believed that she was not now, and hadn’t been before her marriage, any better than she should be. The name of Admiral Greystock, as having been the father of his mistress, had indeed reached his ears, but Andy Gowran was a suspicious man and felt no confidence even in an admiral — in regard to whom he heard nothing of his having, or having had, a wife.
“It’s my fer-rm opeenion she’s jist naebody — and waur,” he had said more than once to his own wife, nodding his head with great emphasis at the last word. He was very anxious, therefore, to see “her leddyship’s” cousin. Mr. Gowran thought that he knew a gentleman when he saw one. He thought, also, that he knew a lady, and that he didn’t see one when he was engaged with his mistress. Cousin, indeed! “For the matter o’ that, ony man that comes the way may be ca’ed a coosin.” So Mr. Gowran was on the grand sweep before the garden gate and took the pony from Frank’s hand.
“Is Lady Eustace at home?” Frank asked. Mr. Gowran perceived that Frank was a gentleman, and was disappointed. And Frank didn’t come as a man comes who calls himself by a false name, and pretends to be an honest cousin, when in fact he is something — oh, ever so wicked! Mr. Gowran, who was a stern moralist, was certainly disappointed at Frank’s appearance.
Lizzie was in a little sitting-room, reached by a long passage with steps in the middle, at some corner of the castle which seemed a long way from the great door. It was a cheerful little room, with chintz curtains, and a few shelves laden with brightly-bound books, which had been prepared for Lizzie immediately on her marriage. It looked out upon the sea, and she had almost taught herself to think that here she had sat with her adored Florian gazing in mutual ecstasy upon the “wide expanse of glittering waves.” She was lying back in a low armchair as her cousin entered, and she did not rise to receive him. Of course she was alone, Miss Macnulty having received a suggestion that it would be well that she should do a little gardening in the moat. “Well, Frank,” she said, with her sweetest smile, as she gave him her hand. She felt and understood the extreme intimacy which would be implied by her not rising to receive him. As she could not rush into his arms, there was no device by which she could more clearly show to him how close she regarded his friendship.
“So I am at Portray Castle at last,” he said, still holding her hand.
“Yes — at the dullest, dreariest, deadliest spot in all Christendom, I think — if Ayrshire be Christendom. But never mind about that now. Perhaps, as you are at the other side of the mountain at the cottage, we shall find it less dull here at the castle.”
“I thought you were to be so happy here!”
“Sit down and we’ll talk it all over by degrees. What will you have — breakfast or lunch?”
“Neither, thank you.”
“Of course you’ll stay to dinner?”
“No, indeed. I’ve a man there at the cottage with me who would cut his throat in his solitude.”
“Let him cut his throat; but never mind now. As for being happy, women are never happy without men. I needn’t tell any lies to you, you know. What makes me sure that this fuss about making men and women all the same must be wrong is just the fact that men can get along without women, and women can’t without men. My life has been a burden to me. But never mind. Tell me about my lord — my lord and master.”
“Who else? What other lord and master? My bosom’s own; my heart’s best hope; my spot of terra firma; my cool running brook of fresh water; my rock; my love; my lord; my all. Is he always thinking of his absent Lizzie? Does he still toil at Downing Street? Oh, dear; do you remember, Frank, when he told us that ‘one of us must remain in town’?”
“I have seen him.”
“So you wrote me word.”
“And I have seen a very obstinate, pig-headed, but nevertheless honest and truth-speaking gentleman.”
“Frank, I don’t care twopence for his honesty and truth. If he ill-treats me ——.” Then she paused; looking into his face, she had seen at once by the manner in which he had taken her badinage, without a smile, that it was necessary that she should be serious as to her matrimonial prospects. “I suppose I had better let you tell your story,” she said, “and I will sit still and listen.”
“He means to ill-treat you.”
“And you will let him?”
“You had better listen, as you promised, Lizzie. He declares that the marriage must be off at once unless you will send those diamonds to Mr. Camperdown or to the jewellers.”
“And by what law or rule does he justify himself in a decision so monstrous? Is he prepared to prove that the property is not my own?”
“If you ask me my opinion as a lawyer, I doubt whether any such proof can be shown. But as a man and a friend I do advise you to give them up.”
“You must, of course, judge for yourself, but that is my advice. You had better, however, hear my whole story.”
“Certainly,” said Lizzie. Her whole manner was now changed. She had extricated herself from the crouching position in which her feet, her curl, her arms, her whole body had been so arranged as to combine the charm of her beauty with the charm of proffered intimacy. Her dress was such as a woman would wear to receive her brother, and yet it had been studied. She had no gems about her but what she might well wear in her ordinary life, and yet the very rings on her fingers had not been put on without reference to her cousin Frank. Her position had been one of lounging ease, such as a woman might adopt when all alone, giving herself all the luxuries of solitude; but she had adopted it in special reference to cousin Frank. Now she was in earnest, with business before her; and though it may be said of her that she could never forget her appearance in presence of a man whom she desired to please, her curl and rings, and attitude were for the moment in the background. She had seated herself on a common chair, with her hands upon the table, and was looking into Frank’s face with eager, eloquent, and combative eyes. She would take his law, because she believed in it; but, as far as she could see as yet, she would not take his advice unless it were backed by his law.
“Mr. Camperdown,” continued Greystock, “has consented to prepare a case for opinion, though he will not agree that the Eustace estate shall be bound by that opinion.”
“Then what’s the good of it?”
“We shall at least know, all of us, what is the opinion of some lawyer qualified to understand the circumstances of the case.”
“Why isn’t your opinion as good as that of any lawyer?”
“I couldn’t give an opinion; not otherwise than as a private friend to you, which is worth nothing unless for your private guidance. Mr. Camperdown ——”
“I don’t care one straw for Mr. Camperdown.”
“Just let me finish.”
“Oh, certainly; and you mustn’t be angry with me, Frank. The matter is so much to me; isn’t it?”
“I won’t be angry. Do I look as if I were angry? Mr. Camperdown is right.”
“I dare say he may be what you call right. But I don’t care about Mr. Camperdown a bit.”
“He has no power, nor has John Eustace any power, to decide that the property which may belong to a third person shall be jeopardised by any arbitration. The third person could not be made to lose his legal right by any such arbitration, and his claim, if made, would still have to be tried.”
“Who is the third person, Frank?”
“Your own child at present.”
“And will not he have it any way?”
“Camperdown and John Eustace say that it belongs to him at present. It is a point that, no doubt, should be settled.”
“To whom do you say that it belongs?”
“That is a question I am not prepared to answer.”
“To whom do you think that it belongs?”
“I have refused to look at a single paper on the subject, and my opinion is worth nothing. From what I have heard in conversation with Mr. Camperdown and John Eustace, I cannot find that they make their case good.”
“Nor can I,” said Lizzie.,
“A case is to be prepared for Mr. Dove.”
“Who is Mr. Dove?”
“Mr. Dove is a barrister, and no doubt a very clever fellow. If his opinion be such as Mr. Camperdown expects, he will at once proceed against you at law for the immediate recovery of the necklace.”
“I shall be ready for him,” said Lizzie, and as she spoke all her little feminine softnesses were for the moment laid aside.
“If Mr. Dove’s opinion be in your favour ——”
“Well,” said Lizzie, “what then?”
“In that case Mr. Camperdown, acting on behalf of John Eustace and young Florian ——”
“How dreadful it is to hear of my bitterest enemy acting on behalf of my own child!” said Lizzie, holding up her hands piteously. “Well?”
“In that case Mr. Camperdown will serve you with some notice that the jewels are not yours, to part with them as you may please.”
“But they will be mine.”
“He says not; but in such case he will content himself with taking steps which may prevent you from selling them.”
“Who says that I want to sell them?” demanded Lizzie indignantly.
“Or from giving them away, say to a second husband.”
“How little they know me!”
“Now I have told you all about Mr. Camperdown.”
“And the next thing is to tell you about Lord Fawn.”
“That is everything. I care nothing for Mr. Camperdown; nor yet for Mr. Dove — if that is his absurd name. Lord Fawn is of more moment to me, though, indeed, he has given me but little cause to say so.”
“In the first place, I must explain to you that Lord Fawn is very unhappy.”
“He may thank himself for it.”
“He is pulled this way and that, and is half distraught; but he has stated with as much positive assurance as such a man can assume, that the match must be regarded as broken off unless you will at once restore the necklace.”
“He has commissioned me to give you that message; and it is my duty, Lizzie, as your friend, to tell you my conviction that he repents his engagement.”
She now rose from her chair and began to walk about the room. “He shall not go back from it. He shall learn that I am not a creature at his own disposal in that way. He shall find that I have some strength if you have none.”
“What would you have had me do?”
“Taken him by the throat,” said Lizzie.
“Taking by the throat in these days seldom forwards any object, unless the taken one be known to the police. I think Lord Fawn is behaving very badly, and I have told him so. No doubt he is under the influence of others — mother and sisters — who are not friendly to you.”
“False-faced idiots!” said Lizzie.
“He himself is somewhat afraid of me — is much afraid of you — is afraid of what people will say of him; and, to give him his due, is afraid also of doing what is wrong. He is timid, weak, conscientious, and wretched. If you have set your heart upon marrying him ——”
“My heart!” said Lizzie scornfully.
“Or your mind, you can have him by simply sending the diamonds to the jewellers. Whatever may be his wishes, in that case he will redeem his word.”
“Not for him or all that belongs to him! It wouldn’t be much. He’s just a pauper with a name.”
“Then your loss will be so much the less.”
“But what right has he to treat me so? Did you ever before hear of such a thing? Why is he to be allowed to go back, without punishment, more than another?”
“What punishment would you wish?”
“That he should be beaten within an inch of his life; and if the inch were not there, I should not complain.”
“And I am to do it, to my absolute ruin and to your great injury?”
“I think I could almost do it myself.” And Lizzie raised her hand as though there were some weapon in it. “But, Frank, there must be something. You wouldn’t have me sit down and bear it. All the world has been told of the engagement. There must be some punishment.”
“You would not wish to have an action brought for breach of promise?”
“I would wish to do whatever would hurt him most without hurting myself,” said Lizzie.
“You won’t give up the necklace?” said Frank.
“Certainly not,” said Lizzie. “Give it up for his sake — a man that I have always despised?”
“Then you had better let him go.”
“I will not let him go. What, to be pointed at as the woman that Lord Fawn had jilted? Never! My necklace should be nothing more to him than this ring.” And she drew from her finger a little circlet of gold with a stone, for which she had owed Messrs. Harter & Benjamin five-and-thirty pounds till Sir Florian had settled that account for her. “What cause can he give for such treatment?”
“He acknowledges that there is no cause which he can state openly.”
“And I am to bear it? And it is you that tell me so? Oh, Frank!”
“Let us understand each other, Lizzie. I will not fight him, that is, with pistols; nor will I attempt to thrash him. It would be useless to argue whether public opinion is right or wrong; but public opinion is now so much opposed to that kind of thing that it is out of the question. I should injure your position and destroy my own. If you mean to quarrel with me on that score, you had better say so.”
Perhaps at that moment he almost wished that she would quarrel with him, but she was otherwise disposed. “Oh, Frank,” she said, “do not desert me.”
“I will not desert you.”
“You feel that I am ill-used, Frank.”
“I do. I think that his conduct is inexcusable.”
“And there is to be no punishment?” she asked, with that strong indignation at injustice which the unjust always feel when they are injured.
“If you carry yourself well, quietly and with dignity, the world will punish him.”
“I don’t believe a bit of it. I am not a Patient Grizel who can content myself with heaping benefits on those who injure me, and then thinking that they are coals of fire. Lucy Morris is one of that sort.” Frank ought to have resented the attack, but he did not. “I have no such tame virtues. I’ll tell him to his face what he is. I’ll lead him such a life that he shall be sick of the very name of a necklace.”
“You cannot ask him to marry you.”
“I will. What, not ask a man to keep his promise when you are engaged to him? I am not going to be such a girl as that.”
“Do you love him, then?”
“Love him! I hate him. I always despised him, and now I hate him.”
“And yet you would marry him?”
“Not for worlds, Frank. No. Because you advised me I thought that I would do so. Yes, you did, Frank. But for you I would never have dreamed of taking him. You know, Frank, how it was, when you told me of him and wouldn’t come to me yourself.” Now again she was sitting close to him and had her hand upon his arm. “No, Frank; even to please you I could not marry him now. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. He shall ask me again. In spite of those idiots at Richmond he shall kneel at my feet, necklace or no necklace; and then — then I’ll tell him what I think of him. Marry him! I would not touch him with a pair of tongs.” As she said this she was holding her cousin fast by the hand.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55