Frank Greystock certainly went over to Portray too often — so often that the pony was proved to be quite necessary. Miss Macnulty held her tongue and was gloomy, believing that Lady Eustace was still engaged to Lord Fawn, and feeling that in that case there should not be so many visits to the rocks. Mr. Gowran was very attentive, and could tell on any day, to five minutes, how long the two cousins were sitting together on the seashore. Arthur Herriot, who cared nothing for Lady Eustace, but who knew that his friend had promised to marry Lucy Morris, was inclined to be serious on the subject; but — as is always the case with men — was not willing to speak about it.
Once, and once only, the two men dined together at the castle, for the doing of which it was necessary that a gig should be hired all the way from Prestwick. Herriot had not been anxious to go over, alleging various excuses — the absence of dress clothes, the calls of Stone and Toddy, his bashfulness, and the absurdity of paying fifteen shillings for a gig. But he went at last, constrained by his friend, and a very dull evening he passed. Lizzie was quite unlike her usual self, was silent, grave, and solemnly courteous; Miss Macnulty had not a word to say for herself; and even Frank was dull. Arthur Herriot had not tried to exert himself, and the dinner had been a failure.
“You don’t think much of my cousin, I dare say,” said Frank, as they were driving back.
“She is a very pretty woman.”
“And I should say that she does not think much of you.”
“Why on earth wouldn’t you speak to her? I went on making speeches to Miss Macnulty on purpose to give you a chance. Lizzie generally talks about as well — as any young woman I know; but you had not a word to say to her, nor she to you.”
“Because you devoted yourself to Miss Mac —— whatever her name is.”
“That’s nonsense,” said Frank; “Lizzie and I are more like brother and sister than anything else. She has no one else belonging to her, and she has to come to me for advice, and all that sort of thing. I wanted you to like her.”
“I never like people and people never like me. There is an old saying that you should know a man seven years before you poke his fire. I want to know persons seven years before I can ask them how they do. To take me out to dine in this way was of all things the most hopeless.”
“But you do dine out in London.”
“That’s different. There’s a certain routine of conversation going, and one falls into it. At such affairs as that this evening one has to be intimate or it is a bore. I don’t mean to say anything against Lady Eustace. Her beauty is undeniable, and I don’t doubt her cleverness.”
“She is sometimes too clever,” said Frank.
“I hope she is not becoming too clever for you. You’ve got to remember that you’re due elsewhere; eh, old fellow?” This was the first word that Herriot had said on the subject, and to that word Frank Greystock made no answer. But it had its effect, as also did the gloomy looks of Miss Macnulty, and the not unobserved presence of Mr. Andy Gowran on various occasions.
Between them they shot more grouse — so the keeper swore — than had ever been shot on these mountains before. Herriot absolutely killed one or two himself, to his own great delight, and Frank, who was fairly skilful, would get four or five in a day. There were excursions to be made, and the air of the hills was in itself a treat to both of them. Though Greystock was so often away at the castle, Herriot did not find the time hang heavily on his hands, and was sorry when his fortnight was over. “I think I shall stay a couple of days longer,” Frank said, when Herriot spoke of their return. “The truth is, I must see Lizzie again. She is bothered by business, and I have to see her about a letter that came this morning. You needn’t pull such a long face. There’s nothing of the kind you’re thinking of.”
“I thought so much of what you once said to me about another girl that I hope she at any rate may never be in trouble.”
“I hope she never may, on my account,” said Frank. “And what troubles she may have, as life will be troublesome, I trust that I may share and lessen.”
On that evening Herriot went, and on the next morning Frank Greystock again rode over to Portray Castle; but when he was alone after Herriot’s departure he wrote a letter to Lucy Morris. He had expressed a hope that he might never be a cause of trouble to Lucy Morris, and he knew that his silence would trouble her. There could be no human being less inclined to be suspicious than Lucy Morris. Of that Frank was sure. But there had been an express stipulation with Lady Fawn that she should be allowed to receive letters from him, and she would naturally be vexed when he did not write to her. So he wrote.
“PORTRAY COTTAGE, September 3, 18 —.
“DEAREST LUCY: We have been here for a fortnight, shooting grouse, wandering about the mountains, and going to sleep on the hillsides. You will say that there never was a time so fit for the writing of letters, but that will be because you have not learned yet that the idler people are the more inclined they are to be idle. We hear of lord chancellors writing letters to their mothers every day of their lives; but men who have nothing on earth to do cannot bring themselves to face a sheet of paper. I would promise that when I am lord chancellor I would write to you every day were it not that when that time comes I shall hope to be always with you.
“And, in truth, I have had to pay constant visits to my cousin, who lives in a big castle on the seaside, ten miles from here, over the mountains, and who is in a peck of troubles; in spite of her prosperity one of the unhappiest women, I should say, that you could meet anywhere. You know so much of her affairs that without breach of trust I may say so much. I Wish she had a father or a brother to manage her matters for her; but she has none, and I cannot desert her. Your Lord Fawn is behaving badly to her; and so, as far as I can see, are the people who manage the Eustace property. Lizzie, as you know, is not the most tractable of women, and altogether I have more to do in the matter than I like. Riding ten times backwards and forwards so often over the same route on a little pony is not good fun, but I am almost glad the distance is not less. Otherwise I might have been always there. I know you don’t quite like Lizzie, but she is to be pitied.
“I go up to London on Friday, but shall only be there for one or two days, that is, for one night. I go almost entirely on her business, and must, I fear, be here again, or at the castle, before I can settle myself either for work or happiness. On Sunday night I go down to Bobsborough, where, indeed, I ought to have been earlier. I fear I cannot go to Richmond on the Saturday, and on the Sunday Lady Fawn would hardly make me welcome. I shall be at Bobsborough for about three weeks, and there, if you have commands to give, I will obey them.
“I may, however, tell you the truth at once — though it is a truth you must keep very much to yourself. In the position in which I now stand as to Lord Fawn — being absolutely forced to quarrel with him on Lizzie’s behalf — Lady Fawn could hardly receive me with comfort to herself. She is the best of women; and, as she is your dear friend, nothing is further from me than any idea of quarrelling with her; but of course she takes her son’s part, and I hardly know how all allusion to the subject could be avoided.
“This, however, dearest, need ruffle no feather between you and me, who love each other better than we love either the Fawns or the Lizzies. Let me find a line at my chambers to say that it is so and always shall be so.
“God bless my own darling.
“Ever and always your own,
On the following day he rode over to the castle. He had received a letter from John Eustace, who had found himself forced to run up to London to meet Mr. Camperdown. The lawyer had thought to postpone further consideration of the whole matter till he and everybody else would be naturally in London — till November that might be, or perhaps even till after Christmas. But his mind was ill at ease; and he knew that so much might be done with the diamonds in four months! They might even now be in the hands of some Benjamin or of some Harter, and it might soon be beyond the power either of lawyers or of policemen to trace them. He therefore went up from Dawlish and persuaded John Eustace to come from Yorkshire. It was a great nuisance, and Eustace freely anathematised the necklace. “If only some one would steal it, so that we might hear no more of the thing,” he said. But, as Mr. Camperdown had frequently remarked, the value was too great for trifling, and Eustace went up to London. Mr. Camperdown put into his hands the Turtle Dove’s opinion, explaining that it was by no means expedient that it should be shown to the other party. Eustace thought that the opinion should be common to them all. “We pay for it,” said Mr. Camperdown, “and they can get their opinion from any other barrister if they please.” But what was to be done? Eustace declared that as to the present whereabouts of the necklace he did not in the least doubt that he could get the truth from Frank Greystock. He therefore wrote to Greystock, and with that letter in his pocket Frank rode over to the castle for the last time.
He, too, was heartily sick of the necklace; but unfortunately he was not equally sick of her who held it in possession. And he was, too, better alive to the importance of the value of the trinket than John Eustace, though not so keenly as was Mr. Camperdown. Lady Eustace was out somewhere among the cliffs, the servant said. He regretted this as he followed her, but he was obliged to follow her. Half-way down to the seashore, much below the knob on which she had attempted to sit with her Shelley, but yet not below the need of assistance, he found her seated in a little ravine. “I knew you would come,” she said. Of course she had known that he would come. She did not rise, or even give him her hand, but there was a spot close beside her on which it was to be presumed that he would seat himself. She had a volume of Byron in her hand — the “Corsair,” “Lara,” and the “Giaour”— a kind of poetry which was in truth more intelligible to her than “Queen Mab.” “You go tomorrow?”
“Yes; I go tomorrow.”
“And Lubin has gone?” Arthur Herriot was Lubin.
“Lubin has gone. Though why Lubin I cannot guess. The normal Lubin to me is a stupid fellow always in love. Herriot is not stupid and is never in love.”
“Nevertheless, he is Lubin if I choose to call him so. Why did he twiddle his thumbs instead of talking? Have you heard anything of Lord Fawn?”
“I have had a letter from your brother-inlaw.”
“And what is John the Just pleased to say?”
“John the Just, which is a better name for the man than the other, has been called up to London, much against his will, by Mr. Camperdown.”
“Who is Samuel the Unjust.” Mr. Camperdown’s name was Samuel.
“And now wants to know where this terrible necklace is at this present moment.” He paused a moment, but Lizzie did not answer him. “I suppose you have no objection to telling me where it is.”
“None in the least, or to giving it you to keep for me, only that I would not so far trouble you. But I have an objection to telling them. They are my enemies. Let them find out.”
“You are wrong, Lizzie. You do not want, or at any rate should not want, to have any secret in the matter.”
“They are here, in the castle; in the very place in which Sir Florian kept them when he gave them to me. Where should my own jewels be but in my own house? What does that Mr. Dove say who was to be asked about them? No doubt they can pay a barrister to say anything.”
“Lizzie, you think too hardly of people.”
“And do not people think too hardly of me? Does not all this amount to an accusation against me that I am a thief? Am I not persecuted among them? Did not this impudent attorney stop me in the public street and accuse me of theft before my very servants? Have they not so far succeeded in misrepresenting me that the very man who is engaged to be my husband betrays me? And now you are turning against me? Can you wonder that I am hard?”
“I am not turning against you.”
“Yes; you are. You take their part and not mine in everything. I tell you what, Frank, I would go out in that boat that you see yonder and drop the bauble into the sea did I not know that they’d drag it up again with their devilish ingenuity. If the stones would burn I would burn them. But the worst of it all is that you are becoming my enemy.” Then she burst into violent and almost hysteric tears.
“It will be better that you should give them into the keeping of some one whom you can both trust, till the law has decided to whom they belong.”
“I will never give them up. What does Mr. Dove say?”
“I have not seen what Mr. Dove says. It is clear that the necklace is not an heirloom.”
“Then how dare Mr. Camperdown say so often that it was?”
“He said what he thought,” pleaded Frank.
“And he is a lawyer!”
“I am a lawyer, and I did not know what is or what is not an heirloom. But Mr. Dove is clearly of opinion that such a property could not have been given away simply by a word of mouth.” John Eustace in his letter had made no allusion to that complicated question of paraphernalia.
“But it was,” said Lizzie. “Who can know but myself, when no one else was present?”
“The jewels are here now?”
“Not in my pocket. I do not carry them about with me. They are in the castle.”
“And will they go back with you to London?”
“Was ever lady so interrogated? I do not know yet that I shall go back to London. Why am I asked such questions? As to you, Frank, I would tell you everything, my whole heart, if only you cared to know it. But why is John Eustace to make inquiry as to personal ornaments which are my own property? If I go to London I will take them there, and wear them at every house I enter. I will do so in defiance of Mr. Camperdown and Lord Fawn. I think, Frank, that no woman was ever so ill-treated as I am.”
He himself thought that she was ill-treated. She had so pleaded her case, and had been so lovely in her tears and her indignation, that he began to feel something like true sympathy for her cause. What right had he, or had Mr. Camperdown, or any one, to say that the jewels did not belong to her? And if her claim to them was just, why should she be persuaded to give up the possession of them? He knew well that were she to surrender them with the idea that they should be restored to her if her claim were found to be just, she would not get them back very soon. If once the jewels were safe, locked up in Mr. Garnett’s strong box, Mr. Camperdown would not care how long it might be before a jury or a judge should have decided on the case. The burden of proof would then be thrown upon Lady Eustace. In order that she might recover her own property she would have to thrust herself forward as a witness, and appear before the world a claimant, greedy for rich ornaments. Why should he advise her to give them up? “I am only thinking,” said he, “what may be the best for your own peace.”
“Peace!” she exclaimed. “How am I to have peace? Remember the condition in which I find myself! Remember the manner in which that man is treating me, when all the world has been told of my engagement to him! When I think of it my heart is so bitter that I am inclined to throw, not the diamonds, but myself, from off the rocks. All that remains to me is the triumph of getting the better of my enemies. Mr. Camperdown shall never have the diamonds. Even if they could prove that they did not belong to me they should find them — gone.”
“I don’t think they can prove it.”
“I’ll flaunt them in the eyes of all of them till they do; and then — they shall be gone. And I’ll have such revenge on Lord Fawn before I have done with him that he shall know that it may be worse to have to fight a woman than a man. Oh, Frank, I do not think that I am hard by nature, but these things make a woman hard.” As she spoke she took his hand in hers, and looked up into his eyes through her tears. “I know that you do not care for me and you know how much I care for you.”
“Not care for you, Lizzie?”
“No; that little thing at Richmond is everything to you. She is tame and quiet, a cat that will sleep on the rug before the fire, and you think that she will never scratch. Do not suppose that I mean to abuse her. She was my dear friend before you had ever seen her. And men, I know, have tastes which women do not understand. You want what you call — repose.”
“We seldom know what we want, I fancy. We take what the gods send us.” Frank’s words were perhaps more true than wise. At the present moment the gods had clearly sent Lizzie Eustace to him, and unless he could call up some increased strength of his own, quite independent of the gods, or of what we may perhaps call chance, he would have to put up with the article sent.
Lizzie had declared that she would not touch Lord Fawn with a pair of tongs, and in saying so had resolved that she could not and would not now marry his lordship, even were his lordship in her power. It had been decided by her as quickly as thoughts flash, but it was decided. She would torture the unfortunate lord, but not torture him by becoming his wife. And, so much being fixed as the stars in heaven, might it be possible that she should even yet induce her cousin to take the place that had been intended for Lord Fawn? After all that had passed between them she need hardly hesitate to tell him of her love. And with the same flashing thoughts she declared to herself that she did love him, and that therefore this arrangement would be so much better than that other one which she had proposed to herself. The reader, perhaps, by this time, has not a high opinion of Lady Eustace, and may believe that among other drawbacks on her character there is especially this, that she was heartless. But that was by no means her own opinion of herself. She would have described herself — and would have meant to do so with truth — as being all heart. She probably thought that an over — amount of heart was the malady under which she specially suffered. Her heart was overflowing now toward the man who was sitting by her side. And then it would be so pleasant to punish that little chit who had spurned her gift and had dared to call her mean! This man, too, was needy, and she was wealthy. Surely were she to offer herself to him the generosity of the thing would make it noble. She was still dissolved in tears and was still hysteric. “Oh, Frank!” she said, and threw herself upon his breast.
Frank Greystock felt his position to be one of intense difficulty, but whether this difficulty was increased or diminished by the appearance of Mr. Andy Gowran’s head over a rock at the entrance of the little cave in which they were sitting it might be difficult to determine. But there was the head. And it was not a head that just popped itself up and then retreated, as a head would do that was discovered doing that which made it ashamed of itself. The head, with its eyes wide open, held its own, and seemed to say, “Ay, I’ve caught you, have I?” And the head did speak, though not exactly in those words. “Coosins!” said the head; and then the head was wagged. In the meantime Lizzie Eustace, whose back was turned to the head, raised her own, and looked up into Greystock’s eyes for love. She perceived at once that something was amiss, and, starting to her feet, turned quickly round.
“How dare you intrude here?” she said to the head.
“Coosins!” replied the head, wagging itself.
It was clearly necessary that Greystock should take some steps, if only with the object of proving to the impudent factotum that he was not altogether overcome by the awkwardness of his position. That he was a good deal annoyed, and that he felt not altogether quite equal to the occasion, must be acknowledged. “What is it that the man wants?” he said, glaring at the head.
“Coosins!” said the head, wagging itself again.
“If you don’t take yourself off, I shall have to thrash you,” said Frank.
“Coosins!” said Andy Gowran, stepping from behind the rock and showing his full figure. Andy was a man on the wrong side of fifty, and therefore, on the score of age, hardly fit for thrashing. And he was compact, short, broad, and as hard as flint; a man bad to thrash, look at it from what side you would. “Coosins!” he said yet again. “Ye’re mair couthie than coosinly, I’m thinking.”
“Andy Gowran, I dismiss you from my service for your impertinence,” said Lady Eustace.
“It’s ae one to Andy Gowran for that, my leddie. There’s timber and a world o’ things aboot the place as wants proteection on behalf o’ the heir. If your leddieship is minded to be quit o’ my services, I’ll find a maister in Mr. Camperdoon, as’ll nae allow me to be thrown out o’ employ. Coosins!”
“Walk off from this,” said Frank Greystock, coming forward and putting his hand upon the man’s breast. Mr. Gowran repeated the objectionable word yet once again, and then retired.
Frank Greystock immediately felt how very bad for him was his position. For the lady, if only she could succeed in her object, the annoyance of the interruption would not matter much after its first absurdity had been endured. When she had become the wife of Frank Greystock there would be nothing remarkable in the fact that she had been found sitting with him in a cavern by the seashore. But for Frank the difficulty of extricating himself from his dilemma was great, not in regard to Mr. Gowran, but in reference to his cousin Lizzie. He might, it was true, tell her that he was engaged to Lucy Morris; but then why had he not told her so before? He had not told her so; nor did he tell her on this occasion. When he attempted to lead her away up the cliff she insisted on being left where she was. “I can find my way alone,” she said, endeavouring to smile through her tears. “The man has annoyed me by his impudence, that is all. Go, if you are going.”
Of course he was going; but he could not go without a word of tenderness. “Dear, dear Lizzie,” he said, embracing her.
“Frank, you’ll be true to me?”
“I will be true to you.”
“Then go now,” she said. And he went his way up the cliff, and got his pony, and rode back to the cottage, very uneasy in his mind.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01