Frank Greystock stayed the Sunday in London and went down to Bobsborough on the Monday. His father and mother and sister all knew of his engagement to Lucy, and they had heard also that Lady Eustace was to become Lady Fawn. Of the necklace they had hitherto heard very little, and of the quarrel between the two lovers they had heard nothing. There had been many misgivings at the deanery, and some regrets, about these marriages. Mrs. Greystock, Frank’s mother, was, as we are so wont to say of many women, the best woman in the world. She was unselfish, affectionate, charitable, and thoroughly feminine. But she did think that her son Frank, with all his advantages, good looks, cleverness, general popularity, and seat in Parliament, might just as well marry an heiress as a little girl without twopence in the world. As for herself, who had been born a Jackson, she could do with very little; but the Greystocks were all people who wanted money. For them there was never more than ninepence in a shilling, if so much. They were a race who could not pay their way with moderate incomes. Even the dear dean, who really had a conscience about money, and who hardly ever left Bobsborough, could not be kept quite clear of debt, let her do what she would. As for the admiral, the dean’s elder brother, he had been notorious for insolvency; and Frank was a Greystock all over. He was the very man to whom money with a wife was almost a necessity of existence.
And his pretty cousin, the widow, who was devoted to him, and would have married him at a word, had ever so many thousands a year! Of course Lizzie Eustace was not just all that she should be; but then who is? In one respect, at any rate, her conduct had always been proper. There was no rumour against her as to lovers or flirtations. She was very young, and Frank might have moulded her as he pleased. Of course there were regrets. Poor dear little Lucy Morris was as good as gold. Mrs. Greystock was quite willing to admit that. She was not good-looking; so at least Mrs. Greystock said. She never would allow that Lucy was good-looking. And she didn’t see much in Lucy, who, according to her idea, was a little chit of a thing. Her position was simply that of a governess. Mrs. Greystock declared to her daughter that no one in the whole world had a higher respect for governesses than had she. But a governess is a governess; and for a man in Frank’s position such a marriage would be simply suicide.
“You shouldn’t say that, mamma, now; for it’s fixed,” said Ellinor Greystock.
“But I do say it, my dear. Things sometimes are fixed which must be unfixed. You know your brother.”
“Frank is earning a large income, mamma.”
“Did you ever know a Greystock who didn’t want more than his income?”
“I hope I don’t, mamma, and mine is very small.”
“You’re a Jackson. Frank is Greystock to the very backbone. If he marries Lucy Morris he must give up Parliament. That’s all.”
The dean himself was more reticent and less given to interference than his wife; but he felt it also. He would not for the world have hinted to his son that it might be well to marry money; but he thought that it was a good thing that his son should go where money was. He knew that Frank was apt to spend his guineas faster than he got them. All his life long the dean had seen what came of such spending. Frank had gone out into the world and had prospered, but he could hardly continue to prosper unless he married money. Of course there had been regrets when the news came of that fatal engagement with Lucy Morris. “It can’t be for the next ten years, at any rate,” said Mrs. Greystock.
“I thought at one time that he would have made a match with his cousin,” said the dean.
“Of course; so did everybody,” replied Mrs. Dean.
Then Frank came among them. He had intended staying some weeks, perhaps for a month, and great preparations were made for him; but immediately on his arrival he announced the necessity that was incumbent on him of going down again to Scotland in ten days. “You’ve heard about Lizzie, of course,” he said. They had heard that Lizzie was to become Lady Fawn, but beyond that they had heard nothing. “You know about the necklace?” asked Frank. Something of a tale of a necklace had made its way even down to quiet Bobsborough. They had been informed that there was a dispute between the widow and the executors of the late Sir Florian about some diamonds. “Lord Fawn is behaving about it in the most atrocious manner,” continued Frank, “and the long and the short of it is that there will be no marriage!”
“No marriage!” exclaimed Mrs. Greystock.
“And what is the truth about the diamonds?” asked the dean.
“Ah; it will give the lawyers a job before they decide that. They’re very valuable; worth about ten thousand pounds, I’m told; but the most of it will go among some of my friends at the Chancery bar. It’s a pity that I should be out of the scramble myself.”
“But why should you be out?” asked his mother with tender regrets, not thinking of the matter as her son was thinking of it, but feeling that when there was so much wealth so very near him, he ought not to let it all go past him.
“As far as I can see,” continued Frank, “she has a fair claim to them. I suppose they’ll file a bill in Chancery, and then it will be out of my line altogether. She says her husband gave them to her, absolutely put them on her neck himself, and told her that they were hers. As to their being an heirloom, that turns out to be impossible. I didn’t know it, but it seems you can’t make diamonds an heirloom. What astonishes me is, that Fawn should object to the necklace. However, he has objected, and has simply told her that he won’t marry her unless she gives them up.”
“And what does she say?”
“Storms and raves, as of course any woman would. I don’t think she is behaving badly. What she wants is, to reduce him to obedience, and then to dismiss him. I think that is no more than fair. Nothing on earth would make her marry him now.”
“Did she ever care for him?”
“I don’t think she ever did. She found her position to be troublesome, and she thought she had better marry. And then he’s a lord, which always goes for something.”
“I am sorry you should have so much trouble,” said Mrs. Greystock. But in truth the mother was not sorry. She did not declare to herself that it would be a good thing that her son should be false to Lucy Morris in order that he might marry his rich cousin; but she did feel it to be an advantage that he should be on terms of intimacy with so large an income as that belonging to Lady Eustace. “Doan’t thou marry for munny, but goa where munny is.” Mrs. Greystock would have repudiated the idea of mercenary marriages in any ordinary conversation, and would have been severe on any gentleman who was false to a young lady. But it is so hard to bring one’s general principles to bear on one’s own conduct or in one’s own family; and then the Greystocks were so peculiar a people! When her son told her that he must go down to Scotland again very shortly, she reconciled herself to his loss. Had he left Bobsborough for the sake of being near Lucy at Richmond, she would have felt it very keenly.
Days passed by, and nothing was said about poor Lucy. Mrs. Greystock had made up her mind that she would say nothing on the subject. Lucy had behaved badly in allowing herself to be loved by a man who ought to have loved money, and Mrs. Greystock had resolved that she would show her feelings by silence. The dean had formed no fixed determination, but he had thought that it might be, perhaps, as well to drop the subject. Frank himself was unhappy about it; but from morning to evening, and from day to day, he allowed it to pass by without a word. He knew that it should not be so, that silence was in truth treachery to Lucy; but he was silent. What had he meant when, as he left Lizzie Eustace among the rocks at Portray, in that last moment, he had assured her that he would be true to her? And what had been Lizzie’s meaning? He was more sure of Lizzie’s meaning than he was of his own. “It’s a very rough world to live in,” he said to himself in these days, as he thought of his difficulties.
But when he had been nearly a week at the deanery, and when the day of his going was so near as to be a matter of concern, his sister did at last venture to say a word about Lucy. “I suppose there is nothing settled about your own marriage, Frank?”
“Nothing at all.”
“Nor will be for some while?”
“Nor will be for some while.” This he said in a tone which he himself felt to be ill-humoured and almost petulant. And he felt also that such ill-humour on such a subject was unkind, not to his sister, but to Lucy. It seemed to imply that the matter of his marriage was distasteful to him. “The truth is,” he said, “that nothing can be fixed. Lucy understands that as well as I do. I am not in a position at once to marry a girl who has nothing. It’s a pity, perhaps, that one can’t train one’s self to like some girl best that has got money; but as I haven’t, there must be some delay. She is to stay where she is, at any rate for a twelvemonth.”
“But you mean to see her?”
“Well, yes; I hardly know how I can see her, as I have quarrelled to the knife with Lord Fawn; and Lord Fawn is recognised by his mother and sister as the one living Jupiter upon earth.”
“I like them for that,” said Ellinor.
“Only it prevents my going to Richmond; and poor Fawn himself is such an indifferent Jupiter.”
That was all that was said about Lucy at Bobsborough, till there came a letter from Lucy to her lover acquainting him with the circumstances of her unfortunate position at Richmond. She did not tell him quite all the circumstances. She did not repeat the strong expressions which Lord Fawn had used, nor did she clearly explain how wrathful she had been herself. “Lord Fawn has been here,” she said, “and there has been ever so much unpleasantness. He is very angry with you about Lady Eustace, and of course Lady Fawn takes his part. I need not tell you whose part I take. And so there have been what the servants call ‘just a few words.’ It is very dreadful, isn’t it? And, after all, Lady Fawn has been as kind as possible. But the upshot of it is that I am not to stay here. You mustn’t suppose that I’m to be turned out at twelve hours’ notice. I am to stay till arrangements have been made, and everybody will be kind to me. But what had I better do? I’ll try and get another situation at once if you think it best, only I suppose I should have to explain how long I could stay. Lady Fawn knows that I am writing to you to ask you what you think best.”
On receipt of this Greystock was very much puzzled. What a little fool Lucy had been, and yet what a dear little fool! Who cared for Lord Fawn and his hard words? Of course Lord Fawn would say all manner of evil things of him, and would crow valiantly in his own farmyard; but it would have been so much wiser on Lucy’s part to have put up with the crowing, and to have disregarded altogether the words of a man so weak and insignificant! But the evil was done, and he must make some arrangement for poor Lucy’s comfort. Had he known exactly how matters stood, that the proposition as to Lucy’s departure had come wholly from herself, and that at the present time all the ladies at Fawn Court — of course in the absence of Lord Fawn — were quite disposed to forgive Lucy if Lucy would only be forgiven, and hide herself when Lord Fawn should come; had Frank known all this, he might, perhaps, have counselled her to remain at Richmond. But he believed that Lady Fawn had insisted on Lucy’s departure; and of course, in such a case, Lucy must depart. He showed the letter to his sister, and asked for advice.
“How very unfortunate!” said Ellinor.
“Yes; is it not?”
“I wonder what she said to Lord Fawn?”
“She would speak out very plainly.”
“I suppose she has spoken out plainly, or otherwise they would never have told her to go away. It seems so unlike what I have always heard of Lady Fawn.”
“Lucy can be very headstrong if she pleases,” said Lucy’s lover. “What on earth had I better do for her? I don’t suppose she can get another place that would suit.”
“If she is to be your wife I don’t think she should go into another place. If it is quite fixed,” she said, and then she looked into her brother’s face.
“Well; what then?”
“If you are sure you mean it ——”
“Of course I mean it.”
“Then she had better come here. As for her going out as a governess, and telling the people that she is to be your wife in a few months, that is out of the question. And it would, I think, be equally so that she should go into any house and not tell the truth. Of course this would be the place for her.” It was at last decided that Ellinor should discuss the matter with her mother.
When the whole matter was unfolded to Mrs. Greystock that lady was more troubled than ever. If Lucy were to come to the deanery, she must come as Frank’s affianced bride, and must be treated as such by all Bobsborough. The dean would be giving his express sanction to the marriage, and so would Mrs. Greystock herself. She knew well that she had no power of refusing her sanction. Frank must do as he pleased about marrying. Were Lucy once his wife, of course she would be made welcome to the best the deanery could give her. There was no doubt about Lucy being as good as gold; only that real gold, vile as it is, was the one thing that Frank so much needed. The mother thought that she had discovered in her son something which seemed to indicate a possibility that this very imprudent match might at last be abandoned; and if there were such possibility, surely Lucy ought not now to be brought to the deanery. Nevertheless, if Frank were to insist upon her coming, she must come.
But Mrs. Greystock had a plan. “Oh, mamma,” said Ellinor, when the plan was proposed to her, “do not you think that would be cruel?”
“Cruel, my dear! no; certainly not cruel.”
“She is such a virago.”
“You think that because Lizzie Eustace has said so. I don’t know that she’s a virago at all. I believe her to be a very good sort of woman.”
“Do you remember, mamma, what the admiral used to say of her?”
“The admiral, my dear, tried to borrow her money, as he did everybody’s, and when she wouldn’t give him any, then he said severe things. The poor admiral was never to be trusted in such matters.”
“I don’t think Frank would like it,” said Ellinor. The plan was this. Lady Linlithgow, who, through her brother-inlaw, the late Admiral Greystock, was connected with the dean’s family, had made known her desire to have a new companion for six months. The lady was to be treated like a lady, but was to have no salary. Her travelling expenses were to be paid for her and no duties were to be expected from her, except that of talking and listening to the countess.
“I really think it’s the very thing for her,” said Mrs. Greystock. “It’s not like being a governess. She’s not to have any salary.”
“I don’t know whether that makes it better, mamma.”
“It would just be a visit to Lady Linlithgow. It is that which makes the difference, my dear.”
Ellinor felt sure that her brother would not hear of such an engagement, but he did hear of it, and, after various objections, gave a sort of sanction to it. It was not to be pressed upon Lucy if Lucy disliked it. Lady Linlithgow was to be made to understand that Lucy might leave whenever she pleased. It was to be an invitation, which Lucy might accept if she were so minded. Lucy’s position as an honourable guest was to be assured to her. It was thought better that Lady Linlithgow should not be told of Lucy’s engagement unless she asked questions, or unless Lucy should choose to tell her. Every precaution was to be taken, and then Frank gave his sanction. He could understand, he said, that it might be inexpedient that Lucy should come at once to the deanery, as, were she to do so, she must remain there till her marriage, let the time be ever so long. “It might be two years,” said the mother.
“Hardly so long as that,” said the son.
“I don’t think it would be — quite fair — to papa,” said the mother. It was well that the argument was used behind the dean’s back, as, had it been made in his hearing, the dean would have upset it at once. The dean was so short-sighted and imprudent that he would have professed delight at the idea of having Lucy Morris as a resident at the deanery. Frank acceded to the argument, and was ashamed of himself for acceding. Ellinor did not accede, nor did her sisters, but it was necessary that they should yield. Mrs. Greystock at once wrote to Lady Linlithgow, and Frank wrote by the same post to Lucy Morris.
“As there must be a year’s delay,” he wrote, “we all here think it best that your visit to us should be postponed for a while. But if you object to the Linlithgow plan, say so at once. You shall be asked to do nothing disagreeable.” He found the letter very difficult to write. He knew that she ought to have been welcomed at once to Bobsborough. And he knew, too, the reason on which his mother’s objection was founded. But it might be two years before he could possibly marry Lucy Morris, or it might be three. Would it be proper that she should be desired to make the deanery her home for so long and so indefinite a time? And when an engagement was for so long, could it be well that everybody should know it, as everybody would if Lucy were to take up her residence permanently at the deanery? Some consideration, certainly, was due to his father.
And, moreover, it was absolutely necessary that he and Lizzie Eustace should understand each other as to that mutual pledge of truth which had passed between them.
In the meantime he received the following letter from Messrs. Camperdown:
“62 NEW SQUARE, LINCOLN’S INN, September 15, 18 —.
“DEAR SIR — After what passed in our chambers the other day, we think it best to let you know that we have been instructed by the executor of the late Sir Florian Eustace to file a bill in Chancery against the widow, Lady Eustace, for the recovery of valuable diamonds. You will oblige us by making the necessary communication to her ladyship, and will perhaps tell us the names of her ladyship’s solicitors.
“We are, dear sir,
“Your very obedient servants,
“CAMPERDOWN & SON.
“F. GREYSTOCK, ESQ., M.P.”
A few days after the receipt of this letter Frank started for Scotland.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01