Frank Greystock, the writer fears, will not have recommended himself to those readers of this tale who think the part of lover to the heroine should be always filled by a young man with heroic attributes. And yet the young member for Bobsborough was by no means deficient in fine qualities, and perhaps was quite as capable of heroism as the majority of barristers and members of Parliament among whom he consorted, and who were to him the world. A man born to great wealth may, without injury to himself or his friends, do pretty nearly what he likes in regard to marriage, always presuming that the wife he selects be of his own rank. He need not marry for money, nor need he abstain from marriage because he can’t support a wife without money. And the very poor man, who has no pretension to rank or standing, other than that which honesty may give him, can do the same. His wife’s fortune will consist in the labour of her hands, and in her ability to assist him in his home. But between these there is a middle class of men, who, by reason of their education, are peculiarly susceptible to the charms of womanhood, but who literally cannot marry for love, because their earnings will do no more than support themselves. As to this special young man, it must be confessed that his earnings should have done much more than that, but not the less did he find himself in a position in which marriage with a penniless girl seemed to threaten him and her with ruin. All his friends told Frank Greystock that he would be ruined were he to marry Lucy Morris; and his friends were people supposed to be very good and wise. The dean and the dean’s wife, his father and mother, were very clear that it would be so. Old Lady Linlithgow had spoken of such a marriage as quite out of the question. The Bishop of Bobsborough, when it was mentioned in his hearing, had declared that such a marriage would be a thousand pities. And even dear old Lady Fawn, though she wished it for Lucy’s sake, had many times prophesied that such a thing was quite impossible. When the rumour of the marriage reached Lady Glencora, Lady Glencora told her friend Madame Max Goesler that that young man was going to blow his brains out. To her thinking the two actions were equivalent. It is only when we read of such men that we feel that truth to his sweetheart is the first duty of man. I am afraid that it is not the advice which we give to our sons.
But it was the advice which Frank Greystock had most persistently given to himself since he had first known Lucy Morris. Doubtless he had vacillated, but on the balance of his convictions as to his own future conduct he had been much nobler than his friends. He had never hesitated for a moment as to the value of Lucy Morris. She was not beautiful. She had no wonderful gifts of nature. There was nothing of a goddess about her. She was absolutely penniless. She had never been what the world calls well-dressed. And yet she had been everything to him. There had grown up a sympathy between them quite as strong on his part as on hers, and he had acknowledged it to himself. He had never doubted his own love, and when he had been most near to convincing himself that in his peculiar position he ought to marry his rich cousin because of her wealth, then, at those moments, he had most strongly felt that to have Lucy Morris close to him was the greatest charm in existence. Hitherto his cousin’s money, joined to flatteries and caresses — which if a young man can resist he is almost more than a young man — had tempted him; but he had combated the temptation. On one memorable evening his love for Lucy had tempted him. To that temptation he had yielded, and the letter by which he became engaged to her had been written. He had never meant to evade it; had always told himself that it should not be evaded; but gradually days had been added to days, and months to months, and he had allowed her to languish without seeing him, and almost without hearing from him.
She too had heard from all sides that she was deserted by him, and she had written to him to give him back his troth; but she had not sent her letters. She did not doubt that the thing was over — she hardly doubted; and yet she would not send any letter. Perhaps it would be better that the matter should be allowed to drop without any letter-writing. She would never reproach him, though she would ever think him to be a traitor. Would not she have starved herself for him? Could she so have served him? And yet he could bear for her sake no touch of delay in his prosperity! Would she not have been content to wait, and always to wait, so that he, with some word of love, would have told her that he waited also? But he would not only desert her, but would give himself to that false, infamous woman, who was so wholly unfitted to be his wife. For Lucy, though to herself she would call him a traitor, and would think him to be a traitor, still regarded him as the best of mankind; as one who, in marrying such a one as Lizzie Eustace, would destroy all his excellence, as a man might mar his strength and beauty by falling into a pit. For Lizzie Eustace Lucy Morris had now no forgiveness. Lucy had almost forgotten Lizzie’s lies, and her preferred bribe, and all her meanness, when she made that visit to Hertford Street. Then when Lizzie claimed this man as her lover, a full remembrance of all the woman’s iniquities came back on Lucy’s mind. The statement that Lizzie then made Lucy did believe. She did think that Frank, her Frank, the man whom she worshipped, was to take this harpy to his bosom as his wife; and if it were to be so, was it not better that she should be so told? But from that moment poor Lizzie’s sins were ranker to Lucy Morris than even to Mr. Camperdown or Mrs. Hittaway. She could not refrain from saying a word even to old Lady Linlithgow. The countess had called her niece a little liar.
“Liar!” said Lucy, “I do not think Satan himself can lie as she does.”
“Heighty-tighty,” said the countess. “I suppose, then, there’s to be a match between Lady Satan and her cousin Frank?”
“They can do as they like about that,” said Lucy, walking out of the room.
Then came the paragraph in the fashionable evening newspaper; after that, the report of the examination before the magistrate; and then certain information that Lady Eustace was about to proceed to Scotland together with her cousin, Mr. Greystock, the Member for Bobsborough. “It is a large income,” said the countess, “but, upon my word, she’s dear at the money.” Lucy did not speak, but she bit her lip till the blood ran into her mouth. She was going down to Fawn Court almost immediately, to stay there with her old friends till she should be able to find some permanent home for herself. Once, and once only, would she endure discussion, and then the matter should be banished forever from her tongue.
Early on the appointed morning Frank Greystock, with a couple of cabs, was at Mrs. Carbuncle’s door in Hertford Street. Lizzie had agreed to start by a very early train — at eight A. M. — so that she might get through to Portray in one day. It had been thought expedient, both by herself and by her cousin, that for the present there should be no more sleeping at the Carlisle hotel. The robbery was probably still talked about in that establishment; and the report of the proceedings at the police-court had no doubt travelled as far north as the border city. It was to be a long day, and could hardly be other than sad. Lizzie, understanding this, feeling that, though she had been in a great measure triumphant over her difficulties before the magistrate, she ought still to consider herself, for a short while, as being under a cloud, crept down into the cab and seated herself beside her cousin, almost without a word. She was again dressed in black, and again wore the thick veil. Her maid, with the luggage, followed them, and they were driven to Euston Square almost without a word. On this occasion no tall footman accompanied them. “Oh, Frank; dear Frank,” she had said, and that was all. He had been active about the luggage and useful in giving orders, but beyond his directions and inquiries as to the journey he spoke not a word. Had she breakfasted? Would she have a cup of tea at the station? Should he take any luncheon for her? At every question she only looked into his face and shook her head. All thoughts as to creature comforts were over with her now forever. Tranquillity, a little poetry, and her darling boy, were all that she needed for the short remainder of her sojourn upon earth. These were the sentiments which she intended to convey when she shook her head and looked up into his eyes. The world was over for her. She had had her day of pleasure, and found how vain it was. Now she would devote herself to her child. “I shall see my boy again to-night,” she said, as she took her seat in the carriage.
Such was the state of mind, or such, rather, the resolutions, with which she commenced her journey. Should he become bright, communicative, and pleasant, or even tenderly silent, or perhaps, now at length, affectionate and demonstrative, she no doubt might be able to change as he changed. He had been cousinly but gloomy at the police-court; in the same mood when he brought her home; and, as she saw with the first glance of her eye, in the same mood again when she met him in the hall this morning. Of course she must play his tunes. Is it not the fate of women to play the tunes which men dictate, except in some rare case in which the woman can make herself the dictator? Lizzie loved to be a dictator; but at the present moment she knew that circumstances were against her.
She watched him — so closely. At first he slept a good deal. He was never in bed very early, and on this morning had been up at six. At Rugby he got out and ate what he said was his breakfast. Would she not have a cup of tea? Again she shook her head and smiled. She smiled as some women smile when you offer them a third glass of champagne. “You are joking with me, I know. You cannot think that I would take it.” This was the meaning of Lizzie’s smile. He went into the refreshment-room, growled at the heat of the tea and the abominable nastiness of the food provided, and then, after the allotted five minutes, took himself to a smoking-carriage. He did not rejoin his cousin till they were at Crewe. When he went back to his old seat, she only smiled again. He asked her whether she had slept, and again she shook her head. She had been repeating to herself the address to Ianthe’s soul, and her whole being was pervaded with poetry.
It was absolutely necessary, as he thought, that she should eat something, and he insisted that she should dine upon the road, somewhere. He, of course, was not aware that she had been nibbling biscuits and chocolate while he had been smoking, and had had recourse even to the comfort of a sherry flask which she carried in her dressing-bag. When he talked of dinner she did more than smile and refuse. She expostulated. For she well knew that the twenty minutes for dinner were allowed at the Carlisle station; and even if there had been no chocolate and no sherry, she would have endured on, even up to absolute inanition, rather than step out upon this well-remembered platform. “You must eat, or you’ll be starved,” he said. “I’ll fetch you something.” So he bribed a special waiter, and she was supplied with cold chicken and more sherry. After this Frank smoked again, and did not reappear till they had reached Dumfries.
Hitherto there had been no tenderness — nothing but the coldest cousinship. He clearly meant her to understand that he had submitted to the task of accompanying her back to Portray Castle as a duty, but that he had nothing to say to one who had so misbehaved herself. This was very irritating. She could have taken herself home to Portray without his company, and have made the journey more endurable without him than with him, if this were to be his conduct throughout. They had had the carriage to themselves all the way from Crewe to Carlisle, and he had hardly spoken a word to her. If he would have rated her soundly for her wickednesses, she could have made something of that. She could have thrown herself on her knees, and implored his pardon; or, if hard pressed, have suggested the propriety of throwing herself out of the carriage-window. She could have brought him round if he would only have talked to her, but there is no doing anything with a silent man. He was not her master. He had no power over her. She was the lady of Portray, and he could not interfere with her. If he intended to be sullen with her to the end, and to show his contempt for her, she would turn against him. “The worm will turn,” she said to herself. And yet she did not think herself a worm.
A few stations beyond Dumfries they were again alone. It was now quite dark, and they had already been travelling over ten hours. They would not reach their own station till eight, and then again there would be the journey to Portray. At last he spoke to her.
“Are you tired, Lizzie?”
“Oh, so tired!”
“You have slept, I think?”
“No, not once; not a wink. You have slept.” This she said in a tone of reproach.
“Indeed I have.”
“I have endeavoured to read, but one cannot command one’s mind at all times. Oh, I am so weary. Is it much farther? I have lost all reckoning as to time and place.”
“We change at the next station but one. It will soon be over now. Will you have a glass of sherry? I have some in my flask.” Again she shook her head. “It is a long way down to Portray, I must own.”
“Oh, I am so sorry that I have given you the trouble to accompany me.”
“I was not thinking of myself. I don’t mind it. It was better that you should have somebody with you — just for this journey.”
“I don’t know why this journey should be different from any other,” said Lizzie crossly. She had not done anything that made it necessary that she should be taken care of — like a naughty girl.
“I’ll see you to the end of it now, anyway.”
“And you’ll stay a few days with me, Frank? You won’t go away at once? Say you’ll stay a week. Dear, dear Frank; say you’ll stay a week. I know that the House doesn’t meet for ever so long. Oh, Frank, I do so wish you’d be more like yourself.” There was no reason why she should not make one other effort, and as she made it every sign of fatigue passed away from her.
“I’ll stay over tomorrow certainly,” he replied.
“Only one day!”
“Days with me mean money, Lizzie, and money is a thing which is at present very necessary to me.”
“I hate money.”
“That’s very well for you because you have plenty of it.”
“I hate money. It is the only thing that one has that one cannot give to those one loves. I could give you anything else — though it cost a thousand pounds.”
“Pray don’t. Most people like presents, but they only bore me.”
“Because you are so indifferent, Frank; so cold. Do you remember giving me a little ring?”
“Very well indeed. It cost eight and sixpence.”
“I never thought what it cost; but there it is.” This she said drawing off her glove and showing him her finger. “And when I am dead there it will be. You say you want money, Frank. May I not give it you? Are not we brother and sister?”
“My dear Lizzie, you say you hate money. Don’t talk about it.”
“It is you that talk about it. I only talk about it because I want to give it you; yes, all that I have. When I first knew what was the real meaning of my husband’s will, my only thought was to be of assistance to you.”
In real truth Frank was becoming very sick of her. It seemed to him now to have been almost impossible that he should ever soberly have thought of making her his wife. The charm was all gone, and even her prettiness had in his eyes lost its value. He looked at her, asking himself whether in truth she was pretty. She had been travelling all day, and perhaps the scrutiny was not fair. But he thought that even after the longest day’s journey Lucy would not have been soiled, haggard, dishevelled, and unclean, as was this woman.
Travellers again entered the carriage, and they went on with a crowd of persons till they reached the platform at which they changed the carriage for Troon. Then they were again alone, for a few minutes, and Lizzie with infinite courage determined that she would make her last attempt. “Frank,” she said, “you know what it is that I mean. You cannot feel that I am ungenerous. You have made me love you. Will you have all that I have to give?” She was leaning over close to him, and he was observing that her long lock of hair was out of curl and untidy, a thing that ought not to have been during such a journey as this.
“Do you not know,” he said, “that I am engaged to marry Lucy Morris?”
“No; I do not know it.”
“I have told you so more than once.”
“You cannot afford to marry her.”
“Then I shall do it without affording.”
Lizzie was about to speak, had already pronounced her rival’s name, in that tone of contempt which she so well knew how to use, when he stopped her. “Do not say anything against her, Lizzie, in my hearing, for I will not bear it. It would force me to leave you at the Troon station, and I had better see you now to the end of the journey.” Lizzie flung herself back into the corner of her carriage, and did not utter another word till she reached Portray Castle. He handed her out of the railway carriage and into her own vehicle which was waiting for them, attended to the maid, and got the luggage; but still she did not speak. It would be better that she should quarrel with him. That little snake Lucy would of course now tell him of the meeting between them in Hertford Street, after which anything but quarrelling would be impossible. What a fool the man must be, what an idiot, what a soft-hearted, mean-spirited fellow! Lucy, by her sly, quiet little stratagems, had got him once to speak the word, and now he had not courage enough to go back from it! He had less strength of will even than Lord Fawn! What she offered to him would be the making of him. With his position, his seat in Parliament, such a country house as Portray Castle, and the income which she would give him, there was nothing that he might not reach! And he was so infirm of purpose that though he had hankered after it all he would not open his hand to take it, because he was afraid of such a little thing as Lucy Morris! It was thus that she thought of him as she leaned back in the carriage without speaking. In giving her all that is due to her we must acknowledge that she had less feeling of the injury done to her charms as a woman than might have been expected. That she hated Lucy was a matter of course; and equally so that she should be very angry with Frank Greystock; but the anger arose from general disappointment rather than from any sense of her own despised beauty. “Ah, now I shall see my child,” she said, as the carriage stopped at the castle gate.
When Frank Greystock went to his supper Miss Macnulty brought to him his cousin’s compliments with a message saying that she was too weary to see him again that night. The message had been intended to be curt and uncourteous, but Miss Macnulty had softened it, so that no harm was done. “She must be very weary,” said Frank.
“I supposed though that nothing would ever really tire Lady Eustace,” said Miss Macnulty. “When she is excited nothing will tire her. Perhaps the journey has been dull.”
“Exceedingly dull!” said Frank, as he helped himself to the collops which the Portray cook had prepared for his supper.
Miss Macnulty was very attentive to him and had many questions to ask. About the necklace she hardly dared to speak, merely observing how sad it was that all those precious diamonds should have been lost forever. “Very sad indeed,” said Frank with his mouth full. She then went on to the marriage — the marriage that was no marriage. Was not that very dreadful? Was it true that Miss Roanoke was really — out of her mind? Frank acknowledged that it was dreadful, but thought that the marriage had it been completed would have been more so. As for the young lady, he knew only that she had been taken somewhere out of the way. Sir Griffin, he had been told, had gone to Japan.
“To Japan!” said Miss Macnulty, really interested. Had Sir Griffin gone no farther than Boulogne her pleasure in the news would certainly have been much less. Then she asked some single question about Lord George, and from that came to the real marrow of her anxiety. Had Mr. Greystock lately seen the — the Rev. Mr. Emilius? Frank had not seen the clergyman, and could only say of him that had Lucinda Roanoke and Sir Griffin Tewett been made one, the knot would have been tied by Mr. Emilius.
“Would it indeed? Did you not think Mr. Emilius very clever when you met him down here?”
“I don’t doubt but what he is a sharp sort of fellow.”
“Oh, Mr. Greystock, I don’t think that that’s the word for him at all. He did promise me when he was here that he would write to me occasionally, but I suppose that the increasing duties of his position have rendered that impossible.” Frank, who had no idea of the extent of the preacher’s ambition, assured Miss Macnulty that among his multifarious clerical labours it was out of the question that Mr. Emilius should find time to write letters.
Frank had consented to stay one day at Portray, and did not now like to run away without again seeing his cousin. Though much tempted to go at once, he did stay the day, and had an opportunity of speaking a few words to Mr. Gowran. Mr. Gowran was very gracious, but said nothing of his journey up to London. He asked various questions concerning her “leddyship’s” appearance at the police-court, as to which tidings had already reached Ayrshire, and pretended to be greatly shocked at the loss of the diamonds.
“When they talk o’ ten thoosand poond that’s a lee nae doobt?” asked Andy.
“No lie at all, I believe,” said Greystock.
“And her leddyship wad tak’ aboot wi’ her ten thoosand poond in a box?” Andy still showed much doubt by the angry glance of his eye and the close compression of his lips and the great severity of his demeanour as he asked the question.
“I know nothing about diamonds myself, but that is what they say they were worth.”
“Her leddyship her ain sell seems nae to ha’ been in ain story aboot the box, Muster Greystock?” But Frank could not stand to be cross-questioned on this delicate matter, and walked off, saying that as the thieves had not yet been tried for the robbery, the less said about it the better.
At four o’clock on that afternoon he had not seen Lizzie, and then he received a message from her to the effect that she was still so unwell from the fatigue of her journey that she could bear no one with her but her child. She hoped that her cousin was quite comfortable, and that she might be able to see him after breakfast on the following day. But Frank was determined to leave Portray very early on the following day, and therefore wrote a note to his cousin. He begged that she would not disturb herself, that he would leave the castle the next morning before she could be up, and that he had only further to remind her that she must come up to London at once as soon as she should be summoned for the trial of Mr. Benjamin and his comrade. It had seemed to Frank that she had almost concluded that her labours connected with that disagreeable matter were at end.
“The examination may be long, and I will attend you if you wish it,” said her cousin. Upon receiving this she thought it expedient to come down to him, and there was an interview for about a quarter of an hour in her own little sitting-room, looking out upon the sea. She had formed a project, and at once suggested it to him. If she found herself ill when the day of the trial came, could they make her go up and give her evidence? Frank told her that they could and that they would. She was very clever about it.
“They couldn’t go back to what I said at Carlisle, you know; because they already have made me tell all that myself.” As she had been called upon to criminate herself she could not now be tried for the crime. Frank, however, would not listen to this, and told her that she must come. “Very well, Frank. I know you like to have your own way. You always did. And you think so little of my feelings? I shall make inquiry and if f must, why, I suppose I must.”
“You’d better make up your mind to come.”
“Very well. And now, Frank, as I am so very tired, if you please, I’ll say good-by to you. I am very much obliged to you for coming with me. Good-by.” And so they parted.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01