"WE SHALL BE SO POOR."
Mr. Glascock at that moment was not only in Florence, but was occupying rooms in the very hotel in which the Rowleys were staying. Lady Rowley, when she heard that he was engaged to marry an American lady, became suddenly very sick at heart,—sick with a sickness that almost went beyond her heart. She felt ill, and was glad to be alone. The rumour might be untrue. Such rumours generally are untrue. But then, as Lady Rowley knew very well, they generally have some foundation in truth. Mr. Glascock, if he were not actually engaged to the American girl, had probably been flirting with her;—and, if so, where was that picture which Lady Rowley had been painting for herself of a love-lorn swain to be brought back to the pleasures and occupations of the world only by the girl of whom he was enamoured? But still she would not quite give up the project. Mr. Glascock, if he was in Italy, would no doubt see by the newspapers that Sir Marmaduke and his family were in Florence,—and would probably come to them. Then, if Nora would only behave herself, the American girl might still be conquered.
During two or three days after this nothing was seen or heard of Mr. Glascock. Had Lady Rowley thought of mentioning the name to the waiter at the hotel, she would have learned that he was living in the next passage; but it did not occur to her to seek information in that fashion. Nor did she ask direct questions in other quarters about Mr. Glascock himself. She did, however, make inquiry about Americans living in Florence,—especially about the American Minister,—and, before a week had passed overhead, had been introduced to the Spaldings. Mrs. Spalding was very civil, and invited Lady Rowley and all the girls and Sir Marmaduke to come to her on her "Fridays." She received her friends every Friday, and would continue to do so till the middle of June. She had nieces who would, she said, be so happy to make the acquaintance of the Miss Rowleys.
By this time the picture galleries, the churches, and the palaces in Florence had nearly all been visited. Poor Lady Rowley had dragged herself wearily from sight to sight, hoping always to meet with Mr. Glascock, ignorant of the fact that residents in a town do not pass their mornings habitually in looking after pictures. During this time inquiries were being made through the police, respecting Trevelyan; and Sir Marmaduke had obtained information that an English gentleman, with a little boy, had gone on to Siena, and had located himself there. There seemed to be but little doubt that this was Trevelyan,—though nothing had been learned with certainty as to the gentleman's name. It had been decided that Sir Marmaduke, with his courier and Mrs. Trevelyan, should go on to Siena, and endeavour to come upon the fugitive, and they had taken their departure on a certain morning. On that same day Lady Rowley was walking with Nora and one of the other girls through the hall of the hotel, when they were met in full face—by Mr. Glascock! Lady Rowley and Lucy were in front, and they, of course, did not know the man. Nora had seen him at once, and in her confusion hardly knew how to bear herself. Mr. Glascock was passing by her without recognising her,—had passed her mother and sister, and had so far gone on, that Nora had determined to make no sign, when he chanced to look up and see who it was that was so close to him. "Miss Rowley," he said, "who thought of meeting you in Florence!" Lady Rowley, of course, turned round, and there was an introduction. Poor Nora, though she knew nothing of her mother's schemes, was confused and ill at ease. Mr. Glascock was very civil, but at the same time rather cold. Lady Rowley was all smiles and courtesy. She had, she said, heard his name from her daughters, and was very happy to make his acquaintance. Lucy looked on somewhat astonished to find that the lover whom her sister had been blamed for rejecting, and who was spoken of with so many encomiums, was so old a man. Mr. Glascock asked after Mrs. Trevelyan; and Lady Rowley, in a low, melancholy whisper, told him that they were now all in Florence, in the hope of meeting Mr. Trevelyan. "You have heard the sad story, I know, Mr. Glascock,—and therefore I do not mind telling you." Mr. Glascock acknowledged that he did know the story, and informed her that he had seen Mr. Trevelyan in Florence within the last ten days. This was so interesting, that, at Lady Rowley's request, he went with them up to their rooms, and in this way the acquaintance was made. It turned out that Mr. Glascock had spoken to Mr. Trevelyan, and that Trevelyan had told him that he meant for the present to take up his residence in some small Italian town. "And how was he looking, Mr. Glascock?"
"Very ill, Lady Rowley;—very ill, indeed."
"Do not tell her so, Mr. Glascock. She has gone now with her father to Siena. We think that he is there, with the boy,—or, at least, that he may be heard of there. And you;—you are living here?" Mr. Glascock said that he was living between Naples and Florence,—going occasionally to Naples, a place that he hated, to see his father, and coming back at intervals to the capital. Nora sat by, and hardly spoke a word. She was nicely dressed, with an exquisite little bonnet, which had been bought as they came through Paris; and Lady Rowley, with natural pride, felt that if he was ever in love with her child, that love must come back upon him now. American girls, she had been told, were hard, and dry, and sharp, and angular. She had seen some at the Mandarins, with whom she thought it must be impossible that any Englishman should be in love. There never, surely, had been an American girl like her Nora. "Are you fond of pictures, Mr. Glascock?" she asked. Mr. Glascock was not very fond of pictures, and thought that he was rather tired of them. What was he fond of? Of sitting at home and doing nothing. That was his reply, at least; and a very unsatisfactory reply it was, as Lady Rowley could hardly propose that they should come and sit and do nothing with him. Could he have been lured into churches or galleries, Nora might have been once more thrown into his company. Then Lady Rowley took courage, and asked him whether he knew the Spaldings. They were going to Mrs. Spalding's that very evening,—she and her daughters. Mr. Glascock replied that he did know the Spaldings, and that he also should be at their house. Lady Rowley thought that she discovered something like a blush about his cheekbones and brow, as he made his answer. Then he left them, giving his hand to Nora as he went;—but there was nothing in his manner to justify the slightest hope.
"I don't think he is nice at all," said Lucy.
"Don't be so foolish, Lucy," said Lady Rowley angrily.
"I think he is very nice," said Nora. "He was only talking nonsense when he said that he liked to sit still and do nothing. He is not at all an idle man;—at least I am told so."
"But he is as old as Methuselah," said Lucy.
"He is between thirty and forty," said Lady Rowley. "Of course we know that from the peerage." Lady Rowley, however, was wrong. Had she consulted the peerage, she would have seen that Mr. Glascock was over forty.
Nora, as soon as she was alone and could think about it all, felt quite sure that Mr. Glascock would never make her another offer. This ought not to have caused her any sorrow, as she was very well aware that she would not accept him, should he do so. Yet, perhaps, there was a moment of some feeling akin to disappointment. Of course she would not have accepted him. How could she? Her faith was so plighted to Hugh Stanbury that she would be a by-word among women for ever, were she to be so false. And as she told herself, she had not the slightest feeling of affection for Mr. Glascock. It was quite out of the question, and a matter simply for speculation. Nevertheless it would have been a very grand thing to be Lady Peterborough, and she almost regretted that she had a heart in her bosom.
She had become fully aware during that interview that her mother still entertained hopes, and almost suspected that Lady Rowley had known something of Mr. Glascock's residence in Florence. She had seen that her mother had met Mr. Glascock almost as though some such meeting had been expected, and had spoken to him almost as though she had expected to have to speak to him. Would it not be better that she should at once make her mother understand that all this could be of no avail? If she were to declare plainly that nothing could bring about such a marriage, would not her mother desist? She almost made up her mind to do so; but as her mother said nothing to her before they started for Mr. Spalding's house, neither did she say anything to her mother. She did not wish to have angry words if they could be avoided, and she felt that there might be anger and unpleasant words were she to insist upon her devotion to Hugh Stanbury while this rich prize was in sight. If her mother should speak to her, then, indeed, she would declare her own settled purpose; but she would do nothing to accelerate the evil hour.
There were but few people in Mrs. Spalding's drawing-room when they were announced, and Mr. Glascock was not among them. Miss Wallachia Petrie was there, and in the confusion of the introduction was presumed by Lady Rowley to be one of the nieces introduced. She had been distinctly told that Mr. Glascock was to marry the eldest, and this lady was certainly older than the other two. In this way Lady Rowley decided that Miss Wallachia Petrie was her daughter's hated rival, and she certainly was much surprised at the gentleman's taste. But there is nothing,—nothing in the way of an absurd matrimonial engagement,—into which a man will not allow himself to be entrapped by pique. Nora would have a great deal to answer for, Lady Rowley thought, if the unfortunate man should be driven by her cruelty to marry such a woman as this one now before her.
It happened that Lady Rowley soon found herself seated by Miss Petrie, and she at once commenced her questionings. She intended to be very discreet, but the subject was too near her heart to allow her to be altogether silent. "I believe you know Mr. Glascock?" she said.
"Yes," said Wallachia, "I do know him." Now the peculiar nasal twang which our cousins over the water have learned to use, and which has grown out of a certain national instinct which coerces them to express themselves with self-assertion;—let the reader go into his closet and talk through his nose for awhile with steady attention to the effect which his own voice will have, and he will find that this theory is correct;—this intonation, which is so peculiar among intelligent Americans, had been adopted con amore, and, as it were, taken to her bosom by Miss Petrie. Her ears had taught themselves to feel that there could be no vitality in speech without it, and that all utterance unsustained by such tone was effeminate, vapid, useless, unpersuasive, unmusical,—and English. It was a complaint frequently made by her against her friends Caroline and Olivia that they debased their voices, and taught themselves the puling British mode of speech. "I do know the gentleman," said Wallachia;—and Lady Rowley shuddered. Could it be that such a woman as this was to reign over Monkhams, and become the future Lady Peterborough?
"He told me that he is acquainted with the family," said Lady Rowley. "He is staying at our hotel, and my daughter knew him very well when he was living in London."
"I dare say. I believe that in London the titled aristocrats do hang pretty much together." It had never occurred to poor Lady Rowley, since the day in which her husband had been made a knight, at the advice of the Colonial Minister, in order that the inhabitants of some island might be gratified by the opportunity of using the title, that she and her children had thereby become aristocrats. Were her daughter Nora to marry Mr. Glascock, Nora would become an aristocrat,—or would, rather, be ennobled,—all which Lady Rowley understood perfectly.
"I don't know that London society is very exclusive in that respect," said Lady Rowley.
"I guess you are pretty particular," said Miss Petrie, "and it seems to me you don't have much regard to intellect or erudition,—but fix things up straight according to birth and money."
"I hope we are not quite so bad as that," said Lady Rowley. "I do not know London well myself, as I have passed my life in very distant places."
"The distant places are, in my estimation, the best. The further the mind is removed from the contamination incidental to the centres of long-established luxury, the more chance it has of developing itself according to the intention of the Creator, when he bestowed his gifts of intellect upon us." Lady Rowley, when she heard this eloquence, could hardly believe that such a man as Mr. Glascock should really be intent upon marrying such a lady as this who was sitting next to her.
In the meantime, Nora and the real rival were together, and they also were talking of Mr. Glascock. Caroline Spalding had said that Mr. Glascock had spoken to her of Nora Rowley, and Nora acknowledged that there had been some acquaintance between them in London. "Almost more than that, I should have thought," said Miss Spalding, "if one might judge by his manner of speaking of you."
"He is a little given to be enthusiastic," said Nora, laughing.
"The least so of all mankind, I should have said. You must know he is very intimate in this house. It begun in this way;—Olivia and I were travelling together, and there was—a difficulty, as we say in our country when three or four gentlemen shoot each other. Then there came up Mr. Glascock and another gentleman. By-the-bye, the other gentleman was your brother-in-law."
"Poor Mr. Trevelyan!"
"He is very ill;—is he not?"
"We think so. My sister is with us, you know. That is to say, she is at Siena to-day."
"I have heard about him, and it is so sad. Mr. Glascock knows him. As I said, they were travelling together, when Mr. Glascock came to our assistance. Since that, we have seen him very frequently. I don't think he is enthusiastic,—except when he talks of you."
"I ought to be very proud," said Nora.
"I think you ought,—as Mr. Glascock is a man whose good opinion is certainly worth having. Here he is. Mr. Glascock, I hope your ears are tingling. They ought to do so, because we are saying all manner of fine things about you."
"I could not be well spoken of by two on whose good word I should set a higher value," said he.
"And whose do you value the most?" said Caroline.
"I must first know whose eulogium will run the highest."
Then Nora answered him. "Mr. Glascock, other people may praise you louder than I can do, but no one will ever do so with more sincerity." There was a pretty earnestness about her as she spoke, which Lady Rowley ought to have heard. Mr. Glascock bowed, and Miss Spalding smiled, and Nora blushed.
"If you are not overwhelmed now," said Miss Spalding, "you must be so used to flattery, that it has no longer any effect upon you. You must be like a drunkard, to whom wine is as water, and who thinks that brandy is not strong enough."
"I think I had better go away," said Mr. Glascock, "for fear the brandy should be watered by degrees." And so he left them.
Nora had become quite aware, without much process of thinking about it, that her former lover and this American young lady were very intimate with each other. The tone of the conversation had shewn that it was so;—and, then, how had it come to pass that Mr. Glascock had spoken to this American girl about her,—Nora Rowley? It was evident that he had spoken of her with warmth, and had done so in a manner to impress his hearer. For a minute or two they sat together in silence after Mr. Glascock had left them, but neither of them stirred. Then Caroline Spalding turned suddenly upon Nora, and took her by the hand. "I must tell you something," said she, "only it must be a secret for awhile."
"I will not repeat it."
"Thank you, dear. I am engaged to him,—as his wife. He asked me this very afternoon, and nobody knows it but my aunt. When I had accepted him, he told me all the story about you. He had very often spoken of you before, and I had guessed how it must have been. He wears his heart so open for those whom he loves, that there is nothing concealed. He had seen you just before he came to me. But perhaps I am wrong to tell you that now. He ought to have been thinking of you again at such a time."
"I did not want him to think of me again."
"Of course you did not. Of course I am joking. You might have been his wife if you wished it. He has told me all that. And he especially wants us to be friends. Is there anything to prevent it?"
"On my part? Oh, dear, no;—except that you will be such grand folk, and we shall be so poor."
"We!" said Caroline, laughing. "I am so glad that there is a 'we.'"
THE FUTURE LADY PETERBOROUGH.
"If you have not sold yourself for British gold, and for British acres, and for British rank, I have nothing to say against it," said Miss Wallachia Petrie that same evening to her friend Caroline Spalding.
"You know that I have not sold myself, as you call it," said Caroline. There had been a long friendship between these two ladies, and the younger one knew that it behoved her to bear a good deal from the elder. Miss Petrie was honest, clever, and in earnest. We in England are not usually favourably disposed to women who take a pride in a certain antagonism to men in general, and who are anxious to shew the world that they can get on very well without male assistance; but there are many such in America who have noble aspirations, good intellects, much energy, and who are by no means unworthy of friendship. The hope in regard to all such women,—the hope entertained not by themselves, but by those who are solicitous for them,—is that they will be cured at last by a husband and half-a-dozen children. In regard to Wallachia Petrie there was not, perhaps, much ground for such hope. She was so positively wedded to women's rights in general, and to her own rights in particular, that it was improbable that she should ever succumb to any man;—and where would be the man brave enough to make the effort? From circumstances Caroline Spalding had been the beloved of her heart since Caroline Spalding was a very little girl; and she had hoped that Caroline would through life have borne arms along with her in that contest which she was determined to wage against man, and which she always waged with the greatest animosity against men of the British race. She hated rank; she hated riches; she hated monarchy;—and with a true woman's instinct in battle, felt that she had a specially strong point against Englishmen, in that they submitted themselves to dominion from a woman monarch. And now the chosen friend of her youth,—the friend who had copied out all her poetry, who had learned by heart all her sonnets, who had, as she thought, reciprocated all her ideas, was going to be married,—and to be married to an English lord! She had seen that it was coming for some time, and had spoken out very plainly, hoping that she might still save the brand from the burning. Now the evil was done; and Caroline Spalding, when she told her news, knew well that she would have to bear some heavy reproaches.
"How many of us are there who never know whether we sell ourselves or not?" said Wallachia. "The senator who longs for office, and who votes this way instead of that in order that he may get it, thinks that he is voting honestly. The minister who calls himself a teacher of God's word, thinks that it is God's word that he preaches when he strains his lungs to fill his church. The question is this, Caroline;—would you have loved the same man had he come to you with a woodman's axe in his hand or a clerk's quill behind his ear? I guess not."
"As to the woodman's axe, Wally, it is very well in theory; but—"
"Things good in theory, Caroline, will be good also when practised. You may be sure of that. We dislike theory simply because our intelligences are higher than our wills. But we will let that pass."
"Pray let it pass, Wally. Do not preach me sermons to-night. I am so happy, and you ought to wish me joy."
"If wishing you joy would get you joy, I would wish it you while I lived. I cannot be happy that you should be taken from us whither I shall never see you again."
"But you are to come to us. I have told him so, and it is settled."
"No, dear; I shall not do that. What should I be in the glittering halls of an English baron? Could there be any visiting less fitting, any admixture less appropriate? Could I who have held up my voice in the Music Hall of Lacedæmon, amidst the glories of the West, in the great and free State of Illinois, against the corruption of an English aristocracy,—could I, who have been listened to by two thousand of my countrywomen,—and men,—while I spurned the unmanly, inhuman errors of primogeniture,—could I, think you, hold my tongue beneath the roof of a feudal lord!" Caroline Spalding knew that her friend could not hold her tongue, and hesitated to answer. There had been that fatal triumph of a lecture on the joint rights of men and women, and it had rendered poor Wallachia Petrie unfit for ordinary society.
"You might come there without talking politics, Wally," said Caroline.
"No, Caroline; no. I will go into the house of no man in which the free expression of my opinion is debarred me. I will not sit even at your table with a muzzled tongue. When you are gone, Caroline, I shall devote myself to what, after all, must be the work of my life, and I shall finish the biographical history of our great hero in verse,—which I hope may at least be not ephemeral. From month to month I shall send you what I do, and you will not refuse me your friendly criticism,—and, perhaps, some slight meed of approbation,—because you are dwelling beneath the shade of a throne. Oh, Caroline, let it not be a upas tree!"
The Miss Petries of the world have this advantage,—an advantage which rarely if ever falls to the lot of a man,—that they are never convinced of error. Men, let them be ever so much devoted to their closets, let them keep their work ever so closely veiled from public scrutiny, still find themselves subjected to criticism, and under the necessity of either defending themselves or of succumbing. If, indeed, a man neither speaks, nor writes,—if he be dumb as regards opinion,—he passes simply as one of the crowd, and is in the way neither of convincing nor of being convinced; but a woman may speak, and almost write, as she likes, without danger of being wounded by sustained conflict. Who would have the courage to begin with such a one as Miss Petrie, and endeavour to prove to her that she is wrong from the beginning? A little word of half-dissent, a smile, a shrug, and an ambiguous compliment which is misunderstood, are all the forms of argument which can be used against her. Wallachia Petrie, in her heart of hearts, conceived that she had fairly discussed her great projects from year to year with indomitable eloquence and unanswerable truth,—and that none of her opponents had had a leg to stand upon. And this she believed because the chivalry of men had given to her sex that protection against which her life was one continued protest.
"Here he is," said Caroline, as Mr. Glascock came up to them. "Try and say a civil word to him, if he speaks about it. Though he is to be a lord, still he is a man and a brother."
"Caroline," said the stern monitress, "you are already learning to laugh at principles which have been dear to you since you left your mother's breast. Alas, how true it is, 'You cannot touch pitch and not be defiled.'"
The further progress of these friendly and feminine amenities was stopped by the presence of the gentleman who had occasioned them. "Miss Petrie," said the hero of the hour, "Caroline was to tell you of my good fortune, and no doubt she has done so."
"I cannot wait to hear the pretty things he has to say," said Caroline, "and I must look after my aunt's guests. There is poor Signor Buonarosci without a soul to say a syllable to him, and I must go and use my ten Italian words."
"You are about to take with you to your old country, Mr. Glascock," said Miss Petrie, "one of the brightest stars in our young American firmament." There could be no doubt, from the tone of Miss Petrie's voice, that she now regarded this star, however bright, as one of a sort which is subjected to falling.
"I am going to take a very nice young woman," said Mr. Glascock.
"I hate that word woman, sir, uttered with the half-hidden sneer which always accompanies its expression from the mouth of a man."
"Sneer, Miss Petrie!"
"I quite allow that it is involuntary, and not analysed or understood by yourselves. If you speak of a dog, you intend to do so with affection, but there is always contempt mixed with it. The so-called chivalry of man to woman is all begotten in the same spirit. I want no favour, but I claim to be your equal."
"I thought that American ladies were generally somewhat exacting as to those privileges which chivalry gives them."
"It is true, sir, that the only rank we know in our country is in that precedence which man gives to woman. Whether we maintain that, or whether we abandon it, we do not intend to purchase it at the price of an acknowledgment of intellectual inferiority. For myself, I hate chivalry;—what you call chivalry. I can carry my own chair, and I claim the right to carry it whithersoever I may please."
Mr. Glascock remained with her for some time, but made no opportunity for giving that invitation to Monkhams of which Caroline had spoken. As he said afterwards, he found it impossible to expect her to attend to any subject so trivial; and when, afterwards, Caroline told him, with some slight mirth,—the capability of which on such a subject was coming to her with her new ideas of life,—that, though he was partly saved as a man and a brother, still he was partly the reverse as a feudal lord, he began to reflect that Wallachia Petrie would be a guest with whom he would find it very difficult to make things go pleasant at Monkhams. "Does she not bully you horribly?" he asked.
"Of course she bullies me," Caroline answered; "and I cannot expect you to understand as yet how it is that I love her and like her; but I do. If I were in distress to-morrow, she would give everything she has in the world to put me right."
"So would I," said he.
"Ah, you;—that is a matter of course. That is your business now. And she would give everything she has in the world to set the world right. Would you do that?"
"It would depend on the amount of my faith. If I could believe in the result, I suppose I should do it."
"She would do it on the slightest hope that such giving would have any tendency that way. Her philanthropy is all real. Of course she is a bore to you."
"I am very patient."
"I hope I shall find you so,—always. And, of course, she is ridiculous—in your eyes. I have learned to see it, and to regret it; but I shall never cease to love her."
"I have not the slightest objection. Her lessons will come from over the water, and mine will come from—where shall I say?—over the table. If I can't talk her down with so much advantage on my side, I ought to be made a woman's-right man myself."
Poor Lady Rowley had watched Miss Petrie and Mr. Glascock during those moments that they had been together, and had half believed the rumour, and had half doubted, thinking in the moments of her belief that Mr. Glascock must be mad, and in the moments of unbelief that the rumours had been set afloat by the English Minister's wife with the express intention of turning Mr. Glascock into ridicule. It had never occurred to her to doubt that Wallachia was the eldest of that family of nieces. Could it be possible that a man who had known her Nora, who had undoubtedly loved her Nora,—who had travelled all the way from London to Nuncombe Putney to ask Nora to be his wife,—should within twelve months of that time have resolved to marry a woman whom he must have selected simply as being the most opposite to Nora of any female human being that he could find? It was not credible to her; and if it were not true, there might still be a hope. Nora had met him, and had spoken to him, and it had seemed that for a moment or two they had spoken as friends. Lady Rowley, when talking to Mrs. Spalding, had watched them closely; and she had seen that Nora's eyes had been bright, and that there had been something between them which was pleasant. Suddenly she found herself close to Wallachia, and thought that she would trust herself to a word.
"Have you been long in Florence?" asked Lady Rowley in her softest voice.
"A pretty considerable time, ma'am;—that is, since the fall began."
What a voice;—what an accent;—and what words! Was there a man living with sufficient courage to take this woman to England, and shew her to the world as Lady Peterborough?
"Are you going to remain in Italy for the summer?" continued Lady Rowley.
"I guess I shall;—or, perhaps, locate myself in the purer atmosphere of the Swiss mountains."
"Switzerland in summer must certainly be much pleasanter."
"I was thinking at the moment of the political atmosphere," said Miss Petrie; "for although, certainly, much has been done in this country in the way of striking off shackles and treading sceptres under foot, still, Lady Rowley, there remains here that pernicious thing,—a king. The feeling of the dominion of a single man,—and that of a single woman is, for aught I know, worse,—with me so clouds the air, that the breath I breathe fails to fill my lungs." Wallachia, as she said this, put forth her hand, and raised her chin, and extended her arm. She paused, feeling that justice demanded that Lady Rowley should have a right of reply. But Lady Rowley had not a word to say, and Wallachia Petrie went on. "I cannot adapt my body to the sweet savours and the soft luxuries of the outer world with any comfort to my inner self, while the circumstances of the society around me are oppressive to my spirit. When our war was raging all around me I was light-spirited as the lark that mounts through the morning sky."
"I should have thought it was very dreadful," said Lady Rowley.
"Full of dread, of awe, and of horror, were those fiery days of indiscriminate slaughter; but they were not days of desolation, because hope was always there by our side. There was a hope in which the soul could trust, and the trusting soul is ever light and buoyant."
"I dare say it is," said Lady Rowley.
"But apathy, and serfdom, and kinghood, and dominion, drain the fountain of its living springs, and the soul becomes like the plummet of lead, whose only tendency is to hide itself in subaqueous mud and unsavoury slush."
Subaqueous mud and unsavoury slush! Lady Rowley repeated the words to herself as she made good her escape, and again expressed to herself her conviction that it could not possibly be so. The "subaqueous mud and unsavoury slush," with all that had gone before it about the soul was altogether unintelligible to her; but she knew that it was American buncom of a high order of eloquence, and she told herself again and again that it could not be so. She continued to keep her eyes upon Mr. Glascock, and soon saw him again talking to Nora. It was hardly possible, she thought, that Nora should speak to him with so much animation, or he to her, unless there was some feeling between them which, if properly handled, might lead to a renewal of the old tenderness. She went up to Nora, having collected the other girls, and said that the carriage was then waiting for them. Mr. Glascock immediately offered Lady Rowley his arm, and took her down to the hall. Could it be that she was leaning upon a future son-in-law? There was something in the thought which made her lay her weight upon him with a freedom which she would not otherwise have used. Oh!—that her Nora should live to be Lady Peterborough! We are apt to abuse mothers for wanting high husbands for their daughters;—but can there be any point in which the true maternal instinct can shew itself with more affectionate enthusiasm? This poor mother wanted nothing for herself from Mr. Glascock. She knew very well that it was her fate to go back to the Mandarins, and probably to die there. She knew also that such men as Mr. Glascock, when they marry beneath themselves in rank and fortune, will not ordinarily trouble themselves much with their mothers-in-law. There was nothing desired for herself. Were such a match accomplished, she might, perhaps, indulge herself in talking among the planters' wives of her daughter's coronet; but at the present moment there was no idea even of this in her mind. It was of Nora herself, and of Nora's sisters, that she was thinking,—for them that she was plotting,—that the one might be rich and splendid, and the others have some path opened for them to riches and splendour. Husband-hunting mothers may be injudicious; but surely they are maternal and unselfish. Mr. Glascock put her into the carriage, and squeezed her hand;—and then he squeezed Nora's hand. She saw it, and was sure of it. "I am so glad you are going to be happy," Nora had said to him before this. "As far as I have seen her, I like her so much." "If you do not come and visit her in her own house, I shall think you have no spirit of friendship," he said. "I will," Nora had replied;—"I will." This had been said up-stairs, just as Lady Rowley was coming to them, and on this understanding, on this footing, Mr. Glascock had pressed her hand.
As she went home, Lady Rowley's mind was full of doubt as to the course which it was best that she should follow with her daughter. She was not unaware how great was the difficulty before her. Hugh Stanbury's name had not been mentioned since they left London, but at that time Nora was obstinately bent on throwing herself away upon the "penny-a-liner." She had never been brought to acknowledge that such a marriage would be even inappropriate, and had withstood gallantly the expression of her father's displeasure. But with such a spirit as Nora's, it might be easier to prevail by silence than by many words. Lady Rowley was quite sure of this,—that it would be far better to say nothing further of Hugh Stanbury. Let the cure come, if it might be possible, from absence and from her daughter's good sense. The only question was whether it would be wise to say any word about Mr. Glascock. In the carriage she was not only forbearing but flattering in her manner to Nora. She caressed her girl's hand and spoke to her,—as mothers know how to speak when they want to make much of their girls, and to have it understood that those girls are behaving as girls should behave. There was to be nobody to meet them to-night, as it had been arranged that Sir Marmaduke and Mrs. Trevelyan should sleep at Siena. Hardly a word had been spoken in the carriage; but up-stairs, in their drawing-room, there came a moment in which Lucy and Sophie had left them, and Nora was alone with her mother. Lady Rowley almost knew that it would be most prudent to be silent;—but a word spoken in season;—how good it is! And the thing was so near to her that she could not hold her peace. "I must say, Nora," she began, "that I do like your Mr. Glascock."
"He is not my Mr. Glascock, mamma," said Nora, smiling.
"You know what I mean, dear." Lady Rowley had not intended to utter a word that should appear like pressure on her daughter at this moment. She had felt how imprudent it would be to do so. But now Nora seemed to be leading the way herself to such discourse. "Of course, he is not your Mr. Glascock. You cannot eat your cake and have it, nor can you throw it away and have it."
"I have thrown my cake away altogether, and certainly I cannot have it." She was still smiling as she spoke, and seemed to be quite merry at the idea of regarding Mr. Glascock as the cake which she had declined to eat.
"I can see one thing quite plainly, dear."
"What is that, mamma?"
"That in spite of what you have done, you can still have your cake whenever you choose to take it."
"Why, mamma, he is engaged to be married!"
"Yes, Mr. Glascock. It's quite settled. Is it not sad?"
"To whom is he engaged?" Lady Rowley's solemnity as she asked this question was piteous to behold.
"To Miss Spalding,—Caroline Spalding."
"The eldest of those nieces?"
"I cannot believe it."
"Mamma, they both told me so. I have sworn an eternal friendship with her already."
"I did not see you speaking to her."
"But I did talk to her a great deal."
"And he is really going to marry that dreadful woman?"
"Perfectly awful! She talked to me in a way that I have read about in books, but which I did not before believe to be possible. Do you mean that he is going to be married to that hideous old maid,—that bell-clapper?"
"Oh, mamma, what slander! I think her so pretty."
"Very pretty. And, mamma, ought I not to be happy that he should have been able to make himself so happy? It was quite, quite, quite impossible that I should have been his wife. I have thought about it ever so much, and I am so glad of it! I think she is just the girl that is fit for him."
Lady Rowley took her candle and went to bed, professing to herself that she could not understand it. But what did it signify? It was, at any rate, certain now that the man had put himself out of Nora's reach, and if he chose to marry a republican virago, with a red nose, it could now make no difference to Nora. Lady Rowley almost felt a touch of satisfaction in reflecting on the future misery of his married life.
Sir Marmaduke had been told at the Florence post-office that he would no doubt be able to hear tidings of Trevelyan, and to learn his address, from the officials in the post-office at Siena. At Florence he had been introduced to some gentleman who was certainly of importance,—a superintendent who had clerks under him and who was a big man. This person had been very courteous to him, and he had gone to Siena thinking that he would find it easy to obtain Trevelyan's address,—or to learn that there was no such person there. But at Siena he and his courier together could obtain no information. They rambled about the huge cathedral and the picturesque market-place of that quaint old city for the whole day, and on the next morning after breakfast they returned to Florence. They had learned nothing. The young man at the post-office had simply protested that he knew nothing of the name of Trevelyan. If letters should come addressed to such a name, he would keep them till they were called for; but, to the best of his knowledge, he had never seen or heard the name. At the guard-house of the gendarmerie they could not, or would not, give him any information, and Sir Marmaduke came back with an impression that everybody at Siena was ignorant, idiotic, and brutal. Mrs. Trevelyan was so dispirited as to be ill, and both Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley were disposed to think that the world was all against them. "You have no conception of the sort of woman that man is going to marry," said Lady Rowley.
"Mr. Glascock! A horrid American female, as old almost as I am, who talks through her nose, and preaches sermons about the rights of women. It is incredible! And Nora might have had him just for lifting up her hand." But Sir Marmaduke could not interest himself much about Mr. Glascock. When he had been told that his daughter had refused the heir to a great estate and a peerage, it had been matter of regret; but he had looked upon the affair as done, and cared nothing now though Mr. Glascock should marry a transatlantic Xantippe. He was angry with Nora because by her obstinacy she was adding to the general perplexities of the family, but he could not make comparisons on Mr. Glascock's behalf between her and Miss Spalding,—as his wife was doing, either mentally or aloud, from hour to hour. "I suppose it is too late now," said Lady Rowley, shaking her head.
"Of course it is too late. The man must marry whom he pleases. I am beginning to wonder that anybody should ever want to get married. I am indeed."
"But what are the girls to do?"
"I don't know what anybody is to do. Here is a man as mad as a March hare, and yet nobody can touch him. If it was not for the child, I should advise Emily to put him out of her head altogether."
But though Sir Marmaduke could not bring himself to take any interest in Mr. Glascock's affairs, and would not ask a single question respecting the fearful American female whom this unfortunate man was about to translate to the position of an English peeress, yet circumstances so fell out that before three days were over he and Mr. Glascock were thrown together in very intimate relations. Sir Marmaduke had learned that Mr. Glascock was the only Englishman in Florence to whom Trevelyan had been known, and that he was the only person with whom Trevelyan had been seen to speak while passing through the city. In his despair, therefore, Sir Marmaduke had gone to Mr. Glascock, and it was soon arranged that the two gentlemen should renew the search at Siena together, without having with them either Mrs. Trevelyan or the courier. Mr. Glascock knew the ways of the people better than did Sir Marmaduke, and could speak the language. He obtained a passport to the good offices of the police of Siena, and went prepared to demand rather than to ask for assistance. They started very early, before breakfast, and on arriving at Siena at about noon, first employed themselves in recruiting exhausted nature. By the time that they had both declared that the hotel at Siena was the very worst in all Italy, and that a breakfast without eatable butter was not to be considered a breakfast at all, they had become so intimate that Mr. Glascock spoke of his own intended marriage. He must have done this with the conviction on his mind that Nora Rowley would have told her mother of his former intention, and that Lady Rowley would have told Sir Marmaduke; but he did not feel it to be incumbent on himself to say anything on that subject. He had nothing to excuse. He had behaved fairly and honourably. It was not to be expected that he should remain unmarried for ever for the sake of a girl who had twice refused him. "Of course there are very many in England," he said, "who will think me foolish to marry a girl from another country."
"It is done every day," said Sir Marmaduke.
"No doubt it is. I admit, however, that I ought to be more careful than some other persons. There is a title and an estate to be perpetuated, and I cannot, perhaps, be justified in taking quite so much liberty as some other men may do; but I think I have chosen a woman born to have a high position, and who will make her own way in any society in which she may be placed."
"I have no doubt she will," said Sir Marmaduke, who had still sounding in his ears the alarming description which his wife had given him of this infatuated man's proposed bride. But he would have been bound to say as much had Mr. Glascock intended to marry as lowly as did King Cophetua.
"She is highly educated, gentle-mannered, as sweetly soft as any English girl I ever met, and very pretty. You have met her, I think."
"I do not remember that I have observed her."
"She is too young for me, perhaps," said Mr. Glascock; "but that is a fault on the right side." Sir Marmaduke, as he wiped his beard after his breakfast, remembered what his wife had told him about the lady's age. But it was nothing to him. "She is four-and-twenty, I think," said Mr. Glascock. If Mr. Glascock chose to believe that his intended wife was four-and-twenty instead of something over forty, that was nothing to Sir Marmaduke.
"The very best age in the world," said he.
They had sent for an officer of the police, and before they had been three hours in Siena they had been told that Trevelyan lived about seven miles from the town, in a small and very remote country house, which he had hired for twelve months from one of the city hospitals. He had hired it furnished, and had purchased a horse and small carriage from a man in the town. To this man they went, and it soon became evident to them that he of whom they were in search was living at this house, which was called Casalunga, and was not, as the police officer told them, on the way to any place. They must leave Siena by the road for Rome, take a turn to the left about a mile beyond the city gate, and continue on along the country lane till they saw a certain round hill to the right. On the top of that round hill was Casalunga. As the country about Siena all lies in round hills, this was no adequate description;—but it was suggested that the country people would know all about it. They got a small open carriage in the market-place, and were driven out. Their driver knew nothing of Casalunga, and simply went whither he was told. But by the aid of the country people they got along over the unmade lanes, and in little more than an hour were told, at the bottom of the hill, that they must now walk up to Casalunga. Though the hill was round-topped, and no more than a hill, still the ascent at last was very steep, and was paved with stones set edgeway in a manner that could hardly have been intended to accommodate wheels. When Mr. Glascock asserted that the signor who lived there had a carriage of his own, the driver suggested that he must keep it at the bottom of the hill. It was clearly not his intention to attempt to drive up the ascent, and Sir Marmaduke and Mr. Glascock were therefore obliged to walk. It was now in the latter half of May, and there was a blazing Italian sky over their heads. Mr. Glascock was acclimated to Italian skies, and did not much mind the work; but Sir Marmaduke, who never did much in walking, declared that Italy was infinitely hotter than the Mandarins, and could hardly make his way as far as the house door.
It seemed to both of them to be a most singular abode for such a man as Trevelyan. At the top of the hill there was a huge entrance through a wooden gateway, which seemed to have been constructed with the intention of defying any intruders not provided with warlike ammunition. The gates were, indeed, open at the period of their visit, but it must be supposed that they were intended to be closed at any rate at night. Immediately on the right, as they entered through the gates, there was a large barn, in which two men were coopering wine vats. From thence a path led slanting to the house, of which the door was shut, and all the front windows blocked with shutters. The house was very long, and only of one story for a portion of its length. Over that end at which the door was placed there were upper rooms, and there must have been space enough for a large family with many domestics. There was nothing round or near the residence which could be called a garden, so that its look of desolation was extreme. There were various large barns and outhouses, as though it had been intended by the builder that corn and hay and cattle should be kept there; but it seemed now that there was nothing there except the empty vats at which the two men were coopering. Had the Englishmen gone farther into the granary, they would have seen that there were wine-presses stored away in the dark corners.
They stopped and looked at the men, and the men halted for a moment from their work and looked at them; but the men spoke never a word. Mr. Glascock then asked after Mr. Trevelyan, and one of the coopers pointed to the house. Then they crossed over to the door, and Mr. Glascock finding there neither knocker nor bell, first tapped with his knuckles, and then struck with his stick. But no one came. There was not a sound in the house, and no shutter was removed. "I don't believe that there is a soul here," said Sir Marmaduke.
"We'll not give it up till we've seen it all at any rate," said Mr. Glascock. And so they went round to the other front.
On this side of the house the tilled ground, either ploughed or dug with the spade, came up to the very windows. There was hardly even a particle of grass to be seen. A short way down the hill there were rows of olive trees, standing in prim order and at regular distances, from which hung the vines that made the coopering of the vats necessary. Olives and vines have pretty names, and call up associations of landscape beauty. But here they were in no way beautiful. The ground beneath them was turned up, and brown, and arid, so that there was not a blade of grass to be seen. On some furrows the maize or Indian corn was sprouting, and there were patches of growth of other kinds,—each patch closely marked by its own straight lines; and there were narrow paths, so constructed as to take as little room as possible. But all that had been done had been done for economy, and nothing for beauty. The occupiers of Casalunga had thought more of the produce of their land than of picturesque or attractive appearance.
The sun was blazing fiercely hot, hotter on this side, Sir Marmaduke thought, even than on the other; and there was not a wavelet of a cloud in the sky. A balcony ran the whole length of the house, and under this Sir Marmaduke took shelter at once, leaning with his back against the wall. "There is not a soul here at all," said he.
"The men in the barn told us that there was," said Mr. Glascock; "and, at any rate, we will try the windows." So saying, he walked along the front of the house, Sir Marmaduke following him slowly, till they came to a door, the upper half of which was glazed, and through which they looked into one of the rooms. Two or three of the other windows in this frontage of the house came down to the ground, and were made for egress and ingress; but they had all been closed with shutters, as though the house was deserted. But they now looked into a room which contained some signs of habitation. There was a small table with a marble top, on which lay two or three books, and there were two arm-chairs in the room, with gilded arms and legs, and a morsel of carpet, and a clock on a shelf over a stove, and—a rocking-horse. "The boy is here, you may be sure," said Mr. Glascock. "The rocking-horse makes that certain. But how are we to get at any one!"
"I never saw such a place for an Englishman to come and live in before," said Sir Marmaduke. "What on earth can he do here all day!" As he spoke the door of the room was opened, and there was Trevelyan standing before them, looking at them through the window. He wore an old red English dressing-gown, which came down to his feet, and a small braided Italian cap on his head. His beard had been allowed to grow, and he had neither collar nor cravat. His trousers were unbraced, and he shuffled in with a pair of slippers, which would hardly cling to his feet. He was paler and still thinner than when he had been visited at Willesden, and his eyes seemed to be larger, and shone almost with a brighter brilliancy.
Mr. Glascock tried to open the door, but found that it was closed. "Sir Marmaduke and I have come to visit you," said Mr. Glascock, aloud. "Is there any means by which we can get into the house?" Trevelyan stood still and stared at them. "We knocked at the front door, but nobody came," continued Mr. Glascock. "I suppose this is the way you usually go in and out."
"He does not mean to let us in," whispered Sir Marmaduke.
"Can you open this door," said Mr. Glascock, "or shall we go round again?" Trevelyan had stood still contemplating them, but at last came forward and put back the bolt. "That is all right," said Mr. Glascock, entering. "I am sure you will be glad to see Sir Marmaduke."
"I should be glad to see him,—or you, if I could entertain you," said Trevelyan. His voice was harsh and hard, and his words were uttered with a certain amount of intended grandeur. "Any of the family would be welcome were it not—"
"Were it not what?" asked Mr. Glascock.
"It can be nothing to you, sir, what troubles I have here. This is my own abode, in which I had flattered myself that I could be free from intruders. I do not want visitors. I am sorry that you should have had trouble in coming here, but I do not want visitors. I am very sorry that I have nothing that I can offer you, Mr. Glascock."
"Emily is in Florence," said Sir Marmaduke.
"Who brought her? Did I tell her to come? Let her go back to her home. I have come here to be free from her, and I mean to be free. If she wants my money, let her take it."
"She wants her child," said Mr. Glascock.
"He is my child," said Trevelyan, "and my right to him is better than hers. Let her try it in a court of law, and she shall see. Why did she deceive me with that man? Why has she driven me to this? Look here, Mr. Glascock;—my whole life is spent in this seclusion, and it is her fault."
"Your wife is innocent of all fault, Trevelyan," said Mr. Glascock.
"Any woman can say as much as that;—and all women do say it. Yet,—what are they worth?"
"Do you mean, sir, to take away your wife's character?" said Sir Marmaduke, coming up in wrath. "Remember that she is my daughter, and that there are things which flesh and blood cannot stand."
"She is my wife, sir, and that is ten times more. Do you think that you would do more for her than I would do,—drink more of Esill? You had better go away, Sir Marmaduke. You can do no good by coming here and talking of your daughter. I would have given the world to save her;—but she would not be saved."
"You are a slanderer!" said Sir Marmaduke, in his wrath.
Mr. Glascock turned round to the father, and tried to quiet him. It was so manifest to him that the balance of the poor man's mind was gone, that it seemed to him to be ridiculous to upbraid the sufferer. He was such a piteous sight to behold, that it was almost impossible to feel indignation against him. "You cannot wonder," said Mr. Glascock, advancing close to the master of the house, "that the mother should want to see her only child. You do not wish that your wife should be the most wretched woman in the world."
"Am not I the most wretched of men? Can anything be more wretched than this? Is her life worse than mine? And whose fault was it? Had I any friend to whom she objected? Was I untrue to her in a single thought?"
"If you say that she was untrue, it is a falsehood," said Sir Marmaduke.
"You allow yourself a liberty of expression, sir, because you are my wife's father," said Trevelyan, "which you would not dare to take in other circumstances."
"I say that it is a false calumny,—a lie! and I would say so to any man on earth who should dare to slander my child's name."
"Your child, sir! She is my wife;—my wife;—my wife!" Trevelyan, as he spoke, advanced close up to his father-in-law; and at last hissed out his words, with his lips close to Sir Marmaduke's face. "Your right in her is gone, sir. She is mine,—mine,—mine! And you see the way in which she has treated me, Mr. Glascock. Everything I had was hers; but the words of a grey-haired sinner were sweeter to her than all my love. I wonder whether you think that it is a pleasant thing for such a one as I to come out here and live in such a place as this? I have not a friend,—a companion,—hardly a book. There is nothing that I can eat or drink. I do not stir out of the house,—and I am ill;—very ill! Look at me. See what she has brought me to! Mr. Glascock, on my honour as a man, I never wronged her in a thought or a word."
Mr. Glascock had come to think that his best chance of doing any good was to get Trevelyan into conversation with himself, free from the interruption of Sir Marmaduke. The father of the injured woman could not bring himself to endure the hard words that were spoken of his daughter. During this last speech he had broken out once or twice; but Trevelyan, not heeding him, had clung to Mr. Glascock's arm. "Sir Marmaduke," said he, "would you not like to see the boy?"
"He shall not see the boy," said Trevelyan. "You may see him. He shall not. What is he that he should have control over me?"
"This is the most fearful thing I ever heard of," said Sir Marmaduke. "What are we to do with him?"
Mr. Glascock whispered a few words to Sir Marmaduke, and then declared that he was ready to be taken to the child. "And he will remain here?" asked Trevelyan. A pledge was then given by Sir Marmaduke that he would not force his way farther into the house, and the two other men left the chamber together. Sir Marmaduke, as he paced up and down the room alone, perspiring at every pore, thoroughly uncomfortable and ill at ease, thought of all the hard positions of which he had ever read, and that his was harder than them all. Here was a man married to his daughter, in possession of his daughter's child, manifestly mad,—and yet he could do nothing to him! He was about to return to the seat of his government, and he must leave his own child in this madman's power! Of course, his daughter could not go with him, leaving her child in this madman's hands. He had been told that even were he to attempt to prove the man to be mad in Italy, the process would be slow; and, before it could be well commenced, Trevelyan would be off with the child elsewhere. There never was an embarrassment, thought Sir Marmaduke, out of which it was so impossible to find a clear way.
In the meantime, Mr. Glascock and Trevelyan were visiting the child. It was evident that the father, let him be ever so mad, had discerned the expediency of allowing some one to see that his son was alive and in health. Mr. Glascock did not know much of children, and could only say afterwards that the boy was silent and very melancholy, but clean, and apparently well. It appeared that he was taken out daily by his father in the cool hours of the morning, and that his father hardly left him from the time that he was taken up till he was put to bed. But Mr. Glascock's desire was to see Trevelyan alone, and this he did after they had left the boy. "And now, Trevelyan," he said, "what do you mean to do?"
"In what way do you propose to live? I want you to be reasonable with me."
"They do not treat me reasonably."
"Are you going to measure your own conduct by that of other people? In the first place, you should go back to England. What good can you do here?" Trevelyan shook his head, but remained silent. "You cannot like this life."
"No, indeed. But whither can I go now that I shall like to live?"
"Why not home?"
"I have no home."
"Why not go back to England? Ask your wife to join you, and return with her. She would go at a word." The poor wretch again shook his head. "I hope you think that I speak as your friend," said Mr. Glascock.
"I believe you do."
"I will say nothing of any imprudence; but you cannot believe that she has been untrue to you?" Trevelyan would say nothing to this, but stood silent waiting for Mr. Glascock to continue. "Let her come back to you—here; and then, as soon as you can arrange it, go to your own home."
"Shall I tell you something?" said Trevelyan.
"What is it?"
He came up close to Mr. Glascock, and put his hand upon his visitor's shoulder. "I will tell you what she would do at once. I dare say that she would come to me. I dare say that she would go with me. I am sure she would. And directly she got me there, she would—say that I was—mad! She,—my wife, would do it! He,—that furious, ignorant old man below, tried to do it before. His wife said that I was mad." He paused a moment, as though waiting for a reply; but Mr. Glascock had none to make. It had not been his object, in the advice which he had given, to entrap the poor fellow by a snare, and to induce him so to act that he should deliver himself up to keepers; but he was well aware that wherever Trevelyan might be, it would be desirable that he should be placed for awhile in the charge of some physician. He could not bring himself at the spur of the moment to repudiate the idea by which Trevelyan was actuated. "Perhaps you think that she would be right?" said Trevelyan.
"I am quite sure that she would do nothing that is not for the best," said Mr. Glascock.
"I can see it all. I will not go back to England, Mr. Glascock. I intend to travel. I shall probably leave this and go to—to—to Greece, perhaps. It is a healthy place, this, and I like it for that reason; but I shall not stay here. If my wife likes to travel with me, she can come. But,—to England I will not go."
"You will let the child go to his mother?"
"Certainly not. If she wants to see the child, he is here. If she will come,—without her father,—she shall see him. She shall not take him from hence. Nor shall she return to live with me, without full acknowledgment of her fault, and promises of an amended life. I know what I am saying, Mr. Glascock, and have thought of these things perhaps more than you have done. I am obliged to you for coming to me; but now, if you please, I would prefer to be alone."
Mr. Glascock, seeing that nothing further could be done, joined Sir Marmaduke, and the two walked down to their carriage at the bottom of the hill. Mr. Glascock, as he went, declared his conviction that the unfortunate man was altogether mad, and that it would be necessary to obtain some interference on the part of the authorities for the protection of the child. How this could be done, or whether it could be done in time to intercept a further flight on the part of Trevelyan, Mr. Glascock could not say. It was his idea that Mrs. Trevelyan should herself go out to Casalunga, and try the force of her own persuasion.
"I believe that he would murder her," said Sir Marmaduke.
"He would not do that. There is a glimmer of sense in all his madness, which will keep him from any actual violence."
"I CAN SLEEP ON THE BOARDS."
Three days after this there came another carriage to the bottom of the hill on which Casalunga stood, and a lady got out of it all alone. It was Emily Trevelyan, and she had come thither from Siena in quest of her husband and her child. On the previous day Sir Marmaduke's courier had been at the house with a note from the wife to the husband, and had returned with an answer, in which Mrs. Trevelyan was told that, if she would come quite alone, she should see her child. Sir Marmaduke had been averse to any further intercourse with the man, other than what might be made in accordance with medical advice, and, if possible, with government authority. Lady Rowley had assented to her daughter's wish, but had suggested that she should at least be allowed to go also,—at any rate, as far as the bottom of the hill. But Emily had been very firm, and Mr. Glascock had supported her. He was confident that the man would do no harm to her, and he was indisposed to believe that any interference on the part of the Italian Government could be procured in such a case with sufficient celerity to be of use. He still thought it might be possible that the wife might prevail over the husband, or the mother over the father. Sir Marmaduke was at last obliged to yield, and Mrs. Trevelyan went to Siena with no other companion but the courier. From Siena she made the journey quite alone; and having learned the circumstances of the house from Mr. Glascock, she got out of the carriage, and walked up the hill. There were still the two men coopering at the vats, but she did not stay to speak to them. She went through the big gates, and along the slanting path to the door, not doubting of her way;—for Mr. Glascock had described it all to her, making a small plan of the premises, and even explaining to her the position of the room in which her boy and her husband slept. She found the door open, and an Italian maid-servant at once welcomed her to the house, and assured her that the signor would be with her immediately. She was sure that the girl knew that she was the boy's mother, and was almost tempted to ask questions at once as to the state of the household; but her knowledge of Italian was slight, and she felt that she was so utterly a stranger in the land that she could dare to trust no one. Though the heat was great, her face was covered with a thick veil. Her dress was black, from head to foot, and she was as a woman who mourned for her husband. She was led into the room which her father had been allowed to enter through the window; and here she sat, in her husband's house, feeling that in no position in the world could she be more utterly separated from the interests of all around her. In a few minutes the door was opened, and her husband was with her, bringing the boy in his hand. He had dressed himself with some care; but it may be doubted whether the garments which he wore did not make him appear thinner even and more haggard than he had looked to be in his old dressing-gown. He had not shaved himself, but his long hair was brushed back from his forehead, after a fashion quaint and very foreign to his former ideas of dress. His wife had not expected that her child would come to her at once,—had thought that some entreaties would be necessary, some obedience perhaps exacted from her, before she would be allowed to see him; and now her heart was softened, and she was grateful to her husband. But she could not speak to him till she had had the boy in her arms. She tore off her bonnet, and then clinging to the child, covered him with kisses. "Louey, my darling! Louey; you remember mamma?" The child pressed himself close to the mother's bosom, but spoke never a word. He was cowed and overcome, not only by the incidents of the moment, but by the terrible melancholy of his whole life. He had been taught to understand, without actual spoken lessons, that he was to live with his father, and that the former woman-given happinesses of his life were at an end. In this second visit from his mother he did not forget her. He recognised the luxury of her love; but it did not occur to him even to hope that she might have come to rescue him from the evil of his days. Trevelyan was standing by, the while, looking on; but he did not speak till she addressed him.
"I am so thankful to you for bringing him to me," she said.
"I told you that you should see him," he said. "Perhaps it might have been better that I should have sent him by a servant; but there are circumstances which make me fear to let him out of my sight."
"Do you think that I did not wish to see you also? Louis, why do you do me so much wrong? Why do you treat me with such cruelty?" Then she threw her arms round his neck, and before he could repulse her,—before he could reflect whether it would be well that he should repulse her or not,—she had covered his brow and cheeks and lips with kisses. "Louis," she said; "Louis, speak to me!"
"It is hard to speak sometimes," he said.
"You love me, Louis?"
"Yes;—I love you. But I am afraid of you!"
"What is it that you fear? I would give my life for you, if you would only come back to me and let me feel that you believed me to be true." He shook his head, and began to think,—while she still clung to him. He was quite sure that her father and mother had intended to bring a mad doctor down upon him, and he knew that his wife was in her mother's hands. Should he yield to her now,—should he make her any promise,—might not the result be that he would be shut up in dark rooms, robbed of his liberty, robbed of what he loved better than his liberty,—his power as a man. She would thus get the better of him and take the child, and the world would say that in this contest between him and her he had been the sinning one, and she the one against whom the sin had been done. It was the chief object of his mind, the one thing for which he was eager, that this should never come to pass. Let it once be conceded to him from all sides that he had been right, and then she might do with him almost as she willed. He knew well that he was ill. When he thought of his child, he would tell himself that he was dying. He was at some moments of his miserable existence fearfully anxious to come to terms with his wife, in order that at his death his boy might not be without a protector. Were he to die, then it would be better that his child should be with its mother. In his happy days, immediately after his marriage, he had made a will, in which he had left his entire property to his wife for her life, providing for its subsequent descent to his child,—or children. It had never even occurred to his poor shattered brain that it would be well for him to alter his will. Had he really believed that his wife had betrayed him, doubtless he would have done so. He would have hated her, have distrusted her altogether, and have believed her to be an evil thing. He had no such belief. But in his desire to achieve empire, and in the sorrows which had come upon him in his unsuccessful struggle, his mind had wavered so frequently, that his spoken words were no true indicators of his thoughts; and in all his arguments he failed to express either his convictions or his desires. When he would say something stronger than he intended, and it would be put to him by his wife, by her father or mother, or by some friend of hers, whether he did believe that she had been untrue to him, he would recoil from the answer which his heart would dictate, lest he should seem to make an acknowledgment that might weaken the ground upon which he stood. Then he would satisfy his own conscience by assuring himself that he had never accused her of such sin. She was still clinging to him now as his mind was working after this fashion. "Louis," she said, "let it all be as though there had been nothing."
"How can that be, my dear?"
"Not to others;—but to us it can be so. There shall be no word spoken of the past." Again he shook his head. "Will it not be best that there should be no word spoken?"
"'Forgiveness may be spoken with the tongue,'" he said, beginning to quote from a poem which had formerly been frequent in his hands.
"Cannot there be real forgiveness between you and me,—between husband and wife who, in truth, love each other? Do you think that I would tell you of it again?" He felt that in all that she said there was an assumption that she had been right, and that he had been wrong. She was promising to forgive. She was undertaking to forget. She was willing to take him back to the warmth of her love, and the comfort of her kindness,—but was not asking to be taken back. This was what he could not and would not endure. He had determined that if she behaved well to him, he would not be harsh to her, and he was struggling to keep up to his resolve. He would accuse her of nothing,—if he could help it. But he could not say a word that would even imply that she need forget,—that she should forgive. It was for him to forgive;—and he was willing to do it, if she would accept forgiveness. "I will never speak a word, Louis," she said, laying her head upon his shoulder.
"Your heart is still hardened," he replied slowly.
"Hard to you?"
"And your mind is dark. You do not see what you have done. In our religion, Emily, forgiveness is sure, not after penitence, but with repentance."
"What does that mean?"
"It means this, that though I would welcome you back to my arms with joy, I cannot do so, till you have—confessed your fault."
"What fault, Louis? If I have made you unhappy, I do, indeed, grieve that it has been so."
"It is of no use," said he. "I cannot talk about it. Do you suppose that it does not tear me to the very soul to think of it?"
"What is it that you think, Louis?" As she had been travelling thither, she had determined that she would say anything that he wished her to say,—make any admission that might satisfy him. That she could be happy again as other women are happy, she did not expect; but if it could be conceded between them that bygones should be bygones, she might live with him and do her duty, and, at least, have her child with her. Her father had told her that her husband was mad; but she was willing to put up with his madness on such terms as these. What could her husband do to her in his madness that he could not do also to the child? "Tell me what you want me to say, and I will say it," she said.
"You have sinned against me," he said, raising her head gently from his shoulder.
"Never!" she exclaimed. "As God is my judge, I never have!" As she said this, she retreated and took the sobbing boy again into her arms.
He was at once placed upon his guard, telling himself that he saw the necessity of holding by his child. How could he tell? Might there not be a policeman down from Florence, ready round the house, to seize the boy and carry him away? Though all his remaining life should be a torment to him, though infinite plagues should be poured upon his head, though he should die like a dog, alone, unfriended, and in despair, while he was fighting this battle of his, he would not give way. "That is sufficient," he said. "Louey must return now to his own chamber."
"I may go with him?"
"No, Emily. You cannot go with him now. I will thank you to release him, that I may take him." She still held the little fellow closely pressed in her arms. "Do not reward me for my courtesy by further disobedience," he said.
"You will let me come again?" To this he made no reply. "Tell me that I may come again."
"I do not think that I shall remain here long."
"And I may not stay now?"
"That would be impossible. There is no accommodation for you."
"I could sleep on the boards beside his cot," said Mrs. Trevelyan.
"That is my place," he replied. "You may know that he is not disregarded. With my own hands I tend him every morning. I take him out myself. I feed him myself. He says his prayers to me. He learns from me, and can say his letters nicely. You need not fear for him. No mother was ever more tender with her child than I am with him." Then he gently withdrew the boy from her arms, and she let her child go, lest he should learn to know that there was a quarrel between his father and his mother. "If you will excuse me," he said, "I will not come down to you again to-day. My servant will see you to your carriage."
So he left her; and she, with an Italian girl at her heels, got into her vehicle, and was taken back to Siena. There she passed the night alone at the inn, and on the next morning returned to Florence by the railway.
"WILL THEY DESPISE HIM?"
Gradually the news of the intended marriage between Mr. Glascock and Miss Spalding spread itself over Florence, and people talked about it with that energy which subjects of such moment certainly deserve. That Caroline Spalding had achieved a very great triumph, was, of course, the verdict of all men and of all women; and I fear that there was a corresponding feeling that poor Mr. Glascock had been triumphed over, and as it were, subjugated. In some respects he had been remiss in his duties as a bachelor visitor to Florence,—as a visitor to Florence who had manifestly been much in want of a wife. He had not given other girls a fair chance, but had thrown himself down at the feet of this American female in the weakest possible manner. And then it got about the town that he had been refused over and over again by Nora Rowley. It is too probable that Lady Rowley in her despair and dismay had been indiscreet, and had told secrets which should never have been mentioned by her. And the wife of the English minister, who had some grudges of her own, lifted her eyebrows and shook her head and declared that all the Glascocks at home would be outraged to the last degree. "My dear Lady Rowley," she said, "I don't know whether it won't become a question with them whether they should issue a commission de lunatico." Lady Rowley did not know what a commission de lunatico meant, but was quite willing to regard poor Mr. Glascock as a lunatic. "And there is poor Lord Peterborough at Naples just at death's door," continued the British Minister's wife. In this she was perhaps nearly correct; but as Lord Peterborough had now been in the same condition for many months, as his mind had altogether gone, and as the doctor declared that he might live in his present condition for a year, or for years, it could not fairly be said that Mr. Glascock was acting without due filial feeling in engaging himself to marry a young lady. "And she such a creature!" said Lady Rowley, with emphasis. This the British Minister's wife noticed simply by shaking her head. Caroline Spalding was undoubtedly a pretty girl; but, as the British Minister's wife said afterwards, it was not surprising that poor Lady Rowley should be nearly out of her mind.
This had occurred a full week after the evening spent at Mr. Spalding's house; and even yet Lady Rowley had never been put right as to that mistake of hers about Wallachia Petrie. That other trouble of hers, and her eldest daughter's journey to Siena, had prevented them from going out; and though the matter had often been discussed between Lady Rowley and Nora, there had not as yet come between them any proper explanation. Nora would declare that the future bride was very pretty and very delightful; and Lady Rowley would throw up her hands in despair and protest that her daughter was insane. "Why should he not marry whom he likes, mamma?" Nora once said, almost with indignation.
"Because he will disgrace his family."
"I cannot understand what you mean, mamma. They are, at any rate, as good as we are. Mr. Spalding stands quite as high as papa does."
"She is an American," said Lady Rowley.
"And her family might say that he is an Englishman," said Nora.
"My dear, if you do not understand the incongruity between an English peer and a Yankee—female, I cannot help you. I suppose it is because you have been brought up within the limited society of a small colony. If so, it is not your fault. But I had hoped you had been in Europe long enough to have learned what was what. Do you think, my dear, that she will look well when she is presented to her Majesty as Lord Peterborough's wife?"
"Splendid," said Nora. "She has just the brow for a coronet."
"Heavens and earth!" said Lady Rowley, throwing up her hands. "And you believe that he will be proud of her in England?"
"I am sure he will."
"My belief is that he will leave her behind him, or that they will settle somewhere in the wilds of America,—out in Mexico, or Massachusetts, or the Rocky Mountains. I do not think that he will have the courage to shew her in London."
The marriage was to take place in the Protestant church at Florence early in June, and then the bride and bridegroom were to go over the Alps, and to remain there subject to tidings as to the health of the old man at Naples. Mr. Glascock had thrown up his seat in Parliament, some month or two ago, knowing that he could not get back to his duties during the present session, and feeling that he would shortly be called upon to sit in the other House. He was thus free to use his time and to fix his days as he pleased; and it was certainly clear to those who knew him, that he was not ashamed of his American bride. He spent much of his time at the Spaldings' house, and was always to be seen with them in the Cascine and at the Opera. Mrs. Spalding, the aunt, was, of course, in great glory. A triumphant, happy, or even simply a splendid marriage, for the rising girl of a family is a great glory to the maternal mind. Mrs. Spalding could not but be aware that the very air around her seemed to breathe congratulations into her ears. Her friends spoke to her, even on indifferent subjects, as though everything was going well with her,—better with her than with anybody else; and there came upon her in these days a dangerous feeling, that in spite of all the preachings of the preachers, the next world might perhaps be not so very much better than this. She was, in fact, the reverse of the medal of which poor Lady Rowley filled the obverse. And the American Minister was certainly an inch taller than before, and made longer speeches, being much more regardless of interruption. Olivia was delighted at her sister's success, and heard with rapture the description of Monkhams, which came to her second-hand through her sister. It was already settled that she was to spend her next Christmas at Monkhams, and perhaps there might be an idea in her mind that there were other eldest sons of old lords who would like American brides. Everything around Caroline Spalding was pleasant,—except the words of Wallachia Petrie.
Everything around her was pleasant till there came to her a touch of a suspicion that the marriage which Mr. Glascock was going to make would be detrimental to her intended husband in his own country. There were many in Florence who were saying this besides the wife of the English Minister and Lady Rowley. Of course Caroline Spalding herself was the last to hear it, and to her the idea was brought by Wallachia Petrie. "I wish I could think you would make yourself happy,—or him," Wallachia had said, croaking.
"Why should I fail to make him happy?"
"Because you are not of the same blood, or race, or manners as himself. They say that he is very wealthy in his own country, and that those who live around him will look coldly on you."
"So that he does not look coldly, I do not care how others may look," said Caroline proudly.
"But when he finds that he has injured himself by such a marriage in the estimation of all his friends,—how will it be then?"
This set Caroline Spalding thinking of what she was doing. She began to realise the feeling that perhaps she might not be a fit bride for an English lord's son, and in her agony she came to Nora Rowley for counsel. After all, how little was it that she knew of the home and the country to which she was to be carried! She might not, perhaps, get adequate advice from Nora, but she would probably learn something on which she could act. There was no one else among the English at Florence to whom she could speak with freedom. When she mentioned her fears to her aunt, her aunt of course laughed at her. Mrs. Spalding told her that Mr. Glascock might be presumed to know his own business best, and that she, as an American lady of high standing,—the niece of a minister!—was a fitting match for any Englishman, let him be ever so much a lord. But Caroline was not comforted by this, and in her suspense she went to Nora Rowley. She wrote a line to Nora, and when she called at the hotel, was taken up to her friend's bed-room. She found great difficulty in telling her story, but she did tell it. "Miss Rowley," she said, "if this is a silly thing that he is going to do, I am bound to save him from his own folly. You know your own country better than I do. Will they think that he has disgraced himself?"
"Certainly not that," said Nora.
"Shall I be a load round his neck? Miss Rowley, for my own sake I would not endure such a position as that, not even though I love him. But for his sake! Think of that. If I find that people think ill of him,—because of me—!"
"No one will think ill of him."
"Is it esteemed needful that such a one as he should marry a woman of his own rank? I can bear to end it all now; but I shall not be able to bear his humiliation, and my own despair, if I find that I have injured him. Tell me plainly,—is it a marriage that he should not make?" Nora paused for a while before she answered, and as she sat silent the other girl watched her face carefully. Nora on being thus consulted, was very careful that her tongue should utter nothing that was not her true opinion as best she knew how to express it. Her sympathy would have prompted her to give such an answer as would at once have made Caroline happy in her mind. She would have been delighted to have been able to declare that these doubts were utterly groundless, and this hesitation needless. But she conceived that she owed it as a duty from one woman to another to speak the truth as she conceived it on so momentous an occasion, and she was not sure but that Mr. Glascock would be considered by his friends in England to be doing badly in marrying an American girl. What she did not remember was this,—that her very hesitation was in fact an answer, and such an answer as she was most unwilling to give. "I see that it would be so," said Caroline Spalding.
"What then? Will they despise him,—and me?"
"No one who knows you can despise you. No one who sees you can fail to admire you." Nora, as she said this, thought of her mother, but told herself at once that in this matter her mother's judgment had been altogether destroyed by her disappointment. "What I think will take place will be this. His family, when first they hear of it, will be sorry."
"Then," said Caroline, "I will put an end to it."
"You can't do that, dear. You are engaged, and you haven't a right. I am engaged to a man, and all my friends object to it. But I shan't put an end to it. I don't think I have a right. I shall not do it any way, however."
"But if it were for his good?"
"It couldn't be for his good. He and I have got to go along together somehow."
"You wouldn't hurt him," said Caroline.
"I won't if I can help it, but he has got to take me along with him any how; and Mr. Glascock has got to take you. If I were you, I shouldn't ask any more questions."
"It isn't the same. You said that you were to be poor, but he is very rich. And I am beginning to understand that these titles of yours are something like kings' crowns. The man who has to wear them can't do just as he pleases with them. Noblesse oblige. I can see the meaning of that, even when the obligation itself is trumpery in its nature. If it is a man's duty to marry a Talbot because he's a Howard, I suppose he ought to do his duty." After a pause she went on again. "I do believe that I have made a mistake. It seemed to be absurd at the first to think of it, but I do believe it now. Even what you say to me makes me think it."
"At any rate you can't go back," said Nora enthusiastically.
"I will try."
"Go to himself and ask him. You must leave him to decide it at last. I don't see how a girl when she is engaged, is to throw a man over unless he consents. Of course you can throw yourself into the Arno."
"And get the water into my shoes,—for it wouldn't do much more at present."
"And you can—jilt him," said Nora.
"It would not be jilting him."
"He must decide that. If he so regards it, it will be so. I advise you to think no more about it; but if you speak to anybody it should be to him." This was at last the result of Nora's wisdom, and then the two girls descended together to the room in which Lady Rowley was sitting with her other daughters. Lady Rowley was very careful in asking after Miss Spalding's sister, and Miss Spalding assured her that Olivia was quite well. Then Lady Rowley made some inquiry about Olivia and Mr. Glascock, and Miss Spalding assured her that no two persons were ever such allies, and that she believed that they were together at this moment investigating some old church. Lady Rowley simpered, and declared that nothing could be more proper, and expressed a hope that Olivia would like England. Caroline Spalding, having still in her mind the trouble that had brought her to Nora, had not much to say about this. "If she goes again to England I am sure she will like it," replied Miss Spalding.
"But of course she is going," said Lady Rowley.
"Of course she will some day, and of course she'll like it," said Miss Spalding. "We both of us have been there already."
"But I mean Monkhams," said Lady Rowley, still simpering.
"I declare I believe mamma thinks that your sister is to be married to Mr. Glascock!" said Lucy.
"And so she is;—isn't she?" said Lady Rowley.
"Oh, mamma!" said Nora, jumping up. "It is Caroline;—this one, this one, this one,"—and Nora took her friend by the arm as she spoke,—"it is this one that is to be Mrs. Glascock."
"It is a most natural mistake to make," said Caroline.
Lady Rowley became very red in the face, and was unhappy. "I declare," she said, "that they told me it was your elder sister."
"But I have no elder sister," said Caroline, laughing.
"Of course she is oldest," said Nora,—"and looks to be so, ever so much. Don't you, Miss Spalding?"
"I have always supposed so."
"I don't understand it at all," said Lady Rowley, who had no image before her mind's eye but that of Wallachia Petrie, and who was beginning to feel that she had disgraced her own judgment by the criticisms she had expressed everywhere as to Mr. Glascock's bride. "I don't understand it at all. Do you mean that both your sisters are younger than you, Miss Spalding?"
"I have only got one, Lady Rowley."
"Mamma, you are thinking of Miss Petrie," said Nora, clapping both her hands together.
"I mean the lady that wears the black bugles."
"Of course you do;—Miss Petrie. Mamma has all along thought that Mr. Glascock was going to carry away with him the republican Browning!"
"Oh, mamma, how can you have made such a blunder!" said Sophie Rowley. "Mamma does make such delicious blunders."
"Sophie, my dear, that is not a proper way of speaking."
"But, dear mamma, don't you?"
"If somebody has told me wrong, that has not been my fault," said Lady Rowley.
The poor woman was so evidently disconcerted that Caroline Spalding was quite unhappy. "My dear Lady Rowley, there has been no fault. And why shouldn't it have been so? Wallachia is so clever, that it is the most natural thing in the world to have thought."
"I cannot say that I agree with you there," said Lady Rowley, somewhat recovering herself.
"You must know the whole truth now," said Nora, turning to her friend, "and you must not be angry with us if we laugh a little at your poetess. Mamma has been frantic with Mr. Glascock because he has been going to marry,—whom shall I say,—her edition of you. She has sworn that he must be insane. When we have sworn how beautiful you were, and how nice, and how jolly, and all the rest of it,—she has sworn that you were at least a hundred, and that you had a red nose. You must admit that Miss Petrie has a red nose."
"Is that a sin?"
"Not at all in the woman who has it; but in the man who is going to marry it,—yes. Can't you see how we have all been at cross-purposes, and what mamma has been thinking and saying of poor Mr. Glascock? You mustn't repeat it, of course; but we have had such a battle here about it. We thought that mamma had lost her eyes and her ears and her knowledge of things in general. And now it has all come out! You won't be angry?"
"Why should I be angry?"
"Miss Spalding," said Lady Rowley, "I am really unhappy at what has occurred, and I hope that there may be nothing more said about it. I am quite sure that somebody told me wrong, or I should not have fallen into such an error. I beg your pardon,—and Mr. Glascock's!"
"Beg Mr. Glascock's pardon, certainly," said Lucy.
Miss Spalding looked very pretty, smiled very gracefully, and coming up to Lady Rowley to say good-bye, kissed her on her cheeks. This overcame the spirit of the disappointed mother, and Lady Rowley never said another word against Caroline Spalding or her marriage. "Now, mamma, what do you think of her?" said Nora, as soon as Caroline was gone.
"Was it odd, my dear, that I should be astonished at his wanting to marry that other woman?"
"But, mamma, when we told you that she was young and pretty and bright!"
"I thought that you were all demented. I did indeed. I still think it a pity that he should take an American. I think that Miss Spalding is very nice, but there are English girls quite as nice-looking as her." After that there was not another word said by Lady Rowley against Caroline Spalding.
Nora, when she thought of it all that night, felt that she had hardly spoken to Miss Spalding as she should have spoken as to the treatment in England which would be accorded to Mr. Glascock's wife. She became aware of the effect which her own hesitation must have had, and thought that it was her duty to endeavour to remove it. Perhaps, too, the conversion of her mother had some effect in making her feel that she had been wrong in supposing that there would be any difficulty in Caroline's position in England. She had heard so much adverse criticism from her mother that she had doubted in spite of her own convictions;—but now it had come to light that Lady Rowley's criticisms had all come from a most absurd blunder. "Only fancy;"—she said to herself;—"Miss Petrie coming out as Lady Peterborough! Poor mamma!" And then she thought of the reception which would be given to Caroline, and of the place the future Lady Peterborough would fill in the world, and of the glories of Monkhams! Resolving that she would do her best to counteract any evil which she might have done, she seated herself at her desk, and wrote the following letter to Miss Spalding:—
My dear Caroline,
I am sure you will let me call you so, as had you not felt towards me like a friend, you would not have come to me to-day and told me of your doubts. I think that I did not answer you as I ought to have done when you spoke to me. I did not like to say anything off-hand, and in that way I misled you. I feel quite sure that you will encounter nothing in England as Mr. Glascock's wife to make you uncomfortable, and that he will have nothing to repent. Of course Englishmen generally marry Englishwomen; and, perhaps, there may be some people who will think that such a prize should not be lost to their countrywomen. But that will be all. Mr. Glascock commands such universal respect that his wife will certainly be respected, and I do not suppose that anything will ever come in your way that can possibly make you feel that he is looked down upon. I hope you will understand what I mean.
As for your changing now, that is quite impossible. If I were you, I would not say a word about it to any living being; but just go on,—straight forward,—in your own way, and take the good the gods provide you,—as the poet says to the king in the ode. And I think the gods have provided for you very well,—and for him.
I do hope that I may see you sometimes. I cannot explain to you how very much out of your line "we" shall be;—for of course there is a "we." People are more separated with us than they are, I suppose, with you. And my "we" is a very poor man, who works hard at writing in a dingy newspaper office, and we shall live in a garret and have brown sugar in our tea, and eat hashed mutton. And I shall have nothing a year to buy my clothes with. Still I mean to do it; and I don't mean to be long before I do do it. When a girl has made up her mind to be married, she had better go on with it at once, and take it all afterwards as it may come. Nevertheless, perhaps, we may see each other somewhere, and I may be able to introduce you to the dearest, honestest, very best, and most affectionate man in the world. And he is very, very clever.
Yours very affectionately,