Denzil Quarrier by George Gissing
For half an hour there had been perfect silence in the room. The
cat upon the hearthrug slept profoundly; the fire was sunk to a still
red glow; the cold light of the autumn afternoon thickened into dusk.
Lilian seemed to be reading. She sat on a footstool, her arm
resting on the seat of a basket-chair, which supported a large open
volume. But her hand was never raised to turn a page, and it was long
since her eyes had gathered the sense of the lines on which they were
fixed. This attitude had been a favourite one with her in childhood,
and nowadays, in her long hours of solitude, she often fell into the
old habit. It was a way of inviting reverie, which was a way of passing
She stirred at length; glanced at the windows, at the fire, and
A pleasant little sitting-room, furnished in the taste of our time;
with harmonies and contrasts of subdued colour, with pictures
intelligently chosen, with store of graceful knick-knacks. Lilian's
person was in keeping with such a background; her dark gold hair, her
pale, pensive, youthful features, her slight figure in its loose
raiment, could not have been more suitably displayed. In a room of
statelier proportions she would have looked too frail, too young for
significance; out of doors she was seldom seen to advantage; here one
recognized her as the presiding spirit in a home fragrant of womanhood.
The face, at this moment, was a sad one, but its lines expressed no
weak surrender to dolefulness; her lips were courageous, and her eyes
such as brighten readily with joy.
A small table bore a tea-fray with a kettle and spirit-lamp; the
service for two persons only. Lilian, after looking at her watch,
ignited the lamp and then went to the window as if in expectation of
some one's arrival.
The house stood in a row of small new dwellings on the outskirts of
Clapham Common; there was little traffic along the road at any time,
and in this hour of twilight even a passing footstep became a thing to
notice. Some one approached on her side of the way she listened, but
with disappointment; it was not the step for which she waited. None the
less it paused at this house, and she was startled to perceive a
telegraph messenger on the point of knocking. At once she hastened to
the front door.
"Mrs. Quarrier?" inquired the boy, holding out his missive.
Lilian drew back with it into the passage. But there was not light
enough to read by; she had to enter the sitting-room and hold the sheet
of paper close to the kettle-lamp.
"Very sorry that I cannot get home before ten. Unexpected
She read it carefully, then turned with a sigh and dismissed the
In a quarter of an hour she had made tea, and sat down to take a
cup. The cat, refreshed after slumber, jumped on to her lap and lay
there pawing playfully at the trimming of her sleeves. Lilian at first
rewarded this friendliness only with absent stroking, but when she had
drunk her tea and eaten a slice of bread and butter the melancholy mood
dispersed; pussy's sportiveness was then abundantly indulged, and for
awhile Lilian seemed no less merry than her companion.
The game was interrupted by another knock at the house-door; this
time it was but the delivery of the evening paper. Lilian settled
herself in a chair by the fireside, and addressed herself with a
serious countenance to the study of the freshly-printed columns.
Beginning with the leading-article, she read page after page in the
most conscientious way, often pausing to reflect, and once even to
pencil a note on the margin. The paper finished, she found it necessary
for the clear understanding of a certain subject to consult a book of
reference, and for this purpose she went to a room in the rear — a
small study, comfortably but plainly furnished, smelling of tobacco. It
was very chilly, and she did not spend much time over her researches.
A sound from the lower part of the house checked her returning
steps; some one was rapping at the door down in the area. It happened
that she was to-day without a servant; she must needs descend into the
kitchen herself and answer the summons. When the nether regions were
illumined and the door thrown open, Lilian beheld a familiar figure,
that of a scraggy and wretchedly clad woman with a moaning infant in
"Oh, it's you, Mrs. Wilson!" she exclaimed. "Please to come in. How
have you been getting on? And how is baby?"
The woman took a seat by the kitchen fire, and began to talk in a
whining, mendicant tone. From the conversation it appeared that this
was by no means the first time she had visited Lilian and sought to
arouse her compassion; the stories she poured forth consisted in a
great measure of excuses for not having profited more substantially by
the help already given her. The eye and the ear of experience would
readily enough have perceived in Mrs. Wilson a very coarse type of
impostor, and even Lilian, though showing a face of distress at what
she heard, seemed to hesitate in her replies and to entertain
troublesome doubts. But the objection she ventured to make to a
flagrant inconsistency m the tale called forth such loud indignation,
such a noisy mixture of insolence and grovelling entreaty, that her
moral courage gave way and Mrs. Wilson whined for another quarter of an
hour in complete security from cross-examination. In the end Lilian
brought out her purse and took from it half-a-sovereign.
"Now, if I give you this, Mrs. Wilson, I do hope to have a better
Her admonitions were cut short, and with difficulty she managed to
obtain hearing for a word or two of what was meant for grave counsel
whilst taking leave of her visitor. Mrs. Wilson, a gleam in her red
eyes, vanished up the area steps, and left Lilian to meditate on the
The evening passed on, and her solitude was undisturbed. When
dinner-time came, she sat down to the wing of a cold chicken and a
thimbleful of claret much diluted; the repast was laid out with
perfection of neatness, and at its conclusion she cleared the table
like the handiest of parlour-maids. Whatever she did was done
gracefully; she loved order, and when alone was no less scrupulous in
satisfying her idea of the becoming than when her actions were all
After dinner, she played a little on the piano. Here, as over her
book in the afternoon, the absent fit came upon her. Her fingers had
rested idly on the keyboard for some minutes, when they began to touch
solemn chords, and at length there sounded the first notes of a homely
strain, one of the most familiar of the Church's hymns. It ceased
abruptly; Lilian rose and went to another part of the room.
A few minutes later her ear caught the sound for which she was now
waiting — that of a latch-key at the front door. She stepped quickly
out into the passage, where the lamp-light fell upon a tall and robust
man with dark, comely, bearded visage.
"Poor little girl!" he addressed her, affectionately, as he pulled
off his overcoat. "I couldn't help it, Lily; bound to stay."
"Never mind!" was her laughing reply, as she stood on tip-toe and
drew down his face to hers. "I was disappointed, but it's as well you
didn't come to dinner. Sarah had to go away this morning."
"Oh! How's that? How have you managed then?"
They passed into the front room, and Quarrier repeated his
"She had a letter from Birmingham," Lilian explained. "Her brother
has been all but killed in some dreadful accident, and he's in a
hospital. I saw she wished to go — so I gave her some money and sent
her off as soon as possible. Perhaps it was her only chance of seeing
him alive, Denzil."
"Yes, yes of course you did right," he answered, after a moment's
"I knew you wouldn't mind a dinner of my cooking — under the
"But what are we to do? You can't take her place in the kitchen
till she comes back."
"I'll get some one for a few days."
"But, confound it! how about to-morrow morning? It's very awkward"
"Oh, I shall easily manage."
"What? — go down at eight o'clock and light fires! Hang it, no!
All right; I'll turn out and see to breakfast. But you must get another
girl; a second servant, I mean. Yes, you ought really to have two. Get
a decent cook."
"Do you think it necessary?"
Quarrier was musing, a look of annoyance on his face.
"It couldn't have happened more inconveniently," he said, without
regard to Lilian's objection. "I had better tell you at once, Lily:
I've asked a friend of mine to come and dine with us to-morrow."
She started and looked at him with anxious eyes.
"Yes; Glazzard — the man who spoke to me at Kew Station the other
day — you remember?"
Lilian seated herself by the piano and stroked the keys with the
tips of her fingers. Standing on the hearth-rug, her companion watched
her closely for a moment; his forehead was wrinkled, and he did not
seem quite at ease.
"Glazzard is a very good fellow," he pursued, looking about the
room and thrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets. "I've known him
since I was a boy — a well-read man, thoughtful, clever. A good
musician; something more than an amateur with the violin, I believe. An
artist, too; he had a 'bust in the Academy a few years ago, and I've
seen some capital etchings of his."
"A universal genius!" said Lilian, with a forced laugh.
"Well, there's no doubt he has come very near success in a good
many directions. Never quite succeeded ; there's the misfortune. I
suppose he lacks perseverance. But he doesn't care; takes everything
with a laugh and a joke."
He reached for the evening newspaper, and glanced absently over the
columns. For a minute or two there was silence.
"What have you told him?" Lilian asked at length, in an undertone.
"Why, simply that I have had reasons for keeping my marriage
He spoke in a blunt, authoritative way, but with his usual kindly
"I thought it better," he added, "after that chance meeting the
other day. He's a fellow one can trust, I assure you. Thoroughly
good-hearted. As you know, I don't readily make friends, and I'm the
last man to give my confidence to any one who doesn't deserve it. But
Glazzard and I have always understood each other pretty well, and — at
all events, he knows me well enough to be satisfied with as much as I
choose to tell him."
Quarrier had the air of a man who, without any vulgar patronage,
and in a spirit of abundant good-nature, classifies his acquaintance in
various degrees of subordination to himself. He was too healthy, too
vigorous of frame and frank in manner to appear conceited, but it was
evident that his experience of life had encouraged a favourable
estimate of his own standing and resources. The ring of his voice was
sound; no affectation or insincerity marred its notes. For all that, he
seemed just now not entirely comfortable; his pretence of looking over
the paper in the intervals of talk was meant to cover a certain
awkwardness in discussing the subject he had broached.
"You don't object to his coming, Lily?"
"No; whatever you think best, dear."
"I'm quite sure you'll find him pleasant company. But we must get
him a dinner, somehow. I'll go to some hotel to-morrow morning and put
the thing in their hands; they'll send a cook, or do something or
other. If the girl had been here we should have managed well enough;
Glazzard is no snob. — I want to smoke; come into my study, will you?
No fire? Get up some wood, there's a good girl, we'll soon set it
going. I'd fetch it myself, but I shouldn't know where to look for it."
A flame was soon roaring up the chimney in the little back room,
and Quarrier's pipe filled the air with fragrant mist.
"How is it," he exclaimed, settling in the arm-chair, "that there
are so many beggars in this region? Two or three times this last week
I've been assailed along the street. I'll put a stop to that; I told a
great hulking fellow to-night that if he spoke to me again (it was the
second time) I would take the trouble of marching him to the nearest
"Poor creatures!" sighed Lilian.
"Pooh! Loafing blackguards, with scarcely an exception! Well, I was
going to tell you: Glazzard comes from my own town, Polterham. We were
at the Grammar School there together; but he read Æschylus and Tacitus
whilst I was grubbing over Eutropius and the Greek declensions."
"Is he so much older then? He seemed to me" ——
"Six years older — about five-and-thirty. He's going down to
Polterham on Saturday, and I think I shall go with him."
"Go with him? For long?"
"A week, I think. I want to see my brother-in-law. You won't mind
being left alone?"
"No; I shall do my best to keep in good spirits."
"I'll get you a batch of new books. I may as well tell you,
Liversedge has been persuaded to stand as Liberal candidate for
Polterham at the next election. It surprised me rather; I shouldn't
have thought he was the kind of fellow to go in for politics. It always
seemed to be as little in his line as it is in mine."
"And do you wish to advise him against it?"
"Oh no; there's no harm in it. I suppose Beaconsfield and crew have
roused him. I confess I should enjoy helping to kick them into space.
No, I just want to talk it over with him. And I owe them a visit; they
took it rather ill that I couldn't go with them to Ireland."
Lilian sat with bent head. Casting a quick glance at her, Quarrier
talked on in a cheerful strain.
"I'm afraid he isn't likely to get in. The present member is an old
fogey called Welwyn-Baker; a fat-headed Tory; this is his third
Parliament. They think he's going to set up his son next time — a
fool, no doubt, but I have no knowledge of him. I'm afraid Liversedge
isn't the man to stir enthusiasm."
"But is there any one to be made enthusiastic on that side?" asked
"Well, it's a town that has changed a good deal of late years. It
used to be only an agricultural market, but about twenty years ago a
man started a blanket factory, and since then several other industries
have shot up. There's a huge sugar-refinery, and a place where they
make jams. That kind of thing, you know, affects the spirit of a place.
Manufacturers are generally go-ahead people, and mill-hands don't
support high Tory doctrine. It'll be interesting to see how they
muster. If Liversedge knows how to go to work" — he broke into
laughter. "Suppose, when the time comes, I go down and harangue the mob
in his favour?"
Lilian smiled and shook her head.
"I'm afraid you would be calling them 'the mob' to their faces."
"Well, why not? I dare say I should do more that way than by
talking fudge about the glorious and enlightened people. 'Look here,
you blockheads!' I should shout, 'can't you see on which side your
interests lie? Are you going to let England be thrown into war and
taxes just to please a theatrical Jew and the howling riff-raff of
London?' I tell you what, Lily, it seems to me I could make a rattling
good speech if I gave my mind to it. Don't you think so?"
"There's nothing you couldn't do," she answered, with soft fervour,
fixing her eyes upon him.
"And yet I do nothing — isn't that what you would like to add?"
"Oh, but your book is getting on!"
"Yes, yes; so it is. A capital book it'll be, too; a breezy book —
smelling of the sea-foam! But, after all, that's only pen-work. I have
a notion that I was meant for active life, after all. If I had remained
in the Navy, I should have been high up by now. I should have been
hoping for war, I dare say. What possibilities there are in every man!"
He grew silent, and Lilian, her face shadowed once more, conversed
with her own thoughts.
In a room in the west of London — a room full of pictures and
brie-à-brac, of quaint and luxurious furniture, with volumes abundant,
with a piano in a shadowed corner, a violin and a mandoline laid
carelessly aside — two men sat facing each other, their looks
expressive of anything but mutual confidence. The one (he wore an
overcoat, and had muddy boots) was past middle age, bald,
round-shouldered, dressed like a country gentleman; upon his knees lay
a small hand-bag, which he seemed about to open, He leaned forward with
a face of stern reproach, and put a short, sharp question:
"Then why haven't I heard from you since my nephew's death?"
The other was not ready with a reply. Younger, and more fashionably
attired, he had assumed a lounging attitude which seemed natural to
him, though it served also to indicate a mood of resentful superiority.
His figure was slight, and not ungraceful; his features — pale, thin,
with heavy nose, high forehead — were intellectual and noteworthy, but
"I have been abroad till quite recently," he said at length, his
fine accent contrasting with that of the questioner, which had a
provincial note. "Why did you expect me to communicate with you?"
"Don't disgrace yourself by speaking in that way, Mr. Glazzard!"
exclaimed the other, his voice uncertain with strong, angry feeling.
"You know quite well why I have come here, and why you ought to have
seen me long ago!"
Thereupon he opened the bag and took out a manuscript-book.
"I found this only the other day among Harry's odds and ends. It's
a diary that he kept. Will you explain to me the meaning of this entry,
dated in June of last year: 'Lent E. G. a hundred pounds'?"
Glazzard made no answer, but his self-command was not sufficient to
check a quivering of the lips.
"There can be no doubt who these initials refer to. Throughout,
ever since my nephew's intimacy with you began, you are mentioned here
as 'E. G.' Please to explain another entry, dated August: 'Lent E. G.
two hundred pounds.' And then again, February of this year: 'Lent E. G.
a hundred and fifty pounds' — and yet again, three months later: 'Lent
E. G. a hundred pounds' — what is the meaning of all this?"
"The meaning, Mr. Charnock," replied Glazzard, "is indisputable."
"You astound me!" cried the elder man, shutting up the diary and
straightening himself to an attitude of indignation. "Am I to
understand, then, that this is the reason why Harry left no money? You
mean to say you have allowed his relatives to believe that he had
wasted a large sum, whilst they supposed that he was studying soberly
in London" ——
"If you are astounded," returned the other, raising his eyebrows,
"I certainly am no less so. As your nephew made note of these lendings,
wasn't he equally careful to jot down a memorandum when the debt was
Mr. Charnock regarded him fixedly, and for a moment seemed in
"You paid back these sums?"
"With what kind of action did you credit me?" said Glazzard,
The other hesitated, but wore no less stern a look.
"I am obliged to declare, Mr. Glazzard, that I can't trust your
word. That's a very strong thing to have to say to a man such as I have
thought you — a man of whom Harry always spoke as if there wasn't his
like on earth. My acquaintance with you is very slight; I know very
little indeed about you, except what Harry told me. But the man who
could deliberately borrow hundreds of pounds from a lad only just of
age — a simple, trustful, good-natured country lad, who had little but
his own exertions to depend upon — such a man will tell a lie to
screen himself! This money was not paid back; there isn't a word about
it in the diary, and there's the fact that Harry had got rid of his
money in a way no one could explain. You had it, and you have kept it,
Glazzard let his eyes stray about the room. He uncrossed his legs,
tapped on the arm of his easy-chair, and said at length:
"I have no liking for violence, and I shall try to keep my temper.
Please to tell me the date of the last entry in that journal."
Mr. Charnock opened the book again, and replied at once:
"June 5th of this year — 1879."
"I see. Allow me a moment." He unlocked a drawer in a
writing-table, and referred to some paper. "On the 1st of June — we
were together the whole day — I paid your nephew five hundred and
fifty pounds in bank-notes. Please refer to the diary."
"You were together on that day, but there is no note of such a
transaction. 'With E. G. Much talk about pictures, books, and music —
delightful!' That's all."
"Have you added up the sums mentioned previously?"
"Yes. They come to what you say. How did it happen, Mr. Glazzard,
that you had so large a sum in bank-notes? It isn't usual."
"It is not unheard of, Mr. Charnock, with men who sometimes play
"What! Then you mean to tell me that Harry learnt from you to be a
"Certainly not. He never had the least suspicion that I played."
"And pray, what became of those notes after he received them?"
"I have no idea. For anything I know, you may still find the
Mr. Charnock rose from his seat.
"I see," he said, "that we needn't talk any longer. I don't believe
your story, and there's an end of it. The fact of your borrowing was
utterly disgraceful; it shows me that the poor boy had fallen in a
trap, instead of meeting with a friend who was likely to guide and
improve him. You confess yourself a gambler, and I go away with the
conviction that you are something yet worse."
Glazzard set his lips hard, but fell back into the lounging
"The matter doesn't end here," went on his accuser, "be sure of
that! I shall light upon evidence sooner or later. Do you know, sir,
that Harry had a sister, and that she earns her own living by giving
lessons? You have robbed her — think it over at your leisure. Why,
less than a fortnight after that day you and he spent together — the
1st of June — the lad lay dying; yet you could deliberately plan to
rob him. Your denial is utterly vain; I would pledge my life on the
charge! I read guilt in your face when I entered — you were afraid of
me, Mr. Glazzard! I understand now why you never came to see the lad on
his death-bed, though he sent for you — and of course I know why he
was anxious to speak to you. Oh, you have plenty of plausible excuses,
but they are lies! You felt pretty sure, I dare say, that the lad would
not betray you; you knew his fine sense of honour; you calculated upon
it. All your conduct is of a piece!"
"Mr. Charnock, please to leave me. — I oughtn't to have borrowed
that money; but having paid it back, I can't submit to any more of your
abuse. My patience has its limits."
"I am no brawler," replied the other, "and I can do no good by
talking to you. But if ever I come across any of your acquaintances,
they shall know, very plainly, what opinion I have of you. Prosecute me
for slander, Mr. Glazzard, if you dare — I desire nothing better!"
And Mr. Charnock went hurriedly from the room.
For several minutes Glazzard kept the same attitude, his eyes fixed
on the floor, one hand behind his back, the other thrust into his
waistcoat. Then he uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and walked with
hurried, jerky step across the room; his facial muscles quivered
ceaselessly, distorting the features into all manner of grotesque and
ugly expressions. Again the harsh sound escaped him, and again he
changed his place as though impelled by a sudden pain. It was a long
time before he took a seat; on doing so, he threw up his feet, and
rested them against the side of the fireplace. His hands were thrust
into his trouser-pockets, and his head fell back, so that he stared at
the ceiling. At one moment he gave out a short mocking laugh, but no
look of mirth followed the explosion. Little by little he grew
motionless, and sat with closed eyes.
From the walls about him looked down many a sweet and noble
countenance, such as should have made the room a temple of serenity.
Nowhere was there a token of vulgar sensualism; the actress, the
ballet-nymph had no place among these chosen gems of art. On the dwarf
book-cases were none but works of pure inspiration, the best of old and
new, the kings of intellect and their gentlest courtiers. Fifteen years
had gone to the adorning of this sanctuary; of money, no great sum, for
Glazzard had never commanded more than his younger-brother's portion of
a yearly five hundred pounds, and all his tastes were far from being
represented in the retreat where he spent his hours of highest
enjoyment and endeavour. Of late he had been beset by embarrassments
which a man of his stamp could ill endure: depreciation of investments,
need of sordid calculation, humiliating encounters. To-day he tasted
the very dregs of ignoble anguish, and it seemed to him that he should
never again look with delight upon a picture, or feast his soul with
music, or care to open a book.
A knock at the door aroused him. It was a civil-tongued
serving-woman who came to ask if he purposed having luncheon at home
to-day. No; he was on the point of going forth.
Big Ben was striking twelve. At a quarter-past, Glazzard took a cab
which conveyed him to one of the Inns of Court. He ascended stairs, and
reached a door on which was inscribed the name of Mr. Stark, Solicitor.
An office-boy at once admitted him to the innermost room, where he was
greeted with much friendliness by a short, stout man, with gleaming
visage, full lips, chubby hands.
"Well, what is it now?" inquired the visitor, who had been summoned
hither by a note that morning.
Mr. Stark, with an air of solemnity not wholly jocose, took his
friend's arm and led him to a corner of the room, where, resting
against a chair-back, was a small ill-framed oil painting.
"What have you to say to that?"
"The ugliest thing I've seen for a long time."
"But — but —" the solicitor stammered, with indignant eagerness
— "but do know whose it is?"
The picture represented a bit of country road, with a dung-heap, a
duck-pond, a pig asleep, and some barn-door fowls.
"I know whose you think it is," replied Glazzard, coldly. His face
still had an unhealthy pallor, and his eyes looked as if they had but
just opened after the oppression of nightmare. "But it isn't."
"Come, come, Glazzard! you are too dictatorial, my boy."
Mr. Stark kept turning a heavy ring upon his finger, showing in
face and tone that the connoisseur s dogmatism troubled him more than
he wished to have it thought.
"Winterbottom warrants it," he added, with a triumphant jerk of his
"Then Winterbottom is either cheating or cheated. That is no
Morland; take my word for it. Was that all you wanted me for?"
Mr. Stark's good-nature was severely tried. Mental suffering had
made Glazzard worse than impolite; his familiar tone of authority on
questions of art had become too frankly contemptuous.
"You're out of sorts this morning," conjectured his legal friend.
"Let Morland be for the present. I had another reason for asking you to
call, but don't stay unless you like."
Glazzard looked round the office.
"Well?" he asked, more gently.
"Quarrier tells me you are going down to Polterham. Any special
"Yes. But I can't talk about it."
"I was down there myself last Sunday. I talked politics with the
local wiseacres, and — do you know, it has made me think of you ever
Mr. Stark consulted his watch.
"I'm at leisure for just nineteen minutes. If you care to sit down,
I have an idea I should like to put before you."
The visitor seated himself and crossed his legs. His countenance
gave small promise of attention.
"You know," resumed Mr. Stark, leaning forward and twiddling his
thumbs, "that they're hoping to get rid of Welwyn-Baker at the next
"What of that?"
"Toby Liversedge talks of coming forward — but that won't do."
The solicitor bent still more and tapped his friend's knee.
"Glazzard, here is your moment. Here is your chance of getting what
you want. Liversedge is reluctant to stand; I know that for certain. To
a more promising man he'll yield with pleasure. — St! st! listen to
me! — you are that man. Go down; see Toby; see the wiseacres and
wire-pullers; get your name in vogue! It's cut out for you. Act now, or
never again pretend that you want a chance."
A smile of disdain settled upon Glazzard's lips, but his eyes had
lost their vacancy.
"On the Radical side?" he asked, mockingly. "For Manchester and
"For Parliament, my dear boy! For Westminster, St. Stephen's,
distinction, a career! I should perhaps have thought of your taking
Welwyn-Baker's place, but there are many reasons against it. You would
lose the support of your brother and all his friends. Above all,
Polterham will go Liberal — mark my prediction!"
"I doubt it."
"I haven't time to give you all my reasons. Dine with me this
evening, will you?"
"Can't. Engaged to Quarrier."
"All right!" said the latter. "To-morrow, then?"
"Yes, I will dine to-morrow."
Mr. Stark jumped up.
"Think of it. I can't talk longer now; there's the voice of a
client I'm expecting. Eight sharp tomorrow!"
Glazzard took his leave.
Like so many other gentlemen whose function in the world remains
indefinite, chiefly because of the patrimony they have inherited,
Denzil Quarrier had eaten his dinners, and been called to the Bar; he
went so far in specification as to style himself Equity barrister. But
the Courts had never heard his voice. Having begun the studies, he
carried them through just for consistency, but long before bowing to
the Benchers of his Inn he foresaw that nothing practical would come of
it. This was his second futile attempt to class himself with a
recognized order of society. Nay, strictly speaking, the third. The
close of his thirteenth year had seen him a pupil at Polterham Grammar
School; not an unpromising pupil by any means, but with a turn for
insubordination, much disposed to pursue with zeal anything save the
tasks that were set him. Inspired by Cooper and Captain Marryat, he
came to the conclusion that his destiny was the Navy, and stuck so
firmly to it that his father, who happened to have a friend on the
Board of Admiralty, procured him a nomination, and speedily saw the boy
a cadet on the "Britannia." Denzil wore Her Majesty's uniform for some
five years; then he tired of the service and went back to Polterham to
reconsider his bent and aptitudes.
His father no longer dwelt in the old home, but had recently gone
over to Norway, where he pursued his calling of timber-merchant.
Denzil's uncle — Samuel Quarrier — busied in establishing a
sugar-refinery in his native town, received the young man with amiable
welcome, and entertained him for half a year. The ex-seaman then
resolved to join his parents abroad, as a good way of looking about
him. He found his mother on her death-bed. In consequence of her
decease, Denzil became possessed of means amply sufficient for a
bachelor. As far as ever from really knowing what he desired to be at,
he began to make a show of interesting himself in timber. Perhaps,
after all, commerce was his forte. This, then, might be called a second
endeavour to establish himself.
Mr. Quarrier laughed at the idea, and would not take it seriously.
And of course was in the right, for Denzil, on pretence of studying
forestry, began to ramble about Scandinavia like a gentleman at large.
Here, however, he did ultimately hit on a pursuit into which he could
throw himself with decided energy. The old Norsemen laid their spell
upon him; he was bitten with a zeal for saga-hunting, studied
vigorously the Northern tongues, went off to Iceland, returned to
rummage in the libraries of Copenhagen, began to translate the
Heimskringla, planned a History of the Vikings. Emphatically, this kind
of thing suited him. No one was less likely to turn out a bookworm, yet
in the study of Norse literature he found that combination of mental
and muscular interests which was perchance what he had been seeking.
But his father was dissatisfied; a very practical man, he saw in
this odd enthusiasm a mere waste of time. Denzil's secession from the
Navy had sorely disappointed him; constantly he uttered his wish that
the young man should attach himself to some vocation that became a
gentleman. Denzil, a little weary for the time of his Sea-Kings, at
length consented to go to London and enter himself as a student of law.
Perhaps his father was right. "Yes, I need discipline — intellectual
and moral. I am beginning to perceive my defects. There's something in
me not quite civilized. I'll go in for the law."
Yet Scandinavia had not seen the last of him. He was backwards and
forwards pretty frequently across the North Sea. He kept up a
correspondence with learned Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and men of
Iceland; when they came to England he entertained them with hearty
hospitality, and searched with them at the British Museum. These
gentlemen liked him, though they felt occasionally that he was wont to
lay down the law when the attitude of a disciple would rather have
He had rooms in Clement's Inn, retaining them even when his abode,
strictly speaking, was at the little house by Clapham Common. To that
house no one was invited. Old Mr. Quarrier knew not of its existence;
neither did Mr. Sam Quarrier of Polterham, nor any other of Denzil's
kinsfolk. The first person to whom Denzil revealed that feature of his
life was Eustace Glazzard — a discreet, upright friend, the very man
to entrust with such a secret.
It was now early in the autumn of 1879. Six months ago Denzil had
lost his father, who died suddenly on a journey from Christiania up the
country, leaving the barrister in London a substantial fortune
This change of circumstances had in no way outwardly affected
Denzil's life. As before, he spent a good deal of his time in the rooms
at Clement's Inn, and cultivated domesticity at Clapham. He was again
working in earnest at his History of the Vikings. Something would at
last come of it; a heap of manuscript attested his solid progress.
To-day he had come to town only for an hour or two. Glazzard was to
call at half-past six, and they would go together to dine with Lilian.
In his report to her, Quarrier had spoken nothing less than truth. "The
lady with whom you chanced to see me the other day was my wife. I have
been married for a year and a half — a strictly private matter. Be so
good as to respect my confidence." That was all Glazzard had learnt;
sufficient to excite no little curiosity in the connoisseur.
Denzil's chambers had a marked characteristic; they were full of
objects and pictures which declared his love of Northern lands and
seas. At work he sat in the midst of a little museum. To the bear, the
elk, the seal, he was indebted for comforts and ornaments; on his
shelves were quaint collections of crockery; coins of historical value
displayed themselves in cases on the walls; shoes and garments of
outlandish fashion lay here and there. Probably few private libraries
in England could boast such an array of Scandinavian literature as was
here exhibited. As a matter of course the rooms had accumulated even
more dirt than one expects in a bachelor's retreat; they were redolent
of the fume of many pipes.
When Glazzard tapped at the inner door and entered, his friend, who
sat at the writing-table in evening costume, threw up his arms,
stretched himself, and yawned noisily.
"Working at your book?" asked the other.
"No; letters. I don't care for the Sea-Kings just now. They're
rather remote old dogs, after all, you know."
"Distinctly, I should say."
"A queer thing, on the whole, that I can stick so to them. But I
like their spirit. You're not a pugnacious fellow, I think, Glazzard?"
"No, I think not."
"But I am, you know. I mean it literally. Every now and then I feel
I should like to thrash some one. I read in the paper this morning of
some son of a" —— (Denzil's language occasionally reminded one that
he had been a sailor) "who had cheated a lot of poor servant-girls out
of their savings. My fists itched to be at that lubber! There's a good
deal to be said for the fighting instinct in man, you know."
"So thinks 'Arry of the music-halls."
"Well, we have heard before of an ass opening its mouth to
prophesy. I tell you what: on my way here this afternoon I passed the
office of some journal or other in the Strand, where they're exhibiting
a copy of their paper returned to them by a subscriber in Russia. Two
columns are completely obliterated with the censor's lamp-black, —
that's how it reaches the subscriber's hands. As I stood looking at
that, my blood rose to boiling-point! I could have hurrah'd for war
with Russia on that one account alone. That contemptible idiot of a
Czar, sitting there on his ant-hill throne, and bidding Time stand
He laughed long and loud in scornful wrath.
"The Czar can't help it," remarked Glazzard, smiling calmly, "and
perhaps knows nothing about it. The man is a slave of slaves."
"The more contemptible and criminal, then!" roared Denzil. "If a
man in his position can't rule, he should be kicked out of the
back-door of his palace. I have no objection to an autocrat; I think
most countries need one. I should make a good autocrat myself — a
"We live in stirring times," said the other, with a fine curl of
the lips. "Who knows what destiny has in store for you?"
Quarrier burst into good-natured merriment, and thereupon made
ready to set forth.
When they reached the house by Clapham Common, Denzil opened the
door with his latch-key, talked loud whilst he was removing his
overcoat, and then led the way into the sitting-room. Lilian was there;
she rose and laid down a book; her smile of welcome did not conceal the
extreme nervousness from which she was suffering. Quarrier's genial
contempt of ceremony, as he performed the introduction, allowed it to
be seen that he too experienced some constraint. But the guest bore
himself with perfect grace and decorum. Though not a fluent talker, he
fell at once into a strain of agreeable chat on subjects which seemed
likely to be of interest; his success was soon manifest in the change
of Lilian's countenance. Denzil, attentive to both, grew more genuinely
at ease. When Lilian caught his eye, he smiled at her with warmth of
approving kindness. It must have been a fastidious man who felt
dissatisfied with the way in which the young hostess discharged her
duties; timidity led her into no gaucherie, but was rather an added
charm among the many with which nature had endowed her. Speech and
manner, though they had nothing of the conventional adornment that is
gathered in London drawing-rooms, were those of gentle breeding and
bright intelligence; her education seemed better than is looked for
among ladies in general. Glazzard perceived that she had read
diligently, and with scope beyond that of the circulating library; the
book with which she had been engaged when they entered was a Danish
"Do you also look for salvation to the Scandinavians?" he asked.
"I read the languages — the modern. They have a very interesting
literature of to-day; the old battle-stories don't appeal to me quite
so much as they do to Denzil."
"You ought to know this fellow Jacobsen," said Quarrier, taking up
the novel. "'Marie Grubbe' doesn't sound a very æsthetic title, but the
book is quite in your line — a wonderfully delicate bit of work."
"Don't imagine, Mrs. Quarrier," pleaded Glazzard, "that I am what
is called an æsthete. The thing is an abomination to me."
"Oh, you go tolerably far in that direction!" cried Denzil,
laughing. "True, you don't let your hair grow, and in general make an
ass of yourself; but there's a good deal of preciosity about you, you
Seeing that Mr. Glazzard's crown showed an incipient baldness, the
allusion to his hair was perhaps unfortunate. Lilian fancied that her
guest betrayed a slight annoyance; she at once interposed with a remark
that led away from such dangerous ground. It seemed to her (she had
already received the impression from Quarrier's talk of the evening
before) that Denzil behaved to his friend with an air of bantering
superiority which it was not easy to account for. Mr. Glazzard, so far
as she could yet judge, was by no means the kind of man to be dealt
with in this tone; she thought him rather disposed to pride than to an
excess of humility, and saw in his face an occasional melancholy which
inspired her with interest and respect.
A female servant (the vacancy made by Lilian's self-denying
kindness had been hastily supplied) appeared with summons to dinner.
Mr. Glazzard offered an arm to his hostess, and Quarrier followed with
a look of smiling pleasure.
Hospitality had been duly cared for. Not at all inclined to the
simple fare which Denzil chose to believe would suffice for him,
Glazzard found more satisfaction in the meal than he had anticipated.
If Mrs. Quarrier were responsible for the menu (he doubted it), she
revealed yet another virtue. The mysterious circumstances of this
household puzzled him more and more; occasionally he forgot to speak,
or to listen, in the intensity of his preoccupation; and at such
moments his countenance darkened.
On the whole, however, he seemed in better spirits than of wont.
Quarrier was in the habit of seeing him perhaps once a month, and it
was long since he had heard the connoisseur discourse so freely, so
unconcernedly. As soon as they were seated at table, Denzil began to
talk of politics.
"If my brother-in-law really stands for Polterham," he exclaimed,
"we must set you canvassing among the mill-hands, Glazzard!"
"H'm! — not impossible."
"As much as to say," remarked the other to Lilian, "that he would
see them all consumed in furnaces before he stretched forth a hand to
"I know very well how to understand Denzil's exaggerations," said
Lilian, with a smile to her guest.
"He thinks," was Glazzard's reply, "that I am something worse than
a high Tory. It's quite a mistake, and I don't know how his belief
"My dear fellow, you are so naturally a Tory that you never
troubled to think to what party you belong. And I can understand you
well enough; I have leanings that way myself. Still, when I get down to
Polterham I shall call myself a Radical. What sensible man swears by a
party? There's more foolery and dishonesty than enough on both sides,
when you come to party quarrelling; but as for the broad principles
concerned, why, Radicalism of course means justice. I put it in this
way: If I were a poor devil, half starved and overworked, I should be a
savage Radical; so I'll go in for helping the poor devils."
"You don't. always act on that principle, Denzil," said Lilian,
with a rallying smile. "Not, for instance, when beggars are concerned."
"Beggars! Would you have me support trading impostors? As for the
genuine cases — why, if I found myself penniless in the streets, I
would make such a row that all the country should hear of it! Do you
think I would go whining to individuals? If I hadn't food, it would be
the duty of society to provide me with it — and I would take good care
that I was provided; whether m workhouse or gaol wouldn't matter much.
At all events, the business should be managed with the maximum of
He emptied his wine-glass, and went on in the same vigorous tone.
"We know very well that there are no such things as natural rights.
Nature gives no rights; she will produce an infinite number of
creatures only to torture and eventually destroy them. But civilization
is at war with nature, and as civilized beings we have rights. Every
man is justified in claiming food and shelter and repose. As things
are, many thousands of people in every English county either lack these
necessaries altogether, or get them only in return for the accursed
badge of pauperdom. I, for one, am against this state of things, and I
sympathize with the men who think that nothing can go right until the
fundamental injustice is done away with."
Glazzard listened with an inscrutable smile, content to throw in a
word of acquiescence from time to time. But when the necessity of
appeasing his robust appetite held Quarrier silent for a few minutes,
the guest turned to Lilian and asked her if she made a study of
"I have been trying to follow them lately," she replied, with
"Do you feel it a grievance that you have no vote and no chance of
representing a borough?"
"No, I really don't."
"I defy any one to find a dozen women who sincerely do," broke in
Denzil. "That's all humbug! Such twaddle only serves to obscure the
great questions at issue. What we have to do is to clear away the
obvious lies and superstitions that hold a great part of the people in
a degrading bondage. Our need is of statesmen who are bold enough and
strong enough to cast off the restraints of party, of imbecile fears,
of words that answer to no reality, and legislate with honest zeal for
the general good. How many men are there in Parliament who represent
anything more respectable than the interest of a trade, or a faction,
or their own bloated person?"
"This would rouse the echoes in an East-end club," interposed
Glazzard, with an air of good-humoured jesting.
"The difference is, my dear fellow, that it is given as an honest
opinion in a private dining-room. There's Welwyn-Baker now —
thick-headed old jackass! — what right has he to be sitting in a
national assembly? Call himself what he may, it's clearly our business
to get rid of him. There's something infuriating in the thought that
such a man can give his hee-haw for or against a proposal that concerns
the nation. His mere existence is a lie!"
"He has hardly progressed with the times," assented Glazzard.
Lilian was listening so attentively that she forgot her dinner.
"I didn't think you cared so much about politics," she remarked,
"Oh, it comes out now and then. I suppose Glazzard's æsthetic
neutrality stirs me up."
"I am neither æsthetic nor neutral," remarked the guest, as if
Lilian, after waiting for a further declaration from Glazzard,
which did not come, said, in her soft tones:
"You express yourself so vehemently, Denzil."
"Why not? These are obvious truths. Of course I could speak just as
strongly on the Conservative side with regard to many things. I can't
say that I have much faith in the capacity or honesty of the mass of
Radical voters. If I found myself at one of the clubs of which Glazzard
speaks, I should very likely get hooted down as an insolent aristocrat.
I don't go in for crazy extremes. There'll never be a Utopia, and it's
only a form of lying to set such ideals before the multitude. I believe
in the distinction of classes; the only class I would altogether
abolish is that of the hungry and the ragged. So long as nature doles
out the gift of brains in different proportions, there must exist
social subordination. The true Radical is the man who wishes so to
order things that no one will be urged by misery to try and get out of
the class he is born in."
Glazzard agreed that this was a good way of putting it, and
thereupon broached a subject so totally different that politics were
finally laid aside.
When Lilian rose and withdrew, the friends remained for several
minutes in silence. They lighted cigarettes, and contemplatively
watched the smoke. Of a sudden, Quarrier bent forward upon the table.
"You shall have the explanation of this some day," he said, in a
low friendly voice, his eyes lighting with a gleam of heartfelt
"Thanks!" murmured the other.
"Tell me — does she impress you favourably?"
"Very. I am disposed to think highly of her."
Denzil held out his hand, and pressed the one which Glazzard
offered in return.
"You cannot think too highly — cannot possibly She has a
remarkable character. For one thing, I never knew a girl with such
strong sympathies — so large-hearted and compassionate. You heard her
remark about the beggars; if she had her own way, she would support a
colony of pensioners. Let the sentimentalists say what they like, that
isn't a common weakness in women, you know. Her imagination is
painfully active; I'm afraid it causes her a great deal of misery. The
other day I found her in tears, and what do you think was the reason?
— she had been reading in some history about a poor fellow who was
persecuted for his religion in Charles the First's time — some
dissenter who got into the grip of Laud, was imprisoned, and then
brought to destitution by being forbidden to exercise each calling that
he took to in hope of earning bread. The end was, he went mad and died.
Lilian was crying over the story; it made her wretched for a whole
"Rather morbid, that, I'm afraid."
"I don't know; most of us would be better for a little of such
morbidness. You mustn't suppose that fiction would have the same effect
on her — not at all. That poor devil (his name, I remember, was
Workman) was really and truly hounded to insanity and the grave, and
she saw the thing in all its dreadful details. I would rather she had
got into a rage about it, as I should — but that isn't her nature."
"Let us hope she could rejoice when Laud was laid by the heels."
"I fear not. I'm afraid she would forget, and make excuses for the
Glazzard smiled at the ceiling, and smoked silently. Turning his
eyes at length, and seeing Quarrier in a brown study, he contemplated
the honest face, then asked:
"How old is she?"
"I should have thought younger."
Nothing more was said of Lilian, and very soon they went to the
room where she awaited them.
"I know you are a musician, Mr. Glazzard," said Lilian before long.
"Will you let me have the pleasure of hearing you play something?"
"Some enemy hath done this," the guest made reply, looking towards
But without further protest he went to the piano and played two or
three short pieces. Any one with more technical knowledge than the
hearers would have perceived that he was doing his best. As it was,
Lilian frequently turned to Denzil with a look of intense delight.
"Glazzard," exclaimed his friend at length, "it puzzles me how such
a lazy fellow as you are has managed to do so much in so many
The musician laughed carelessly, and, not deigning any other reply,
went to talk with his hostess.
The Polterham Literary Institute was a "hot-bed of Radicalism." For
the last year or two this had been generally understood. Originating in
the editorial columns of the Polterham Mercury, the remark was now a
commonplace on the lips of good Conservatives, and the liberals
themselves were not unwilling to smile an admission of its truth. At
the founding of the Institute no such thing was foreseen; but in 1859
Polterham was hardly conscious of the stirrings of that new life which,
in the course of twenty years, was to transform the town. In those days
a traveller descending the slope of the Banwell Hills sought out the
slim spire of Polterham parish church amid a tract of woodland, mead
and tillage; now the site of the thriving little borough was but too
distinctly marked by trails of smoke from several gaunt chimneys —
that of Messrs. Dimes Nevison's blanket-factory, that of Quarrier Son's
sugar-refinery, and, higher still (said, indeed, to be one of the
tallest chimneys in England), that of Thomas Liversedge's soap-works.
With the character of Polterham itself, the Literary Institute had
suffered a noteworthy change. Ostensibly it remained non-political: a
library, reading-room and lecture-hall, for the benefit of all the
townsfolk; but by a subtle process the executive authority had passed
into the hands of new men with new ideas. A mere enumeration of the
committee sufficed to frighten away all who held by Church, State, and
Mr. Welwyn-Baker: the Institute was no longer an Institute, but a
How could respectable people make use of a library which admitted
works of irreligious and immoral tendency? It was an undoubted fact
(the Mercury made it known) that of late there had been added to the
catalogue not only the "Essays of David flume" and that notorious book
Buckle's "History of Civilization," but even a large collection of the
writings of George Sand and Balzac — these latter in the original
tongue; for who, indeed, would ever venture to publish an English
translation? As for the reading-room, was it not characterization
enough to state that two Sunday newspapers, reeking fresh from Fleet
Street, regularly appeared on the tables? What possibility of perusing
the Standard or the Spectator in such an atmosphere? It was clear that
the supporters of law and decency must bestir themselves to establish a
new Society. Mr. Mumbray, long prominent in the municipal and political
life of the town, had already made the generous offer of a large house
at a low rental — one of the ancient buildings which had been spoilt
for family residence by the erection of a mill close by. The revered
Member for the borough was willing to start the new library with a gift
of one hundred volumes of "sterling literature." With dissolution of
Parliament m view, not a day should be lost in establishing this centre
of intellectual life for right-thinking inhabitants. It was a strange
thing, a very strange thing indeed, that interlopers should have been
permitted to oust the wealth and reputability of Polterham from an
Institute which ought to have been one of the bulwarks of Conservatism.
Laxity in the original constitution, and a spirit of supine confidence,
had led to this sad result. It seemed impossible that Polterham could
ever fall from its honourable position among the Conservative
strongholds of the country; but the times were corrupt, a revolutionary
miasma was spreading to every corner of the land. Polterham must no
longer repose in the security of conscious virtue, for if it did happen
that, at the coming election, the unprincipled multitude even came near
to achieving a triumph, oh what a fall were there!
Thus spoke the Mercury. And in the same week Mr. Mumbray's vacant
house was secured by a provisional committee on behalf of the Polterham
Constitutional Literary Society.
The fine old crusted party had some reason for their alarm. Since
Polterham was a borough it had returned a Tory Member as a matter of
course. Political organization was quite unknown to the supporters of
Mr. Welwyn-Baker; such trouble had never seemed necessary. Through the
anxious year of 1868 Mr. Welwyn-Baker sat firm as a rock; an endeavour
to unseat him ended amid contemptuous laughter. In 1874 the high-tide
of Toryism caused on]y a slight increase of congratulatory gurgling in
the Polterham backwater; the triumphant party hardly cared to notice
that a Liberal candidate had scored an unprecedented proportion of
votes. Welwyn-Baker sat on, stolidly oblivious of the change that was
affecting his constituency, denying indeed the possibility of mutation
in human things. Yet even now the Literary Institute was passing into
the hands of people who aimed at making it something more than a place
where retired tradesmen could play draughts and doze over Good Words;
already had offensive volumes found harbourage on the shelves, and
revolutionary periodicals been introduced into the reading-room. From
time to time the Mercury uttered a note of warning, of protest, but
with no echo from the respectable middle-class abodes where Polterham
Conservatism dozed in self-satisfaction. It needed another five years
of Liberal activity throughout the borough to awaken the good people
whose influence had seemed unassailable, and to set them uttering
sleepy snorts of indignation But the Mercury had a new editor, a man
who was determined to gain journalistic credit by making a good fight
in a desperate cause. Mr. Mumbray, who held the post of Mayor, had at
length learnt that even in municipal matters the old order was
threatened; on the Town Council were several men who gave a great deal
of trouble, and who openly boasted that in a very short time all the
affairs of the town would be managed by members of the Progressive
party. If so, farewell public morality! farewell religion!
The reading-room of the Literary Institute heard many an animated
conversation among the zealous partisans who hoped great things from
the approaching contest. The talkers were not men of recognized
standing, the manufacturers and landowners whose influence was of most
importance — for these personages were seldom seen at the Institute;
but certain "small" people, fidgety, or effervescent, or enthusiastic,
eager to hear their own voices raised in declamation, and to get spoken
of in the town as representatives of public opinion. Such a group had
gathered early one afternoon in this month of October. The hour was
unusual, for between one o'clock and four the reading-room was
generally abandoned to a few very quiet, somnolent persons; but to-day
an exciting piece of news had got about in Polterham, and two or three
ardent politicians hastened from their dinner-tables to discuss the
situation with Mr. Wykes, secretary of the Institute, or any one else
who might present himself. It was reported that Mr. Welwyn-Baker had
had a seizure of some kind, and that he lay in a dangerous state at his
house just outside the town.
"It's perfectly true," affirmed Mr. Wykes. "I saw Dr. Staple on his
way there. He'll never survive it. We shall have a bye-election — the
very last thing desirable."
The Secretary was a man of intelligence features but painfully
distorted body; his right leg, permanently bent double, was supported
at the knee by metal mechanism, and his arm on the opposite side ended
at the elbow. None the less he moved with much activity, gesticulated
frequently with the normal arm, and seemed always to be in excellent
spirits. He was a Cambridge graduate, but had never been able to make
much use of his education and abilities; having reached middle age, and
finding himself without resources, he was glad to accept this post at
About him stood three Polterham worthies: Mr. Chown, draper, a
member of the Corporation; Mr. Vawdrey, coal-merchant; and Mr.
Murgatroyd, dentist. The draper — tall, bearded, with goggle eyes and
prominent cheek-bones — had just rushed in; as soon as Mr. Wykes had
spoken, he exclaimed in a hard, positive voice:
"It's nothing! it's nothing! I have it on the best assurance that
it was only a fall over a footstool. Muscles strained — a bruise or
two — nothing worse."
"I'm very glad to hear it, on every ground," said Wykes. "But even
if that is quite correct, it'll be a warning. A fall at that age
generally dates the beginning of decrepitude. He won't come forward
again — I'm convinced he won't."
"Let us hope they'll be foolish enough to set up his son," remarked
Mr. Vawdrey, in deep tones, which harmonized with his broad, stunted
body and lowering visage. "It'll be their ruin."
Mr. Wykes agreed.
"The waverers can hardly douht — between Tobias Liversedge and
"Bear in mind," rang Mr. Chown's brassy voice, "that it's by no
means certain Liversedge is to he our candidate. I am in a position to
assure you that many of our most reliable men are not at all satisfied
with that choice — not at all satisfied. I don't mind going so far as
to declare that I share this dissatisfaction."
"Really," put in Mr. Murgatroyd, the dentist, "it's rather late in
the day, Mr. Chown" ——
His accents of studious moderation were interrupted by a shout from
the dogmatic draper.
"Late? late? I consider that nothing whatever has been decided. I
protest — I protest, most emphatically, against any attempt to force a
candidate on the advanced section of the Liberal party! I will even go
so far as to say — purely on my own responsibility — that the
advanced section of the Liberal party is the essence of the Liberal
party, and must be recognized as such, if we are to fight this campaign
in union. I personally — I speak for myself — do not feel prepared to
vote for Tobias Liversedge. I say it boldly, caring not who may report
my words. I compromise no man, and no body of men; but my view is that,
if we are to win the next election against the Tory candidate, it must
be with the help, and in the name, of a Radical candidate!"
At the close of each period Mr. Chown raised his hand and made it
vibrate in the air, his head vibrating in company therewith. His eyes
glared, and his beard wagged up and down.
"Speaking as an individual," replied Mr. Murgatroyd, who, among
other signs of nervousness, had the habit of constantly pulling down
his waistcoat, "I can't say that I should regret to be called upon to
vote for a really advanced man. But I may say — I really must say —
and I think Mr. Wykes will support me — I think Mr. Vawdrey will bear
me out — that it wouldn't be easy to find a candidate who would unite
all suffrages in the way that Mr. Liversedge does. We have to remember"
"Well," broke in the coal-merchant, with his muffled bass, "if any
one cares to know what I think, I should say that we want a local man,
a popular man, and a Christian man. I don't know whom you would set up
in preference to Liversedge; but Liversedge suits me well enough. If
the Tories are going to put forward such a specimen as Hugh
Welwyn-Baker, a gambler, a drinker, and a profligate, I don't know, I
say, who would look better opposed to him than Toby Liversedge."
Mr. Chown could not restrain himself.
"I fail altogether to see what Christianity has to do with
politics! Christianity is all very well, but where will you find it?
Old Welwyn-Baker calls himself a Christian, and so does his son. And I
suppose the Rev. Scatchard Vialls calls himself a Christian! Let us
have done with this disgusting hypocrisy! I say with all deliberation
— I affirm it — that Radicalism must break with religion that has
become a sham! Radicalism is a religion in itself. We have no right —
no right, I say — to impose any such test as Mr. Vawdrey insists
"I won't quarrel about names," returned Vawdrey, stolidly, "What I
meant to say was that we must have a man of clean life, a moral man."
"And do you imply," cried Chown, "that such men are hard to find
"I rather think they're hard to find anywhere nowadays."
Mr. Wykes had made a gesture requesting attention, and was about to
speak, when a boy came up to him and held out a telegram.
"What's this?" murmured the Secretary, as he opened the envelope.
"Well, well, how very annoying! Our lecturer of to-morrow evening can't
possibly keep his engagement. No reason given; says he will write."
"Another blank evening!" exclaimed Chown. "This is most
unsatisfactory, I must say."
"We must fill it up," replied the Secretary. "I have an idea; it
connects with something I was on the point of saying." He looked round
the room cautiously, but saw only a young lad bent over an illustrated
paper. "There is some one," he continued, subduing his voice, "who
might possibly be willing to stand if Mr. Liversedge isn't finally
adopted as our candidate — some one who, in my opinion, would suit us
very well indeed. I am thinking of young Mr. Quarrier, Liversedge's
brother-in-law, Mr. Sam Quarrier's nephew."
"I can't say I know much for or against him," said the draper.
"A barrister, I believe?" questioned Murgatroyd.
"Yes, but not practising his profession. I happened to meet him in
the train yesterday; he was coming to spend a few days with his
relatives. It occurs to me that he's the man to give us a lecture
The others lent ear, and Mr. Wykes talked at some length of Mr.
Denzil Quarrier, with whom he had a slight personal acquaintance dating
from a year or two ago. He represented that the young man was of late
become wealthy, that he was closely connected with people in high local
esteem, that his views were those of a highly cultured Radical. Mr.
Chown, distrustful regarding any proposition that did not originate
with himself, meditated with some intensity. Mr. Vawdrey's face
indicated nothing whatever. It was the dentist who put the first
"I should like to know," he said, in his usual voice of studied
inoffensiveness, "whether Mr. Quarrier is disposed to support the
Female Suffrage movement?"
"If he is," growled Mr. Vawdrey, with sudden emphasis, "he mustn't
expect my vote and interest. We've seen enough in Polterham lately of
the Female question."
"Let it wait! Let it wait!" came from the draper. "The man," he
glared at little Murgatroyd, "who divides his party on matters of
detail, beyond the range of practical politics, is an enemy of popular
progress. What I should desire to know is, whether Mr. Quarrier will go
in heartily for Church Disestablishment? If not — well, I for my
humble self must Decline to consider him a Radical at all."
"That, it seems to me," began the dentist, "is distinctly beyond"
But politic Mr. Wykes interrupted the discussion.
"I shall go at once," he said, "and try to see Mr. Quarrier. A
lecture to-morrow we must have, and I think he can be persuaded to help
us. If so, we shall have an opportunity of seeing what figure he makes
on the platform."
Mr. Vawdrey looked at his watch and hurried away without a word.
The draper and the dentist were each reminded of the calls of business.
In a minute or two the youth dozing over an illustrated paper had the
room to himself.
For a characteristic scene of English life one could not do better
than take Mr. Liversedge's dining-room when the family had assembled
for the midday meal. Picture a long and lofty room, lighted by windows
which opened upon a lawn and flower-garden, adorned with large oil
paintings (cattle-pieces and portraits) in massive and, for the most
part, tarnished frames, and furnished in the solidest of British styles
— mahogany chairs and table, an immense sideboard, a white marble
fireplace, and a chandelier hanging with ponderous menace above the
gleaming expanse of table-cloth. Here were seated eleven persons: Mr.
Liversedge and his wife, their seven children (four girls and three
boys), Miss Pope the governess, and Mr. Denzil Quarrier; waited upon by
two maid-servants, with ruddy cheeks, and in spotless attire. Odours of
roast meat filled the air. There was a jolly sound of knife-and-fork
play, of young voices laughing and chattering, of older ones in genial
colloquy. A great fire blazed and crackled up the chimney. Without, a
roaring wind stripped the autumnal leafage of the garden, and from time
to time drenched the windows with volleys of rain.
Tobias Liversedge was a man of substance, but in domestic habits he
followed the rule of the unpretentious middle-class. Breakfast at
eight, dinner at one, tea at five, supper at nine — such was the order
of the day that he had known in boyhood, and it suited him well enough
now that he was at the head of a household. The fare was simple, but
various and abundant; no dishes with foreign names, no drinks more
luxurious than sherry and claret. If he entertained guests, they were
people of his own kind, who thought more of the hearty welcome than of
what was set before them. His children were neither cockered nor held
in too strait a discipline; they learnt from their parents that
laughter was better than sighing, that it was good to be generous, that
they had superiors in the world as well as inferiors, that hard work
was the saving grace, and a lie the accursed thing. This training
seemed to agree with them, for one and all were pictures of health.
Tom, the first-born, numbered fifteen years; Daisy, the latest arrival,
had seen but three summers, yet she already occupied a high chair at
the dinner-table, and conducted herself with much propriety. The two
elder boys went to the Grammar School morning and afternoon; for the
other children there was Miss Pope, with her smile of decorum, eyes of
intelligence, and clear, decided voice.
Mrs. Liversedge was obviously Denzil Quarrier's sister; she had his
eyes and his nose — not uncomely features. It did not appear that her
seven children were robust at their mother's expense; she ate with
undisguised appetite, laughed readily (just showing excellent teeth),
and kept a shapely figure, clad with simple becomingness. Her age was
about eight-and-thirty, that of her husband forty-five. This couple —
if any in England — probably knew the meaning of happiness. Neither
had experienced narrow circumstances, and the future could but confirm
their security from sordid cares. Even if seven more children were
added to their family, all would be brought up amid abundance, and sent
forth into the world as well equipped for its struggles as the
tenderest heart could desire. Father and mother were admirably matched;
they knew each other perfectly, thought the same thoughts on all
essential matters, exchanged the glances of an absolute and unshakeable
Seeing him thus at the end of his table, one would not have thought
Mr. Liversedge a likely man to stand forth on political platforms and
appeal to the populace of the borough for their electoral favour. He
looked modest and reticent; his person was the reverse of commanding. A
kind and thoughtful man, undoubtedly; but in his eye was no gleam of
ambition, and it seemed doubtful whether he would care to trouble
himself much about questions of public policy. Granted his position and
origin, it was natural enough that he should take a stand on the
Liberal side, but it could hardly be expected that he should come up to
Mr. Chown's ideal of a Progressive leader.
He was talking lightly on the subject with his brother-in-law.
"I should have thought," he said, "that William Glazzard might have
had views that way. He's a man with no ties and, I should say, too much
"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Liversedge, "the idea of his getting up to
make speeches! It always seems to me as if he found it a trouble even
to talk. His brother would be far more likely, wouldn't he, Denzil?"
"What, Eustace Glazzard?" replied Quarrier. "He regards Parliament
and everything connected with it with supreme contempt. Suggest the
thing when he comes this evening, and watch his face."
"What is he doing?" Mr. Liversedge asked.
"Collecting pictures, playing the fiddle, gazing at sunflowers, and
so on. He'll never do anything else."
"How contradictory you are in speaking about him!" said his sister.
"One time you seem to admire and like him extremely, and another" ——
"Why, so I do. A capital fellow! He's weak, that's all. I don't
mean weak in the worst way, you know; a more honourable and trustworthy
man doesn't live. But — well, he's rather womanish, I suppose."
Mrs. Liversedge laughed.
"Many thanks! It's always so pleasing to a woman to hear that
comparison. Do you mean he reminds you of Mrs. Wade?"
The boy Tom, who had been attentive, broke into merriment.
"Uncle Denzil wouldn't dare to have said it in her presence!" he
"Perhaps not," conceded Denzil, with a smile. "By-the-bye, is that
wonderful person still in Polterham?"
"Oh yes!" Mrs. Liversedge replied. "She has been very prominent
The lady glanced at her husband, who said quietly, "We'll talk over
it some other time."
But Tom was not to be repressed.
"Mother means that Revivalist business," he exclaimed. "Mrs. Wade
went against it."
"My boy, no meddling with things of that kind," said his father,
smiling, but firm. He turned to Denzil. "Has Glazzard exhibited
"No; he gave up his modelling, and he doesn't seem to paint much
nowadays. The poor fellow has no object in life, that's the worst of
The meal was nearly at an end, and presently the two men found
themselves alone at the table. Mr. Liversedge generally smoked a cigar
before returning for an hour or two to the soap-works.
"Any more wine?" he asked. "Then come into my snuggery and let us
They repaired to a room of very homely appearance. The furniture
was old and ugly; the carpet seemed to have been beaten so often that
it was growing threadbare by force of purification. There was a fair
collection of books, none of very recent date, and on the walls several
maps and prints. The most striking object was a great stuffed bird that
stood in a glass-case before the window — a capercailzie shot by
Quarrier long ago in Norway, and presented to his brother-in-law.
Tobias settled himself in a chair, and kicked a coal from the bars of
"Tom is very strong against religious fanaticism," he said,
laughing. "I have to pull him up now and then. I suppose you heard
about the crazy goings-on down here in the summer?"
"Not I. Revivalist meetings?"
"The whole town was turned upside down. Such frenzy among the women
I never witnessed. Three times a day they flocked in swarms to the
Public Hall, and there screeched and wept and fainted, till it really
looked as if some authority ought to interfere. If I had had my way, I
would have drummed the preachers out of the town. Mary and Mrs. Wade
and one or two others were about the only women who escaped the
epidemic. Seriously, it led to a good deal of domestic misery. Poor
Tomkins's wife drove him to such a pass by her scandalous neglect of
the house, that one morning he locked her into her bedroom, and there
he kept her on very plain diet for three days. We thought of getting up
a meeting to render public thanks to Tomkins, and to give him some
Denzil uttered roars of laughter; the story was exactly of the kind
that made appeal to his humorous instincts.
"Has the ferment subsided?" he asked.
"Tolerably well; leaving a good deal of froth and scum, however.
The worst of it was that, in the very week when those makebates had
departed, there came down on us a second plague, in the shape of Mrs.
Hitchin, the apostle of — I don't quite know what, but she calls it
Purity. Of course, you know her by repute. She, too, had the Public
Hall, and gave addresses to which only women were admitted. I have a
very strong opinion as to the tendency of those addresses, and if
Rabelais had come to life among us just then — but never mind. The
fact is, old Polterham got into a thoroughly unwholesome condition, and
we're anything but right yet. Perhaps a little honest fighting between
Liberal and Tory may help to clear the air. — Well, now, that brings
me to what I really wish to talk about. To tell you the truth, I don't
feel half satisfied with what I have done. My promise to stand, you
know, was only conditional, and I think I must get out of it."
"Mary was rather tickled with the idea at first; naturally she had
no objection to be Mrs. M.P., and she persuaded herself that I was just
the man to represent Polterham. I felt rather less sure of it, and now
I am getting pretty well convinced that I had better draw back before I
make a fool of myself."
"What about your chances? Is there any hope of a majority?"
"That's more than I can tell you. The long-headed men, like your
Uncle Sam (an unwilling witness) and Edward Coke, say that the day has
come for the Liberals. I don't know, but I suspect that a really brisk
and popular man might carry it against either of the Welwyn-Bakers.
That fellow Hugh will never do — by the way, that might be the
beginning of an election rhyme! He's too much of a blackguard, and
nowadays, you know, even a Tory candidate must preserve the decencies
Denzil mused, and muttered something. indistinct.
"Now listen," pursued the speaker, shifting about in his chair.
"What I want to say is this: why shouldn't you come forward?"
Quarrier pursed his lips, knit his brows, and grunted.
"I am very serious in thinking that you might be the best man we
And Mr. Liversedge went on to exhibit his reasons at some length.
As he listened, Denzil became restless, crossing and recrossing his
legs, spreading his shoulders, smiling, frowning, coughing; and at
length he jumped up.
"Look here, Toby!" he exclaimed, "is this a self-denying ordinance?
have you and Molly put your heads together to do me what you think a
"I haven't spoken to her, I assure you. I am sincere in saying that
I don't wish to go through with it. And I should be right heartily glad
to see you come out instead."
The face of the younger man worked with subdued excitement. There
was a flush in his cheeks, and he breathed rapidly. The emotion that
possessed him could not be altogether pleasurable, for at moments he
cast his eyes about him with a pained, almost a desperate look. He
walked up and down with clenched fist, occasionally digging himself in
"Toby," he burst out at length, "let me think this over I can't
possibly decide at once. The notion is absolutely new to me; I must
roll it about, and examine it on all sides."
Mr. Liversedge cheerfully agreed, and, after a little more talk, he
went his way to business, leaving Denzil alone in the snuggery. There
sat the young man in deep but troubled meditation. He sat for nearly an
hour. Then his sister came in.
"Denzil, you are wanted. Mr. Wykes wishes to see you. Shall I send
"Mr. Wykes! What about, I wonder? Yes, let him come."
A clumping was heard without, and the bright face of the
Institute's Secretary, so strongly in contrast with his wretched body,
presented itself in the doorway. Quarrier received him with a friendly
consideration due rather to pity than to any particular interest in the
man himself. He placed him in a comfortable chair, and waited in
attentive attitude for an explanation of the call. Mr. Wykes lost no
time in making known his business; he told what had happened at the
Institute, and respectfully begged for Mr. Quarrier's aid in averting
disappointment on the next evening.
"I am sure, sir, that your appearance on our platform would give
very general pleasure. I should have time to post announcements here
and there. We should have a splendid hall."
"The deuce! But, Mr. Wykes, it is no such simple matter to prepare
a lecture in four-and-twenty hours. What am I to talk about?"
"Any subject, sir, that would be of interest to a wide-awake
audience. If I might suggest, there are your travels, for instance. And
I understand that you are deeply conversant with the Northern
literatures; I am sure something" ——
"Pardon me. I hardly think I should care to go so far away for a
The Secretary heard this with pleasure.
"All the better, Sir! Any subject of the day; nothing could be more
acceptable. You probably know our position at the Institute. In
practice, we are something like a Liberal Club. You have heard that the
other party are going to start a Society of their own?"
"I have — a Society with an imbecile Dame." He pondered. "Suppose
I were to talk about 'The Position of Woman in our Time'?"
"Capital, Mr. Quarrier! Couldn't be better, sir! Do permit me to
announce it at once!"
"It's rather a ticklish responsibility I'm undertaking — but —
very well, I will do my best, Mr. Wykes. Who is chairman?"
"Mr. William Glazzard, sir."
"Ho ho! All right; I'll turn up to time. Eight o'clock, I suppose?
Evening dress, or not? Oh, of course, if it's usual; I didn't know your
Mr. Wykes did not linger. Left alone again, Denzil walked about in
excited mood. At length, with a wave of the arm which seemed to
announce a resolution, he went to the drawing-room. His sister was
reading there in solitude.
"Molly, I'm going to lecture at the Institute tomorrow, SW'
somebody or other who can't turn up. What subject, think you?"
"The Sagas, probably?"
"The Sagas be blowed! 'Woman's Place in our Time,' that's the
Mrs. Liversedge laughed, and showed astonishment.
"And what have you to say about her?"
"Wait and see!"
At the distance of a mile and a half from Polterham lay an estate
which had long borne the name of Highmead. Here had dwelt three
successive generations of Glazzards. The present possessor, by name
William, was, like his father and grandfather, simply a country
gentleman, but, unlike those respectable ancestors, had seen a good
deal of the world, and only settled down amid his acres when he was
tired of wandering. His age at present was nearing fifty. When quite a
young man, he had married rather rashly — a girl whose acquaintance he
had made during a voyage. In a few years' time, he and his wife agreed
to differ on a great many topics of moment, and consequently to live
apart. Mrs. Glazzard died abroad. William, when the desire for
retirement came upon him, was glad of the society of a son and a
daughter in their early teens. But the lad died of consumption, and the
girl, whose name was Ivy, for a long time seemed to be clinging to life
with but doubtful tenure. She still lived, however, and kept her
Ivy Glazzard cared little for the pleasures of the world — knew,
indeed, scarcely more about them than she had gathered from books. Her
disposition was serious, inclined to a morbid melancholy; she spent
much time over devotional literature, but very seldom was heard to
speak of religion. Probably her father's avowed indifferentism imposed
upon her a timid silence. When the Revivalist services were being held
in Polterham, she visited the Hall and the churches with assiduity, and
from that period dated her friendship with the daughter of Mr. Mumbray,
Mayor of the town. Serena Mumbray was so uncomfortable at home that she
engaged eagerly in any occupation which could excuse her absence for as
many hours a day as possible. Prior to the outbreak of Revivalism no
one had supposed her particularly pious, and, indeed, she had often
suffered Mrs. Mumbray's rebukes for levity of speech and indifference
to the conventional norm of feminine behaviour. Though her parents had
always been prominent in Polterham society, she was ill-educated, and
of late years had endeavoured, in a fitful, fretful way, to make amends
to herself for this injustice. Disregarding paternal censure, she
subscribed to the Literary Institute, and read at hap-hazard with
little enough profit. Twenty-three years old, she was now doubly
independent, for the will of a maiden aunt (a lady always on the worst
of terms with Mr. and Mrs. Mumbray, and therefore glad to encourage
Serena against them) had made her an heiress of no slight
consideration. Young men of Polterham regarded her as the greatest
prize within view, though none could flatter himself that he stood in
any sensible degree of favour with her. There seemed no reason why Miss
Mumbray should not marry, but it was certain that as yet she behaved
disdainfully to all who approached her with the show of intention. She
was not handsome, but had agreeable features. As though to prove her
contempt of female vanity and vulgar display, she dressed plainly,
often carelessly — a fact which of course served to emphasize her
importance in the eyes of people who tried to seem richer than they
Miss Glazzard rarely came into the town, but Serena visited
Highmead at least once a week. According to the state of the weather,
the friends either sat talking in Ivy's room or rambled about the
grounds, where many a pretty and sheltered spot was discoverable. At
such times the master of the house seldom showed himself, and, on the
whole, Highmead reminded one of a mansion left in the care of servants
whilst the family are abroad. Miss Mumbray was surprised when, on her
arrival one afternoon, she was conducted into the presence of three
persons, who sat conversing in the large drawing-room. With Ivy and her
father was a gentleman whose identity she could only guess; he proved
to be Mr. Eustace Glazzard, her friend's uncle.
To the greetings with which she was received Serena responded
formally. It happened that her attire was to-day even more careless
than usual, for, the weather being wet and cold, she had just thrown a
cloak over the frock in which she lounged at home, and driven out in a
cab with the thought of stepping directly into Ivy's sanctum. So far
from this, she found herself under the scrutiny of two well-dressed
men, whose faces, however courteous, manifested the signature of a
critical spirit. The elder Mr. Glazzard was bald, wrinkled, and of
aristocratic bearing; he wore gold-rimmed glasses, which accentuated
the keenness of his gaze. The younger man, though altogether less
formidable, had a smile which Miss Mumbray instinctively resented; he
seemed to be regarding her with some special interest, and it was clear
that her costume did not escape mental comment.
Ivy did her best to overcome the restraint of the situation, and
for a quarter of an hour something like conversation was maintained,
but, of a sudden, Miss Mumbray rose.
"We will go to my room," said Ivy, regarding her nervously.
"Thank you," was the reply, "I mustn't stay longer to-day."
"Oh, why not? But indeed you must come for a moment; I have
something to show you"
Serena took leave of the gentlemen, and with show of reluctance
suffered herself to be led to the familiar retreat.
"I'm afraid I have displeased you," Ivy addressed her, when the
door was closed. "I ought to have asked your permission."
"It doesn't matter, dear — not a bit. But I wasn't quite in the
humour for — for that kind of thing. I came here for quietness, as I
"Do forgive me! I thought — to tell the truth, it was my uncle —
I had spoken of you to him, and he said he should so much like to meet
"It really doesn't matter; but I look rather like the woman who
comes to buy old dresses, don't I?"
"0f course not!"
"And what if I do?" exclaimed the other, seating herself by the
fire. "I don't know that I've any claim to look better than Mrs. Moss.
I suppose she and I are about on a level in understanding and
education, if the truth were told. Your uncle would see that, of
"Now, don't — don't!" pleaded Ivy, bending over the chair and
stroking her friend's shoulder. "It's so wrong of you, dear. My father
and Uncle Eustace are both quite capable of judging you rightly."
"What did you tell him about me — your uncle?" asked Serena,
"That you were my friend, and that we read together" ——
"Oh, of course! What else?"
"I explained who you were."
"That I had a ridiculous name, and was the daughter of silly
"Oh, it is unkind of you!"
"Well, and what else? I insist on knowing, Ivy."
"Indeed, I didn't say one word that you mightn't have heard
yourself. I think you can believe me, dear?"
"To be sure I can. But then no doubt your father told him the rest,
or has done by this time. There's no harm in that. I like people to
know that I am independent. Well, now tell me about him. He isn't a
great favourite of yours, is he?"
"No, not a great favourite." Ivy seemed always to weigh her words.
"I don't know him very well. He has always lived in London, and I've
never seen him more than once a year. I'm afraid he doesn't care much
about the things that I prize most, but he is kind and very clever, I
believe. Father always says he might have been a great artist if he had
"Then why didn't he choose?"
"I can't say. So many people seem to fall far short of what they
might have been."
"Women do — what else can you expect? But men are free. I suppose
he is rich?"
"No, not rich. He seems to have enough for his needs."
Serena indulged her thoughts.
"I felt I disliked him at first," she said, presently. "But he is
improved. He can talk well, I should think. I suppose he is always in
"I suppose so."
"And why doesn't he invite you to London, and take you to see
"Oh, he knows me better than that!" replied Ivy, with a laugh.
Whilst the girls talked thus, Eustace Glazzard and his brother were
also in confidential chat. They had gone to the library and made
themselves comfortable with cigars — a cellaret and glasses standing
within reach. The rooms at Highmead gave evidence of neglect. Guests
were seldom entertained; the servants were few, and not well looked
"She has, I dare say, thirty thousand," William Glazzard was
saying, with an air of indifference. "I suppose she'll marry some
parson. Let us hope it's one of the fifty-pound curates."
"Deep in the old slough?"
"Hopelessly — or Ivy wouldn't be so thick with her."
When he had spoken, William turned with an expressive smile.
"Still, who knows? I rather like the girl. She has no humbug about
her — no pretence, that's to say. You see how she dresses."
"A bad sign, I'm afraid."
"Well, no, not in this case, I think. Her home accounts for it.
That old ass, Mumbray, and his wife make things pretty sour for her, as
the Germans say; at least, I guess so."
"I don't dislike her appearance — intelligent at bottom, I should
There followed a long silence. Eustace broke it by asking softly:
"And how do things go with you?"
"The same as ever. Steadily down-hill I had better let the place
before it gets into a thoroughly bad state. And you?"
His brother made no answer, but sat with bent head.
"You remember Stark," he said at length, "the lawyer? He wants me
to stand for Polterham at the next election."
"You? In place of Welwyn-Baker?"
"No; as Liberal candidate; or Radical, if you like."
"You're joking, I suppose!"
"Where's the impossibility?"
Their eyes met.
"There's no absurdity," said William, "in your standing for
Parliament; au contraire. But I can't imagine you on the Radical side.
And I don't see the necessity of that. Welwyn-Baker is breaking up;
they won't let him come forward again, even if he wishes. His son is
disliked, and would have a very poor chance. If you cared to put
yourself in touch with Mumbray and the rest of them — by love! I
believe they would welcome you. I don't know of any one but the
Welwyn-Bakers at all likely to stand."
"But," objected his brother, "what's the use of my standing for a
party that is pretty sure to be beaten?"
"You think that's the case?"
Eustace repeated Mr. Stark's opinions, and what he had heard from
Quarrier. It seemed to cost William an effort to fix his mind on the
question; but at length he admitted that the contest would probably be
a very close cue, even granting that the Conservatives secured a good
"That's as much as to say," observed his brother, "that the
Liberals stand to win, as things are. Now, there seems to be no doubt
that Liversedge would gladly withdraw in favour of a better man. What I
want you to do is to set this thing in train for me. I am in earnest."
"You astonish me! I can't reconcile such an ambition with" ——
"No, no; of course not." Glazzard spoke with unwonted animation.
"You don't know what my life is and has been. Look I must do something
to make my blood circulate, or I shall furnish a case for the coroner
one of these mornings. I want excitement. I have taken up one thing
after another, and gone just far enough to understand that there's no
hope of reaching what I aimed at — superlative excellence; then the
thing began to nauseate me. I'm like poor Jackson, the novelist, who
groaned to me once that for fifteen years the reviewers had been
describing his books as 'above the average.' In whatever I have
undertaken the results were 'above the average,' and that's all. This
is damned poor consolation for a man with a temperament like mine!"
His voice broke down. He had talked himself into a tremor, and the
exhibition of feeling astonished his brother, who — as is so often the
case between brothers — had never suspected what lay beneath the
surface of Eustace's dilettante life.
"I can enter into that," said the elder, slowly. "But do you
imagine that in politics you have found your real line?"
"No such thing. But it offers me a chance of living for a few
years. I don't flatter myself that I could make a figure in the House
of Commons; but I want to sit there, and be in the full current of
existence. I had never dreamt of such a thing until Stark suggested it.
But he's a shrewd fellow, and he has guessed my need."
"What about the financial matter?" asked William, after reflection.
"I see no insuperable difficulty. You, I understand, are in no
position to help me?"
"Oh, I won't say that," interrupted the other. "A few hundreds will
make no difference to me. I suppose you see your way for the ordinary
expenses of life?"
"With care, yes. I've been throwing money away, but that shall
stop; there'll be no need for it when my nerves are put in tone."
"Well, it strikes me in a comical light, but you must act as you
think best. I'll go to work for you. It's a pity I stand so much apart,
but I suppose my name is worth something. The Radicals have often tried
to draw me into their camp, and of course it's taken for granted that I
am rather for than against them. By-the-bye, what is the date? Ah!
that's fortunate. To-morrow I am booked to take the chair at the
Institute; a lecture — I don't know by whom, or about what. A good
opportunity for setting things astir."
"Then you do take some part in town life?"
"Most exceptional thing. I must have refused to lecture and to
chairmanize twenty times. But those fellows are persistent; they caught
me in a weak moment a few days ago. I suppose you realize the kind of
speechifying that would be expected of you? Are you prepared to blaze
away against Beaconsfield, and all that sort of thing?"
"I'm not afraid. There are more sides to my character than you
Eustace spoke excitedly, and tossed off a glass of liqueur. His
manner had become more youthful than of wont; his face showed more
"The fact is," he went on, "if I talk politics at all, I can manage
the Radical standpoint much more easily than the Tory. I have precious
little sympathy with anything popular, that's true; but it's easier for
me to adopt the heroic strain of popular leaders than to put my own
sentiments into the language of squires and parsons. I should feel I
was doing a baser thing if I talked vulgar Toryism than in roaring the
democratic note. Do you understand?"
"I have an inkling of what you mean."
Eustace refilled the little glass.
"Of course," he went on, "my true life stands altogether outside
popular contention. I am an artist, though only half-baked But I admit
most heartily that our form of government is a good one — the most
favourable that exists to individual freedom. We are ruled by the
balance of two parties; neither could do without the other. This being
the case, a man of my mind may conscientiously support either side.
Nowadays neither is a foe to liberty; we know that party tall-talk
means nothing — mere playing to the gallery. If I throw whatever
weight I represent into the Liberal scales, I am only helping, like
every other Member of Parliament, to maintain the constitutional
equilibrium. You see, this view is not even cynical; any one might
proclaim it seriously."
"Yes; but don't do so in Polterham."
The other laughed, and at the same moment remembered how long it
was since such an expression of mirth had escaped his lips.
"Well," he exclaimed, "I feel better to-day than for long enough.
I've been going through a devilish bad time, I can tell you. To make
things worse, some one has fixed an infernal accusation on me — an
abominable calumny. I won't talk about it now, but it may be necessary
"Calumny? — nothing that could be made use against you in public?"
"No danger of that, I think. I didn't mean to speak of it."
"You know that a man on the hustings must look out for mud?"
"Of course, of course! — How do you spend your afternoons? What
shall we do?"
William threw away the end of a cigar, and stretched himself.
"I do very little but read," he answered. "A man gets the reading
habit, just like the morphia habit, or anything else of that kind. I
think my average is six novels a week: French, Russian, German,
Italian. No English, unless I'm in need of an emetic. What else should
I do? It's a way of watching contemporary life. — Would you like to go
and talk with Ivy? Oh, I forgot that girl."
"You wouldn't care to ask some people to dinner one of these days
— the right kind of people?"
"Yes, yes; we'll do that. I must warn you not to talk much about
art, and above all not to play the piano. It would make a bad
"All right. How shall I deal with Liversedge? I go there this
evening, you remember."
"Sound him, if opportunity offers. No hurry, you know. We have
probably several months before us. You'll have to live here a good
As the rain had ceased, they presently went out into the garden and
strolled aimlessly about.
No sooner had Mr. Liversedge become aware of his brother-in-law's
promise to appear on the platform, than he despatched a note to Mr.
Wykes, recommending exceptional industry in spreading the announcement.
These addresses were not commonly of a kind to excite much interest,
nor had the name of Mr. Denzil Quarrier any prestige in Polterham; it
occasioned surprise when messengers ran about the town distributing
handbills, which gave a general invitation (independent of membership)
to that evening's lecture at the Institute. At the doors of the
building itself was a large placard, attracting the eye by its bold
inscription: "Woman: Her Place in Modern Life" — so had the title been
ultimately shaped. Politicians guessed at once that something was in
the wind, and before the afternoon there was a distinct rumour that
this young man from London would be brought forward as Liberal
candidate (Radical, said the Tories) in the place of Mr. Liversedge,
who had withdrawn his name. The reading-room was beset. This chanced to
be the day on which the Polterham Liberal newspaper was published, and
at the head of its "general" column appeared a long paragraph on the
subject under discussion. "At the moment of going to press, we learn
that unforeseen circumstances have necessitated a change in this
evening's programme at the Literary Institute. The indefatigable
Secretary, Mr. Wykes, has been fortunate enough to fill the threatened
vacancy, and that in a way which gives promise of a rare intellectual
treat." Then followed a description of the lecturer (consisting of
laudatory generalities), and a few sounding phrases on the subject he
had chosen. Mr. Chown, who came and went twenty times in the course of
the day, talked to all and sundry with his familiar vehemence.
"If it is true," he thundered, "that Tobias Liversedge has already
surrendered his place to this young man, I want to know why these
things have been done in a corner? If you ask my opinion, it looks
uncommonly like a conspiracy. The Radical electors of Polterham are not
going to be made the slaves of a secret caucus t The choice may be a
very suitable one. I don't say" ——
"Then wait till we know something definite," growled Mr. Vawdrey.
"All I can say is that if this Mr. Quarrier is going in for extreme
views about women, I'll have nothing to do with him."
"What do you mean by 'extreme views'?" screeched a thin man in
Thereupon began a furious controversy, lasting half an hour. (It
may be noted that a card hung in several parts of the room, requesting
members not to converse in audible tones.)
Mr. Liversedge had gone to work like a man of decision. Between six
and eight on the previous evening he had seen the members of that
"secret caucus" whose existence outraged Mr. Chown — in other words,
the half-dozen capable citizens who practically managed the affairs of
Liberal Polterham — and had arrived at an understanding with them
which made it all but a settled thing that Denzil Quarrier should be
their prospective candidate. Tobias was eager to back out of the
engagement into which he had unadvisedly entered. Denzil's arrival at
this juncture seemed to him providential — impossible to find a better
man for their purpose. At eight o'clock an informal meeting was held at
the office of the Polterham Examiner, with the result that Mr. Hammond,
the editor, subsequently penned that significant paragraph which next
morning attracted all eyes.
On returning to supper, Mr. Liversedge found his wife and Denzil in
conversation with Eustace Glazzard. With the latter he had a bare
acquaintance; from Denzil's report, he was disposed to think of him as
a rather effeminate old-young man of metropolitan type.
"Well," he exclaimed, when greetings were over, "I don't think you
will want for an audience to-morrow, Denzil. We are summoning Polterham
Glazzard had of course heard of the coming lecture. He wore a
smile, but was taciturn.
"Pray heaven I don't make an exhibition of myself!" cried Denzil,
with an air of sufficient confidence.
"Shall I send coffee to your bedroom, to-night?" asked his sister,
with merry eyes.
"Too late for writing it out. It must be inspiration I know what I
want to say, and I don't think the sea of Polterham faces will disturb
He turned sharply to his brother-in-law.
"Are you still in the same mind on that matter we spoke of this
"Glazzard, what should you say if I came forward as Radical
candidate for Polterham?"
There was silence. Glazzard fixed his eyes on the opposite wall;
his smile was unchanged.
"I see no objection," he at length replied. The tones were rather
thick, and ended in a slight cough. Feeling that all eyes were fixed
upon him, Glazzard made an uneasy movement, and rose from his chair.
"It doesn't astonish you?" said Quarrier, with a broad grin.
"Then let us regard the thing as settled. Mr. Liversedge has no
stomach for the fight, and makes room for me. In a week's time I shall
be a man of distinction."
In the midst of his self-banter he found Glazzard's gaze turned
upon him with steady concentration. Their eyes met, and Denzil's
expression became graver.
"You will take up your abode here?" Glazzard asked.
"Shortly," was the reply, given with more emphasis than seemed
necessary, and accompanied with an earnest look.
Again there was silence, and before the conversation could be
renewed there came a summons to supper.
A vivacious political dialogue between Mr. Liversedge and his
relative allowed Glazzard to keep silence, save when he exchanged a few
words with his hostess or Miss Pope. He had a look of extreme
weariness; his eyes were heavy and without expression, the lines of
face slack, sullen; he seemed to maintain with difficulty his upright
position at the table, and his eating was only pretence. At the close
of the meal he bent towards Mrs. Liversedge, declared that he was
suffering from an intolerable headache, and begged her to permit his
Denzil went with him out into the road.
"I could see you were not well," he said, kindly. "I want to have a
long and very serious talk with you; it must wait till after to-morrow.
You know, of course, what I have on my mind. Come and hear my
balderdash if you are all right again."
All the next day Denzil was in extravagant spirits. In the morning
he made a show of shutting himself up to meditate the theme of his
discourse, but his sister presently saw him straying about the garden,
and as soon as her household duties left her at leisure she was called
upon to gossip and laugh with him. The Polterham Examiner furnished
material for endless jesting. In the midst of a flow of grotesque
fancies, he broke off to say:
"By-the-bye, I shall have to run over to Paris for a few weeks."
"What to do there?"
"A private affair. You shall hear about it afterwards."
And he went on with his mirthful fantasia. This mood had been
frequent with him in earlier years, and his sister was delighted to see
that he preserved so much of youth. After all, it might be that he had
found his vocation ere it was too late. Certainly he had the gift of
speech, and his personality was not a common one. He might strike out a
special line for himself in Parliament. They must make his election a
The lecture was at eight. About seven, Mr. Liversedge and his
relative walked off to the Institute, and entered the committee-room.
Two or three gentlemen had already arrived; they were no strangers to
Denzil, and a lively conversation at once sprang up. In a few minutes
the door again opened to admit Mr. William Glazzard. The chairman of
the evening came forward with lounging steps. Regardless of the others
present, he fixed his eye upon Quarrier, and examined him from head to
foot. In this case, also, introduction was unnecessary.
"You have lost no time," he remarked, holding out his hand, and
glancing from the young man to Mr. Liversedge.
"Your brother has given you a hint?" said the latter.
"Oh yes! How am I to phrase my introductory remarks?"
"Quite without reference to the political topic."
The others murmured an approval.
"Eustace well again?" asked Quarrier. "He went home with a bad
headache last night."
"He'll be here," answered Mr. Glazzard, laconically. "Liversedge, a
word with you."
The two stepped apart and conversed under cover of the chat that
went on in front of the fire. Mr. Glazzard merely wished for a few
hints to direct him when he introduced the lecturer; he was silent
about his brother's frustrated project.
Fresh members of the committee kept appearing. The room resounded
with talk and laughter. Denzil had a higher colour than usual, but he
seemed perfectly self-possessed; his appearance and colloquial
abilities made a very favourable impression. "Distinct improvement on
friend Toby," whispered one committee-man to another; and this was the
general opinion. Yet there was some anxiety regarding the address they
were about to hear. Denzil did not look like a man who would mince his
words and go half-way in his opinions. The Woman question was rather a
dangerous one in Polterham just now; that period of Revivalism, and the
subsequent campaign of Mrs. Hitchin, had left a sore feeling in not a
few of the townsfolk. An old gentleman (he had known Denzil as a boy)
ventured to speak of this to the lecturer.
"Don't be afraid, Mr. Toft," was the laughing reply. "You will
stand amazed at my moderation; I am dead against Female Suffrage."
"That is safe, I think. You'll find Mrs. Wade down upon you — but
that doesn't matter."
"Will she attack me in the hall?"
"No, no; we don't have public discussion; but prepare for an
"I shall enjoy it!"
The hall was rapidly filling. Already twice as many people as
attended an ordinary lecture had taken seats, and among them were
numerous faces altogether strange at the Institute, though familiar
enough in the streets of Polterham. Among early arrivals was Mr. Samuel
Quarrier, Denzil's uncle, a white-headed but stalwart figure. He
abominated Radicalism, and was one of the very few "new" men who
supported the old political dynasty of the town. But his countenance
manifested no sour displeasure; he exchanged cheery greetings on all
hands, and marched steadily to the front chairs, his two daughters
following. The Mayor, accompanied by his wife, Miss Mumbray, and young
Mr. Raglan Mumbray, was seen moving forward; he acknowledged
salutations with a heavy bow and a wave of the hand. Decidedly it was a
field-day. From the street below sounded a constant roll of carriages
and clatter of hoofs coming to a standstill before the Institute.
Never, perhaps, had so many people in evening costume gathered under
this roof. Even Mr. Chown, the draper, though scornful of such
fopperies, had thought it due to his position as a town-councillor to
don the invidious garb; he was not disposed to herd among the
undistinguished at the back of the room. Ladies were in great force,
though many of them sought places with an abashed movement, not quite
sure whether what they were about to hear would be strictly "proper."
One there was who betrayed no such tremors; the position she assumed
was about the middle of the hall, and from time to time curious looks
were cast in that direction.
The clock pointed to eight. Punctually to the moment a side door
was thrown open, and a procession of gentlemen ascended the platform.
Members of the committee seated themselves in a row of arm-chairs; Mr.
William Glazzard took his place not far from the reading-desk, and
behind it subsided the lecturer.
In these instants Denzil Quarrier was the prey of sudden panic. He
had imagined that his fortitude was proof against stage-fright, but
between the door and his seat on the platform he suffered horribly. His
throat was parched and constricted; his eyes dazzled, so that he could
see nothing; his limbs were mere automatic mechanism; he felt as though
some one had set his ears on fire. He strove wildly to recollect his
opening sentences; but they were gone. How was he to fill up a mortal
hour with coherent talk when he had not command of one phrase? He had
often reproved himself for temerity, and now the weakness had brought
its punishment. What possessed him to run into such a ——?
The chairman had risen and was speaking. "Pleasure —— introduce
—— Mr. Denzil Quarrier, —— not unknown to many of you —— almost
at a moment's notice —— much indebted ——"
An outbreak of applause, and then dead silence. The ticking of the
clock became audible. Some external force took hold upon him, lifted
him from the chair, and impelled him a few steps forward. Some voice,
decidedly not his own, though it appeared to issue from his throat,
uttered the words "Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen." And before the
sound had ceased, there flashed into his thoughts a story concerning an
enlightened young lady of Stockholm, who gave a lecture to advance the
theory that woman's intellect suffered from the habit of allowing her
hair to grow so long. It was years since this trifle had recurred to
his mind; it came he knew not how, and he clutched at it like the
drowning man at a straw. Before he really understood what he was about,
he had begun to narrate the anecdote, and suddenly, to his
astonishment, he was rewarded with universal peals of laughter. The
noise dispelled his anguish of nervousness; he drew a deep breath,
grasped the table before him, and was able to speak as freely as if he
had been on his own hearth-rug in Clement's Inn.
Make a popular audience laugh, and you have a hold upon its
attention. Able now to distinguish the faces that were gazing at him,
Denzil perceived that he had begun with a lucky stroke; the people were
in expectation of more merriment, and sat beaming with good-humour. He
saw the Mayor spread himself and stroke his beard, and the Mayoress
simper as she caught a friend's eye. Now he might venture to change his
tone and become serious.
Decidedly, his views were moderate. From the beginning he allowed
it to be understood that, whatever might be the effect of long hair, he
for one considered it becoming, and was by no means in favour of
reducing it to the male type. The young lady of Stockholm might or
might not have been indebted for her wider mental scope to the practice
of curtailing her locks, yet he had known many Swedish ladies (and
ladies of England, too) who, in spite of lovely hair, managed to
preserve an exquisite sense of the distinctions of womanhood, and this
(advanced opinion notwithstanding) he maintained was the principal
thing. But, the fact that so many women were nowadays lifting up their
voices in a demand for various degrees of emancipation seemed to show
that the long tresses and the flowing garb had really, by process of
civilization, come to symbolize certain traditions of inferiority which
weighed upon the general female consciousness. "Let us, then, ask what
these traditions are, and what is to be said for or against them from
the standpoint of a liberal age."
Denzil no longer looked with horror at the face of the clock; his
only fear was lest the hands should move too rapidly, and forbid him to
utter in spacious periods all he had on his mind. By half-past eight he
was in the midst of a vehement plea for an enlargement of female
education, in the course of which he uttered several things rather
disturbing to the nerves of Mrs. Mumbray, and other ladies present. —
Woman, it was true, lived an imperfect life if she did not become wife
and mother; but this truism had been insisted on to the exclusion of
another verity quite as important: that wifehood and motherhood, among
civilized people, implied qualifications beyond the physical. The
ordinary girl was sent forth into life with a mind scarcely more
developed than that of a child. Hence those monstrous errors she
constantly committed when called upon to accept a husband. Not one
marriage in fifty thousand was an alliance on terms fair to the woman.
In the vast majority of cases, she wedded a sort of man in the moon. Of
him and of his world she knew nothing; whereas the bridegroom had
almost always a very sufficient acquaintance with the circumstances,
habits, antecedents, characteristics, of the girl he espoused. Her
parents, her guardians, should assure themselves — pooh! even if these
people were conscientious and capable, the task was in most cases
beyond their power.
"I have no scheme for rendering marriages universally happy. On the
contrary., I believe that marriages in general will always serve as a
test of human patience." (Outbreak of masculine laughter.) "But
assuredly it is possible, by judicious training of young girls, to
guard them against some of the worst perils which now threaten their
going forth into the world. It is possible to put them on something
like an equality in knowledge of life with the young men of
corresponding social station." ("Oh, shameful!" murmured Mrs. Mumbray.
"Shocking!") "They must be treated, not like ornaments under
glass-eases, but like human beings who, physiologists assure us, are
born with mental apparatus, even as men are. I repeat that I don't want
to see them trained for politics" (many faces turned towards the middle
of the hall) "and that I lament the necessity imposed on so many of
them of struggling with men in the labour-market. What I demand is an
education in the true sense of the word, and that as much at the hands
of their mothers as of the school-teacher. When that custom has been
established, be sure that it will affect enormously the habits and
views of the male population. The mass of men at present regard women
as creatures hoodwinked for them by nature — or at all events by
society. When they can no longer act on that assumption, interest and,
let us hope, an expanding sense of honour will lead them to see the
marriage contract, and all connected with it, in altogether a different
He drank off a glass of water, listening the while to resonant
applause. There was still twenty minutes, and he decided to use the
time in offering solace to the army of women who, by force of mere
statistics, are fated to the frustration of their raison d'être. On
this subject he had nothing very remarkable to say, and, indeed, the
maiden ladies who heard him must have felt that it all amounted to a
pitying shrug of the shoulders. But he could not speak otherwise than
vigorously, and at times his words were eloquent.
"We know not how things may improve in the future," (thus he
perorated), "but let celibate ladies of the present bear in mind that
the chances are enormously against their making a marriage worthy of
the name." ("Oh!" from some man at the back.) "Let them remember, too,
if they are disposed to altruism, that though most men manage to find a
wife, very few indeed, as things are, do not ultimately wish that they
had remained single." (A roar of laughter, and many protests.) "This
being so, let women who have no family of their own devote themselves,
whenever possible, to the generous and high task of training the new
female generation, so that they may help to mitigate one of the
greatest ills of civilized existence, and prepare for women of the
future the possibility of a life truly emancipated."
Denzil sat down with a glow of exulting triumph. His lecture was a
success, not a doubt of it. He saw the chairman rise, and heard slow,
languid phrases which contrasted strangely with his own fire and rush.
A vote of thanks was being proposed. When silence carne, he was aware
of some fluster in the body of the hall; people were whispering,
tittering, turning round to look. Two persons had stood up with the
intention of seconding the vote of gratitude; one was Mr. Chown, the
other that lady who had a place in the middle of the assemblage, and
who seemed to be so well known. The Radical draper did not immediately
give way, but his neighbours reminded him of propriety. Quarrier had
just scrutinized the person of the lady about to speak. when her voice
fell upon his ears with a pleasant distinctness.
"As it is certainly right," she began, "that a woman should be one
of those who return thanks to our lecturer, and as I fear that no other
woman present will be inclined to undertake this duty, I will make no
apology for trying to perform it. And that in very few words. Speaking
for myself, I cannot pretend to agree with the whole of Mr. Quarrier's
address; I think his views were frequently timid" — laughter and
hushing — "frequently timid, and occasionally quite too masculine. I
heard once of a lady who proposed to give a series of lectures on
'Astronomy from a Female Point of View'" (a laugh from two or three
people only), "and I should prefer to entitle Mr. Quarrier's lecture,
'Woman from a Male Point of View.' However, it was certainly
well-meaning, undoubtedly eloquent, and on the whole, in this time of
small mercies, something for which a member of the struggling sex may
reasonably be grateful. I wish, therefore, to add my voice to the
proposal that a vote of thanks be offered to our lecturer, with all
sincerity and all heartiness."
"A devilish good little speech!" Denzil murmured to himself, as the
applause and merriment broke forth.
The show of hands seemed to be universal. Denzil was enjoying an
enormous happiness. He had proved to himself that he could speak, and
henceforth the platform was his own. Now let the dissolution of
Parliament come with all convenient speed; he longed to begin the
Committee-men crowded about him, offering hands, and brimming with
"You were on very thin ice now and then," said Mr. Liversedge. "You
made me shake in my shoes. But the skating was admirable."
"I never knew Mrs. Wade so complimentary," remarked old Mr. Toft.
"I expected half an hour's diatribe, 'the rapt oration flowing free,'
as Tennyson says. You have taught her good manners."
Down in the hall was proceeding an animated conversazione. In one
group stood the Mayor and his wife, Miss Mumbray, and Ivy Glazzard.
Serena was turning aside to throw a shawl over her shoulders, when
Eustace Glazzard stepped up.
"Pray let me assist you, Miss Mumbray." He placed the wrap. "I hope
you have been amused?"
"I have, really," answered the girl, with a glance towards Ivy, who
had heard her uncle's voice.
"You, Ivy," he continued, "are rather on Mrs. Wade's side, I
"Oh, uncle — how can you!"
Mr. Mumbray was looking on, trying to determine who the gentleman
might be. Glazzard, desirous of presentation to the Mayor, gave Ivy a
glance, and she, with much nervousness, uncertain whether she might do
such a thing, said to her friend's father:
"I think, Mr. Mumbray, you don't know my uncle, Mr. Eustace
"Ha! very glad to meet you, Mr. Glazzard. My love," he turned to
the Mayoress, "let me present to you Mr. Eustace Glazzard — Mr.
The Mayoress laid her fan on her bosom, and inclined graciously.
She was a portly and high-coloured woman, with hanging nether lip.
Glazzard conversed with her and her husband in a tone of amiable
"Remarkable," he said, smiling to the Mayoress, "how patiently
women in general support this ancient yoke of tyranny!"
Mrs. Mumbray looked at him with condescending eyes, in doubt as to
his real meaning. Her husband, ponderously literal, answered in his
"I fail to recognize the grievance. — How do you do, Mr. Lovett?
— I am conscious of no tyranny."
"But that is just what Mr. Glazzard meant, papa, put in Serena,
with scarcely disguised contempt.
"Ha! oh! To be sure — to be sure! Quite so, Mr. Glazzard. — A
very amoosing lecture, all the same. Not of course to be taken
seriously. — Good evening, Mr. Glazzard — good evening!"
The Mayoress again inclined. Serena gave her acquaintance an
enigmatic look, murmured a leave-taking, and, with an affectionate nod
to Ivy, passed on. Glazzard drew near to his niece.
"Your friend is not a disciple of Mrs. Wade?"
"Oh dear no, uncle!"
"Not just a little bit?" he smiled, encouragingly.
"Perhaps she would agree with what Mr. Quarrier said about girls
having a right to better instruction."
"I see. Don't wait with me if there's any one you would like to
Ivy shook her head. She had a troubled expression, as if the
experience of the evening had agitated her.
Close at hand, a circle of men had formed about Mr. Chown, who was
haranguing on the Woman question. What he wanted was to emancipate the
female mind from the yoke of superstition and of priestcraft. Time
enough to talk about giving women votes when they were no longer the
slaves of an obstructive religion. There were good things in the
lecture, but, on the whole, it was flabby — flabby. A man who would
discourse on this topic must be courageous; he must dare to shock and
give offence. Now, if he had been lecturing ——
Glazzard beckoned to his niece, and led her out of ear-shot of
these utterances. In a minute or two they were joined by the chairman,
who had already equipped himself for departure.
"Bah! I have a splitting headache," said William. "Let us get
Quarrier was still on the platform, but at this moment he caught
Glazzard's eye, and came hastening down. His friend stepped forward to
"Well, how did it go?" Denzil asked, gaily.
"You have great aptitude for that kind of thing."
"So it strikes me. — Will you engage yourself to dine with me the
day after to-morrow?"
"I have an idea. You remember the Coach and Horses — over at
It was a fine old country inn, associated in their memories of
boyhood with hare-and-hounds and other sportive excursions. Glazzard
"Let us have a quiet dinner there; six-thirty can drive us back."
Glazzard rejoined his relatives. Denzil, turning came face to face
with Mr. Samuel Quarrier.
"So you took the trouble to come and hear me?"
"To be sure," replied the old man, in a gruff but good-natured
voice. "Is it true what they are saying? Is it to be you instead of
"I believe so."
"I shall do my best to get you a licking. All in good part, you
"Perfectly natural, But I shall win!"
"Do you know of any good house to let in or near the town?"
inquired Denzil of his sister the next morning, as they chatted after
Toby's departure to business.
"A house! What do you want with one?"
"Oh, I must have a local habitation — the more solid the better."
Mrs. Liversedge examined him.
"What is going on, Denzil?"
"My candidature — that's all. Any houses advertised in this rag?"
He took up yesterday's Examiner, and began to search the pages.
"You can live very well with us."
Denzil did not reply, and his sister, summoned by a servant, left
him. There was indeed an advertisement such as he sought. An old and
pleasant family residence, situated on the outskirts of Polterham (he
remembered it very well), would be vacant at Christmas. Application
could be made on the premises. Still in a state of very high pressure,
unable to keep still or engage in any quiet pursuit, he set off the
instant to view this house. It stood in a high-walled garden, which was
entered through heavy iron-barred gates, one of them now open. The
place had rather a forlorn look, due in part to the decay of the
foliage which in summer shaded the lawn; blinds were drawn on all the
front windows; the porch needed repair. He rang at the door, and was
quickly answered by a dame of the housekeeper species. On learning his
business, she began to conduct him through the rooms, which were in
habitable state, though with furniture muffled.
"The next room, sir, is the library. A lady is there at present.
Perhaps you know her? — Mrs. Wade."
"Mrs. Wade! Yes, I know her slightly."
The coincidence amused him.
"She comes here to study, sir — being a friend of the family. Will
you go in?"
Foreseeing a lively dialogue, he released his attendant till she
should hear his voice again, and, with preface of a discreet knock,
entered the room. An agreeable warmth met him, and the aspect of the
interior contrasted cheerfully with that of the chambers into which he
had looked. There was no great collection of books, but some fine
engravings filled the vacancies around. At the smaller of two
writing-tables sat the person he was prepared to discover; she had
several volumes open before her, and appeared to be making notes. At
his entrance she turned and gazed at him fixedly.
"Forgive my intrusion, Mrs. Wade," Denzil began, in a genial voice.
"I have come to look over the house, and was just told that you were
here. As we are not absolute strangers" ——
He had never met her in the social way, though she had been a
resident at Polterham for some six years. Through Mrs. Liversedge, her
repute had long ago reached him; she was universally considered
eccentric, and, by many people, hardly proper for an acquaintance. On
her first arrival in the town she wore the garb of recent widowhood;
relatives here she had none, but an old friendship existed between her
and the occupants of this house, a childless couple named Hornibrook.
Her age was now about thirty.
Quarrier was far from regarding her as an attractive woman. He
thought better of her intelligence than before hearing her speak, and
it was not difficult for him to imagine that the rumour of Polterham
went much astray when it concerned itself with her characteristics; but
the face now directed to him had no power whatever over his
sensibilities. It might be that of a high-spirited and large-brained
woman; beautiful it could not be called. There was something amiss with
the eyes. All the other features might pass: they were neither plain
nor comely: a forehead of good type, a very ordinary nose, largish
lips, chin suggesting the masculine; but the eyes, to begin with, were
prominent, and they glistened in a way which made it very difficult to
determine their colour. They impressed Denzil as of a steely-grey, and
seemed hard as the metal itself. His preference was distinctly for soft
feminine eyes — such as Lilian gazed with.
Her figure was slight, but seemed strong and active. He had noticed
the evening before that, in standing to address an audience, she looked
anything but ridiculous — spite of bonnet. Here too, though allowing
her surprise to be seen, she had the bearing of perfect
self-possession, and perhaps of conscious superiority. Fawn-coloured
hair, less than luxuriant, lay in soft folds and plaits on the top of
her head; possibly (the thought was not incongruous) she hoped to gain
half an inch of seeming stature.
They shook hands, and Denzil explained his object in calling.
"Then you are going to settle at Polterham?"
"Probably — that is, to keep an abode here."
"You are not married, I think, Mr. Quarrier?"
"There was a report at the Institute last night — may I speak of
"Political? I don't think it need be kept a secret. My
brother-in-law wishes me to make friends with the Liberals, in his
"I dare say you will find them very willing to meet your advances.
On one question you have taken a pretty safe line."
"Much to your disgust," said Denzil, who found himself speaking
very freely and inclined to face debatable points.
"Disgust is hardly the word. Will you sit down? In Mrs.
Hornibrook's absence, I must represent her. They are good enough to let
me use the library; my own is poorly supplied."
Denzil took a chair.
"Are you busy with any particular subject?" he asked.
"The history of woman in Greece."
"Profound! I have as good as forgotten my classics. You read the
"After a fashion. I don't know much about the enclitic de, and I
couldn't pass an exam. in the hypothetical sentences; but I pick up the
sense as I read on."
Her tone seemed to imply that, after all, she was not ill-versed in
grammatical niceties. She curtailed the word "examination" in an
off-hand way which smacked of an undergraduate, and her attitude on the
chair suggested that she had half a mind to cross her legs and throw
her hands behind her head.
"Then," said Quarrier, "you have a good deal more right to speak of
woman's claims to independence than most female orators."
She looked at him with a good-humoured curl of the lip.
"Excuse me if I mention it — your tone reminds me of that with
which you began last evening. It was rather patronizing."
"Heaven forbid! I am very sorry to have been guilty of such
"In a measure you atoned for it afterwards. When I got up to offer
you my thanks, I was thinking of the best part of your lecture — that
where you spoke of girls being entrapped into monstrous marriages. That
was generous, and splendidly put. It seemed to me that you must have
had cases in mind."
For the second time Denzil was unable to meet the steely gaze. He
looked away and laughed.
"Oh, of course I had; who hasn't — that knows anything of the
world? But," he changed the subject, "don't you find it rather dull,
living in a place like Polterham?"
"I have my work here."
"Work? — the work of propagandism?"
"Precisely. It would be pleasant enough to live in London, and
associate with people of my own way of thinking; but what's the good?
— there's too much of that centralization. The obscurantists take very
good care to spread themselves. Why shouldn't those who love the light
try to keep little beacons going in out-of-the-way places?"
"Well, do you make any progress?"
"Oh, I think so. The mere fact of my existence here ensures that. I
dare say you have heard tell of me, as the countryfolk say?"
The question helped Denzil to understand why Mrs. Wade was content
with Polterham. He smiled.
"Your influence won't be exerted against me, I hope, when the time
"By no means. Don't you see that I have already begun to help you?"
"By making it clear that my Radicalism is not of the most dangerous
They laughed, together, and Quarrier, though the dialogue
entertained him, rose as if to depart.
"I will leave you with your Greeks, Mrs. Wade; though I fear you
haven't much pleasure in them from that special point of view."
"I don't know; they have given us important types of womanhood. The
astonishing thing is that we have got so little ahead of them in the
facts of female life. Woman is still enslaved, though men nowadays
think it necessary to disguise it."
"Do you really attach much importance to the right of voting, and
"'And so on!' That covers a great deal, Mr. Quarrier. I attach all
importance to a state of things which takes for granted that women
stand on a level with children."
"So they do — with an inappreciable number of exceptions. You must
be perfectly well aware of that."
"And so you expect me to be satisfied with it? — I insist on the
franchise, because it symbolizes full citizenship. I won't aim at
anything less than that. Women must be taught to keep their eyes on
that, as the irreducible minimum of their demands."
"We mustn't argue. You know that I think they must be taught to
look at quite different things."
"Yes; but what those things are you have left me in doubt. We will
talk it over when you have more time to spare. Do you know my address?
Pear-tree Cottage, Rickstead Road. I shall be very glad to see you if
ever you care to call."
Denzil made his acknowledgments, shook hands, and left the room.
When his step sounded in the hall, the housekeeper appeared and
conducted him to the upper stories. He examined everything attentively,
but in silence; his features expressed grave thought. Mr. and Mrs.
Hornibrook, he was told, were living in Guernsey, and had resolved to
make that island their permanent abode. A Polterham solicitor was their
agent for the property.
Denzil was given to acting on the spur of the moment. There might
be dwellings obtainable that would suit him better than this, but he
did not care to linger in the business. As he passed out of the iron
gates he made up his mind that the house, with necessary repairs, would
do very well; and straightway he turned his steps to the office of the
The village of Rickstead lay at some five miles' distance from that
suburb of Polterham where dwelt Mr. Toby Liversedge, Mr. Mumbray (the
Mayor), Mr. Samuel Quarrier, and sundry other distinguished townsfolk.
A walk along the Rickstead Bead was a familiar form of exercise with
the less-favoured people who had their homes in narrow streets; for on
either side of the highway lay an expanse of meadows, crossed here and
there by pleasant paths which led to the surrounding hamlets. In this
direction no factories had as yet risen to deform the scene.
Darkness was falling when Quarrier set forth to keep his
appointment with Eustace Glazzard at the Coach and Horses Inn. The
road-lamps already glimmered; there would be no moon, but a soft dusky
glow lingered over half the sky, and gave promise of a fair night.
Denzil felt his boyhood revive as he got clear of the new houses, and
began to recognize gates, trees, banks, and stiles; he could not say
whether he enjoyed the sensation, but it served to combat certain
troublesome thoughts which had beset him since the morning. He was
experiencing reaction after the excitement of the last two days. A
change from the orderly domesticities of his sister's house had become
necessary to him, and he looked forward with satisfaction to the
evening he had planned.
At a turn of the road, which, as he well remembered, had been a
frequent limit of his nurse-guarded walk five-and-twenty years ago, his
eye fell upon a garden gate marked with the white inscription,
"Pear-tree Cottage." It brought him to a pause. This must be Mrs.
Wade's dwelling; the intellectual lady had quite slipped out of his
thoughts, and with amusement he stopped to examine the cottage as well
as dusk permitted. The front was overgrown with some creeper; the low
roof made an irregular line against the sky one window on the
ground-floor showed light through a red blind. Mrs. Wade, he had
learnt, enjoyed but a small income; the interior was probably very
modest. There she sat behind the red blind and meditated on the
servitude of her sex. Repressing an inclination to laugh aloud, he
stepped briskly forward.
Rickstead consisted of twenty or thirty scattered houses; an
ancient, slumberous place, remarkable chiefly for its time-honoured
inn, which stood at the crossing of two high roads. The landlord had
received notice that two gentlemen would dine under his roof, and the
unwonted event was making quite a stir in the hostelry. Quarrier walked
in at about a quarter-past six, savoury odours saluted him from the
threshold. Glazzard had not yet arrived, but in less than five minutes
a private carriage drew up to the door, and the friends hailed each
The room prepared for them lay well apart from the bar, with its
small traffic. A great fire had been blazing for an hour or two; and
the table, not too large, was laid with the best service the house
could afford — nothing very grand, to be sure, in these days of its
decline, but the general effect was inviting to men with a good
appetite and some historical imagination.
"A happy idea of yours!" said Glazzard, as he rubbed his hands
before the great hearth. "Are we to begin with a cup of sack?"
Punctually the meal was served; the liquor provided therewith,
though of small dignity, did no discredit to the host. They talked and
laughed over old Grammar School days, old acquaintances long since dead
or lost to sight, boyish ambitions and achievements. Dinner dismissed,
a bottle of whisky on the table, a kettle steaming by the fire,
Denzil's pipe and Glazzard's cigar comfortably glowing, there came a
"Well, I have a story to fell you," said Quarrier, at length.
"So I supposed," murmured the other, without eagerness.
"I don't know that I should have told it but for that chance
encounter at Kew. But I'm not sorry. I think, Glazzard, you are the one
man in the world in whom I have perfect confidence."
The listener just bent his head. His features were impassive.
"It concerns Lilian, of course," Quarrier pursued, when he had
taken a few puffs less composedly than hitherto. "I am telling the
story without her leave, but — well, in a way, as I said, the
necessity is forced upon me. I can't help doing many things just now
that I should avoid if I had my choice. I have undertaken to fight
society by stratagem. For my own part, I would rather deal it a plain
blow in the face, and bid it do its worst; but" —— He waved his hand.
Glazzard murmured and nodded comprehension.
"I'll go back to the beginning. That was about three years ago. I
was crossing the North Sea (you remember the time; I said good-bye to
you in the Academy, where your bust was), and on the boat I got into
conversation with a decent kind of man who had his wife and family with
him, going to settle for a time at Stockholm; a merchant of some sort.
There were three children, and they had a governess — Lilian, in fact,
who was then not much more than eighteen. I liked the look of her from
the first. She was very still and grave, — the kind of thing that
takes me in a woman, provided she has good features. I managed to get a
word or two with her, and I liked her way of speaking. Well, I was
sufficiently interested to say to myself that I might as well spend a
week or two. at Stockholm and keep up the acquaintance of these people;
Becket, their name was. I'm not exactly the kind of fellow who goes
about falling in love with nursery governesses, and at that time
(perhaps you recollect?) I had somebody else in mind. I dare say it was
partly the contrast between that shark of a woman and this modest girl;
at all events, I wanted to see more of Lilian, and I did I was in
Stockholm, of! and on, for a couple of months. I became good friends
with the Beckets, and before coming back to England I made an offer to
Miss Allen — that was the governess's name. She refused me, and I was
conceited enough to wonder what the deuce she meant."
Glazzard laughed. He was listening with more show of interest.
"Well," pursued Quarrier, after puffing vainly at his extinguished
pipe, "there was reason for wondering. Before I took the plunge, I had
a confidential talk with Mrs. Becket, who as good as assured me that I
had only to speak; in fact, she was rather angry with me for disturbing
her family arrangements. Miss Allen, I learnt from her, was an
uncommonly good girl — everything I imagined her. Mrs. Becket didn't
know her family, but she had engaged her on the strength of excellent
testimonials, which didn't seem exaggerated. Yet after that I was
floored — told that the thing couldn't be. No weeping and wailing; but
a face and a voice that puzzled me. The girl liked me well enough; I
felt sure of it. All the same I had to come back to England alone, and
in a devilish bad temper. You remember that I half quarrelled with you
about something at our first meeting."
"You were rather bearish," remarked Glazzard, knocking the ash off
"As I often am. Forgive me, old fellow!"
Denzil relit his pipe.
"The next summer I went over to Sweden again. Miss Allen was still
with the Beckets, as I knew; but she was only going to stay a few
months more. One of the children had died, and the other two were to be
sent to a boarding-school in England. Again I went through the
proposing ordeal, and again it was useless. 'Confound it!' I shouted,
'do deal honestly with me! What's the matter? Are you engaged already?'
She kept silent for a long time, then said 'Yes!' 'Then why in the name
of the Jötuns didn't you tell me so before?' I was brutal (as I often
am), and the poor girl began to cry. Then there was a scene — positive
stage business. I wouldn't take her refusal. 'This other man, you don't
really care for him — you are going to sacrifice yourself! I won't
have it! She wept and moaned, and threatened hysterics; and at last,
when I was losing patience (I can't stand women's idiotic way of
flinging themselves about and making a disturbance, instead of
discussing difficulties calmly), she said at last that, if ever we met
in England, she would explain her position. 'Why not now?' — no, not
in the Beckets' house. Very well then, at least she might make it
certain that I should see her in England. After trouble enough, she at
last consented to this. She was to come back with Mr. Becket and the
boys, and then go to her people. I got her promise that she would write
to me and make an appointment somewhere or other. — More whisky?"
Glazzard declined; so Denzil replenished his own glass, and went
on. He was now tremulous with the excitement of his reminiscences; he
fidgeted on the chair, and his narrative became more jerky than ever.
"Her letter came, posted in London. She had taken leave of the
Becket party, and was supposed to be travelling homewards; but she
would keep her word with me. I was to go and see her at an hotel in the
West End. Go, I did, punctually enough; I believe I would have gone to
Yokohama for half an hour of her society. I found her in a private
sitting-room, looking wretched enough, confoundedly ill. And then and
there she told me her story. It was a queer one; no one could have
He seized the poker and stirred the fire savagely.
"I shall just give you the plain facts. Her father was a builder in
a small way, living at Bristol. He had made a little money, and was
able to give his children a decent education. There was a son, who died
young, and then two girls, Lilian the elder of them. The old man must
have been rather eccentric; he brought up the girls very strictly
(their mother died when they were children) — would scarcely let them
go out of his sight, preached to them a sort of mixture of Christianity
and Pantheism, forbade all pleasures except those of home, didn't like
them to make acquaintances. Their mother's sister kept the house; a
feeble, very pious creature, probably knowing as much about life as the
cat or the canary — so Lilian describes her. The man came to a sudden
end; a brick fell on his head whilst he was going over a new building.
Lilian was then about fifteen. She had passed the Oxford Local, and was
preparing herself to teach — or rather, being prepared at a good
"Allen left enough money to provide his daughters with about a
hundred a year each; this was to be theirs absolutely when they came of
age, or when they married. The will had been carefully drawn up, and
provided against all sorts of real and imaginary dangers. The one thing
it couldn't provide against was the imbecility of the old aunt, who
still had the girls in her care.
"A couple of years went by, and Lilian became a teacher in the
school she had attended. Do you know anything about Bristol and the
neighbourhood? It seems that the people there are in the habit of going
to a place called Weston-super-Mare — excursion steamers, and so on.
Well, the girls and their aunt went to spend a day at Weston, and on
the boat they somehow made acquaintance with a young man named
Northway. That means, of course, he made up to them, and the aunt was
idiot enough to let him keep talking. He stuck by them all day, and
accompanied them back to Bristol. — Pah! it sickens me to tell the
He took the glass to drink, but it slipped from his nervous fingers
and crashed on the ground.
"Never mind; let it be there. I have had whisky enough. This damned
fellow Northway soon called upon them, and was allowed to come as often
as he liked. He was a clerk in a commercial house — gave references
which were found to be satisfactory enough, a great talker, and of
course a consummate liar. His special interest was the condition of the
lower classes; he made speeches here and there, went slumming, called
himself a Christian Socialist. This kind of thing was no doubt
attractive to Lilian — you know enough of her to understand that. She
was a girl of seventeen, remember. In the end, Northway asked her to
marry him, and she consented."
"Did he know of the money?" inquired Glazzard.
"Undoubtedly. I shouldn't wonder if the blockhead aunt told. Well,
the wedding-day came; they were married; and — just as they came out
of the church, up walks a detective, claps his hand on Northway's
shoulder, and arrests him for forgery."
"H'm! I see."
"The fellow was tried. Lilian wouldn't tell me the details; she
gave me an old newspaper with full report. Northway had already, some
years before, been in the hands of the police in London. It came out
now that he was keeping a mistress; on the eve of marriage he had
dispensed with her services, and the woman, in revenge, went to his
employers to let them know certain suspicious facts. He was sent to
penal servitude for three years."
"Three years!" murmured Glazzard. "About so ago, I suppose?"
"Yes; perhaps he is already restored to society. Pleasant
"Moral and discreet law," remarked the other, "which maintains the
validity of such a marriage!"
Denzil uttered a few violent oaths, reminiscences of the Navy.
"And she went at once to Sweden?" Glazzard inquired.
"In a month or two the head-mistress of her school, a sensible
woman, helped her to get an engagement — with not a word said of the
catastrophe. She went as Miss Allen. It was her firm resolve never
again to see Northway. She would not acknowledge that that ceremony in
the church made her a wife. Of course, you understand that it wasn't
only the forgery that revolted her; that, I suppose, could have been
pardoned. In a few days she had learnt more of herself and of the world
than in all the previous years. She understood that Northway was really
nothing to her. She accepted him because he was the first man who
interested her and made love to her — like thousands of girls. Lilian
is rather weak, unfortunately. She can't stand by herself. But for me,
I am convinced she would now be at the mercy of the blackguard, when he
comes out. Horror and despair enabled her to act firmly three years
ago; but if she had no one to support her — well, she has! "
"What did you propose," asked Glazzard, "when you persuaded her to
live with you?"
Denzil wrinkled his brow and looked gloomily at the fire.
"We agreed to live a life of our own, that was all. To tell you the
truth, Glazzard, I had no clear plans. I was desperately in love, and
— well, I thought of emigration some day. You know me too well to
doubt my honesty. Lilian became my wife, for good and all — no doubt
about that! But I didn't trouble much about the future — it's my way."
"She cut herself loose from the Bristol people?"
"No; she has corresponded with them at long intervals. They think
she is teaching in London. The tragedy excuses her from visiting them.
Aunt and sister are sworn to secrecy concerning her whereabouts. A good
thing she has no male relatives to hunt her up."
"Does she draw her income? — I beg your pardon, the question
escaped me. Of course it's no business of mine."
"Never mind. Yes, the money is at her disposal; thanks to the
settlement required by her father's will. I'm afraid she gives away a
lot of it in indiscriminate charity. I needn't say," he added, with a
characteristic movement of the head, "that I have nothing to do with
"My real position she doesn't understand. I have never told her of
how it was changed at my father's death. — Poor girl! About that time
she was disappointed of a child, and had a month or two of black
misery. I kept trying to make up my mind what course would be the
wisest, and in the meanwhile said nothing. She is marvellously patient.
In fact, what virtue hasn't she, except that of a strong will? Whatever
happens, she and I stand together; nothing on earth would induce me to
part from her! I want you to understand that. In what I am now going to
do, I am led solely and absolutely by desire for our common good. You
see, we are face to face with the world's immoral morality. To brave it
would be possible, of course; but then we must either go to a foreign
country or live here in isolation. I don't want to live permanently
abroad, and I do want to go in for activity — political by preference.
The result is we must set our faces, tell lies, and hope that fortune
will favour us."
There was a strong contrast between Quarrier's glowing vehemence
and the show of calm reflection which the other maintained as he
listened. Denzil's face was fully lighted by the fire; his friend's
received the shadow of an old-fashioned screen which Glazzard, finding
the heat oppressive, had pulled forward a few minutes ago. The frank,
fearless gaze with which Denzil's words were accompanied met no
response; but to this habit in the listener he was accustomed.
"Yes, we must tell lies!" Quarrier emphasized the words savagely.
"Social law is stupid and unjust, imposing its obligation without
regard to person or circumstance. It presumes that no one can be
trusted. I decline to be levelled with the unthinking multitude. You
and I can be a law to ourselves. What I shall do is this: On returning
to town next week, I shall take Lilian over to Paris. We shall live
there for several weeks, and about the end of the time I shall write to
my people here, and tell them that I have just been married."
He paused. Glazzard made no motion, and uttered no sound.
"I have already dropped a mysterious word or two to my Mister,
which she will be able to interpret afterwards. Happily, I am thought a
likely fellow to do odd, unconventional things. Again and again Mary
has heard me rail against the idiocies of ordinary weddings; this
private marriage will be quite in character. I shall state that Lilian
has hitherto been a governess at Stockholm — that I made her
acquaintance there — that I sent for her to meet me in Paris. Now,
tell me, have you any objection to offer?"
Glazzard shifted his position, coughed, and drew from his case a
new cigar, which he scrutinized closely from tip to end — even drawing
it along under his nose. Then he spoke very quietly.
"It's feasible — but dangerous."
"But not very dangerous, I think?"
"I can't say. It depends greatly on your wife's character."
"Thank you for using that word, old fellow!" burst from Denzil.
"She is my wife, in every sense of the word that merits the
consideration of a rational creature!"
"I admit it; but I am afraid of lies."
"I am not only afraid of them; I hate them bitterly. I can say with
a clear conscience that I abhor untruthfulness. I have never told a
deliberate lie since I was old enough to understand the obligation of
truth! But we have to do with monstrous social tyrannies. Lilian can no
longer live in hiding. She must have a full and enjoyable life."
"Yes. But is it possible for her, under these conditions?"
"I think so. I have still to speak to her, but I know she will see
things as I do."
A very faint smile flitted over Glazzard's lips.
"Good! And you don't fear discovery by — what's his name —
"Not if Lilian can decide to break entirely with her relatives —
at all events for some years. She must cease to draw her dividends, of
course, and must announce to the Bristol people that she has determined
on a step which makes it impossible for her to communicate with them
henceforth. I don't think this will be a great sacrifice; her aunt and
her sister have no great hold upon her affections. — You must remember
that her whole being is transformed since she last saw them. She thinks
differently on all and every subject."
"You are assured of that?"
"Absolutely sure! I have educated her. I have freed her from
superstitions and conventionalities. To her, as to me, the lies we
shall have to tell will be burdensome in the extreme; but we shall both
forget in time."
"That is exactly what you can never do!" said Glazzard,
deliberately. "You enter upon a lifetime of dissimulation. Ten, twenty
years hence you will have to act as careful a part as on the day when
you and she first present yourselves in Polterham."
"Oh, in a sense!" cried the other, impatiently.
"A very grave sense. — Quarrier, why have you taken up this
political idea? What's the good of it?"
He leaned forward and spoke with a low earnest voice. Denzil could
not instantly reply.
"Give it up!" pursued Glazzard. "Take Lilian abroad, and live a
life of quiet happiness. Go on with your literary work" ——
"Nonsense! I can't draw back now, and I don't wish to."
"Would you — if — if I were willing to become the Liberal
Denzil stared in astonishment.
"You? Liberal candidate?"
A peal of laughter rang through the room. Glazzard had spoken as if
with a great effort, his voice indistinct, his eyes furtive. When the
burst of merriment made answer to him, he fell back in his chair,
crossed his legs, and set his features in a hard smile.
"You are joking, old fellow!" said Denzil.
"Yes, if you like."
Quarrier wished to discuss the point, but the other kept an
"I understand," remarked Denzil, at length. "You hit upon that
thought out of kindness to me. You don't like my project, and you
wished to save me from its dangers. I understand. Hearty thanks, but I
have made up my mind. I won't stunt my life out of regard for an
imbecile superstition. The dangers are not great; and if they were, I
should prefer to risk them. You electioneering! Ho, ho!"
Glazzard's lips were close drawn, his eyes veiled by the drooping
lids. He had ceased to smoke, and when, a few minutes later, he threw
away his cigar, it was all but squeezed flat by the two fingers which
had seemed to hold it lightly.
"It is settled!" cried Denzil, jumping up, with a return of his
extravagant spirits. "You, Glazzard, will stand by and watch — our
truest friend. You on the hustings! Ha, ha, ha! Come, one more glass of
whisky, and I will tell them to get our cab ready. I say, Glazzard,
from this evening forth never a word between us about the secret. That
is understood, of course. You may let people know that you were in my
confidence about the private marriage. But I can trust your discretion
as my own. Your glass — pledge me in the old style!"
Ten minutes more, and they were driving back to Polterham.
But for domestic warfare, Mrs. Mumbray would often have been at a
loss how to spend her time. The year of her husband's Mayoralty
supplied, it is true, a good many unwonted distractions, but in the
middle of the morning, and late in the evening (if there were no
dinner-party), ennui too frequently weighed upon her. For relief in the
former case, she could generally resort to a quarrel with Serena; in
the latter, she preferred to wrangle with her spouse.
One morning early in December, having indulged her ill-humour with
even more than usual freedom among the servants, she repaired to the
smaller drawing-room, where, at this hour, her daughter often sat
reading. Serena was at a table, a French book and dictionary open
before her. After hovering for a few moments with eyes that gathered
wrath, the Mayoress gave voice to her feelings.
"So you pay no attention to my wishes, Serena! I will not have you
reading such books!"
Her daughter rustled the dictionary, impassive. Conscious of
reduced authority, Mrs. Mumbray glared and breathed hard, her spacious
bosom working like a troubled sea.
"Your behaviour astonishes me! — after what you heard Mr. Vialls
"Mr. Vialls is an ignorant and foolish man," remarked Serena,
without looking up.
Then did the mother's rage burst forth without restraint, eloquent,
horrisonous. As if to save her ears, Serena went to the piano and began
to play. When the voice was silenced, she turned round.
"You had rather have me play than read that book? That shows how
little you understand of either. This is an immoral piece of music! If
you knew what it meant you would scream in horror. It is immoral, and I
am going to practise it day after day."
The Mayoress stood awhile in mute astonishment, then, with purple
face, swept from the room.
The family consisted of four persons. Serena's brother, a young
gentleman of nineteen, articled to a solicitor in the town, was
accustomed to appear at meals, but seldom deigned to devote any more of
his leisure to the domestic circle. After luncheon to-day, as he stood
at the window with a sporting newspaper, his mother addressed him.
"We have company this evening, Raglan. Take care that you're not
"Who's coming?" asked the young man, without looking up.
"Mr. Eustace Glazzard and Miss Glazzard."
"Any one else?"
"Then you don't catch me here! I have an appointment at eight."
"I insist upon your dining with us! If you are not at dinner, I
will have your allowance stopped! I mean what I say. Not one penny more
shall you receive until you have learnt to behave yourself!"
"We'll see about that," replied Raglan, with finished coolness;
and, folding his newspaper, he walked off.
Nor did the hour of dinner see his return. The expected guests
arrived; it was not strictly a dinner-party, but, as Mr. Mumbray
described it, "a quiet evening ong fammil." The Rev. Scatchard Vialls
carne in at the last moment with perspiring brow, excusing himself on
the ground of professional duties. He was thin, yet flabby, had a stoop
in the shoulders, and walked without noticeably bending his knees. The
crown of his head went to a peak; he had eyes like a ferret's; his
speech was in a high, nasal note. For some years he had been a widower,
a fact which perhaps accounted for his insinuating manner when he
approached Miss Mumbray.
The dinner was portentously dull. Ivy Glazzard scarcely uttered a
syllable. Her uncle exerted himself to shape phrases of perfect
inoffensiveness, addressing now his hostess, now Serena. The burden of
conversation fell upon Mr. Vialls, who was quite equal to its support;
he spoke of the evil tendencies of the time as exhibited in a shameful
attempt to establish Sunday evening concerts at a club of Polterham
workmen. His discourse on this subject, systematically developed,
lasted until the ladies withdrew. It allowed him scarcely any attention
to his plate, but Mr. Vialls had the repute of an ascetic. In his
buttonhole was a piece of blue ribbon, symbol of a ferocious
total-abstinence; his face would have afforded sufficient proof that
among the reverend man's failings were few distinctly of the flesh.
The Mayor did not pretend to asceticism. He ate largely and without
much discrimination. His variously shaped and coloured glasses were not
merely for display. When the door had closed behind the Mayoress and
her two companions, he settled himself with an audible sigh, and for a
few moments wore a look of meditation; then, leaning towards Glazzard,
he inquired gravely:
"What is your opinion of the works of Bawlzac?"
The guest was at a loss for an instant, but he quickly recovered
"Ah, the French novelist? A man of great power, but — hardly
according to English tastes."
"Should you consider him suitable reading for young ladies?"
"Well, hardly. Some of his books are unobjectionable."
Mr. Vialls shot a fierce glance at him.
"In my opinion, his very name is pollution! I would not permit a
page of his writing, or of that of any French novelist, to enter my
house. One and all are drenched with impurity!"
"Certainly many of them are," conceded Glazzard.
"Lamentable," sighed the Mayor, raising his glass, "to think that
quite a large number of his books have been put into the Institute
library! We must use our influence on all hands, Mr. Vialls. We live in
sad times. Even the theatre — I am told that some of the plays
produced in London are disgraceful, simply disgraceful!"
The theatre was discussed, Mr. Vialls assailing it as a mere agent
of popular corruption. On the mention of the name of Shakespeare, Mr.
"Shakespeare needs a great deal of expurgating. But some of his
plays teach a good lesson, I think. There is 'I read Romeo and Juliet,'
for instance." Glazzard looked up in surprise. "I read 'Romeo and
Juliet' not long ago, and it struck me that its intention was decidedly
moral. It points a lesson to disobedient young people. If Juliet had
been properly submissive to her parents, such calamities would never
have befallen her. Then, again, I was greatly struck with the fate that
overtook Mercutio — a most suitable punishment for his persistent use
of foul language. Did you ever see it in that light, Mr. Glazzard?"
"I confess it is new to me. I shall think it over."
The Mayor beamed with gratification.
"No one denies," struck in Mr. Vialls, "that to a pure mind all
things are pure. Shakespeare is undoubtedly a great poet, and a soul
bent on edification can extract much good from him. But for people in
general, especially young people, assuredly he cannot be recommended,
even in the study. I confess I have neither time nor much inclination
for poetry — except that of the sacred volume, which is poetry indeed.
I have occasionally found pleasure in Longfellow" ——
"Pardon me," interrupted the Mayor — "Longfellow? — the author of
that poem called 'Excelsior'?"
"Now, really — I am surprised — I should have thought — the fact
is, when Raglan was at school, he had to learn 'Excelsior,' and I
happened to glance over it. I was slightly acquainted with the piece,
but I had quite forgotten that It contained what seems to me very gross
indelicacy — very gross indeed. Do you remember a verse beginning (I
must ask your pardon for quoting it, Mr. Vialls) —
'Oh stay, the maiden cried, and rest Thy weary head upon this
breast.' Surely, that is all but indecency. In fact, I wrote at once
to the master and drew his attention to the passage, requesting that my
boy might never be asked to repeat such a poem. The force of my
objection was not at once admitted, strange to say; but in the end I
gained my point." Mr. Vialls screwed up his lips and frowned at the
table-cloth, but said nothing.
"Our task nowadays," pursued the Mayor, with confidence, "is to
preserve the purity of home. Our homes are being invaded by dangerous
influences we must resist. The family should be a bulwark of virtue —
of all the virtues — holiness, charity, peace."
He lingered on the last word, and his gaze became abstracted.
"Very true, very true indeed!" cried the clergyman. "For one thing,
how careful a parent should be with regard to the periodical literature
which is allowed to enter his house, This morning, in a home I will not
mention, my eye fell upon a weekly paper which I should have thought
perfectly sound in its teaching; yet, behold, there was an article of
which the whole purport was to excuse the vices of the lower classes on
the ground of their poverty and their temptations. Could anything be
more immoral, more rotten in principle? There is the spirit we have to
contend against — a spirit of accursed lenity in morals, often
originating in so-called scientific considerations! Evil is evil —
vice, vice — the devil is the devil — be circumstances what they may.
I do not care to make mention of such monstrous aberrations as, for
instance, the attacks we are occasionally forced to hear on the law of
marriage. That is the mere reek of the bottomless pit, palpable to all.
But I speak of subtler disguises of evil, such as may recommend
themselves to persons well-intentioned but of weak understanding.
Happily, I persuaded my friends to discontinue their countenance of
that weekly paper, and I shall exert myself everywhere to the same
They rose at length, and went to the drawing-room. There Glazzard
succeeding in seating himself by Miss Mumbray, and for a quarter of an
hour he talked with her about art and literature. The girl's face
brightened; she said little, but that little with very gracious smiles.
Then Mr. Vialls approached, and the tête-à-tête was necessarily at an
When he was at length alone with his wife, the Mayor saw what was
in store for him; in fact, he had foreseen it throughout the evening.
"Yes," began the lady, with flashing eyes, "this is your Mr.
Glazzard! He encourages Serena in her shameful behaviour! I overheard
him talking to her."
"You are altogether wrong, as usual," replied Mr. Mumbray, with his
wonted attempt at dignified self-assertion. "Glazzard distinctly
disapproves of Bawlzac, and everything of that kind. His influence is
as irreproachable as that of Mr. Vialls."
"Of course! You are determined to overthrow my plans at whatever
cost to your daughter's happiness here and hereafter."
"I don't think Vialls a suitable husband for her, and I am not
sorry she won't listen to him. He's all very well as a man and a
clergyman, but — pshaw! what's the good of arguing with a pig-headed
This emphatic epithet had the result which was to be expected. The
debate became a scolding match, lasting well into the night. These two
persons were not only on ill-terms, they disliked each other with the
intensity which can only be engendered by thirty years of a marriage
such as, but for public opinion, would not have lasted thirty weeks.
Their reciprocal disgust was physical, mental, moral. It could not be
concealed from their friends; all Polterham smiled over it; yet the
Mumbrays were regarded as a centre of moral and religious influence, a
power against the encroaches of rationalism and its attendant
depravity. Neither of them could point to dignified ancestry; by steady
persistence in cant and snobbishness — the genuine expression of their
natures — they had pushed to a prominent place, and feared nothing so
much as depreciation in the eyes of the townsfolk. Raglan and Serena
were causing them no little anxiety; both, though in different ways,
might prove an occasion of scandal. When Eustace Glazzard began to
present himself at the house, Mr. Mumbray welcomed the significant
calls. From his point of view, Serena could not do better than marry a
man of honourable name, who would remove her to London. Out of mere
contrariety, Mrs. Mumbray thereupon began to encourage the slow
advances of her Rector, who thought of Serena's fortune as a means to
the wider activity, the greater distinction, for which he was
Glazzard's self-contempt as he went home this evening was not
unmingled with pleasanter thoughts. For a man in his position, Serena
Mumbray and her thousands did not represent a future of despair. He had
always aimed much higher, but defeat after defeat left him with shaken
nerves, and gloomy dialogues with his brother had impressed upon him
the necessity of guarding against darkest possibilities. His state of
mind was singularly morbid; he could not trust the fixity of his
purposes for more than a day or two together; but just at present he
thought without distaste of Serena herself, and was soothed by the
contemplation of her (to him modest) fortune. During the past month he
had been several times to and from London; to-morrow he would return to
town again, and view his progress from a distance.
On reaching his brother's house, he found a letter waiting for him;
it bore the Paris postmark. The contents were brief.
"DEAR GLAZZARD. "I announce to you the fact of our marriage. The
L.s will hear of it simultaneously. We are enjoying ourselves.
"Ever yours, "D.Q."
He went at once to the room where William was sitting, and said, in
a quiet voice:
"Quarrier has just got married — in Paris."
"Oh? To whom?"
"An English girl who has been a governess at Stockholm. I knew it
"Has he made a fool of himself?" asked William, dispassionately.
"I think not; she seems to be well educated, and good-looking —
according to his report."
"Why didn't you mention it before?"
"Oh, his wish. We talked it all over when he was here. He has an
idea that a man about to be married always cuts a ridiculous figure."
The elder man looked puzzled.
"No mysteries — eh?"
"None whatever, I believe. A decent girl without fortune, that's
all. I suppose we shall see them before long."
The subject was shortly dismissed, and Eustace fell to reporting
the remarkable conversation in which he had taken part at the Mayor's
table. His brother was moved to no little mirth, but did not indulge in
such savage contemptuousness as distinguished the narrator. William
Glazzard viewed the world from a standpoint of philosophic calm; he
expected so little of men in general, that disappointment or vexation
could rarely befall him.
"These people," he observed, "think themselves pillars of society,
and the best of the joke is, that they really are what they imagine.
Without tolerably honest fools, we should fare badly at the hands of
those who hate neither wits nor honesty. Let us encourage them, by all
means. I see no dawn as yet of the millennium of brains."
The weather, for this time of year, was unusually bright in Paris.
Each morning glistened with hoar-frost; by noon the sky shone blue over
clean, dry streets, and gardens which made a season for themselves,
leafless, yet defiant of winter's melancholy. Lilian saw it all with
the eyes of a stranger, and often was able to forget her anxiety in the
joy of wonderful, new impressions.
One afternoon she was resting in the room at the hotel, whilst
Quarrier went about the town on some business or other. A long morning
at the Louvre had tired her, and her spirits drooped. In imagination
she went back to the days of silence and solitude in London; the memory
affected her with something of homesickness, a wish that the past could
be restored. The little house by Clapham Common had grown dear to her;
in its shelter she had shed many tears, but also had known much
happiness: that sense of security which was now lost, the hope that
there she might live always, hidden from the world's inquisitive gaze,
justified to her own conscience by love and calm. What now was before
her? Not only the elaborate deceit, the perpetual risk, weighed upon
her heart; she was summoned to a position such as she had never
foreseen, for which she had received no training. When Denzil revealed
to her his real standing in the world, spoke laughingly of the wealth
he had inherited, and of his political ambitions, her courage failed
before the prospect. She had not dared to let him see all her
despondency, for his impatient and sanguine temper would have resented
it. To please him and satisfy his utmost demands was the one purpose of
her life. But the task he had imposed seemed to her, in these hours of
faintness, no less than terrible.
He entered, gay as usual, ready with tender words, pet names and
diminutives, the "little language" of one who was still a lover. Seeing
how things were with her, he sat down to look over an English
newspaper. Presently his attention strayed, he fell into reverie.
"Well," he exclaimed at length, rousing himself, "they have the
news by now."
She gave no answer.
"I can imagine how Mary will talk. 'Oh, nothing that Denzil does
can surprise me! Whoever expected him to marry in the ordinary way?'
And then they'll laugh, and shrug their shoulders, and hope I mayn't
have played the fool — good, charitable folks!"
Still she said nothing.
"Rather out of sorts to-day, Lily?"
"I wish we were going to stay here — never to go back to England."
"Live the rest of our lives in a Paris hotel!"
"No, no — in some quiet place — a home of our own."
"That wouldn't suit me, by any means. Paris is all very well for a
holiday, but I couldn't make a home here. There's no place like
England. Don't you ever think what an unspeakable blessing it is to
have been born in England? Every time I go abroad, I rejoice that I am
not as these foreigners. Even my Scandinavian friends I can't help
despising a little — and as for Frenchmen! There's a great deal of the
old island prejudice in me."
Lilian smiled, raising herself slightly upon the sofa.
"These old Latin nations have had their day," he continued, with a
wave of the arm. "France, Italy, Spain — they have played their part
in civilization, and have nothing left now but old relics and modern
bluster. The future's with us Teutons. If I were not an Englishman, I
would be an American. The probability is that we shall have a hard
fight one of these days with the Slavs — and all the better, perhaps;
I don't think the world can do without fighting yet awhile."
"I should be sorry to hear you teaching people that," said Lilian.
"Oh," he laughed, "it wouldn't fit into our electoral campaign! No
danger of my preaching bloodthirstiness. But how I shall enjoy the
bloodless fight down at Polterham! I want you to look forward to it in
the same way. Do cheer up, Lily! — you see I have been gradually
moving in this direction. When I found myself a man of means, I knew
that the time had come for stirring. Writing about the Sea-Kings is all
very well in its way, but I am no born literary man. I must get that
book finished and published, though. It might help me with the
constituency. A book gives a man distinction."
"You seem to me to have changed very much."
"No; it's only that you didn't know me thoroughly. To tell you the
truth, that life of hiding away in London wasn't a very good thing for
me. I lived too much to myself. The half-dozen acquaintances I had were
not the kind of men to profit me. Glazzard — well, Glazzard is an odd
sort of fellow — helpful now and then, but on the whole musty. He has
no ambition, thinks it enough to doze on among his pictures, and that
kind of thing. The fact is, such companionship has made me conceited. I
want to get among my equals and my superiors — as I shall do if I
become a Member of Parliament."
"Your equals — perhaps."
"Confound it! Your influence has tended the same way. You spoil me
— make me think myself a fine fellow. I suppose one's wife ought to
talk like that — I don't dislike it, you know; but if I end by never
doing anything at all, I should be confoundedly ashamed of myself. But
the more I think of it, the better satisfied I am that a political
career is the best thing for me. You see, this is the age of political
progress — that before everything. We English are working out our
revolution in a steady and sensible way, — no shrieking and
slaughtering — we leave that to people who don't really know what they
want, and will never get much to speak of. We go ahead soberly on the
constitutional highway — with a little hearty swearing to clear the
air now and then."
"Well, I was saying it is a political age, and I think a man ought
to go in for the first interest of his time. What have we to do just
now with artistic aims? The English, at any time, care little or
nothing for art; one has to recognize that. Our task in the world is
practical — to secure all men a sufficiency of beef and beer, and
honest freedom. I like to feel that I am on the advancing wave; I don't
care for your picturesque ponds; they generally have a bad smell."
The effect of his vigorous talk was manifest in Lilian's face. She
yielded her spirit to his, was borne whither he would.
"You talk of living in Paris — why, if you really knew Paris, you
would hate the place. Underneath all this show of civilization,
refinement, brilliancy — I'm glad to say you can't even guess what it
covers. The town reeks with abominations. I'm getting sick of it."
The sincerity of his moral disgust was obvious. No one knew so well
as Lilian the essential purity — even the puritanism — of Quarrier's
"For all that," he added, merrily, "we'll go and dine at the
restaurant, and then look in at the Français. They know how to cook
here, and they know how to play the fool — no denying it."
When Lilian went forth with him she had once more succeeded in
overcoming her despondent mood. The lights of the Boulevard exercised
their wonted effect — cheering, inspiring. She pressed his arm,
laughed at his mirthful talk; and Denzil looked down into her face with
pride and delight in its loveliness. He had taken especial care to have
her dressed in the manner that became his wife; Parisian science had
gone to the making of her costume, and its efforts were not wasted. As
they entered the restaurant, many eyes were turned with critical
appreciation upon the modest face and figure, as undeniably English, in
their way, as Quarrier's robust manhood.
Denzil's French was indifferently good, better perhaps than his
capacity for picking out from the bill of fare a little dinner which
should exalt him in the eyes of waiters. He went to work, however, with
a noble disregard for consequences, whether to digestion or pocket.
Where Lilian was concerned there could be no such thing as
extravagance; he gloried in obtaining for her the best of everything
that money could command. The final "Bien, monsieur," was, after all,
sufficiently respectful, and our friend leaned back with the pleasant
consciousness of duty performed.
He drank a good deal of wine, and talking with a spontaneity beyond
the ordinary Briton. Towards the close of dinner his theme was the
coming electoral contest.
"You know," he said, bending over the table, "you will be able to
give me important help. The wife of a candidate — especially of a
Radical candidate — can find plenty of work, if she knows how to go
about it. As little humbug as possible; and as little loss of
self-respect, but we shall have to shake a good many dirty hands. Your
turn for 'slumming' will serve us well, but I know the dangers of it.
You'll be coming home éplorée, as they say here. I hope you'll grow
stronger in that respect. One has to harden one's heart a little."
"I know it is wiser to do so."
"Of course! It's not only that you are constantly imposed upon; the
indulgence of universal sympathy is incompatible with duty to one's
self — unless you become at once a sister of mercy. One is bound, in
common sense, to close eyes and ears against all but a trifling
fraction of human misery. Why, look, we sit here, and laugh and talk
and enjoy ourselves; yet at this instant what horrors are being enacted
in every part of the world! Men are perishing by every conceivable form
of cruelty and natural anguish. Sailors are gurgling out their life in
sea-storms; soldiers are agonizing on battle-fields; men, women, and
children are being burnt, boiled, hacked, squashed, rent, exploded to
death in every town and almost every village of the globe. Here in
Paris, and over there in London, there is no end to the forms of misery
our knowledge suggests — all suffered while we eat and talk. But to
sit down and think persistently of it would lead to madness in any one
of imagination like yours. We have to say: It doesn't concern us! And
no more it does. We haven't the ordering of the world; we can't alter
the vile course of things. I like to swear over it now and then
(especially when I pass a London hospital), but I soon force myself to
think of something else. You must do the same — even to the swearing,
if you like. There's a tendency in our time to excess of
humanitarianism — I mean a sort of lachrymose habit which really does
no good. You represent it in some degree, I'm afraid — eh? Well, well,
you've lived too much alone — you've got into the way of brooding; the
habit of social life will strengthen you."
"I hope so, Denzil."
"Oh, undoubtedly! One more little drop of wine before the coffee.
Nonsense! You need stimulus; your vitality is low. I shall prescribe
for you henceforth. Merciful heavens! how that French woman does talk!
A hundred words to the minute for the last half hour."
A letter had arrived for him at the hotel in his absence. It was
from Mr. Hornibrook's agent, announcing that the house at Polterham was
now vacated, and that Mr. Quarrier might take possession just as soon
as he chose.
"That's all right!" he exclaimed, after reading it to Lilian. "Now
we'll think of getting back to London, to order our furniture, and all
the rest of it. The place can be made habitable in a few weeks, I
An emissary from Tottenham Court Road sped down to Polterham,
surveyed the vacant house, returned with professional computations.
Quarrier and Lilian abode at the old home until everything should be
ready for them, and Mrs. Liversedge represented her brother on the spot
— solving the doubts of workmen, hiring servants, making minor
purchases. She invited Denzil to bring his wife, and dwell for the
present under the Liversedge roof, but her brother preferred to wait.
"I don't like makeshifts; we must go straight into our own house; the
dignity of the Radical candidate requires it." So the work glowed, and
as little time as possible was spent over its completion.
It was midway in January when the day and hour of arrival were at
last appointed. No one was to be in the house but the servants. At four
in the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Quarrier would receive Mr. and Mrs.
Liversedge, and thus make formal declaration of their readiness to
welcome friends. Since her return to England, Lilian had seen no one.
She begged Denzil not to invite Glazzard to Clapham.
They reached Polterham at one o'clock, in the tumult of a
snowstorm; ten minutes more, and the whitened cab deposited them at
their doorway. Quarrier knew, of course, what the general appearance of
the interior would be, and he was well satisfied with the way in which
his directions had been carried out. His companion was at first
overawed rather than pleased. He led her from room to room, saying
frequently, "Do you like it? Will it do?"
"It frightens me!" murmured Lilian, at length. "How shall I manage
such a house?"
She was pale, and inclined to tearfulness, for the situation tired
her fortitude in a degree Denzil could not estimate. Fears which were
all but terrors, self-reproach which had the poignancy of remorse,
tormented her gentle, timid nature. For a week and more she had not
known unbroken sleep; dreams of fantastic misery awakened her to worse
distress in the calculating of her perils and conflict with insidious
doubts. At the dead hour before dawn, faiths of childhood revived
before her conscience, upbraiding, menacing. The common rules of
every-day honour spoke to her with stern reproval. Denzil's arguments,
when she tried to muster them in her defence, answered with hollow,
meaningless sound. Love alone would stead her; she could but shut her
eyes, and breathe, as if in prayer, the declaration that her love was a
sacred thing, cancelling verbal untruth.
She changed her dress, and went down to luncheon. The large
dining-room seemed to oppress her insignificance; to eat was
impossible, and with difficulty she conversed before the servants.
Fortunately, Denzil was in his best spirits; he enjoyed the wintery
atmosphere, talked of skating on the ice which had known him as a boy,
laughed over an old story about a snowball with a stone in it which had
stunned him in one of the fights between town and Grammar School.
"Pity the election can't come on just now! — we should have lively
times. A snowball is preferable to an addled egg any day. The Poltram
folks" — this was the common pronunciation of the town's name — "have
a liking for missiles at seasons of excitement."
From table, they went to the library — as yet unfurnished with
volumes — and made themselves comfortable by the fireside. Through the
windows nothing could be seen but a tempestuous whirl of flakes.
Lilian's cat, which had accompanied her in a basket, could not as yet
make itself at home on the hearthrug, and was glad of a welcome to its
mistress's lap. Denzil lit a pipe and studied the political news of the
At four o'clock he waited impatiently the call of his relatives.
Lilian, unable to command her agitation, had gone into another room,
and was there counting the minutes as if each cost her a drop of
heart's blood. If this first meeting were but over! All else seemed
easy, could she but face Denzil's sister without betrayal of her shame
and dread. At length she heard wheels roll up to the door; there were
voices in the hall; Denzil came forth with loud and joyous greeting; he
led his visitors into the library. Five minutes more of anguish, and
the voices were again audible, approaching, at the door.
"Well, Lily, here is my sister and Mr. Liversedge," said Denzil.
"No very formidable persons, either of them," he added merrily, as the
best way of making apology for Lilian's too obvious tremor.
But she conquered her weakness. The man was of no account to her;
upon the woman only her eyes were fixed, for there was the piercing
scrutiny, the quick divination, the merciless censure — there, if
anywhere, in one of her own sex. From men she might expect tolerance,
justice; from women only a swift choice between the bowl and the
dagger. Pride prompted her to hardihood, and when she had wall looked
upon Mrs. Liversedge's face a soothing confidence came to the support
of desperation. She saw the frank fairness of Denzil's lineaments
softened with the kindest of female smiles; a gaze keen indeed, but
ingenuous as that of a child; an expression impossible to be
interpreted save as that of heartfelt welcome, absolutely unsuspecting,
touched even with admiring homage.
They kissed each other, and Lilian's face glowed. After that, she
could turn almost joyously for Mr. Liversedge's hearty hand-shake.
"You have come like a sort of snow-queen," said Tobias, with
unusual imaginativeness, pointing to the windows. "It must have begun
just as you got here."
Perhaps the chill of her fingers prompted him to this poetical
flight. His wife, who had noticed the same thing, added, with practical
"I only hope the house is thoroughly dry. We have had great fires
everywhere for more than a fortnight. As for the snow and frost, you
are pretty well used to that, no doubt."
Painfully on the alert, Lilian of course understood this allusion
to the Northern land she was supposed to have quitted recently.
"Even at Stockholm," she replied, with a smile, "there is summer,
"And in Russia, too, I have heard," laughed Mr. Liversedge. "But
one doesn't put much faith in such reports. Denzil tries to persuade us
now and then that the North Cape has quite a balmy atmosphere,
especially from December to March. He is quite safe. We sha'n't go to
test his statements."
Instead of a time of misery, this first half-hour proved so
pleasant that Lilian all but forgot the shadow standing behind her.
When tea was brought in, she felt none of the nervousness which had
seemed to her inevitable amid such luxurious appliances. These
relatives of Denzil's, henceforth her own, were people such as she had
not dared to picture them — so unaffected, genial, easy to talk with;
nor did she suffer from a necessity of uttering direct falsehoods;
conversation dealt with the present and the future — partly, no doubt,
owing to Quarrier's initiative. Mr. Liversedge made a report of local
affairs as they concerned the political outlook; he saw every reason
"Welwyn-Baker," he said, "is quite set up again, and I am told he
has no inclination to retire in favour of his son, or any one else. An
obstinate old fellow — and may his obstinacy increase! The Tories are
beginning to see that they ought to set up a new man; they are
quarrelling among themselves. That bazaar at the opening of the new
Society's rooms — the Constitutional Literary, you know — seems to
have been a failure. No one was satisfied. The Mercury printed savage
letters from a lot of people — blaming this, that, and the other
person in authority. The Examiner, chuckled, and hasn't done referring
to the matter yet."
Apart with Lilian, Mrs. Liversedge had begun to talk of the society
of Polterham. She did not try to be witty at the expense of her
neighbours, but confessed with a sly smile that literature and the arts
were not quite so well appreciated as might be wished.
"You are a serious student, I know — very learned in languages. I
wish I had had more time for reading, and a better head. But seven
children, you know — oh dear! Even my little bit of French has got so
ragged that I am really ashamed of it. But there is one woman who
studies. Has Denzil spoken to you of Mrs. Wade?"
"I don't remember."
"She is no great favourite of his, I believe. You will soon hear of
her, and no doubt see her. Denzil admits that she is very clever —
even a Creek scholar!"
"Really! And what fault does he find with her?"
"She is a great supporter of woman's rights, and occasionally makes
speeches. It's only of late that I have seen much of her; for some
reason she seems to have taken a liking to me, and I feel rather
honoured. I'm sure her intentions are very good indeed, and it must be
trying to live among people who have no sympathy with you. They make
sad fun of her, and altogether misunderstand her — at least I think
The snowstorm still raged. To spare their own horses, the
Liversedges had come in a cab, and at half-past five the same vehicle
returned to take them home.. Lilian was sorry to see them go.
"Where are all your apprehensions now?" cried Denzil, coming back
to her from the hall. "It's over, you see. Not another minute's
uneasiness need you have!"
"They were kindness itself. I like them very much."
"As I knew and said you would. Now, no more chalky faces and
frightened looks! Be jolly, and forget everything. Let us try your
"Your sister was telling me about Mrs. Wade. Is she one of the
people you would like me to be friends with?"
"Oh yes!" he answered, laughing, "Mrs. Wade will interest you, no
doubt. Make a friend of her by all means. Did Mary whisper mysterious
"Anything but that; she spoke very favourably."
"And she said Mrs. Wade seemed to have taken a liking to her
"Oh! How's that, I wonder? She goes about seeking whom she may
secure for the women's-vote movement; I suppose it's Molly's turn to be
attacked Oh, we shall have many a lively half-hour when Mrs. Wade
"What is her husband?"
"Husband! She's a widow. I never thought of such a person as Mr.
Wade, to this moment. To be sure, he must have existed. Perhaps she
will confide in you, and then —— By-the-bye, is it right for women to
tell their husbands what they learn from female friends?"
He asked it jokingly, but Lilian seemed to reflect in earnest.
"I'm not sure" ——
"Oh, you lily of the valley!" he cried, interrupting her. "Do
cultivate a sense of humour. Don't take things with such desperate
seriousness! Come and try your instrument. It ought to be a good one,
if price-lists mean anything."
The next morning was clear and cold. Assuredly there would be good
skating, and the prospect of this enjoyment seemed to engross Denzil's
thoughts. After breakfast he barely glanced at the newspapers, then
leaving Lilian to enter upon her domestic rule, set forth for an
examination of the localities which offered scope to Polterham skaters.
Such youthful zeal proved his thorough harmony with the English spirit;
it promised far more for his success as a politician than if he had
spent the morning over blue-books and statistical treatises.
If only the snow were cleared away, the best skating near at hand
was on a piece of water near the road to Rickstead. The origin of this
pond or lakelet had caused discussion among local antiquaries; for
tradition said that it occupied the site of a meadow which many years
ago mysteriously sank, owing perhaps to the unsuspected existence of an
ancient mine. It connected with a little tributary of the River Bale,
and was believed to be very deep, especially at one point, where the
tree-shadowed bank overhung the water at a height of some ten feet. The
way thither was by a field-path, starting from the high road within
sight of Pear-tree Cottage. At a rapid walk Quarrier soon reached his
goal, and saw with satisfaction that men and boys were sweeping the
snowy surface, whilst a few people had already begun to disport
themselves where the black ice came to view. In the afternoon he would
come with Lilian; for the present, a second purpose occupied his
thoughts. Standing on the bank of Bale Water (thus was it named), he
could see the topmost branches of that pear-tree which grew in the
garden behind Mrs. Wade's cottage; two meadows lay between — a stretch
of about a quarter of a mile. It was scarcely the hour for calling upon
ladies, but he knew that Mrs. Wade sat among her books through the
morning, and he wished especially to see her as soon as possible.
Polterham clocks were counting eleven as he presented himself at
the door of the cottage. Once already he had paid a call here, not many
days after his meeting with the widow in Mr. Hornibrook's library; he
came at three in the afternoon, and sat talking till nearly six. Not a
few Polterham matrons would have considered that proceeding highly
improper, but such a thought never occurred to Denzil; and Mrs. Wade
would have spoken her mind very distinctly to any one who wished to
circumscribe female freedom in such respects. They had conversed on a
great variety of subjects with unflagging animation. Since then he had
not seen his acquaintance.
A young girl opened to him, and left him standing in the porch for
a minute or two. She returned, and asked him to walk into the
sitting-room, where Mrs. Wade was studying with her feet on the fender.
"Do I come unseasonably?" he asked, offering his hand.
"Not if you have anything interesting to say," was the curious
The widow was not accounted for reception of visitors. She wore an
old though quite presentable dress, with a light shawl about her
shoulders, and had evidently postponed the arrangement of her hair
until the time of going abroad. Yet her appearance could hardly be
called disconcerting, for it had nothing of slovenliness. She looked a
student, that was all. For some reason, however, she gave Quarrier a
less cordial welcome than he had anticipated. Her eyes avoided his, she
shook hands in a perfunctory way.
"It depends what you call interesting," was his rejoinder to the
unconventional reply. "I got here yesterday, and brought a wife with me
— there, at all events, is a statement of fact."
"You have done me the honour to hasten here with the announcement?"
"I came out to see if Bale Water was skateable, and I thought I
might venture to make a friendly call whilst I was so near. But I'm
afraid I disturb you?"
"Not a bit Pray sit down and talk. Of course I have heard of your
marriage. Why didn't you let me know it was impending?"
"Because I told nobody. I chose to get married in my own way. You,
Mrs. Wade, are not likely to find fault with me for that."
"Oh dear no!" she answered, with friendly indifference.
"I am told you see a good deal of the Liversedges?"
"Does my sister give any promise of reaching higher levels? Or is
she a hopeless groveller?"
"Mrs. Liversedge is the kind of woman I can respect, independently
of her views."
"I like to hear you say that, because I know you don't deal in
complimentary phrases. The respect, I am sure, is reciprocated."
Mrs. Wade seemed to give slight attention; she was looking at a
picture above the fireplace.
"You will count my wife among your friends, I hope?" he continued.
"I hope so. Do you think we shall understand each other?"
"If not, it won't be for lack of good will on her side. I mustn't
begin to praise her, but I think you will find she has a very fair
portion of brains."
"I'm glad to hear that."
"Do you imply that you had fears?"
"Men are occasionally odd in their choice of wives."
"Yes," Denzil replied, with a laugh; "I have seen remarkable
illustrations of it."
"I didn't feel sure that you regarded brains as an essential."
"Indeed! Then you were a long way from understanding me. How can
you say that, after my lecture, and our talks?"
"Oh, theory doesn't go for much. May I call shortly?"
"If you will be so good."
"She's very young, I think?"
"Not much more than one-and-twenty. I have known her for about
There was a short silence, then Mrs. Wade said with some
"I think of leaving Polterham before long. It was Mr. and Mrs.
Hornibrook who decided me to come here, and now that they are gone I
feel as if I too had better stir. I want books that are out of my
"That will be a loss to us, Mrs. Wade. Society in Polterham has its
"I'm aware of it. But you, of course, will have a home in London as
"Well, yes — if I get sent to Parliament."
"I suppose we shall meet there some day."
Her voice grew careless and dreamy. She folded her hands upon her
lap, and assumed a look which seemed to Denzil a hint that he might now
depart. He stood up.
"So you are going to skate?" murmured Mrs. Wade. "I won't keep you.
Thank you very much for looking in."
Denzil tried once more to read her countenance, and went away with
a puzzled feeling. He could not conjecture the meaning of her changed
Last November had turned the scale in the Polterham Town Council.
It happened that the retiring members were all Conservatives, with the
exception of Mr. Chown, who alone of them obtained re-election, the
others giving place to men of the Progressive party. Mr. Mumbray bade
farewell to his greatness. The new Mayor was a Liberal. As
returning-officer, he would preside over the coming political contest.
The Tories gloomed at each other, and whispered of evil omens.
For many years Mr. Mumbray had looked to the Mayoralty as the limit
of his ambition. He now began to entertain larger projects, encouraged
thereto by the dissensions of Conservative Polterham, and the
promptings of men who were hoping to follow him up the civic ladder. He
joined with those who murmured against the obstinacy of old Mr.
Welwyn-Baker. To support such a candidate would be party suicide. Even
Welwyn-Baker junior was preferable; but why not recognize that the old
name had lost its prestige, and select a representative of enlightened
Conservatism, who could really make a stand against Quarrier and his
rampant Radicals? Mr. Mumbray saw no reason why he himself should not
invite the confidence of the burgesses.
In a moment of domestic trace the ex-Mayor communicated this
thought to his wife, and Mrs. Mumbray gave ready ear. Like the ladies
of Polterham in general, she had not the faintest understanding of
political principles; to her, the distinction between parties was the
difference between bits of blue and yellow ribbon, nothing more. But
the social advantages accruing to the wife of an M.P. impressed her
very strongly indeed. For such an end she was willing to make
sacrifices, and the first of these declared itself in an abandonment of
her opposition to Mr. Eustace Glazzard. Her husband pointed out to her
that a connection with the family so long established at Highmead would
be of distinct value. William Glazzard nominally stood on the Liberal
side, but he was very lukewarm, and allowed to be seen that his
political action was much swayed by personal considerations. Eustace
made no pretence of Liberal learning; though a friend of the Radical
candidate (so Quarrier was already designated by his opponents), he
joked at popular enthusiasm, and could only be described as an
independent aristocrat. Money, it appeared, he had none; and his
brother, it was suspected, kept up only a show of the ancestral
position. Nevertheless, their names had weight in the borough.
Eustace spent Christmas at Highmead, and made frequent calls at the
house of the ex-Mayor. On one of the occasions it happened that the
ladies were from home, but Mr. Mumbray, on the point of going out,
begged Glazzard to come and have a word with him in his sanctum. After
much roundabout talk, characteristically pompous, he put the question
whether Mr. Glazzard, as a friend of Mr. Denzil Quarrier, would "take
it ill" if he, Mr. Mumbray, accepted an invitation to come forward as
the candidate of the Conservative party.
"I hope you know me better," Glazzard replied. "I have nothing
whatever to do with politics."
The ex-Mayor smiled thoughtfully, and went on to explain, "in
strictest confidence," that there was a prospect of that contingency
"Of course I couldn't hope for Mr. William's support."
He paused on a note of magnanimous renunciation.
"Oh, I don't know," said Glazzard, abstractedly. "My brother is
hardly to be called a Radical. I couldn't answer for the line he will
"Indeed? That is very interesting. Ha!"
Silence fell between them.
"I'm sure," remarked Mr. Mumbray, at length, "that my wife and
daughter will be very sorry to have missed your call. Undoubtedly you
can count on their being at home to-morrow."
The prediction was fulfilled, and before leaving the house Glazzard
made Serena a proposal of marriage. That morning there had occurred a
quarrel of more than usual bitterness between mother and daughter.
Serena was sick of her life at home, and felt a longing, at any cost,
for escape to a sphere of independence. The expected offer from
Glazzard came just at the right moment; she accepted it, and consented
that the marriage should be very soon.
But a few hours of reflection filled her with grave misgivings. She
was not in love with Glazzard; personally, he had never charmed her,
and in the progress of their acquaintance she had discovered many
points of his character which excited her alarm. Serena, after all, was
but a half-educated country girl; even in the whirlwind of rebellious
moments she felt afraid of the words that came to her lips. The
impulses towards emancipation which so grievously perturbed her were
unjustified by her conscience; at heart, she believed with Ivy Glazzard
that woman was a praying and subordinate creature; in her bedroom she
recounted the day's sins of thought and speech, and wept out her desire
for "conversion," for the life of humble faith. Accepting such a
husband as Eustace, she had committed not only an error, but a sin. The
man was without religion, and sometimes made himself guilty of
hypocrisy; of this she felt a miserable assurance. How could she hope
to be happy with him? What had interested her in him was that air of
culture and refinement so conspicuously lacked by the men who had
hitherto approached her. He had seemed to her the first gentleman who
sought her favour. To countenance him, moreover, was to defy her
mother's petty rule. But, no, she did not love him — did not like him.
Yet to retract her promise she was ashamed. Only girls of low
social position played fast and loose in that way. She went through a
night of misery.
On the morrow her betrothed, of course, came to see her.
Woman-like, she had taken refuge in a resolve of postponement; the
marriage must be sooner or later, but it was in her power to put it
off. And, with show of regretful prudence, she made known this change
in her mind.
"I hardly knew what I was saying. I ought to have remembered that
our acquaintance has been very short."
"Yet long enough to enable me to win your promise," urged Glazzard.
"Yes, I have promised. It's only that we cannot be married so very
"I must, of course, yield," he replied, gracefully, kissing her
hand. "Decision as to the time shall rest entirely with you."
"Thank you — that is very kind."
He went away in a mood of extreme discontent. Was this little
simpleton going to play with him? There were solid reasons of more than
one kind why the marriage should not be long delayed. It would be best
if he returned to London and communicated with her by letter. He could
write eloquently, and to let her think of him as in the midst of gay
society might not be amiss.
Shortly after Quarrier's arrival at Polterham, he was back again.
Daily he had repented his engagement, yet as often had congratulated
himself on the windfall thus assured to him. Before going to the
Mumbrays, he called upon Mrs. Quarrier, whom, as it chanced, he found
alone. To Lilian his appearance was a shock, for in the contentment of
the past week she had practically forgotten the existence of this man
who shared her secret. She could not look him in the face.
Glazzard could be trusted in points of tact. He entered with a
bright face, and the greetings of an old friend, then at once began to
speak of his own affairs.
"Have you heard that I am going to be married?"
"Denzil told me when he received your letter."
"I am afraid Miss Mumbray will hardly belong to your circle, but as
Mrs. Glazzard — that will be a different thing. You won't forbid me to
come here because of this alliance?"
Lilian showed surprise and perplexity.
"I mean, because I am engaged to the daughter of a Tory."
"Oh, what difference could that possibly make?"
"None, I hope. You know that I am not very zealous as a party-man."
In this his second conversation with Lilian, Glazzard analysed more
completely the charm which she had before exercised upon him. He was
thoroughly aware of the trials her nature was enduring, and his power
of sympathetic insight enabled him to read upon her countenance, in her
tones, precisely what Lilian imagined she could conceal. Amid
surroundings such as those of the newly furnished house, she seemed to
him a priceless gem in a gaudy setting; he felt (and with justice) that
the little drawing-room at Clapham, which spoke in so many details of
her own taste, was a much more suitable home for her. What could be
said of the man who had thus transferred her, all (or chiefly) for the
sake of getting elected to Parliament? Quarrier had no true
appreciation of the woman with whose life and happiness he was
entrusted. He was devoted to her, no doubt, but with a devotion not
much more clairvoyant than would have distinguished one of his
Glazzard, whilst liking Denzil, had never held him in much esteem.
Of late, his feelings had become strongly tinged with contempt. And
now, with the contempt there blended a strain of jealousy.
True that he himself had caught eagerly at the hope of entering
Parliament; but it was the impulse of a man who knew his life to be
falling into ruin, who welcomed any suggestion that would save him from
final and fatal apathy — of a man whose existence had always been
loveless — who, with passionate ideals, had never known anything but a
venal embrace. In Quarrier's position, with abounding resources, with
the love of such a woman as this, what would he not have made of life?
Would it ever have occurred to him to wear a mask of vulgar deceit, to
condemn his exquisite companion to a hateful martyrdom, that he might
attain the dizzy height of M.P.-ship for Polterham?
He compassionated Lilian, and at the same time he was angry with
her. He looked upon her beauty, her gentle spirit, with tenderness, and
therewithal he half hoped that she might some day repent of yielding to
Quarrier's vulgar ambition.
"Have you made many acquaintances?" he asked.
"A good many. Some, very pleasant people; others — not so
"Polterham society will not absorb you, I think."
"I hope to have a good deal of quiet time. But Denzil wishes me to
study more from life than from books, just now. I must understand all
the subjects. that interest him."
"Yes — the exact position, as a force in politics, of the licensed
victuallers; the demands of the newly enfranchised classes — that kind
He seemed to be jesting, and she laughed good-humouredly.
"Those things are very important, Mr. Glazzard."
He did not stay long, and upon his departure Lilian gave a sigh of
The next day he was to lunch with the Mumbrays. He went about
twelve o'clock, to spend an hour with Serena. His welcome was not
ardent, and he felt the oppression of a languor be hardly tried to
disguise. Yet in truth his cause had benefited whilst he was away. The
eloquent letters did not fail of their effect; Serena had again sighed
under domestic tyranny, had thought with longing of a life in London,
and was once more swayed by her emotions towards an early marriage.
In dearth of matter for conversation (Glazzard sitting taciturn),
she spoke of an event which had occupied Polterham for the last day or
two. Some local genius had conceived the idea of wrecking an express
train, and to that end had broken a portion of the line.
"What frightful wickedness!" she exclaimed. "What motive can there
have been, do you think?"
"Probably none, in the sense you mean."
"Yes — such a man must be mad."
"I don't think that," said Glazzard, meditatively. "I can
understand his doing it with no reason at all but the wish to see what
would happen. No doubt he would have been standing somewhere in sight."
"You can understand that?"
"Very well indeed," he answered, in the same half-absent way.
"Power of all kinds is a temptation to men. A certain kind of man —
not necessarily cruel — would be fascinated with the thought of
bringing about such a terrific end by such slight means."
"Not necessarily cruel? Oh, I can't follow you at all. You are not
"I have shocked you." He saw that he had really done so, and felt
that it was imprudent. His tact suggested a use for the situation.
"Serena, why should you speak so conventionally? You are not really
conventional in mind. You have thoughts and emotions infinitely above
those of average girls. Do recognize your own superiority. I spoke in a
speculative way. One may speculate about anything and everything — if
one has the brains. You certainly are not made to go through life with
veiled eyes and a tongue tuned to the common phrases. Do yourself
justice, dear girl. However other people regard you, I from the first
have seen what it was in you to become."
It was adroit flattery; Serena reddened, averted her face, smiled a
little, and kept silence.
That day he did not follow up his advantage. But on taking leave of
Serena early in the afternoon, he looked into her eyes with expressive
steadiness, and again she blushed.
A little later, several ladles were gathered in the drawing-room.
On Thursdays Mrs. Mumbray received her friends; sat as an embodiment of
the domestic virtues and graces. To-day the talk was principally on
that recent addition to Polterham society, Mrs. Denzil Quarrier.
"I haven't seen her yet," said Mrs. Mumbray, with her air of
superiority. "They say she is pretty but rather childish."
"But what is this mystery about the marriage?" inquired a lady who
had just entered, and who threw herself upon the subject with
eagerness. (It was Mrs. Roach, the wife of an alderman.) "Why was it
abroad? She is English, I think?"
"Oh no!" put in Mrs. Tenterden, a large and very positive person.
"She is a Dane — like the Princess of Wales. I have seen her. I
recognized the cast of features at once."
An outcry from three ladies followed. They knew Mrs. Quarrier was
English. They had seen her skating at Bale Water. One of them had heard
her speak — it was pure English.
"I thought every one knew," returned Mrs. Tenterden, with stately
deliberation, "that the Danes have a special gift for languages. The
Princess of Wales" ——
"But, indeed," urged the hostess, "she is of English birth. We know
it from Mr. Eustace Glazzard, who is one of their friends."
"Then why were they married abroad?" came in Mrs. Roach's shrill
voice. "Can English people be legitimately married abroad? I always
understood that the ceremony had to be repeated in England."
"It was at Paris," said Mrs. Walker, the depressed widow of a
bankrupt corn-merchant. "There is an English church there, I have
The others, inclined to be contemptuous of this authority, regarded
each other with doubt.
"Still," broke out Mrs. Roach again, "why was it at Paris? No one
seems to have the slightest idea. It is really very strange!"
Mrs. Mumbray vouchsafed further information.
"I understood that she came from Stockholm."
"Didn't I say she came from Denmark?" interrupted Mrs. Tenterden,
There was a pause of uncertainty broken by Serena Mumbray's quiet
"Dear Mrs. Tenterden, Stockholm is not in Denmark, but in Sweden.
And we are told that Mrs. Quarrier was an English governess there."
"Ah! a governess!" cried two or three voices.
"To tell the truth," said Mrs. Mumbray, more dignified than ever
after her vindication, "it is probable that she belongs to some very
poor family. I should be sorry to think any worse of her for that, but
it would explain the private marriage."
"So you think people can be married legally in Paris?" persisted
the alderman's wife, whose banns had been proclaimed in hearing of
orthodox Polterham about a year ago.
"Of course they can," fell from Serena.
Lilian's age, personal appearance, dress, behaviour, underwent
discussion at great length.
"What church do they go to?" inquired some one, and the question
excited general interest.
"They were at St. Luke's last Sunday," Mrs. Walker was able to
declare, though her wonted timidity again threw some suspicion on the
"St. Luke's! Why St. Luke's?" cried other voices. "It isn't their
parish, is it?"
"I think," suggested the widow, "it may be because the Liversedges
go to St. Luke's. Mrs. Liversedge is" ——
Her needless information was cut short by a remark from Mrs.
"I could never listen Sunday after Sunday to Mr. Garraway. I think
him excessively tedious. And his voice is so very trying."
The incumbent of St. Luke's offered a brief diversion from the main
theme. A mention of the Rev. Scatchard Vialls threatened to lead them
too far, and Mrs. Roach interposed with firmness.
"I still think it a very singular thing that they went abroad to be
"But they didn't go abroad, my dear," objected the hostess. "That
is to say, one of them was already abroad."
"Indeed! The whole thing seems very complicated. I think it needs
explanation. I shouldn't feel justified in calling upon Mrs. Quarrier
Her voice was overpowered by that of Mrs. Tenterden, who demanded
"Is it true that she has already become very intimate with that
person Mrs. Wade?"
"Oh, I do hope not!" exclaimed several ladies.
Here was an inexhaustible topic. It occupied more than an hour,
until the last tea-cup had been laid aside and the more discreet
callers were already on their way home.
There needed only two or three days of life at Polterham to allay
the uneasiness with which, for all his show of equanimity, Denzil
entered upon so perilous a career. By the end of January he had
practically forgotten that his position was in any respect insecure.
The risk of betraying himself in an unguarded moment was diminished by
the mental habit established during eighteen months of secrecy in
London. Lilian's name was seldom upon his lips, and any inquiry
concerning her at once awakened his caution. Between themselves they
never spoke of the past.
Long ago he had silenced every conscientious scruple regarding the
relation between Lilian and himself; and as for the man Northway, if
ever he thought of him at all, it was with impatient contempt. That he
was deceiving his Polterham acquaintances, and in a way which they
would deem an unpardonable outrage, no longer caused him the least
compunction. Conventional wrong doing, he had satisfied himself, was
not wrong-doing at all, unless discovered. He injured no one. The
society of such a person as Lilian could be nothing but an advantage to
man, woman, and child. Only the sublimation of imbecile prejudice would
maintain that she was an unfit companion for the purest creature
living. He had even ceased to smile at the success of his stratagem. It
was over and done with; their social standing was unassailable.
Anxious to complete his book on the Vikings, he worked at it for
several hours each morning; it would be off his hands some time in
February, and the spring publishing season should send it forth to the
world. The rest of his leisure was given to politics. Chests of volumes
were arriving from London, and his library shelves began to make a
respectable appearance; as a matter of principle, he bought largely
from the local bookseller, who rejoiced at the sudden fillip to his
stagnant trade, and went about declaring that Mr. Denzil Quarrier was
evidently the man for the borough.
He fell upon history, economics, social speculation, with
characteristic vigour. If he got into the House of Commons, those
worthies should speedily be aware of his existence among them. It was
one of his favourite boasts that whatever subject he choose to tackle,
he could master. No smattering for him; a solid foundation of
knowledge, such as would ensure authority to his lightest utterances.
In the meantime, he began to perceive that Lilian was not likely to
form many acquaintances in the town. With the Liversedges she stood on
excellent terms, and one or two families closely connected with them
gave her a welcome from which she did not shrink. But she had no gift
of social versatility; it cost her painful efforts to converse about
bazaars and curates and fashions and babies with the average Polterham
matron; she felt that most of the women who came to see her went away
with distasteful impressions, and that they were anything but cordial
when she returned their call. A life of solitude and study was the
worst possible preparation for duties such as were now laid upon her.
"You are dissatisfied with me," she said to Denzil, as they
returned from spending the evening with some empty but influential
people who had made her exceedingly uncomfortable.
"Dissatisfied? On the contrary, I am very proud of you. It does one
good to contrast one's wife with women such as those."
"I tried to talk; but I'm so ignorant of everything they care
about. I shall do better when I know more of the people they refer to."
"Chattering apes! Malicious idiots! Heaven forbid that you should
ever take a sincere part in their gabble! That lot are about the worst
we shall have to deal with. Decent simpletons you can get along with
"How ought I to speak of Mrs. Wade? When people tell downright
falsehoods about her, may I contradict?"
"It's a confoundedly difficult matter, that. I half wish Mrs. Wade
would hasten her departure. Did she say anything about it when you saw
her the other day?"
It appeared that the widow wished to make a friend of Lilian. She
had called several times, and on each occasion behaved so charmingly
that Lilian was very ready to meet her advances. Though on intellectual
and personal grounds he could feel no objection to such an intimacy,
Denzil began to fear that it might affect his popularity with some
voters who would take the Liberal side if it did not commit them to
social heresies. This class is a very large one throughout England.
Mrs. Wade had never given occasion of grave scandal; she was even seen,
with moderate regularity, at one or other of the churches; but many of
the anti-Tory bourgeois suspected her of sympathy with views so very
"advanced" as to be socially dangerous. Already it had become known
that she was on good terms with Quarrier and his wife. It was rumoured
that Quarrier would reconsider the position he had publicly assumed,
and stand forth as an advocate of Female Suffrage. For such extremes
Polterham was not prepared.
"Mrs. Wade asks me to go and have tea with her to-morrow," Lilian
announced one morning, showing a note. "Shall I, or not?"
"You would like to?"
"Not if you think it unwise."
"Hang it! — we can't be slaves. Go by all means, and refresh your
At three o'clock on the day of invitation Lilian alighted from her
brougham at Pear-tree Cottage. It was close upon the end of February;
the declining sun shot a pleasant glow across the landscape, and in the
air reigned a perfect stillness. Mrs. Wade threw open the door herself
with laughing welcome.
"Let us have half-an-hour's walk, shall we? It's so dry and warm."
"I should enjoy it," Lilian answered, readily.
"Then allow me two minutes for bonnet and cloak."
She was scarcely longer. They went by the hedge-side path which led
towards Bale Water. To-day the papers were full of exciting news. Sir
Stafford Northcote had brought forward his resolution for making short
work of obstructive Members, and Radicalism stood undecided. Mrs. Wade
talked of these things in the liveliest strain, Lilian responding with
a lighthearted freedom seldom possible to her.
"You skated here, didn't you?" said her companion, as they drew
near to the large pond.
"Yes; a day or two after we came. How different it looks now."
They stood on the bank where it rose to a considerable height above
"The rails have spoilt this spot," said Mrs. Wade. "They were only
put up last autumn, after an accident. I wonder it was never found
necessary before. Some children were gathering blackberries from the
bramble there, and one of them reached too far forward, and over she
went! I witnessed it from the other side, where I happened to be
walking. A great splash, and then a chorus of shrieks from the
companions. I began to run forward, though of course I could have done
nothing whatever; when all at once I saw a splendid sight. A man who
was standing not far off ran to the edge and plunged in — a
magnificent 'header!' He had only thrown away his hat and coat. They
say it's very deep just here. He disappeared completely, and then in a
few seconds I saw that be had hold of the child. He brought her out
where the bank slopes yonder — no harm done. I can't tell you bow I
enjoyed that scene It made me cry with delight."
As usual, when deeply moved, Lilian stood in a reverie, her eyes
wide, her lips tremulous. Then she stepped forward, and, with her hand
resting upon the wooden rail, looked down. There was no perceptible
movement in the water; it showed a dark greenish surface, smooth to the
edge, without a trace of weed.
"How I envy that man his courage!"
"His power, rather," suggested Mrs. Wade. "If we could swim well,
and had no foolish petticoats, we should jump in just as readily. It
was the power over circumstances that I admired and envied."
Lilian smiled thoughtfully.
"I suppose that is what most attracts us in men?"
"And makes us feel our own dependence. I can't say I like that
feeling — do you?"
She seemed to wait for an answer.
"I'm afraid it's in the order of nature," replied Lilian at length
with a laugh.
"Very likely. But I am not content with it on that account. I know
of a thousand things quite in the order of nature which revolt me. I
very often think of nature as an evil force, at war with the good
principle of which we are conscious in our souls."
"But," Lilian faltered, "is your ideal an absolute independence?"
Mrs. Wade looked far across the water, and answered, "Yes,
"Then you — I don't quite know what would result from that."
"Nor I," returned the other, laughing. "That doesn't affect my
ideal. You have heard, of course, of that lecture your husband gave at
the Institute before — before your marriage?"
"Yes; I wish I could have heard it."
"You would have sympathized with every word, I am sure. Mr.
Quarrier is one of the strong men who find satisfaction in women's
It was said with perfect good-humour, with a certain indulgent
kindness — a tone Mrs. Wade had used from the first in talking with
Lilian. A manner of affectionate playfulness, occasionally of caressing
protection, distinguished her in this intercourse; quite unlike that by
which she was known to people in general. Lilian did not dislike it,
rather was drawn by it into a mood of grateful confidence.
"I don't think 'weakness' expresses it," she objected. "He likes
women to be subordinate, no doubt of that. His idea is that" ——
"I know, I know!" Mrs. Wade turned away with a smile her companion
did not observe. "Let us walk back again; it grows chilly. A beautiful
sunset, if clouds don't gather. Perhaps it surprises you that I care
for such sentimental things?"
"I think I understand you better."
"Frankly — do you think me what the French call hommasse? Just a
"Nothing of the kind, Mrs. Wade," Lilian replied, with courage.
"You are a very womanly woman."
The bright, hard eyes darted a quick glance at her.
"Really? That is how I strike you?"
"It is, indeed."
"How I like your way of speaking," said the other, after a moment's
pause. "I mean, your voice — accent. Has it anything to do with the
long time you have spent abroad, I wonder?"
Lilian smiled and was embarrassed.
"You are certainly not a Londoner?"
"Oh no! I was born in the west of England."
"And I at Newcastle. As a child I had a strong northern accent; you
don't notice anything of it now? Oh, I have been about so much. My
husband was m the Army. That is the first time I have mentioned him to
you, and it will be the last, however long we know each other."
Lilian kept her eyes on the ground. The widow glanced off to a
totally different subject, which occupied them the rest of the way back
to the cottage.
Daylight lasted until they had finished tea, then a lamp was
brought in and the red blind drawn down. Quarrier had gone to spend the
day at a neighbouring town, and would not be back before late in the
evening, so that Lilian had arranged to go from Mrs. Wade's to the
Liversedges'. They still had a couple of hours' talk to enjoy; on
Lilian's side, at all events, it was unfeigned enjoyment. The cosy
little room put her at ease Its furniture was quite in keeping with the
simple appearance of the house, but books and pictures told that no
ordinary cottager dwelt here.
"I have had many an hour of happiness in this room," said Mrs.
Wade, as they seated themselves by the fire. "The best of all between
eleven at night and two in the morning. You know the lines in
'Penseroso.' Most men would declare that a woman can't possibly
appreciate them; I know better. I am by nature a student; the life of
society is nothing to me; and, in reality, I care very little about
Smiling, she watched the effect of her words.
"You are content with solitude?" said Lilian, gazing at her with a
look of deep interest.
"Quite. I have no relatives who care anything about me, and only
two or three people I call friends. But I must have more books, and I
shall be obliged to go to London."
"Don't go just yet — won't our books be of use to you?"
"I shall see. Have you read this?"
It was a novel from Smith's Library. Lilian knew it, and they
discussed its merits. Mrs. Wade mentioned a book by the same author
which had appeared more than a year ago.
"Yes, I read that when it came out," said Lilian, and began to talk
Mrs. Wade kept silence, then remarked carelessly:
"You had them in the Tauchnitz series, I suppose?"
Had her eyes been turned that way, she must have observed the
strange look which flashed across her companion's countenance. Lilian
seemed to draw in her breath, though silently.
"Yes — Tauchnitz," she answered.
Mrs. Wade appeared quite unconscious of anything unusual in the
tone. She was gazing at the fire.
"It isn't often I find time for novels," she said; "for new ones,
that is. A few of the old are generally all I need. Can you read George
Eliot? What a miserably conventional soul that woman has!"
"Conventional? But" ——
"Oh, I know! But she is British conventionality to the core. I have
heard people say that she hasn't the courage of her opinions; but that
is precisely what she has, and every page of her work declares it
flagrantly. She might have been a great power — she might have speeded
the revolution of morals — if the true faith had been in her."
Lilian was still tremulous, and she listened with an intensity
which gave her a look of pain. She was about to speak, but Mrs. Wade
"You mustn't trouble much about anything I say when it crosses your
own judgment or feeling. There are so few people with whom I can
indulge myself in free speech. I talk just for the pleasure of it;
don't think I expect or hope that you will always go along with me. But
you are not afraid of thinking — that's the great thing. Most women
are such paltry creatures that they daren't look into their own minds
— for fear nature should have put something 'improper' there."
She broke off with laughter, and, as Lilian kept silence, fell into
In saying that she thought her Companion a "womanly woman," Lilian
told the truth. Ever quick with sympathy, she felt a sadness in Mrs.
Wade's situation, which led her to interpret all her harsher
peculiarities as the result of disappointment and loneliness. Now that
the widow had confessed her ill-fortune in marriage, Lilian was assured
of having judged rightly, and nursed her sentiment of compassion. Mrs.
Wade was still young; impossible that she should have accepted a fate
which forbade her the knowledge of woman's happiness. But how difficult
for such a one to escape from this narrow and misleading way! Her
strong, highly-trained intellect could find no satisfaction in the
society of every-day people, yet she was withheld by poverty from
seeking her natural sphere. With Lilian, to understand a sorrow was to
ask herself what she could do for its assuagement. A thought of
characteristic generosity came to her. Why should she not (some day or
other, when their friendship was mature) offer Mrs. Wade the money, her
own property, which would henceforth be lying idle? There would be
practical difficulties in the way, but surely they might be overcome.
The idea brought a smile to her face. Yes; she would think of this. She
would presently talk of it with Denzil.
"Come now," said Mrs. Wade, rousing herself from meditation, "let
us talk about the Irish question."
Lilian addressed herself conscientiously to the subject, but it did
not really interest her; she had no personal knowledge of Irish
hardships, and was wearied by the endless Parliamentary debate. Her
thoughts still busied themselves with the hopeful project for smoothing
Mrs. Wade's path in life.
When the carriage came for her, she took her leave with regret, but
full of happy imaginings. She had quite forgotten the all but
self-betrayal into which she was led during that chat about novels.
Two days later Quarrier was again absent from home on business, and
Lilian spent the evening with the Liversedges. Supper was over, and she
had begun to think of departure, when the drawing-room door was burst
open, and in rushed Denzil, wet from head to foot with rain, and his
face a-stream with perspiration.
"They dissolve at Easter! " he cried, waving his hat wildly.
"Northcote announced it at five this afternoon. Hammond has a telegram;
I met him at the station."
"Ho! ho! this is news!" answered Mr. Liversedge, starting up from
"News, indeed! " said his wife; "but that's no reason, Denzil, why
you should make my carpet all ram and mud. Do go and take your coat
off, and clean your boots, there's a good boy!"
"How can I think of coat and boots? Here, Lily, fling this garment
somewhere. Give me a duster, or something, to stand on, Molly. Toby, we
must have a meeting in a day or two. Can we get the Public Hall for
Thursday or Friday? Shall we go round and see our committee-men
"Time enough to-morrow; most of them are just going to bed. But how
is it no one had an inkling of this? They have kept the secret
"The blackguards! Ha, ha! Now for a good fight! It'll be old
Welwyn-Baker, after all, you'll see. They won t have the courage to set
up a new man at a moment's notice. The old buffer will come maudling
once more, and we'll bowl him off his pins!"
Lilian sat with her eyes fixed upon him. His excitement infected
her, and when they went home together she talked of the coming struggle
with joyous animation.
The next morning — Tuesday, March 9th — there was a rush for the
London papers. Every copy that reached the Polterham vendors was
snapped up within a few minutes of it arrival. People who had no right
of membership ran ravening to the Literary Institute and the
Constitutional Literary Society, and peered over the shoulders of
legitimate readers, on such a day as this unrebuked. Mr. Chown's
drapery establishment presented a strange spectacle. For several hours
it was thronged with sturdy Radicals eager to hear their eminent friend
hold forth on the situation. At eleven o'clock Mr. Chown fairly mounted
a chair behind his counter, and delivered a formal harangue — thus, as
he boasted, opening the political campaign. He read aloud (for the
seventh time) Lord Beaconsfield's public letter to the Duke of
Marlborough, in which the country was warned, to begin with, against
the perils of Home Rule. "It is to be hoped that all men of light and
leading will resist this destructive doctrine. . . . Rarely in this
century has there been an occasion more critical. The power of England
and the peace of Europe will largely depend on the verdict of the
country. . . . Peace rests on the presence, not to say the ascendancy,
of England in the Councils of Europe."
"Here you have it," cried the orator, as he dashed the newspaper to
his feet, "pure, unadulterated Jingoism! 'Ascendancy in the Councils of
Europe!' How are the European powers likely to hear that, do you think?
I venture to tell my Lord Beaconsfield — I venture to tell him on
behalf of this constituency — aye, and on behalf of this country —
that it is he who holds 'destructive doctrine'! I venture to tell my
Lord Beaconsfield that England is not prepared to endorse any such
insolent folly! We shall very soon have an opportunity of hearing how
far such doctrine recommends itself to our man 'of light and leading'
— to our Radical candidate — to our future member, Mr. Denzil
A burst of cheering echoed from the drapery-laden shelves. Two
servant-girls who had come to the door intent on purchase of hair-pins
ran frightened away, and spread a report that Mr. Chown's shop was on
At dinner-time the politician was faced by his angry wife.
"I know what the end of this'll be!" cried Mrs. Chown. "You're
ruining your business, that's what you're doing! Who do you think'll
come to the shop if they find it full of shouting ragamuffins? They'll
all go to Huxtable's, that's what they'll do! I've no patience" ——
"There's no need to declare that!" replied Mr. Chown, rolling his
great eyes at her with an expression of the loftiest scorn. "I have
known it for thirteen years. You will be so good as to attend to your
own affairs, and leave me to see to mine! What does a woman care for
the interests of the country? Grovelling sex! Perhaps when I am called
upon to shoulder a rifle and go forth to die on the field of battle,
your dense understanding will begin to perceive what was at stake. —
Not another syllable! I forbid it! Sit down and serve the potatoes!"
At the same hour Denzil Quarrier, at luncheon with Lilian, was
giving utterance to his feelings on the great topic of the day.
"Now is the time for women to show whether their judgment is worthy
of the least confidence. This letter of Beaconsfield's makes frank
appeal to the spirit of Jingoism; he hopes to get at the fighting side
of Englishmen, and go back to power on a wave of 'Rule, Britannia'
bluster. If it is true that women are to be trusted in politics, their
influence will be overwhelming against such irresponsible ambition. I
have my serious doubts" ——
He shook his head and laughed.
"I will do my utmost!" exclaimed Lilian, her face glowing with
sympathetic enthusiasm. "I will go and talk to all the people we know"
"Really! You feel equal to that?"
"I will begin this very afternoon! I think I understand the
questions sufficiently. Suppose I begin with Mrs. Powell? She said her
husband had always voted Conservative, but that she couldn't be quite
sure what he would do this time. Perhaps I can persuade her to take our
"Have a try! But you astonish me, Lily — you are transformed!"
"Oh, I have felt that I might find courage when the time came." She
put her head aside, and laughed with charming naïveté. "I can't sit
idle at home whilst you are working with such zeal. And I really feel
what you say: women have a clear duty. How excited Mrs. Wade must be!"
"Have you written all the dinner-cards?"
"They were all sent before twelve."
"Good! Hammond will be here in half an hour to talk over the
address with me. Dinner at seven prompt; I am due at Toby's at eight.
Well, it's worth going in for, after all, isn't it? I am only just
beginning to live."
"And I, too!"
The meal was over. Denzil walked round the table and bent to lay
his cheek against Lilian's.
"I admire you more than ever," he whispered, half laughing. "What a
reserve of energy in this timid little girl! Wait and see; who knows
what sort of table you will preside at some day? I have found my
vocation, and there's no saying how far it will lead me. Heavens! what
a speech I'll give them at the Public Hall! It's bubbling over in me. I
could stand up and thunder for three or four hours!"
They gossiped a little longer, then Lilian went to prepare for her
call upon Mrs. Powell, and Quarrier retired to the library. Here he was
presently waited upon by Mr. Hammond, editor of the Polterham Examiner.
Denzil felt no need of assistance in drawing up the manifesto which
would shortly be addressed to Liberal Polterham; but Hammond was a
pleasant fellow of the go-ahead species, and his editorial pen would be
none the less zealous for confidences such as this. The colloquy lasted
an hour or so. Immediately upon the editor's departure, a servant
appeared at the study door.
"Mrs. Wade wishes to see you, sir, if you are at leisure."
The widow entered. Her costume — perhaps in anticipation of the
sunny season — was more elaborate and striking than formerly. She
looked a younger woman, and walked with lighter step.
"I came to see Mrs. Quarrier, but she is out. You, I'm afraid, are
"No, no. This is the breathing time of the day with me. I've just
got rid of our journalist. Sit down, pray."
"Oh, I won't stop. But tell Lilian I am eager to see her."
"She is off canvassing — really and truly! Gone to assail Mrs.
Powell. Astonishing enthusiasm!"
"I'm delighted to hear it!"
The exclamation lingered a little, and there was involuntary
surprise on Mrs. Wade's features. She cast a glance round the room.
"Do sit down," urged Denzil, placing a chair. "What do you think of
Dizzy's letter? Did you ever read such bunkum? And his 'men of light
and leading' — ha, ha, ha!"
"He has stolen the phrase," remarked Mrs. Wade. "Where from, I
can't say; but I'm perfectly sure I have come across it."
"Ha! I wish we could authenticate that! Search your memory — do —
and get a letter in the Examiner on Saturday."
"Some one will be out with it before then. Besides, I'm sure you
don't wish for me to draw attention to myself just now."
"Why not? I shall be disappointed if you don't give me a great deal
"I am hardly proper, you know."
She looked steadily at him, with an inscrutable smile, then let her
eyes again stray round the room.
"Bosh! As I was saying to Lily at lunch, women ought to have a
particular interest in this election. If they are worth anything at
all, they will declare that England sha'n't go in for the chance of war
just to please that Jew phrase-monger. I'm ready enough for a fight, on
sound occasion, but I won't fight in obedience to Dizzy and the
music-halls! By jingo, no!"
He laughed uproariously.
"You won't get many Polterham women to see it in that light,"
observed the widow. "This talk about the ascendency of England is just
the thing to please them. They adore Dizzy, because he is a fop who has
succeeded brilliantly; they despise Gladstone, because he is
conscientious and an idealist. Surely I don't need to tell you this?"
She leaned forward, smiling into his face.
"Well," he exclaimed, with a laugh, "of course I can admit, if you
like, that most women are not worth anything politically. But why
should I be uncivil?"
Mrs. Wade answered in a low voice, strangely gentle.
"Don't I know their silliness and worthlessness? What woman has
more reason to be ashamed of her sex?"
"Let us — hope!"
"For the millennium — yes." Her eyes gleamed, and she went on in a
more accustomed tone. "Women are the great reactionary force. In
political and social matters their native baseness shows itself on a
large scale. They worship the vulgar, the pretentious, the false. Here
they will most of them pester their husbands to vote for Welwyn-Baker
just because they hate change with the hatred of weak fear. Those of
them who know anything at all about the Irish question are dead set
against Ireland — simply because they are unimaginative and
ungenerous; they can't sympathize with what seems a hopeless cause, and
Ireland to them only suggests the dirty Irish of Polterham back
streets. As for European war, the idiots are fond of drums and fifes
and military swagger; they haven't brains enough to picture a
"You are severe, Mrs. Wade. I should never have ventured" ——
"You are still afraid of telling me the truth!"
"Well, let us rejoice in the exceptions. Yourself, Lilian, my
sister Mary, for instance."
The widow let her eyes fall and kept silence.
"We hope you will dine with us on Friday of next week," said
Denzil. "Lilian posted you an invitation this morning. There will be a
good many people."
"Seriously then, I am to work for you, openly and vigorously?"
"What a contemptible fellow I should be if I wished you to hold
aloof!" He spoke sincerely, having overcome his misgivings of a short
time ago. "The fight will be fought on large questions, you know. I
want to win, but I have made up my mind to win honestly; it's a
fortunate thing that I probably sha'n't be called upon to declare my
views on a thousand side-issues."
"Don't be so sure of that. Polterham is paltry, even amid national
"Confound it! then I will say what I think, and k it. If they want
a man who will fight sincerely for the interests of the people, here he
is! I'm on the side of the poor devils; I wish to see them better off;
I wish to promote honest government, and chuck the selfish lubbers
overboard. Forgive the briny phrase; you know why it comes natural to
Mrs. Wade gave him her kindest smile.
"You will win, no doubt of it; and not this battle only."
She rose, and half turned away.
"By-the-bye, shall you be able to finish your book?"
"It is finished. I wrote the last page yesterday morning.
Wonderful, wasn't it?"
"A good omen. My love to Lilian."
As they shook hands, Mrs. Wade just raised her eyes for an instant,
timorously. The look was quite unlike anything Denzil had yet seen on
her face. It caused him to stand for a few moments musing.
From half-past four to half-past six he took a long walk; such
exercise was a necessity with him, and the dwellers round about
Polterham had become familiar with the sight of his robust figure
striding at a great pace about roads and fields. Generally he made for
some wayside inn, where he could refresh himself with a tankard of
beer, after which he lit his pipe, and walked with it between his
teeth. Toby Liversedge, becoming aware of this habit, was inclined to
doubt its prudence. "Beware of the teetotalers, Denzil; they are a
power among us." Whereto Quarrier replied that teetotalers might be
eternally condemned; he would stick by his ale as tenaciously as the
old farmer of Thornaby Waste.
"It's the first duty of a Radical to set his face against humbug.
If I see no harm in a thing, I shall do it openly, and let people" ——
At this point he checked himself, almost as if he had a sudden
stitch in the side. Tobias asked for an explanation, but did not
On getting home again, he found Lilian in the drawing-room. (As an
ordinary thing he did not "dress" for dinner, since his evenings were
often spent in the company of people who would have disliked the
conspicuousness of his appearance.) She rose to meet him with shining
countenance, looking happier, indeed, and more rarely beautiful than he
had ever seen her.
"What cheer? A triumph already?"
"I think so, Denzil; I really think so. Mrs. Powell has promised me
to do her very best with her husband. Oh, if you could have heard our
conversation! I hadn't thought it possible for any one to be so
ignorant of the simplest political facts. One thing that she said — I
was talking about war, and suddenly she asked me: 'Do you think it
likely, Mrs. Quarrier, that there would be an inscription?' For a
moment I couldn't see what she meant. 'An inscription?' 'Yes; if
there's any danger of that, and — my four boys growing up!' Then, of
course, I understood. Fortunately, she was so very much in earnest that
I had no temptation to smile."
"And did you encourage her alarm?"
"I felt I had no right to do that. To avoid repeating the word, I
said that I didn't think that system would ever find favour in England.
At the same time, it was quite certain that our army would have to be
greatly strengthened if this war-fever went on. Oh, we had an endless
talk — and she was certainly impressed with my arguments."
"Bravo! Why, this is something like!"
"You can't think what courage it has given me! To-morrow I shall go
to Mrs. Clifford — yes, I shall. She is far more formidable; but I
want to try my strength."
"Ho, ho! What a pugnacious Lily — a sword-Lily! You ought to have
had an heroic name — Deborah, or Joan, or Portia! Your eyes gleam like
"I feel more contented with myself. — Oh, I am told that Mrs. Wade
called this afternoon?"
"Yes; anxious to see you. Burning with wrath against female
Toryism. She was astonished when I told her of your expedition."
Lilian laughed merrily. Thereupon dinner was announced, and they
left the room hand in hand.
That evening it was rumoured throughout the town that Mr.
Welwyn-Baker had telegraphed a resolve not to offer himself for
re-election. In a committee-room at the Constitutional Literary Society
was held an informal meeting of Conservatives, but no one of them had
definite intelligence to communicate. Somebody had told somebody else
that Hugh Welwyn-Baker held that important telegram from his father;
that was all. Mr. Mumbray's hopes rose high. On the morrow, at another
meeting rather differently constituted (miserable lack of organization
still evident among the Tories), it was made known on incontestable
authority that the sitting Member would offer himself for re-election.
Mr. Mumbray and his supporters held high language. "It would be party
suicide," they went about repeating. With such a man as Denzil Quarrier
on the Radical side, they must have a new and a strong candidate! But
all was confusion; no one could take the responsibility of acting.
Already the affairs of the Liberals were in perfect crier, and it
took but a day or two to decide even the minutiæ of the campaign. To
Quarrier's candidature no one within the party offered the least
opposition. Mr. Chown, who had for some time reserved his judgment,
declared to all and sundry that "all things considered, a better man
could scarcely have been chosen." Before thus committing himself he had
twice called upon Quarrier, and been closeted with him for a longtime.
Now, in these days of arming, he received a card inviting him (and his
wife) to dine at the candidate's house on a certain evening a fortnight
ahead; it was the second dinner that Denzil had planned, but Mr. Chown
was not aware of this, nor that the candidate had remarked of him to
Lilian: "We must have that demagogue among his kind, of course."
Denzil's agent (Hummerstone by name) instantly secured rooms in
admirable situations, and the Public Hall was at the disposal of the
party for their first great meeting a few days hence.
In facing that assembly (Toby Liversedge was chairman) Denzil had a
very slight and very brief recurrence of his platform nervousness.
Determined to risk nothing, he wrote out his speech with great care and
committed it to memory. The oration occupied about two hours, with not
a moment of faltering. It was true that he had discovered his vocation;
he spoke like a man of long Parliamentary experience, to the astonished
delight of his friends, and with enthusiastic applause from the mass of
his hearers. Such eloquence had never been heard in Polterham. If
anything, he allowed himself too much scope in vituperation, but it was
a fault on the right side. The only circumstance that troubled him was
when his eye fell upon Lilian, and he saw her crying with excitement; a
fear passed through his mind that she might be overwrought and fall
into hysterics, or faint. The occasion proved indeed too much for her;
that night she did not close her eyes, and the next day saw her
prostrate in nervous exhaustion. But she seemed to pick up her strength
again very quickly, and was soon hard at work canvassing among the
"Don't overdo it," Denzil cautioned her. "Remember, if you are ill,
I shall mope by your bedside."
"I can't stop now that I have begun," was her reply. "If I try to
sit idle, I shall be ill."
She could read nothing but newspapers; her piano was silent; she
talked politics, and politics only. Never was seen such a change in
woman, declared her intimates; yet, in spite of probabilities, they
thought her more charming than ever. No word of animosity ever fell
from her lips; what inspired her was simple ardour for Denzil's cause,
and, as she considered it, that of the oppressed multitude. In her way,
said Toby Liversedge, she was as eloquent as Quarrier himself, and
sundry other people were of the same opinion.
With sullen acquiescence the supporters of Mr. Mumbray and
"Progressive Conservatism" — what phrase is not good enough for the
lips of party? — recognized that they must needs vote for the old
name. Dissension at such a moment was more dangerous than an imbecile
candidate. Mr. Sam Quarrier had declared that rather than give his
voice for Mumbray he would remain neutral. "Old W.-B. is good enough
for a figure-head; he signifies something. If we are to be beaten, let
it be on the old ground." That defeat was likely enough, the more
intelligent Conservatives could not help seeing. Many of them (Samuel
among the number) had no enthusiasm for Beaconsfield, and la haute
politique as the leader understood it, but they liked still less the
principles represented by Councillor Chown and his vociferous regiment.
So the familiar bills were once more posted about the streets, and once
more the Tory canvassers urged men to vote for Welwyn-Baker in the name
of Church and State.
At Salutary Mount (this was the name of the ex-Mayor's residence)
personal disappointment left no leisure for lamenting the prospects of
Conservatism. Mr. Mumbray shut himself up in the room known as his
"study." Mrs. Mumbray stormed at her servants, wrangled with her
children, and from her husband held apart in sour contempt — feeble,
pompous creature that he was! With such an opportunity, and unable to
make use of it! But for her, he would never even have become Mayor. She
was enraged at having yielded in the matter of Serena's betrothal.
Glazzard had fooled them; he was an unprincipled adventurer, with an
eye only to the fortune Serena would bring him!
"If you marry that man," she asseverated, à propos of a discussion
with her daughter on a carpet which had worn badly, "I shall have
nothing whatever to do with the affair — nothing!"
Serena drew apart and kept silence.
"You hear what I say? You understand me?"
"You mean that you won't be present at the wedding?"
"I do!" cried her mother, careless what she said so long as it
sounded emphatic. "You shall take all the responsibility. If you like
to throw yourself away on a bald-headed, dissipated man — as I know he
is — it shall be entirely your own doing. I wash my hands of it — and
that's the last word you will hear from me on the subject."
In consequence of which assertion she vilified Glazzard and Serena
for three-quarters of an hour, until her daughter, who had sat in
abstraction, slowly rose and withdrew.
Alone in her bedroom, Serena shed many tears, as she had often done
of late. The poor girl was miserably uncertain how to act. She foresaw
that home would be less than ever a home to her after this accumulation
of troubles, and indeed she had made up her mind to leave it, but
whether as a wife or as an independent woman she could not decide. "On
her own responsibility" — yes, that was the one thing certain. And
what experience had she whereon to form a judgment? It might be that
her mother's arraignment of Glazzard was grounded in truth, but how
could she determine one way or the other? On the whole, she liked him
better than when she promised to marry him — yes, she liked him
better; she did rot shrink from the thought of wedlock with him. He was
a highly educated and clever man; he offered her a prospect of fuller
life than she had yet imagined; perhaps it was a choice between him and
the ordinary husband such as fell to Polterham girls. Yet again, if he
did not really care for her — only for her money?
She remembered Denzil Quarrier's lecture on "Woman," and all he had
said about the monstrously unfair position of girls who are asked in
marriage by men of the world. And thereupon an idea came into her mind.
Presently she had dried her tears, and in half-an-hour's time she left
Her purpose was to call upon Mrs. Quarrier, whom she had met not
long ago at Highmead. But the lady was not at home. After a moment of
indecision, she wrote on the back of her visiting card: "Will you be so
kind as to let me know when I could see you? I will come at any hour."
It was then midday. In the afternoon she received a note,
hand-delivered. Mrs. Quarrier would be at home from ten to twelve the
Again she called, and Lilian received her in the small
drawing-room. They locked at each other with earnest faces, Lilian
wondering whether this visit had anything to do with the election.
Serena was nervous, and could not reply composedly to the ordinary
phrases of politeness with which she was received. And yet the phrases
were not quite ordinary; whomsoever she addressed, Lilian spoke with a
softness, a kindness peculiar to herself, and chose words which seemed
to have more than the common meaning.
The visitor grew sensible of this pleasant characteristic, and at
length found voice for her intention.
"I wished to see you for a very strange reason, Mrs. Quarrier. I
feel half afraid that I may even offend you. You will think me very
Lilian trembled. The old dread awoke in her. Had Miss Mumbray
"Do let me know what it is," she replied, in a low voice.
"It — it is about Mr. Eustace Glazzard. I think he is an intimate
friend of Mr. Quarrier's?"
"Yes, he is."
"You are surprised, of course. I came to you because I feel so
alone and so helpless. You know that I am engaged to Mr. Glazzard?"
Her voice faltered. Relieved from anxiety, Lilian looked and spoke
in her kindest way.
"Do speak freely to me, Miss Mumbray. I shall be so glad to — to
help you in any way I can — so very glad."
"I am sure you mean that. My mother is very much against our
marriage — against Mr. Glazzard. She wants me to break off. I can't do
that without some better reason than I know of. Will you tell me what
you think of Mr. Glazzard? Will you tell me in confidence? You know him
probably much better than I do — though that sounds strange. You have
known him much longer, haven't you?"
"Not much longer. I met him first in London."
"But you know him through your husband. I only wish to ask you
whether you have a high opinion of him. How has he impressed you from
Lilian reflected for an instant, and spoke with grave
"My husband considers him his best friend. He thinks very highly of
him. They are unlike each other in many things. Mr. Quarrier sometimes
wishes that he — that Mr. Glazzard were more active, less absorbed in
art; but I have never heard him say anything worse than that. He likes
him very much indeed. They have been friends since boyhood."
The listener sat with bowed head, and there was a brief silence.
"Then you think," she said at length, "that I shall be quite safe
in — Oh, that is a bad way of putting it! Do forgive me for talking to
you like this. You, Mrs. Quarrier, are very happily married; but I am
sure you can sympathize with a girl's uncertainty. We have so few
opportunities of —— Oh, it was so true what Mr. Quarrier said in his
lecture at the Institute — before you came. He said that a girl had to
take her husband so very much on trust — of course his words were
better than those, but that's what he meant."
"Yes — I know — I have heard him say the same thing."
"I don't ask," pursued the other, quickly, "about his religious
opinions, or anything of that kind. Nowadays, I suppose, there are very
few men who believe as women do — as most women do." She glanced at
Lilian timidly. "I only mean — do you think him a good man — an
"To that I can reply with confidence," said Lilian, sweetly. "I am
quite sure he is an honourable man — quite sure I believe he has very
high thoughts. Have you heard him play? No man who hadn't a noble
nature could play like that."
Serena drew a sigh of relief.
"Thank you, dear Mrs. Quarrier — thank you so very much! You have
put my mind at rest."
These words gave delight to the hearer. To do good and to receive
gratitude were all but the prime necessities of Lilian's heart. Obeying
her impulse, she began to say all manner of kind, tender, hopeful
things. Was there not a similarity between this girl's position and
that in which she had herself stood when consenting to the wretched
marriage which happily came to an end at the church door? Another woman
might have been disposed to say, in the female parrot-language: "But do
you love him or not? That is the whole question." It was not the whole
question, even granting that love had spoken plainly; and Lilian
understood very well that it is possible for a girl to contemplate
wedlock without passionate feeling such as could obscure her judgment.
They talked with much intimacy, much reciprocal good-will, and
Serena took her leave with a comparatively cheerful mind. She had
resolved what to do.
And the opportunity for action came that afternoon. Glazzard called
upon her. He looked rather gloomy, but smiled in reply to the smile she
"Have you read Mr. Gladstone's address to the electors of
Midlothian?" Serena began by asking, with a roguish look.
"Pooh! What is such stuff to me?"
"I knew I should tease you. What do you think of Mr. Quarrier's
"Oh, he will be elected, no doubt."
Glazzard spoke absently, his eyes on Serena's face, but seemingly
not conscious of her expression.
"I hope he will," she rejoined.
"What! — you hope so?"
"Yes, I do. I am convinced he is the right man. I agree with his
principles. Henceforth I am a Radical."
Glazzard laughed mockingly, and Serena joined, but not in the same
"I like him," she pursued, with a certain odd persistence. "If I
could do it decently, I would canvass for him. He is a manly man and
means what he says. I like his wife, too — she is very sweet."
He glanced at her and pursed his lips.
"I am sure," added Serena, "you like me to praise such good friends
They were in the room where the grand piano stood, for Mrs. Mumbray
had gone to pass the day with friends at a distance. Serena said of a
"Will you please play me something — some serious piece — one of
the best you know?"
"You mean it?"
"I do. I want to hear you play a really noble piece. You won't
He eyed her in a puzzled way, but smiled, and sat down to the
instrument. His choice was from Beethoven. As he played, Serena stood
in an attitude of profound attention. When the music ceased, she went
up to him and held out her hand.
"Thank you, Eustace. I don't think many people can play like that."
"No; not very many," he replied quietly, and thereupon kissed her
He went to the window and looked out into the chill, damp garden.
"Serena, have you any idea what Sicily is like at this time of
"A faint imagination. Very lovely, no doubt."
"I want to go there."
"Do you?" she answered, carelessly, and added in lower tones, "So
"There's no reason why you shouldn't. Marry me next week, and we
will go straight to Messina."
"I will marry you in a fortnight from to-day," said Serena, in
Glazzard walked back to Highmead with a countenance which
alternated curiously between smiling and lowering. The smile was not
agreeable, and the dark look showed his face at its worst. He was
completely absorbed in thought, and when some one stopped full in front
of him with jocose accost, he gave a start of alarm.
"I should be afraid of lamp-posts," said Quarrier, "if I had that
somnambulistic habit. Why haven't you looked in lately? Men of infinite
leisure must wait upon the busy."
"My leisure, thank the destinies!" replied Glazzard, "will very
soon be spent out of hearing of election tumult."
"When? Going abroad again?"
"Ha! — that means, I conjecture," said Denzil, searching his
friend's face, "that a certain affair will come to nothing after all?"
"And what if you are right?" returned the other, slowly, averting
"I sha'n't grieve. No, to tell you the truth, I shall not! So at
last I may speak my real opinion. It wouldn't have done, Glazzard; it
was a mistake, old fellow. I have never been able to understand it. You
— a man of your standing — no, no, it was completely a mistake,
Glazzard looked into the speaker's face, smiled again, and remarked
"That's unfortunate. I didn't say my engagement was at an end; and,
in fact, I shall be married in a fortnight. We go to Sicily for the
A flush of embarrassment rose to Denzil's face. For a moment he
could not command himself; then indignation possessed him.
"That's too bad!" he exclaimed. "You took advantage of me. You laid
a trap. I'm damned if I feel able to apologize!"
Glazzard turned away, and it seemed as if he would walk on. But he
faced about again abruptly, laughed, held out his hand.
"No, it is I who should apologize. I did lay a trap, and it was too
bad. But I wished to know your real opinion."
No one more pliable than Denzil. At once he took the hand that was
offered and pressed it heartily.
"I'm a blundering fellow. Do come and spend an hour with me
to-night. From eleven to twelve. I dine out with fools, and shall
rejoice to see you afterwards."
"Thanks, I can't. I go up to town by the 7.15."
They were in a suburban road, and at the moment some ladies
approached. Quarrier, who was acquainted with them, raised his hat and
spoke a few hasty words, after which he walked on by Glazzard's side.
"My opinion," he said, "is worth very little. I had no right
whatever to express it, having such slight evidence to go upon. It was
double impertinence. If you can't be trusted to choose a wife, who
could? I see that — now that I have made a fool of myself."
"Don't say any more about it," replied the other, in a good-natured
voice. "We have lived in the palace of truth for a few minutes, that's
"So you go to Sicily. There you will be in your element. Live in
the South, Glazzard; I'm convinced you will be a happier man than in
this mill-smoke atmosphere. You have the artist's temperament; indulge
it to the utmost. After all, a man ought to live out what is in him.
Your wedding will be here, of course?"
"Yes, but absolutely private."
"You won't reject me when I offer good wishes? There is no man
living who likes you better than I do, or is more anxious for your
happiness. Shake hands again, old fellow. I must hurry off."
So they parted, and in a couple of hours Glazzard was steaming
He lay back in the corner of a carriage, his arms hanging loose,
his eyes on vacancy. Of course he had guessed Quarrier's opinion of the
marriage he was making; he could imagine his speaking to Lilian about
it with half-contemptuous amusement. The daughter of a man like Mumbray
— an unformed, scarcely pretty girl, who had inherited a sort of
fortune from some soap-boiling family — what a culmination to a career
of fastidious dilettantism! "He has probably run through all his
money," Quarrier would add. "Poor old fellow! he deserves better
He had come to hate Quarrier. Yet with no vulgar hatred; not with
the vengeful rancour which would find delight in annihilating its
object. His feeling was consistent with a measure of justice to
Denzil's qualities, and even with a good deal of admiration; as it
originated in mortified vanity, so it might have been replaced by the
original kindness, if only some stroke of fortune or of power had set
Glazzard in his original position of superiority. Quarrier as an
ingenuous young fellow looking up to the older comrade, reverencing his
dicta, holding him an authority on most subjects, was acceptable,
lovable; as a self-assertive man, given to patronage (though perhaps
unconsciously), and succeeding in life as his friend stood still or
retrograded, he aroused dangerous emotions. Glazzard could no longer
endure his presence, hated the sound of his voice, cursed his genial
impudence; yet he did not wish for his final unhappiness — only for a
temporary pulling-down, a wholesome castigation of over-blown pride.
The sound of the rushing wheels affected his thought, kept it on
the one subject, shaped it to a monotony of verbal suggestion. Not a
novel suggestion, by any means; something that his fancy had often
played with; very much, perhaps, as that ingenious criminal spoken of
by Serena amused himself with the picture of a wrecked train long
before he resolved to enjoy the sight in reality.
"Live in the South," Quarrier had urged. "Precisely; in ether
words: Keep out of my way. You're a good, simple-hearted fellow, to be
sure, but it was a pity I had to trust you with that secret. Leave
England for a long time."
And why not? Certainly it was good counsel — if it had come from
any one but Denzil Quarrier. Probably he should act upon it after all.
His rooms were in readiness for him, and whilst the attendant
prepared a light supper, he examined some letters which had arrived
that evening. Two of the envelopes contained pressing invitations —
with reference to accounts rendered and re-rendered; he glanced over
the writing and threw them into the fire. The third missive was more
interesting; it came from a lady of high social position at whose house
he had formerly been a frequent guest. "Why do we never see you?" she
wrote. "They tell me yen have passed the winter in England; why should
you avoid your friends who have been condemned to the same endurance? I
am always at home on Thursday."
He held the dainty little note, and mused over it. At one time the
sight of this handwriting had quickened his pulses with a delicious
hope; now it stimulated his gloomy reflections. Such a revival of the
past was very unseasonable.
Before going to bed he wrote several letters. They were
announcements of his coming marriage — brief, carelessly worded,
giving as little information as possible.
The next morning was taken up with business. He saw, among other
people, his friend Stark, the picture-collecting lawyer. Stark had
letters from Polterham which assured him that the Liberals were
confident of victory.
"Confounded pity that Quarrier just got the start of you!" he
exclaimed. "You could have kept that seat for the rest of your life."
"Better as it is," was the cheerful reply. "I should have been
heartily sick of the business by now."
"There's no knowing. So you marry Miss Mumbray? An excellent
choice, I have no doubt. Hearty congratulations! — Oh, by-the-bye,
Jacobs Burrows have a capital Greuze — do look in if you are passing."
Glazzard perceived clearly enough that the lawyer regarded this
marriage just as Quarrier did, the pisaller of a disappointed and
embarrassed man. There was no more interest in his career; he had sunk
finally into the commonplace.
At three o'clock he was at home again, and without occupation. The
calendar on his writing-table reminded him that it was Thursday. After
all, he might as well respond to the friendly invitation of last
evening, and say good-bye to his stately acquaintances in Grosvenor
Square. He paid a little attention to costume, and presently went
In this drawing-room he had been wont to shine with the double
radiance of artist and critic. Here he had talked pictures with the
fashionable painters of the day; music with men and women of resonant
name. The accomplished hostess was ever ready with that smile she
bestowed only upon a few favourites, and her daughter — well, he had
misunderstood, and so came to grief one evening of mid-season. A
rebuff, the gentlest possible, but leaving no scintilla of hope. At the
end of the same season she gave her hand to Sir Something Somebody, the
And to-day the hostess was as kind as ever, smiled quite in the old
way, held his hand a moment longer than was necessary. A dozen callers
were in the room, he had no opportunity for private speech, and went
away without having mentioned the step he was about to take. Better so;
he might have spoken indiscreetly, unbecomingly, in a tone which would
only have surprised and shocked that gracious lady.
He reached his rooms again with brain and heart in fiery tumult.
Serena Mumbray! — he was tempted to put an end to his life in some
brutal fashion, such as suited with his debasement.
Another letter had arrived during his absence. An hour passed
before he saw it, but when his eye at length fell on the envelope he
was roused to attention. He took out a sheet of blue note-paper,
covered with large, clerkly writing.
"DEAR SIR, "We have at length been able to trace the person
concerning whom you are in communication with us. He is at present
living in Bristol, and we think is likely to remain there for a short
time yet. Will you favour us with a call, or make an appointment
elsewhere? "We have the honour to be, dear Sir,
"Yours faithfully, "TULKS CROWE."
He paced the room, holding the letter behind his back. It was more
than three weeks since the investigation referred to had been committed
to Messrs. Tulks Crowe, private inquiry agents; and long before this he
had grown careless whether they succeeded or not. An impulse of
curiosity; nothing more. Well, yes; a fondness for playing with
secrets, a disposition to get power into his hands — excited to
activity just after a long pleasant talk with Lilian. He was sorry this
letter had come; yet it made him smile, which perhaps nothing else
would have done just now.
"To be weak is miserable, doing or suffering." The quotation was
often in his mind, and he had never felt its force so profoundly as
this afternoon. The worst of it was, he did not believe himself a
victim of inherent weakness; rather of circumstances which persistently
baffled him. But it came to the same thing. Was he never to know the
joy of vigorous action? — of asserting himself to some notable result?
He could do so now, if he chose. In his hand were strings, which,
if he liked to pull them, would topple down a goodly edifice, with
uproar and dust and amazement indescribable: so slight an effort, so
incommensurable an outcome! He had it in his power to shock the
conventional propriety of a whole town, and doubtless, to some extent,
of all England. What a vast joke that would be — to look at no other
aspect of the matter! The screamings of imbecile morality — the
confusion of party zeal — the roaring of indignant pulpits!
He laughed outright.
But no; of course it was only an amusing dream. Ho was not
malignant enough. The old-fashioned sense of honour was too strong in
him. Pooh! He would go and dine, and then laugh away his evening
somewhere or other.
Carefully he burnt the letter. To-morrow he would look in at the
office of those people, hear their story, and so have done with it.
Next morning he was still in the same mind. He went to TuIks
Crowe's, and spent about an hour closeted with the senior member of
that useful firm. "A benevolent interest — anxious to help the poor
devil if possible — miserable story, that of the marriage — was to be
hoped that the girl would be persuaded to acknowledge him, and help him
to lead an honest life — no idea where she was." The information he
received was very full and satisfactory; on the spot he paid for it,
and issued into the street again with tolerably easy mind.
To-morrow he must run down to Polterham again. How to pass the rest
of to. day? Pressing business was all off his hands, and he did not
care to look up any of his acquaintances; he was not in the mood for
talk. Uncertain about the future, he had decided to warehouse the
furniture, pictures, and so on, that belonged to him. Perhaps it would
be well if he occupied himself in going through his papers — makicg a
selection for the fire.
He did so, until midway in the afternoon. Perusal of old letters
will not generally conduce to cheerfulness, and Glazzard once more felt
his spirits sink, his brain grow feverishly active. Within reach of
where he sat was a railway time-table; he took it up, turned to the
Great Western line, pondered, finally looked at his watch.
At two minutes to five he alighted from a cab at Paddington Station
— rushed, bag in hand, to the booking-office — caught the Bristol
train just as the guard had signalled for starting.
He was at Bristol soon after eight. The town being strange ground
to him, he bade a cabman drive him to a good hotel, where he dined.
Such glimpse as he had caught of the streets did not invite him forth,
but neither could he sit unoccupied; as the weather was fair, be
rambled for an hour or two. His mind was in a condition difficult to
account for; instead of dwelling upon the purpose that had brought him
hither, it busied itself with all manner of thoughts and fancies
belonging to years long past. He recalled the first lines of a poem he
had once attempted; it was suggested by a reading of Coleridge — and
there, possibly, lay the point of association. Coleridge: then he fell
upon literary reminiscences. Where, by the way, was St. Mary Redcliffe?
He put the inquiry to a passer-by, and was directed. By dreary
thoroughfares he came into view of the church, and stood gazing at the
spire, dark against a blotchy sky. Then he mocked at himself for acting
as if he had an interest in Chatterton, when in truth the name
signified boredom to him. Oh, these English provincial towns! What an
atmosphere of deadly dulness hung over them all! And people were born,
and lived, and died in Bristol — merciful powers!
He made his way back to the hotel, drank a glass of hot whisky, and
went to bed.
After a sound sleep he awoke in the grey dawn, wondered awhile
where he could be, then asked himself why on earth he had come here. It
didn't matter much; he could strike off by the Midland to Polterham,
and be there before noon. And again he slept.
When he had breakfasted, he called to the waiter and asked him how
far it was to that part of the town called Hotwells. Learning that the
road thither would bring him near to Clifton, he nodded with
satisfaction. Clifton was a place to be seen; on a bright morning like
this it would be pleasant to walk over the Downs and have a look at the
gorge of the Avon.
A cab was called. With one foot raised he stood in uncertainty,
whilst the driver asked him twice whither they were to go. At length he
said "Hotwells," and named a street in that locality. He lay back and
closed his eyes, remaining thus until the cab stopped.
Hastily he looked about him. He was among poor houses, and near to
docks; the masts of great ships appeared above roofs. With a quick
movement he drew a coin from his pocket, tossed it up, caught it
between his hands. The driver had got down and was standing at the
"This the place? Thanks; I'll get out."
He looked at the half-crown, smiled, and handed it to the cabman.
In a few minutes he stood before an ugly but decent house, which
had a card in the window intimating that lodgings were here to let. His
knock brought a woman to the door.
"I think Mr. North lives here?"
"Yes, sir, he do live yere," the woman answered, in a simple tone.
"Would you wish for to see him?"
"Please ask him if he could see a gentleman on business — Mr.
"But he ben't in, sir, not just now. He" —— she broke off and
pointed up the street. "Why, there he come, I declare!"
"The tall man?"
"That be he, sir."
Glazzard moved towards the person indicated, a man of perhaps
thirty, with a good figure, a thin, sallow face, clean-shaven, and in
rather shabby clothes. He went close up to him and said gravely:
"Mr. North, I have just called to see you on business."
The young man suppressed a movement of uneasiness, drew in his lank
cheeks, and looked steadily at the speaker.
"What name?" he asked, curtly, with the accent which represents
some degree of liberal education.
"Mr. Marks. I should like to speak to you in private."
"Has any one sent you?"
"No, I have taken the trouble to find where you were living. It's
purely my own affair. I think it will be to your interest to talk with
The other still eyed him suspiciously, but did not resist.
"I haven't a sitting-room," he said, "and we can't talk here. We
can walk on a little, if you like."
"I'm a stranger. Is there a quiet spot anywhere about here?"
"If we jump on this omnibus that's coming, it'll take us to the
Suspension Bridge — Clifton, you know. Plenty of quiet spots about
The suggestion was accepted. On the omnibus they conversed as any
casual acquaintances might have done. Glazzard occasionally inspected
his companion's features, which were not vulgar, yet not pleasing. The
young man had a habit of sucking in his cheeks, and of half closing his
eyes as if he suffered from weak sight; his limbs twitched now and
then, and he constantly fingered his throat.
"A fine view," remarked Glazzard, as they came near to the great
cliffs; "but the bridge spoils it, of course."
"Do you think so? Not to my mind. I always welcome the signs of
Glazzard looked at him with curiosity, and the speaker threw back
his head in a self-conscious, conceited way.
"Picturesqueness is all very well," he added, "but it very often
means hardships to human beings. I don't ask whether a country looks
beautiful, but what it does for the inhabitants."
"Very right and proper," assented Glazzard, with a curl of the lip.
"I know very well," pursued the moralist, "that civilization
doesn't necessarily mean benefit to the class which ought to be
considered first. But that's another question. It ought to benefit
them, and eventually it must."
"You lean towards Socialism?"
"Christian Socialism if you know what that signifies."
"I have an idea. A very improving doctrine, no doubt."
They dismounted, and began the ascent of the hillside by a path
which wound among trees. Not far from the summit they came to a bench
which afforded a good view.
"Suppose we stop here," Glazzard suggested. "It doesn't look as if
we should be disturbed."
"As you please."
"By-the-bye, you have abbreviated your name, I think?"
The other again looked uneasy and clicked with his tongue.
"You had better say what you want with me, Mr. Marks," he replied,
"My business is with Arthur James Northway. If you are he, I think
I can do you a service."
"Why should you do me a service?"
"From a motive I will explain if all else is satisfactory."
"How did you find out where I was?"
"By private means which are at my command." Glazzard adopted the
tone of a superior, but was still suave. "My information is pretty
complete. Naturally, you are still looking about for employment. I
can't promise you that, but I daresay you wouldn't object to earn a
"If it's anything — underhand, I'll have nothing to do with it."
"Nothing you can object to. In fact, it's an affair that concerns
you more than any one else. — I believe you can't find any trace of
Northway turned his head, and peered at his neighbour with narrow
"It's about her, is it?"
"Yes, about her."
Strangely enough, Glazzard could not feel as if this conversation
greatly interested him. He kept gazing at the Suspension Bridge, at the
woods beyond, at the sluggish river, and thought more of the view than
of his interlocutor. The last words fell from his lips idly.
"You know where she is?" Northway inquired.
"Quite well. I have seen her often of late — from a distance. To
prove I am not mistaken, look at this portrait and tell me if you
recognize the person?"
He took from an inner pocket a mutilated photograph; originally of
cabinet size, it was cut down to an oval, so that only the head
remained. The portrait had been taken in London between Lilian's return
from Paris and her arrival at Polterham. Glazzard was one of the few
favoured people who received a copy.
Northway examined it and drew in his cheeks, breathing hard.
"There's no mistake, I think?"
The reply was a gruff negative.
"I suppose you do care about discovering her?"
The answer was delayed. Glazzard read it, however, m the man's
countenance, which expressed various emotions.
"She has married again — eh?"
"First, let me ask you another question. Have you seen her
"Yes, I have."
"With what result?"
"They profess to know nothing about her. Of course, I don't believe
"But you may," said Glazzard, calmly. "They speak the truth, no
doubt. From them you must hope for no information. In all likelihood,
you might seek her for the rest of your life and never come upon her
"Then let me know what you propose."
"I offer to tell you where she is, and how situated, and to enable
you to claim her. But you, for your part, must undertake to do this in
a certain way, which I will describe when everything is ready, a week
or so hence. As I have said, I am willing to reward you for agreeing to
act as I direct. My reasons you shall understand when I go into the
other details. You will see that I have no kind of selfish object in
view — in fact, that I am quite justified in what looks like vulgar
Glazzard threw out the words with a careless condescension, keeping
his eyes on the landscape.
"I'll take back the portrait, if you please."
He restored it to his pocket, and watched Northway's features,
which were expressive of mental debate.
"At present," he went on, "I can do no more than give you an idea
of what has been going on. Your wife has not been rash enough to marry
a second time; but she is supposed to be married to a man of wealth and
position — is living publicly as his wife. They have deceived every
one who knows them."
"Except you, it seems," remarked Northway, with a gleam from
between his eyelids.
"Except me — but that doesn't concern you. Now, you see that your
wife has done nothing illegal; you can doubtless divorce her, but have
no other legal remedy. I mention this because it might occur to you
that — you will excuse me — that the situation is a profitable one.
It is nothing of the kind. On the threat of exposure they would simply
leave England at once. Nothing could induce them to part — be quite
sure of that. The man, as I said, has a high position, and you might be
tempted to suppose that — to speak coarsely — he would pay blackmail.
Don't think it for a moment. He is far too wise to persevere in what
would be a lost game; they would at once go abroad. It is only on the
stage that men consent to pay for the keeping of a secret which is
quite certain not to be kept."
Northway had followed with eager attention, pinching his long
throat and drawing in his cheeks.
"Well, what do you want me to do?" he asked.
"To remain hero in Bristol for a week or so longer. I will then
telegraph to you, and tell you where to meet me."
"Is it far from here?"
"A couple of hours' journey, or so. If you will allow me, I will
pay your fare at once."
He took out a sovereign, which Northway, after a moment's
"Do you take any interest in the elections?" Glazzard asked.
"Not much," replied the other, reassuming his intellectual air.
"One party is as worthless as the other from my point of view."
"I'm glad to hear that — you'll understand why when we meet again.
And, indeed, I quite agree with you."
"Politics are no use nowadays," pursued Northway. "The questions of
the time are social. We want a party that is neither Liberal nor Tory."
"Exactly. — Well, now, may I depend upon you?"
"I'll come when you send for me."
"Very well. I have your address."
He stood up, hesitated a moment, and offered his hand, which
Northway took without raising his eyes.
"I shall walk on into Clifton; so here we say good-bye for the
present. — A week or ten days."
"I suppose you won't alter your mind, Mr. — Mr. Marks?"
"Not the least fear of that. I have a public duty to discharge."
So speaking, and with a peculiar smile on his lips, Glazzard walked
away. Northway watched him and seemed tempted to follow, but at length
went down the hill.
Disappointed in his matrimonial project, the Rev. Scatchard Vialls
devoted himself with acrid zeal to the interests of the Conservative
party. He was not the most influential of the Polterham clerics, for
women in general rather feared than liked him; a sincere ascetic, he
moved but awkwardly in the regions of tea and tattle, and had an
uncivil habit of speaking what he thought the truth without regard to
time, place, or person. Some of his sermons had given offence, with the
result that several ladies betook themselves to gentler preachers. But
the awe inspired by his religious enthusiasm was practically useful now
that he stood forward as an assailant of the political principles held
in dislike by most Polterham church-goers. There was a little band of
district-visitors who stood by him the more resolutely for the coldness
with which worldly women regarded him; and these persons, with their
opportunities of making interest in poor households, constituted a
party agency not to be despised. They worked among high and low with an
unscrupulous energy to which it is not easy to do justice. Wheedling or
menacing — doing everything indeed but argue — they blended the cause
of Mr. Welwyn-Baker and that of the Christian religion so inextricably
that the wives of humble electors came to regard the Tory candidate as
Christ's vicegerent upon earth, and were convinced that their husbands'
salvation depended upon a Tory vote.
One Sunday, Mr. Vialls took for his text, "But rather seek ye the
kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." He began
by pointing out how very improper it would be for a clergyman to make
the pulpit an ally of the hustings; far indeed be it from him to
discourse in that place of party questions — to speak one word which
should have for its motive the advancements of any electioneering
cause. But in these times of social discontent and upheaval it must not
be forgotten that eternal verities were at stake. There were men —
there were multitudes, alas! who made it the object of their life-long
endeavour to oust Christianity from the world; if not avowedly, at all
events in fact. Therefore would he describe to them in brief, clear
sentences what really was implied in a struggle between the parties
commonly known as Conservative and Liberal. He judged no individual; he
spoke only of principles, of a spirit, an attitude. The designs of
Russia, the troubles in Ireland — of these things he knew little and
recked less; they were "party shibboleths," and did not concern a
Christian minister in his pulpit. But deeper lay the interests for
which parties nowadays were in truth contending. It had come to this:
are we to believe, or are we not to believe that the "kingdom of God"
must have precedence of worldly goods? The working classes of this
country — ah, how sad to have to speak with condemnation of the poor!
— were being led to think that the only object worth striving after
was an improvement of their material condition. Marvellous to say, they
were encouraged in this view by people whom Providence had blessed with
all the satisfactions that earth can give. When the wealthy, the
educated thus repudiated the words of Christ, what could be expected of
those whom supreme Goodness has destined to a subordinate lot? No!
material improvement was not the first thing, even for those unhappy
people (victims for the most part of their own improvident or vicious
habits) who had scarcely bread to eat and raiment wherewith to clothe
themselves. Let them seek the kingdom of God, and these paltry,
temporal things shall surely be added unto them.
This sermon was printed at the office of the Polterham Mercury, and
distributed freely throughout the town. He had desired no such thing,
said Mr. Vialls, but the pressure of friends was irresistible. In
private, meanwhile, he spoke fiercely against the Radical candidate,
and never with such acrimony as in Mrs. Mumbray's drawing-room when
Serena was present. One afternoon he stood up, tea-cup in hand, and, as
his habit was, delivered a set harangue on the burning topic.
"In one respect," he urged, after many other accusations, "I
consider that Mr. Quarrier is setting the very worst, the most
debasing, the most demoralizing example to these working folk, whose
best interests he professes to have at heart. I am assured (and the
witness of my own eyes in one instance warrants me in giving credit to
the charge) that he constantly enters public-houses, taverns, even low
dram-shops, to satisfy his thirst for strong liquor in the very face of
day, before the eyes of any one who may happen to be passing. This is
simply abominable If an honourable man has one duty — one social duty
— more incumbent upon him than another, it is to refrain from setting
an example of intemperance."
Serena had listened thus far with a look of growing irritation. At
length she could resist no longer the impulse to speak out.
"But surely, Mr. Vialls, you don't charge Mr. Quarrier with
"I do, Miss Mumbray," replied the clergyman, sternly. "Intemperance
does not necessarily imply drunkenness. It is intemperate to enter
public-houses at all hours and in all places, even if the liquor
partaken of has no obvious effect upon the gait or speech of the
drinker. I maintain" ——
"Mr. Quarrier does not go about as you would have us believe."
"Serena!" interfered her mother. "Do you contradict Mr. Vialls?"
"Yes, mother, I do, and every one ought to who knows that he is
exaggerating. I have heard this calumny before, and I have been told
how it has arisen. Mr. Quarrier takes a glass of beer when he is having
a long country walk; and why he shouldn't quench his thirst I'm sure I
"Miss Mumbray," said the clergyman, glaring at her, yet affecting
forbearance, "you seem to forget that our cottagers are not so
inhospitable as to refuse a glass of water to the weary pedestrian who
knocks at their door."
"I don't forget it, Mr. Vialls," replied Serena, who was trembling
at her own boldness, but found a pleasure in persevering. "And I know
very well what sort of water one generally gets at cottages about here.
I remember the family at Rickstead that died one after another of their
"Forgive me! That is not at all to the point. Granting that the
quality of the water is suspicious, are there not pleasant little shops
where lemonade can be obtained? But no; it is not merely to quench a
natural thirst that Mr. Quarrier has recourse to those pestilent
vendors of poison; the drinking of strong liquor has become a
tyrant-habit with him."
"I deny it, Mr. Vialls!" exclaimed the girl, almost angrily. (Mrs.
Mumbray in vain tried to interpose, and the other ladies present were
partly shocked, partly amused, into silence.) "If so, then my father is
a victim to the habit of drink — and so is Mr. Welwyn-Baker himself!"
This was laying a hand upon the Ark. Mrs. Mumbray gave a little
scream, and several "Oh's!" were heard. Mr. Vialls shook his head and
smiled with grim sadness.
"My dear young lady, I fear we shall not understand each other. I
am far from being one of those who deny to ladies the logical faculty,
"But you feel that I am right, and that party prejudice has carried
you too far!" interrupted Serena, rising from her chair. "I had better
go away, or I shall say disagreeable things about the Conservatives. I
am not one of them, and I should like that to be understood."
She walked quietly from the room, and there ensued an awkward
"Poor Serena!" breathed Mrs. Mumbray, with a deep sigh. "She has
fallen under the influence of Mrs. Quarrier — a most dangerous person.
How such things come to pass I cannot understand."
Mrs. Tenterden's deep voice chimed in:
"We must certainly guard our young people against Mrs. Quarrier.
From the look of her, no one could have guessed what she would turn
out. The idea of so young a woman going to people's houses and talking
"Oh, I think nothing of that!" remarked a lady who particularly
wished to remind the company that she was still youthful. "I canvass
myself; it's quite the proper thing for ladies to do. But I'm told she
has rather an impertinent way of speaking to every one who doesn't fall
down and worship her husband."
"Mrs. Lester," broke in the grave voice of the clergyman, "I trust
you will pardon me, but you have inadvertently made use of a phrase
which is, or should be, consecrated by a religious significance."
The lady apologized rather curtly, and Mr. Vialls made a stiff bow.
At this same moment the subject of their conversation was returning
home from a bold expedition into the camp of the enemy. Encouraged by
the personal friendliness that had been shown her in the family of Mr.
Samuel Quarrier, Lilian conceived and nourished the hope that it was
within her power to convert the sturdy old Tory himself. Samuel made a
joke of this, and entertained himself with a pretence of lending ear to
her arguments. This afternoon he had allowed her to talk to him for a
long time. Lilian's sweetness was irresistible, and she came back in
high spirits with report of progress. Denzil, who had just been
badgered by a deputation of voters who wished to discover his mind on
seven points of strictly non-practical politics, listened with idle
"Dear girl," he said presently, "the old fellow is fooling you t
You can no more convert him than you could the Dalai-Lama to
"But he speaks quite seriously, Denzil! He owns that he doesn't
like Beaconsfield, and" ——
"Don't waste your time and your patience. It's folly, I assure you.
When you are gone he explodes with laughter."
Lilian gazed at him for a moment with wide eyes, then burst into
"Good heavens! what is the matter with you, Lily?" cried Denzil,
jumping up. "Come, come, this kind of thing won't do! You are
overtaxing yourself. You are getting morbidly excited."
It was true enough, and Lilian was herself conscious of it, but she
obeyed an impulse from which there seemed no way of escape. Her
conscience and her fears would not leave her at peace; every now and
then she found herself starting at unusual sounds, trembling in mental
agitation if any one approached her with an unwonted look, dreading the
arrival of the post, the sight of a newspaper, faces in the street.
Then she hastened to the excitement of canvassing, as another might
have turned to more vulgar stimulants. Certainly her health had
suffered. She could not engage in quiet study, still less could rest
her mind in solitary musing, as in the old days.
Denzil seated himself by her on the sofa.
"If you are to suffer in this way, little girl, I shall repent
sorely that ever I went in for politics."
"How absurd of me! I can't think why I behave so ridiculously!"
But still she sobbed, resting her head against him.
"I have an idea," he said at length, rendered clairvoyant by his
affection, "that after next week you will feel much easier in your
"After next week?"
"Yes; when Glazzard is married and gone away."
She would not confess that he was right, but her denials
strengthened his surmise.
"I can perfectly understand it, Lily. It certainly was unfortunate;
and if it had been any one but Glazzard, I might myself have been
wishing the man away. But you know as well as I do that Glazzard would
not breathe a syllable."
"Not even to his wife?" she whispered.
"Not even to her! I assure you"— he smiled — "men have no
difficulty in keeping important secrets, Samson notwithstanding.
Glazzard would think himself for ever dishonoured. But in a week's time
they will be gone; and I shouldn't wonder if they remain abroad for
years. So brighten up, dearest dear, and leave Sam alone; he's a
cynical old fellow, past hope of mending his ways. See more of Molly;
she does you good. And, by-the-bye, it's time you called on the
Catesbys. They will always be very glad to see you."
This family of Catesby was one of the few really distinguished in
the neighbourhood. Colonel Catesby, a long-retired warrior, did not
mingle much with local society, but with his wife and daughter he had
appeared at Denzil's first political dinner; they all "took to" their
hostess, and had since manifested this liking in sundry pleasant ways.
Indeed, Lilian was become a social success — that is to say, with
people who were at all capable of appreciating her. Herein, as in other
things, she had agreeably surprised Denzil. He had resigned himself to
seeing her remain a loving, intelligent, but very unambitious woman; of
a sudden she proved equal to all the social claims connected with his
candidature — unless the efforts, greater than appeared, were
undermining her health. Having learned to trust herself in
conversation, she talked with a delightful blending of seriousness and
gentle merriment. Her culture declared itself in every thought; there
was much within the ordinary knowledge of people trained to the world
that she did not know, but the simplicity resulting from this could
never be confused with want of education or of tact. When the Catesbys
made it evident that they approved her, Quarrier rejoiced exceedingly;
he was flattered in his deepest sensibilities, and felt that henceforth
nothing essential would be wanting to his happiness — whether
Polterham returned him or not.
That he would be returned, he had no doubt. The campaign proceeded
gloriously. Whilst Mr. Gladstone flowed on for ever in Midlothian
rhetoric, Denzil lost no opportunity of following his leader, and was
often astonished at the ease with which he harangued as long as
Polterham patience would endure him. To get up and make a two hours'
speech no longer cost him the least effort; he played with the stock
subjects of eloquence, sported among original jokes and catch-words,
burned through perorations with the joy of an improvisatore in happiest
mood. The Examiner could not report him for lack of space; the Mercury
complained of a headache caused by this "blatant youthfulness striving
to emulate garrulous senility" — a phrase which moved Denzil to
outrageous laughter. And on the whole he kept well within such limits
of opinion as Polterham approved. Now and then Mr. Chown felt moved by
the spirit to interrogate him as to the "scope and bearing and
significance" of an over-bold expression, but the Radical section was
too delighted with a prospect of victory to indulge in "heckling," and
the milder Progressives considered their candidate as a man of whom
Polterham might be proud, a man pretty sure to "make his mark" at
In the hostile ranks there was a good deal of loud talk and
frequent cheering, but the speeches were in general made by
lieutenants, and the shouts seemed intended to make up for the
defective eloquence of their chief. Mr. Welwyn-Baker was too old and
too stout and too shaky for the toil of personal electioneering. He
gave a few dinners at his big house three miles away, and he addressed
(laconically) one or two select meetings; for the rest, his name and
fame had to suffice. There was no convincing him that his seat could
possibly be in danger. He smiled urbanely over the reports of
Quarrier's speeches, called his adversary "a sharp lad," and continued
through all the excitement of the borough to conduct himself with this
"I vow and protest," said Mr. Mumbray, in a confidential ear, "that
if it weren't for the look of the thing, I would withhold my vote
altogether! W.-B. is m his dotage. And to think that we might have put
new life into the party! Bah!"
Conservative canvassers did not fall to make use of thee fact that
Mr. Welwyn-Baker had always been regardful of the poor. His alms-houses
were so pleasantly situated and so tastefully designed that many
Polterham people wished they were for lease on ordinary terms. The
Infirmary was indebted to his annual beneficence, and the Union had to
thank him — especially through this past winter — for a lightening of
its burden. Aware of these things, Lilian never felt able to speak
harshly against the old Tory. In theory she acknowledged that the
relief of a few families could not weigh against principles which
enslaved a whole population (thus Quarrier put it), but her heart
pleaded for the man who allayed suffering at his gates; and could Mr.
Chown have heard the admissions she made to Welwyn-Baker's advocates,
he would have charged her with criminal weakness, if not with secret
treachery. She herself had as yet been able to do very little for the
poor of the town; with the clergy she had no intimate relations
(church-going was for her and Denzil only a politic conformity); and
Polterham was not large enough to call for the organization of special
efforts. But her face invited the necessitous; in the by-ways she had
been appealed to for charity, with results which became known among
people inclined to beg. So it happened that she was one day led on a
benevolent mission into the poorest part of the town, and had an
opportunity of indulging her helpful instincts.
This was in the afternoon. Between nine and ten that evening, as
Denzil and she sat together in the library (for once they were alone
and at peace), a servant informed her that Mrs. Wade wished to speak
for a moment on urgent business. She went out and found her friend in
"Can you give me a few minutes?"
"As long as ever you like! No one is here, for a wonder. Do you
wish to talk privately, or will you come into the study? We were
"It's only politics."
"Oh, then come."
Quarrier would rather have been left in quiet over the proof-sheets
of his book — it was already going through the press — but he
welcomed the visitor with customary friendliness.
"Capital speech of Hartington's yesterday."
"Very good answer to Cross. What do you think of John Bright and
the licensed victuallers?"
"Oh," laughed Denzil, "he'll have to talk a good deal before he
persuades them that temperance is money in their pockets! I don't see
the good of that well-intentioned sophistry. But then, you know, I
belong to the habitual drunkards! You have heard that Scatchard Vialls
so represents me to all and sundry?"
"I should proceed against him for slander."
"On the contrary, I think it does me good. All the honest topers
will rally to me, and the sober Liberals will smile indulgently. Sir
Wilfred Lawson would long ago have been stamped out as a bore of the
first magnitude but for his saving humour."
Mrs. Wade presently made known her business; but with a preface
which disturbed the nerves of both her listeners.
"The enemy have a graver charge against you. I happened, an hour
ago, to catch a most alarming rumour. Mr. Quarrier, your wife will be
Notwithstanding the tone of burlesque, Lilian turned pale, and
Quarrier stood frowning. Mrs. Wade examined them both, her bright eyes
glancing quickly from one face to the other and back again. She did not
continue, until Quarrier exclaimed impatiently:
"What is it now?"
"Nothing less than an accusation of bribery and corruption."
Relief was audible in Denzil's laugh.
"It's reported," Mrs. Wade went on, "that Mrs. Quarrier has been
distributing money — money in handfuls, through half-a-dozen streets
down by the river."
"You don't really mean" —— began Lilian, who could not even yet
quite command her voice.
"It's positively going about! I thought it my duty to come and tell
you at once. What is the foundation?"
"I warned you, Lily," said Denzil, good-humouredly. "The fact is,
Mrs. Wade, she gave half-a-crown to some old woman in Water Lane this
afternoon. It was imprudent, of course. Who told you about it?"
"Mr. Rook, the stationer. It was talked of up and down High Street,
he assures me. We may laugh, but this kind of misrepresentation goes a
"Let the blackguards make the most of it!" cried Quarrier. "I have
as good things in store for them. One of Jobson's workmen told me this
morning that he and his fellows were being distinctly intimidated;
Jobson has told them several times that if the Radicals won, work would
be scarce, and that the voters would have only themselves to thank for
it. And Thomas Barker has been promising lowered rents at Lady-day."
"But who could have told such falsehoods about me?" asked Lilian.
"Some old woman who didn't get the half-crown, no doubt," replied
"Those poor creatures I went to see have no vote."
"Oh, but handfuls of money, you know! It's the impression made on
the neighbourhood. Seriously, they are driven to desperate resources;
and I believe there is a good deal of intimidation going on —
especially on the part of district-visitors. Mrs. Alexander told me of
several instances. And the wives (of course) are such wretched cowards!
That great big carpenter, East, is under his wife's thumb, and she has
been imploring him not to vote Liberal for fear of consequences — she
sits weeping, and talking about the workhouse. Contemptible idiot! It
would gratify me extremely to see her really going to the workhouse."
"And pray," asked Denzil, with a laugh, "what would be the result
of giving the franchise to such women?"
"The result might be that, in time to come, there wouldn't be so
many of them."
"In time to come — possibly. In the meanwhile, send their girls to
school to learn a wholesome contempt for their mothers."
"Well, it sounds brutal, but it's very good sense. All progress
involves disagreeable necessities."
Mrs. Wade was looking about the room, smiling, absent. She rose
"I mustn't spoil your one quiet evening. How do the proofs go on?"
"Would you care to take a batch of them?" asked Quarrier. "These
are revises — you might be able to make a useful suggestion."
She hesitated, but at length held out her band.
"You have rather a long walk," said Lilian. "I hope it's fine."
"No; it drizzles."
"Oh, how kind of you to take so much trouble on our account!"
Mrs. Wade went out into the darkness. It was as disagreeable a
night as the time of year could produce; black overhead, slimy under
foot, with a cold wind to dash the colder rain in one's face. The walk
home took more than half an hour, and she entered her cottage much
fatigued. Without speaking to the girl who admitted her, she went
upstairs to take off her out-of-door things; on coming down to the
sitting-room, she found her lamp lit, her fire burning, and supper on
the table — a glass of milk and some slices of bread and butter. Her
friends would have felt astonishment and compassion had they learned
how plain and slight was the fare that supported her; only by reducing
her household expenditure to the strict minimum could she afford to
dress in the manner of a lady, supply herself with a few papers and
books, and keep up the appearances without which it is difficult to
enjoy any society at all.
To-night she ate and drank with a bitter sense of her poverty and
loneliness. Before her mind's eye was the picture of Denzil Quarrier's
study — its luxury, brightness, wealth of volumes; and Denzil's face
made an inseparable part of the scene. That face had never ceased to
occupy her imagination since the evening of his lecture at the
Institute. Its haunting power was always greatest when she sat here
alone in the stillness. This little room, in which she had known the
pleasures of independence and retirement, seemed now but a prison. It
was a mean dwelling, fit only for labouring folk; the red blind
irritated her sight, and she had to turn away from it.
What a hope had come to her of a sudden last autumn! How recklessly
she had indulged it, and how the disappointment rankled!
A disappointment which she could not accept with the resignation
due to fate. At first she had done so; but then a singular surmise
crept into her thoughts — a suspicion which came she knew not whence
— and thereafter was no rest from fantastic suggestions. Her surmise
did not remain baseless; evidence of undeniable strength came to its
support, yet all was so vague — so unserviceable.
She opened the printed sheets that Quarrier had given her and for a
few minutes read with interest. Then her eyes and thoughts wandered.
Her servant knocked and entered, asking if she should remove the
supper-tray. In looking up at the girl, Mrs. Wade noticed red eyes and
other traces of weeping.
"What is the matter?" she asked, sharply. "Have you any news?"
The girl answered with a faltering negative. She, too, had her
unhappy story. A Polterham mechanic who made love to her lost his
employment, went to London with hopes and promises, and now for more
than half a year had given no sign of his existence. Mrs. Wade had been
wont to speak sympathetically on the subject, but to-night it excited
"Don't be such a simpleton, Annie! If only you knew anything of
life, you would be glad of what has happened. You are free again, and
freedom is the one thing in the world worth having. To sit and cry
because — I'm ashamed of you!"
Surprise and misery caused the tears to break forth again.
"Go to bed, and go to sleep!" said the mistress, harshly. "If ever
you are married, you'll remember what I said, and look back to the time
when you knew nothing worse than silly girlish troubles. Have you no
pride? It's girls like you that make men think so lightly of all women
— despise us — say we are unfit for anything but cooking and
cradle-rocking! If you go on in this way you must leave me; I won't
have a silly, moping creature before my eyes, to make me lose all
The girl took up the tray and hurried off. Her mistress sat till
late in. the night, now reading a page of the proofs, now brooding with
The polling would take place on the last day of March. On the day
previous to that of nomination Glazzard and Serena Mumbray were to be
married. Naturally, not at Mr. Vialls' church; they made choice of St.
Luke's, which was blessed with a mild, intellectual incumbent. Mrs.
Mumbray, consistently obstinate on this one point, refused to be
present at the ceremony.
"There will be no need of me," she said to Serena. "Since you
choose to be married as if you were ashamed of it, your father's
presence will be quite enough. I have always looked forward to very
different things; but when were my wishes and hopes consulted? I am not
angry with you; we shall part on perfectly good terms, and I shall wish
you every happiness. I hope to hear from you occasionally. But I cannot
be a witness of what I so strongly disapprove."
William Glazzard — who saw nothing amiss in his brother's choice
of a wife, and was greatly relieved by the thought of Serena's property
— would readily have gone to the church, but it was decided, in
deference to the bride's wish, that Ivy should come in his stead.
Ivy had felt herself neglected lately. Since the announcement that
her uncle Eustace was to marry Serena, she had seen very little of the
friend with whom alone she could enjoy intimate converse. But on the
eve of the wedding-day they spent an hour or two together in Serena's
room. Both were in a quiet mood, thoughtful rather than talkative.
"This day week," said Serena, breaking a long silence, "I shall be
somewhere in Sicily — perhaps looking at Mount Etna. The change comes
none to soon. I was getting into a thoroughly bad state of mind. Before
long you would have refused to associate with me."
"I think not, dear."
"If not, then I should have done you harm — and that would be a
burden on my conscience. I had begun to feel a pleasure in saying and
doing things that I believed to be wrong. You never had that feeling?"
Ivy looked up with wonder in her gentle, dreamy eyes.
"It must be very strange."
"I have thought about it, and I believe it comes from ignorance.
You know, perhaps what I said and did wasn't really wrong, after all —
if one only understood."
The listener was puzzled.
"But we won't talk about it. Before long I shall understand so many
things, and then you shall have the benefit of my experience. I believe
I am going to be very happy."
It was said as if on a sudden impulse, with a tremulous movement of
"I hope and believe so, dear," replied the other, warmly.
"And you — I don't like to think of you being so much alone.
There's a piece of advice I should like to give you. Try and make
friends with Mrs. Quarrier."
"Yes — I have a good reason — I think she would suit you exactly.
I had a long talk with her about a fortnight ago, and she seemed to me
very nice — nicer than any one I have ever known, except you."
"Perhaps I shall have an opportunity" ——
"Make one. Go and see her, and ask her to come and see you."
They fell again into musing, and the rest of their talk was mainly
about the arrangements for the morrow.
About the time that Ivy Glazzard was going home, her uncle left
Polterham by train. He travelled some thirty miles, and alighted at a
large station, which, even thus late, was full of noise and bustle.
After drinking a cup of coffee in the refreshment-room, he crossed to
another platform, and then paced up and down for a quarter of an hour,
until the ringing of a bell gave notice that a train which he awaited
was just arriving. It steamed into the station, and Glazzard's eye,
searching among the passengers who got out, quickly recognized a tall,
"So, here you are," he said, holding his hand to Northway, who
smiled doubtfully, and peered at him with sleepy eyes. "I have a room
at the station hotel — come along."
They were presently at their ease in a sitting-room, with a hot
supper on the table. Northway ate heartily; his entertainer with less
gusto, though he looked in excellent spirits, and talked much of the
impending elections. The meal dismissed, Glazzard lit a cigar (Northway
did not smoke) and broached the topic of their meeting.
"Now, what I am going to propose to you may seem disagreeable. I
take it for granted that we deal honourably — for my own purpose is
nothing to be ashamed of; and if, after hearing what I ask, you don't
care to undertake it, say so at once, and there's no harm done."
"Well, let me know what it is?" replied the other, plucking at his
"Plainly then, I am engaged in election work. My motives are
"The man of whom we spoke the other day is standing as candidate
for a borough not very far from here — not this town. Not long ago I
discovered that secret of his private life. I am going to use it
against him — to floor him with this disgrace. You understand?"
"Which side is he?"
"Liberal. But to a man of your large views, that of course makes no
"Not a bit!" Northway replied, obviously flattered. "You are a
"Yes; I am Conservative. I think (as I am sure you do) that
Liberalism is a mere name, used for the most part by men who want to
make tools of the people."
"Yes, I agree with that," said Northway, putting his head aside and
drawing in his cheeks.
Glazzard repressed a smile, and smoked for a moment.
"What I want you to do," he continued, "is this. To-morrow, by an
early train, you will go down to this borough I speak of. You will find
your way to the Court-house, and will get leave to make an appeal for
the magistrate's advice. When you come forward, you will say that your
wife has deserted you — that a friend of yours has seen her in that
town, and has discovered that she has committed bigamy — that you wish
for the magistrate's help — his advice how to take proceedings. And,
finally, you will state in a particularly clear voice that your wife is
Mrs. So-and-so, illegally married to Mr. So-and-so, Liberal candidate."
He spoke in hurrying accents, and as he ceased the cigar fell from
"But I thought you said that they weren't married at all?"
"They are not. But you mustn't know it. Your friend — who informed
you (say it was a man casually in the town, a commercial traveller, who
knew your wife formerly by sight) — took it for granted they were
married. If you knew she had not broken the law, you would have no
excuse for going into Court, you see."
Northway pondered the matter, clicking with his tongue.
"You remember, I hope," pursued Glazzard, "all I told you at
Clifton about the position of these people?"
"Yes, I remember. How long have they been together?"
"About two years."
"Has she a child?"
"No. Now, are you disposed to serve me? If you consent, you will
gain the knowledge of your wife's whereabouts and the reward I promised
— which I shall pay now. If you take the money and then spoil my
scheme, you will find it has been useless dishonesty. To-morrow, in any
case, the facts will be made public."
Northway glanced at him ill-humouredly.
"You needn't be so anxious about my honesty, Mr. Marks. But I
should like to be made a little surer that you have been telling me the
truth. How do I know that my wife is really living as you say? It seems
to me I ought to have a sight of her before I go talking to
"Nobody," pursued the other, "would make such a charge just on
hearsay evidence. It would only be common sense for me to see her
"That objection is reasonable. If you knew how well-assured I am of
this lady's identity, you would understand why your view of the matter
never occurred to me. You must say that you have seen her, that's all
— seen her coming out of her house."
But Northway was still unsatisfied. He desired to know how it was
that a public man had succeeded in deceiving all his friends in such an
affair as that of his marriage, and put various other questions, which
reminded Glazzard how raw a hand he was at elaborate artifice. Whilst
the discussion was going on, Northway took from his pocket an envelope,
and from the envelope drew a small photograph.
"You showed me one the other day," he said. "Now, do you recognize
"Undoubtedly. That is Miss Lilian Allen — four years ago, I dare
"H'm! not a bad guess. It's four years old, as near as can be. I
see you know all about her, though how you found out I can't
understand, unless she" ——
He paused, peering at Glazzard suspiciously.
"It doesn't matter how I learnt what I know," said the latter, in a
peremptory tone. "Let us stick to the point. It's lucky you have
brought this carte-de-visite; it will enable you to assure yourself,
before going to the Court-house, that you are not being fooled. As soon
as you land in the town, ask your way to the shop of a bookseller
called Ridge (make a note of the name) — tell Mr. Ridge that you have
found a pocket-book with that photograph in it, and ask him if he can
help you to identify the person. You'll hear his answer. And in this
way, by-the-bye, you could dispense with telling the magistrate that
you have seen your wife. Produce the portrait in Court, and declare
that it has been recognized by people in the town."
Northway appeared content.
"Well, that sounds better. And what am I to do after speaking to
"I should advise you to have an interview with the man himself, the
Liberal candidate, and ask him how it happens that your wife is living
with him. In that way — when he learns what step you have already
taken — you will no doubt get hold of the truth. And then," he smiled,
"you can spend the rest of the day in contradicting your statement that
Mrs. So-and-so has committed bigamy; making it known that she is merely
a counterfeit wife."
"Making known to whom?"
"Why, to the hundreds of people who will crowd about you. My dear
sir, you will be the most important person in the town! You will turn
an electicn — overthrow the hopes of a party! Don't you want to know
the taste of power? Won't it amuse you to think, and to remember, that
in the elections of 1880 you exercised an influence beyond that of
Gladstone or Beaconsfield? It's the wish for power that excites all
this uproar throughout the country. I myself, now — do you think I am
a political agent just for the money it brings me? No, no; but because
I have delight in ruling men! If I am not mistaken, you have it in you
to become a leader in your way, and some day you'll remember my words."
Northway opened his eyes very wide, and with a look of
"You think I'm cut out for that kind of thing?"
"Judging from what I have heard of your talk. But not in England,
you understand. Try one of the new countries, where the popular cause
goes ahead more boldly. You're young enough yet."
The listener mused, smiling in a self-conscious way that obliged
Glazzard to avert his face for a moment lest he should betray
"Shall you be there — in that town — to-morrow?" asked the young
"No, I have business in quite another part. That election," he
added, with an air of importance, "is not the only one I am looking
There was silence, then Glazzard continued:
"It's indifferent to me whether it comes out that I planned this
stratagem, or not. Still, in the interests of my party, I admit that I
had rather it were kept quiet. So I'll tell you what. If, in a month's
time, I find that you have kept the secret, you shall receive at any
address you like a second five-pound note. It's just as you please. Of
course, if you think you can get more by bargaining with the Liberals
— but I doubt whether the secret will be worth anything after the
"All right. I'll give you an address, so that if you keep in the
same mind" ——
He mentioned it. And Glazzard made a note.
"Then we strike a bargain, Mr. Northway?"
"Yes, I'll go through with it," was the deliberate reply.
"Very well. Then you shall have the particulars."
Thereupon Glazzard made known the names he had kept in reserve.
Northway jotted them down on the back of an envelope, his hand rather
"There's a train to Polterham," said Glazzard, "at nine o'clock in
the morning. You'll be there by ten — see Ridge the bookseller, and be
at the Court-house in convenient time. I know there's a sitting
to-morrow; and on the second day after comes out the Polterham Tory
paper. You will prepare them such an item of news in their police
reports as they little look for. By that time the whole truth will be
known, of course, and Mr. Quarrier's candidature will be impossible."
"What will the Liberals do?"
"I can't imagine. We shall look OR and enjoy the situation —
unprecedented, I should think."
Northway again smiled; he seemed to enter into the jest.
"You sleep here," said Glazzard. "Your expenses are paid. I'll take
leave of you now, and I sha'n't see you again, as I have to leave by
the 3.40 up-train."
The money he had promised was transferred to Northway's pocket, and
they shook hands with much friendliness.
Glazzard quitted the hotel. His train back to Polterham left at
1.14, and it was past midnight.
He went into the station, now quiet and deserted. A footstep
occasionally echoed under the vault, or a voice sounded from a
distance. The gas was lowered; out at either end gleamed the coloured
signal-lights, and above them a few faint stars.
It was bitterly cold. Glazzard began to walk up and down, his eyes
straying vaguely. He felt a miserable sinking of the heart, a weariness
as if after great exertion.
An engine came rolling slowly along one of the lines; it stopped
just beyond the station, and then backed into a siding. There followed
the thud of carriage against carriage: a train was being made up, he
went to watch the operation. The clang of metal, the hiss of steam, the
moving about of men with lanterns held his attention for some time, and
so completely that he forgot all else.
Somewhere far away sounded a long-drawn whistle, now faint, now
clearer, a modulated wail broken at moments by a tremolo on one high
note. It was like a voice lamenting to the dead of night. Glazzard
could not endure it; he turned back into the station and tramped
noisily on the stone platform.
Then the air was disturbed by the dull roar of an approaching
train, and presently a long string of loaded waggons passed without
pause. The engine-fire glowed upon heavy puffs of smoke, making them a
rich crimson. A freight of iron bars clanged and clashed intolerably.
When remoteness at length stilled them, there rose again the long
wailing whistle; it was answered by another like it from still greater
Glazzard could stand and walk no longer. He threw himself on a
seat, crossed his arms, and remained motionless until the ringing of a
bell and a sudden turning on of lights warned him that his train drew
On the way to Polterham he dozed, and only a fortunate awaking at
the last moment saved him from passing his station. It was now close
upon two o'clock, and he had a two-mile walk to Highmead. His brother
believed that he was spending the evening with an acquaintance in a
neighbouring town; he had said he should probably be very late, and a
side door was to be left unbarred that he might admit himself with a
But for a policeman here and there, the streets were desolate.
Wherever the lamplight fell upon a wall or hoarding, it illumined
election placards, with the names of the candidates in staring letters,
and all the familiar vulgarities of party advertising. "Welwyn-Baker
and the Honour of Old England!" — "Vote for Quarrier, the Friend of
the Working Man!" — "No Jingoism!" "The Constitution in Danger!
Polterham to the Rescue!" These trumpetings to the battle restored
Glazzard's self-satisfaction; he smiled once more, and walked on with
Just outside the town, in a dark narrow road, he was startled by
the sudden rising of a man's figure. A voice exclaimed, in thick,
ebrious tones: "Who are you for? What's you're colour?"
"Who are you for?" called out Glazzard, in return, as he walked
The politician — who had seemingly been asleep in the ditch —
raised himself to his full height and waved his arms about.
"I'm a Radical! — Quarrier for ever! — Come on, one and all of
you — I'm ready: fist or argument, it's all one to me! — You and your
Welwyn-Baker — gurr! What's he ever done for the people? — that's
what I want to know! — Ya-oo-oo-oo! Quarrier for ever! — Down with
the aristocrats as wants to make war at the expense of the working man!
What's England coming to? — tell me that! You've no principles, you
haven't, you Tory skunks; you've not half a principle among you. — I'm
a man of principle, I am, and I vote for national morality, I do! —
You're running away, are you? — Ya-oo-oo! — stop and fight it out, if
you're a man! — Down with 'em, boys! Down with 'em! — Quarrier for
The shouts of hiccoughy enthusiasm came suddenly to an end, and
Glazzard, looking back, saw that, in an attempt to run, the orator had
measured his length in the mud.
By three o'clock he was seated in his bedroom, very tired but not
much disposed to turn into bed. He had put a match to the fire, for his
feet were numbed with cold, in spite of a long walk. Travelling-bags
and trunks in readiness for removal told of his journey on the morrow.
All his arrangements were made; the marriage ceremony was to take place
at ten o'clock, and shortly after eleven he and his wife would leave
for London on their way to the Continent.
Too soon, of course, to hear the result of Northway's visit to the
Court-house. There would be the pleasure of imagining all that he left
behind him, and in a day or two the papers would bring news. He had
always sympathized with Guy Fawkes and his fellow-conspirators: how
delightful to have fired the train, and then, at a safe distance, have
awaited the stupendous explosion.
Poor little Lilian! That was the only troublesome thought. Yet was
he in truth harming her? Quarrier would take her abroad, and, in a life
of retirement, she would have far more happiness than was possible to
her under the present circumstances. Northway would sue for a divorce,
and thus leave her free to enter upon legitimate marriage. Perhaps he
was doing her the greatest kindness in his power.
When his feet were thoroughly warm he went to bed, and slept well
until the servant call him at half-past seven. It was a very bright
morning; he drew up the blind and let a flood of sunshine into the
room. Contrary to his expectations, no despondency weighed upon him; by
breakfast time he was more than usually cheerful.
"Ivy," he said to his niece, "I have promised to call at the
Quarriers' on our way. We had better start at a quarter to nine; that
will give us five minutes with them."
Of his brother he took leave with much cordiality. William would
probably not be much longer at Highmead, and might perhaps join his
relatives abroad before the end of the year. In that case, Ivy would
accompany him; and she thought with timid pleasure of thus renewing her
friendship with Serena under brighter skies.
Two vehicles came up to the door — in one the luggage was
despatched to the station; the other carried the bridegroom and his
niece into Polterham.
Quarrier awaited them on his threshold, watch in hand, for he had
no time to lose on the eve of nomination day.
"Come in!" he cried, joyously. "Such weather as this is a good
omen. How do you do, Miss Glazzard? Here is Lilian all excitement to
see you; she would give her little finger to go to the wedding."
They entered the house.
"Decidedly," said Denzil, turning to Lilian, "his appearance is a
compliment to Miss Mumbray. When did you see him looking so well and
Lilian coloured, and tried to speak in the same tone, but it was
with difficulty that she used her voice at all. Glazzard's departure
from Polterham promised her such relief of mind that she could not face
him without a sense of shame.
"Telegraph the result, if it is favourable," said Glazzard. "You
shall have an address in time for that."
"If it is favourable? Why, my dear fellow, we shall poll two to
one, at the lowest computation! I've half lost my pleasure in the
fight; I feel ashamed to hit out with all my strength when I make a
speech — it's like pounding an invalid!"
"Then I congratulate you in advance, Mrs. Quarrier. If we are long
away from England, the chances arc I shall have to make my next call
upon you in Downing Street!"
"Some day, old boy — some day!" assented Denzil, with a superb
There followed much handshaking, and the visitors returned to their
carriage. As it moved away, Glazzard put his head out of the window,
waved his hand, and cried merrily:
"Quarrier for ever!"
In the interviews with Mr. Marks, Arthur Northway did not show at
his best. Whoever that scheming personage might be, his knowledge and
his air of condescension oppressed the needy young man, made him
conscious of a hang-dog look, and a helpless promptitude to sell
himself for a few coins. It was not thus that Northway, even after his
unpleasant experiences, viewed himself in relation to the world. He had
decidedly more intellect than is often found in commercial clerks —
the class to which he belonged by birth and breeding — and in spite of
checks he believed himself destined to no common career. Long musing
had taught him the rashness of his youthful endeavours to live largely;
he was now aware that his talents must ally themselves with patience,
with a careful scrutiny of possibilities.
Lying awake in the night, he thought with anything but satisfaction
of the bargain to which he had pledged himself. To discover the woman
who was by law his wife would undoubtedly be a good beginning now that
he had every disposition to fix himself in a steady course, but he saw
no advantage whatever in coming before a bench of magistrates and
re-opening the story of his past. It would be pleasant to deal a blow
at this man Quarrier; but, if Marks had told him the truth, Quarrier
was in any case doomed to exposure. Was it not possible to act at once
with prudence and with self-respect, to gain some solid benefit without
practice of rascality? It involved breaking his word, but was he bound
to keep faith with a man who proceeded on the assumption that he was
ready for any base dealing? The money in his pocket he might find an
opportunity of paying back. In this matter before him, he was
undeniably an injured man. Lilian was treating him very badly indeed,
very unfairly. If she chose to repudiate her marriage with him, it was
her duty to afford him the chance of freeing himself from the legal
bond. What moralist could defend her behaviour?
He worked himself into a mood of righteous indignation, of
self-pity. No; the very least Lilian should have done, in uniting
herself to another man, moreover a wealthy man, was to make some
provision for her forsaken husband. That little income of hers should
have been transferred to him. Her action was unexpected; he had thought
her too timid, too religious, too soft-hearted, for anything of this
kind. Since the disastrous wedding-day, she had, it was true, declined
to hold communication with him; but he always looked forward to a
meeting when he regained his freedom, and had faith in his personal
influence. It was not solely for the sake of her money that he wooed
and won her; other connections notwithstanding, he felt something like
genuine tenderness for Lilian, and even now this sentiment was not
The morning only confirmed his reluctance to follow Mr. Marks's
directions. Practically, he lost nothing by taking his own course but a
five-pound note. Let the electioneering agent attack Quarrier by some
other means. For a few hours, at all events, the secret would remain
unpublished, and in that interval the way might be opened for an honest
and promising career.
He breakfasted substantially, and left by the train appointed.
Arrived at Polterham, after a walk up and down the nearest streets and
an inspection of the party placards, he asked his way to the shop of
Mr. Ridge, bookseller. At once he was directed thither.
"So far so good," he said to himself. "It seems pretty certain that
Marks has not misled me. Shall I go into this shop, and play the trick
that was recommended? I think it is hardly worth while. Better to
inquire for Quarrier's house, and have a look at it."
He did so, and — it may be mentioned — on his way passed the
doors of the church in which at that moment Glazzard was being married.
At about half-past ten he was in sight of the high wall surrounding
Quarrier's garden; he approached the gate, and cautiously took a view
of what was within, then walked to a little distance.
His wife had not done badly for a little country girl. Whilst he
prowled about the streets with his burden of disgrace, his blank
future, Lilian sat at her ease in a mansion — doubtless had her
carriages, perhaps her livened servants — associated with important
people. After all, there was something to be said for that appeal to
the magistrate, with its consequence of scandal, ruin, to these people
who thought themselves so secure from him. He recovered his mood of
"Boy!" — an errand-lad was just passing — "whereabouts is the
He was bidden take a turning within sight and go straight on for
about half a mile.
"And I will, too!" he said in his mind. "She shall suffer for it!
He turned away and walked for some twenty yards. Then once more the
doubt occurred to him. He had better go to the bookseller's and make
sure of Mrs. Quarrier's identity. Turning to take the opposite
direction, he saw some one coming forth from the gates by which he had
just stood — a lady — and it might be ——?
Agitation shook him from head to foot. Was not that Lilian's
figure, her walk? She was moving away from him; he must have a glimpse
of her face. Drawing carefully nearer, on the side opposite to hers —
carefully — fearfully — he at length saw her features, then fell
back. Yes, it was Lilian. Much disguised in that handsome
walking-costume, but beyond doubt Lilian. Still, as of old, she walked
with bowed head, modestly. Who could imagine what she concealed?
His face was moist with perspiration. Following, he could not take
his eyes off her. That lady was his wife. He had but to claim her, and
all her sham dignity fell to nothing. But he could not command her
obedience. He had no more power over her will than any stranger. She
might bid him do his worst — and so vanish with her chosen companion
utterly beyond his reach.
Again he thought of the Court-house. For it was too certain that
the sight of him would inspire her only with horror. Should he not hold
her up to infamy? If he did not, another would; Marks was plainly to be
trusted; this day was the last of Mrs. Quarrier's grandeur.
And to remember that was to pause. Could he afford to throw away a
great opportunity for the sake of malicious satisfaction?
She walked on, and he followed, keeping thirty or forty paces
behind her. He saw at length that she was not going into the town. The
fine morning had perhaps invited her to a country walk. So much the
better; he would wait till they were in a part where observation was
less to be feared; then he would speak to her.
Lilian never looked back. It was indeed the bright sunshine that
had suggested a walk out to Pear-tree Cottage, where before noon she
would probably find Mrs. Wade among her books. She felt light of heart.
Within this hour Glazzard would be gone from Polterham. Four days
hence, Denzil would be a Member of Parliament. Had she no claim to
happiness — she whose girlhood had suffered such monstrous wrong?
Another reason there was for the impulse of joy that possessed her — a
hope once already disappointed — a voice of nature bidding her regard
this marriage as true and eternal, let the world say what it would.
She was within sight of the cottage, when Mrs. Wade herself
appeared, coming towards her. Lilian waved her hand, quickened her
step. They met.
"I was going for a walk in the fields," said Mrs. Wade. "Shall we"
Lilian had turned round, and at this moment her eyes fell upon
Northway, who was quite near. A stifled cry escaped her, and she
grasped at her friend's arm.
"What is it, dear?"
Mrs. Wade looked at her with alarm, imagining an attack of illness.
But the next instant she was aware of the stranger, who stood in
obvious embarrassment. She examined him keenly, then again turned her
eyes upon Lilian.
"Is this some one you know?" she asked, in a low voice.
Lilian could not reply, and reply was needless. Northway, who had
kept postponing the moment of address, now lost himself between
conflicting motives. Seeing Lilian's consternation and her friend's
surprise, he nervously raised his hat, drew a step or two nearer, tried
"Mrs. Wade," Lilian uttered, with desperate effort to seem
self-possessed, "I wish to speak to this gentleman. Will you — do you
Her face was bloodless and wrung with anguish. The widow again
looked at her, then said:
"I will go in again. If you wish to see me, I shall be there."
And at once she turned away.
Northway came forward, a strange light in his eyes.
"I'm the last person you thought of seeing, no doubt. But we must
have a talk. I'm sorry that happened before some one else."
"Come with me out of the road. There's a field-path just here."
They crossed the stile, and walked a short distance in the
direction of Bale Water. Then Lilian stopped.
"Who told you where to find me?"
Already Northway had decided upon his course of action. Whilst he
followed Lilian, watching her every movement, the old amorous feeling
had gradually taken strong hold upon him. He no longer thought of
revenge. His one desire was to claim this beautiful girl as his wife.
In doing so, it seemed to him, he took an unassailable position, put
himself altogether in the right Marks's plot did not concern him; he
threw it aside, and followed the guidance of his own discretion.
"I have found you," he said, fingering his throat nervously, "by
mere chance. I came here in search of employment — something in a
newspaper. And I happened to see you in the streets. I asked who you
were. Then, this morning, I watched you and followed you."
"What do you want?"
"That's a strange question, I think."
"You know there can't be anything between us."
"I don't see that."
He breathed hard; his eyes never moved from her face. Lilian,
nerved by despair, spoke in almost a steady voice; but the landscape
around her was veiled in mist; she saw only the visage which her memory
had identified with repugnance and dread.
"If you want my money," she said, "you can have it — you shall
have it at once. I give you it all."
"No, I don't ask for your money," Northway answered, with
resentment. "Here's some one coming; let us walk out into the field."
Lilian followed the direction of his look, and saw a man whom she
did not recognize. She left the path and moved whither her companion
was leading, over the stubby grass; it was wet, but for this she had no
"How long have you been living in this way?" he asked, turning to
"You have no right to question me."
"What! — no right? Then who has a right I should like to know?"
He did not speak harshly; his look expressed sincere astonishment.
"I don't acknowledge," said Lilian, with quivering voice, "that
that ceremony made me your wife."
"What do you mean? It was a legal marriage. Who has said anything
"You know very well that you did me a great wrong. The marriage was
nothing but a form of words."
"On whose part? Certainly not on mine. I meant everything I said
and promised. It's true I hadn't been living in the right way; but that
was all done with. If nothing had happened, I should have begun a
respectable life. I had made up my mind to do so. I shouldn't have
deceived you in anything."
"Whether that's true or not, I don't know. I was deceived, and
cruelly. You did me an injury you could never have made good."
Northway drew in his cheeks, and stared at her persistently. He had
begun to examine the details of her costume — her pretty hat, her
gloves, the fur about her neck. In face she was not greatly changed
from what he had known, but her voice and accent were new to him —
more refined, more mature, and he could not yet overcome the sense of
strangeness. He felt as though he were behaving with audacity; it was
necessary to remind himself again and again that this was no other than
Lilian Allen — nay, Lilian Northway; whose hand he had held, whose
lips he had kissed.
A thrill went through him.
"But you are my wife!" he exclaimed, earnestly. "What right have
you to call yourself Mrs. Quarrier? Have you pretended to marry that
Lilian's eyes fell; she made no answer.
"You must tell me — or I shall have no choice but to go and ask
him. And if you have committed bigamy" ——
"There has been no marriage," she hastened to say. "I have done
what I thought right."
"Right? I don't know how you can call that right. I suppose you
were persuaded into it. Does he know all the truth?"
She was racked with doubt as to what she should disclose. Her
thoughts would not be controlled, and whatever words she uttered seemed
to come from her lips of their own accord.
"What do you expect of me?" she cried, in a voice of utmost
distress. "I have been living like this for more than two years. Right
or wrong, it can't be changed — it can't be undone. You know that. It
was natural you should wish to speak to me; but why do you pretend to
think that we can be anything to each other? You have a right to my
money — it shall be yours at once."
He stamped, and his eyes shot anger.
"What do you take me for? Do you suppose I shall consent to give
you up for money? Tell me what J have asked. Does that man know your
"Of course he knows it — everything."
"And he thinks I shall never succeed in finding you out! Well, he
is mistaken, you see — things of this kind are always found out, as
you and he might have known. You can't do wrong and live all your life
as if you were innocent."
The admonition came rather inappropriately from him, but it shook
Lilian in spite of her better sense.
"It can't be changed," she exclaimed. "It can't be undone."
"That's all nonsense!"
"I will die rather than leave him!"
Hot jealousy began to rage in him. He was not a man of vehement
passions, but penal servitude had wrought the natural effect upon his
appetites. The egotism of a conceited disposition tended to the same
result. He swore within himself a fierce oath that, come what might,
this woman should be his. She contrasted him with her wealthy lover,
despised him; but right and authority were on his side.
"Leave him you must — and shall so there's plain speaking! You
will never go into that house again."
Lilian turned as if to flee from him. No one was within sight; and
how could she have appealed to any one for help? In the distance she
saw the roof of Mrs. Wade's cottage; it allayed her despair for the
moment. There, at all events, was a friend who would intervene for her,
a strong and noble-minded woman, capable of offering the best counsel,
of acting with decision. Vain now to think of hiding her secret from
that friend — and who could he more safely trusted with it?
But she still had the resource of entreaty.
"You talk of right and wrong — is it right to be merciless? What
can I ever be to you? Would you take me away by force, and compel me to
live with you? I have told yen I would die rather. When you think of
everything, have you no pity for me? Whatever you intended, wasn't our
marriage a terrible injustice to me? Oughtn't you to give a thought to
"You are living an immoral life," replied Northway, with tremulous
emphasis. "I could hold you. up to shame. No, I don't ask you to come
and live with me at once; I don't expect that. But you must leave that
man, and live a respectable life, and — then in time I shall forgive
you, instead of disgracing you in the divorce court. I ask only what is
right. You used to be religious" ——
"Oh, how can you talk to me like that! If you really think me
wicked and disgraced, leave me to my own conscience! Have you no sins
that ask for forgiveness?"
"It isn't for you to speak of them," he retorted, with imbecile
circling. "All I know is that you are my wife by law, and it is my duty
to save you from this position. I sha'n't let you go back. If you
resist my authority, I shall explain everything to any one who asks,
that's all. — Who was that lady you were talking to?"
"She lives in the little house over there. I must go and speak to
"Does she know?"
"What have you to say to her, then?"
They looked into each other's eyes for a moment. Northway was
gauging the strength of her character, and he half believed that by an
exertion of all his energy he might overcome her, lead her away at
once. He remembered that before the close of this day Quarrier's secret
would be universally known, and when that had come to pass, he would
have no hold upon either the man or the woman. They would simply turn
their backs upon him, and go beyond his reach.
He laid his hand upon her, and the touch, the look in his eyes,
drove Lilian to the last refuge.
"You must go with me, then, to Mr. Quarrier," she said, firmly.
"You have no power to stop me. I shall go home, and you must follow me,
if you choose."
"No, you will go with me! Do you hear? I command you to come with
It was his best imitation of resistless authority, and he saw, even
in speaking, that he had miscalculated. Lilian drew back a step and
looked at him with defiance.
"Command me, you cannot. I am as free from your control as any
"Try, and see. If you attempt to go back into the town, I shall
hold you by force, and the consequences will be worse to you than to
me. Do as you please."
Again her eyes turned to the distant roof of Peartree Cottage. She,
too, had estimated her strength and his She knew by instinct what his
face meant — the swollen, trembling lips, the hot eyes; and understood
that he was capable of any baseness. To attempt to reach her home would
he an abandonment of all hope, the ruin of Denzil. A means of escape
from worst extremity, undiscoverable by her whirling brain, might
suggest itself to such a mind as Mrs. Wade's. If only she could
communicate with the cottage!
"Then I shall go to my friend here," she said, pointing.
"Who is she?"
"A lady who lives quite alone."
"What's the good of your going there?"
She had recourse to artifice, and acted weakness much better than
he had simulated strength.
"I must have some one's advice! I must know how others regard your
He saw no possibility of restraining her, and it might befall that
this lady, intentionally or not, would use her influence on his side.
Those last words signified a doubt in Lilian's mind. Was it not pretty
certain that any respectable woman, on learning how matters stood, must
exclaim against that pretended marriage? Northway's experience lay
solely among the representatives of English morality, and the frankly
vicious; he could hardly imagine a "lady" whose view of the point at
issue would admit pleas on Lilian's behalf.
"If you go there," he said, "I must be with you."
Lilian made no answer, but moved away. They passed into the road,
tinned towards the cottage. On reaching the gate, Lilian saw Mrs. Wade
standing just before her.
"I must speak to you " she said, holding out her hands impulsively.
Mrs. Wade looked from her to the man in the background, who again
had awkwardly raised his hat — a cheap but new cylinder, which,
together with his slop-made coat and trousers, classed him among
uncertain specimens of humanity.
"Will you let him come in?" Lilian whispered, a sob at length
breaking her voice.
The widow was perfectly self-possessed. Her eyes gleamed very
brightly and glanced hither and thither with the keenest scrutiny. She
held Lilian's hand, answering in a low voice:
"Trust me, dear! I'm so glad you have come. What is his name?"
Mrs. Wade addressed him, and invited him to enter; but Northway,
having ascertained that there was no escape from the cottage which he
could not watch, drew back.
"Thank you," he said; "I had rather wait out here. If that lady
wants me, I shall be within reach."
Mrs. Wade nodded, and drew her friend in. Lilian of a sudden lost
her physical strength; she had to be supported, almost carried, into
the sitting-room. The words of kindness with which Mrs. Wade sought to
recover her had a natural enough effect; they invited an hysterical
outbreak, and for several minutes the sufferer wailed helplessly. In
the meantime she was disembarrassed of her out-door clothing. A
stimulant at length so far restored her that she could speak
"I don't know what you will think of me. — I am obliged to tell
you something I hoped never to speak of. Denzil ought to know first
what has happened; but I can't go to him. — I must tell you, and trust
your friendship. Perhaps you can help me; you will — I know you will
if you can."
"Anything in my power," replied the listener, soothingly. "Whatever
you tell me is perfectly safe. I think you know me well enough, Lily."
Then Lilian began, and told her story from first to last.
Told it rapidly, now and then confusedly, but with omission of
nothing essential. So often she had reviewed her life, at successive
stages of culture and self-knowledge. Every step had been debated in
heart and conscience. She had so much to say, yet might not linger in
the narration, and feared to seem eager ill the excuse of what she had
done. To speak of these things to one of her own sex was in itself a
great relief, yet from time to time the recollection that she was
betraying Denzil's Secret struck her with cold terror. Was not this
necessity a result of her weakness? A stronger woman would perhaps have
faced the situation in some other way.
Mrs. Wade listened intently, and the story seemed to move her in no
slight degree. Lilian, anxiously watching her face, found it difficult
to interpret the look of suppressed excitement. Censure she could not
read there; pain, if ever visible, merely flitted over brow and lips;
at moments she half believed that her hearer was exulting in this
defiance of accepted morality — what else could be the significance of
that flash in the eyes; that quiver of the nostrils — all but a
triumphant smile? They sat close to each other, Lilian in the low
basket-chair, the widow on a higher seat, and when the story came to an
end, their hands met.
"How can I save Denzil?" was Lilian's last word. "Anything — any
sacrifice I If this becomes known, his whole life is ruined!"
Mrs. Wade pressed the soft, cold fingers, and kept a thoughtful
"It's a strange coincidence," she said at length, "very strange
that this should happen on the eve of the election."
"The secret must be kept until" ——
Lilian's voice failed. She looked anxiously at her friend, and
"What would be the result if it were known afterwards-when Denzil
"It's hard to say. But tell me, Lily: is there no one who has been
admitted to your confidence?"
What purpose would be served by keeping back the name? Lilian's
eyes fell as she answered.
"Mr. Glazzard knows."
"Mr. Eustace Glazzard?"
Lilian explained how and when it had become necessary to make him a
sharer in the secret.
"Do you believe," Mrs. Wade asked, "that Northway really discovered
you by chance?"
"I don't know. He says so. I can only feel absolutely sure that Mr.
Glazzard has nothing to do with it."
Mrs. Wade mused doubtfully.
"Oh, how is it possible? If you knew him as well as we do! —
Impossible! — He came to see us this very morning, on his way to be
married, and laughed and talked!"
"You are right, no doubt," returned the other, with quiet
reassurance. "If it wasn't chance, some obscure agency has been at
work. You must remember, Lily, that only by a miracle could you have
lived on in security."
"I have sometimes felt that," whispered the sufferer, her head
"And it almost seems," went on Mrs. Wade, "as if Northway really
had no intention of using his power to extort money. To be Sure, your
own income is not to be despised by a man in his position; but most
rascals would have gone to Mr. Quarrier. — He is still in love with
you, I suppose."
The last words were murmured in a tone which caused the hearer to
look up uneasily. Mrs. Wade at once averted her face, which was
curiously hard and expressionless.
"What do you think?" she said a moment after. "Would it be any use
if I had a talk with him?"
"Will you?" asked Lilian, eagerly. "You may perhaps influence him.
You can speak so well — so persuasively. I don't think he is utterly
depraved. As you say, he would have gone first to Denzil. Perhaps he
can be moved to have pity on me."
"Perhaps — but I have more faith in an appeal to his interests."
"It would be dreadful if Denzil had to live henceforth at his
"It would. But it's a matter of — of life and death."
Mrs. Wade's voice sank on those words, shaking just a little. She
put her face nearer to Lilian's, but without looking at her.
"Suppose no argument will prevail with him, dear?" she continued in
that low, tremulous tone. "Suppose he persists in claiming you?"
The voice had a strange effect upon Lilian's nerves. She shook with
agitation, and drew away a little.
"He cannot! He has no power to take me! At the worst, we can only
be driven back into solitude."
"True, dear; but it would not be the same kind of solitude as
before. Think of the huge scandal, the utter ruin of brilliant
Lilian lay back and moaned in anguish. Her eyes were closed, and in
that moment Mrs. Wade gazed at her for a moment only; then the widow
rose from her chair, and spoke in a voice of encouragement.
"I will see him, Lily. You remain here; I'll call him into the
She stepped to the window, and saw that Northway was standing only
at a little distance. After meditating for a minute or two, she left
the room very quietly, crossed the passage, and entered the room
opposite, where she generally took her meals. Here again she went to
the window, and again had a good view of the man on guard. A smile rose
to her face.
Then she went out and signalled to Northway, who approached in an
embarrassed way, doing his best to hold his head up and look dignified.
Mrs. Wade regarded him with contemptuous amusement, but was careful to
show nothing of this; her face and tone as she greeted him expressed
more than civility — all but deference.
"Will you do me the kindness to enter for a few minutes, Mr.
He doffed his hat, smiled sourly, and followed her into the little
dining-room. But as she was closing the door, he interfered.
"Excuse me — I don't want that lady to go away until I have seen
Mrs. Wade none the less closed the door, holding herself with
"She is resting in the next room. I give you my word, Mr. Northway,
that you will find her there when our conversation is over."
He looked about him with sullen uneasiness, but could not resist
this lady's manner.
"Pray sit down. Quite a spring day, isn't it?"
Her tone was melancholy, tempered with the consideration of a
hostess. Northway seated himself much as if he were in church. He tried
to examine Mrs. Wade's face, but could not meet her look. She, in the
meantime, had got the young man's visage by heart, had studied the
meaning of every lineament — narrow eyes, sunken cheeks, forehead
indicative of conceited intelligence, lips as clearly expressive of
another characteristic. Here, at all events, was a creature she could
manage — an instrument — though to what purpose she was not yet
"Mr. Northway, I have been listening to a sad, sad story."
"Yes, it is sad," he muttered, feeling his inferiority to this
soft-spoken woman, and moving his legs awkwardly.
"I must mention to you that my name is Mrs. Wade. I have known
Lilian since she came to live at Polterham — only since then. That's a
very short time ago, but we have seen a good deal of each other, and
have become intimate friends. I need not tell you that I never had the
faintest suspicion of what I have just learnt."
This was said certainly not in a voice of indignation but with a
sadness which implied anything but approval. Northway, after trying to
hold his hat in a becoming way, placed it on the floor, clicking with
his tongue the while and betraying much nervousness.
"You are of course aware," pursued the lady, "that Mr. Denzil
Quarrier is Liberal candidate for this borough?"
"Yes, I know."
"Until to-day, he had every prospect of being elected. It is a
shocking thing — I hardly know how to express myself about it."
"If this gets known," said Northway, "I suppose he has no chance?"
"How would it be possible to vote for a man who has outraged the
law on which all social life is based? He would retire immediately —
Regarding this event as certain in any case, the listener merely
"That, I dare say, doesn't interest you?"
"I take no part in politics."
"And it is quite a matter of indifference to you whether Mr.
Quarrier's career is ruined or not?"
"I don't see why I should think much about a man who has injured me
as he has."
"No," conceded Mrs. Wade, sadly. "I understand that you have
nothing whatever in view but recovering your wife?"
"That's all I want."
"And yet, Mr. Northway, I'm sure you see how very difficult it will
be for you to gain this end."
She leaned towards him sympathetically. Northway shuffled, sucked
in his cheeks, and spoke in as civil a tone as he could command.
"There are difficulties, I know. I don't ask her to come at once
and live with me. I couldn't expect that. But I am determined she
sha'n't go back to Mr. Quarrier. I have a right to forbid it."
"Indeed — abstractly speaking — I think you have," murmured Mrs.
Wade, with a glance towards the door. "But I grieve to tell you that
there seems to me no possibility of preventing her return."
"I shall have to use what means I can. You say Mr. Quarrier
wouldn't care to have this made public just now."
He knew (or imagined) that the threat was idle, but it seemed to
him that Mrs. Wade, already favourably disposed, might be induced to
counsel Lilian for the avoidance of a scandal at this moment.
"Mr. Northway," replied the widow, "I almost think that he would
care less for such a disclosure before this election than after it."
He met her eyes, and tried to understand her. But whatever she
meant, it could be of no importance to him. Quarrier was doomed by the
Tory agent; on this knowledge he congratulated himself, in spite of the
fact that another state of things would have been more to his interest.
"I have really nothing to do with that," he replied. "My wife is
living a life of wickedness — and she shall be saved from it at once."
Mrs. Wade had much difficulty in keeping her countenance. She
looked down, and drew a deep sigh.
"That is only too true. But I fear — indeed I fear — that you
won't succeed in parting them. There is a reason — I cannot mention
Northway was puzzled for a moment, then his face darkened; he
seemed to understand.
"I do so wish," pursued Mrs. Wade, with a smile of sympathy, "that
I could be of some use in this sad affair. My advice — I am afraid you
will be very unwilling to listen to it."
She paused, looking at him wistfully.
"What would it be?" he asked.
"I feel so strongly — just as you do — that it is dreadful to
have to countenance such a state of things; but I am convinced that it
would be very, very unwise if you went at once to extremities, Mr.
Northway. I am a woman of the world; I have seen a good deal of life;
if you allowed yourself to be guided by me, you would not regret it."
"You want to save your friends from the results of their
behaviour," he replied, uneasily.
"I assure you, it's not so much that — no, I have your interests
in view quite as much as theirs. Now, seeing that Lilian cannot
possibly take her place as your wife in fact, and that it is
practically impossible to part her from Mr. Quarrier, wouldn't it be
well to ask yourself what is the most prudent course that circumstances
"If it comes to that, I can always get a divorce."
Mrs. Wade reflected, but with no sign of satisfaction.
"Yes, that is open to you. You would then, of course, be enabled to
marry again. — May I ask if you are quite at ease with regard to your
prospects in life?"
The tone was so delicately impertinent that Northway missed its
"I haven't quite decided upon anything yet."
"Judging from your conversation, I should say that you will yet
find a place among active and successful men. But the beginning is
everything. If I could be of any assistance to you — I would put it to
you frankly, Mr. Northway: is it worth while sacrificing very solid
possibilities to your — your affection for a woman who has deserted
He shuffled on the chair, clicked with his tongue, and looked about
"I am Dot to be bribed to act against my conscience," he said at
Mrs. Wade heard this with pleasure. The blunt, half-blustering
declaration assured her that Northway's "conscience" was on the point
"Now, let me tell you what I should like to do," she continued,
bending towards him. "Will you allow me to go at once and see Mr.
"And tell him?"
"Yes, let him know what has happened. I quite understand," she
added, caressingly, "how very painful it would be for you to go
directly to him. Will you allow me to be your intermediary? That you
and he must meet is quite certain; may I smooth away the worst
difficulties? I could explain to him your character, your natural
delicacy, your conscientiousness. I could make him understand that he
has to meet a person quite on his own level — an educated man of
honourable feeling. After that, an interview between you would be
comparatively easy. I should be really grateful to you if you would
allow me to do you this service."
Northway was like clay in her hands. Every word had precisely the
effect on which she calculated. His forehead unwrinkled itself, his
lips hung loose like the mouth of a dog that is fondled, he tried not
to smile. Though he thought himself as far as ever from renouncing
Lilian, he began to like the idea of facing Quarrier — of exhibiting
his natural delicacy, conscientiousness, and so on. Something was in
the background, but of that he took no deliberate account.
A few minutes more, and Mrs. Wade had him entirely at her disposal.
It was arranged that, whilst she went into the town to discover
Quarrier, Northway should remain on guard, either in or about the
cottage. Luncheon would be provided for him. He promised not to molest
Lilian, on condition that she made no attempt to escape.
"She will stay where she is," Mrs. Wade assured him. "Your natural
delicacy will, I am sure, prevent you from seeking to hold conversation
with her. She is very weak, poor thing! I do hope no serious illness
will follow on .this shock."
Thereupon she returned to the sitting-room, where Lilian stood in
an anguish of impatience.
"I think I shall manage it, dear," she whispered, in a tone of
affectionate encouragement. "He has consented to see Mr. Quarrier,
provided I go first and break the news."
"You, Mrs. Wade? You are going to see Denzil?"
"Dearest girl, leave it all in my hands. You cannot think what
difficulties I have overcome. If I am allowed to act freely, I shall
save you and him."
She explained the articles of truce, Lilian listening with
"And I don't think he will interfere with you meanwhile. But you
can keep the door locked, you know. Annie shall bring you something to
eat; I will tell her to give him his luncheon first, and then to come
very quietly with yours. It is half-past twelve. I can hardly be back
in less than an hour and a half. No doubt, Mr. Quarrier will come with
"How good you are, dear Mrs. Wade! Oh, if you can save him!"
"Trust me, and try to sit quietly. Now, I will be off at once."
She pressed the hand that was held to her, nodded, and left the
It was striking one when Mrs. Wade came in sight of the Quarriers'
house. At this hour Quarrier was expected at home for luncheon. He
arrived whilst the visitor still waited for an answer to her ring at
"But haven't you seen Lily? She told me" ——
"Yes, I have seen her. She is at the cottage."
A peculiarity in her tone arrested his attention, and the look of
joyous excitement which had been fixed upon his face these last few
days changed to anxious inquiry.
"What's the matter?"
"She is quite well — don't imagine accidents. But I must speak to
you in private."
The door had opened. Denzil led straightway to the library, where
he flung aside hat and overcoat.
"What is it, Mrs. Wade?"
She stood close before him, her eyes on his. The rapid walk had
brought colour to her cheek, and perhaps to the same cause was
attributable her quickened breathing.
"Lily has been discovered by an enemy of hers and yours. A man
He felt far too strongly to moderate his utterance out of regard
for the listener. His features were distorted; he stared wrathfully.
"And you have left her with him? Where is she?"
"She is quite safe in my sitting-room — the key turned to protect
her. He, too, is in the house, in another room. I have gained time; I"
He could not listen.
"How did it happen? — You had no right to leave her alone with
him! — How has he found her?"
"Please don't eat me up, Mr. Quarrier I have been doing my very
best for you."
And she told him the story of the morning as briefly as possible.
Her endeavour to keep a tone of perfect equanimity failed in the course
of the narrative; once or twice there was a catching in her breath,
and, as if annoyed with herself, she made an impatient gesture.
"And this fellow," cried Quarrier, when she ceased, imagines that I
am at his mercy! Let him do what he likes — let him go into the
market-place and shout his news! — We'll go back at once."
"You are prepared, then, to have this known all over Polterham?"
Mrs. Wade asked, looking steadily at him.
"I don't care a jot! Let the election go to the devil! Do you think
I will submit Lily to a day of such torture? This very evening we go to
London. How does she bear it?"
"Very well indeed."
"Like a brave, good girl! Do you think I would weigh the chance of
election against her misery?"
"It seems to me," was the cold answer, "that you have done so
"Has she complained to you?"
"Oh, no! But I understand now what always puzzled me. I understand
She checked herself, and turned quietly from him. Strategy must
always be liable to slips from one cause or another, and Mrs. Wade's
prudence had, for the moment, yielded to her impulses.
"You think she has all along been unhappy?"
"No, nothing of the kind. But when we have been speaking of the
position of women — that kind of thing — I have noticed something
strange — an anxiety. I was only going to say that, after having
succeeded thus far, it seems a pity to lose everything when a little
She waved her hand.
"Do you believe," Denzil asked, "that his story of finding her by
mere chance is true?"
"Lilian tells me that only your most intimate friend shared the
"Glazzard? Of course he has nothing to do with it. But some one
else may have" ——
He walked apart, brooding. Mrs. Wade seated herself, and became
"What sort of a fellow is this?" Quarrier asked, of a sudden.
"It depends who is dealing with him," she answered, meeting his
look with eyes full of sympathetic expression. "I read him at once, and
managed him. He is too weak for serious villainy. He doesn't seem to
have thought of extorting money from you. Lilian was his only object.
He would have taken her away by force."
"Come — we mustn't lose time."
"Mr. Quarrier, do be calm, and let us talk before we go. She is
quite safe. And as for Northway, I am perfectly sure that you can keep
"You think it possible?"
"If you will consent to follow in the path I have prepared. I have
taken no small trouble."
She looked up at him and smiled.
"You have behaved like a true friend, Mrs. Wade — it is no more
than I should have expected of you. But what have you planned? Think
how this secret has already spread — what hope is there of finally
hushing it up? Glazzard and you would never breathe a syllable; but
how, short of manslaughter, could I assure the silence of a blackguard
like this Northway? If I let him blackmail me, I am done for: I should
be like the fools in plays and novels, throwing half my possessions
away, and all in vain."
"Pray remember," urged the other, "that this Northway is by no
means the rascal of melodrama. He has just enough brains to make him
conceited, and is at the disposal of any one who plays upon his
conceit. With much trouble I induced him to regard you as a source of
profit." She broke off and seemed to falter. "I think you won't find
fault with me, Mr. Quarrier, for trying to do this?"
"You did it ill the friendliest spirit."
"And not indiscreetly, I hope." She looked at him for a moment, and
continued: "He is bribable, but you must go to work carefully. For
instance, I think if you offered to give him a good start in a
commercial career — by your personal recommendation, I mean — that
would have more effect than an offer of money. And then, again, in this
way you guard yourself against the perils of which you were speaking.
Place him well, so that he considers himself a respectable, responsible
man, and for his own sake he won't torment you. Couldn't you send him
to some one over in Sweden — some house of business?"
Denzil pondered, with knitted brows.
"I have no faith in it!" he exclaimed at length, beginning to walk
about. "Come — I want to get to Lilian she must be in misery. I will
order the carriage; it will be needed to bring her back."
He rang the bell violently; a servant appeared, and hurried away to
do his bidding.
"Mrs. Wade," he said, as soon as the door had closed, "shouldn't I
do better to throw up the game? I hate these underhand affairs I don't
think I could go through with the thing — I don't, indeed! Speak your
whole mind. I am not a slave of ambition — at bottom I care precious
little for going into Parliament. I enjoyed the excitement of it — I
believe I have a knack of making speeches; but what does it all amount
to? Tell me your true thought." He drew near to her. "Shall I throw it
up and go abroad with my wife? — my wife! that is her true name!"
He looked a fine fellow as he spoke this; better than he had looked
on the platform. Mrs. Wade gazed at him fixedly, as if she could not
take away her eyes. She trembled, and her forehead was wrung with pain.
"Do this," she replied, eagerly, "if you wish to make Lilian
unhappy for the rest of her life."
"What do you mean?"
"It seems I understand her better than you do — perhaps because I
am a woman. She dreads nothing so much as the thought that she has been
the ruin of your prospects. You have taught her to believe that you are
made for politics; you can never undo that. The excitement of this
election had fixed the belief in her for ever. For her sake, you are
bound to make every attempt to choke this scandal! Be weak — give in
— and (she is weak too) it's all over with her happiness. Her life
would be nothing but self-reproach."
"No, no, no! For a short time, perhaps, but security would be the
best thing of all for her."
"Try, then — try, and see the result!"
She spoke with suppressed passion, her voice shaking. Denzil turned
away, struggled with his thoughts, again faced her. Mrs. Wade read his
features as if her life depended on what he would resolve. Seeing him
in a misery of indecision, she repeated, at greater length and more
earnestly still, her cogent reasonings. Quarrier argued in reply, and
they were still thus engaged when it was announced that the carriage
"Let us go!" He threw his overcoat on to his shoulders.
Mrs. Wade caught his hand.
"Are you bent on doing the hopeless thing?"
"Let us talk in the carriage. I can't wait any longer."
But in the carriage both kept silence. Mrs. Wade, exhausted by
stress of emotion, by the efforts of her scheming brain, lay back as if
she had abandoned the contest; Denzil, his face working ceaselessly,
stared through the windows. When they were nearing their destination,
the widow leaned towards him.
"I have done my best for you. I have nothing so much at heart as
your welfare — and Lilian's."
He pressed her hand, too much disturbed to think of the singular
way in which she spoke. Then the vehicle stopped. Denzil assisted his
companion to alight, and, whilst she was opening the house-door, bade
the coachman go up and down till he was summoned. Then he sprang after
Mrs. Wade, learnt from her where Lilian was, and at once tried to enter
the sitting-room. The door was locked.
"Lily!" he called, in a low voice. "Open, dear! It is I!"
The key turned rapidly. He rushed in, and clasped Lilian in his
arms. She could not utter a word, but clung to him sobbing and wailing.
"Don't! — don't, dear girlie! Try to be quiet — try to command
"Can you do anything?" she uttered at length. "Is there any hope?"
"What do you wish, Lily, dearest? What shall I do?"
The common sense of manliness urged him to put no such questions,
to carry her away without a word, save of tender devotion, to escape
with her into quietness, and let all else go as it would. But Mrs.
Wade's warning had impressed him deeply. It went with his secret
inclination; for, at this stage of the combat, to lose all his aims
would be a bitter disappointment. Rethought of the lifelong ostracism,
and feared it in a vague way.
"Mrs. Wade thinks he can be persuaded to leave us alone," Lilian
replied, hurriedly, using simple words which made her seem childlike,
though at the same moment she was nerving herself to heroic effort.
"See him, and do what you can, Denzil. I did my utmost, dear. Oh, this
cruel chance that brought him here!"
She would have given years of her life to say "Sacrifice all, and
let us go!" He seemed even to invite her to say it, but she strove with
herself. Sacrifice of his career meant sacrifice of the whole man. Not
in her eyes, oh no! — but she had studied him so well, and knew that
he could no longer be content in obscurity. She choked her very soul's
"Shall I try to buy him off, Lily?"
"Do try, darling!"
"But can you face what will come afterwards — the constant risks?"
"Anything rather than you shall be ruined!"
A syllable would have broken down her heroism. It was on his
tongue. He had but to say "Ruin! — what do I care for ruin in that
sense?" and she would have cried with delight. But he kept it back.
"Sit down and wait for me. I will go and see him."
One more embrace, and he left her. Mrs. Wade was talking with
Northway in the dining-room, talking hurriedly and earnestly. She heard
Quarrier's step and came to the door.
"In here?" Denzil asked.
She nodded and came out. Then the door closed behind him.
Northway stood near the window. He had eaten — luncheon was still
on the table — and had been smoking to calm his nerves, but at the
sight of Quarrier he became agitated They inspected each other.
Denzil's impulse was to annihilate his contemptible enemy with
fierceness of look and word; and in Northway jealousy fought so
strongly with prudence that a word of anger would have driven him to
revengeful determination. But a few moments of silence averted this
danger. Quarrier said to himself that there was no use in half
measures. He had promised Lilian to do his best, and his own desire
pointed to the same end. Swallowing his gall, he spoke quietly.
"Mr. Northway, we can't talk as if we were friends; but I must
remember that you have never intentionally done me any wrong — that it
is I who am immediately to blame for this state of things. I hope you
will talk it over with me" ——
His voice failed, but the first step had been taken. He sat down,
motioning the other to a chair.
"I can't allow my wife to live any longer in this way," began the
adversary, with blundering attempt at dignified speech.
"My wife" was like a blow to Denzil; he flushed, started, yet
controlled himself. What Mrs. Wade had told him of Northway's
characteristics came into his mind, and he saw that this address might
be mere bluster.
"It's very natural for you to speak in that way; but there is no
undoing what has happened. I must say that at once, and as firmly as
possible. We may talk of how I can compensate you for — for the
injury; but of nothing else."
He ended with much mental objurgation, which swelled his throat.
"You can't compensate a man," returned Northway, "for an injury of
"Strictly speaking, no. But as it can't be helped — as I wronged
you without knowing you — I think I may reasonably offer to do you
whatever good turn is in my power. Please to tell me one thing. Have
you spoken to any one except Mrs. Wade of what you have discovered?"
"No — to no one."
It might be true or not. Denzil could only hope it was, and proceed
on that assumption.
"I am sure I may trust your word," he said, beginning to use
diplomacy, with the immediate result that Northway's look encouraged
him. "Now, please tell me another thing, as frankly. Can I, as a man of
some means and influence, offer you any acceptable service?"
There was silence. Northway could not shape a reply.
"You have been in commerce, I think?" proceeded the other. "Should
you care to take a place in some good house of business on the
Continent, or elsewhere abroad? I think it's in my power to open a way
for you such as you would not easily make by your own exertions."
The listener was suffering. But for one thing, this offer would
have tempted him strongly; but that one thing made it idle for him to
think of what was proposed. To-day or to-morrow Quarrier would be
bargain made with reference to the future must collapse. exposed by his
plotting enemies, and thereupon any If he were to profit by Quarrier at
all, it must needs be in the shape of a payment which could not be
"I don't care to go into business again," he said, with a mingling
of real annoyance and affected superiority. "I have other views."
"Can I help to advance them?" asked Denzil, sickening under the
necessity of speaking fair.
The dialogue lasted for half an hour more. Jealousy
notwithstanding, Northway had made up his mind to gain what was to be
gained. Lilian was beyond his reach; it would be foolish to go back to
his poverty and cloudy overlook when solid assistance was held out to
him. With much posturing and circumlocution, he came at length to the
avowal that a sum of ready money would not be refused.
"Are you wise in preferring this to the other kind of help?" Denzil
"I have my own views."
Quarrier ridiculed himself for what he was doing. How could he
pretend to trust such a fellow? Again, there was only the hope that a
bribe might be efficacious.
"I will give you five hundred pounds," he said, "on condition that
you leave England at once."
The bid was too low. Northway would be satisfied with twice as
much, provided it were paid forthwith. Pondering, Quarrier decided that
he was about to commit an absurdity. A thousand pounds — and how much
more in future? He looked Northway in the eyes.
"Here is my last word. I don't greatly care whether this secret
comes out or not. If I am to be at your mercy henceforth, I had rather
bid you do what you like; it really doesn't matter much to me. I will
give you five hundred pounds at once — a cheque on a Polterham banker;
moreover, if my secret is kept, I will do you the other service I
offered. But that's all I have to say. If it doesn't suit you, you must
do what you please."
His boldness was successful. Northway could gain nothing by
betrayal of the secret — which he believed to be no secret at all.
With show of indifference, he accepted what was obtainable.
"Then come and drive with me into the town," said Denzil.
Thereupon he stepped out and entered the sitting-room, where the
two women were together. They looked eager inquiry, and he smiled.
"Managed, I think. He goes with me. Lily, I'll be back for you as
soon as possible."
A moment, and they watched the carriage roll away.
This evening there was a great dinner-party at Colonel Catesby's; a
political dinner. Lilian had carefully prepared for the occasion. In
Quarrier's opinion, she would far outshine her previous appearances;
she was to wear certain jewels which he had purchased on a recent visit
to town — at an outlay of which he preferred to say nothing definite.
"They are the kind of thing," he remarked, with a significant smile,
"that can be passed on to one's children."
But would it be possible for her to keep the engagement? Through
the afternoon she lay in her bedroom with drawn blinds, endeavouring to
sleep. Once or twice Denzil entered, very softly, and stood by her for
a moment; she looked at him and smiled, but did not speak. At half-past
six he brought her tea with his own hand. Declaring herself quite
recovered, she rose.
"This is no such important affair that you must go at all costs,"
he said, regarding her anxiously. "Say you feel unable, and I'll send a
message at once."
Already she had assured him that it would disappoint her greatly
not to go. Lilian meant, of course, that she could not bear to
disappoint him, and to make confusion in their hostess's arrangements.
There was a weight upon her heart which made it a great effort even to
move, to speak; but she hoped to find strength when the time came.
"You are quite sure that he has gone, Denzil — gone for good?"
"I am perfectly sure of it. You needn't have another moment's
He tried to believe it. By this time, if he had kept his promise,
Northway was in London. But what faith was to be put in such a man's
declarations? It might be that the secret was already known to other
people; between now and polling-day there might come the crowning
catastrophe. Yet the man's interest seemed to impose silence upon him,
and for Lilian's sake it was necessary to affect absolute confidence.
They went to the dinner, and the evening passed without accident.
Lilian was universally admired; pallor heightened her beauty, and the
assurance of outlived danger which Denzil had succeeded in imparting
gave to her conversation a life and glow that excited interest in all
who spoke with her.
"Mr. Quarrier," said the hostess, playfully, in an aside, "if you
were defeated at Polterham, I don't think you ought to care much. You
have already been elected by such a charming constituency!"
But there followed a night of sleeplessness. If exhaustion pressed
down her eyelids for a moment, some image of dread flashed upon her
brain and caused her to start up with a cry. Himself worn out and
suffering a reaction of despondency, Quarrier more than once repented
what he had done. In Lilian's state of health such a shock as this
might have results that would endanger her life. She had not a strong
constitution; he recalled the illness of a year ago, and grew so
anxious that his fits of slumber gave him no refreshment, In the early
dawn, finding that she was awake, he spoke to her of the necessity of
avoiding excitement during the next few days.
"I wish you could go away till the affair is over."
"Oh, there is no need of that! I couldn't be away from you."
"Then at all events keep quietly at home. There'll be the deuce of
an uproar everywhere to-day."
"We shall lunch at Mary's, you know. I had rather be there than
"Well, Molly will be good company for yell, I dare say. But do try
not to excite yourself. Don't talk much; we'll tell them you are very
tired after last night. As soon as ever the fight is done, we'll be off
somewhere or other for a few weeks. Don't get up till midday; anything
interesting you shall know at once."
At breakfast Denzil received a note from Mrs. Wade, sent by hand.
"Do let me know how Lilian is. The messenger will wait for a reply." He
wrote an answer of warm friendliness, signing it, "Ever sincerely
yours." Mrs. Wade had impressed him with her devotion; he thought of
her with gratitude and limitless confidence.
"If it had been Molly, instead," he said to himself; "I can't be at
all sure how she would have behaved. Religion and the proprieties might
have been too much for her good nature; yes, they would have been.
After all, these emancipated women are the most trustworthy, and Mrs.
Wade is the best example I have yet known."
When Mrs. Liversedge welcomed her sister-in-law at luncheon, she
was stricken with alarm.
"My dear girl, you look like a ghost! This won't do," she added, in
a whisper, presently. "You must keep quiet!"
But the Liversedges' house was no place for quietness. Two or three
vigorous partisans put in an appearance at the meal, and talked with
noisy exhilaration. Tobias himself had yielded to the spirit of the
under his notice that morning. One of these concerned hour; he told
merry stories of incidents that had come a well-known publican, a
stalwart figure on the Tory side.
"I am assured that three voters have been drinking steadily for the
last week at his expense. He calculates that delirium tremens will have
set in, in each case, by the day after to-morrow."
"Who are these men?" asked Lilian, eagerly. "Why can't we save them
"Oh, the thing is too artfully arranged. They are old topers; no
possibility of interfering."
"I can't see" ——
"Lilian," interposed Mrs. Liversedge, "what was the material of
that wonderful dress Mrs. Kay wore last night?"
"I don't know, Mary; I didn't notice it. — But surely if it is
known that these men are" ——
It was a half-holiday for the Liversedge boys, and they were
anticipating the election with all the fervour of British youth. That
morning there had been a splendid fight at the Grammar School; they
described it with great vigour and amplitude, waxing Homeric in their
zeal. Dickinson junior had told Tom Harte that Gladstone was a
"blackguard"; whereupon Tom smote him between the eyes, so that the
vile calumniator measured his length in congenial mud. The conflict
spread. Twenty or thirty boys took coloured rosettes from their pockets
(they were just leaving school) and pinned them to their coats, then
rushed to combat with party war-cries. Fletcher senior had behaved like
a brutal coward (though alas! a Gladstonian — it was sorrowfully
admitted), actually throwing a stone at an enemy who was engaged in
single fight, with the result that he had cut open the head of one of
his own friends — a most serious wound. An under-master (never a
favourite, and now loathed by the young Liversedges as a declared Tory)
had interposed in the unfairest way — what else could be expected of
him? To all this Mrs. Liversedge gave ear not without pride, but as
soon as possible she drew Lilian apart into a quiet room, and did her
best to soothe the feverishness which was constantly declaring itself.
About three o'clock Mrs. Wade called. She had not expected to find
Lilian here. There was a moment's embarrassment on both sides. When
they sat down to talk, the widow's eyes flitted now and then over
Lilian's face, but she addressed herself almost exclusively to Mrs.
Liversedge, and her visit lasted only a quarter of an hour. On leaving,
she went into the town to make some purchases, and near the Liberal
committee-rooms it was her fortune to meet with Quarrier.
"I have wanted to see you," he said, regarding her anxiously. "Lily
has got over it much better than I expected; but it won't do — she
can't go on in this excitement."
"I have just seen her at your sister's. She doesn't look very well"
"Could I venture to ask one more kindness of you, Mrs. Wade? May
she come to you, say the day after to-morrow, and stay over night, and
"I shall be very glad indeed," faltered the widow, with something
in her face which did not seem to be reluctance, though it was unlike
"Are you quite sure that it isn't asking too much of you? At my
sister's she is in a perpetual uproar; it's worse than at home. And I
don't know where else to send her — indeed I don't. But I am getting
frightened, that's the truth If she could be with you during the
"How can you hesitate to ask such a simple thing?" broke in Mrs.
Wade. "Shall I ask her myself?"
"You are a good friend. Your conversation will have a soothing
effect. She likes you so much, and gives such weight to everything you
say. Try to set her mind at ease, Mrs. Wade; you can do it if any one
"I will write to her, and then call to-morrow."
Again Lilian had a night without thorough rest, and for the greater
part of the next day she was obliged to keep her room. There Mrs. Wade
visited her, and they talked for a long time; it was decided that
Lilian should go to Pear-tree Cottage on the following afternoon, and
remain in seclusion until the contest was over.
She came down at five o'clock. Denzil, who had instructed the
servants that she was at home to no one, sat with her in the library,
holding her hand.
"I am quite well," Lilian declared again and again. "I feel quite
easy in mind — indeed I do. As you wish it, I will go to Mrs. Wade's,
"It will be very much better. To tell you the truth, girlie, I
shall feel so much freer — knowing you are out of the row, and in such
She looked at him.
"How wretched to be so weak, Denzil! I might have spared you more
than half what you have suffered, if I hadn't given way so."
"Nonsense! Most women would have played the coward — and that you
never could! You have stood it bravely, dear. But it's your health I
fear for. Take care of it for my sake."
Most of the evening he was away, and again the whole of next
morning. But when the time came for her to leave, they were sitting
once more, as they had done so often, hand in hand, their love and
trust stronger than ever, too strong to find expression in mere words.
"If I go into Parliament," said Denzil, "it's you I have to thank
for it. You have faced and borne everything rather than disappoint my
He raised her fingers to his lips. Then the arrival of the carriage
was announced, and when the door had closed again, they held each other
for a moment in passionate embrace.
"Good-bye for a night and a day at longest," he whispered by the
carriage door. "I shall come before midnight to-morrow."
She tried to say good-bye, but could not utter a sound. The wheels
grated, and she was driven rapidly away.
Arthur James Northway reached London in a mood of imperfect
satisfaction. On the principle that half a cake was better than
nothing, he might congratulate himself that he carried in his
pocket-book banknotes to the value of five hundred pounds; but it was a
bitter necessity that had forbidden his exacting more. The possession
of a sum greater than he had ever yet owned fired his imagination; he
began to reflect that, after all, Quarrier's defiance was most likely
nothing but a ruse; that by showing himself resolved, he might have
secured at least the thousand pounds. Then he cursed the man Marks,
whose political schemes would betray the valuable secret, and make it
certain that none of that more substantial assistance promised by
Quarrier would ever be given. And yet, it was not disagreeable to
picture Quarrier's rage when he found that the bribe had been expended
to no purpose. If he had felt animosity against the wealthy man before
meeting him face to face, he now regarded him with a fiercer
malevolence. It was hard to relinquish Lilian, and harder still to have
no means of revenging himself upon her and her pretended husband.
Humiliated by consciousness of the base part he had played, he wished
it in his power to inflict upon them some signal calamity.
On the next day, when he was newly arrayed from head to foot, and
jingled loose sovereigns in his pocket, this tumult of feelings
possessed him even more strongly. Added to his other provocations was
the uncertainty whether Marks had yet taken action. Save by returning
to Polterham, he knew not how to learn what was happening there.
To-morrow a Polterham newspaper would be published; he must wait for
that source of intelligence. Going to a news-agent's, he discovered the
name of the journal, and at once posted an order for a copy to be sent
In the meantime, he was disposed to taste some of the advantages of
opulence. His passions were awakened; he had to compensate himself for
years lost in suffering of body and mind. With exultant swagger he
walked about the London streets, often inspecting his appearance in a
glass; for awhile he could throw aside all thought of the future,
relish his freedom, take his licence in the way that most recommended
itself to him.
The hours did not lag, and on the following afternoon he received
the newspaper for which he was waiting. He tore it open, and ran his
eye over the columns, but they contained no extraordinary matter.
Nothing unexpected had befallen; there was an account of the
nomination, and plenty of rancour against the Radicals, but assuredly,
up to the hour of the Mercury's going to press, no public scandal had
exploded in Polterham.
What did it mean? Was Marks delaying for some definite reason? Or
had he misrepresented his motives? Was it a private enmity he had
planned to gratify — now frustrated by the default of his instrument?
He had given Marks an address in Bristol, that of a shop at which
letters were received. Possibly some communication awaited him there.
He hastened to Paddington and took the first westward train.
On inquiry next morning, he found he had had his journey for
nothing. As he might have anticipated, Marks was too cautious a man to
have recourse to writing.
There were still two days before the poll at Polterham. Thither he
must return, that was certain; for if the election passed without
startling events, he would again be in a position to catch Quarrier by
To be sure, there was the promise of assistance in a commercial
career, but his indulgence of the last day or two had inclined him to
prefer sums of ready money. Once elected, Quarrier would not submit to
social disgrace for the sake of a thousand pounds — nor for two
thousand — possibly not for five. Cupidity had taken hold upon
Northway. With a few thousands in his pocket, he might aim at something
more to his taste than a life of trading. Five thousand it should be,
not a penny less! This time he was not to be fobbed off with bluster
He spent the day in Bristol, and at nightfall journeyed towards
No; even yet nothing had happened. Conversation at an inn to which
he betook himself assured him that things were going their orderly way.
Had Marks himself been bought off?
The next day — that before the election — he wandered about the
town and its vicinity, undetermined how to act, thinking on the whole
that he had better do nothing till after the morrow. Twice, morning and
afternoon, did he view Mrs. Wade's cottage from a distance. Just after
sunset he was once more in that neighbourhood, and this time with a
At that hour Mrs. Wade and her guest were together in the
sitting-room. The lamp had just been lighted, the red blind drawn down.
Lilian reclined on a couch; she looked worse in health than when she
had taken leave of Denzil; her eyes told of fever, and her limbs were
relaxed. Last night she had not enjoyed an hour of sleep; the strange
room and the recollection of Northway's visit to this house (Quarrier,
in his faith that Mrs. Wade's companionship was best for Lilian, had
taken no account of the disagreeable association) kept her nerves in
torment, and with the morning she had begun to suffer from a racking
Mrs. Wade was talking, seated by the table, on which her arms
rested. She, too, had a look of nervous tension. and her voice was
"Ambition," she said, with a slow emphasis, "is the keynote of Mr.
Quarrier's character. If you haven't understood that, you don't yet
know him — indeed you don't! A noble ambition, mind. He is above all
meanness. In wishing to take a foremost part in politics, he cares, at
heart, very little for the personal dignity it will bring him; his
desire — I am convinced — is to advance all causes that appeal to an
honest and feeling man. He has discovered that he can do this in a way
he had never before suspected — by the exercise of a splendid gift of
eloquence. What a deplorable thing if that possibility had been
Lilian murmured an assent. Silence followed, and she closed her
eyes. In a minute or two Mrs. Wade turned to look; the expression which
grew upon her face as she watched furtively was one of subtlest malice.
Of scorn, too. Had she been in the position of that feeble creature,
how differently would she have encountered its perils!
"Is your head any better?" she asked, just above her breath.
"It burns! — Feel my hand, how hot it is!"
"You are feverish. We have talked too much, I fear."
"No; I like to hear you talk. And it passes the time. Oh, I hope
Denzil won't be very late!"
There sounded a knock at the front door, a heavy rap such as would
be given by some rustic hand.
"What can that be?" Lilian exclaimed, raising herself.
"Nothing, dear — nothing. Some errand boy."
The servant was heard in the passage. She brought a letter, and
said a messenger waited for the reply. Mrs. Wade looked at the address;
the hand was unknown to her.
"From Denzil?" asked Lilian.
The other made no reply. What she found in the envelope was a note
from Northway, saying he was close by and wished to see her. After a
moment's hesitation she went to the door, where a boy was standing.
"Will you tell the person who gave you this note that he may come
Then she bade her servant put a light in the dining room, and
returned to Lilian. Her look excited the sufferer's alarm,
"Has anything happened, Mrs. Wade?"
"Hush! Try to command yourself. He is here again; wishes to see
"He is here again?"
Lilian rose to her feet, and moaned despairingly.
"You won't let him come into this room? What does he want? He told
us he would never come again. Is he seeking more money?"
"He sha'n't come in here. I'll see him as I did before."
As she spoke, a rat-tat sounded from without, and, having advised
Lilian to lock the door, Mrs. Wade crossed to the other room. Northway
entered, grave and nervous.
"I hope you will excuse my coming again," he began, as the widow
regarded him with silent interrogation. "You spoke to me last time in
such a very kind and friendly way. Being in a difficulty, I thought I
couldn't do better than ask your advice."
"What is the difficulty, Mr. Northway?"
Her suave tone reassured him, and he seated himself. His real
purpose in coming was to discover, if possible, whether Quarrier's
position was still unassailed. He had a vague sense that this Mrs.
Wade, on whatever grounds, was sympathetically disposed to him; by
strengthening the acquaintance, he might somehow benefit himself.
"First, I should like to know if all has gone smoothly since I went
"Smoothly? — Quite, I think."
"It still seems certain that Mr. Quarrier will be elected
"Very likely indeed."
"He looked about him, and smoothed his silk hat — a very different
article from that he had formerly worn. Examining him, Mrs. Wade was
amused at the endeavour he had made to equip himself like a gentleman."
"What else did you wish to ask me, Mr. Northway?"
"It's a point of conscience. If you remember, Mrs. Wade, it was you
who persuaded me to give up all thought of parting those persons."
"I tried to do so," she answered, with a smile. "I thought it best
for your interests as well as for theirs."
"Yes, but I fear that I had no right to do it. My conscience
"Does it, really? — I can't quite see" ——
She herself was so agitated that features and voice would hardly
obey her will. She strove to concentrate her attention upon Northway's
words, and divine their secret meaning. His talk continued for awhile
in the same strain, but confused, uncertain, rambling. Mrs. Wade found
it impossible to determine what he aimed at; now and then she suspected
that he had been drinking. At length he stood up.
"You still think I am justified in — in making terms with Mr.
"What else are you inclined to do?" the widow asked, anxiously.
"I can't be sure yet what I shall eventually do. Perhaps you would
let me see you again, when the election is over?"
"If you promise me to do nothing — but keep out of sight — in the
"Yes, I'll promise that," he said, with deliberation.
She was loth to dismiss him, yet saw no use in further talk. At the
door he shook hands with her, and said that he was going into the town.
Lilian opened the door of the sitting-room.
"He has gone?"
Her companion nodded.
"Where? — What will he do?"
Mrs. Wade answered with a gesture of uncertainty, and sat down by
the table, where she propped her forehead upon her hands. Lilian was
standing, her countenance that of one distraught. Suddenly the widow
looked up and spoke in a voice hoarser than before.
"I see what he means. He enjoys keeping you both at his mercy. It's
like an animal that has tasted blood — and if his desire is balked,
he'll revenge himself in the other way."
"You think he has gone to Denzil?"
"Very likely. If not to-night, he will to-morrow. Will Mr. Quarrier
pay him again, do you think?" She put the question in a tone which to
Lilian sounded strange, all but hostile.
"I can't say," was the weary, distracted answer.
"Oh, I am sorry for you, Lilian!" pursued the other, in agitation,
though again her voice was curiously harsh. "You will reproach yourself
so if his life's purpose is frustrated! But remember, it's not your
fault. It was he who took the responsibility from the first. It was he
who chose to brave this possible danger. If the worst comes, you must
Lilian sank upon a chair, and leaned forward with stupefied gaze at
"The danger is," pursued Mrs. Wade, in lower tones, "that he may be
unjust — feel unjustly — as men are wont to. You — in spite of
himself, he may feel that you have been the cause of his failure. You
must be prepared for that; I tell it you in all kindness. If he again
consents to pay Northway, he will be in constant fear. The sense of
servitude will grow intolerable — embarrassing all he tries to do —
all his public and private life. In that case, too, he must sometimes
think of you as in the way of his ambition. A most difficult task is
before you — a duty that will tax all your powers. You will be equal
to it, I have no doubt. Just now you see everything darkly and
hopelessly, but that's because your health has suffered of late."
"Perhaps this very night," said Lilian, without looking at her
companion, "he will tell people."
"He is more likely to succeed in getting money, and then he will
keep the threat held over you. He seems to have come at this moment
just because he knows that your fear of him will be keenest now. That
will always he his aim — to appear with his threats just when a
disclosure would be hardest to bear. But I suppose Mr. Quarrier will
rather give up everything than submit to this. Oh, the pity! the pity!"
Lilian let her hands fall and sat staring before her.
She felt as though cast out into a terrible solitude. Mrs. Wade's
voice came from a distance; and it was not a voice of true sympathy,
but of veiled upbraiding. Unspeakably remote was the image of the man
she loved, and he moved still away from her. A cloud of pain fell
between her and all the kindly world.
In these nights of sleepless misery she had thought of her old
home. The relatives from whom she was for ever parted — her sister,
her kind old aunt — looked at her with reproachful eyes; and now, in
anguish which bordered upon delirium, it was they alone who seemed real
to her; all her recent life had become a vague suffering, a confused
consciousness of desire and terror. Her childhood returned; she saw her
parents and heard them talk. A longing for the peace and love of those
dead days rent her heart.
She could neither speak nor move. Torture born in the brain
throbbed through every part of her body. But worse was that ghastly
sense of utter loneliness, of being forsaken by human sympathy. The
cloud about her thickened; it muffled light and sound, and began to
obscure even her memories.
For a long time Mrs. Wade had sat silent. At length she rose,
glanced at Lilian, and, without speaking left the room.
She went upstairs and into her bed-chamber, and here stood for a
few minutes in the dark, purposeless. Then she seated herself in a low
chair that was by the bed side. For her, too, the past night had been
one of painful watching; her nerves threatened danger if she stayed in
the same room with Lilian. Here she could recover something of
self-control, and think over the latest aspect of affairs.
Thus had she sat for nearly half an hour, when her reverie was
broken by a sound from below. It was the closing of the front door. She
sprang up and ran to the window, to see if any one passed out into the
road; but no figure became visible. The gate was closed; no one could
have gone forth so quickly. A minute or two passed, yet she heard and
Then she quickly descended the stairs. The door of the sitting-room
was open; the room was vacant.
"Lilian!" she called aloud, involuntarily.
She sprang to the front door and looked about in the little garden.
Some one moving behind caused her to turn round; it was the servant.
"Annie, has Mrs. Quarrier left the house?"
"Yes, m'm, she has. I just had the kitchen door open, and I saw her
go out — without anything on her head."
"Where can she be, then? The gate hasn't been opened; I should have
One other way there was out of the garden. By passing along a side
of the cottage, one came into the back-yard, and thence, by a gate,
into one of the fields which spread towards Bale Water. Mrs. Wade
remembered that Lilian had discovered this exit one day not long ago.
"I don't understand it," she continued, hurriedly. "You run and put
Your hat on, and then look up and down the road. I'll go to the back."
Regardless of the cold night air, she hastened in the direction
that Lilian must necessarily have taken. Reaching the field, she could
at first distinguish no object in the dark space before her. But the
sky was clear and starry, and in a few moments, running on the while,
she caught sight of a figure not very far in advance. That undoubtedly
was Lilian, escaping, speeding over the meadows — whither?
The ground rose gradually, and at a distance of less than a quarter
of a mile cut clearly across the sky. Still advancing, though with less
speed, she saw Lilian's form gain the top of the rise, and there stand,
a black, motionless projection from the ground. If now she called in a
loud voice, the fugitive must certainly hear her; but she kept silence.
By running quickly over the grass she might overtake her friend, who
still lingered; but, as if her limbs had failed, she crouched down, and
so remained until the dark figure all at once disappeared.
Immediately she started to her feet again, and pressed forward. A
few minutes, and she was at the top of the field, where Lilian had
paused; panting, her heart throbbing, a cold sweat on her forehand.
From this point she looked over a grassy slope, towards the trees which
shadowed Bale Water. But her eye could discern nothing save outlines
against the starry heaven. All the ground before her lay in a
wide-spreading hollow, and darkness cloaked it.
Again she crouched down, pressing her hand against her heart,
listening. It was a very still night, and few sounds disturbed its
peacefulness. Somewhere, far off, a cart rumbled along; presently one
of the Polterham clocks began to strike, faintly but clearly. That
caused her to look in the direction of the town; she saw the radiance
of lights, and thought of what was going on over there — the shouting,
A night-insect buzzed against her, and, almost in the same moment,
there came from down in the hollow, from beyond the trees, a sound
which chilled her blood, stopped the wild beating of her heart. It
seemed to echo with dreadful clearness from end to end of the heavens.
A dull splash of water, that was all; in reality, scarcely to be heard
at this distance save by an ear straining in dreadful expectation.
She made one effort to rise, but could not. Another, and she was
fleeing back to the cottage as if chased for her life.
The back-door was locked; she had to go round into the garden, and
there the servant was waiting.
"Have you found her, m'm?"
"No — I can't think — go in, Annie."
The girl was frightened; yet more so when, by the light from the
sitting-room, she saw her mistress's face.
"Do you think she's gone home, m'm?"
"Yes, no doubt. Go into the kitchen. I'll call you again."
Mrs. Wade entered the parlour, and closed the door. Her dress was
in disorder; her hair had in part fallen loose; on her hands were
traces of mud. She did not sit down, and remained just within the door;
her look and attitude were those of a terrified listener.
Presently she moved towards the fire, and knelt before it — though
she had no need of warmth. Starts and shudders indicated her mental
anguish. Yet no sound escape her, until, in a sudden convulsion of her
frame, she gave a cry of terror, and threw herself at full length upon
the ground. There she lay, struggling with hysterical passion, half
choked by sobs, now and then uttering a hoarse wail, at length weeping
with the self-abandonment of a child.
It lasted for ten minutes or more, and then followed a long
silence. Her body still quivered; she lay with her face half hidden
against the hearth-rug, lips parted, but teeth set, breathing heavily.
The clock upon her mantelpiece sounded the third quarter — a
quarter to nine. It drew her attention, and at length she half raised
herself. Still she had the look of one who listens. She stood up,
mechanically smoothed her hair, and twice walked the length of the
room. Nearing the door yet again, she opened it, and went upstairs.
Five minutes, and she had made herself ready to go out. At the foot
of the stairs she called to her servant.
"I must go into Polterham, Annie. If Mr. Quarrier should come
whilst I'm away, say that Mrs. Quarrier and I have gone out, but shall
be back very soon. You understand that?"
Then she set forth, and hurried along the dark road.
Only one vehicle passed her before she came within sight of the
streets; it was a carriage and pair, and she recognised the coachman of
a family who lived towards Rickstead. Quarrier was doubtless still in
the town, but to find him might be difficult. Perhaps she had better go
to his house and despatch a servant in search of him. But that was away
on the other side of Polterham, and in the meantime he might be
starting for Pear-tree Cottage. The polling was long since over; would
he linger with his friends at the committee room?
Yet she must go to the house first of all; there was a reason for
it which only now occurred to her.
The main thoroughfares, usually silent and forsaken at this hour,
were alive with streams of pedestrians, with groups of argumentative
electors, with noisy troops of lads and girls who occasionally amused
themselves with throwing mud at some unpopular person, or even breaking
a window and rushing off with yells into the darkness of byways.
Public-houses were doing a brisk trade, not without pugilism for the
entertainment of such as lounged about the doors. For these sights and
sounds Mrs. Wade had no attention, but frequently her ear was smitten
with the name "Quarrier," spoken or roared by partisan or adversary.
Her way led her through the open place where stood the Town Hall; here
had gathered some hundreds of people, waiting for the result of the
poll. As she hurried along the ragged edge of the crowd, a voice from
somewhere close at hand checked her.
"If you imagine that Quarrier will do more for the people than any
other politician, you will find yourselves mistaken. Party politics are
no good — no good at all. You working men ought to have the sense to
form a party of your own."
It was Northway, addressing a cluster of mill-hands, and evidently
posing as one of a superior class who deigned to give them
disinterested advice. She listened for a minute longer, but heard
nothing that could excite her alarm.
When she reached the house it was a quarter to ten. This part of
the town lay in obscurity and quietness; not a shout sounded in her
Mr. Quarrier had not been at home since early in the afternoon.
"He must be found at once," said Mrs. Wade, adding quickly, "I
suppose Mrs. Quarrier hasn't come?"
The servant gave a surprised negative.
"You must please send some one to find Mr. Quarrier, without a
moment's delay. I will come in and wait."
The coachman happened to be in the kitchen. Mrs. Wade had him
summoned, and despatched him for his master. Though her limbs shook
with fatigue, she could not remain seated for more than a few minutes
at a time; she kept the drawing-room door open, and kept going out to
listen. Her suspense lasted for more than half an hour; then at length
she heard a cab rattle up the drive, and in another moment Quarrier
stood before her. This was the second time within a few days that her
face had been of ill omen to him; he frowned an anxious inquiry.
"You haven't seen Lilian?" she began.
"She has gone — left the cottage — I can't find her."
"Gone? When did she go?"
"I have bad news for you. Northway has come back; he called at the
cottage about seven o'clock. I didn't let him know Lilian was there,
and soon got rid of him; he said he would have to see you again. Lilian
was dreadfully agitated, and when I happened to leave the room, she
went out — disappeared — I thought she must have come home " ——
"What do the servants say?"
"They haven't seen her."
"But she may have gone to Mary's?"
Arrested in the full flow of his jubilant spirits by this
extraordinary announcement, Denzil could not admit grave alarm. If
Lilian had fled from the proximity of her pursuer, she must of course
have taken refuge with some friend.
"Let us go to the Liversedges'," he exclaimed. "I have a cab" ——
"Stop, Mr. Quarrier. — I haven't told you the worst. She ran from
the house just as she was, without her hat" ——
"What do you mean? Why should she ——?"
"She was in a dreadful state. I had done my best to soothe her. I
was just going to send for you. My servant saw her run out from the
sitting-room into the garden, and the gate wasn't opened — she must
have gone the back way — into the fields."
"Into the fields ——?"
He stared at her with a look of gathering horror, and his tongue
"I followed that way. I searched everywhere. I went a long way over
She broke off, quivering from head to foot.
"But she must have gone somewhere for refuge — to some one's
"I hope so! Oh, I hope so!"
Her voice choked; tears started from her eyes.
"What do you fear? Tell me at once, plainly!"
She caught his hand, and replied with sobs of anguish.
"Why should she have gone into the fields? — without anything on
her head — into the fields that lead over to" ——
"To — you don't mean to — the water?"
Still clinging to his hand, she sobbed, tried to utter words of
denial, then again of fear. For the instant Denzil was paralyzed, but
rapidly he released himself, and in a voice of command bade her follow.
They entered the cab and were driven towards the Town Hall.
"Did you go to the water," he asked, "and look about there?"
"Yes," she answered, "I did. — I could see nothing.
As they drew near, a roar of triumphant voices became audible;
presently they were in the midst of the clamour, and with difficulty
their vehicle made its way through a shouting multitude. It stopped at
length by the public building, and Quarrier alighted. At once he was
recognized. There rose yells of "Quarrier for ever!" Men pressed upon
him, wanted to shake hands with him, bellowed congratulations in his
ear. Heedless, he rushed on, and was fortunate enough to find very
quickly the man he sought, his brother-in-law.
"Toby!" he whispered, drawing him aside, "we have lost Lilian! She
may be at your house; come with us!"
Voiceless with astonishment, Mr. Liversedge followed, seated
himself in the cab. Five minutes brought them to his house.
"Go in and ask," said Quarrier.
Toby returned in a moment, followed by his wife.
"She hasn't been here. What the deuce does it all mean? I can't
understand you. Why, where should she have gone?"
Again Denzil drew him aside.
"Get a boatman, with lights and drags, and row round as fast as
possible to Bale Water!"
"Good heavens! What are you talking about?"
"Do as I tell you, without a minute's delay! Take this cab. I shall
be there long before you."
Mrs. Liversedge was talking with Mrs. Wade, who would say nothing
but that Lilian had disappeared. At Denzil's bidding the cab was
transferred to Toby, who, after whispering with his wife, was driven
quickly away. Quarrier refused to enter the house.
"We shall find another cab near the Town Hall," he said to Mrs.
Wade. "Good-night, Molly! I can't talk to you now."
The two hastened off. When they were among the people again, Mrs.
Wade caught sentences that told her the issue of the day. "Majority of
over six hundred! — Well done, Quarrier! — Quarrier for ever!"
Without exchanging a word, they gained the spot where one or two cabs
still waited, and were soon speeding along the Rickstead Road.
"She may be at the cottage," was all Denzil said on the way.
But no; Lilian was not at the cottage. Quarrier stood in the porch,
looking about him as if he imagined that the lost one might be hiding
"I shall go — over there," he said. "It will take a long time."
"Liversedge is rowing round, with drags. — Go in and wait. — You
may be wrong."
"I didn't say I thought it! It was only a fear — a dreadful
Again she burst into tears.
"Go in and rest, Mrs. Wade," he said, more gently. "You shall know
— if anything" ——
And, with a look of unutterable misery, he turned away.
Lilian might have taken refuge somewhere in the fields. It seemed a
wild unlikelihood, but he durst not give up hope. Though his desire was
to reach the waterside as quickly as possible, he searched on either
hand as he went by the path, and once or twice he called in a loud
voice "Lilian!" The night was darker now than when Mrs. Wade had passed
through the neighbouring field; clouds had begun to spread, and only
northwards was there a space of starry brilliance.
He came in sight of the trees along the bank, and proceeded at a
quicker step, again calling Lilian's name more loudly. Only the
soughing wind replied to him.
The nearest part of the water was that where it was deepest, where
the high bank had a railing; the spot where Mrs. Wade and Lilian had
stood together on their first friendly walk. Denzil went near, leaned
across the rail, and looked down into featureless gloom. Not a sound
He walked hither and thither, often calling and standing still to
listen. The whole sky was now obscured, and the wind grew keener.
Afraid of losing himself, he returned to the high bank and there
waited, his eyes fixed in the direction whence the boat must come. The
row along the river Bale from Polterham would take more than an hour.
As he stood sunk in desperate thoughts, a hand touched him. He
turned round, exclaiming "Lilian!"
"It is I," answered Mrs. Wade's voice.
"Why have you come? What good can you do here?"
"Don't be angry with me!" she implored. "I couldn't stay at home —
"I don't mean to speak angrily. — Think," he added, in low shaken
voice, "if that poor girl is lying" ——
A sob broke off his sentence; he pointed down into the black water.
Mrs. Wade uttered no reply, but he heard the sound of her weeping.
They stood thus for a long time, then Denzil raised his hand.
"Look! They are coming!"
There was a spot of light far off, moving .slowly.
"I can hear the oars," he added presently.
It was in a lull of the soughing wind. A minute after there came a
shout from far across the black surface. Denzil replied to it, and so
at length the boat drew near.
Mr. Liversedge stood up, and Quarrier talked with him in brief,
grave sentences. Then a second lantern was lighted by the boatman, and
presently the dragging began.
Wrapped in a long cloak, Mrs. Wade stood at a distance, out of
sight of the water, but able to watch Denzil. When cold and weariness
all but overcame her, she first leaned against the trunk of a tree,
then crouched there on the ground. For how long, she had no idea. A
little rain fell, and afterwards the sky showed signs of clearing;
stars were again visible here and there. She had sunk into a
half-unconscious state, when Quarrier's voice spoke to her.
"You must go home," he said, hoarsely. "It's over."
She started up.
"Have they found" ——
"Yes. — Go home at once."
He turned away, and she hurried from the spot with bowed head.
"Oh, depend upon it," said Mrs. Tenterden, in her heavy,
consequential way, "there's more behind than we shall ever know!
'Unsound mind,' indeed She was no more of unsound mind than I am!"
It was after church, and Mrs. Mumbray, alone this morning, had
offered the heavy lady a place in her brougham. The whole congregation
had but one topic as they streamed into the unconsecrated daylight.
Never was such eagerness for the strains of the voluntary which allowed
them to start up from attitudes of profound meditation, and look round
for their acquaintances. Yesterday's paper — the Polterham Examiner
unfortunately — reported the inquest, and people had to make the most
of those meagre paragraphs — until the Mercury came out, when fuller
and less considerate details might be hoped for. The whispering, the
nodding, the screwing up of lips, the portentous frowning and the
shaking of heads — no such excitement was on record!
"To me," remarked Mrs. Mumbray, with an air of great
responsibility, "the mystery is too plain. I don't hint at the worst —
it would be uncharitable — but the poor creature had undoubtedly made
some discovery in that woman's house which drove her to despair."
Mrs. Tenterden gave a start.
"You really think so? That has occurred to me. Mrs. Wade's fainting
when she gave her evidence — oh dear, oh dear! I'm afraid there can be
only one explanation."
"That is our honourable member, my dear!" threw out Mrs. Mumbray.
"These are Radical principles — in man and woman. Why, I am told that
scarcely a day passed without Mrs. Wade calling at the house."
"And they tell me that he was frequently at hers!"
"That poor young wife! Oh, it is shameful! The matter oughtn't to
end here. Something ought to be done. If that man is allowed to keep
his seat" ——
Many were the conjectures put forward and discussed throughout the
day, but this of Mrs. Mumbray's — started of course in several
quarters — found readiest acceptance in Conservative circles. Mrs.
Wade was obviously the cause of what had happened — no wonder she
fainted at the inquest; no wonder she hid herself in her cottage! When
she ventured to come out, virtuous Polterham would let her know its
mind. Quarrier shared in the condemnation, but not even political
animosity dealt so severely with him as social opinion did with Mrs.
Mr. Chown — who would on no account have been seen in a place of
worship — went about all day among his congenial gossips, and
scornfully contested the rumour that Quarrier's relations with Mrs.
Wade would not bear looking into. At the house of Mr. Murgatroyd, the
Radical dentist, he found two or three friends who were very anxious
not to think evil of their victorious leader, but felt wholly at a loss
for satisfactory explanations. Mr. Vawdrey, the coal-merchant, talked
with gruff discontent.
"I don't believe there's been anything wrong; I couldn't think it
— neither of him nor her. But I do say it's a lesson to you men who go
in for Female Suffrage Now, this is just the kind of thing that 'ud
always be happening. If there isn't wrong-doing, there'll be
wrong-speaking. Women have no business in politics, that's the plain
moral of it. Let them keep at home and do their duty."
"Humbug!" cried Mr. Chown, who cared little for the graces of
dialogue. "A political principle is not to be at the mercy of party
scandal. I, for my part, have never maintained that women were ripe for
public duties but Radicalism involves the certainty that they some day
will be. The fact of the matter is that Mrs. Quarrier was a woman of
unusually feeble physique. We all know — those of us, at all events,
who keep up with the science of the day — that the mind is entirely
dependent upon the body — entirely!" He looked round, daring his
friends to contradict this. "Mrs. Quarrier had overtaxed her strength,
and it's just possible — I say its just possible — that her husband
was not very prudent m sending her for necessary repose to the house of
a woman so active-minded and so excitable as Mrs. Wade We must remember
the peculiar state of her health. As far as I am concerned, Dr.
Jenkins's evidence is final, and entirely satisfactory. As for the
dirty calumnies of dirty-minded reactionists, I am not the man to give
ear to them!"
One man there was who might have been expected to credit such
charges, yet surprised his acquaintances by what seemed an unwonted
exercise of charity. Mr. Scatchard Vialls, hitherto active in
defamation of Quarrier, with amiable inconsistency refused to believe
him guilty of conduct which had driven his wife to suicide. It was some
days before the rumour reached his ears. Since the passage of arms with
Serena, he had held aloof from Mrs. Mumbray's drawing-room, and his
personality did not invite the confidence of ordinary scandal-mongers.
When at length his curate hinted to him what was being said, he had so
clearly formulated his own theory of Mrs. Quarrier's death that only
the strongest evidence would have led him to reconsider it. Obstinacy
and intellectual conceit forbade him to indulge his disposition to
paint an enemy's character in the darkest colours.
"No, Mr. Blenkinsop," he replied to the submissive curate, standing
on his hearth-rug at full height and regarding the cornice as his habit
was when he began to monologize — "no, I find it impossible to
entertain such an accusation. I have little reason to think well of Mr.
Quarrier; he is intemperate, in many senses of the word, and
intemperance, it is true, connects closely with the most odious crimes.
But in this case censure has been too quick to interpret suspicious
circumstances — suspicious, I admit. Far be it from me to speak in
defence of such a person as Mrs. Wade; I think she is a source of
incalculable harm to all who are on friendly terms with her —
especially young and impressionable women; but you must trust my
judgment in this instance: I am convinced she is not guilty. Her
agitation in the coroner's court has no special significance. No; the
solution of the mystery is not so simple; it involves wider issues —
calls for a more profound interpretation of character and motives. Mrs.
Quarrier — pray attend to this, Mr. Blenkinsop — represents a type of
woman becoming, I have reason to think, only too common in our time,
women who cultivate the intellect at the expense of the moral nature,
who abandon religion and think they have found a substitute for it in
the so-called humanitarianism of the day. Strong-minded women, you will
hear them called; in truth, they are the weakest of their sex. Let
their energies be submitted to any unusual strain, let their nerves
(they are always morbid) be overwrought, and they snap!" He illustrated
the catastrophe with his hands. "Unaided by religion, the female nature
is irresponsible, unaccountable." Mr. Vialls had been severe of late in
his judgment of women. "Mrs. Quarrier, poor creature, was the victim of
immoderate zeal for worldly ends. She was abetted by her husband and by
Mrs. Wade; they excited her to the point of frenzy, and in the last
moment she — snapped! Mrs. Wade's hysterical display is but another
illustration of the same thing. These women have no support outside
themselves — they have deliberately cast away everything of the kind."
"Let me exhibit my meaning from another point of view. Consider,
Mr. Blenkinsop" ——
Quarrier, in the meantime, was very far from suspecting the
accusation which hostile ingenuity had brought against him. Decency
would in any ease have necessitated his withdrawal for the present from
public affairs, and, in truth, he was stricken down by his calamity.
The Liversedges had brought him to their house; he transacted no
business, and saw no one beyond the family circle. At the funeral
people had thought him strangely unmoved; pride forbade him to make an
exhibition of grief, but in secret he suffered as only a strong man
can. His love for Lilian was the deepest his life would know. Till now,
he had not understood how unspeakably precious she was to him; for the
most part he had treated her with playful good-humour, seldom, if ever,
striking the note of passion in his speech. With this defect he
reproached himself. Lilian had not learnt to trust him sufficiently;
she feared the result upon him of such a blow as Northway had it in his
power to inflict. It was thus he interpreted her suicide, for Mrs. Wade
had told him that Lilian believed disaster to be imminent. Surely he
was to blame for it that, at such a pass, she had fled away from him
instead of hastening to his side. How perfectly had their characters
harmonized! He could recall no moment of mutual dissatisfaction, and
that in spite of conditions which, with most women, would have made
life very difficult. He revered her purity; her intellect he esteemed
far subtler and nobler than his own. With such a woman for companion,
he might have done great things; robbed for ever of her beloved
presence, he felt lame, purposeless, indifferent to all but the
In a day or two he was to leave Polterham. Whether Northway would
be satisfied with the result of his machinations remained to be seen;
as yet nothing more had been heard of him. The fellow was perhaps
capable of demanding more hush-money, of threatening the memory of the
woman he had killed. Quarrier hoped more earnestly than ever that the
secret would not he betrayed; he scorned vulgar opinion, so far as it
affected himself, but could not bear the thought of Lilian's grave
being defiled by curiosity and reprobation. The public proceedings had
brought to light nothing whatever that seemed in conflict with medical
evidence and the finding of the coroner's jury. One dangerous witness
had necessarily come forward — Mrs. Wade's servant; but the girl made
no kind of allusion to Northway's visit — didn't, in her own mind,
connect it with Mrs. Quarrier's behaviour. She was merely asked to
describe in what way the unfortunate lady had left the house. In
Glazzard and Mrs. Wade, Denzil of course reposed perfect confidence.
Northway, if need were, could and should be bought off.
Toby Liversedge got wind of the scandal in circulation, and his
rage knew no bounds. Lest his wife should somehow make the discovery,
he felt obliged to speak to her — representing the change in its
"There's a vile story going about that Lilian was jealous of Mrs.
Wade's influence with Denzil; that the two quarrelled that day at the
cottage, and the poor girl drowned herself in despair."
Mary looked shocked, but was silent.
"I suppose," added her husband, "we must be prepared for all sorts
of rumours. The thing is unintelligible to people in general. Any one
who knew her, and saw her those last days, can understand it only too
"Yes," murmured Mrs. Liversedge, with sad thought fulness.
She would not speak further on the subject, and Toby concluded that
the mere suggestion gave her offence.
On the day after Denzil departed, leaving by a night train for
He was in town for a week, then took a voyage to Madeira, where he
remained until there was only time enough to get back for the opening
of Parliament. The natural plea of shaken health excused him to his
constituents, many of whom favoured him with their unsolicited
correspondence. (He had three or four long letters from Mr. Chown, who
thought it necessary to keep the borough member posted in the course of
English politics.) From Glazzard he heard twice, with cheerful news.
"How it happened," he had written to his newly-married friend, in
telling of Lilian's death, "I will explain some day; I cannot speak of
it yet." Glazzard's response was full of manly sympathy. "I don't
pretend," wrote the connoisseur, "that I am ideally mated, but my wife
is a good girl, and I understand enough of happiness in marriage to
appreciate to the full how terrible is your loss. Let confidences be
for the future; if they do not come naturally, be assured I shall never
pain you by a question."
Denzil's book had now been for several weeks before the public; it
would evidently excite little attention. "A capital present for a
schoolboy," was one of the best things the critics had yet found to say
of it. He suffered disappointment, but did not seriously resent the
world's indifference. Honestly speaking, was the book worth much? The
writing had at first amused him; in the end it had grown a task.
Literature was not his field.
Back, then, to politics! There he knew his force. He was looking to
the first taste of Parliament with decided eagerness.
In Madeira he chanced to make acquaintance with an oldish man who
had been in Parliament for a good many years; a Radical, an idealist,
sore beset with physical ailments. This gentleman found pleasure in
Denzil's society, talked politics to him with contagious fervour, and
greatly aided the natural process whereby Quarrier was recovering his
interest in the career before him.
"My misfortune is," Denzil one day confided to this friend, "that I
detest the town and the people that have elected me."
"Indeed?" returned the other, with a laugh. "Then lay yourself out
to become my successor at —— when a general election comes round
again. I hope to live out this Parliament, but sha'n't try for
About the same time he had a letter from Mrs. Wade, now in London,
wherein, oddly enough, was a passage running thus:
"You say that the thought of representing Polterham spoils your
pleasure in looking forward to a political life. Statesmen (and you
will become one) have to be trained to bear many disagreeable things.
But you are not bound to Polterham for ever — the gods forbid t Serve
them in this Parliament, and in the meantime try to find another
It was his second letter from Mrs. Wade; the first had been a mere
note, asking if he could bear to hear from her, and if he would let her
know of his health. He replied rather formally, considering the terms
on which they stood; and, indeed, it not gratify him much to be assured
of the widow's constant friendship.
Something less than a year after his marriage, Glazzard was
summoned back to England by news of his brother's death. On the point
of quitting Highmead, with Ivy, for a sojourn abroad, William Glazzard
had an apoplectic seizure and died within the hour. His affairs were in
disorder; he left no will; for some time it would remain uncertain
whether the relatives inherited anything but debt.
Eustace and his wife took a house in the north of London, a modest
temporary abode. There, at the close of March, Serena gave birth to a
During the past year Glazzard had returned to his old amusement of
modelling in clay. He drew and painted, played and composed, at
intervals; but plastic art seemed to have the strongest hold upon him.
Through April he was busy with a head for which he had made many
studies — a head of Judas; in Italy he had tried to paint the same
subject, but ineffectually. The face in its latest development seemed
to afford him some satisfaction.
One morning, early in May, Serena was sitting with him in the room
he used as a studio. Experience of life, and a certain measure of
happiness, had made the raw girl a very pleasing and energetic woman;
her face was comely, her manner refined, she spoke softly and
thoughtfully, but with spirit.
"It is wonderful," she said, after gazing long, with knitted brows,
at the Judas, "but horrible. I wish it hadn't taken hold of you so."
"Taken hold of me? I care very little about it."
"Oh, nonsense! That's your worst fault, Eustace. You seem ashamed
of being in earnest. I wish you had found a pleasanter subject, but I
am delighted to see you do something. Is it quite finished?"
A servant appeared at the door.
"Mr. Quarrier wishes to see you, sir."
Denzil entered, and had a friendly greeting. The Glazzards did not
see much of him, for he was over head and ears in politics, social
questions, philanthropic undertakings — these last in memory of
Lilian, whose spirit had wrought strongly in him since her death. He
looked a much riper and graver man than a year ago. His language was
moderate; he bore himself reservedly, at moments with diffidence. But
there was the old frank cordiality undiminished. To Serena he spoke
with the gentle courtesy which marks a man's behaviour to women when
love and grief dwell together in his heart.
"Our friend Judas?" he said, stepping up to the model. "Finished at
"Something like it." Glazzard replied, tapping the back of his hand
with a tool.
"Discontented, as usual! I know nothing about this kind of thing,
but I should say it was very good. Makes one uncomfortable — doesn't
it, Mrs. Glazzard? Do something pleasanter next time."
"Precisely what I was saying," fell from Serena.
They talked awhile, and Mrs. Glazzard left the room.
"I want to know your mind on a certain point," said Denzil. "Mrs.
Wade has been asking me to bring her together with your wife and you.
Now, what is your feeling?"
The other stood in hesitation, but his features expressed no
"What is your feeling?" he asked, in return.
"Why, to tell you the truth, I can't advise you to make a friend of
her. I'm sorry to say she has got into a very morbid state of mind. I
see more of her than I care to. She has taken up with a lot of people I
don't like — rampant women — extremists of many kinds. There's only
one thing: it's perhaps my duty to try and get her into a more sober
way of life, and if all steady-going people reject her —— Still, I
don't think either you or your wife would like to have her constantly
"I think not," said Glazzard, with averted face.
"Well, I shall tell her that she would find you very unsympathetic.
I'm sorry for her; I wish she could recover a healthy mind."
He brooded for a moment, and the lines that came into his face gave
it an expression of unrest and melancholy out of keeping with its
In a few minutes he was gone, and presently Serena returned to the
studio. She found her husband in a dark reverie, a mood to which he
often yielded, which she always did her best to banish.
"Do you think, Eustace," she asked, "that Mr. Quarrier will marry
"Oh, Some day, of course."
"I shall he sorry. There's something I have often meant to tell you
about his wife; I will now."
He looked up attentively. Serena had never been admitted to his
confidence regarding Lilian's story; to her, the suicide was merely a
woful result of disordered health.
"But for her," she continued, smiling archly, "I should perhaps not
have married you. I was with doubts about myself and about you. Then I
went to Mrs. Quarrier, and — what a thing to do! — asked her what she
thought of you! She told me, and I came away without a doubt left. —
That's why I cried so much when we heard of her death. I should have
told you then if you hadn't got vexed with me — I'm sure I don't know
Glazzard laughed, and dismissed the subject carelessly.
Not long after, he was alone. After much pacing about the room, he
came to a stand before his clay masterpiece, and stared at it as though
the dull eyes fascinated him. Of a sudden he raised his fist and with
one blow beat the head into a shapeless mass.
Then he went out, locking the door behind him.
On leaving the Glazzards, Quarrier pursued the important business
that had brought him into this part of London. He drove to a hospital,
newly opened, with which he was connected in the capacity of treasurer.
Talk with the secretary occupied him for half an hour; about to set
forth again, he encountered on the staircase two ladies, the one a
hospital nurse, the other Mrs. Wade.
"Could you grant me five minutes?" asked the widow, earnestly. "I
didn't hope to see you here, and must have called upon you — but you
are so busy."
There was a humility in her suppressed voice which, had the speaker
been another person, would have prepared Denzil for some mendicant
petition of the politer kind. She spoke hurriedly, as if fearing a
"Let us step this way," he said, opening a door which led into an
Mrs. Wade was dressed rather more simply than had been her wont
when she lived at Polterham. One conjectured that her circumstances
were not improved. She looked tired, harassed; her eyes wanted
something of their former brightness, and she had the appearance of a
much older woman.
There were no seats in the room. Quarrier did not refer to the
fact, but stood in an attitude of friendly attention.
"I saw Northway yesterday," Mrs. Wade began.
The listener's face expressed annoyance.
"Need we speak of him?" he said, briefly.
"I am obliged to. He told me something which I had long suspected
— something you certainly must learn."
"Is it a fresh attack on my pocket?" asked Denzil, with
"No, but something that will grieve you far more. I have been
trying for a long time to get it out of him, and now that I have
succeeded I almost wish the thought had never occurred to me."
"Pray, pray don't keep me in suspense, Mrs. Wade."
"Northway did not make his discovery by chance. You were betrayed
to him — by a seeming friend."
Denzil looked steadily at her.
"A friend? — He has deceived you. Only one acquaintance of mine
"Mr. Glazzard. It was he who laid a plot for your downfall."
Quarrier moved impatiently.
"Mrs. Wade, you are being played upon by this scoundrel. There is
no end to his contrivances."
"No, he has told me the truth," she pursued, with agitated voice.
"Listen to the story, first of all."
She related to him, in accurate detail, all that had passed between
Northway and Mr. Marks.
"And Mr. Marks was Mr. Glazzard, undoubtedly. His description
Denzil broke out indignantly.
"The whole thing is a fabrication I not only won't believe it, but
simply can't. You say that you have suspected this?"
"I have — from the moment when Lilian told me that Mr. Glazzard
"That's astounding! — Then why should you have desired to be on
friendly terms with the Glazzards?"
Mrs. Wade sank her eyes.
"I hoped," she made answer, "to find out something. I had only in
view to serve you."
"You have deluded yourself, and been deluded, in the strangest way.
Now, I will give you one reason (a very odd, but a very satisfactory
one) why it is impossible to believe Glazzard guilty of such baseness
— setting aside the obvious fact that he had no motive. He goes in for
modelling in clay, and for some time he has been busy on a very fine
head. What head do you think? — That of Judas Iscariot."
"Now, a man guilty of abominable treachery would not choose for an
artistic subject the image of an arch-traitor."
Mrs. Wade smiled strangely as she listened to his scornful
"You have given me," she said, "a most important piece of evidence
in support of Northway's story."
Denzil was ill at ease. He could not dismiss this lady with
contempt. Impossible that he should not have learnt by this time the
meaning of her perpetual assiduity on his behalf; the old friendliness
(never very warm) had changed to a compassion which troubled him. Her
image revived such painful memories that he would have welcomed any
event which put her finally at a distance from him The Polterham
scandal, though not yet dead, had never come to his ears; had he known
it, he could scarcely have felt more constrained in her society.
"Will you oblige me," he said, with kindness, "by never speaking of
"If you will first grant me one test of my Opinion. Will you meet
Northway in some public place where Mr. Glazzard can be easily seen,
and ask the man to point out his informant — Mr. Marks?"
After much debate, and with great reluctance, he consented. From
his conversation of an hour ago he knew that Glazzard would be at the
Academy on the morrow. He had expressed a hope for a meeting there. At
the Academy, accordingly, the test should be applied. It was all a
fabrication; Northway, laying some new plot, might already know
Glazzard by sight. But the latter should be put on his guard, and Mrs.
Wade should then be taught that henceforth she was forbidden to concern
herself with his — Quarrier's — affairs.
He went home and passed a cheerless time until the next morning.
Suspicion, in spite of himself, crept into his thoughts. He was sick at
heart under the necessity, perhaps life-long, of protecting Lilian's
name against a danger which in itself was a sort of pollution. His
sanguine energy enabled him to lose the thought, at ordinary times, of
the risks to which he himself was exposed; but occasionally he
reflected that public life might even yet be made impossible for him,
and then he cursed the moral stupidity of people in general.
At eleven o'clock next morning he entered Burlington House. In the
vestibule at the head of the stairs stood Mrs. Wade, and Northway,
indistinguishable from ordinary frequenters of the exhibition, was not
far off. This gentleman had a reason for what he was doing; he wished
to discover who Mr. Marks really was, and what (since the political
plea could no longer be credited) had been his interest in Lilian.
"He is here already," said Mrs. Wade, as she joined Denzil. "Among
the sculpture — the inner room."
"Then I shall follow you at a distance. Challenge that fellow to go
up to Glazzard and address him as Mr. Marks."
The widow led in the direction she had indicated, through the
central hall, then to the right, Northway following close. Denzil had,
of course, to take it for granted that Mrs. Wade was acting honourably;
he did not doubt her good faith. If it came to a mere conflict of
assertions between his friend and Northway, he knew which of them to
believe. But he was much perturbed, and moved forward with a choking in
Arrived at the threshold of the Lecture Room, he saw that only some
dozen people were standing about. No sooner had he surveyed them than
he became aware that Northway was sauntering directly towards the place
where Glazzard stood; Mrs. Wade remained in the doorway. Unperceived,
the informer came close behind his confederate and spoke quietly.
Glazzard turned as if some one had struck him.
It was forcible evidence, confirmed moreover by the faces of the
two men as they exchanged a few words.
Seeing Northway retire, Quarrier said to Mrs. Wade:
"Please to go away. You have done your part."
With a look of humble entreaty, she obeyed him. Denzil, already
observed by Glazzard, stepped forward.
"Do you know that man?" he asked, pointing to Northway, who
affected a study of some neighbouring work of art.
"I have met him," was the subdued answer.
It was necessary to speak so that attention should not be drawn
hither. Though profoundly agitated, Quarrier controlled himself
sufficiently to use a very low tone.
"He has told an incredible story, Glazzard. I sha'n't believe it
unless it is confirmed by your own lips."
"I have no doubt he has told the truth."
Denzil drew back.
"But do you know what he has said?"
"I guess from the way he addressed me — as Mr. Marks."
Glazzard was deadly pale, but he smiled persistently, and with an
expression of relief.
"You — you — betrayed us to him?"
Each could hear the other's breathing.
"Why did you do that?" asked Denzil, the excess of his astonishment
declaring itself in a tone which would have suited some every-day
inquiry. He could not speak otherwise.
"I can't tell you why I did it. I'm not sure that I quite
understand now. I did it, and there's no more to be said."
Denzil turned away, and stood with his eyes fixed on the ground. A
minute passed, and Glazzard's voice again sounded close to him.
"Quarrier, you can't forgive me, and I don't wish you to. But may I
hope that you won't let my wife know of it?"
"You are safe from me," answered Denzil, barely glancing at him,
and at once walked away.
He returned to the vestibule, descended the stairs, went out into
the court. There, aside from vehicles and people, he let his thoughts
have their way. Presently they summed themselves in a sentence which
involuntarily he spoke aloud:
"Now I understand the necessity for social law!"