The House on the Beach
by George Meredith
THE HOUSE ON THE BEACH
A REALISTIC TALE
The experience of great officials who have laid down their
dignities before death, or have had the philosophic mind to review
themselves while still wielding the deputy sceptre, teaches them that
in the exercise of authority over men an eccentric behaviour in
trifles has most exposed them to hostile criticism and gone farthest
to jeopardize their popularity. It is their Achilles' heel; the place
where their mother Nature holds them as she dips them in our waters.
The eccentricity of common persons is the entertainment of the
multitude, and the maternal hand is perceived for a cherishing and
endearing sign upon them; but rarely can this be found suitable for
the august in station; only, indeed, when their sceptre is no more
fearful than a grandmother's birch; and these must learn from it
sooner or later that they are uncomfortably mortal.
When herrings are at auction on a beach, for example, the man of
chief distinction in the town should not step in among a poor
fraternity to take advantage of an occasion of cheapness, though it be
done, as he may protest, to relieve the fishermen of a burden; nor
should such a dignitary as the bailiff of a Cinque Port carry home the
spoil of victorious bargaining on his arm in a basket. It is not that
his conduct is in itself objectionable, so much as that it causes him
to be popularly weighed; and during life, until the best of all
advocates can plead before our fellow Englishmen that we are out of
their way, it is prudent to avoid the process.
Mr. Tinman, however, this high-stepping person in question,
happened to have come of a marketing mother. She had started him from
a small shop to a big one. He, by the practice of her virtues, had
been enabled to start himself as a gentleman. He was a man of this
ambition, and prouder behind it. But having started himself
precipitately, he took rank among independent incomes, as they are
called, only to take fright at the perils of starvation besetting one
who has been tempted to abandon the source of fifty per cent. So, if
noble imagery were allowable in our time in prose, might alarms and
partial regrets be assumed to animate the splendid pumpkin cut loose
from the suckers. Deprived of that prodigious nourishment of the shop
in the fashionable seaport of Helmstone, he retired upon his native
town, the Cinque Port of Crikswich, where he rented the cheapest
residence he could discover for his habitation, the House on the
Beach, and lived imposingly, though not in total disaccord with his
old mother's principles. His income, as he observed to his widowed
sister and solitary companion almost daily in their privacy, was
respectable. The descent from an altitude of fifty to five per cent.
cannot but be felt. Nevertheless it was a comforting midnight bolster
reflection for a man, turning over to the other side between a dream
and a wink, that he was making no bad debts, and one must pay to be
addressed as esquire. Once an esquire, you are off the ground in
England and on the ladder. An esquire can offer his hand in marriage
to a lady in her own right; plain esquires have married duchesses;
they marry baronets' daughters every day of the week.
Thoughts of this kind were as the rise and fall of waves in the
bosom of the new esquire. How often in his Helmstone shop had he not
heard titled ladies disdaining to talk a whit more prettily than
ordinary women; and he had been a match for the subtlety of their
pride—he understood it. He knew well that at the hint of a proposal
from him they would have spoken out in a manner very different to that
of ordinary women. The lightning, only to be warded by an esquire,
was in them. He quitted business at the age of forty, that he might
pretend to espousals with a born lady; or at least it was one of the
ideas in his mind.
And here, I think, is the moment for the epitaph of anticipation
over him, and the exclamation, alas! I would not be premature, but it
is necessary to create some interest in him, and no one but a
foreigner could feel it at present for the Englishman who is bursting
merely to do like the rest of his countrymen, and rise above them to
shake them class by class as the dust from his heels. Alas! then
an—undertaker's pathos is better than none at all—he was not a
single-minded aspirant to our social honours. The old marketing
mother; to whom he owed his fortunes, was in his blood to confound his
ambition; and so contradictory was the man's nature, that in revenge
for disappointments, there were times when he turned against the
saving spirit of parsimony. Readers deep in Greek dramatic writings
will see the fatal Sisters behind the chair of a man who gives
frequent and bigger dinners, that he may become important in his
neighbourhood, while decreasing the price he pays for his wine, that
he may miserably indemnify himself for the outlay. A sip of his wine
fetched the breath, as when men are in the presence of the tremendous
elements of nature. It sounded the constitution more darkly-awful,
and with a profounder testimony to stubborn health, than the
physician's instruments. Most of the guests at Mr. Tinman's table
were so constructed that they admired him for its powerful quality the
more at his announcement of the price of it; the combined strength and
cheapness probably flattering them, as by another mystic instance of
the national energy. It must have been so, since his townsmen
rejoiced to hail him as head of their town. Here and there a solitary
esquire, fished out of the bathing season to dine at the house on the
beach, was guilty of raising one of those clamours concerning
subsequent headaches, which spread an evil reputation as a pall. A
resident esquire or two, in whom a reminiscence of Tinman's table may
be likened to the hook which some old trout has borne away from the
angler as the most vivid of warnings to him to beware for the future,
caught up the black report and propagated it.
The Lieutenant of the Coastguard, hearing the latest conscious
victim, or hearing of him, would nod his head and say he had never
dined at Tinman's table without a headache ensuing and a visit to the
chemist's shop; which, he was assured, was good for trade, and he
acquiesced, as it was right to do in a man devoted to his country. He
dined with Tinman again. We try our best to be social. For eight
months in our year he had little choice but to dine with Tinman or be
a hermit attached to a telescope.
"Where are you going, Lieutenant?" His frank reply to the question
was, "I am going to be killed;" and it grew notorious that this meant
Tinman's table. We get on together as well as we can. Perhaps if we
were an acutely calculating people we should find it preferable both
for trade and our physical prosperity to turn and kill Tinman, in
contempt of consequences. But we are not, and so he does the business
gradually for us. A generous people we must be, for Tinman was not
detested. The recollection of "next morning" caused him to be dimly
Tinman, meanwhile, was awake only to the Circumstance that he made
no progress as an esquire, except on the envelopes of letters, and in
his own esteem. That broad region he began to occupy to the exclusion
of other inhabitants; and the result of such a state of princely
isolation was a plunge of his whole being into deep thoughts. From
the hour of his investiture as the town's chief man, thoughts which
were long shots took possession of him. He had his wits about him; he
was alive to ridicule; he knew he was not popular below, or on easy
terms with people above him, and he meditated a surpassing stroke as
one of the Band of Esq., that had nothing original about it to perplex
and annoy the native mind, yet was dazzling. Few members of the
privileged Band dare even imagine the thing.
It will hardly be believed, but it is historical fact, that in the
act of carrying fresh herrings home on his arm, he entertained the
idea of a visit to the First Person and Head of the realm, and was
indulging in pleasing visions of the charms of a personal
acquaintance. Nay, he had already consulted with brother jurats. For
you must know that one of the princesses had recently suffered
betrothal in the newspapers, and supposing her to deign to ratify the
engagement, what so reasonable on the part of a Cinque Port chieftain
as to congratulate his liege mistress, her illustrious mother? These
are thoughts and these are deeds >which give emotional warmth and
colour to the ejecter members of a population wretchedly befogged.
They are our sunlight, and our brighter theme of conversation. They
are necessary to the climate and the Saxon mind; and it would be
foolish to put them away, as it is foolish not to do our utmost to be
intimate with terrestrial splendours while we have them—as it may be
said of wardens, mayors, and bailiffs-at command. Tinman was quite of
this opinion. They are there to relieve our dulness. We have them in
the place of heavenly; and he would have argued that we have a right
to bother them too. He had a notion, up in the clouds, of a Sailors'
Convalescent Hospital at Crikswich to seduce a prince with, hand him
the trowel, make him "lay the stone," and then poor prince! refresh
him at table. But that was a matter for by and by.
His purchase of herrings completed, Mr. Tinman walked across the
mound of shingle to the house on the beach. He was rather a
fresh-faced man, of the Saxon colouring, and at a distance looking
good-humoured. That he should have been able to make such an
appearance while doing daily battle with his wine, was a proof of
great physical vigour. His pace was leisurely, as it must needs be
over pebbles, where half a step is subtracted from each whole one in
passing; and, besides, he was aware of a general breath at his
departure that betokened a censorious assembly. Why should he not
market for himself? He threw dignity into his retreating figure in
response to the internal interrogation. The moment >was one when
conscious rectitude =pliers man should have a tail for its just
display. Philosophers have drawn attention to the power of the human
face to express pure virtue, but no sooner has it passed on than the
spirit erect within would seem helpless. The breadth of our shoulders
is apparently presented for our critics to write on. Poor duty is
done by the simple sense of moral worth, to supplant that absence of
feature in the plain flat back. We are below the animals in this.
How charged with language behind him is a dog! Everybody has noticed
it. Let a dog turn away from a hostile circle, and his crisp and wary
tail not merely defends him, it menaces; it is a weapon. Man has no
choice but to surge and boil, or stiffen preposterously. Knowing the
popular sentiment about his marketing—for men can see behind their
backs, though they may have nothing to speak with—Tinman resembled
those persons of principle who decline to pay for a "Bless your
honour!" from a voluble beggar-woman, and obtain the reverse of it
after they have gone by. He was sufficiently sensitive to feel that
his back was chalked as on a slate. The only remark following him
was, "There he goes!"
He went to the seaward gate of the house on the beach, made
practicable in a low flint wall, where he was met by his sister
Martha, to whom he handed the basket. Apparently he named the cost of
his purchase per dozen. She touched the fish and pressed the bellies
of the topmost, it might be to question them tenderly concerning their
roes. Then the couple passed out of sight. Herrings were soon after
this despatching their odours through the chimneys of all Crikswich,
and there was that much of concord and festive union among the
The house on the beach had been posted where it stood, one
supposes, for the sake of the sea-view, from which it turned right
about to face the town across a patch of grass and salt scurf, looking
like a square and scornful corporal engaged in the perpetual review of
an awkward squad of recruits. Sea delighted it not, nor land either.
Marine Parade fronting it to the left, shaded sickly eyes, under a
worn green verandah, from a sun that rarely appeared, as the traducers
of spinsters pretend those virgins are ever keenly on their guard
against him that cometh not. Belle Vue Terrace stared out of lank
glass panes without reserve, unashamed of its yellow complexion. A
gaping public-house, calling itself newly Hotel, fell backward a step.
Villas with the titles of royalty and bloody battles claimed five
feet of garden, and swelled in bowwindows beside other villas which
drew up firmly, commending to the attention a decent straightness and
unintrusive decorum in preference. On an elevated meadow to the right
was the Crouch. The Hall of Elba nestled among weather-beaten dwarf
woods further toward the cliff. Shavenness, featurelessness,
emptiness, clamminess scurfiness, formed the outward expression of a
town to which people were reasonably glad to come from London in
summer-time, for there was nothing in Crikswich to distract the naked
pursuit of health. The sea tossed its renovating brine to the
determinedly sniffing animal, who went to his meals with an appetite
that rendered him cordially eulogistic of the place, in spite of
certain frank whiffs of sewerage coming off an open deposit on the
common to mingle with the brine. Tradition told of a French lady and
gentleman entering the town to take lodgings for a month, and that on
the morrow they took a boat from the shore, saying in their faint
English to a sailor veteran of the coastguard, whom they had consulted
about the weather, "It is better zis zan zat," as they shrugged
between rough sea and corpselike land. And they were not seen again.
Their meaning none knew. Having paid their bill at the
lodging-house, their conduct was ascribed to systematic madness.
English people came to Crikswich for the pure salt sea air, and they
did not expect it to be cooked and dressed and decorated for them. If
these things are done to nature, it is nature no longer that you have,
but something Frenchified. Those French are for trimming Neptune's
beard! Only wait, and you are sure to find variety in nature, more
than you may like. You will find it in Neptune. What say you to a
breach of the sea-wall, and an inundation of the aromatic grass- flat
extending from the house on the beach to the tottering terraces,
villas, cottages: and public-house transformed by its ensign to Hotel,
along the frontage of the town? Such an event had occurred of old,
and had given the house on the beach the serious shaking great Neptune
in his wrath alone can give. But many years had intervened. Groynes
had been run down to intercept him and divert him. He generally did
his winter mischief on a mill and salt marshes lower westward. Mr.
Tinman had always been extremely zealous in promoting the expenditure
of what moneys the town had to spare upon the protection of the shore,
as it were for the propitiation or defiance of the sea-god. There was
a kindly joke against him an that subject among brother jurats. He
retorted with the joke, that the first thing for Englishmen to look to
were England's defences.
But it will not do to be dwelling too fondly on our eras of peace,
for which we make such splendid sacrifices. Peace, saving for the
advent of a German band, which troubled the repose of the town at
intervals, had imparted to the inhabitants of Crikswich, within and
without, the likeness to its most perfect image, together, it must be
confessed, with a degree of nervousness that invested common events
with some of the terrors of the Last Trump, when one night, just upon
the passing of the vernal equinox, something happened.
A carriage Stopped short in the ray of candlelight that was
fitfully and feebly capering on the windy blackness outside the open
workshop of Crickledon, the carpenter, fronting the sea-beach. Mr.
Tinnnan's house was inquired for. Crickledon left off planing; at
half-sprawl over the board, he bawled out, "Turn to the right; right
ahead; can't mistake it." He nodded to one of the cronies intent on
watching his labours: "Not unless they mean to be bait for
whiting-pout. Who's that for Tinman, I wonder?" The speculations of
Crickledon's friends were lost in the scream of the plane.
One cast an eye through the door and observed that the carriage was
there still. "Gentleman's got out and walked," said Crickledon. He
was informed that somebody was visible inside. "Gentleman's wife,
mayhap," he said. His friends indulged in their privilege of thinking
what they liked, and there was the usual silence of tongues in the
shop. He furnished them sound and motion for their amusement, and now
and then a scrap of conversation; and the sedater spirits dwelling in
his immediate neighbourhood were accustomed to step in and see him
work up to supper- time, instead of resorting to the more turbid and
costly excitement of the public-house.
Crickledon looked up from the measurement of a thumb-line. In the
doorway stood a bearded gentleman, who announced himself with the
startling exclamation, "Here's a pretty pickle!" and bustled to make
way for a man well known to them as Ned Crummins, the upholsterer's
man, on whose back hung an article of furniture, the condition of
which, with a condensed brevity of humour worthy of literary
admiration, he displayed by mutely turning himself about as he
"Smashed!" was the general outcry.
"I ran slap into him," said the gentleman. "Who the deuce!—no
bones broken, that's one thing. The fellow—there, look at him: he's
like a glass tortoise."
"It's a chiwal glass," Crickledon remarked, and laid finger on the
star in the centre.
"Gentleman ran slap into me," said Crummins, depositing the frame
on the floor of the shop.
"Never had such a shock in my life," continued the gentleman.
"Upon my soul, I took him for a door: I did indeed. A kind of light
flashed from one of your houses here, and in the pitch dark I thought
I was at the door of old Mart Tinman's house, and dash me if I did n't
go in—crash! But what the deuce do you do, carrying that great big
looking-glass at night, man? And, look here tell me; how was it you
happened to be going glass foremost when you'd got the glass on your
"Well, 't ain't my fault, I knows that," rejoined Crummins. "I
came along as careful as a man could. I was just going to bawl out to
Master Tinman, 'I knows the way, never fear me'; for I thinks I hears
him call from his house, 'Do ye see the way?' and into me this
gentleman runs all his might, and smash goes the glass. I was just
ten steps from Master Tinman's gate, and that careful, I reckoned
every foot I put down, that I was; I knows I did, though."
"Why, it was me calling, 'I'm sure I can't see the way.'
"You heard me, you donkey!" retorted the bearded gentleman. "What
was the good of your turning that glass against me in the very nick
when I dashed on you?"
"Well, 't ain't my fault, I swear," said Crummins. "The wind
catches voices so on a pitch dark night, you never can tell whether
they be on one shoulder or the other. And if I'm to go and lose my
place through no fault of mine——"
"Have n't I told you, sir, I'm going to pay the damage? Here,"
said the gentleman, fumbling at his waistcoat, "here, take this card.
For the first time during the scene in the carpenter's shop, a
certain pomposity swelled the gentleman's tone. His delivery of the
card appeared to act on him like the flourish of a trumpet before
"Van Diemen Smith," he proclaimed himself for the assistance of Ned
Crummins in his task; the latter's look of sad concern on receiving
the card seeming to declare an unscholarly conscience.
An anxious feminine voice was heard close beside Mr. Van Diemen
"Oh, papa, has there been an accident? Are you hurt?"
"Not a bit, Netty; not a bit. Walked into a big looking-glass in
the dark, that's all. A matter of eight or ten pound, and that won't
stump us. But these are what I call queer doings in Old England, when
you can't take a step in the dark, on the seashore without plunging
bang into a glass. And it looks like bad luck to my visit to old Mart
"Can you," he addressed the company, "tell me of a clean, wholesome
lodging-house? I was thinking of flinging myself, body and baggage,
on your mayor, or whatever he is—my old schoolmate; but I don't so
much like this beginning. A couple of bed-rooms and sitting-room;
clean sheets, well aired; good food, well cooked; payment per week in
The pebble dropped into deep water speaks of its depth by the tardy
arrival of bubbles on the surface, and, in like manner, the very
simple question put by Mr. Van Diemen Smith pursued its course of
penetration in the assembled mind in the carpenter's shop for a
considerable period, with no sign to show that it had reached the
"Surely, papa, we can go to an inn? There must be some hotel,"
said his daughter.
"There's good accommodation at the Cliff Hotel hard by," said
"But," said one of his friends, "if you don't want to go so far,
sir, there's Master Crickledon's own house next door, and his wife
lets lodgings, and there's not a better cook along this coast."
"Then why did n't the man mention it? Is he afraid of having me?"
asked Mr. Smith, a little thunderingly. "I may n't be known much yet
in England; but I'll tell you, you inquire the route to Mr. Van Diemen
Smith over there in Australia."
"Yes, papa," interrupted his daughter, "only you must consider that
it may not be convenient to take us in at this hour—so late."
"It's not that, miss, begging your pardon," said Crickledon. "I
make a point of never recommending my own house. That's where it is.
Otherwise you're welcome to try us."
"I was thinking of falling bounce on my old schoolmate, and putting
Old English hospitality to the proof," Mr. Smith meditated. "But it's
late. Yes, and that confounded glass! No, we'll bide with you, Mr.
Carpenter. I'll send my card across to Mart Tinman to-morrow, and set
him agog at his breakfast."
Mr. Van Diemen Smith waved his hand for Crickledon to lead the way.
Hereupon Ned Crummins looked up from the card he had been turning
over and over, more and more like one arriving at a condemnatory
judgment of a fish.
"I can't go and give my master a card instead of his glass," he
"Yes, that reminds me; and I should like to know what you meant by
bringing that glass away from Mr. Tinman's house at night," said Mr.
Smith. "If I'm to pay for it, I've a right to know. What's the
meaning of moving it at night? Eh, let's hear. Night's not the time
for moving big glasses like that. I'm not so sure I haven't got a
"If you'll step round to my master along o' me, sir," said
Crummins, "perhaps he'll explain."
Crummins was requested to state who his master was, and he replied,
"Phippun and Company;" but Mr. Smith positively refused to go with
"But here," said he, "is a crown for you, for you're a civil
fellow. You'll know where to find me in the morning; and mind, I shall
expect Phippun and Company to give me a very good account of their
reason for moving a big looking-glass on a night like this. There, be
The crown-piece in his hand effected a genial change in Crummins'
disposition to communicate. Crickledon spoke to him about the glass;
two or three of the others present jogged him. "What did Mr. Tinman
want by having the glass moved so late in the day, Ned? Your master
wasn't nervous about his property, was he?"
"Not he," said Crummins, and began to suck down his upper lip and
agitate his eyelids and stand uneasily, glimmering signs of the
setting in of the tide of narration.
He caught the eye of Mr. Smith, then looked abashed at Miss.
Crickledon saw his dilemma. "Say what's uppermost, Ned; never mind
how you says it. English is English. Mr. Tinman sent for you to take
the glass away, now, did n't he?"
"He did," said Crummins.
"And you went to him."
"Ay, that I did."
"And he fastened the chiwal glass upon your back"
"He did that."
"That's all plain sailing. Had he bought the glass?"
"No, he had n't bought it. He'd hired it."
As when upon an enforced visit to the dentist, people have had one
tooth out, the remaining offenders are more willingly submitted to the
operation, insomuch that a poetical licence might hazard the statement
that they shed them like leaves of the tree, so Crummins, who had
shrunk from speech, now volunteered whole sentences in succession, and
how important they were deemed by his fellow-townsman, Mr. Smith, and
especially Miss Annette Smith, could perceive in their ejaculations,
before they themselves were drawn into the strong current of interest.
And this was the matter: Tinman had hired the glass for three days.
Latish, on the very first day of the hiring, close upon dark, he had
despatched imperative orders to Phippun and Company to take the glass
out of his house on the spot. And why? Because, as he maintained,
there was a fault in the glass causing an incongruous and absurd
reflection; and he was at that moment awaiting the arrival of another
"Cut along, Ned," said Crickledon.
"What the deuce does he want with a chiwal-glass at all?" cried
Mr. Smith, endangering the flow of the story by suggesting to the
narrator that he must "hark back," which to him was equivalent to the
jumping of a chasm hindward. Happily his brain had seized a picture:
"Mr. Tinman, he's a-standin' in his best Court suit."
Mr. Tinmau's old schoolmate gave a jump; and no wonder.
"Standing?" he cried; and as the act of standing was really not
extraordinary, he fixed upon the suit: "Court?"
"So Mrs. Cavely told me, it was what he was standin' in, and as I
found 'm I left 'm," said Crummins.
"He's standing in it now?" said Mr. Van Diemen Smith, with a great
Crummins doggedly repeated the statement. Many would have
ornamented it in the repetition, but he was for bare flat truth.
"He must be precious proud of having a Court suit," said Mr. Smith,
and gazed at his daughter so glassily that she smiled, though she was
impatient to proceed to Mrs. Crickledon's lodgings.
"Oh! there's where it is?" interjected the carpenter, with a funny
frown at a low word from Ned Crummins. "Practicing, is he? Mr.
Tinman's practicing before the glass preparatory to his going to the
palace in London."
"He gave me a shillin'," said Crummins.
Crickledon comprehended him immediately. "We sha'n't speak about
What did you see? was thus cautiously suggested.
The shilling was on Crummins' tongue to check his betrayal of the
secret scene. But remembering that he had only witnessed it by
accident, and that Mr. Tinman had not completely taken him into his
confidence, he thrust his hand down his pocket to finger the
crown-piece lying in fellowship with the coin it multiplied five
times, and was inspired to think himself at liberty to say: "All I saw
was when the door opened. Not the house-door. It was the
parlour-door. I saw him walk up to the glass, and walk back from the
glass. And when he'd got up to the glass he bowed, he did, and he
went back'ards just so."
Doubtless the presence of a lady was the active agent that
prevented Crummins from doubling his body entirely, and giving more
than a rapid indication of the posture of Mr. Tinman in his retreat
before the glass. But it was a glimpse of broad burlesque, and though
it was received with becoming sobriety by the men in the carpenter's
shop, Annette plucked at her father's arm.
She could not get him to depart. That picture of his old
schoolmate Martin Tinman practicing before a chiwal glass to present
himself at the palace in his Court suit, seemed to stupefy his
"What right has he got to go to Court?" Mr. Van Diemen Smith
inquired, like the foreigner he had become through exile.
"Mr. Tinman's bailiff of the town," said Crickledon.
"And what was his objection to that glass I smashed?"
"He's rather an irritable gentleman," Crickledon murmured, and
turned to Crummins.
Crummins growled: "He said it was misty, and gave him a twist."
"What a big fool he must be! eh?" Mr. Smith glanced at Crickledon
and the other faces for the verdict of Tinman's townsmen upon his
They had grounds for thinking differently of Tinman.
"He's no fool," said Crickledon.
Another shook his head. "Sharp at a bargain."
"That he be," said the chorus.
Mr. Smith was informed that Mr. Tinman would probably end by buying
up half the town.
"Then," said Mr. Smith, "he can afford to pay half the money for
that glass, and pay he shall."
A serious view of the recent catastrophe was presented by his
In the midst of a colloquy regarding the cost of the glass, during
which it began to be seen by Mr. Tinman's townsmen that there was
laughing- stuff for a year or so in the scene witnessed by Crummins,
if they postponed a bit their right to the laugh and took it in doses,
Annette induced her father to signal to Crickledon his readiness to go
and see the lodgings. No sooner had he done it than he said, "What on
earth made us wait all this time here? I'm hungry, my dear; I want
"That is because you have had a disappointment. I know you, papa,"
"Yes, it's rather a damper about old Mart Tinman," her father
assented. "Or else I have n't recovered the shock of smashing that
glass, and visit it on him. But, upon my honour, he's my only friend
in England, I have n't a single relative that I know of, and to come
and find your only friend making a donkey of himself, is enough to
make a man think of eating and drinking."
Annette murmured reproachfully: "We can hardly say he is our only
friend in England, papa, can we?"
"Do you mean that young fellow? You'll take my appetite away if
you talk of him. He's a stranger. I don't believe he's worth a
penny. He owns he's what he calls a journalist."
These latter remarks were hurriedly exchanged at the threshold of
"It don't look promising," said Mr. Smith.
"I didn't recommend it," said Crickledon.
"Why the deuce do you let your lodgings, then?"
"People who have come once come again."
"Oh! I am in England," Annette sighed joyfully, feeling at home in
some trait she had detected in Crickledon.
The story of the shattered chiwal-glass and the visit of Tinman's
old schoolmate fresh from Australia, was at many a breakfast-table
before. Tinman heard a word of it, and when he did he had no time to
spare for such incidents, for he was reading to his widowed sister
Martha, in an impressive tone, at a tolerably high pitch of the voice,
and with a suppressed excitement that shook away all things external
from his mind as violently as it agitated his body. Not the waves
without but the engine within it is which gives the shock and tremor
to the crazy steamer, forcing it to cut through the waves and scatter
them to spray; and so did Martin Tinman make light of the external
attack of the card of VAN DIEMEN SMITH, and its pencilled line: "An
old chum of yours, eh, matey? "Even the communication of Phippun Co.
concerning the chiwal- glass, failed to divert him from his
particular task. It was indeed a public duty; and the chiwal-glass,
though pertaining to it, was a private business. He that has broken
the glass, let that man pay for it, he pronounced—no doubt in simpler
fashion, being at his ease in his home, but with the serenity of one
uplifted. As to the name VAN DIEMEN SMITH, he knew it not, and so he
said to himself while accurately recollecting the identity of the old
chum who alone of men would have thought of writing eh, matey?
Mr. Van Diemen Smith did not present the card in person. "At
Crickledon's," he wrote, apparently expecting the bailiff of the town
to rush over to him before knowing who he was.
Tinman was far too busy. Anybody can read plain penmanship or
print, but ask anybody not a Cabinet Minister or a Lord-in-Waiting to
read out loud and clear in a Palace, before a Throne. Oh! the nature
of reading is distorted in a trice, and as Tinman said to his worthy
sister: "I can do it, but I must lose no time in preparing myself."
Again, at a reperusal, he informed her: "I must habituate myself."
For this purpose he had put on the suit overnight.
The articulation of faultless English was his object. His sister
Martha sat vice-regally to receive his loyal congratulations on the
illustrious marriage, and she was pensive, less nervous than her
brother from not having to speak continuously, yet somewhat perturbed.
She also had her task, and it was to avoid thinking herself the
Person addressed by her suppliant brother, while at the same time she
took possession of the scholarly training and perfect knowledge of
diction and rules of pronunciation which would infallibly be brought
to bear on him in the terrible hour of the delivery of the Address.
It was no small task moreover to be compelled to listen right through
to the end of the Address, before the very gentlest word of criticism
was allowed. She did not exactly complain of the renewal of the
rehearsal: a fatigue can be endured when it is a joy. What vexed her
was her failing memory for the points of objection, as in her imagined
High Seat she conceived them; for, in painful truth, the instant her
brother had finished she entirely lost her acuteness of ear, and with
that her recollection: so there was nothing to do but to say:
"Excellent! Quite unobjectionable, dear Martin, quite:" so she said,
and emphatically; but the addition of the word "only" was printed on
her contracted brow, and every faculty of Tinman's mind and nature
being at strain just then, he asked her testily: "What now? what's
the fault now?" She assured him with languor that there was not a
fault. "It's not your way of talking," said he, and what he said was
true. His discernment was extraordinary; generally he noticed
Not only were his perceptions quickened by the preparations for the
day of great splendour: day of a great furnace to be passed through
likewise! —he, was learning English at an astonishing rate into the
bargain. A pronouncing Dictionary lay open on his table. To this he
flew at a hint of a contrary method, and disputes, verifications and
triumphs on one side and the other ensued between brother and sister.
In his heart the agitated man believed his sister to be a misleading
guide. He dared not say it, he thought it, and previous to his
African travel through the Dictionary he had thought his sister
infallible on these points. He dared not say it, because he knew no
one else before whom he could practice, and as it was confidence that
he chiefly wanted—above all things, confidence and confidence comes
of practice, he preferred the going on with his practice to an
absolute certainty as to correctness.
At midday came another card from Mr. Van Diemen Smith bearing the
superscription: alias Phil R.
"Can it be possible," Tinman asked his sister, "that Philip
Ribstone has had the audacity to return to this country? I think," he
added, "I am right in treating whoever sends me this card as a
Martha's advice was, that he should take no notice of the card.
"I am seriously engaged," said Tinman. With a "Now then, dear," he
resumed his labours.
Messages had passed between Tinman and Phippun; and in the
afternoon Phippun appeared to broach the question of payment for the
chiwal-glass. He had seen Mr. Van Diemen Smith, had found him very
strange, rather impracticable. He was obliged to tell Tinman that he
must hold him responsible for the glass; nor could he send a second
until payment was made for the first. It really seemed as if Tinman
would be compelled, by the force of circumstances, to go and shake his
old friend by the hand. Otherwise one could clearly see the man might
be off: he might be off at any minute, leaving a legal contention
behind him. On the other hand, supposing he had come to Crikswich for
assistance in money? Friendship is a good thing, and so is
hospitality, which is an essentially English thing, and consequently
one that it behoves an Englishman to think it his duty to perform, but
we do not extend it to paupers. But should a pauper get so close to
us as to lay hold of us, vowing he was once our friend, how shake him
loose? Tinman foresaw that it might be a matter of five pounds thrown
to the dogs, perhaps ten, counting the glass. He put on his hat, full
of melancholy presentiments; and it was exactly half-past five o'clock
of the spring afternoon when he knocked at Crickledon's door.
Had he looked into Crickledon's shop as he went by, he would have
perceived Van Diemen Smith astride a piece of timber, smoking a pipe.
Van Diemen saw Tinman. His eyes cocked and watered. It is a
disgraceful fact to record of him without periphrasis. In truth, the
bearded fellow was almost a woman at heart, and had come from the
Antipodes throbbing to slap Martin Tinman on the back, squeeze his
hand, run over England with him, treat him, and talk of old times in
the presence of a trotting regiment of champagne. That affair of the
chiwal-glass had temporarily damped his enthusiasm. The absence of a
reply to his double transmission of cards had wounded him; and
something in the look of Tinman disgusted his rough taste. But the
well-known features recalled the days of youth. Tinman was his one
living link to the country he admired as the conqueror of the world,
and imaginatively delighted in as the seat of pleasures, and he could
not discard the feeling of some love for Tinman without losing his
grasp of the reason why, he had longed so fervently and travelled so
breathlessly to return hither. In the days of their youth, Van Diemen
had been Tinman's cordial spirit, at whom he sipped for cheerful
visions of life, and a good honest glow of emotion now and then.
Whether it was odd or not that the sipper should be oblivious, and the
cordial spirit heartily reminiscent of those times, we will not stay
Their meeting took place in Crickledon's shop. Tinman was led in
by Mrs. Crickledon. His voice made a sound of metal in his throat,
and his air was that of a man buttoned up to the palate, as he read
from the card, glancing over his eyelids, "Mr. Van Diemen Smith, I
"Phil Ribstone, if you like," said the other, without rising.
"Oh, ah, indeed!" Tinman temperately coughed.
"Yes, dear me. So it is. It strikes you as odd?"
"The change of name," said Tinman.
"Not nature, though!"
"Ah! Have you been long in England?"
"Time to run to Helmstone, and on here. You've been lucky in
business, I hear."
"Thank you; as things go. Do you think of remaining in England?"
"I've got to settle about a glass I broke last night."
"Ah! I have heard of it. Yes, I fear there will have to be a
"I shall pay half of the damage. You'll have to stump up your
Van Diemen smiled roguishly.
"We must discuss that," said Tinman, smiling too, as a patient in
bed may smile at a doctor's joke; for he was, as Crickledon had said
of him, no fool on practical points, and Van Diemen's mention of the
half-payment reassured him as to his old friend's position in the
world, and softly thawed him. "Will you dine with me to-day?"
"I don't mind if I do. I've a girl. You remember little Netty?
She's walking out on the beach with a young fellow named Fellingham,
whose acquaintance we made on the voyage, and has n't left us long to
ourselves. Will you have her as well? And I suppose you must ask
him. He's a newspaper man; been round the world; seen a lot."
Tinman hesitated. An electrical idea of putting sherry at fifteen
shillings per dozen on his table instead of the ceremonial wine at
twenty-five shillings, assisted him to say hospitably, "Oh! ah! yes;
any friend of yours."
"And now perhaps you'll shake my fist," said Van Diemen.
"With pleasure," said Tinman. "It was your change of name, you
Look here, Martin. Van Diemen Smith was a convict, and my
benefactor. Why the deuce he was so fond of that name, I can't tell
you; but his dying wish was for me to take it and carry it on. He
left me his fortune, for Van Diemen Smith to enjoy life, as he never
did, poor fellow, when he was alive. The money was got honestly, by
hard labour at a store. He did evil once, and repented after. But,
by Heaven!"—Van Diemen jumped up and thundered out of a broad
chest—"the man was one of the finest hearts that ever beat. He was!
and I'm proud of him. When he died, I turned my thoughts home to Old
England and you, Martin."
"Oh!" said Tinman; and reminded by Van Diemen's way of speaking,
that cordiality was expected of him, he shook his limbs to some
briskness, and continued, "Well, yes, we must all die in our native
land if we can. I hope you're comfortable in your lodgings?"
"I'll give you one of Mrs. Crickledon's dinners to try. You're as
good as mayor of this town, I hear?"
"I am the bailiff of the town," said Mr. Tinman.
"You're going to Court, I'm told."
"The appointment," replied Mr. Tinman, "will soon be made. I have
not yet an appointed day."
On the great highroad of life there is Expectation, and there is
Attainment, and also there is Envy. Mr. Tinman's posture stood for
Attainment shadowing Expectation, and sunning itself in the glass of
Envy, as he spoke of the appointed day. It was involuntary, and
naturally evanescent, a momentary view of the spirit.
He unbent, and begged to be excused for the present, that he might
go and apprise his sister of guests coming.
"All right. I daresay we shall see, enough of one another," said
Van Diemen. And almost before the creak of Tinman's heels was
deadened on the road outside the shop, he put the funny question to
Crickledon, "Do you box?"
"I make 'em," Crickledon replied.
"Because I should like to have a go in at something, my friend."
Van Diemen stretched and yawned.
Crickledon recommended the taking of a walk.
"I think I will," said the other, and turned back abruptly. "How
long do you work in the day?"
"Generally, all the hours of light," Crickledon replied; "and
always up to supper-time."
"You're healthy and happy?"
"Nothing to complain of."
"You never take a holiday?"
"You'd like to be working then?"
"I won't say that."
"But you're glad to be up Monday morning?"
"It feels cheerfuller in the shop."
"And carpentering's your joy?"
"I think I may say so."
Van Diemen slapped his thigh. "There's life in Old England yet!"
Crickledon eyed him as he walked away to the beach to look for his
daughter, and conceived that there was a touch of the soldier in him.
Annette Smith's delight in her native England made her see beauty
and kindness everywhere around her; it put a halo about the house on
the beach, and thrilled her at Tinman's table when she heard the
thunder of the waves hard by. She fancied it had been a most
agreeable dinner to her father and Mr. Herbert Fellingham—especially
to the latter, who had laughed very much; and she was astonished to
hear them at breakfast both complaining of their evening. In answer
to which, she exclaimed, "Oh, I think the situation of the house is so
"The situation of the host is exceedingly so," said Mr. Fellingham;
"but I think his wine the most unromantic liquid I have ever tasted."
"It must be that!" cried Van Diemen, puzzled by novel pains in the
head. "Old Martin woke up a little like his old self after dinner."
"He drank sparingly," said Mr. Fellingham.
"I am sure you were satirical last night," Annette said
"On the contrary, I told him I thought he was in a romantic
"But I have had a French mademoiselle for my governess and an
Oxford gentleman for my tutor; and I know you accepted French and
English from Mr. Tinman and his sister that I should not have
"Netty," said Van Diemen, "has had the best instruction money could
procure; and if she says you were satirical, you may depend on it you
"Oh, in that case, of course!" Mr. Fellingham rejoined. "Who
could help it?"
He thought himself warranted in giving the rein to his wicked
satirical spirit, and talked lightly of the accidental character of
the letter H in Tinman's pronunciation; of how, like somebody else's
hat in a high wind, it descended on somebody else's head, and of how
his words walked about asking one another who they were and what they
were doing, danced together madly, snapping their fingers at
signification; and so forth. He was flippant.
Annette glanced at her father, and dropped her eyelids.
Mr. Fellingham perceived that he was enjoined to be on his guard.
He went one step farther in his fun; upon which Van Diemen said,
with a frown, "If you please!"
Nothing could withstand that.
"Hang old Mart Tinman's wine!" Van Diemen burst out in the dead
pause. "My head's a bullet. I'm in a shocking bad temper. I can
hardly see. I'm bilious."
Mr. Fellingham counselled his lying down for an hour, and he went
grumbling, complaining of Mart Tinman's incredulity about the towering
beauty of a place in Australia called Gippsland.
Annette confided to Mr. Fellingham, as soon as they were alone, the
chivalrous nature of her father in his friendships, and his
indisposition to hear a satirical remark upon his old schoolmate, the
moment he understood it to be satire.
Fellingham pleaded: "The man's a perfect burlesque. He's as
distinctly made to be laughed at as a mask in a pantomime."
"Papa will not think so," said Annette; "and papa has been told
that he is not to be laughed at as a man of business."
"Do you prize him for that?"
"I am no judge. I am too happy to be in England to be a judge of
"You did not touch his wine!"
"You men attach so much importance to wine!"
"They do say that powders is a good thing after Mr. Tinman's wine,"
observed Mrs. Crickledon, who had come into the sitting-room to take
away the breakfast things.
Mr. Fellingham gave a peal of laughter; but Mrs Crickledon bade him
be hushed, for Mr. Van Diemen Smith had gone to lay down his poor
aching head on his pillow. Annette ran upstairs to speak to her
father about a doctor.
During her absence, Mr. Fellingham received the popular portrait of
Mr. Tinman from the lips of Mrs. Crickledon. He subsequently strolled
to the carpenter's shop, and endeavoured to get a confirmation of it.
"My wife talks too much," said Crickledon.
When questioned by a gentleman, however, he was naturally bound to
answer to the extent of his knowledge.
"What a funny old country it is!" Mr. Fellingham said to Annette,
on their walk to the beach.
She implored him not to laugh at anything English.
"I don't, I assure you," said he. "I love the country, too. But
when one comes back from abroad, and plunges into their daily life,
it's difficult to retain the real figure of the old country seen from
outside, and one has to remember half a dozen great names to right
oneself. And Englishmen are so funny! Your father comes here to see
his old friend, and begins boasting of the Gippsland he has left
behind. Tinman immediately brags of Helvellyn, and they fling
mountains at one another till, on their first evening together,
there's earthquake and rupture— they were nearly at fisticuffs at one
"Oh! surely no," said Annette. "I did not hear them. They were
good friends when you came to the drawingroom. Perhaps the wine did
affect poor papa, if it was bad wine. I wish men would never drink
any. How much happier they would be."
"But then there would cease to be social meetings in England. What
should we do?"
"I know that is a sneer; and you were nearly as enthusiastic as I
was on board the vessel," Annette said, sadly.
"Quite true. I was. But see what quaint creatures we have about
us! Tinman practicing in his Court suit before the chiwal-glass! And
that good fellow, the carpenter, Crickledon, who has lived with the
sea fronting him all his life, and has never been in a boat, and he
confesses he has only once gone inland, and has never seen an acorn!"
"I wish I could see one—of a real English oak," said Annette.
"And after being in England a few months you will be sighing for
"You think you will be quite contented here?"
"I am sure I shall be. May papa and I never be exiles again! I
did not feel it when I was three years old, going out to Australia;
but it would be like death to me now. Oh!" Annette shivered, as with
the exile's chill.
"On my honour," said Mr. Fellingham, as softly as he could with the
wind in his teeth, "I love the old country ten times more from your
love of it."
"That is not how I want England to be loved," returned Annette.
"The love is in your hands."
She seemed indifferent on hearing it.
He should have seen that the way to woo her was to humour her
prepossession by another passion. He could feel that it ennobled her
in the abstract, but a latent spite at Tinman on account of his wine,
to which he continued angrily to attribute as unwonted dizziness of
the head and slight irascibility, made him urgent in his desire that
she should separate herself from Tinman and his sister by the sharp
division of derision.
Annette declined to laugh at the most risible caricatures of
Tinman. In her antagonism she forced her simplicity so far as to say
that she did not think him absurd. And supposing Mr. Tinman to have
proposed to the titled widow, Lady Ray, as she had heard, and to other
ladies young and middle-aged in the neighbourhood, why should he not,
if he wished to marry? If he was economical, surely he had a right to
manage his own affairs. Her dread was lest Mr. Tinman and her father
should quarrel over the payment for the broken chiwal-glass: that she
honestly admitted, and Fellingham was so indiscreet as to roar aloud,
not so very cordially.
Annette thought him unkindly satirical; and his thoughts of her
reduced her to the condition of a commonplace girl with expressive
She had to return to her father. Mr. Fellingham took a walk on the
springy turf along the cliffs; and "certainly she is a commonplace
girl," he began by reflecting; with a side eye at the fact that his
meditations were excited by Tinman's poisoning of his bile. "A girl
who can't see the absurdity of Tinman must be destitute of common
intelligence." After a while he sniffed the fine sharp air of mingled
earth and sea delightedly, and he strode back to the town late in the
afternoon, laughing at himself in scorn of his wretched susceptibility
to bilious impressions, and really all but hating Tinman as the cause
of his weakness—in the manner of the criminal hating the detective,
perhaps. He cast it altogether on Tinman that Annette's complexion of
character had become discoloured to his mind; for, in spite of the
physical freshness with which he returned to her society, he was
incapable of throwing off the idea of her being commonplace; and it
was with regret that he acknowledged he had gained from his walk only
a higher opinion of himself.
Her father was the victim of a sick headache, [Migraine—D.W.]and
lay, a groaning man, on his bed, ministered to by Mrs. Crickledon
chiefly. Annette had to conduct the business with Mr. Phippun and Mr.
Tinman as to payment for the chiwal-glass. She was commissioned to
offer half the price for the glass on her father's part; more he would
not pay. Tinman and Phippun sat with her in Crickledon's cottage, and
Mrs. Crickledon brought down two messages from her invalid, each
positive, to the effect that he would fight with all the arms of
English law rather than yield his point.
Tinman declared it to be quite out of the question that he should
pay a penny. Phippun vowed that from one or the other of them he
would have the money.
Annette naturally was in deep distress, and Fellingham postponed
the discussion to the morrow.
Even after such a taste of Tinman as that, Annette could not be
induced to join in deriding him privately. She looked pained by Mr.
Fellingham's cruel jests. It was monstrous, Fellingham considered,
that he should draw on himself a second reprimand from Van Diemen
Smith, while they were consulting in entire agreement upon the case of
"I must tell you this, mister sir," said Van Diemen, "I like you,
but I'll be straightforward and truthful, or I'm not worthy the name
of Englishman; and I do like you, or I should n't have given you leave
to come down here after us two. You must respect my friend if you
care for my respect. That's it. There it is. Now you know my
"I 'm afraid I can't sign the treaty," said Fellingham.
"Here's more," said Van Diemen. "I'm a chilly man myself if I hear
a laugh and think I know the aim of it. I'll meet what you like
except scorn. I can't stand contempt. So I feel for another. And
now you know."
"It puts a stopper on the play of fancy, and checks the throwing
off of steam," Fellingham remonstrated. "I promise to do my best, but
of all the men I've ever met in my life—Tinman!—the ridiculous!
Pray pardon me; but the donkey and his looking-glass! The glass was
misty! He—as particular about his reflection in the glass as a poet
with his verses! Advance, retire, bow; and such murder of the Queen's
English in the very presence! If I thought he was going to take his
wine with him, I'd have him arrested for high treason."
"You've chosen, and you know what you best like," said Van Diemen,
pointing his accents—by which is produced the awkward pause, the
pitfall of conversation, and sometimes of amity.
Thus it happened that Mr. Herbert Fellingham journeyed back to
London a day earlier than he had intended, and without saying what he
meant to say.
A month later, after a night of sharp frost on the verge of the
warmer days of spring, Mr. Fellingham entered Crikswich under a sky of
perfect blue that was in brilliant harmony with the green downs, the
white cliffs and sparkling sea, and no doubt it was the beauty before
his eyes which persuaded him of his delusion in having taken Annette
for a commonplace girl. He had come in a merely curious mood to
discover whether she was one or not. Who but a commonplace girl would
care to reside in Crikswich, he had asked himself; and now he was full
sure that no commonplace girl would ever have had the idea.
Exquisitely simple, she certainly was; but that may well be a
distinction in a young lady whose eyes are expressive.
The sound of sawing attracted him to Crickledon's shop, and the
industrious carpenter soon put him on the tide of affairs.
Crickledon pointed to the house on the beach as the place where Mr.
Van Diemen Smith and his daughter were staying.
"Dear me! and how does he look?" said Fellingham.
"Our town seems to agree with him, sir."
"Well, I must not say any more, I suppose." Fellingham checked his
tongue. "How have they settled that dispute about the chiwal-glass?"
"Mr. Tinman had to give way."
"But," Crickledon stopped work, "Mr. Tinman sold him a meadow."
"Mr. Smith has been buying a goodish bit of ground here. They tell
me he's about purchasing Elba. He has bought the Crouch. He and Mr.
Tinman are always out together. They're over at Helmstone now.
They've been to London."
"Are they likely to be back to-day?"
"Certain, I should think. Mr. Tinman has to be in London
Crickledon looked. He was not the man to look artful, but there
was a lighted corner in his look that revived Fellingham's
recollections, and the latter burst out:
"The Address? I 'd half forgotten it. That's not over yet? Has
he been practicing much?"
"No more glasses ha' been broken."
"And how is your wife, Crickledon?"
"She's at home, sir, ready for a talk, if you've a mind to try
Mrs. Crickledon proved to be very ready. "That Tinman," was her
theme. He had taken away her lodgers, and she knew his objects. Mr.
Smith repented of leaving her, she knew, though he dared not say it in
plain words. She knew Miss Smith was tired to death of constant
companionship with Mrs. Cavely, Tinman's sister. She generally came
once in the day just to escape from Mrs. Cavely, who would not, bless
you! step into a cottager's house where she was not allowed to
patronize. Fortunately Miss Smith had induced her father to get his
own wine from the merchants.
"A happy resolution," said Fellingham; "and a saving one."
He heard further that Mr. Smith would take possession of the Crouch
next month, and that Mrs. Cavely hung over Miss Smith like a kite.
"And that old Tinman, old enough to be her father!" said Mrs.
She dealt in the flashes which connect ideas. Fellingham, though a
man, and an Englishman, was nervously wakeful enough to see the
"They'll have to consult the young lady first, ma'am."
"If it's her father's nod she'll bow to it; now mark me," Mrs.
Crickledon said, with emphasis. "She's a young lady who thinks for
herself, but she takes her start from her father where it's feeling.
And he's gone stone- blind over that Tinman."
While they were speaking, Annette appeared.
"I saw you," she said to Fellingham; gladly and openly, in the most
"Are you going to give me a walk along the beach?" said he.
She proposed the country behind the town, and that was quite as
much to his taste. But it was not a happy walk. He had decided that
he admired her, and the notion of having Tinman for a rival annoyed
him. He overflowed with ridicule of Tinman, and this was distressing
to Annette, because not only did she see that he would not control
himself before her father, but he kindled her own satirical spirit in
opposition to her father's friendly sentiments toward his old
"Mr. Tinman has been extremely hospitable to us," she said, a
"May I ask you, has he consented to receive instruction in
deportment and pronunciation?"
Annette did not answer.
"If practice makes perfect, he must be near the mark by this time."
She continued silent.
"I dare say, in domestic life, he's as amiable as he is hospitable,
and it must be a daily gratification to see him in his Court suit."
"I have not seen him in his Court suit."
"That is his coyness."
"People talk of those things."
"The common people scandalize the great, about whom they know
nothing, you mean! I am sure that is true, and living in Courts one
must be keenly aware of it. But what a splendid sky and-sea!"
"Is it not?"
Annette echoed his false rapture with a candour that melted him.
He was preparing to make up for lost time, when the wild waving of
a parasol down a road to the right, coming from the town, caused
Annette to stop and say, "I think that must be Mrs. Cavely. We ought
to meet her."
Fellingham asked why.
"She is so fond of walks," Anisette replied, with a tooth on her
Fellingham thought she seemed fond of runs.
Mrs. Cavely joined them, breathless. "My dear! the pace you go
at!" she shouted. "I saw you starting. I followed, I ran, I tore
along. I feared I never should catch you. And to lose such a morning
of English scenery!
"Is it not heavenly?"
"One can't say more," Fellingham observed, bowing.
"I am sure I am very glad to see you again, sir. You enjoy
"Once visited, always desired, like Venice, ma'am. May I venture
to inquire whether Mr. Tinman has presented his Address?"
"The day after to-morrow. The appointment is made with him," said
Mrs. Cavely, more officially in manner, "for the day after to-morrow.
He is excited, as you may well believe. But Mr. Smith is an immense
relief to him—the very distraction he wanted. We have become one
family, you know."
"Indeed, ma'am, I did not know it," said Fellingham.
The communication imparted such satiric venom to his further
remarks, that Annette resolved to break her walk and dismiss him for
He called at the house on the beach after the dinner-hour, to see
Mr. Van Diemen Smith, when there was literally a duel between him and
Tinman; for Van Diemen's contribution to the table was champagne, and
that had been drunk, but Tinman's sherry remained. Tinman would
insist on Fellingham's taking a glass. Fellingham parried him with a
sedate gravity of irony that was painfully perceptible to Anisette.
Van Diemen at last backed Tinman's hospitable intent, and, to
Fellingham's astonishment, he found that he had been supposed by these
two men to be bashfully retreating from a seductive offer all the time
that his tricks of fence and transpiercings of one of them had been
marvels of skill.
Tinman pushed the glass into his hand.
"You have spilt some," said Fellingham.
"It won't hurt the carpet," said Tinman.
"Won't it?" Fellingham gazed at the carpet, as if expecting a flame
He then related the tale of the magnanimous Alexander drinking off
the potion, in scorn of the slanderer, to show faith in his friend.
"Alexander—Who was that?" said Tinman, foiled in his historical
recollections by the absence of the surname.
"General Alexander," said Fellingham. "Alexander Philipson, or he
declared it was Joveson; and very fond of wine. But his sherry did
for him at last."
"Ah! he drank too much, then," said Tinman.
"Of his own!"
Anisette admonished the vindictive young gentleman by saying, "How
long do you stay in Crikswich, Mr. Fellingham?"
He had grossly misconducted himself. But an adversary at once
offensive and helpless provokes brutality. Anisette prudently avoided
letting her father understand that satire was in the air; and neither
he nor Tinman was conscious of it exactly: yet both shrank within
themselves under the sensation of a devilish blast blowing.
Fellingham accompanied them and certain jurats to London next day.
Yes, if you like: when a mayor visits Majesty, it is an important
circumstance, and you are at liberty to argue at length that it means
more than a desire on his part to show his writing power and his
reading power: it is full of comfort the people, as an exhibition of
their majesty likewise; and it is an encouragement to men to strive to
become mayors, bailiffs, or prime men of any sort; but a stress in the
reporting of it—the making it appear too important a
circumstance—will surely breathe the intimation to a
politically-minded people that satire is in the air, and however
dearly they cherish the privilege of knocking at the first door of the
kingdom, and walking ceremoniously in to read their writings, they
will, if they are not in one of their moods for prostration, laugh.
They will laugh at the report.
All the greater reason is it that we should not indulge them at
such periods; and I say woe's me for any brother of the pen, and one
in some esteem, who dressed the report of that presentation of the
Address of congratulation by Mr. Bailiff Tinman, of Crikswich!
Herbert Fellingham wreaked his personal spite on Tinman. He should
have bethought him that it involved another than Tinman that is to
say, an office—which the fitful beast rejoices to paw and play with
contemptuously now and then, one may think, as a solace to his pride,
and an indemnification for those caprices of abject worship so
strongly recalling the days we see through Mr. Darwin's glasses.
He should not have written the report. It sent a titter over
England. He was so unwise as to despatch a copy of the newspaper
containing it to Van Diemen Smith. Van Diemen perused it with
satisfaction. So did Tinman. Both of these praised the able young
writer. But they handed the paper to the Coastguard Lieutenant, who
asked Tinman how he liked it; and visitors were beginning to drop in
to Crikswich, who made a point of asking for a sight of the chief man;
and then came a comic publication, all in the Republican tone of the
time, with Man's Dignity for the standpoint, and the wheezy laughter
residing in old puns to back it, in eulogy of the satiric report of
the famous Address of congratulation of the Bailiff of Crikswich.
"Annette," Van Diemen said to his daughter, "you'll not encourage
that newspaper fellow to come down here any more. He had his
One of the most difficult lessons for spirited young men to learn
is, that good jokes are not always good policy. They have to be paid
for, like good dinners, though dinner and joke shall seem to have been
at somebody else's expense. Young Fellingham was treated rudely by
Van Diemen Smith, and with some cold reserve by Annette: in
consequence of which he thought her more than ever commonplace. He
wrote her a letter of playful remonstrance, followed by one that
appealed to her sentiments.
But she replied to neither of them. So his visits to Crikswich
came to an end.
Shall a girl who has no appreciation of fun affect us? Her
expressive eyes, and her quaint simplicity, and her enthusiasm for
England, haunted Mr. Fellingham; being conjured up by contrast with
what he met about him. But shall a girl who would impose upon us the
task of holding in our laughter at Tinman be much regretted? There
could be no companionship between us, Fellingham thought.
On an excursion to the English Lakes he saw the name of Van Diemen
Smith in a visitors' book, and changed his ideas on the subject of
companionship. Among mountains, or on the sea, or reading history,
Annette was one in a thousand. He happened to be at a public ball at
Helmstone in the Winter season, and who but Annette herself came
whirling before him on the arm of an officer! Fellingham did not miss
his chance of talking to her. She greeted him gaily, and speaking
with the excitement of the dance upon her, appeared a stranger to the
serious emotions he was willing to cherish. She had been to the Lakes
and to Scotland. Next summer she was going to Wales. All her
experiences were delicious. She was insatiable, but satisfied.
"I wish I had been with you," said Fellingham.
"I wish you had," said she.
Mrs. Cavely was her chaperon at the ball, and he was not permitted
to enjoy a lengthened conversation sitting with Annette. What was he
to think of a girl who could be submissive to Mrs. Cavely, and danced
with any number of officers, and had no idea save of running
incessantly over England in the pursuit of pleasure? Her tone of
saying, "I wish you had," was that of the most ordinary of wishes,
distinctly, if not designedly different from his own melodious depth.
She granted him one waltz, and he talked of her father and his
whimsical vagrancies and feeling he had a positive liking for Van
Diemen, and he sagaciously said so.
Annette's eyes brightened. "Then why do you never go to see him?
He has bought Elba. We move into the Hall after Christmas. We are
at the Crouch at present. Papa will be sure to make you welcome. Do
you not know that he never forgets a friend or breaks a friendship?"
"I do, and I love him for it," said Fellingham.
If he was not greatly mistaken a gentle pressure on the fingers of
his left hand rewarded him.
This determined him. It should here be observed that he was by
birth the superior of Annette's parentage, and such is the sentiment
of a better blood that the flattery of her warm touch was needed for
him to overlook the distinction.
Two of his visits to Crikswich resulted simply in interviews and
conversations with Mrs. Crickledon. Van Diemen and his daughter were
in London with Tinman and Mrs. Cavely, purchasing furniture for Elba
Hall. Mrs. Crickledon had no scruple in saying, that Mrs. Cavely meant
her brother to inhabit the Hall, though Mr. Smith had outbid him in
the purchase. According to her, Tinman and Mr. Smith had their
differences; for Mr. Smith was a very outspoken gentleman, and had
been known to call Tinman names that no man of spirit would bear if he
was not scheming.
Fellingham returned to London, where he roamed the streets famous
for furniture warehouses, in the vain hope of encountering the new
owner of Elba.
Failing in this endeavour, he wrote a love-letter to Annette.
It was her first. She had liked him. Her manner of thinking she
might love him was through the reflection that no one stood in the
way. The letter opened a world to her, broader than Great Britain.
Fellingham begged her, if she thought favourably of him, to prepare
her father for the purport of his visit. If otherwise, she was to
interdict the visit with as little delay as possible and cut him
A decided line of conduct was imperative. Yet you have seen that
she was not in love. She was only not unwilling to be in love. And
Fellingham was just a trifle warmed. Now mark what events will do to
light the fires.
Van Diemen and Tinman, old chums re-united, and both successful in
life, had nevertheless, as Mrs. Crickledon said, their differences.
They commenced with an opposition to Tinman's views regarding the
expenditure of town moneys. Tinman was ever for devoting them to the
patriotic defence of "our shores;" whereas Van Diemen, pointing in
detestation of the town sewerage reeking across the common under the
beach, loudly called on him to preserve our lives, by way of
commencement. Then Van Diemen precipitately purchased Elba at a high
valuation, and Tinman had expected by waiting to buy it at his own
valuation, and sell it out of friendly consideration to his friend
afterwards, for a friendly consideration. Van Diemen had joined the
hunt. Tinman could not mount a horse. They had not quarrelled, but
they had snapped about these and other affairs. Van Diemen fancied
Tinman was jealous of his wealth. Tinman shrewdly suspected Van Diemen
to be contemptuous of his dignity. He suffered a loss in a loan of
money; and instead of pitying him, Van Diemen had laughed him to scorn
for expecting security for investments at ten per cent. The
bitterness of the pinch to Tinman made him frightfully sensitive to
strictures on his discretion. In his anguish he told his sister he
was ruined, and she advised him to marry before the crash. She was
aware that he exaggerated, but she repeated her advice. She went so
far as to name the person. This is known, because she was overheard
by her housemaid, a gossip of Mrs. Crickledon's, the subsequently
famous "Little Jane."
Now, Annette had shyly intimated to her father the nature of
Herbert Fellingham's letter, at the same time professing a perfect
readiness to submit to his directions; and her father's perplexity was
very great, for Annette had rather fervently dramatized the young
man's words at the ball at Helmstone, which had pleasantly tickled
him, and, besides, he liked the young man. On the other hand, he did
not at all like the prospect of losing his daughter; and he would have
desired her to be a lady of title. He hinted at her right to claim a
high position. Annette shrank from the prospect, saying, "Never let
me marry one who might be ashamed of my father!"
"I shouldn't stomach that," said Van Diemen, more disposed in
favour of the present suitor.
Annette was now in a tremor. She had a lover; he was coming. And
if he did not come, did it matter? Not so very much, except to her
pride. And if he did, what was she to say to him? She felt like an
actress who may in a few minutes be called on the stage, without
knowing her part. This was painfully unlike love, and the poor girl
feared it would be her conscientious duty to dismiss him—most gently,
of course; and perhaps, should he be impetuous and picturesque, relent
enough to let him hope, and so bring about a happy postponement of the
question. Her father had been to a neighbouring town on business with
Mr. Tinman. He knocked at her door at midnight; and she, in dread of
she knew not what—chiefly that the Hour of the Scene had somehow
struck—stepped out to him trembling. He was alone. She thought
herself the most childish of mortals in supposing that she could have
been summoned at midnight to declare her sentiments, and hardly
noticed his gloomy depression. He asked her to give him five minutes;
then asked her for a kiss, and told her to go to bed and sleep. But
Annette had seen that a great present affliction was on him, and she
would not be sent to sleep. She promised to listen patiently, to bear
anything, to be brave. "Is it bad news from home?" she said, speaking
of the old home where she had not left her heart, and where his money
"It's this, my dear Netty," said Van Diemen, suffering her to lead
him into her sitting-room; "we shall have to leave the shores of
"Then we are ruined."
"We're not; the rascal can't do that. We might be off to the
Continent, or we might go to America; we've money. But we can't stay
here. I'll not live at any man's mercy."
"The Continent! America!" exclaimed the enthusiast for England.
"Oh, papa, you love living in England so!"
"Not so much as all that, my dear. You do, that I know. But I
don't see how it's to be managed. Mart Tinman and I have been at
tooth and claw to-day and half the night; and he has thrown off the
mask, or he's dashed something from my sight, I don't know which. I
knocked him down."
"I picked him up."
"Oh," cried Annette, "has Mr. Tinman been hurt?"
"He called me a Deserter!"
She did not know what this thing was, but the name of it opened a
cabinet of horrors, and she touched her father timidly, to assure him
of her constant love, and a little to reassure herself of his
"And I am one," Van Diemen made the confession at the pitch of his
voice. "I am a Deserter; I'm liable to be branded on the back. And
it's in Mart Tinman's power to have me marched away to-morrow morning
in the sight of Crikswich, and all I can say for myself, as a man and
a Briton, is, I did not desert before the enemy. That I swear I never
would have done. Death, if death's in front; but your poor mother was
a handsome woman, my child, and there—I could not go on living in
barracks and leaving her unprotected. I can't tell a young woman the
tale. A hundred pounds came on me for a legacy, as plump in my hands
out of open heaven, and your poor mother and I saw our chance; we
consulted, and we determined to risk it, and I got on board with her
and you, and over the seas we went, first to shipwreck, ultimately to
Van Diemen laughed miserably. "They noticed in the hunting-field
here I had a soldier-like seat. A soldier-like seat it'll be, with a
brand on it. I sha'n't be asked to take a soldier-like seat at any of
their tables again. I may at Mart Tinman's, out of pity, after I've
undergone my punishment. There's a year still to run out of the
twenty of my term of service due. He knows it; he's been reckoning;
he has me. But the worst cat-o'-nine-tails for me is the disgrace.
To have myself pointed at, 'There goes the Deserter' He was a
private in the Carbineers, and he deserted.' No one'll say, 'Ay, but
he clung to the idea of his old schoolmate when abroad, and came back
loving him, and trusted him, and was deceived."
Van Diemen produced a spasmodic cough with a blow on his chest.
Anisette was weeping.
"There, now go to bed," said he. "I wish you might have known no
more than you did of our flight when I got you on board the ship with
your poor mother; but you're a young woman now, and you must help me
to think of another cut and run, and what baggage we can scrape
together in a jiffy, for I won't live here at Mart Tinman's mercy."
Drying her eyes to weep again, Annette said, when she could speak:
"Will nothing quiet him? I was going to bother you with all sorts of
silly questions, poor dear papa; but I see I can understand if I try.
Will nothing—Is he so very angry? Can we not do something to pacify
him? He is fond of money. He—oh, the thought of leaving England!
Papa, it will kill you; you set your whole heart on England. We
could—I could—could I not, do you not think?—step between you as a
peacemaker. Mr. Tinman is always very courteous to me."
At these words of Annette's, Van Diemen burst into a short snap of
savage laughter. "But that's far away in the background, Mr. Mart
Tinman!" he said. "You stick to your game, I know that; but you'll
find me flown, though I leave a name to stink like your common behind
me. And," he added, as a chill reminder, "that name the name of my
benefactor. Poor old Van Diemen! He thought it a safe bequest to
"It was; it is! We will stay; we will not be exiled," said
Annette. "I will do anything. What was the quarrel about, papa?"
"The fact is, my dear, I just wanted to show him—and take down his
pride—I'm by my Australian education a shrewder hand than his old
country. I bought the house on the beach while he was chaffering, and
then I sold it him at a rise when the town was looking up—only to
make him see. Then he burst up about something I said of Australia.
I will have the common clean. Let him live at the Crouch as my
tenant if he finds the house on the beach in danger."
"Papa, I am sure," Annette repeated—"sure I have influence with
"There are those lips of yours shutting tight," said her father.
"Just listen, and they make a big O. The donkey! He owns you've got
influence, and he offers he'll be silent if you'll pledge your word to
marry him. I'm not sure he didn't say, within the year. I told him
to look sharp not to be knocked down again. Mart Tinman for my
son-in-law! That's an upside down of my expectations, as good as being
at the antipodes without a second voyage back! I let him know you
Annette gazed at her father open-mouthed, as he had predicted; now
with a little chilly dimple at one corner of the mouth, now at
another—as a breeze curves the leaden winter lake here and there.
She could not get his meaning into her sight, and she sought, by
looking hard, to understand it better; much as when some solitary
maiden lady, passing into her bedchamber in the hours of darkness,
beholds—tradition telling us she has absolutely beheld foot of
burglar under bed; and lo! she stares, and, cunningly to moderate her
horror, doubts, yet cannot but believe that there is a leg, and a
trunk, and a head, and two terrible arms, bearing pistols, to follow.
Sick, she palpitates; she compresses her trepidation; she coughs,
perchance she sings a bar or two of an aria. Glancing down again,
thrice horrible to her is it to discover that there is no foot! For
had it remained, it might have been imagined a harmless, empty boot.
But the withdrawal has a deadly significance of animal life . . .
In like manner our stricken Annette perceived the object; so did
she gradually apprehend the fact of her being asked for Tinman's
bride, and she could not think it credible. She half scented, she
devised her plan of escape from another single mention of it. But on
her father's remarking, with a shuffle, frightened by her countenance,
"Don't listen to what I said, Netty. I won't paint him blacker than
he is"—then Annette was sure she had been proposed for by Mr. Tinman,
and she fancied her father might have revolved it in his mind that
there was this means of keeping Tinman silent, silent for ever, in his
"It was not true, when you told Mr. Tinman I was engaged, papa,"
"No, I know that. Mart Tinman only half-kind of hinted. Come, I
say! Where's the unmarried man wouldn't like to have a girl like you,
Netty! They say he's been rejected all round a circuit of fifteen
miles; and he's not bad-looking, neither—he looks fresh and fair.
But I thought it as well to let him know he might get me at a
disadvantage, but he couldn't you. Now, don't think about it, my
"Not if it is not necessary, papa," said Annette; and employed her
familiar sweetness in persuading him to go to bed, as though he were
the afflicted one requiring to be petted.
Round under the cliffs by the sea, facing South, are warm seats in
winter. The sun that shines there on a day of frost wraps you as in a
mantle. Here it was that Mr. Herbert Fellingham found Annette, a
chalk- block for her chair, and a mound of chalk-rubble defending her
from the keen-tipped breath of the east, now and then shadowing the
smooth blue water, faintly, like reflections of a flight of gulls.
Infants are said to have their ideas, and why not young ladies?
Those who write of their perplexities in descriptions comical in
their length are unkind to them, by making them appear the simplest of
the creatures of fiction; and most of us, I am sure, would incline to
believe in them if they were only some bit more lightly touched.
Those troubled sentiments of our young lady of the comfortable
classes are quite worthy of mention. Her poor little eye poring as
little fishlike as possible upon the intricate, which she takes for
the infinite, has its place in our history, nor should we any of us
miss the pathos of it were it not that so large a space is claimed for
the exposure. As it is, one has almost to fight a battle to persuade
the world that she has downright thoughts and feelings, and really a
superhuman delicacy is required in presenting her that she may be
credible. Even then—so much being accomplished the thousands
accustomed to chapters of her when she is in the situation of Annette
will be disappointed by short sentences, just as of old the
Continental eater of oysters would have been offended at the offer of
an exchange of two live for two dozen dead ones. Annette was in the
grand crucial position of English imaginative prose. I recognize it,
and that to this the streamlets flow, thence pours the flood. But
what was the plain truth? She had brought herself to think she ought
to sacrifice herself to Tinman, and her evasions with Herbert,
manifested in tricks of coldness alternating with tones of regret,
ended, as they had commenced, in a mysterious half-sullenness. She
had hardly a word to say. Let me step in again to observe that she
had at the moment no pointed intention of marrying Tinman. To her
mind the circumstances compelled her to embark on the idea of doing
so, and she saw the extremity in an extreme distance, as those who are
taking voyages may see death by drowning. Still she had embarked.
"At all events, I have your word for it that you don't dislike me?"
"Oh! no," she sighed. She liked him as emigrants the land they are
"And you have not promised your hand?"
"No," she said, but sighed in thinking that if she could be induced
to promise it, there would not be a word of leaving England.
"Then, as you are not engaged, and don't hate me, I have a chance?"
he said, in the semi-wailful interrogative of an organ making a mere
Ocean sent up a tiny wave at their feet.
"A day like this in winter is rarer than a summer day," Herbert
Annette was replying, "People abuse our climate—"
But the thought of having to go out away from this climate in the
darkness of exile, with her father to suffer under it worse than
herself, overwhelmed her, and fetched the reality of her sorrow in the
form of Tinman swimming before her soul with the velocity of a
telegraph-pole to the window of the flying train. It was past as soon
as seen, but it gave her a desperate sensation of speed.
She began to feel that this was life in earnest.
And Herbert should have been more resolute, fierier. She needed a
But he was not on the rapids of the masterful passion. For though
going at a certain pace, it was by his own impulsion; and I am afraid
I must, with many apologies, compare him to the skater—to the skater
on easy, slippery ice, be it understood; but he could perform
gyrations as he went, and he rather sailed along than dashed; he was
careful of his figuring. Some lovers, right honest lovers, never get
beyond this quaint skating-stage; and some ladies, a right goodly
number in a foggy climate, deceived by their occasional runs ahead,
take them for vessels on the very torrent of love. Let them take
them, and let the race continue. Only we perceive that they are
skating; they are careering over a smooth icy floor, and they can stop
at a signal, with just half-a-yard of grating on the heel at the
outside. Ice, and not fire nor falling water, has been their medium
Whether a man should unveil his own sex is quite another question.
If we are detected, not solely are we done for, but our love-tales
too. However, there is not much ground for anxiety on that head. Each
member of the other party is blind on her own account.
To Annette the figuring of Herbert was graceful, but it did not
catch her up and carry her; it hardly touched her: He spoke well
enough to make her sorry for him, and not warmly enough to make her
forget her sorrow for herself.
Herbert could obtain no explanation of the singularity of her
conduct from Annette, and he went straight to her father, who was
nearly as inexplicable for a time. At last he said:
"If you are ready to quit the country with us, you may have my
"Why quit the country?" Herbert asked, in natural amazement.
Van Diemen declined to tell him.
But seeing the young man look stupefied and wretched he took a turn
about the room, and said: "I have n't robbed," and after more turns,
"I have n't murdered." He growled in his menagerie trot within the
four walls. "But I'm, in a man's power. Will that satisfy you?
You'll tell me, because I'm rich, to snap my fingers. I can't. I've
got feelings. I'm in his power to hurt me and disgrace me. It's the
disgrace—to my disgrace I say it—I dread most. You'd be up to my
reason if you had ever served in a regiment. I mean, discipline—if
ever you'd known discipline—in the police if you
like—anything—anywhere where there's what we used to call spiny de
cor. I mean, at school. And I'm," said Van Diemen, "a rank idiot
double D. dolt, and flat as a pancake, and transparent as a pane of
glass. You see through me. Anybody could. I can't talk of my
botheration without betraying myself. What good am I among you sharp
fellows in England?"
Language of this kind, by virtue of its unintelligibility, set Mr.
Herbert Fellingham's acute speculations at work. He was obliged to
lean on Van Diemen's assertion, that he had not robbed and had not
murdered, to be comforted by the belief that he was not once a
notorious bushranger, or a defaulting manager of mines, or any other
thing that is naughtily Australian and kangarooly.
He sat at the dinner-table at Elba, eating like the rest of
mankind, and looking like a starved beggarman all the while.
Annette, in pity of his bewilderment, would have had her father
take him into their confidence. She suggested it covertly, and next
she spoke of it to him as a prudent measure, seeing that Mr.
Fellingham might find out his exact degree of liability. Van Diemen
shouted; he betrayed himself in his weakness as she could not have
imagined him. He was ready to go, he said—go on the spot, give up
Elba, fly from Old England: what he could not do was to let his
countrymen know what he was, and live among them afterwards. He
declared that the fact had eternally been present to his mind,
devouring him; and Annette remembered his kindness to the artillerymen
posted along the shore westward of Crikswich, though she could recall
no sign of remorse. Van Diemen said: "We have to do with Martin
Tinman; that's one who has a hold on me, and one's enough. Leak out
my secret to a second fellow, you double my risks." He would not be
taught to see how the second might counteract the first. The
singularity of the action of his character on her position was, that
though she knew not a soul to whom she could unburden her
wretchedness, and stood far more isolated than in her Australian home,
fever and chill struck her blood in contemplation of the necessity of
Deep, then, was her gratitude to dear good Mrs. Cavely for stepping
in to mediate between her father and Mr. Tinman. And well might she
be amazed to hear the origin of their recent dispute.
"It was," Mrs. Cavely said, "that Gippsland."
Annette cried: "What?"
"That Gippsland of yours, my dear. Your father will praise
Gippsland whenever my Martin asks him to admire the beauties of our
neighbourhood. Many a time has Martin come home to me complaining of
it. We have no doubt on earth that Gippsland is a very fine place;
but my brother has his idea's of dignity, you must know, and I only
wish he had been more used to contradiction, you may believe me. He
is a lamb by nature. And, as he says, 'Why underrate one's own
country?' He cannot bear to hear boasting. Well! I put it to you,
dear Annette, is he so unimportant a person? He asks to be respected,
and especially by his dearest friend. From that to blows! It's the
way with men. They begin about trifles, they drink, they quarrel, and
one does what he is sorry for, and one says more than he means. All
my Martin desires is to shake your dear father's hand, forgive and
forget. To win your esteem, darling Annette, he would humble himself
in the dust. Will you not help me to bring these two dear old friends
together once more? It is unreasonable of your dear papa to go on
boasting of Gippsland if he is so fond of England, now is it not? My
brother is the offended party in the eye of the law. That is quite
certain. Do you suppose he dreams of taking advantage of it? He is
waiting at home to be told he may call on your father. Rank, dignity,
wounded feelings, is nothing to him in comparison with friendship."
Annette thought of the blow which had felled him, and spoke the
truth of her heart in saying, "He is very generous."
"You understand him." Mrs. Cavely pressed her hand. "We will both
go to your dear father. He may," she added, not without a gleam of
feminine archness, "praise Gippsland above the Himalayas to me. What
my Martin so much objected to was, the speaking of Gippsland at all
when there was mention of our Lake scenery. As for me, I know how men
love to boast of things nobody else has seen."
The two ladies went in company to Van Diemen, who allowed himself
to be melted. He was reserved nevertheless. His reception of Mr.
Tinman displeased his daughter. Annette attached the blackest
importance to a blow of the fist. In her mind it blazed fiendlike,
and the man who forgave it rose a step or two on the sublime.
Especially did he do so considering that he had it in his power to
dismiss her father and herself from bright beaming England before she
had looked on all the cathedrals and churches, the sea-shores and
spots named in printed poetry, to say nothing of the nobility.
"Papa, you were not so kind to Mr. Tinman as I could have hoped,"
"Mart Tinman has me at his mercy, and he'll make me know it," her
father returned gloomily. "He may let me off with the
Commander-in-chief. He'll blast my reputation some day, though. I
shall be hanging my head in society, through him."
Van Diemen imitated the disconsolate appearance of a gallows body,
in one of those rapid flashes of spontaneous veri-similitude which
spring of an inborn horror painting itself on the outside.
"A Deserter!" he moaned.
He succeeded in impressing the terrible nature of the stigma upon
The guest at Elba was busy in adding up the sum of his own
impressions, and dividing it by this and that new circumstance; for he
was totally in the dark. He was attracted by the mysterious interview
of Mrs. Cavely and Annette. Tinman's calling and departing set him
upon new calculations. Annette grew cold and visibly distressed by
her consciousness of it.
She endeavoured to account for this variation of mood. "We have
been invited to dine at the house on the beach to-morrow. I would not
have accepted, but papa . . . we seemed to think it a duty. Of
course the invitation extends to you. We fancy you do not greatly
enjoy dining there. The table will be laid for you here, if you
Herbert preferred to try the skill of Mrs. Crickledon.
Now, for positive penetration the head prepossessed by a suspicion
is unmatched; for where there is no daylight; this one at least goes
about with a lantern. Herbert begged Mrs. Crickledon to cook a dinner
for him, and then to give the right colour to his absence from the
table of Mr. Tinman, he started for a winter day's walk over the downs
as sharpening a business as any young fellow, blunt or keen, may
undertake; excellent for men of the pen, whether they be creative, and
produce, or slaughtering, and review; good, then, for the silly sheep
of letters and the butchers. He sat down to Mrs. Crickledon's table at
half-past six. She was, as she had previously informed him, a
forty-pound-a-year cook at the period of her courting by Crickledon.
That zealous and devoted husband had made his first excursion inland
to drop over the downs to the great house, and fetch her away as his
bride, on the death of her master, Sir Alfred Pooney, who never would
have parted with her in life; and every day of that man's life he
dirtied thirteen plates at dinner, nor more, nor less, but exactly
that number, as if he believed there was luck in it. And as
Crickledon said, it was odd. But it was always a pleasure to cook for
him. Mrs. Crickledon could not abide cooking for a mean eater. And
when Crickledon said he had never seen an acorn, he might have seen
one had he looked about him in the great park, under the oaks, on the
day when he came to be married.
"Then it's a standing compliment to you, Mrs. Crickledon, that he
did not," said Herbert.
He remarked with the sententiousness of enforced philosophy, that
no wine was better than bad wine.
Mrs. Crickledon spoke of a bottle left by her summer lodgers, who
had indeed left two, calling the wine invalid's wine; and she and her
husband had opened one on the anniversary of their marriage day in
October. It had the taste of doctor's shop, they both agreed; and as
no friend of theirs could be tempted beyond a sip, they were advised,
because it was called a tonic, to mix it with the pig-wash, so that it
should not be entirely lost, but benefit the constitution of the pig.
Herbert sipped at the remaining bottle, and finding himself in the
superior society of an old Manzanilla, refilled his glass.
"Nothing I knows of proves the difference between gentlefolks and
poor persons as tastes in wine," said Mrs. Crickledon, admiring him as
she brought in a dish of cutlets,—with Sir Alfred Pooney's favourite
sauce Soubise, wherein rightly onion should be delicate as the idea of
love in maidens' thoughts, albeit constituting the element of flavour.
Something of such a dictum Sir Alfred Pooney had imparted to his
cook, and she repeated it with the fresh elegance of, such sweet
sayings when transfused through the native mind:
"He said, I like as it was what you would call a young gal's blush
at a kiss round a corner."
The epicurean baronet had the habit of talking in that way.
Herbert drank to his memory. He was well-filled; he had no work to
do, and he was exuberant in spirits, as Mrs. Crickledon knew her
countrymen should and would be under those conditions. And suddenly
he drew his hand across a forehead so wrinkled and dark, that Mrs.
Crickledon exclaimed, "Heart or stomach?"
"Oh, no," said he. "I'm sound enough in both, I hope."
That old Tinman's up to one of his games," she observed.
"Do you think so?"
"He's circumventing Miss Annette Smith."
"Pooh! Crickledon. A man of his age can't be seriously thinking
of proposing for a young lady."
He's a well-kept man. He's never racketed. He had n't the rackets
in him. And she may n't care for him. But we hear things drop."
"What things have you heard drop, Crickledon? In a profound
silence you may hear pins; in a hubbub you may hear cannon-balls. But
I never believe in eavesdropping gossip."
"He was heard to say to Mr. Smith," Crickledon pursued, and she
lowered her voice, "he was heard to say, it was when they were
quarreling over that chiwal, and they went at one another pretty hard
before Mr. Smith beat him and he sold Mr. Smith that meadow; he was
heard to say, there was worse than transportation for Mr. Smith if he
but lifted his finger. They Tinmans have awful tempers. His old
mother died malignant, though she was a saving woman, and never owed a
penny to a Christian a hour longer than it took to pay the money. And
old Tinman's just such another."
"Transportation!" Herbert ejaculated, "that's sheer nonsense,
Crickledon. I'm sure your husband would tell you so."
"It was my husband brought me the words," Mrs. Crickledon rejoined
with some triumph. "He did tell me, I own, to keep it shut: but my
speaking to you, a friend of Mr. Smith's, won't do no harm. He heard
them under the battery, over that chiwal glass: 'And you shall pay,'
says Mr. Smith, and 'I sha'n't,' says old Tinman. Mr. Smith said he
would have it if he had to squeeze a deathbed confession from a
sinner. Then old Tinman fires out, 'You!' he says, 'you' and he
stammered. 'Mr. Smith,' my husband said and you never saw a man so
shocked as my husband at being obliged to hear them at one another Mr.
Smith used the word damn. 'You may laugh, sir.'"
"You say it so capitally, Crickledon."
"And then old Tinman said, 'And a D. to you; and if I lift my
finger, it's Big D. on your back."
"And what did Mr. Smith say, then?"
"He said, like a man shot, my husband says he said, 'My God!'"
Herbert Fellingham jumped away from the table.
"You tell me, Crickledon, your husband actually heard that—just
those words?—the tones?"
"My husband says he heard him say, 'My God!' just like a poor man
shot or stabbed. You may speak to Crickledon, if you speaks to him
alone, sir. I say you ought to know. For I've noticed Mr. Smith since
that day has never looked to me the same easy-minded happy gentleman
he was when we first knew him. He would have had me go to cook for
him at Elba, but Crickledon thought I'd better be independent, and Mr.
Smith said to me, 'Perhaps you're right, Crickledon, for who knows how
long I may be among you?'"
Herbert took the solace of tobacco in Crickledon's shop. Thence,
with the story confirmed to him, he sauntered toward the house on the
The moon was over sea. Coasting vessels that had run into the bay
for shelter from the North wind lay with their shadows thrown
shoreward on the cold smooth water, almost to the verge of the beach,
where there was neither breath nor sound of wind, only the lisp at the
Mrs. Crickledon's dinner and the state of his heart made young
Fellingham indifferent to a wintry atmosphere. It sufficed him that
the night was fair. He stretched himself on the shingle, thinking of
the Manzanilla, and Annette, and the fine flavour given to tobacco by
a dry still air in moonlight—thinking of his work, too, in the
background, as far as mental lassitude would allow of it. The idea of
taking Annette to see his first play at the theatre when it should be
performed—was very soothing. The beach rather looked like a stage,
and the sea like a ghostly audience, with, if you will, the broadside
bulks of black sailing craft at anchor for representatives of the
newspaper piers. Annette was a nice girl; if a little commonplace and
low-born, yet sweet. What a subject he could make of her father!
"The Deserter" offered a new complication. Fellingham rapidly
sketched it in fancy—Van Diemen, as a Member of the Parliament of
Great Britain, led away from the House of Commons to be branded on the
bank! What a magnificent fall! We have so few intensely dramatic
positions in English real life that the meditative author grew
enamoured of this one, and laughed out a royal "Ha!" like a monarch
reviewing his well-appointed soldiery.
"There you are," said Van Diemen's voice; "I smelt your pipe.
You're a rum fellow, to belying out on the beach on a cold night.
Lord! I don't like you the worse for it. Twas for the romance of
the moon in my young days."
"Where is Annette?" said Fellingham, jumping to his feet.
"My daughter? She 's taking leave of her intended."
"What's that?" Fellingham gasped. "Good heavens, Mr. Smith, what
do you mean?"
"Pick up your pipe, my lad. Girls choose as they please, I
"Her intended, did you say, sir? What can that mean?"
"My dear good young fellow, don't make a fuss. We're all going to
stay here, and very glad to see you from time to time. The fact is, I
oughtn't to have quarrelled with Mart Tinman as I've done; I'm too
peppery by nature. The fact is, I struck him, and he forgave it. I
could n't have done that myself. And I believe I'm in for a headache
to-morrow; upon my soul, I do. Mart Tinman would champagne us; but,
poor old boy, I struck him, and I couldn't make amends—didn't see my
way; and we joined hands over the glass—to the deuce with the
glass!— and the end of it is, Netty—she did n't propose it, but as
I'm in his —I say, as I had struck him, she—it was rather solemn, if
you had seen us—she burst into tears, and there was Mrs. Cavely, and
old Mart, and me as big a fool—if I'm not a villain!"
Fellingham perceived a more than common effect of Tin man's wine.
He touched Van Diemen on the shoulder. "May I beg to hear exactly
what has happened?"
"Upon my soul, we're all going to live comfortably in Old England,
and no more quarreling and decamping," was the stupid rejoinder.
"Except that I did n't exactly—I think you said I exactly'?—I did
n't bargain for old Mart as my—but he's a sound man; Mart's my
junior; he's rich. He's eco . . . he's eco . . . you know—my
Lord! where's my brains?—but he's upright—'nomical!"
"An economical man," said Fellingham, with sedate impatience.
"My dear sir, I'm heartily obliged to you for your assistance,"
returned Van Diemen. "Here she is."
Annette had come out of the gate in the flint wall. She started
slightly on seeing Herbert, whom she had taken for a coastguard, she
said. He bowed. He kept his head bent, peering at her intrusively.
"It's the air on champagne," Van Diemen said, calling on his lungs
to clear themselves and right him. "I was n't a bit queer in the
"The air on Tinman's champagne!" said Fellingham.
"It must be like the contact of two hostile chemical elements."
Annette walked faster.
They descended from the shingle to the scant-bladed grass-sweep
running round the salted town-refuse on toward Elba. Van Diemen
sniffed, ejaculating, "I'll be best man with Mart Tinman about this
business! You'll stop with us, Mr.——what's your Christian name?
Stop with us as long as you like. Old friends for me! The joke of
it is that Nelson was my man, and yet I went and enlisted in the
cavalry. If you talk of chemical substances, old Mart Tinman was a
sneak who never cared a dump for his country; and I'm not to speak a
single sybbarel about that..... over there . . . Australia . . .
Gippsland! So down he went, clean over. Very sorry for what we have
done. Contrite. Penitent."
"Now we feel the wind a little," said Annette.
Fellingham murmured, "Allow me; your shawl is flying loose."
He laid his hands on her arms, and, pressing her in a tremble,
said, "One sign! It's not true? A word! Do you hate me?"
"Thank you very much, but I am not cold," she replied and linked
herself to her father.
Van Diemen immediately shouted, "For we are jolly boys! for we are
jolly boys! It's the air on the champagne. And hang me," said he, as
they entered the grounds of Elba, "if I don't walk over my property."
Annette interposed; she stood like a reed in his way.
"No! my Lord! I'll see what I sold you for!" he cried. "I'm an
owner of the soil of Old England, and care no more for the title of
squire than Napoleon Bonaparty. But I'll tell you what, Mr. Hubbard:
your mother was never so astonished at her dog as old Van Diemen would
be to hear himself called squire in Old England. And a convict he
was, for he did wrong once, but he worked his redemption. And the
smell of my own property makes me feel my legs again. And I'll tell
you what, Mr. Hubbard, as Netty calls you when she speaks of you in
private: Mart Tinman's ideas of wine are pretty much like his ideas of
healthy smells, and when I'm bailiff of Crikswich, mind, he'll find
two to one against him in our town council. I love my country, but
hang me if I don't purify it—"
Saying this, with the excitement of a high resolve a upon him, Van
Diemen bored through a shrubbery-brake, and Fellingham said to
"Have I lost you?"
"I belong to my father," said she, contracting and disengaging her
feminine garments to step after him in the cold silver-spotted dusk of
the winter woods.
Van Diemen came out on a fish-pond.
"Here you are, young ones!" he said to the pair. "This way,
Fellowman. I'm clearer now, and it's my belief I've been talking
nonsense. I'm puffed up with money, and have n't the heart I once
had. I say, Fellowman, Fellowbird, Hubbard—what's your right
name?—fancy an old carp fished out of that pond and flung into the
sea. That's exile! And if the girl don't mind, what does it matter?"
"Mr. Herbert Fellingham, I think, would like to go to bed, papa,"
"Miss Smith must be getting cold," Fellingham hinted.
"Bounce away indoors," replied Van Diemen, and he led them like a
Annette was disinclined to leave them together in the smoking-room,
and under the pretext of wishing to see her father to bed she remained
with them, though there was a novel directness and heat of tone in
Herbert that alarmed her, and with reason. He divined in hideous
outlines what had happened. He was no longer figuring on easy ice,
but desperate at the prospect of a loss to himself, and a fate for
Annette, that tossed him from repulsion to incredulity, and so back.
Van Diemen begged him to light his pipe.
"I'm off to London to-morrow," said Fellingham. "I don't want to
go, for very particular reasons; I may be of more use there. I have a
cousin who's a General officer in the army, and if I have your
permission—you see, anything's better, as it seems to me, than that
you should depend for peace and comfort on one man's tongue not
wagging, especially when he is not the best of tempers if I have your
permission—without mentioning names, of course—I'll consult him."
There was a dead silence.
"You know you may trust me, sir. I love your daughter with all my
heart. Your honour and your interests are mine."
Van Diemen struggled for composure.
"Netty, what have you been at?" he said.
"It is untrue, papa!" she answered the unworded accusation.
"Annette has told me nothing, sir. I have heard it. You must
brace your mind to the fact that it is known. What is known to Mr.
Tinman is pretty sure to be known generally at the next disagreement."
"That scoundrel Mart!" Van Diemen muttered.
"I am positive Mr. Tinman did not speak of you, papa," said
Annette, and turned her eyes from the half-paralyzed figure of her
father on Herbert to put him to proof.
"No, but he made himself heard when it was being discussed. At any
rate, it's known; and the thing to do is to meet it."
"I'm off. I'll not stop a day. I'd rather live on the Continent,"
said Van Diemen, shaking himself, as to prepare for the step into that
"Mr. Tinman has been most generous!" Annette protested tearfully.
"I won't say no: I think you are deceived and lend him your own
generosity," said Herbert. "Can you suppose it generous, that even in
the extremest case, he should speak of the matter to your father, and
talk of denouncing him? He did it."
"He was provoked."
"A gentleman is distinguished by his not allowing himself to be
"I am engaged to him, and I cannot hear it said that he is not a
The first part of her sentence Annette uttered bravely; at the
conclusion she broke down. She wished Herbert to be aware of the
truth, that he might stay his attacks on Mr. Tinman; and she believed
he had only been guessing the circumstances in which her father was
placed; but the comparison between her two suitors forced itself on
her now, when the younger one spoke in a manner so self-contained,
brief, and full of feeling.
She had to leave the room weeping.
"Has your daughter engaged herself, sir?" said Herbert,
"Talk to me to-morrow; don't give us up if she has we were trapped,
it's my opinion," said Van Diemen. "There's the devil in that wine
of—Mart Tinman's. I feel it still, and in the morning it'll be
worse. What can she see in him? I must quit the country; carry her
off. How he did it, I don't know. It was that woman, the widow, the
fellow's sister. She talked till she piped her eye—talked about our
lasting union. On my soul, I believe I egged Netty on! I was in a
mollified way with that wine; all of a sudden the woman joins their
hands! And I—a man of spirit will despise me!—what I thought of
was, "now my secret's safe! You've sobered me, young sir. I see
myself, if that's being sober. I don't ask your opinion of me; I am a
deserter, false to my colours, a breaker of his oath. Only mark this:
I was married, and a common trooper, married to a handsome young
woman, true as steel; but she was handsome, and we were starvation
poor, and she had to endure persecution from an officer day by day.
Bear that situation in your mind. . . . Providence dropped me a
hundred pounds out of the sky. Properly speaking, it popped up out of
the earth, for I reaped it, you may say, from a relative's grave.
Rich and poor 's all right, if I'm rich and you're poor; and you may
be happy though you're poor; but where there are many poor young
women, lots of rich men are a terrible temptation to them. That's my
dear good wife speaking, and had she been spared to me I never should
have come back to Old England, and heart's delight and heartache I
should not have known. She was my backbone, she was my
breast-comforter too. Why did she stick to me? Because I had faith
in her when appearances were against her. But she never forgave this
country the hurt to her woman's pride. You'll have noticed a squarish
jaw in Netty. That's her mother. And I shall have to encounter it,
supposing I find Mart Tinman has been playing me false. I'm blown on
somehow. I'll think of what course I'll take 'twixt now and morning.
Good night, young gentleman."
"Good night; sir," said Herbert, adding, "I will get information
from the Horse Guards; as for the people knowing it about here, you're
not living much in society—"
"It's not other people's feelings, it's my own," Van Diemen
silenced him. "I feel it, if it's in the wind; ever since Mart Tinman
spoke the thing out, I've felt on my skin cold and hot."
He flourished his lighted candle and went to bed, manifestly
solaced by the idea that he was the victim of his own feelings.
Herbert could not sleep. Annette's monstrous choice of Tinman in
preference to himself constantly assailed and shook his understanding.
There was the "squarish jaw" mentioned by her father to think of. It
filled him with a vague apprehension, but he was unable to imagine
that a young girl, and an English girl, and an enthusiastic young
English girl, could be devoid of sentiment; and presuming her to have
it, as one must, there was no fear, that she would persist in her
loathsome choice when she knew her father was against it.
Annette did not shun him next morning. She did not shun the
subject, either. But she had been exact in arranging that she should
not be more than a few minutes downstairs before her father. Herbert
found, that compared with her, girls of sentiment are commonplace
indeed. She had conceived an insane idea of nobility in Tinman that
blinded her to his face, figure, and character—his manners, likewise.
He had forgiven a blow!
Silly as the delusion might be, it clothed her in whimsical
It was a beauty in her to dwell so firmly upon moral quality.
Overthrown and stunned as he was, and reduced to helplessness by her
brief and positive replies, Herbert was obliged to admire the singular
young lady, who spoke, without much shyness, of her incongruous,
destined mate though his admiration had an edge cutting like irony.
While in the turn for candour, she ought to have told him, that
previous to her decision she had weighed the case of the diverse
claims of himself and Tinman, and resolved them according to her
predilection for the peaceful residence of her father and herself in
England. This she had done a little regretfully, because of the
natural sympathy of the young girl for the younger man. But the
younger man had seemed to her seriously- straightforward mind too
light and airy in his wooing, like one of her waltzing officers—very
well so long as she stepped the measure with him, and not forcible
enough to take her off her feet. He had changed, and now that he had
become persuasive, she feared he would disturb the serenity with which
she desired and strove to contemplate her decision. Tinman's
magnanimity was present in her imagination to sustain her, though she
was aware that Mrs. Cavely had surprised her will, and caused it to
surrender unconsulted by her wiser intelligence.
"I cannot listen to you," she said to Herbert, after listening
longer than was prudent. "If what you say of papa is true, I do not
think he will remain in Crikswich, or even in England. But I am sure
the old friend we used, to speak of so much in Australia has not
wilfully betrayed him."
Herbert would have had to say, "Look on us two!" to proceed in his
baffled wooing; and the very ludicrousness of the contrast led him to
see the folly and shame of proposing it.
Van Diemen came down to breakfast looking haggard and restless. "I
have 'nt had my morning's walk—I can't go out to be hooted," he said,
calling to his daughter for tea, and strong tea; and explaining to
Herbert that he knew it to be bad for the nerves, but it was an
antidote to bad champagne.
Mr. Herbert Fellingham had previously received an invitation on
behalf of a sister of his to Crikswich. A dull sense of genuine
sagacity inspired him to remind Annette of it. She wrote prettily to
Miss Mary Fellingham, and Herbert had some faint joy in carrying away
the letter of her handwriting.
"Fetch her soon, for we sha'n't be here long," Van Diemen said to
him at parting. He expressed a certain dread of his next meeting with
Herbert speedily brought Mary Fellingham to Elba, and left her
there. The situation was apparently unaltered. Van Diemen looked
worn, like a man who has been feeding mainly on his reflections, which
was manifest in his few melancholy bits of speech. He said to
Herbert: "How you feel a thing when you are found out!" and, "It
doesn't do for a man with a heart to do wrong!" He designated the two
principal roads by which poor sinners come to a conscience. His own
would have slumbered but for discovery; and, as he remarked, if it had
not been for his heart leading him to Tinman, he would not have fallen
into that man's power.
The arrival of a young lady of fashionable appearance at Elba was
matter of cogitation to Mrs. Cavely. She was disposed to suspect that
it meant something, and Van Diemen's behaviour to her brother would of
itself have fortified any suspicion. He did not call at the house on
the beach, he did not invite Martin to dinner, he was rarely seen, and
when he appeared at the Town Council he once or twice violently
opposed his friend Martin, who came home ruffled, deeply offended in
his interests and his dignity.
"Have you noticed any difference in Annette's treatment of you,
dear?" Mrs. Cavely inquired.
"No," said Tinman; "none. She shakes hands. She asks after my
health. She offers me my cup of tea."
"I have seen all that. But does she avoid privacy with you?"
"Dear me, no! Why should she? I hope, Martha, I am a man who may
be confided in by any young lady in England."
"I am sure you may, dear Martin."
"She has an objection to name the . . . the day," said Martin.
"I have informed her that I have an objection to long engagements. I
don't like her new companion: She says she has been presented at Court.
I greatly doubt it."
"It's to give herself a style, you may depend. I don't believe
her!" exclaimed Mrs. Cavely, with sharp personal asperity.
Brother and sister examined together the Court Guide they had
purchased on the occasion at once of their largest outlay and most
thrilling gratification; in it they certainly found the name of
General Fellingham. "But he can't be related to a newspaper-writer,"
said Mrs. Cavely.
To which her brother rejoined, "Unless the young man turned scamp.
I hate unproductive professions."
"I hate him, Martin." Mrs. Cavely laughed in scorn, "I should say,
I pity him. It's as clear to me as the sun at noonday, he wanted
Annette. That's why I was in a hurry. How I dreaded he would come
that evening to our dinner! When I saw him absent, I could have cried
out it was Providence! And so be careful—we have had everything done
for us from on High as yet—but be careful of your temper, dear
Martin. I will hasten on the union; for it's a shame of a girl to
drag a man behind her till he 's old at the altar. Temper, dear, if
you will only think of it, is the weak point."
"Now he has begun boasting to me of his Australian wines!" Tinman
"Bear it. Bear it as you do Gippsland. My dear, you have the
retort in your heart:—Yes! but have you a Court in Australia?"
"Ha! and his Australian wines cost twice the amount I pay for
"Quite true. We are not obliged to buy them, I should hope. I
would, though—a dozen—if I thought it necessary, to keep him quiet."
Tinman continued muttering angrily over the Australian wines, with
a word of irritation at Gippsland, while promising to be watchful of
"What good is Australia to us," he asked, "if it does n't bring us
"It's going to, my dear," said Mrs. Cavely. "Think of that when he
begins boasting his Australia. And though it's convict's money, as he
"With his convict's money!" Tinman interjected tremblingly. "How
long am I expected to wait?"
"Rely on me to hurry on the day," said Mrs. Cavely. "There is no
"Wherever I am going to buy, that man outbids me and then says it's
the old country's want of pluck and dash, and doing things
large-handed! A man who'd go on his knees to stop in England!" Tinman
vociferated in a breath; and fairly reddened by the effort: "He may
have to do it yet. I can't stand insult."
"You are less able to stand insult after Honours," his sister said,
in obedience to what she had observed of him since his famous visit to
London. "It must be so, in nature. But temper is everything just
now. Remember, it was by command of temper, and letting her father put
himself in the wrong, you got hold of Annette. And I would abstain
even from wine. For sometimes after it, you have owned it disagreed.
And I have noticed these eruptions between you and Mr. Smith—as he
calls himself —generally after wine."
"Always the poor! the poor! money for the poor!" Tinman harped on
further grievances against Van Diemen. "I say doctors have said the
drain on the common is healthy; it's a healthy smell, nourishing.
We've always had it and been a healthy town. But the sea encroaches,
and I say my house and my property is in danger. He buys my house
over my head, and offers me the Crouch to live in at an advanced rent.
And then he sells me my house at an advanced price, and I buy, and
then he votes against a penny for the protection of the shore! And
we're in Winter again! As if he was not in my power!"
"My dear Martin, to Elba we go, and soon, if you will govern your
temper," said Mrs. Cavely. "You're an angel to let me speak of it so,
and it's only that man that irritates you. I call him sinfully
"I could blow him from a gun if I spoke out, and he knows it! He's
wanting in common gratitude, let alone respect," Tinman snorted.
"But he has a daughter, my dear."
Tinman slowly and crackingly subsided.
His main grievance against Van Diemen was the non-recognition of
his importance by that uncultured Australian, who did not seem to be
conscious of the dignities and distinctions we come to in our country.
The moneyed daughter, the prospective marriage, for an economical man
rejected by every lady surrounding him, advised him to lock up his
temper in submission to Martha.
"Bring Annette to dine with us," he said, on Martha's proposing a
visit to the dear young creature.
Martha drank a glass of her brother's wine at lunch, and departed
on the mission.
Annette declined to be brought. Her excuse was her guest, Miss
"Bring her too, by all means—if you'll condescend, I am sure,"
Mrs. Cavely said to Mary.
"I am much obliged to you; I do not dine out at present," said the
"Dear me! are you ill?"
"Nothing in the family, I hope?"
"I am sure, I beg pardon," said Mrs. Cavely, bridling with a spite
pardonable by the severest moralist.
"Can I speak to you alone?" she addressed Annette.
Miss Fellingham rose.
Mrs. Cavely confronted her. "I can't allow it; I can't think of
it. I'm only taking a little liberty with one I may call my future
"Shall I come out with you?" said Annette, in sheer lassitude
assisting Mary Fellingham in her scheme to show the distastefulness of
this lady and her brother.
"Not if you don't wish to."
"I have no objection."
"Another time will do."
"Will you write?"
"By post indeed!"
Mrs. Cavely delivered a laugh supposed to, be peculiar to the
"It would be a penny thrown away," said Annette. "I thought you
could send a messenger."
Intercommunication with Miss Fellingham had done mischief to her
high moral conception of the pair inhabiting the house on the beach.
Mrs. Cavely saw it, and could not conceal that she smarted.
Her counsel to her brother, after recounting the offensive scene to
him in animated dialogue, was, to give Van Diemen a fright.
"I wish I had not drunk that glass of sherry before starting," she
exclaimed, both savagely and sagely. "It's best after business. And
these gentlemen's habits of yours of taking to dining late upset me.
I'm afraid I showed temper; but you, Martin, would not have borne one-
tenth of what I did."
"How dare you say so!" her brother rebuked her indignantly; and the
house on the beach enclosed with difficulty a storm between brother
and sister, happily not heard outside, because of loud winds raging.
Nevertheless Tinman pondered on Martha's idea of the wisdom of
giving Van Diemen a fright.
The English have been called a bad-tempered people, but this is to
judge of them by their manifestations; whereas an examination into
causes might prove them to be no worse tempered than that man is a bad
sleeper who lies in a biting bed. If a sagacious instinct directs
them to discountenance realistic tales, the realistic tale should
justify its appearance by the discovery of an apology for the
tormented souls. Once they sang madrigals, once they danced on the
green, they revelled in their lusty humours, without having recourse
to the pun for fun, an exhibition of hundreds of bare legs for
jollity, a sentimental wailing all in the throat for music. Evidence
is procurable that they have been an artificially-reared people,
feeding on the genius of inventors, transposers, adulterators, instead
of the products of nature, for the last half century; and it is unfair
to affirm of them that they are positively this or that. They are
experiments. They are the sons and victims of a desperate Energy,
alluring by cheapness, satiating with quantity, that it may mount in
the social scale, at the expense of their tissues. The land is in a
state of fermentation to mount, and the shop, which has shot half
their stars to their social zenith, is what verily they would scald
themselves to wash themselves free of. Nor is it in any degree a
reprehensible sign that they should fly as from hue and cry the title
of tradesman. It is on the contrary the spot of sanity, which bids us
right cordially hope. Energy, transferred to the moral sense, may
clear them yet.
Meanwhile this beer, this wine, both are of a character to have
killed more than the tempers of a less gifted people. Martin Tinman
invited Van Diemen Smith to try the flavour of a wine that, as he
said, he thought of "laying down."
It has been hinted before of a strange effect upon the minds of men
who knew what they were going to, when they received an invitation to
dine with Tinman. For the sake of a little social meeting at any
cost, they accepted it; accepted it with a sigh, midway as by
engineering measurement between prospective and retrospective; as
nearly mechanical as things human may be, like the Mussulman's
accustomed cry of Kismet. Has it not been related of the little Jew
babe sucking at its mother's breast in Jerusalem, that this innocent,
long after the Captivity, would start convulsively, relinquishing its
feast, and indulging in the purest. Hebrew lamentation of the most
tenacious of races, at the passing sound of a Babylonian or a Ninevite
voice? In some such manner did men, unable to refuse, deep in what
remained to them of nature, listen to Tinman; and so did Van Diemen,
sighing heavily under the operation of simple animal instinct.
"You seem miserable," said Tinman, not oblivious of his design to
give his friend a fright.
"Do I? No, I'm all right," Van Diemen replied. "I'm thinking of
alterations at the Hall before Summer, to accommodate guests—if I
"I suppose you would not like to be separated from Annette."
"Separated? No, I should think I shouldn't. Who'd do it?"
"Because I should not like to leave my good sister Martha all to
herself in a house so near the sea—"
"Why not go to the Crouch, man?"
"No thanks needed if you don't take advantage of the offer."
They were at the entrance to Elba, whither Mr. Tinman was betaking
himself to see his intended. He asked if Annette was at home, and to
his great stupefaction heard that she had gone to London for a week.
Dissembling the spite aroused within him, he postponed his very
strongly fortified design, and said, "You must be lonely."
Van Diemen informed him that it would be for a night only, as young
Fellingham was coming down to keep him company.
"At six o'clock this evening, then," said Tinman. "We're not
fashionable in Winter."
"Hang me, if I know when ever we were!" Van Diemen rejoined.
"Come, though, you'd like to be. You've got your ambition, Philip,
like other men."
"Respectable and respected—that 's my ambition, Mr. Mart."
Tinman simpered: "With your wealth!"
"Ay, I 'm rich—for a contented mind."
"I 'm pretty sure you 'll approve my new vintage," said Tinman.
"It's direct from Oporto, my wine-merchant tells me, on his word."
"What's the price?"
"No, no, no. Try it first. It's rather a stiff price."
Van Diemen was partially reassured by the announcement. "What do
you call a stiff price?"
"Double that, and you may have a chance."
"Now," cried Tinman, exasperated, "how can a man from Australia
know anything about prices for port? You can't divest your ideas of
diggers' prices. You're like an intoxicating drink yourself on the
tradesmen of our town. You think it fine—ha! ha! I daresay,
Philip, I should be doing the same if I were up to your mark at my
banker's. We can't all of us be lords, nor baronets."
Catching up his temper thus cleverly, he curbed that habitual
runaway, and retired from his old friend's presence to explode in the
society of the solitary Martha.
Annette's behaviour was as bitterly criticized by the sister as by
"She has gone to those Fellingham people; and she may be thinking
of jilting us," Mrs. Cavely said.
"In that case, I have no mercy," cried her brother. "I have
borne"—he bowed with a professional spiritual humility—"as I should,
but it may get past endurance. I say I have borne enough; and if the
worst comes to the worst, and I hand him over to the authorities—I
say I mean him no harm, but he has struck me. He beat me as a boy and
he has struck me as a man, and I say I have no thought of revenge, but
I cannot have him here; and I say if I drive him out of the country
back to his Gippsland!"
Martin Tinman quivered for speech, probably for that which feedeth
speech, as is the way with angry men.
"And what?—what then?" said Martha, with the tender
mellifluousness of sisterly reproach. "What good can you expect of
letting temper get the better of you, dear?"
Tinman did not enjoy her recent turn for usurping the lead in their
consultations, and he said, tartly, "This good, Martha. We shall get
the Hall at my price, and be Head People here. Which," he raised his
note, "which he, a Deserter, has no right to pretend to give himself
out to be. What your feelings may be as an old inhabitant, I don't
know, but I have always looked up to the people at Elba Hall, and I
say I don't like to have a Deserter squandering convict's money
there—with his forty-pound- a-year cook, and his champagne at seventy
a dozen. It's the luxury of Sodom and Gomorrah."
"That does not prevent its being very nice to dine there," said
Mrs. Cavely; "and it shall be our table for good if I have any
"You mean me, ma'am," bellowed Tinman.
"Not at all," she breathed, in dulcet contrast. "You are
good-looking, Martin, but you have not half such pretty eyes as the
person I mean. I never ventured to dream of managing you, Martin. I
am thinking of the people at Elba."
"But why this extraordinary treatment of me, Martha?"
"She's a child, having her head turned by those Fellinghams. But
she's honourable; she has sworn to me she would be honourable."
"You do think I may as well give him a fright?" Tinman inquired
"A sort of hint; but very gentle, Martin. Do be gentle—casual
like—as if you did n't want to say it. Get him on his Gippsland.
Then if he brings you to words, you can always laugh back, and say
you will go to Kew and see the Fernery, and fancy all that, so high,
on Helvellyn or the Downs. Why"—Mrs. Cavely, at the end of her
astute advices and cautionings, as usual, gave loose to her natural
character—"Why that man came back to England at all, with his
boastings of Gippsland, I can't for the life of me find out. It 's a
"It is," Tinman sounded his voice at a great depth, reflectively.
Glad of taking the part she was perpetually assuming of late, he put
out his hand and said: "But it may have been ordained for our good,
"True, dear," said she, with an earnest sentiment of thankfulness
to the Power which had led him round to her way of thinking and
Annette had gone to the big metropolis, which burns in colonial
imaginations as the sun of cities, and was about to see something of
London, under the excellent auspices of her new friend, Mary
Fellingham, and a dense fog. She was alarmed by the darkness, a
little in fear, too, of Herbert; and these feelings caused her to
chide herself for leaving her father.
Hearing her speak of her father sadly, Herbert kindly proposed to
go down to Crikswich on the very day of her coming. She thanked him,
and gave him a taste of bitterness by smiling favourably on his offer;
but as he wished her to discern and take to heart the difference
between one man and another, in the light of a suitor, he let her
perceive that it cost him heavy pangs to depart immediately, and left
her to brood on his example. Mary Fellingham liked Annette. She
thought her a sensible girl of uncultivated sensibilities, the reverse
of thousands; not commonplace, therefore; and that the sensibilities
were expanding was to be seen in her gradual unreadiness to talk of
her engagement to Mr. Tinman, though her intimacy with Mary warmed
daily. She considered she was bound to marry the man at some distant
date, and did not feel unhappiness yet. She had only felt uneasy when
she had to greet and converse with her intended; especially when the
London young lady had been present. Herbert's departure relieved her
of the pressing sense of contrast. She praised him to Mary for his
extreme kindness to her father, and down in her unsounded heart
desired that her father might appreciate it even more than she did.
Herbert drove into Crikswich at night, and stopped at Crickledon's,
where he heard that Van Diemen was dining with Tinman.
Crickledon the carpenter permitted certain dry curves to play round
his lips like miniature shavings at the name of Tinman; but Herbert
asked, "What is it now?" in vain, and he went to Crickledon the cook.
This union of the two Crickledons, male and female; was an ideal
one, such as poor women dream of; and men would do the same, if they
knew how poor they are. Each had a profession, each was independent
of the other, each supported the fabric. Consequently there was
mutual respect, as between two pillars of a house. Each saw the
other's faults with a sly wink to the world, and an occasional
interchange of sarcasm that was tonic, very strengthening to the wits
without endangering the habit of affection. Crickledon the cook stood
for her own opinions, and directed the public conduct of Crickledon
the carpenter; and if he went astray from the line she marked out, she
put it down to human nature, to which she was tolerant. He, when she
had not followed his advice, ascribed it to the nature of women. She
never said she was the equal of her husband; but the carpenter proudly
acknowledged that she was as good as a man, and he bore with foibles
derogatory to such high stature, by teaching himself to observe a
neatness of domestic and general management that told him he certainly
was not as good as a woman. Herbert delighted in them. The cook
regaled the carpenter with skilful, tasty, and economic dishes; and
the carpenter, obedient to her supplications, had promised, in the
event of his outliving her, that no hands but his should have the
making of her coffin. "It is so nice," she said, "to think one's own
husband will put together the box you are to lie in, of his own make!"
Had they been even a doubtfully united pair, the cook's anticipation
of a comfortable coffin, the work of the best carpenter in England,
would have kept them together; and that which fine cookery does for
the cementing of couples needs not to be recounted to those who have
read a chapter or two of the natural history of the male sex.
"Crickledon, my dear soul, your husband is labouring with a bit of
fun," Herbert said to her.
"He would n't laugh loud at Punch, for fear of an action," she
replied. "He never laughs out till he gets to bed, and has locked the
door; and when he does he says 'Hush!' to me. Tinman is n't bailiff
again just yet, and where he has his bailiff's best Court suit from,
you may ask. He exercises in it off and on all the week, at night, and
sometimes in the middle of the day."
Herbert rallied her for her gossip's credulity.
"It's truth," she declared. "I have it from the maid of the house,
little Jane, whom he pays four pound a year for all the work of the
house: a clever little thing with her hands and her head she is; and
can read and write beautiful; and she's a mind to leave 'em if they
don't advance her. She knocked and went in while he was full blaze,
and bowing his poll to his glass. And now he turns the key, and a
child might know he was at it."
"He can't be such a donkey!"
"And he's been seen at the window on the seaside. 'Who's your
Admiral staying at the house on the beach?' men have inquired as they
come ashore. My husband has heard it. Tinman's got it on his brain.
He might be cured by marriage to a sound-headed woman, but he 'll
soon be wanting to walk about in silk legs if he stops a bachelor.
They tell me his old mother here had a dress value twenty pound; and
pomp's inherited. Save as he may, there's his leak."
Herbert's contempt for Tinman was intense; it was that of the young
and ignorant who live in their imaginations like spendthrifts, unaware
of the importance of them as the food of life, and of how necessary it
is to seize upon the solider one among them for perpetual sustenance
when the unsubstantial are vanishing. The great event of his
bailiff's term of office had become the sun of Tinman's system. He
basked in its rays. He meant to be again the proud official, royally
distinguished; meantime, though he knew not that his days were dull,
he groaned under the dulness; and, as cart or cab horses,
uncomplaining as a rule, show their view of the nature of harness when
they have release to frisk in a field, it is possible that existence
was made tolerable to the jogging man by some minutes of excitement in
his bailiff's Court suit. Really to pasture on our recollections we
ought to dramatize them. There is, however, only the testimony of a
maid and a mariner to show that Tinman did it, and those are witnesses
coming of particularly long-bow classes, given to magnify small items
On reaching the hall Herbert found the fire alight in the
smoking-room, and soon after settling himself there he heard Van
Diemen's voice at the hall-door saying good night to Tinman.
"Thank the Lord! there you are," said Van Diemen, entering the
room. "I couldn't have hoped so much. That rascal!" he turned round
to the door. "He has been threatening me, and then smoothing me.
Hang his oil! It's combustible. And hang the port he's for laying
down, as he calls it. 'Leave it to posterity,' says I. 'Why?' says
he. 'Because the young ones 'll be better able to take care of
themselves,' says I, and he insists on an explanation. I gave it to
him. Out he bursts like a wasp's nest. He may have said what he did
say in temper. He seemed sorry afterwards—poor old Mart! The
scoundrel talked of Horse Guards and telegraph wires."
"Scoundrel, but more ninny," said Herbert, full of his contempt.
"Dare him to do his worst. The General tells me they 'd be glad to
overlook it at the Guards, even if they had all the facts. Branding
's out of the question."
"I swear it was done in my time," cried Van Diemen, all on fire.
"It's out of the question. You might be advised to leave England
for a few months. As for the society here—"
"If I leave, I leave for good. My heart's broken. I'm
disappointed. I'm deceived in my friend. He and I in the old days!
What's come to him? What on earth is it changes men who stop in
England so? It can't be the climate. And did you mention my name to
"Certainly not," said Herbert. "But listen to me, sir, a moment.
Why not get together half-a-dozen friends of the neighbourhood, and
make a clean breast of it. Englishmen like that kind of manliness,
and they are sure to ring sound to it."
"I couldn't!" Van Diemen sighed. "It's not a natural feeling I
have about it—I 've brooded on the word. If I have a nightmare, I
see Deserter written in sulphur on the black wall."
"You can't remain at his mercy, and be bullied as you are. He
makes you ill, sir. He won't do anything, but he'll go on worrying
you. I'd stop him at once. I'd take the train to-morrow and get an
introduction to the Commander-in-Chief. He's the very man to be kind
to you in a situation like this. The General would get you the
"That's more to my taste; but no, I couldn't," Van Diemen moaned in
his weakness. "Money has unmanned me. I was n't this kind of man
formerly; nor more was Mart Tinman, the traitor! All the world seems
changeing for the worse, and England is n't what she used to be."
"You let that man spoil it for you, sir." Herbert related Mrs.
Crickledon's tale of Mr. Tinman, adding, "He's an utter donkey. I
should defy him. What I should do would be to let him know to-morrow
morning that you don't intend to see him again. Blow for, blow, is
the thing he requires. He'll be cringing to you in a week."
"And you'd like to marry Annette," said Van Diemen, relishing,
nevertheless, the advice, whose origin and object he perceived so
"Of course I should," said Herbert, franker still in his colour
than his speech.
"I don't see him my girl's husband." Van Diemen eyed the red
hollow in the falling coals. "When I came first, and found him a
healthy man, good-looking enough for a trifle over forty, I 'd have
given her gladly, she nodding Yes. Now all my fear is she's in
earnest. Upon my soul, I had the notion old Mart was a sort of a boy
still; playing man, you know. But how can you understand? I fancied
his airs and stiffness were put on; thought I saw him burning true
behind it. Who can tell? He seems to be jealous of my buying
property in his native town. Something frets him. I ought never to
have struck him! There's my error, and I repent it. Strike a friend!
I wonder he didn't go off to the Horse Guards at once. I might have
done it in his place, if I found I couldn't lick him. I should have
tried kicking first."
"Yes, shinning before peaching," said Herbert, astonished almost as
much as he was disgusted by the inveterate sentimental attachment of
Van Diemen to his old friend.
Martin Tinman anticipated good things of the fright he had given
the man after dinner. He had, undoubtedly, yielded to temper,
forgetting pure policy, which it is so exceeding difficult to
practice. But he had soothed the startled beast; they had shaken
hands at parting, and Tinman hoped that the week of Annette's absence
would enable him to mould her father. Young Fellingham's appointment
to come to Elba had slipped Mr. Tinman's memory. It was annoying to
see this intruder. "At all events, he's not with Annette," said Mrs.
Cavely. "How long has her father to run on?"
"Five months," Tinman replied. "He would have completed his term
of service in five months."
"And to think of his being a rich man because he deserted," Mrs.
Cavely interjected. "Oh! I do call it immoral. He ought to be
apprehended and punished, to be an example for the good of society.
If you lose time, my dear Martin, your chance is gone. He's
wriggling now. And if I could believe he talked us over to that young
impudent, who has n't a penny that he does n't get from his pen, I'd
say, denounce him to-morrow. I long for Elba. I hate this house. It
will be swallowed up some day; I know it; I have dreamt it. Elba at
any cost. Depend upon it, Martin, you have been foiled in your suits
on account of the mean house you inhabit. Enter Elba as that girl's
husband, or go there to own it, and girls will crawl to you."
"You are a ridiculous woman, Martha," said Tinman, not dissenting.
The mixture of an idea of public duty with a feeling of personal
rancour is a strong incentive to the pursuit of a stern line of
conduct; and the glimmer of self-interest superadded does not check
the steps of the moralist. Nevertheless, Tinman held himself in. He
loved peace. He preached it, he disseminated it. At a meeting in the
town he strove to win Van Diemen's voice in favour of a vote for
further moneys to protect 'our shores.'" Van Diemen laughed at him,
telling him he wanted a battery. "No," said Tinman, "I've had enough
to do with soldiers."
"They might be more cautious. I say, they might learn to know
their friends from their enemies."
"That's it, that's it," said Van Diemen. "If you say much more, my
hearty, you'll find me bidding against you next week for Marine Parade
and Belle Vue Terrace. I've a cute eye for property, and this town's
"You look about you before you speculate in land and house property
here," retorted Tinman.
Van Diemen bore so much from him that he asked himself whether he
could be an Englishman. The title of Deserter was his raw wound. He
attempted to form the habit of stigmatizing himself with it in the
privacy of his chamber, and he succeeded in establishing the habit of
talking to himself, so that he was heard by the household, and
Annette, on her return, was obliged to warn him of his indiscretion.
This development of a new weakness exasperated him. Rather to prove
his courage by defiance than to baffle Tinman's ambition to become the
principal owner of houses in Crikswich, by outbidding him at the
auction for the sale of Marine Parade and Belle Vue Terrace, Van
Diemen ran the houses up at the auction, and ultimately had Belle Vue
knocked down to him. So fierce was the quarrel that Annette, in
conjunction with Mrs. Cavely; was called on to interpose with her
sweetest grace. "My native place," Tinman said to her; "it is my
native place. I have a pride in it; I desire to own property in it,
and your father opposes me. He opposes me. Then says I may have it
back at auction price, after he has gone far to double the price! I
have borne—I repeat I have borne too much."
"Are n't your properties to be equal to one?" said Mrs. Cavely,
smiling mother—like from Tinman to Annette.
He sought to produce a fondling eye in a wry face, and said, "Yes,
I will remember that."
"Annette will bless you with her dear hand in a month or two at the
outside," Mrs. Cavely murmured, cherishingly.
"She will?" Tinman cracked his body to bend to her.
"Oh, I cannot say; do not distress me. Be friendly with papa," the
girl resumed, moving to escape.
"That is the essential," said Mrs. Cavely; and continued, when
Annette had gone, "The essential is to get over the next few months,
miss, and then to snap your fingers at us. Martin, I would force that
man to sell you Belle Vue under the price he paid for it, just to try
Tinman was not quite so forcible. He obtained Belle Vue at auction
price, and his passion for revenge was tipped with fire by having it
accorded as a friend's favour.
The poisoned state of his mind was increased by a December high
wind that rattled his casements, and warned him of his accession of
property exposed to the elements. Both he and his sister attributed
their nervousness to the sinister behaviour of Van Diemen. For the
house on the beach had only, in most distant times, been threatened by
the sea, and no house on earth was better protected from
man,—Neptune, in the shape of a coastguard, being paid by Government
to patrol about it during the hours of darkness. They had never had
any fears before Van Diemen arrived, and caused them to give thrice
their ordinary number of dinners to guests per annum. In fact, before
Van Diemen came, the house on the beach looked on Crikswich without a
rival to challenge its anticipated lordship over the place, and for
some inexplicable reason it seemed to its inhabitants to have been a
safer as well as a happier residence.
They were consoled by Tinman's performance of a clever stroke in
privately purchasing the cottages west of the town, and including
Crickledon's shop, abutting on Marine Parade. Then from the house on
the beach they looked at an entire frontage of their property.
They entered the month of February. No further time was to be
lost, "or we shall wake up to find that man has fooled us," Mrs.
Cavely said. Tinman appeared at Elba to demand a private interview
with Annette. His hat was blown into the hall as the door opened to
him, and he himself was glad to be sheltered by the door, so violent
was the gale. Annette and her father were sitting together. They
kept the betrothed gentleman waiting a very long time. At last Van
Diemen went to him, and said, "Netty 'll see you, if you must. I
suppose you have no business with me?"
"Not to-day," Tinman replied.
Van Diemen strode round the drawing-room with his hands in his
pockets. "There's a disparity of ages," he said, abruptly, as if
desirous to pour out his lesson while he remembered it. "A man
upwards of forty marries a girl under twenty, he's over sixty before
she's forty; he's decaying when she's only mellow. I ought never to
have struck you, I know. And you're such an infernal bad temper at
times, and age does n't improve that, they say; and she's been
educated tip-top. She's sharp on grammar, and a man may n't like that
much when he's a husband. See her, if you must. But she does n't
take to the idea; there's the truth. Disparity of ages and
unsuitableness of dispositions—what was it Fellingham said?—like two
barrel-organs grinding different tunes all day in a house."
"I don't want to hear Mr. Fellingham's comparisons," Tinman
"Oh! he's nothing to the girl," said Van Diemen. "She doesn't
stomach leaving me."
"My dear Philip! why should she leave you? When we have interests
in common as one household—"
"She says you're such a damned bad temper."
Tinman was pursuing amicably, "When we are united—" But the
frightful charge brought against his temper drew him up. "Fiery I may
be. Annette has seen I am forgiving. I am a Christian. You have
provoked me; you have struck me."
"I 'll give you a couple of thousand pounds in hard money to be off
the bargain, and not bother the girl," said Van Diemen.
"Now," rejoined Tinman, "I am offended. I like money, like most
men who have made it. You do, Philip. But I don't come courting like
a pauper. Not for ten thousand; not for twenty. Money cannot be a
compensation to me for the loss of Annette. I say I love Annette."
"Because," Van Diemen continued his speech, "you trapped us into
that engagement, Mart. You dosed me with the stuff you buy for wine,
while your sister sat sugaring and mollifying my girl; and she did the
trick in a minute, taking Netty by surprise when I was all heart and
no head; and since that you may have seen the girl turn her head from
marriage like my woods from the wind."
"Mr. Van Diemen Smith!" Tinman panted; he mastered himself. "You
shall not provoke me. My introductions of you in this neighbourhood,
my patronage, prove my friendship."
"You'll be a good old fellow, Mart, when you get over your hopes of
"Mr. Fellingham may set you against my wine, Philip. Let me tell
you—I know you—you would not object to have your daughter called
"With a spindle-shanked husband capering in a Court suit before he
goes to bed every night, that he may n't forget what a fine fellow he
was one day bygone! You're growing lean on it, Mart, like a
recollection fifty years old."
"You have never forgiven me that day, Philip!"
"Jealous, am I? Take the money, give up the girl, and see what
friends we'll be. I'll back your buyings, I'll advertise your
sellings. I'll pay a painter to paint you in your Court suit, and
hang up a copy of you in my diningroom."
"Annette is here," said Tinman, who had been showing Etna's tokens
He admired Annette. Not till latterly had Herbert Fellingham been
so true an admirer of Annette as Tinman was. She looked sincere and
she dressed inexpensively. For these reasons she was the best example
of womankind that he knew, and her enthusiasm for England had the
sympathetic effect on him of obscuring the rest of the world, and
thrilling him with the reassuring belief that he was blest in his
blood and his birthplace—points which her father, with his boastings
of Gippsland, and other people talking of scenes on the Continent,
sometimes disturbed in his mind.
"Annette," said he, "I come requesting to converse with you in
"If you wish it—I would rather not," she answered.
Tinman raised his head, as often at Helmstone when some offending
shopwoman was to hear her doom.
He bent to her. "I see. Before your father, then!"
"It isn't an agreeable bit of business, to me," Van Diemen
grumbled, frowning and shrugging.
"I have come, Annette, to ask you, to beg you, entreat—before a
third person—laughing, Philip?"
"The wrong side of my mouth, my friend. And I'll tell you what:
we're in for heavy seas, and I 'm not sorry you've taken the house on
the beach off my hands."
"Pray, Mr. Tinman, speak at once, if you please, and I will do my
best. Papa vexes you."
"No, no," replied Tinman.
He renewed his commencement. Van Diemen interrupted him again.
"Hang your power over me, as you call it. Eh, old Mart? I'm a
Deserter. I'll pay a thousand pounds to the British army, whether they
punish me or not. March me off tomorrow!"
"Papa, you are unjust, unkind." Annette turned to him in tears.
"No, no," said Tinman, "I do not feel it. Your father has
misunderstood me, Annette."
"I am sure he has," she said fervently. "And, Mr. Tinman, I will
faithfully promise that so long as you are good to my dear father, I
will not be untrue to my engagement, only do not wish me to name any
day. We shall be such very good dear friends if you consent to this.
Pausing for a space, the enamoured man unrolled his voice in
lamentation: "Oh! Annette, how long will you keep me?"
"There; you'll set her crying!" said Van Diemen. "Now you can run
upstairs, Netty. By jingo! Mart Tinman, you've got a bass voice for
"Annette," Tinman called to her, and made her turn round as she was
retiring. "I must know the day before the end of winter. Please. In
kind consideration. My arrangements demand it."
"Do let the girl go," said Van Diemen. "Dine with me tonight and
I'll give you a wine to brisk your spirits, old boy"
"Thank you. When I have ordered dinner at home, I——and my wine
agrees with ME," Tinman replied.
"I doubt it."
"You shall not provoke me, Philip."
They parted stiffly.
Mrs. Cavely had unpleasant domestic news to communicate to her
brother, in return for his tale of affliction and wrath. It concerned
the ungrateful conduct of their little housemaid Jane, who, as Mrs.
Cavely said, "egged on by that woman Crickledon," had been hinting at
an advance of wages.
"She didn't dare speak, but I saw what was in her when she broke a
plate, and wouldn't say she was sorry. I know she goes to Crickledon
and talks us over. She's a willing worker, but she has no heart."
Tinman had been accustomed in his shop at Helmstone—where heaven
had blessed him with the patronage of the rich, as visibly as rays of
supernal light are seen selecting from above the heads of prophets in
the illustrations to cheap holy books—to deal with willing workers
that have no hearts. Before the application for an advance of
wages—and he knew the signs of it coming—his method was to calculate
how much he might be asked for, and divide the estimated sum by the
figure 4; which, as it seemed to come from a generous impulse, and had
been unsolicited, was often humbly accepted, and the willing worker
pursued her lean and hungry course in his service. The treatment did
not always agree with his males. Women it suited; because they do not
like to lift up their voices unless they are in a passion; and if you
take from them the grounds of temper, you take their words away—you
make chickens of them. And as Tinman said, "Gratitude I never
expect!" Why not? For the reason that he knew human nature. He
could record shocking instances of the ingratitude of human nature, as
revealed to him in the term of his tenure of the shop at Helmstone.
Blest from above, human nature's wickedness had from below too
frequently besulphured and suffumigated him for his memory to be dim;
and though he was ever ready to own himself an example that heaven
prevaileth, he could cite instances of scandalmongering shop- women
dismissed and working him mischief in the town, which pointed to him
in person for a proof that the Powers of Good and Evil were still
engaged in unhappy contention. Witness Strikes! witness Revolutions!
"Tell her, when she lays the cloth, that I advance her, on account
of general good conduct, five shillings per annum. Add," said Tinman,
"that I wish no thanks. It is for her merits—to reward her; you
understand me, Martha?"
"Quite; if you think it prudent, Martin."
"I do. She is not to breathe a syllable to cook."
"Then keep your eye on cook."
Mrs. Cavely promised she would do so. She felt sure she was paying
five shillings for ingratitude; and, therefore, it was with humility
that she owned her error when, while her brother sipped his sugared
acrid liquor after dinner (in devotion to the doctor's decree, that he
should take a couple of glasses, rigorously as body-lashing friar),
she imparted to him the singular effect of the advance of wages upon
little Jane—"Oh, ma'am! and me never asked you for it!" She informed
her brother how little Jane had confided to her that they were called
"close," and how little Jane had vowed she would—the willing little
thing!—go about letting everybody know their kindness.
"Yes! Ah!" Tinman inhaled the praise. "No, no; I don't want to be
puffed," he said. "Remember cook. I have," he continued,
meditatively, "rarely found my plan fail. But mind, I give the
Crickledons notice to quit to-morrow. They are a pest. Besides, I
shall probably think of erecting villas."
"How dreadful the wind is!" Mrs. Cavely exclaimed. "I would give
that girl Annette one chance more. Try her by letter."
Tinman despatched a business letter to Annette, which brought back
a vague, unbusiness-like reply. Two days afterward Mrs. Cavely
reported to her brother the presence of Mr. Fellingham and Miss Mary
Fellingham in Crikswich. At her dictation he wrote a second letter.
This time the reply came from Van Diemen:
"My DEAR MARTIN,—Please do not go on bothering my girl. She
not like the idea of leaving me, and my experience tells me I
not live in the house with you. So there it is. Take it
I have always wanted to be, and am,
Tinman proceeded straight to Elba; that is, as nearly straight as
the wind would allow his legs to walk. Van Diemen was announced to be
out; Miss Annette begged to be excused, under the pretext that she was
unwell; and Tinman heard of a dinner-party at Elba that night.
He met Mr. Fellingham on the carriage drive. The young Londoner
presumed to touch upon Tinman's private affairs by pleading on behalf
of the Crikledons, who were, he said, much dejected by the notice they
had received to quit house and shop.
"Another time," bawled Tinman. "I can't hear you in this wind."
"Come in," said Fellingham.
"The master of the house is absent," was the smart retort roared at
him; and Tinman staggered away, enjoying it as he did his wine.
His house rocked. He was backed by his sister in the assurance
that he had been duped.
The process he supposed to be thinking, which was the castigation
of his brains with every sting wherewith a native touchiness could ply
immediate recollection, led him to conclude that he must bring Van
Diemen to his senses, and Annette running to him for mercy.
He sat down that night amid the howling of the storm, wind
whistling, water crashing, casements rattling, beach desperately
dragging, as by the wide-stretched star-fish fingers of the
He hardly knew what he wrote. The man was in a state of personal
terror, burning with indignation at Van Diemen as the main cause of
his jeopardy. For, in order to prosecute his pursuit of Annette, he
had abstained from going to Helmstone to pay moneys into his bank
there, and what was precious to life as well as life itself, was
imperilled by those two— Annette and her father—who, had they been
true, had they been honest, to say nothing of honourable, would by
this time have opened Elba to him as a fast and safe abode.
His letter was addressed, on a large envelope,
"To the Adjutant-General,
But if ever consigned to the Post, that post-office must be in
London; and Tinman left the letter on his desk till the morning should
bring counsel to him as to the London friend to whom he might despatch
it under cover for posting, if he pushed it so far.
Sleep was impossible. Black night favoured the tearing fiends of
shipwreck, and looking through a back window over sea, Tinman saw with
dismay huge towering ghostwhite wreaths, that travelled up swiftly on
his level, and lit the dark as they flung themselves in ruin, with a
gasp, across the mound of shingle at his feet.
He undressed: His sister called to him to know if they were in
danger. Clothed in his dressing-gown, he slipped along to her door, to
vociferate to her hoarsely that she must not frighten the servants;
and one fine quality in the training of the couple, which had helped
them to prosper, a form of self-command, kept her quiet in her
For a distraction Tinman pulled open the drawers of his wardrobe.
His glittering suit lay in one. And he thought, "What wonderful
changes there are in the world!" meaning, between a man exposed to the
wrath of the elements, and the same individual reading from vellum, in
that suit, in a palace, to the Head of all of us!
The presumption is; that he must have often done it before. The
fact is established, that he did it that night. The conclusion drawn
from it is, that it must have given him a sense of stability and
At any rate that he put on the suit is quite certain.
Probably it was a work of ingratiation and degrees; a feeling of
the silk, a trying on to one leg, then a matching of the fellow with
it. O you Revolutionists! who would have no state, no ceremonial, and
but one order of galligaskins! This man must have been wooed away in
spirit to forgetfulness of the tempest scourging his mighty neighbour
to a bigger and a farther leap; he must have obtained from the
contemplation of himself in his suit that which would be the saving of
all men, in especial of his countrymen—imagination, namely.
Certain it is, as I have said, that he attired himself in the suit.
He covered it with his dressing-gown, and he lay down on his bed so
garbed, to await the morrow's light, being probably surprised by sleep
acting upon fatigue and nerves appeased and soothed.
Elba lay more sheltered from South-east winds under the slopes of
down than any other house in Crikswich. The South-caster struck off
the cliff to a martello tower and the house on the beach, leaving Elba
to repose, so that the worst wind for that coast was one of the most
comfortable for the owner of the hall, and he looked from his upper
window on a sea of crumbling grey chalk, lashed unremittingly by the
featureless piping gale, without fear that his elevated grounds and
walls would be open at high tide to the ravage of water. Van Diemen
had no idea of calamity being at work on land when he sat down to
breakfast. He told Herbert that he had prayed for poor fellows at sea
last night. Mary Fellingham and Annette were anxious to finish
breakfast and mount the down to gaze on the sea, and receiving a
caution from Van Diemen not to go too near the cliff, they were
inclined to think he was needlessly timorous on their account.
Before they were half way through the meal, word was brought in of
great breaches in the shingle, and water covering the common. Van
Diemen sent for his head gardener, whose report of the state of things
outside took the comprehensive form of prophecy; he predicted the fall
of the town.
"Nonsense; what do you mean, John Scott?" said Van Diemen, eyeing
his orderly breakfast table and the man in turns. "It does n't seem
like that, yet, does it?"
"The house on the beach won't stand an hour longer, sir."
"Who says so?"
"It's cut off from land now, and waves mast-high all about it."
"Mart Tinman?" cried Van Diemen.
All started; all jumped up; and there was a scampering for hats and
cloaks. Maids and men of the house ran in and out confirming the news
of inundation. Some in terror for the fate of relatives, others
pleasantly excited, glad of catastrophe if it but killed monotony, for
at any rate it was a change of demons.
The view from the outer bank of Elba was of water covering the
space of the common up to the stones of Marine Parade and Belle Vue.
But at a distance it had not the appearance of angry water; the
ladies thought it picturesque, and the house on the beach was seen
standing firm. A second look showed the house completely isolated;
and as the party led by Van Diemen circled hurriedly toward the town,
they discerned heavy cataracts of foam pouring down the wrecked mound
of shingle on either side of the house.
"Why, the outer wall's washed away," said Van Diemen." Are they in
real danger?" asked Annette, her teeth chattering, and the cold and
other matters at her heart precluding for the moment such warmth of
sympathy as she hoped soon to feel for them. She was glad to hear her
"Oh! they're high and dry by this time. We shall find them in the
town And we'll take them in and comfort them. Ten to one they have
n't breakfasted. They sha'n't go to an inn while I'm handy."
He dashed ahead, followed closely by Herbert. The ladies beheld
them talking to townsfolk as they passed along the upper streets, and
did not augur well of their increase of speed. At the head of the
town water was visible, part of the way up the main street, and
crossing it, the ladies went swiftly under the old church, on the
tower of which were spectators, through the churchyard to a high
meadow that dropped to a stone wall fixed between the meadow and a
grass bank above the level of the road, where now salt water beat and
cast some spray. Not less than a hundred people were in this field,
among them Crickledon and his wife. All were in silent watch of the
house on the beach, which was to east of the field, at a distance of
perhaps three stonethrows. The scene was wild. Continuously the
torrents poured through the shingleclefts, and momently a thunder
sounded, and high leapt a billow that topped the house and folded it
"They tell me Mart Tinman's in the house," Van Diemen roared to
Herbert. He listened to further information, and bellowed: "There's no
Herbert answered: "It must be a mistake, I think; here's Crickledon
says he had a warning before dawn and managed to move most of his
things, and the people over there must have been awakened by the row
in time to get off"
"I can't hear a word you say;" Van Diemen tried to pitch his voice
higher than the wind. "Did you say a boat? But where?"
Crickledon the carpenter made signal to Herbert. They stepped
rapidly up the field.
"Women feels their weakness in times like these, my dear," Mrs.
Crickledon said to Annette. "What with our clothes and our cowardice
it do seem we're not the equals of men when winds is high."
Annette expressed the hope to her that she had not lost much
property. Mrs. Crickledon said she was glad to let her know she was
insured in an Accident Company. "But," said she, "I do grieve for
that poor man Tinman, if alive he be, and comes ashore to find his
property wrecked by water. Bless ye! he wouldn't insure against
anything less common than fire; and my house and Crickledon's shop are
floating timbers by this time; and Marine Parade and Belle Vue are
safe to go. And it'll be a pretty welcome for him, poor man, from his
A cry at a tremendous blow of a wave on the doomed house rose from
the field. Back and front door were broken down, and the force of
water drove a round volume through the channel, shaking the walls.
"I can't stand this," Van Diemen cried.
Annette was too late to hold him back. He ran up the field. She
was preparing to run after when Mrs. Crickledon touched her arm and
implored her: "Interfere not with men, but let them follow their
judgements when it's seasons of mighty peril, my dear. If any one's
guilty it's me, for minding my husband of a boat that was launched for
a life-boat here, and wouldn't answer, and is at the shed by the
Crouch—left lying there, I've often said, as if it was a-sulking. My
A linen sheet bad been flung out from one of the windows of the
house on the beach, and flew loose and flapping in sign of distress.
"It looks as if they had gone mad in that house, to have waited so
long for to declare theirselves, poor souls," Mrs. Crickledon said,
She was assured right and left that signals had been seen before,
and some one stated that the cook of Mr. Tinman, and also Mrs. Cavely,
were on shore.
"It's his furniture, poor man, he sticks to: and nothing gets round
the heart so!" resumed Mrs. Crickledon. "There goes his bed-linen!"
The sheet was whirled and snapped away by the wind; distended
doubled, like a flock of winter geese changeing alphabetical letters
on the clouds, darted this way and that, and finally outspread on the
waters breaking against Marine Parade.
"They cannot have thought there was positive danger in remaining,"
"Mr. Tinman was waiting for the cheapest Insurance office," a man
remarked to Mrs. Crickledon.
"The least to pay is to the undertaker," she replied, standing on
tiptoe. "And it's to be hoped he 'll pay more to-day. If only those
walls don't fall and stop the chance of the boat to save him for more
outlay, poor man! What boats was on the beach last night, high up and
over the ridge as they was, are planks by this time and only good for
"Half our town's done for," one old man said; and another followed
him in. a pious tone: "From water we came and to water we go."
They talked of ancient inroads of the sea, none so serious as this
threatened to be for them. The gallant solidity, of the house on the
beach had withstood heavy gales: it was a brave house. Heaven be
thanked, no fishing boats were out. Chiefly well-to-do people would
be the sufferers—an exceptional case. For it is the mysterious and
unexplained dispensation that: "Mostly heaven chastises we."
A knot of excited gazers drew the rest of the field to them. Mrs.
Crickledon, on the edge of the crowd, reported what was doing to
Annette and Miss Fellingham. A boat had been launched from the town.
"Praise the Lord, there's none but coastguard in it!" she exclaimed,
and excused herself for having her heart on her husband.
Annette was as deeply thankful that her father was not in the boat.
They looked round and saw Herbert beside them. Van Diemen was in
the rear, panting, and straining his neck to catch sight of the boat
now pulling fast across a tumbled sea to where Tinman himself was
perceived, beckoning them wildly, half out of one of the windows.
"A pound apiece to those fellows, and two if they land Mart Tinman
dry; I've promised it, and they'll earn it. Look at that! Quick, you
To the east a portion of the house had fallen, melted away. Where
it stood, just below the line of shingle, it was now like a structure
wasting on a tormented submerged reef. The whole line was given over
to the waves.
"Where is his sister?" Annette shrieked to her father.
"Safe ashore; and one of the women with her. But Mart Tinman would
stop, the fool! to-poor old boy! save his papers and things; and has
n't a head to do it, Martha Cavely tells me. They're at him now!
They've got him in! There's another? Oh! it's a girl, who would n't
go and leave him. They'll pull to the field here. Brave lads!—By
jingo, why ain't Englishmen always in danger!—eh? if you want to see
"It's little Jane," said Mrs. Crickledon, who had been joined by
her husband, and now that she knew him to be no longer in peril, kept
her hand on him to restrain him, just for comfort's sake.
The boat held under the lee of the house-wreck a minute; then, as
if shooting a small rapid, came down on a wave crowned with foam, to
hurrahs from the townsmen.
"They're all right," said Van Diemen, puffing as at a mist before
his eyes. "They'll pull westward, with the wind, and land him among
us. I remember when old Mart and I were bathing once, he was younger
than me, and could n't swim much, and I saw him going down. It'd have
been hard to see him washed off before one's eyes thirty years
afterwards. Here they come. He's all right. He's in his
The crowd made way for Mr. Van Diemen Smith to welcome his friend.
Two of the coastguard jumped out, and handed him to the dry bank,
while Herbert, Van Diemen, and Crickledon took him by hand and arm,
and hoisted him on to the flint wall, preparatory to his descent into
the field. In this exposed situation the wind, whose pranks are
endless when it is once up, seized and blew Martin Tinman's
dressing-gown wide as two violently flapping wings on each side of
him, and finally over his head.
Van Diemen turned a pair of stupefied flat eyes on Herbert, who
cast a sly look at the ladies. Tinman had sprung down. But not
before the. world, in one tempestuous glimpse, had caught sight of the
Perfect gravity greeted him from the crowd.
"Safe, old Mart! and glad to be able to say it," said Van Diemen.
"We are so happy," said Annette.
"House, furniture, property, everything I possess!" ejaculated
"Fiddle, man; you want some hot breakfast in you. Your sister has
gone on—to Elba. Come you too, old Man; and where's that plucky
little girl who stood by—"
"Was there a girl?" said Tinman.
"Yes, and there was a boy wanted to help." Van Diemen pointed at
Tinman looked, and piteously asked, "Have you examined Marine
Parade and Belle Vue? It depends on the tide!"
"Here is little Jane, sir," said Mrs. Crickledon.
"Fall in," Van Diemen said to little Jane.
The girl was bobbing curtseys to Annette, on her introduction by
"Martin, you stay at my house; you stay at Elba till you get things
comfortable about you, and then you shall have the Crouch for a year,
rent free. Eh, Netty?"
Annette chimed in: "Anything we can do, anything. Nothing can be
Van Diemen was praising little Jane for her devotion to her master.
"Master have been so kind to me," said little Jane.
"Now, march; it is cold," Van Diemen gave the word, and Herbert
stood by Mary rather dejectedly, foreseeing that his prospects at Elba
"Now then, Mart, left leg forward," Van Diemen linked his arm in
"I must have a look," Tinman broke from him, and cast a forlorn
look of farewell on the last of the house on the beach.
"You've got me left to you, old Mart; don't forget that," said Van
Tinman's chest fell. "Yes, yes," he responded. He was touched.
"And I told those fellows if they landed you dry they should
have—I'd give them double pay; and I do believe they've earned their
"I don't think I'm very wet, I'm cold," said Tinman.
"You can't help being cold, so come along."
"But, Philip!" Tinman lifted his voice; "I've lost everything. I
tried to save a little. I worked hard, I exposed my life, and all in
The voice of little Jane was heard.
"What's the matter with the child?" said Van Diemen.
Annette went up to her quietly.
But little Jane was addressing her master.
"Oh! if you please, I did manage to save something the last thing
when the boat was at the window, and if you please, sir, all the
bundles is lost, but I saved you a papercutter, and a letter Horse
Guards, and here they are, sir."
The grateful little creature drew the square letter and
paper-cutter from her bosom, and held them out to Mr. Tinman.
It was a letter of the imposing size, with THE HORSE GUARDS very
distinctly inscribed on it in Tinman's best round hand, to strike his
vindictive spirit as positively intended for transmission, and give
him sight of his power to wound if it pleased him; as it might.
"What!" cried he, not clearly comprehending how much her devotion
had accomplished for him.
"A letter to the Horse Guards!" cried Van Diemen.
"Here, give it me," said little Jane's master, and grasped it
"What's in that letter?" Van Diemen asked. "Let me look at that
letter. Don't tell me it's private correspondence."
"My dear Philip, dear friend, kind thanks; it's not a letter," said
"Not a letter! why, I read the address, 'Horse Guards.' I read it
as it passed into your hands. Now, my man, one look at that letter,
or take the consequences."
"Kind thanks for your assistance, dear Philip, indeed! Oh! this?
Oh! it's nothing." He tore it in halves.
His face was of the winter sea-colour, with the chalk wash on it.
"Tear again, and I shall know what to think of the contents," Van
Diemen frowned. "Let me see what you've said. You've sworn you would
do it, and there it is at last, by miracle; but let me see it and I'll
overlook it, and you shall be my house-mate still. If not!——"
Tinman tore away.
"You mistake, you mistake, you're entirely wrong," he said, as he
pursued with desperation his task of rendering every word unreadable.
Van Diemen stood fronting him; the accumulation of stores of petty
injuries and meannesses which he had endured from this man, swelled
under the whip of the conclusive exhibition of treachery. He looked
so black that Annette called, "Papa!"
"Philip," said Tinman. "Philip! my best friend!"
"Pooh, you're a poor creature. Come along and breakfast at Elba,
and you can sleep at the Crouch, and goodnight to you. Crickledon,"
he called to the houseless couple, "you stop at Elba till I build you
With these words, Van Diemen led the way, walking alone. Herbert
was compelled to walk with Tinman.
Mary and Annette came behind, and Mary pinched Annette's arm so
sharply that she must have cried out aloud had it been possible for
her to feel pain at that moment, instead of a personal exultation,
flying wildly over the clash of astonishment and horror, like a
sea-bird over the foam.
In the first silent place they came to, Mary murmured the words:
Annette looked round at Mrs. Crickledon, who wound up the
procession, taking little Jane by the hand. Little Jane was walking
demurely, with a placid face. Annette glanced at Tinman. Her excited
feelings nearly rose to a scream of laughter. For hours after, Mary
had only to say to her: "Little Jane," to produce the same convulsion.
It rolled her heart and senses in a headlong surge, shook her to
burning tears, and seemed to her ideas the most wonderful running
together of opposite things ever known on this earth. The young lady
was ashamed of her laughter; but she was deeply indebted to it, for
never was mind made so clear by that beneficent exercise.