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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesEvan Harrington - Book 3 - Chapter 18. In Which Evan Calls Himself Gentleman
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Evan Harrington - Book 3 - Chapter 18. In Which Evan Calls Himself Gentleman Post by :tkrimo Category :Long Stories Author :George Meredith Date :May 2012 Read :1955

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Evan Harrington - Book 3 - Chapter 18. In Which Evan Calls Himself Gentleman

BOOK III CHAPTER XVIII. IN WHICH EVAN CALLS HIMSELF GENTLEMAN

The young cavalier perused that letter again in memory. Genuine, or a joke of the enemy, it spoke wakening facts to him. He leapt from the spell Rose had encircled him with. Strange that he should have rushed into his dream with eyes open! But he was fully awake now. He would speak his last farewell to her, and so end the earthly happiness he paid for in deep humiliation, and depart into that gray cold mist where his duty lay. It is thus that young men occasionally design to burst from the circle of the passions, and think that they have done it, when indeed they are but making the circle more swiftly. Here was Evan mouthing his farewell to Rose, using phrases so profoundly humble, that a listener would have taken them for bitter irony. He said adieu to her,--pronouncing it with a pathos to melt scornful princesses. He tried to be honest, and was as much so as his disease permitted.

The black cloud had swallowed the sun; and turning off to the short cut across the downs, Evan soon rode between the wind and the storm. He could see the heavy burden breasting the beacon-point, round which curled leaden arms, and a low internal growl saluted him advancing. The horse laid back his ears. A last gust from the opposing quarter shook the furzes and the clumps of long pale grass, and straight fell columns of rattling white rain, and in a minute he was closed in by a hissing ring. Men thus pelted abandon without protest the hope of retaining a dry particle of clothing on their persons. Completely drenched, the track lost, everything in dense gloom beyond the white enclosure that moved with him, Evan flung the reins to the horse, and curiously watched him footing on; for physical discomfort balanced his mental perturbation, and he who had just been chafing was now quite calm.

Was that a shepherd crouched under the thorn? The place betokened a shepherd, but it really looked like a bundle of the opposite sex; and it proved to be a woman gathered up with her gown over her head. Apparently, Mr. Evan Harrington was destined for these encounters. The thunder rolled as he stopped by her side and called out to her. She heard him, for she made a movement, but without sufficiently disengaging her head of its covering to show him a part of her face.

Bellowing against the thunder, Evan bade her throw back her garment, and stand and give him up her arms, that he might lift her on the horse behind him.

There came a muffled answer, on a big sob, as it seemed. And as if heaven paused to hear, the storm was mute.

Could he have heard correctly? The words he fancied he had heard sobbed were:

'Best bonnet.'

The elements hereupon crashed deep and long from end to end, like a table of Titans passing a jest.

Rain-drops, hard as hail, were spattering a pool on her head. Evan stooped his shoulder, seized the soaked garment, and pulled it back, revealing the features of Polly Wheedle, and the splendid bonnet in ruins--all limp and stained.

Polly blinked at him penitentially.

'Oh, Mr. Harrington; oh, ain't I punished!' she whimpered.

In truth, the maid resembled a well-watered poppy.

Evan told her to stand up close to the horse, and Polly stood up close, looking like a creature that expected a whipping. She was suffering, poor thing, from that abject sense of the lack of a circumference, which takes the pride out of women more than anything. Note, that in all material fashions, as in all moral observances, women demand a circumference, and enlarge it more and more as civilization advances. Respect the mighty instinct, however mysterious it seem.

'Oh, Mr. Harrington, don't laugh at me,' said Polly.

Evan assured her that he was seriously examining her bonnet.

'It 's the bonnet of a draggletail,' said Polly, giving up her arms, and biting her under-lip for the lift.

With some display of strength, Evan got the lean creature up behind him, and Polly settled there, and squeezed him tightly with her arms, excusing the liberty she took.

They mounted the beacon, and rode along the ridge whence the West became visible, and a washed edge of red over Beckley Church spire and the woods of Beckley Court.

'And what have you been doing to be punished? What brought you here?' said Evan.

'Somebody drove me to Fallow field to see my poor sister Susan,' returned Polly, half crying.

'Well, did he bring you here and leave you?

'No: he wasn't true to his appointment the moment I wanted to go back; and I, to pay him out, I determined I'd walk it where he shouldn't overtake me, and on came the storm... And my gown spoilt, and such a bonnet!'

'Who was the somebody?'

'He's a Mr. Nicholas Frim, sir.'

'Mr. Nicholas Frim will be very unhappy, I should think.'

'Yes, that's one comfort,' said Polly ruefully, drying her eyes.

Closely surrounding a young man as a young woman must be when both are on the same horse, they, as a rule, talk confidentially together in a very short time. His 'Are you cold?' when Polly shivered, and her 'Oh, no; not very,' and a slight screwing of her body up to him, as she spoke, to assure him and herself of it, soon made them intimate.

'I think Mr. Nicholas Frim mustn't see us riding into Beckley,' said Evan.

'Oh, my gracious! Ought I to get down, sir?' Polly made no move, however.

'Is he jealous?'

'Only when I make him, he is.'

'That's very naughty of you.'

'Yes, I know it is--all the Wheedles are. Mother says, we never go right till we 've once got in a pickle.'

'You ought to go right from this hour,' said Evan.

'It's 'dizenzy--(?? D.W.)--does it,' said Polly. 'And then we're ashamed to show it. My poor Susan went to stay with her aunt at Bodley, and then at our cousin's at Hillford, and then she was off to Lymport to drown her poor self, I do believe, when you met her. And all because we can't bear to be seen when we 're in any of our pickles. I wish you wouldn't look at me, Mr. Harrington.'

'You look very pretty.'

'It 's quite impossible I can now,' said Polly, with a wretched effort to spread open her collar. 'I can see myself a fright, like my Miss Rose did, making a face in the looking-glass when I was undressing her last night. But, do you know, I would much rather Nicholas saw us than somebody!

'Who's that?'

'Miss Bonner. She'd never forgive me.'

'Is she so strict?'

'She only uses servants for spies,' said Polly. 'And since my Miss Rose come--though I'm up a step--I'm still a servant, and Miss Bonner 'd be in a fury to see my--though I'm sure we're quite respectable, Mr. Harrington--my having hold of you as I'm obliged to, and can't help myself. But she'd say I ought to tumble off rather than touch her engaged with a little finger.'

'Her engaged?' cried Evan.

'Ain't you, sir?' quoth Polly. 'I understand you were going to be, from my lady, the Countess. We all think so at Beckley. Why, look how Miss Bonner looks at you, and she's sure to have plenty of money.'

This was Polly's innocent way of bringing out a word about her own young mistress.

Evan controlled any denial of his pretensions to the hand of Miss Bonner. He said: 'Is it your mistress's habit to make faces in the looking-glass?'

'I'll tell you how it happened,' said Polly. 'But I'm afraid I'm in your way, sir. Shall I get off now?'

'Not by any means,' said Evan. 'Make your arm tighter.'

'Will that do?' asked Polly.

Evan looked round and met her appealing face, over which the damp locks of hair straggled. The maid was fair: it was fortunate that he was thinking of the mistress.

'Speak on,' said Evan, but Polly put the question whether her face did not want washing, and so earnestly that he had to regard it again, and compromised the case by saying that it wanted kissing by Nicholas Frim, which set Polly's lips in a pout.

'I 'm sure it wants kissing by nobody,' she said, adding with a spasm of passion: 'Oh! I know the colours of my bonnet are all smeared over it, and I'm a dreadful fright.'

Evan failed to adopt the proper measures to make Miss Wheedle's mind easy with regard to her appearance, and she commenced her story rather languidly.

'My Miss Rose--what was it I was going to tell? Oh!--my Miss Rose. You must know, Mr. Harrington, she's very fond of managing; I can see that, though I haven't known her long before she gave up short frocks; and she said to Mr. Laxley, who's going to marry her some day, "She didn't like my lady, the Countess, taking Mr. Harry to herself like that." I can't a-bear to speak his name, but I suppose he's not a bit more selfish than the rest of men. So Mr. Laxley said--just like the jealousy of men--they needn't talk of women! I'm sure nobody can tell what we have to put up with. We mustn't look out of this eye, or out of the other, but they're up and--oh, dear me! there's such a to-do as never was known--all for nothing!'

'My good girl!' said Evan, recalling her to the subject-matter with all the patience he could command.

'Where was I?' Polly travelled meditatively back. 'I do feel a little cold.'

'Come closer,' said Evan. 'Take this handkerchief--it 's the only dry thing I have--cover your chest with it.'

'The shoulders feel wettest,' Polly replied, 'and they can't be helped. I'll tie it round my neck, if you'll stop, sir. There, now I'm warmer.'

To show how concisely women can narrate when they feel warmer, Polly started off:

'So, you know, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Laxley said--he said to Miss Rose, "You have taken her brother, and she has taken yours." And Miss Rose said, "That was her own business, and nobody else's." And Mr. Laxley said, "He was glad she thought it a fair exchange." I heard it all! And then Miss Rose said--for she can be in a passion about some things"--What do you mean, Ferdinand," was her words, "I insist upon your speaking out." Miss Rose always will call gentlemen by their Christian names when she likes them; that's always a sign with her. And he wouldn't tell her. And Miss Rose got awful angry, and she's clever, is my Miss Rose, for what does she do, Mr. Harrington, but begins praising you up so that she knew it must make him mad, only because men can't abide praise of another man when it's a woman that says it--meaning, young lady; for my Miss Rose has my respect, however familiar she lets herself be to us that she likes. The others may go and drown themselves. Are you took ill, sir?'

'No,' said Evan, 'I was only breathing.'

'The doctors say it's bad to take such long breaths,' remarked artless Polly. 'Perhaps my arms are pressing you?'

It 's the best thing they can do,' murmured Evan, dejectedly.

'What, sir?'

'Go and drown themselves.'

Polly screwed her lips, as if she had a pin between them, and continued: 'Miss Rose was quite sensible when she praised you as her friend; she meant it--every word; and then sudden what does Mr. Laxley do, but say you was something else besides friend--worse or better; and she was silent, which made him savage, I could hear by his voice. And he said, Mr. Harrington, "You meant it if she did not." "No," says she, "I know better; he's as honest as the day." Out he flew and said such things: he said, Mr. Harrington, you wasn't fit to be Miss Rose's friend, even. Then she said, she heard he had told lies about you to her Mama, and her aunts; but her Mama, my lady, laughed at him, and she at her aunts. Then he said you--oh, abominable of him!'

'What did he say?' asked Evan, waking up.

'Why, if I were to tell my Miss Rose some things of him,' Polly went on, 'she'd never so much as speak to him another instant.'

'What did he say?' Evan repeated.

'I hate him!' cried Polly. 'It's Mr. Laxley that misleads Mr. Harry, who has got his good nature, and means no more harm than he can help. Oh, I didn't hear what he said of you, sir. Only I know it was abominable, because Miss Rose was so vexed, and you were her dearest friend.'

'Well, and about the looking-glass?'

'That was at night, Mr. Harrington, when I was undressing of her. Miss Rose has a beautiful figure, and no need of lacing. But I'd better get down now.'

'For heaven's sake, stay where you are.'

'I tell her she stands as if she'd been drilled for a soldier,' Polly quietly continued. 'You're squeezing my arm with your elbow, Mr. Harrington. It didn't hurt me. So when I had her nearly undressed, we were talking about this and that, and you amongst 'em--and I, you know, rather like you, sir, if you'll not think me too bold--she started off by asking me what was the nickname people gave to tailors. It was one of her whims. I told her they were called snips--I'm off!'

Polly gave a shriek. The horse had reared as if violently stung.

'Go on,' said Evan. 'Hold hard, and go on.'

'Snips--Oh! and I told her they were called snips. It is a word that seems to make you hate the idea. I shouldn't like to hear my intended called snip. Oh, he's going to gallop!'

And off in a gallop Polly was borne.

'Well,' said Evan, 'well?'

'I can't, Mr. Harrington; I have to press you so,' cried Polly; 'and I'm bounced so--I shall bite my tongue.'

After a sharp stretch, the horse fell to a canter, and then trotted slowly, and allowed Polly to finish.

'So Miss Rose was standing sideways to the glass, and she turned her neck, and just as I'd said "snip," I saw her saying it in the glass; and you never saw anything so funny. It was enough to make anybody laugh; but Miss Rose, she seemed as if she couldn't forget how ugly it had made her look. She covered her face with her hands, and she shuddered! It is a word-snip! that makes you seem to despise yourself.'

Beckley was now in sight from the edge of the downs, lying in its foliage dark under the grey sky backed by motionless mounds of vapour. Miss Wheedle to her great surprise was suddenly though safely dropped; and on her return to the ground the damsel instantly 'knew her place,' and curtseyed becoming gratitude for his kindness; but he was off in a fiery gallop, the gall of Demogorgon in his soul.

What 's that the leaves of the proud old trees of Beckley Court hiss as he sweeps beneath them? What has suddenly cut him short? Is he diminished in stature? Are the lackeys sneering? The storm that has passed has marvellously chilled the air.

His sister, the Countess, once explained to him what Demogorgon was, in the sensation it entailed. 'You are skinned alive!' said the Countess. Evan was skinned alive. Fly, wretched young man! Summon your pride, and fly! Fly, noble youth, for whom storms specially travel to tell you that your mistress makes faces in the looking-glass! Fly where human lips and noses are not scornfully distorted, and get thee a new skin, and grow and attain to thy natural height in a more genial sphere! You, ladies and gentlemen, who may have had a matter to conceal, and find that it is oozing out: you, whose skeleton is seen stalking beside you, you know what it is to be breathed upon: you, too, are skinned alive: but this miserable youth is not only flayed, he is doomed calmly to contemplate the hideous image of himself burning on the face of her he loves; making beauty ghastly. In vain--for he is two hours behind the dinner-bell--Mr. Burley, the butler, bows and offers him viands and wine. How can he eat, with the phantom of Rose there, covering her head, shuddering, loathing him? But he must appear in company: he has a coat, if he has not a skin. Let him button it, and march boldly. Our comedies are frequently youth's tragedies. We will smile reservedly as we mark Mr. Evan Harrington step into the midst of the fair society of the drawing-room. Rose is at the piano. Near her reclines the Countess de Saldar, fanning the languors from her cheeks, with a word for the diplomatist on one side, a whisper for Sir John Loring on the other, and a very quiet pair of eyes for everybody. Providence, she is sure, is keeping watch to shield her sensitive cuticle; and she is besides exquisitely happy, albeit outwardly composed: for, in the room sits his Grace the Duke of Belfield, newly arrived. He is talking to her sister, Mrs. Strike, masked by Miss Current. The wife of the Major has come this afternoon, and Andrew Cogglesby, who brought her, chats with Lady Jocelyn like an old acquaintance.

Evan shakes the hands of his relatives. Who shall turn over the leaves of the fair singer's music-book? The young men are in the billiard-room: Drummond is engaged in converse with a lovely person with Giorgione hair, which the Countess intensely admires, and asks the diplomatist whether he can see a soupcon of red in it. The diplomatist's taste is for dark beauties: the Countess is dark.

Evan must do duty by Rose. And now occurred a phenomenon in him. Instead of shunning her, as he had rejoiced in doing after the Jocasta scene, ere she had wounded him, he had a curious desire to compare her with the phantom that had dispossessed her in his fancy. Unconsciously when he saw her, he transferred the shame that devoured him, from him to her, and gazed coldly at the face that could twist to that despicable contortion.

He was in love, and subtle love will not be shamed and smothered. Love sits, we must remember, mostly in two hearts at the same time, and the one that is first stirred by any of the passions to wakefulness, may know more of the other than its owner. Why had Rose covered her head and shuddered? Would the girl feel that for a friend? If his pride suffered, love was not so downcast; but to avenge him for the cold she had cast on him, it could be critical, and Evan made his bearing to her a blank.

This somehow favoured him with Rose. Sheep's eyes are a dainty dish for little maids, and we know how largely they indulge in it; but when they are just a bit doubtful of the quality of the sheep, let the good animal shut his lids forthwith, for a time. Had she not been a little unkind to him in the morning? She had since tried to help him, and that had appeased her conscience, for in truth he was a good young man. Those very words she mentally pronounced, while he was thinking, 'Would she feel it for a friend?' We dare but guess at the puzzle young women present now and then, but I should say that Evan was nearer the mark, and that the 'good young man' was a sop she threw to that within her which wanted quieting, and was thereby passably quieted. Perhaps the good young man is offended? Let us assure him of our disinterested graciousness.

'Is your friend coming?' she asked, and to his reply said, 'I'm glad'; and pitched upon a new song-one that, by hazard, did not demand his attentions, and he surveyed the company to find a vacant seat with a neighbour. Juley Bonner was curled up on the sofa, looking like a damsel who has lost the third volume of an exciting novel, and is divining the climax. He chose to avoid Miss Bonner. Drummond was leaving the side of the Giorgione lady. Evan passed leisurely, and Drummond said 'You know Mrs. Evremonde? Let me introduce you.'

He was soon in conversation with the glorious-haired dame.

'Excellently done, my brother!' thinks the Countess de Saldar.

Rose sees the matter coolly. What is it to her? But she had finished with song. Jenny takes her place at the piano; and, as Rose does not care for instrumental music, she naturally talks and laughs with Drummond, and Jenny does not altogether like it, even though she is not playing to the ear of William Harvey, for whom billiards have such attractions; but, at the close of the performance, Rose is quiet enough, and the Countess observes her sitting, alone, pulling the petals of a flower in her lap, on which her eyes are fixed. Is the doe wounded? The damsel of the disinterested graciousness is assuredly restless. She starts up and goes out upon the balcony to breathe the night-air, mayhap regard the moon, and no one follows her.

Had Rose been guiltless of offence, Evan might have left Beckley Court the next day, to cherish his outraged self-love. Love of woman is strongly distinguished from pure egoism when it has got a wound: for it will not go into a corner complaining, it will fight its duel on the field or die. Did the young lady know his origin, and scorn him? He resolved to stay and teach her that the presumption she had imputed to him was her own mistake. And from this Evan graduated naturally enough the finer stages of self-deception downward.

A lover must have his delusions, just as a man must have a skin. But here was another singular change in Evan. After his ale-prompted speech in Fallow field, he was nerved to face the truth in the eyes of all save Rose. Now that the truth had enmeshed his beloved, he turned to battle with it; he was prepared to deny it at any moment; his burnt flesh was as sensitive as the Countess's.

Let Rose accuse him, and he would say, 'This is true, Miss Jocelyn--what then?' and behold Rose confused and dumb! Let not another dare suspect it. For the fire that had scorched him was in some sort healing, though horribly painful; but contact with the general air was not to be endured--was death! This, I believe, is common in cases of injury by fire. So it befell that Evan, meeting Rose the next morning was playfully asked by her what choice he had made between the white and the red; and he, dropping on her the shallow eyes of a conventional smile, replied, that unable to decide and form a choice, he had thrown both away; at which Miss Jocelyn gave him a look in the centre of his brows, let her head slightly droop, and walked off.

'She can look serious as well as grimace,' was all that Evan allowed himself to think, and he strolled out on the lawn with the careless serenity of lovers when they fancy themselves heart-free.

Rose, whipping the piano in the drawing-room, could see him go to sit by Mrs. Evremonde, till they were joined by Drummond, when he left her and walked with Harry, and apparently shadowed the young gentleman's unreflective face; after which Harry was drawn away by the appearance of that dark star, the Countess de Saldar, whom Rose was beginning to detest. Jenny glided by William Harvey's side, far off. Rose, the young Queen of Friendship, was left deserted on her music-stool for a throne, and when she ceased to hammer the notes she was insulted by a voice that cried from below:

'Go on, Rose, it's nice in the sun to hear you,' causing her to close her performances and the instrument vigorously.

Rose was much behind her age: she could not tell what was the matter with her. In these little torments young people have to pass through they gain a rapid maturity. Let a girl talk with her own heart an hour, and she is almost a woman. Rose came down-stairs dressed for riding. Laxley was doing her the service of smoking one of her rose-trees. Evan stood disengaged, prepared for her summons. She did not notice him, but beckoned to Laxley drooping over a bud, while the curled smoke floated from his lips.

'The very gracefullest of chimney-pots-is he not?' says the Countess to Harry, whose immense guffaw fails not to apprise Laxley that something has been said of him, for in his dim state of consciousness absence of the power of retort is the prominent feature, and when he has the suspicion of malicious tongues at their work, all he can do is silently to resent it. Probably this explains his conduct to Evan. Some youths have an acute memory for things that have shut their mouths.

The Countess observed to Harry that his dear friend Mr. Laxley appeared, by the cast of his face, to be biting a sour apple.

'Grapes, you mean?' laughed Harry. 'Never mind! she'll bite at him when he comes in for the title.'

'Anything crude will do,' rejoined the Countess. 'Why are you not courting Mrs. Evremonde, naughty Don?'

'Oh! she's occupied--castle's in possession. Besides--!' and Harry tried hard to look sly.

'Come and tell me about her,' said the Countess.

Rose, Laxley, and Evan were standing close together.

'You really are going alone, Rose?' said Laxley.

'Didn't I say so?--unless you wish to join us?' She turned upon Evan.

'I am at your disposal,' said Evan.

Rose nodded briefly.

'I think I'll smoke the trees,' said Laxley, perceptibly huffing.

'You won't come, Ferdinand?'

'I only offered to fill up the gap. One does as well as another.'

Rose flicked her whip, and then declared she would not ride at all, and, gathering up her skirts, hurried back to the house.

As Laxley turned away, Evan stood before him.

The unhappy fellow was precipitated by the devil of his false position.

'I think one of us two must quit the field; if I go I will wait for you,' he said.

'Oh; I understand,' said Laxley. 'But if it 's what I suppose you to mean, I must decline.'

'I beg to know your grounds.'

'You have tied my hands.'

'You would escape under cover of superior station?'

'Escape! You have only to unsay--tell me you have a right to demand it.'

The battle of the sophist victorious within him was done in a flash, as Evan measured his qualities beside this young man's, and without a sense of lying, said: 'I have.'

He spoke firmly. He looked the thing he called himself now. The Countess, too, was a dazzling shield to her brother. The beautiful Mrs. Strike was a completer vindicator of him; though he had queer associates, and talked oddly of his family that night in Fallow field.

'Very well, sir: I admit you manage to annoy me,' said Laxley. 'I can give you a lesson as well as another, if you want it.'

Presently the two youths were seen bowing in the stiff curt style of those cavaliers who defer a passage of temper for an appointed settlement. Harry rushed off to them with a shout, and they separated; Laxley speaking a word to Drummond, Evan--most judiciously, the Countess thought--joining his fair sister Caroline, whom the Duke held in converse.

Drummond returned laughing to the side of Mrs. Evremonde, nearing whom, the Countess, while one ear was being filled by Harry's eulogy of her brother's recent handling of Laxley, and while her intense gratification at the success of her patient management of her most difficult subject made her smiles no mask, heard, 'Is it not impossible to suppose such a thing?' A hush ensued--the Countess passed.

In the afternoon, the Jocelyns, William Harvey, and Drummond met together to consult about arranging the dispute; and deputations went to Laxley and to Evan. The former demanded an apology for certain expressions that day; and an equivalent to an admission that Mr. Harrington had said, in Fallow field, that he was not a gentleman, in order to escape the consequences. All the Jocelyns laughed at his tenacity, and 'gentleman' began to be bandied about in ridicule of the arrogant lean-headed adolescent. Evan was placable enough, but dogged; he declined to make any admission, though within himself he admitted that his antagonist was not in the position of an impostor; which he for one honest word among them would be exposed as being, and which a simple exercise of resolution to fly the place would save him from being further.

Lady Jocelyn enjoyed the fun, and still more the serious way in which her relatives regarded it.

'This comes of Rose having friends, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne.

There would have been a dispute to arrange between Lady Jocelyn and Mrs. Shorne, had not her ladyship been so firmly established in her phlegmatic philosophy. She said: 'Quelle enfantillage! I dare say Rose was at the bottom of it: she can settle it best. Defer the encounter between the boys until they see they are in the form of donkeys. They will; and then they'll run on together, as long as their goddess permits.'

'Indeed, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne, 'I desire you, by all possible means, to keep the occurrence secret from Rose. She ought not to hear of it.'

'No; I dare say she ought not,' returned Lady Jocelyn; 'but I wager you she does. You can teach her to pretend not to, if you like. Ecce signum.'

Her ladyship pointed through the library window at Rose, who was walking with Laxley, and showing him her pearly teeth in return for one of his jokes: an exchange so manifestly unfair, that Lady Jocelyn's womanhood, indifferent as she was, could not but feel that Rose had an object in view; which was true, for she was flattering Laxley into a consent to meet Evan half way.

The ladies murmured and hummed of these proceedings, and of Rose's familiarity with Mr. Harrington; and the Countess in trepidation took Evan to herself, and spoke to him seriously; a thing she had not done since her residence in Beckley. She let him see that he must be on a friendly footing with everybody in the house, or go which latter alternative Evan told her he had decided on. 'Yes,' said the Countess, 'and then you give people full warrant to say it was jealousy drove you hence; and you do but extinguish yourself to implicate dear Rose. In love, Evan, when you run away, you don't live to fight another day.'

She was commanded not to speak of love.

'Whatever it may be, my dear,' said the Countess, 'Mr. Laxley has used you ill. It may be that you put yourself at his feet'; and his sister looked at him, sighing a great sigh. She had, with violence, stayed her mouth concerning what she knew of the Fallow field business, dreading to alarm his sensitiveness; but she could not avoid giving him a little slap. It was only to make him remember by the smart that he must always suffer when he would not be guided by her.

Evan professed to the Jocelyns that he was willing to apologize to Laxley for certain expressions; determining to leave the house when he had done it. The Countess heard and nodded. The young men, sounded on both sides, were accordingly lured to the billiard-room, and pushed together: and when he had succeeded in thrusting the idea of Rose from the dispute, it did seem such folly to Evan's common sense, that he spoke with pleasant bonhommie about it. That done, he entered into his acted part, and towered in his conceit considerably above these aristocratic boors, who were speechless and graceless, but tigers for their privileges and advantages.

It will not be thought that the Countess intended to permit her brother's departure. To have toiled, and yet more, to have lied and fretted her conscience, for nothing, was as little her principle, as to quit the field of action till she is forcibly driven from it is that of any woman.

'Going, my dear,' she said coolly. 'To-morrow? Oh! very well. You are the judge. And this creature--the insolvent to the apple-woman, who is coming, whom you would push here--will expose us, without a soul to guide his conduct, for I shall not remain. And Carry will not remain. Carry---!' The Countess gave a semisob. 'Carry must return to her brute--' meaning the gallant Marine, her possessor.

And the Countess, knowing that Evan loved his sister Caroline, incidentally related to him an episode in the domestic life of Major and Mrs. Strike.

'Greatly redounding to the credit of the noble martinet for the discipline he upholds,' the Countess said, smiling at the stunned youth.

'I would advise you to give her time to recover from one bruise,' she added. 'You will do as it pleases you.'

Evan was sent rushing from the Countess to Caroline, with whom the Countess was content to leave him.

The young man was daintily managed. Caroline asked him to stay, as she did not see him often, and (she brought it in at the close) her home was not very happy. She did not entreat him, but looking resigned, her lovely face conjured up the Major to Evan, and he thought, 'Can I drive her back to her tyrant?' For so he juggled with himself to have but another day in the sunshine of Rose.

Andrew, too, threw out genial hints about the Brewery. Old Tom intended to retire, he said, and then they would see what they would see! He silenced every word about Lymport; called him a brewer already, and made absurd jokes, that were serviceable stuff nevertheless to the Countess, who deplored to this one and to that the chance existing that Evan might, by the urgent solicitations of his brother-in-law, give up diplomacy and its honours for a brewery and lucre!

Of course Evan knew that he was managed. The memoirs of a managed man have yet to be written; but if he be sincere he will tell you that he knew it all the time. He longed for the sugar-plum; he knew it was naughty to take it: he dared not for fear of the devil, and he shut his eyes while somebody else popped it into his mouth, and assumed his responsibility. Being man-driven or chicaned, is different from being managed. Being managed implies being led the way this other person thinks you should go: altogether for your own benefit, mind: you are to see with her eyes, that you may not disappoint your own appetites: which does not hurt the flesh, certainly; but does damage the conscience; and from the moment you have once succumbed, that function ceases to perform its office of moral strainer so well.

After all, was he not happier when he wrote himself tailor, than when he declared himself gentleman?

So he now imagined, till Rose, wishing him 'Good night' on the balcony, and abandoning her hand with a steady sweet voice and gaze, said: 'How generous of you to forgive my friend, dear Evan!' And the ravishing little glimpse of womanly softness in her, set his heart beating. If he thought at all, it was that he would have sacrificed body and soul for her.

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