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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 21. Emily Hotspur's Sermon
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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 21. Emily Hotspur's Sermon Post by :grimmbot Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :843

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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 21. Emily Hotspur's Sermon

CHAPTER XXI. EMILY HOTSPUR'S SERMON

The greater portion of the journey back to Humblethwaite was passed in silence. Sir Harry had undertaken an experiment in which he had no faith himself, and was sad at heart. Cousin George was cowed, half afraid, and yet half triumphant. Could it be possible that he should "pull through" after all? Some things had gone so well with him. His lady friends had been so true to him! Lady Altringham, and then Mrs. Morton,--how good they had been! Dear Lucy! He would never forget her. And Emily was such a brick! He was going to see his Emily, and that would be "so jolly." Nevertheless, he did acknowledge to himself that an Emily prepared to assist her father in sending her lover through the fire of reform, would not be altogether "so jolly" as the Emily who had leaned against him on the bridge at Airey Force, while his arm had been tightly clasped round her waist. He was alive to the fact that romance must give place to business.

When they had entered the park-gates, Sir Harry spoke. "You must understand, George"--he had not called him George before since the engagement had been made known to him--"that you cannot yet be admitted here as my daughter's accepted suitor, as might have been the case had your past life been different."

"I see all that," said Cousin George.

"It is right that I should tell you so; but I trust implicitly to Emily's high sense of duty and propriety. And now that you are here, George, I trust that it may be for your advantage and for ours."

Then he pressed his cousin's hand, if not with affection, at least with sincerity.

"I'm sure it is to be all right now," said George, calculating whether he would be able to escape to London for a few days, so that he might be able to arrange that little matter with Mr. Hart. They couldn't suppose that he would be able to leave London for two years without a day's notice!

Sir Harry got out of the carriage at the front door, and desired Cousin George to follow him into the house. He turned at once into the small room where George had drunk the sherry, and desired that Lady Elizabeth might be sent to him.

"My dear," said he, "I have brought George back with me. We will do the best that we can. Mrs. Quick will have a room for him. You had better tell Emily, and let her come to me for a moment before she sees her cousin." This was all said in George's hearing. And then Sir Harry went, leaving his cousin in the hands of Lady Elizabeth.

"I am glad to see you back again, George," she said, with a melancholy voice.

Cousin George smiled, and said, that "it would be all right."

"I am sure I hope so, for my girl's sake. But there must be a great change, George."

"No end of a change," said Cousin George, who was not in the least afraid of Lady Elizabeth.

Many things of moment had to be done in the house that day before dinner. In the first place there was a long interview between the father and daughter. For a few minutes, perhaps, he was really happy when she was kneeling with her arms upon his knees, thanking him for what he had done, while tears of joy were streaming down her cheeks. He would not bring himself to say a word of caution to her. Would it not be to paint the snow white to caution her as to her conduct?

"I have done as you bade me in everything," he said. "I have proposed to him that he should go to Scarrowby. It may be that it will be your home for a while, dear."

She thanked him and kissed him again and again. She would be so good. She would do all she could to deserve his kindness. And as for George,--"Pray, Papa, don't think that I suppose that it can be all done quite at once." Nevertheless it was in that direction that her thoughts erred. It did seem to her that the hard part of the work was already done, and that now the pleasant paths of virtue were to be trod with happy and persistent feet.

"You had better see him in your mother's presence, dearest, before dinner; and then the awkwardness will be less afterwards."

She kissed him again, and ran from his room up to her mother's apartment, taking some back stairs well known to herself, lest she should by chance meet her lover after some undue and unprepared fashion. And there she could sit down and think of it all! She would be very discreet. He should be made to understand at once that the purgation must be thorough, the reform complete. She would acknowledge her love to him,--her great and abiding love; but of lover's tenderness there could be but little,--almost none,--till the fire had done its work, and the gold should have been separated from the dross. She had had her way so far, and they should find that she had deserved it.

Before dinner Sir Harry wrote a letter to his lawyer. The mail-cart passed through the village on its way to Penrith late in the evening, and there was time for him to save the post. He thought it incumbent on him to let Mr. Boltby know that he had changed his mind; and, though the writing of the letter was not an agreeable task, he did it at once. He said nothing to Mr. Boltby directly about his daughter, but he made it known to that gentleman that Cousin George was at present a guest at Humblethwaite, and that he intended to pay all the debts without entering into any other specific engagements. Would Mr. Boltby have the goodness to make out a schedule of the debts? Captain Hotspur should be instructed to give Mr. Boltby at once all the necessary information by letter. Then Sir Harry went on to say that perhaps the opinions formed in reference to Captain Hotspur had been too severe. He was ashamed of himself as he wrote these words, but still they were written. If the blackamoor was to be washed white, the washing must be carried out at all times, at all seasons, and in every possible manner, till the world should begin to see that the blackness was going out of the skin.

Cousin George was summoned to meet the girl who loved him in her mother's morning-room, before they dressed for dinner. He did not know at all in what way to conduct himself. He had not given a moment's thought to it till the difficulty flashed upon him as she entered the apartment. But she had considered it all. She came up to him quickly, and gave him her lips to kiss, standing there in her mother's presence.

"George," she said, "dear George! I am so glad that you are here."

It was the first; and it should be the last,--till the fire had done its work; till the fire should at least have done so much of its work as to make the remainder easy and fairly sure. He had little to say for himself, but muttered something about his being the happiest fellow in the world. It was a position in which a man could hardly behave well, and neither the mother nor the daughter expected much from him. A man cannot bear himself gracefully under the weight of a pardon as a woman may do. A man chooses generally that it shall be assumed by those with whom he is closely connected that he has done and is doing no wrong; and, when wronged, he professes to forgive and to forget in silence. To a woman the act of forgiveness, either accepted or bestowed, is itself a pleasure. A few words were then spoken, mostly by Lady Elizabeth, and the three separated to prepare for dinner.

The next day passed over them at Humblethwaite Hall very quietly, but with some mild satisfaction. Sir Harry told his cousin of the letter to his lawyer, and desired George to make out and send by that day's post such a schedule as might be possible on the spur of the moment.

"Hadn't I better run up and see Mr. Boltby?" said Cousin George.

But to this Sir Harry was opposed. Let any calls for money reach them there. Whatever the calls might be, he at any rate could pay them. Cousin George repeated his suggestion; but acquiesced when Sir Harry frowned and showed his displeasure. He did make out a schedule, and did write a letter to Mr. Boltby.

"I think my debt to Mr. Hart was put down as L3,250," he wrote, "but I believe I should have added another L350 for a transaction as to which I fancy he does not hold my note of hand. But the money is due."

He was fool enough to think that Mr. Walker's claim might be liquidated after this fashion. In the afternoon they rode together,--the father, the daughter, and the blackamoor, and much was told to Cousin George as to the nature of the property. The names of the tenants were mentioned, and the boundaries of the farms were pointed out to him. He was thinking all the time whether Mr. Hart would spare him.

But Emily Hotspur, though she had been thus reticent and quiet in her joy, though she was resolved to be discreet, and knew that there were circumstances in her engagement which would for a while deter her from being with her accepted lover as other girls are with theirs, did not mean to estrange herself from her cousin George. If she were to do so, how was she to assist, and take, as she hoped to do, the first part in that task of refining the gold on which they were all now intent? She was to correspond with him when he was at Scarrowby. Such was her present programme, and Sir Harry had made no objection when she declared her purpose. Of course they must understand each other, and have communion together. On the third day, therefore, it was arranged they two should walk, without other company, about the place. She must show him her own gardens, which were at some distance from the house. If the truth be told, it must be owned that George somewhat dreaded the afternoon's amusement; but had she demanded of him to sit down to listen to her while she read to him a sermon, he would not have refused.

To be didactic and at the same time demonstrative of affection is difficult, even with mothers towards their children, though with them the assumption of authority creates no sense of injury. Emily specially desired to point out to the erring one the paths of virtue, and yet to do so without being oppressive.

"It is so nice to have you here, George," she said.

"Yes, indeed; isn't it?" He was walking beside her, and as yet they were within view of the house.

"Papa has been so good; isn't he good?"

"Indeed he is. The best man I know out," said George, thinking that his gratitude would have been stronger had the Baronet given him the money and allowed him to go up to London to settle his own debts.

"And Mamma has been so kind! Mamma is very fond of you. I am sure she would do anything for you."

"And you?" said George, looking into her face.

"I!--As for me, George, it is a matter of course now. You do not want to be told again what is and ever must be my first interest in the world."

"I do not care how often you tell me."

"But you know it; don't you?"

"I know what you said at the waterfall, Emily."

"What I said then I said for always. You may be sure of that. I told Mamma so, and Papa. If they had not wanted me to love you, they should not have asked you to come here. I do love you, and I hope that some day I may be your wife."

She was not leaning on his arm, but as she spoke she stopped, and looked stedfastly into his face. He put out his hand as though to take hers; but she shook her head, refusing it. "No, George; come on. I want to talk to you a great deal. I want to say ever so much,--now, to-day. I hope that some day I may be your wife. If I am not, I shall never be any man's wife."

"What does some day mean, Emily?"

"Ever so long;--years, perhaps."

"But why? A fellow has to be consulted, you know, as well as yourself. What is the use of waiting? I know Sir Harry thinks I have been very fond of pleasure. How can I better show him how willing I am to give it up than by marrying and settling down at once? I don't see what's to be got by waiting?"

Of course she must tell him the truth. She had no idea of keeping back the truth. She loved him with all her heart, and was resolved to marry him; but the dross must first be purged from the gold. "Of course you know, George, that Papa has made objections."

"I know he did, but that is over now. I am to go and live at Scarrowby at once, and have the shooting. He can't want me to remain there all by myself."

"But he does; and so do I."

"Why?"

In order that he might be made clean by the fire of solitude and the hammer of hard work. She could not quite say this to him. "You know, George, your life has been one of pleasure."

"I was in the army,--for some years."

"But you left it, and you took to going to races, and they say that you gambled and are in debt, and you have been reckless. Is not that true, George?"

"It is true."

"And should you wonder that Papa should be afraid to trust his only child and all his property to one who,--who knows that he has been reckless? But if you can show, for a year or two, that you can give up all that--"

"Wouldn't it be all given up if we were married?"

"Indeed, I hope so. I should break my heart otherwise. But can you wonder that Papa should wish for some delay and some proof?"

"Two years!"

"Is that much? If I find you doing what he wishes, these two years will be so happy to me! We shall come and see you, and you will come here. I have never liked Scarrowby, because it is not pretty, as this place is; but, oh, how I shall like to go there now! And when you are here, Papa will get to be so fond of you. You will be like a real son to him. Only you must be steady."

"Steady! by Jove, yes. A fellow will have to be steady at Scarrowby." The perfume of the cleanliness of the life proposed to him was not sweet to his nostrils.

She did not like this, but she knew that she could not have everything at once. "You must know," she said, "that there is a bargain between me and Papa. I told him that I should tell you everything."

"Yes; I ought to be told everything."

"It is he that shall fix the day. He is to do so much, that he has a right to that. I shall never press him, and you must not."

"Oh, but I shall."

"It will be of no use; and, George, I won't let you. I shall scold you if you do. When he thinks that you have learned how to manage the property, and that your mind is set upon that kind of work, and that there are no more races,--mind, and no betting, then,--then he will consent. And I will tell you something more if you would like to hear it."

"Something pleasant, is it?"

"When he does, and tells me that he is not afraid to give me to you, I shall be the happiest girl in all England. Is that pleasant?--No, George, no; I will not have it."

"Not give me one kiss?"

"I gave you one when you came, to show you that in truth I loved you. I will give you another when Papa says that everything is right."

"Not till then?"

"No, George, not till then. But I shall love you just the same. I cannot love you better than I do."

He had nothing for it but to submit, and was obliged to be content during the remainder of their long walk with talking of his future life at Scarrowby. It was clearly her idea that he should be head-farmer, head-steward, head-accountant, and general workman for the whole place. When he talked about the game, she brought him back to the plough;--so at least he declared to himself. And he could elicit no sympathy from her when he reminded her that the nearest meet of hounds was twenty miles and more from Scarrowby. "You can think of other things for a while," she said. He was obliged to say that he would, but it did seem to him that Scarrowby was a sort of penal servitude to which he was about to be sent with his own concurrence. The scent of the cleanliness was odious to him.

"I don't know what I shall do there of an evening," he said.

"Read," she answered; "there are lots of books, and you can always have the magazines. I will send them to you." It was a very dreary prospect of life for him, but he could not tell her that it would be absolutely unendurable.

When their walk was over,--a walk which she never could forget, however long might be her life, so earnest had been her purpose,--he was left alone, and took another stroll by himself. How would it suit him? Was it possible? Could the event "come off"? Might it not have been better for him had he allowed his other loving friend to prepare for him the letter to the Baronet, in which Sir Harry's munificent offer would have been accepted? Let us do him the justice to remember that he was quite incapable of understanding the misery, the utter ruin which that letter would have entailed upon her who loved him so well. He knew nothing of such sufferings as would have been hers--as must be hers, for had she not already fallen haplessly into the pit when she had once allowed herself to fix her heart upon a thing so base as this? It might have been better, he thought, if that letter had been written. A dim dull idea came upon him that he was not fit to be this girl's husband. He could not find his joys where she would find hers. No doubt it would be a grand thing to own Humblethwaite and Scarrowby at some future time; but Sir Harry might live for these twenty years, and while Sir Harry lived he must be a slave. And then he thought that upon the whole he liked Lucy Morton better than Emily Hotspur. He could say what he chose to Lucy, and smoke in her presence, own that he was fond of drink, and obtain some sympathy for his "book" on the Derby. He began to feel already that he did not like sermons from the girl of his heart.

But he had chosen this side now, and he must go on with the game. It seemed certain to him that his debts would at any rate be paid. He was not at all certain how matters might go in reference to Mr. Walker, but if matters came to the worst the Baronet would probably be willing to buy him off again with the promised income. Nevertheless, he was not comfortable, and certainly did not shine at Sir Harry's table. "Why she has loved him, what she has seen in him, I cannot tell," said Sir Harry to his wife that night.

We must presume Sir Harry did not know how it is that the birds pair.

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