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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 9
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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 9 Post by :Chuks52 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1904

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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 9



Once on a time there lived a merchant named Fossett, a widower with three children, of whom a daughter, Arabella, was by some years the eldest. He was much respected, deemed a warm man, and a safe--attended diligently to his business--suffered no partner, no foreman, to dictate or intermeddle--liked his comforts, but made no pretence to fashion. His villa was at Clapham, not a showy but a solid edifice, with lodge, lawn, and gardens chiefly notable for what is technically called glass--viz. a range of glass-houses on the most improved principles, the heaviest pines, the earliest strawberries. "I'm no judge of flowers," quoth Mr. Fossett, meekly. "Give me a plain lawn, provided it be close-shaven. But I say to my gardener: 'Forcing is my hobby--a cucumber with my fish all the year round!'" Yet do not suppose Mr Fossett ostentatious--quite the reverse. He would no more ruin himself for the sake of dazzling others, than he would for the sake of serving them. He liked a warm house, spacious rooms, good living, old wine, for their inherent merits: He cared not to parade them to public envy. When he dined alone, or with a single favoured guess, the best Lafitte, the oldest sherry!--when extending the rites of miscellaneous hospitality to neighbours, relations, or other slight acquaintances--for Lafitte, Julien; and for sherry, Cape!--Thus not provoking vanity, nor courting notice, Mr. Fossett was without an enemy, and seemed without a care. Formal were his manners, formal his household, formal even the stout cob that bore him from Cheapside to Clapham, from Claphain to Cheapside. That cob could not even prick up its ears if it wished to shy--its ears were cropped, so were its mane and its tail.

Arabella early gave promise of beauty, and more than ordinary power of intellect and character. Her father be stowed on her every advantage of education. She was sent to a select boarding-school of the highest reputation; the strictest discipline, the best masters, the longest bills. At the age of seventeen she had become the show pupil of the seminary. Friends wondered somewhat why the prim merchant took such pains to lavish on his daughter the worldly accomplishments which seemed to give him no pleasure, and of which he never spoke with pride. But certainly, if she was so clever--first-rate musician, exquisite artist, accomplished linguist, "it was very nice in old Fossett to bear it so meekly, never crying her up, nor showing her off to less fortunate parents--very nice in him--good sense--greatness of mind."

"Arabella," said the worthy man one day, a little time after his eldest daughter had left school for good; "Arabella," said he, "Mrs. -------," naming the head teacher in that famous school, "pays you a very high compliment in a letter I received from her this morning. She says it is a pity you are not a poor man's daughter--that you are so steady and so clever that you could make a fortune for yourself as a teacher."

Arabella at that age could smile gaily, and gaily she smiled at the notion conveyed in the compliment.

"No one can guess," resumed the father, twirling his thumbs and speaking rather through his nose; "the ups and downs in this mortal sphere of trial, 'specially in the mercantile community. If ever, when I'm dead and gone, adversity should come upon you, you will gratefully remember that I have given you the best of education, and take care of your little brother and sister, who are both--stupid!"

These doleful words did not make much impression on Arabella, uttered as they were in a handsome drawing-room, opening on the neat-shaven lawn it took three gardeners to shave, with a glittering side-view of those galleries of glass in which strawberries were ripe at Christmas, and cucumbers never failed to fish. Time--went on. Arabella was now twenty-three--a very fine girl, with a decided manner--much occupied by her music, her drawing, her books, and her fancies. Fancies--for, like most girls with very active heads and idle hearts, she had a vague yearning for some excitement beyond the monotonous routine of a young lady's life; and the latent force of her nature inclined her to admire whatever was out of the beaten track--whatever was wild and daring. She had received two or three offers from young gentlemen in the same mercantile community as that which surrounded her father in this sphere of trial. But they did not please her; and she believed her father when he said that they only courted her under the idea that he would come down with something handsome; "whereas," said the merchant, "I hope you will marry an honest man, who will like you for yourself; and wait for your fortune till my will is read. As King William says to his son, in the History of England, 'I don't mean to strip till I go to bed.'"

One night, at a ball in Clapham, Arabella saw the man who was destined to exercise so baleful an influence over her existence. Jasper Losely had been brought to this ball by a young fellow-clerk in the same commercial house as himself; and then in all the bloom of that conspicuous beauty, to which the miniature Arabella had placed before his eyes so many years afterwards did but feeble justice, it may well be conceived that he concentred on himself the admiring gaze of the assembly. Jasper was younger than Arabella; but, what with the height of his stature and the self-confidence of his air, he looked four or five and twenty. Certainly, in so far as the distance from childhood may be estimated by the loss of innocence, Jasper might have been any age! He was told that old Fossett's daughter would have a very fine fortune; that she was a strong-minded young lady, who governed her father, and would choose for herself; and accordingly he devoted himself to Arabella the whole of the evening. The effect produced on the mind of this ill-fated woman by her dazzling admirer was as sudden as it proved to be lasting. There was a strange charm in the very contrast between his rattling audacity and the bashful formalities of the swains who had hitherto wooed her as if she frightened them. Even his good looks fascinated her less than that vital energy and power about the lawless brute, which to her seemed the elements of heroic character, though but the attributes of riotous spirits, magnificent formation, flattered vanity, and imperious egotism. She was a bird gazing spell-bound on a gay young boa-constrictor, darting from bough to bough, sunning its brilliant hues, and showing off all its beauty, just before it takes the bird for its breakfast.

When they parted that night, their intimacy had so far advanced that arrangements had been made for its continuance. Arabella had an instinctive foreboding that her father would be less charmed than herself with Jasper Losely; that, if Jasper were presented to him, he would possibly forbid her farther acquaintance with a young clerk, however superb his outward appearance. She took the first false step. She had a maiden aunt by the mother's side, who lived in Bloomsbury, gave and went to small parties, to which Jasper could easily get introduced. She arranged to pay a visit for some weeks to this aunt, who was then very civil to her, accepting with marked kindness seasonable presents of strawberries, pines, spring chickens, and so forth, and offering in turn, whenever it was convenient, a spare room, and whatever amusement a round of small parties, and the innocent flirtations incidental thereto, could bestow. Arabella said nothing to her father about Jasper Losely, and to her aunt's she went. Arabella saw Jasper very often; they became engaged to each other, exchanged vows and love-tokens, locks of hair, &c. Jasper, already much troubled by duns, became naturally ardent to insure his felicity and Arabella's supposed fortune. Arabella at last summoned courage, and spoke to her father. To her delighted surprise, Mr. Fossett, after some moralising, more on the uncertainty of life in general than her clandestine proceedings in particular, agreed to see Mr. Jasper Losely, and asked him down to dinner. After dinner, over 'a bottle of Lafitte, in an exceedingly plain but exceedingly weighty silver jug, which made Jasper's mouth water (I mean the jug), Mr. Fossett, commencing with that somewhat coarse though royal saying of William the Conqueror, with which he had before edified his daughter, assured Jasper that he gave his full consent to the young gentleman's nuptials with Arabella, provided Jasper or his relations would maintain her in a plain respectable way, and wait for her fortune till his (Fossett's) will was read. What that fortune would be, Mr. Fossett declined even to hint. Jasper went away very much cooled. Still the engagement remained in force; the nuptials were tacitly deferred. Jasper and his relations maintain a wife! Preposterous idea! It would take a clan of relations and a Zenana of wives to maintain in that state to which he deemed himself entitled--Jasper himself! But just as he was meditating the possibility of a compromise with old Fossett, by which he would agree to wait till the will was read for contingent advantages, provided Fossett, in his turn, would agree in the mean while to afford lodging and board, with a trifle for pocket-money, to Arabella and himself, in the Clapham villa, which, though not partial to rural scenery, Jasper preferred, on the whole, to a second floor in the City,--old Fossett fell ill, took to his bed; was unable to attend to his business, some one else attended to it; and the consequence was, that the house stopped payment, and was discovered to have been insolvent for the last ten years. Not a discreditable bankruptcy. There might perhaps be seven shillings in the pound ultimately paid, and not more than forty families irretrievably ruined. Old Fossett, safe in his bed, bore the affliction with philosophical composure; observed to Arabella that he had always warned her of the ups and downs in this sphere of trial; referred again with pride to her first-rate education; commended again to her care Tom and Biddy; and, declaring that he died in charity with all men, resigned himself to the last slumber.

Arabella at first sought a refuge with her maiden aunt. But that lady, though not hit in pocket by her brother-in-law's failure, was more vehement against his memory than his most injured creditor--not only that she deemed herself unjustly defrauded of the pines, strawberries, and spring chickens, by which she had been enabled to give small parties at small cost, though with ample show, but that she was robbed of the consequence she had hitherto derived from the supposed expectations of her niece. In short, her welcome was so hostile, and her condolences so cutting, that Arabella quitted her door with a solemn determination never again to enter it.

And now the nobler qualities of the bankrupt's daughter rose at once into play. Left penniless, she resolved by her own exertions to support and to rear her young brother and sister. The great school to which she had been the ornament willingly received her as a teacher, until some more advantageous place in a private family, and with a salary worthy of her talents and accomplishments, could be found.

Her intercourse with Jasper became necessarily suspended. She had the generosity to write, offering to release him from his engagement. Jasper considered himself fully released without that letter; but he deemed it neither gallant nor discreet to say so. Arabella might obtain a situation with larger salary than she could possibly need, the superfluities whereof Jasper might undertake to invest. Her aunt had evidently something to leave, though she might have nothing to give. In fine, Arabella, if not rich enough for a wife, might be often rich enough for a friend at need; and so long as he was engaged to her for life, it must be not more her pleasure than her duty to assist him to live. Besides, independently of these prudential though not ardent motives for declaring unalterable fidelity to troth, Jasper at that time really did entertain what he called love for the handsome young woman--flattered that one of attainments so superior to all the girls he had ever known should be so proud even less of his affection for her than her own affection for himself. Thus the engagement lasted--interviews none--letters frequent. Arabella worked hard, looking to the future; Jasper worked as little as possible, and was very much bored by the present.

Unhappily, as it turned out, so great a sympathy, not only amongst the teachers, but amongst her old schoolfellows, was felt for Arabella's reverse; her character for steadiness, as well as talent, stood so high, and there was something so creditable in her resolution to maintain her orphan brother and sister, that an effort was made to procure her a livelihood much more lucrative, and more independent, than she could obtain either in a school or a family. Why not take a small house of her own, live there with her fellow-orphans, and give lessons out by the hour? Several families at once agreed so to engage her, and an income adequate to all her wants was assured. Arabella adopted this plan. She took the house; Bridget Greggs, the nurse of her infancy, became her servant, and soon to that house, stealthily in the shades of evening, glided Jasper Losely. She could not struggle against his influence--had not the heart to refuse his visits--he was so poor--in such scrapes--and professed himself to be so unhappy. There now became some one else to toil for, besides the little brother and sister. But what were Arabella's gains to a man who already gambled? New afflictions smote her. A contagious fever broke out in the neighborhood; her little brother caught it; her little sister sickened the next day; in less than a week two small coffins were borne from her door by the Black Horses--borne to that plot of sunny turf in the pretty suburban cemetery, bought with the last earnings made for the little ones by the mother-like sister:--Motherless lone survivor! what! no friend on earth, no soother but that direful Jasper! Alas! the truly dangerous Venus is not that Erycina round whom circle Jest and Laughter. Sorrow, and that sense of solitude which makes us welcome a footstep as a child left in the haunting dark welcomes the entrance of light, weaken the outworks of female virtue more than all the vain levities of mirth, or the flatteries which follow the path of Beauty through the crowd. Alas, and alas! let the tale hurry on!

Jasper Losely has still more solemnly sworn to marry his adored Arabella. But when? When they are rich enough. She feels as if her spirit was gone--as if she could work no more. She was no weak commonplace girl, whom love can console for shame. She had been rigidly brought up; her sense of female rectitude was keen; her remorse was noiseless, but it was stern. Harassments of a more vulgar nature beset her: she had forestalled her sources of income; she had contracted debts for Jasper's sake;--in vain: her purse was emptied, yet his no fuller. His creditors pressed him; he told her that he must hide. One winter's day he thus departed; she saw him no more for a year. She heard, a few days after he left her, of his father's crime and committal. Jasper was sent abroad by his maternal uncle, at his father's prayer; sent to a commercial house in France, in which the uncle obtained him a situation. In fact, the young man had been despatched to France under another name, in order to save him from the obloquy which his father had brought upon his own.

Soon came William Losely's trial and sentence. Arabella felt the disgrace acutely--felt how it would affect the audacious insolent Jasper; did not wonder that he forbore to write to her. She conceived him bowed by shame, but she was buoyed up by her conviction that they should meet again. For good or for ill, she held herself bound to him for life. But meanwhile the debts she had incurred on his account came upon her. She was forced to dispose of her house; and at this time Mrs. Lyndsay, looking out for some first-rate superior governess for Matilda Darrell, was urged by all means to try and secure for that post Arabella Fossett. The highest testimonials from the school at which she had been reared, from the most eminent professional masters, from the families at which she had recently taught, being all brought to bear upon Mr. Darrell, he authorised Mrs. Lyndsay to propose such a salary as could not fail to secure a teacher of such rare qualifications. And thus Arabella became governess to Miss Darrell.

There is a kind of young lady of whom her nearest relations will say, "I can't make that girl out." Matilda Darrell was that kind of young lady. She talked very little; she moved very noiselessly; she seemed to regard herself as a secret which she had solemnly sworn not to let out. She had been steeped in slyness from her early infancy by a sly mother. Mrs. Darrell was a woman who had always something to conceal. There was always some note to be thrust out of sight; some visit not to be spoken of; something or other which Matilda was not on any account to mention to Papa.

When Mrs. Darrell died, Matilda was still a child, but she still continued to view her father as a person against whom prudence demanded her to be constantly on her guard. It was not that she was exactly afraid of him--he was very gentle to her, as he was to all children; but his loyal nature was antipathetic to hers. She had no sympathy with him. How confide her thoughts to him? She had an instinctive knowledge that those thoughts were not such as could harmonise with his. Yet, though taciturn, uncaressing, undemonstrative, she appeared mild and docile. Her reserve was ascribed to constitutional timidity. Timid to a degree she usually seemed; yet, when you thought you had solved the enigma, she said or did something so coolly determined, that you were forced again to exclaim, "I can't make that girl out!" She was not quick at her lessons. You had settled in your mind that she was dull, when, by a chance remark, you were startled to find that she was very sharp; keenly observant, when you had fancied her fast asleep. She had seemed, since her mother's death, more fond of Mrs. Lyndsay and Caroline than of any other human beings--always appeared sullen or out of spirits when they were absent; yet she confided to them no more than she did to her father. You would suppose from this description that Matilda could inspire no liking in those with whom she lived. Not so; her very secretiveness had a sort of attraction--a puzzle always creates some interest. Then her face, though neither handsome nor pretty, had in it a treacherous softness--a subdued, depressed expression. A kind observer could not but say with an indulgent pity; "There must be a good deal of heart in that girl, if one could but--make her out."

She appeared to take at once to Arabella, more than she had taken to Mrs. Lyndsay, or even to Caroline, with whom she had been brought up as a sister, but who, then joyous and quick and innocently fearless--with her soul in her eyes and her heart on her lips--had no charm for Matilda, because there she saw no secret to penetrate, and her she had no object in deceiving.

But this stranger, of accomplishments so rare, of character so decided, with a settled gloom on her lip, a gathered care on her brow--there was some one to study, and some one with whom she felt a sympathy; for she detected at once that Arabella was also a secret.

At first, Arabella, absorbed in her own reflections, gave to Matilda but the mechanical attention which a professional teacher bestows on an ordinary pupil. But an interest in Matilda sprung up in her breast, in proportion as she conceived a venerating gratitude for Darrell. He was aware of the pomp and circumstance which had surrounded her earlier years; he respected the creditable energy with which she had devoted her talents to the support of the young children thrown upon her care; compassionated her bereavement of those little fellow-orphans for whom toil had been rendered sweet; and he strove, by a kindness of forethought and a delicacy of attention, which were the more prized in a man so eminent and so preoccupied, to make her forget that she was a salaried teacher--to place her saliently, and as a matter of course, in the position of a gentlewoman, guest, and friend. Recognising in her a certain vigour and force of intellect apart from her mere accomplishments, he would flatter her scholastic pride, by referring to her memory in some question of reading, or consulting her judgment on some point of critical taste. She, in return, was touched by his chivalrous kindness to the depth of a nature that, though already seriously injured by its unhappy contact with a soul like Jasper's, retained that capacity of gratitude, the loss of which is humanity's last deprivation. Nor this alone: Arabella was startled by the intellect and character of Darrell into that kind of homage which a woman, who has hitherto met but her own intellectual inferiors, renders to the first distinguished personage in whom she recognises, half with humility and half with awe, an understanding and a culture to which her own reason is but the flimsy glass-house, and her own knowledge but the forced exotic.

Arabella, thus roused from her first listlessness, sought to requite Darrell's kindness by exerting every energy to render his insipid daughter an accomplished woman. So far as mere ornamental education extends, the teacher was more successful than, with all her experience, her skill, and her zeal, she had presumed to anticipate. Matilda, without ear, or taste, or love for music, became a very fair mechanical musician. Without one artistic predisposition, she achieved the science of perspective--she attained even to the mixture of colours--she filled a portfolio with drawings which no young lady need have been ashamed to see circling round a drawing-room. She carried Matilda's thin mind to the farthest bound it could have reached without snapping, through an elegant range of selected histories and harmless feminine classics--through Gallic dialogues--through Tuscan themes--through Teuton verbs--yea, across the invaded bounds of astonished Science into the Elementary Ologies. And all this being done, Matilda Darrell was exactly the same creature that she was before. In all that related to character, to inclinations, to heart, even that consummate teacher could give no intelligible answer, when Mrs. Lyndsay in her softest accents (and no accents ever were softer) sighed: "Poor dear Matilda! can you make her out, Miss Fossett?" Miss Fossett could not make her out. But, after the most attentive study, Miss Fossett had inly decided that there was nothing to make out--that, like many other very nice girls, Matilda Darrell was a harmless nullity, what you call "a Miss" white deal or willow, to which Miss Fossett had done all in the way of increasing its value as ornamental furniture, when she had veneered it over with rosewood or satinwood, enriched its edges with ormolu, and strewed its surface with nicknacks and albums. But Arabella firmly believed Matilda Darrell to be a quiet, honest, good sort of "Miss," on the whole--very fond of her, Arabella. The teacher had been several months in Darrell's family, when Caroline Lyndsay, who had been almost domesticated with Matilda (sharing the lessons bestowed on the latter, whether by Miss Fossett or visiting masters), was taken away by Mrs. Lyndsay on a visit to the old Marchioness of Montfort. Matilda, who was to come out the next year, was thus almost exclusively with Arabella, who redoubled all her pains to veneer the white deal, and protect with ormolu its feeble edges--so that, when it "came out," all should admire that thoroughly fashionable piece of furniture. It was the habit of Miss Fossett and her pupil to take a morning walk in the quiet retreats of the Green Park; and one morning, as they were thus strolling, nursery-maids and children, and elderly folks who were ordered to take early exercises, undulating round their unsuspecting way,--suddenly, right upon their path (unlooked--for as the wolf that startled Horace in the Sabine wood, but infinitely more deadly than that runaway animal), came Jasper Losely! Arabella uttered a faint scream. She could not resist--had no thought of resisting--the impulse to bound forward--lay her hand on his arm. She was too agitated to perceive whether his predominant feeling was surprise or rapture. A few hurried words were exchanged, while Matilda Darrell gave one sidelong glance towards the handsome stranger, and walked quietly by them. On his part, Jasper said that he had just returned to London--that he had abandoned for ever all idea of a commercial life--that his father's misfortune (he gave that gentle appellation to the incident of penal transportation) had severed him from all former friends, ties, habits--that he had dropped the name of Losely for ever--entreated Arabella not to betray it--his name now was Hammond--his "prospects," he said, "fairer than they had ever been." Under the name of Hammond, as an independent gentleman, he had made friends more powerful than he could ever have made under the name of Losely as a city clerk. He blushed to think he had ever been a city clerk. No doubt he should get into some Government office; and then, oh then, with assured income and a certainty to rise, he might claim the longed-for hand of the "best of creatures."

On Arabella's part, she hastily explained her present position. She was governess to Miss Darrell--that was Miss Darrell. Arabella must not leave her walking on by herself--she would write to him. Addresses were exchanged--Jasper gave a very neat card--"Mr. Hammond, No.--, Duke Street, St. James's."

Arabella, with a beating heart, hastened to join her friend. At the rapid glance she had taken of her perfidious lover, she thought him, if possible, improved. His dress, always studied, was more to the fashion of polished society, more simply correct--his air more decided. Altogether he looked prosperous, and his manner had never been more seductive, in its mixture of easy self-confidence and hypocritical coaxing. In fact, Jasper had not been long in the French commercial house--to which he had been sent out of the way while his father's trial was proceeding and the shame of it fresh--before certain licenses of conduct had resulted in his dismissal. But, meanwhile, he had made many friends amongst young men of his own age--those loose wild viveurs who, without doing anything the law can punish as dishonest, contrive for a few fast years to live very showily on their wits. In that strange social fermentation which still prevails in a country where an aristocracy of birth, exceedingly impoverished, and exceedingly numerous so far as the right to prefix a De to the name, or to stamp a coronet on the card, can constitute an aristocrat--is diffused amongst an ambitious, adventurous, restless, and not inelegant young democracy--each cemented with the other by that fiction of law called egalite; in that yet unsettled and struggling society in which so much of the old has been irretrievably destroyed, and so little of the new has been solidly constructed--there are much greater varieties, infinitely more subtle grades and distinctions, in the region of life which lies between respectability and disgrace, than can be found in a country like ours. The French novels and dramas may apply less a mirror than a magnifying-glass to the beings that move through that region. But still those French novels and dramas do not unfaithfully represent the classifications of which they exaggerate the types. Those strange combinations, into one tableau, of students and grisettes; opera-dancers, authors, viscounts, swindlers, romantic Lorettes, gamblers on the Bourse, whose pedigree dates from the Crusades; impostors, taking titles from villages in which their grandsires might have been saddlers--and if detected, the detection but a matter of laugh; delicate women living like lawless men; men making trade out of love, like dissolute women, yet with point of honour so nice, that, doubt their truth or their courage, and--piff! you are in Charon's boat,--humanity in every civilised land may present single specimens, more or less, answering to each thus described. But where, save in France, find them all, if not precisely in the same salons, yet so crossing each other to and fro as to constitute a social phase, and give colour to a literature of unquestionable genius? And where, over orgies so miscellaneously Berecynthian, an atmosphere so elegantly Horatian? And where can coarseness so vanish into polished expression as in that diamond-like language--all terseness and sparkle--which, as friendly to Wit in its airiest prose, as hostile to Passion in its torrent of cloud-wrack of poetry, seems invented by the Grace out of spite to the Muse?

Into circles such as those of which the dim outline is here so imperfectly sketched, Jasper Losely niched himself, as _le bel Anglais_. (Pleasant representative of the English nation!) Not that those circles are to have the sole credit of his corruption. No! Justice is justice! Stand we up for our native land! _Le bel Anglais entered those circles a much greater knave than most of those whom he found there. But there, at least, he learned to set a yet higher value on his youth, and strength, and comeliness--on his readiness of resource--on the reckless audacity that browbeat timid and some even valiant men--on the six feet one of faultless symmetry that captivated foolish, and some even sensible women. Gaming was, however, his vice by predilection. A month before Arabella met him, he had had a rare run of luck. On the strength of it he had resolved to return to London, and (wholly oblivious of the best of creatures till she had thus startled him) hunt out and swoop off with an heiress. Three French friends accompanied him. Each had the same object. Each believed that London swarmed with heiresses. They were all three fine-looking men. One was a Count,--at least he said so. But proud of his rank?--not a bit of it: all for liberty (no man more likely to lose it)--all for fraternity (no man you would less love as a brother). And as for _egalite!_--the son of a shoemaker who was _homme de lettres_, and wrote in a journal, inserted a jest on the Count's courtship. "All men are equal before the pistol," said the Count; and knowing that in that respect he was equal to most, having practised at _poupees from the age of fourteen, he called out the son of Crispin and shot him through the lungs. Another of Jasper's travelling friends was an _enfant die peuple_--boasted that he was a foundling. He made verses of lugubrious strain, and taught Jasper how to shuffle at whist. The third, like Jasper, had been designed for trade; and, like Jasper, he had a soul above it. In politics he was a Communist--in talk Philanthropist. He was the cleverest man of them all, and is now at the galleys. The fate of his two compatriots--more obscure it is not my duty to discover. In that peculiar walk of life Jasper is as much as I can possibly manage.

It need not be said that Jasper carefully abstained from reminding his old city friends of his existence. It was his object and his hope to drop all identity with that son of a convict who had been sent out of the way to escape humiliation. In this resolve he was the more confirmed because he had no old city friends out of whom anything could be well got. His poor uncle, who alone of his relations in England had been privy to his change of name, was dead; his end hastened by grief for William Losely's disgrace, and the bad reports he had received from France of the conduct of William Losely's son. That uncle had left, in circumstances too straitened to admit the waste of a shilling, a widow of very rigid opinions; who, if ever by some miraculous turn in the wheel of fortune she could have become rich enough to slay a fatted calf, would never have given the shin-bone of it to a prodigal like Jasper, even had he been her own penitent son, instead of a graceless step-nephew. Therefore, as all civilisation proceeds westward, Jasper turned his face from the east; and had no more idea of recrossing Temple Bar in search of fortune, friends, or kindred, than a modern Welshman would dream of a pilgrimage to Asian shores to re-embrace those distant relatives whom Hu Gadarn left behind him countless centuries ago, when that mythical chief conducted his faithful Cymrians over the Hazy Sea to this happy island of Honey.

(Mel Ynnys--Isle of Honey. One of the poetic names given to England in the language of the ancient Britons.)

Two days after his rencontre with Arabella in the Green Park, the _soi-disant Hammond having, in the interim, learned that Darrell was immensely rich, and that Matilda was his only surviving child, did not fail to find himself in the Green Park again--and again--and again!

Arabella, of course, felt how wrong it was to allow him to accost her, and walk by one side of her while Miss Darrell was on the other. But she felt, also, as if it would be much more wrong to slip out and meet him alone. Not for worlds would she again have placed herself in such peril. To refuse to meet him at all?--she had not strength enough for that! Her joy at seeing him was so immense. And nothing could be more respectful than Jasper's manner and conversation. Whatever of warmer and more impassioned sentiment was exchanged between them passed in notes. Jasper had suggested to Arabella to represent him to Matilda as some near relation. But Arabella refused all such disguise. Her sole claim to self-respect was in considering him solemnly engaged to her--the man she was to marry.

And, after the second time they thus met, she said to Matilda, who had not questioned her by a word-by a look: "I was to be married to that gentleman before my father died; we are to be married as soon as we have something to live upon."

Matilda made some commonplace but kindly rejoinder. And thus she became raised into Arabella's confidence, so far as that confidence could be given, without betraying Jasper's real name or one darker memory in herself. Luxury, indeed, it was to Arabella to find, at last, some one to whom she could speak of that betrothal in which her whole future was invested--of that affection which was her heart's sheet-anchor--of that home, humble it might be and far off, but to which Time rarely fails to bring the Two, if never weary of the trust to become as One. Talking thus, Arabella forgot the relationship of pupil and teacher; it was as woman to woman--girl to girl--friend to friend. Matilda seemed touched by the confidence--flattered to possess at last another's secret. Arabella was a little chafed that she did not seem to admire Jasper as much as Arabella thought the whole world must admire. Matilda excused herself. "She had scarcely noticed Mr. Hammond. Yes: she had no doubt he would be considered handsome; but she owned, though it might be bad taste, that she preferred a pale complexion, with auburn hair;" and then she sighed and looked away, as if she had, in the course of her secret life, encountered some fatal pale complexion, with never-to-be-forgotten auburn hair. Not a word was said by either Matilda or Arabella as to concealing from Mr. Darrell these meetings with Mr. Hammond. Perhaps Arabella could not stoop to ask that secrecy; but there was no necessity to ask; Matilda was always too rejoiced to have something to conceal.

Now, in these interviews, Jasper scarcely ever addressed himself to Matilda; not twenty spoken words could have passed between them; yet, in the very third interview, Matilda's sly fingers had closed on a sly note. And from that day, in each interview, Arabella walking in the centre, Jasper on one side, Matilda the other--behind Arabella's back-passed the sly fingers and the sly notes, which Matilda received and answered. Not more than twelve or fourteen times was even this interchange effected. Darrell was about to move to Fawley. All such meetings would be now suspended. Two or three mornings before that fixed for leaving London, Matilda's room was found vacant. She was gone. Arabella was the first to discover her flight, the first to learn its cause. Matilda had left on her writing-table a letter for Miss Fossett. It was very short, very quietly expressed, and it rested her justification on a note from Jasper, which she enclosed--a note in which that gallant hero, ridiculing the idea that he could ever have been in love with Arabella, declared that he would destroy himself if Matilda refused to fly. She need not fear such angelic confidence in him. No! Even

Had he a heart for falsehood framed,
He ne'er could injure her."

Stifling each noisier cry--but panting--gasping--literally half out of her mind, Arabella rushed into Darrell's study. He, unsuspecting man, calmly bending over his dull books, was startled by her apparition. Few minutes sufficed to tell him all that it concerned him to learn. Few brief questions, few passionate answers, brought him to the very worst.

Who, and what, was this Mr. Hammond? Heaven of heavens! the son of William Losely--of a transported felon!

Arabella exulted in a reply which gave her a moment's triumph over the rival who had filched from her such a prize. Roused from his first misery and sense of abasement in this discovery, Darrell's wrath was naturally poured, not on the fugitive child, but on the frontless woman, who, buoyed up by her own rage and sense of wrong, faced him, and did not cower. She, the faithless governess, had presented to her pupil this convict's son in another name; she owned it--she had trepanned into the snares of so vile a fortune-hunter an ignorant child: she might feign amaze--act remorse--she must have been the man's accomplice. Stung, amidst all the bewilderment of her anguish, by this charge, which, at least, she did not deserve, Arabella tore from her bosom Jasper's recent letters to herself--letters all devotion and passion--placed them before Darrell, and bade him read. Nothing thought she then of name and fame--nothing but of her wrongs and of her woes. Compared to herself, Matilda seemed the perfidious criminal--she the injured victim. Darrell but glanced over the letters; they were signed "your loving husband."

"What is this?" he exclaimed; "are you married to the man?"

"Yes," cried Arabella, "in the eyes of Heaven!"

To Darrell's penetration there was no mistaking the significance of those words and that look; and his wrath redoubled. Anger in him, when once roused, was terrible; he had small need of words to vent it. His eye withered, his gesture appalled. Conscious but of one burning firebrand in brain and heart--of a sense that youth, joy, and hope were for ever gone, that the world could never be the same again--Arabella left the house, her character lost, her talents useless, her very means of existence stopped. Who henceforth would take her to teach? Who henceforth place their children under her charge?

She shrank into a gloomy lodging--she--shut herself up alone with her despair. Strange though it may seem, her anger against Jasper was slight as compared with the in tensity of her hate to Matilda. And stranger still it may seem, that as her thoughts recovered from their first chaos, she felt more embittered against the world, more crushed by a sense of shame, and yet galled by a no less keen sense of injustice, in recalling the scorn with which Darrell had rejected all excuse for her conduct in the misery it had occasioned her, than she did by the consciousness of her own lamentable errors. As in Darrell's esteem there was something that, to those who could appreciate it, seemed invaluable, so in his contempt to those who had cherished that esteem there was a weight of ignominy, as if a judge had pronounced a sentence that outlaws the rest of life.

Arabella had not much left out of her munificent salary. What she had hitherto laid by had passed to Jasper--defraying, perhaps, the very cost of his flight with her treacherous rival. When her money was gone, she pawned the poor relics of her innocent happy girlhood, which she had been permitted to take from her father's home, and had borne with her wherever she went, like household gods, the prize-books, the lute, the costly work-box, the very bird-cage, all which the reader will remember to have seen in her later life, the books never opened--the lute broken, the bird long, long, long vanished from the cage! Never did she think she should redeem those pledges from that Golgotha, which takes, rarely to give back, so many hallowed tokens of the Dreamland called "Better Days,"--the trinkets worn at the first ball, the ring that was given with the earliest love-vow--yea, even the very bells and coral that pleased the infant in his dainty cradle, and the very Bible in which the lips, that now bargain for sixpence more, read to some grey-haired father on his bed of death!

Soon the sums thus miserably raised were as miserably doled away. With a sullen apathy the woman contemplated famine. She would make no effort to live--appeal to no relations, no friends. It was a kind of vengeance she took on others, to let herself drift on to death. She had retreated from lodging to lodging, each obscurer, more desolate than the other. Now, she could no longer pay rent for the humblest room; now, she was told to go forth--whither? She knew not--cared not--took her way towards the River, as by that instinct which, when the mind is diseased, tends towards self-destruction, scarce less involuntarily than it turns, in health, towards self-preservation. Just as she passed under the lamp-light at the foot of Westminster Bridge, a man looked at her, and seized her arm. She raised her head with a chilly, melancholy scorn, as if she had received an insult--as if she feared that the man knew the stain upon her name, and dreamed, in his folly, that the dread of death might cause her to sin again.

"Do you not know me?" said the man; "more strange that I should recognise you! Dear, dear, and what a dress!--how you are altered! Poor thing!"

At the words "poor thing" Arabella burst into tears; and in those tears the heavy cloud on her brain seemed to melt away.

"I have been inquiring, seeking for you everywhere, Miss," resumed the man. "Surely, you know me now! Your poor aunt's lawyer! She is no more--died last week. She has left you all she had in the world; and a very pretty income it is, too, for a single lady."

Thus it was that we find Arabella installed in the dreary comforts of Podden Place. "She exchanged," she said, "in honour to her aunt's memory, her own name for that of Crane, which her aunt had borne--her own mother's maiden name." She assumed, though still so young, that title of "Mrs." which spinsters, grown venerable, moodily adopt when they desire all mankind to know that henceforth they relinquish the vanities of tender misses--that, become mistress of themselves, they defy and spit upon our worthless sex, which, whatever its repentance, is warned that it repents in vain. Most of her aunt's property was in houses, in various districts of Bloombury. Arabella moved from one to the other of these tenements, till she settled for good into the dullest of all. To make it duller yet, by contrast with the past, the Golgotha for once gave up its buried treasures--broken lute, birdless cage!

Somewhere about two years after Matilda's death, Arabella happened to be in the office of the agent who collected her house-rents, when a well-dressed man entered, and, leaning over the counter, said: "There is an advertisement in to-day's Times about a lady who offers a home, education, and so forth, to any little motherless girl; terms moderate, as said lady loves children for their own sake. Advertiser refers to your office for particulars--give them!"

The agent turned to his books; and Arabella turned towards the inquirer. "For whose child do you want a home, Jasper Losely?"

Jasper started. "Arabella! Best of creatures! And can you deign to speak to such a vil---"

"Hush--let us walk. Never mind the advertisement of a stranger. I may find a home for a motherless child--a home that will cost you nothing."

She drew him into the street. "But can this be the child of--of--Matilda Darrell?"--

"Bella!" replied, in coaxing accents, that most execrable of lady-killers, "can I trust you?--can you be my friend in spite of my having been such a very sad dog? But money--what can one do without money in this world? 'Had I a heart for falsehood framed, it would ne'er have injured you'--if I had not been so cursedly hard up! And indeed, now, if you would but condescend to forgive and forget, perhaps some day or other we may be Darby and Joan--only, you see, just at this moment I am really not worthy of such a Joan. You know, of course, that I am a widower--not inconsolable."

"Yes; I read of Mrs. Hammond's death in an old newspaper."

"And you did not read of her baby's death, too--some weeks afterwards?"'

"No; it is seldom that I see a newspaper. Is the infant dead?"

"Hum--you shall hear." And Jasper entered into a recital, to which Arabella listened with attentive interest. At the close she offered to take, herself, the child for whom Jasper sought a home. She informed him of her change of name and address. The wretch promised to call that evening with the infant; but he sent the infant, and did not call. Nor did he present himself again to her eyes, until, several years afterwards, those eyes so luridly welcomed him to Podden Place. But though he did not even condescend to write to her in the mean while, it is probable that Arabella contrived to learn more of his habits and mode of life at Paris than she intimated when they once more met face to face.

And now the reader knows more than Alban Morley, or Guy Darrell, perhaps ever will know, of the grim woman in iron-grey,

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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 10 What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 10

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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 8
BOOK VII CHAPTER VIIIBEING BUT ONE OF THE CONSIDERATE PAUSES IN A LONG JOURNEY, CHARITABLY AFFORDED TO THE READER. Colonel Morley found Mr. Poole at home, just returned from his office; he stayed with that gentleman nearly an hour, and then went straight to Darrell. As the time appointed to meet the French acquaintance, who depended on his hospitalities for a dinner, was now nearly arrived, Alban's conference with his English friend was necessarily brief and hurried, though long enough to confirm one fact in Mr. Poole's statement, which had been unknown to the Colonel before that day, and the admission