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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 19. The New Smithy
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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 19. The New Smithy Post by :pearsonbrown Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :3300

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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 19. The New Smithy

CHAPTER XIX. THE NEW SMITHY

Sir Harry was sitting alone in the library when the tidings were brought to him that George Hotspur had reached Humblethwaite with a pair of post-horses from Penrith. The old butler, Cloudesdale, brought him the news, and Cloudesdale whispered it into his ears with solemn sorrow. Cloudesdale was well aware that Cousin George was no credit to the house of Humblethwaite. And much about the same time the information was brought to Lady Elizabeth by her housekeeper, and to Emily by her own maid. It was by Cloudesdale's orders that George was shown into the small room near the hall; and he told Sir Harry what he had done in a funereal whisper. Lady Altringham had been quite right in her method of ensuring the general delivery of the information about the house.

Emily flew at once to her mother. "George is here," she said. Mrs. Quick, the housekeeper, was at that moment leaving the room.

"So Quick tells me. What can have brought him, my dear?"

"Why should he not come, Mamma?"

"Because your papa will not make him welcome to the house. Oh, dear,--he knows that. What are we to do?" In a few minutes Mrs. Quick came back again. Sir Harry would be much obliged if her ladyship would go to him. Then it was that the sandwiches and sherry were ordered. It was a compromise on the part of Lady Elizabeth between Emily's prayer that some welcome might be shown, and Sir Harry's presumed determination that the banished man should continue to be regarded as banished. "Take him some kind of refreshment, Quick;--a glass of wine or something, you know." Then Mrs. Quick had cut the sandwiches with her own hand, and Cloudesdale had given the sherry. "He ain't eaten much, but he's made it up with the wine," said Cloudesdale, when the tray was brought back again.

Lady Elizabeth went down to her husband, and there was a consultation. Sir Harry was quite clear that he would not now, on this day, admit Cousin George as a guest into his house; nor would he see him. To that conclusion he came after his wife had been with him some time. He would not see him, there, at Humblethwaite. If George had anything to say that could not be said in a letter, a meeting might be arranged elsewhere. Sir Harry confessed, however, that he could not see that good results could come from any meeting whatsoever. "The truth is, that I don't want to have anything more to do with him," said Sir Harry. That was all very well, but as Emily's wants in this respect were at variance with her father's, there was a difficulty. Lady Elizabeth pleaded that some kind of civility, at least some mitigation of opposition, should be shown, for Emily's sake. At last she was commissioned to go to Cousin George, to send him away from the house, and, if necessary, to make an appointment between him and Sir Harry at the Crown, at Penrith, for the morrow. Nothing on earth should induce Sir Harry to see his cousin anywhere on his own premises. As for any meeting between Cousin George and Emily, that was, of course, out of the question,--and he must go from Humblethwaite. Such were the instructions with which Lady Elizabeth descended to the little room.

Cousin George came forward with the pleasantest smile to take Lady Elizabeth by the hand. He was considerably relieved when he saw Lady Elizabeth, because of her he was not afraid. "I do not at all mind waiting," he said. "How is Sir Harry?"

"Quite well."

"And yourself?"

"Pretty well, thank you."

"And Emily?"

Lady Elizabeth knew that in answering him she ought to call her own daughter Miss Hotspur, but she lacked the courage. "Emily is well too. Sir Harry has thought it best that I should come to you and explain that just at present he cannot ask you to Humblethwaite."

"I did not expect it."

"And he had rather not see you himself,--at least not here." Lady Elizabeth had not been instructed to propose a meeting. She had been told rather to avoid it if possible. But, like some other undiplomatic ambassadors, in her desire to be civil, she ran at once to the extremity of the permitted concessions. "If you have anything to say to Sir Harry--"

"I have, Lady Elizabeth; a great deal."

"And if you could write it--"

"I am so bad at writing."

"Then Sir Harry will go over and see you to-morrow at Penrith."

"That will be so very troublesome to him!"

"You need not regard that. At what hour shall he come?"

Cousin George was profuse in declaring that he would be at his cousin's disposal at any hour Sir Harry might select, from six in the morning throughout the day and night. But might he not say a word to Emily? At this proposition Lady Elizabeth shook her head vigorously. It was quite out of the question. Circumstanced as they all were at present, Sir Harry would not think of such a thing. And then it would do no good. Lady Elizabeth did not believe that Emily herself would wish it. At any rate there need be no further talk about it, as any such interview was at present quite impossible. By all which arguments and refusals, and the tone in which they were pronounced, Cousin George was taught to perceive that, at any rate in the mind of Lady Elizabeth, the process of parental yielding had already commenced.

On all such occasions interviews are bad. The teller of this story ventures to take the opportunity of recommending parents in such cases always to refuse interviews, not only between the young lady and the lover who is to be excluded, but also between themselves and the lover. The vacillating tone,--even when the resolve to suppress vacillation has been most determined,--is perceived and understood, and at once utilized, by the least argumentative of lovers, even by lovers who are obtuse. The word "never" may be so pronounced as to make the young lady's twenty thousand pounds full present value for ten in the lover's pocket. There should be no arguments, no letters, no interviews; and the young lady's love should be starved by the absence of all other mention of the name, and by the imperturbable good humour on all other matters of those with whom she comes in contact in her own domestic circle. If it be worth anything, it won't be starved; but if starving to death be possible, that is the way to starve it. Lady Elizabeth was a bad ambassador; and Cousin George, when he took his leave, promising to be ready to meet Sir Harry at twelve on the morrow, could almost comfort himself with a prospect of success. He might be successful, if only he could stave off the Walker and Bullbean portion of Mr. Hart's persecution! For he understood that the success of his views at Humblethwaite must postpone the payment by Sir Harry of those moneys for which Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber were so unreasonably greedy. He would have dared to defy the greed, but for the Walker and Bullbean portion of the affair. Sir Harry already knew that he was in debt to these men; already knew with fair accuracy the amount of those debts. Hart and Stubber could not make him worse in Sir Harry's eyes than he was already, unless the Walker and Bullbean story should be told with the purpose of destroying him. How he did hate Walker and Bullbean and the memory of that evening;--and yet the money which now enabled him to drink champagne at the Penrith Crown was poor Mr. Walker's money! As he was driven back to Penrith he thought of all this, for some moments sadly, and at others almost with triumph. Might not a letter to Mr. Hart, with perhaps a word of truth in it, do some good? That evening, after his champagne, he wrote a letter:--


DEAR MR. HART,--Things are going uncommon well here, only
I hope you will do nothing to disturb just at present.
It _must come off, if a little time is given, and then
_every shilling will be paid. A few pounds more or less
won't make any difference. Do arrange this, and you'll
find I'll never forget how kind you have been. I've been
at Humblethwaite to-day, and things are going quite
smooth.

Yours most sincerely,

GEORGE HOTSPUR.

Don't mention Walker's name, and everything shall be
settled just as you shall fix.

The Crown, Penrith, Thursday.


The moment the letter was written he rang the bell and gave it to the waiter. Such was the valour of drink operating on him now, as it had done when he wrote that other letter to Sir Harry! The drink made him brave to write, and to make attempts, and to dare consequences; but even whilst brave with drink, he knew that the morning's prudence would refuse its assent to such courage; and therefore, to save himself from the effects of the morning's cowardice, he put the letter at once out of his own power of control. After this fashion were arranged most of Cousin George's affairs. Before dinner on that day the evening of which he had passed with Mr. Walker, he had resolved that certain hints given to him by Mr. Bullbean should be of no avail to him;--not to that had he yet descended, nor would he so descend;--but with his brandy after dinner divine courage had come, and success had attended the brave. As soon as he was awake on that morning after writing to Mr. Hart, he rang his bell to inquire whether that letter which he had given to the waiter at twelve o'clock last night were still in the house. It was too late. The letter in which so imprudent a mention had been made of Mr. Walker's name was already in the post. "Never mind," said Cousin George to himself; "None but the brave deserve the fair." Then he turned round for another nap. It was not much past nine, and Sir Harry would not be there before twelve.

In the mean time there had been hope also and doubt also at Humblethwaite. Sir Harry was not surprised and hardly disappointed when he was told that he was to go to Penrith to see his cousin. The offer had been made by himself, and he was sure that he would not escape with less; and when Emily was told by her mother of the arrangement, she saw in it a way to the fulfilment of the prayer which she had made to her father. She would say nothing to him that evening, leaving to him the opportunity of speaking to her, should he choose to do so. But on the following morning she would repeat her prayer. On that evening not a word was said about George while Sir Harry and Lady Elizabeth were together with their daughter. Emily had made her plan, and she clung to it. Her father was very gentle with her, sitting close to her as she played some pieces of music to him in the evening, caressing her and looking lovingly into her eyes, as he bade God bless her when she left him for the night; but he had determined to say nothing to encourage her. He was still minded that there could be no such encouragement; but he doubted;--in his heart of hearts he doubted. He would still have bought off Cousin George by the sacrifice of half his property, and yet he doubted. After all, there would be some consolation in that binding together of the name and the property.

"What will you say to him?" Lady Elizabeth asked her husband that night.

"Tell him to go away."

"Nothing more than that?"

"What more is there to say? If he be willing to be bought, I will buy him. I will pay his debts and give him an income."

"You think, then, there can be no hope?"

"Hope!--for whom?"

"For Emily."

"I hope to preserve her--from a--scoundrel." And yet he had thought of the consolation!

Emily was very persistent in carrying out her plan. Prayers at Humblethwaite were always read with admirable punctuality at a quarter-past nine, so that breakfast might be commenced at half-past. Sir Harry every week-day was in his own room for three-quarters of an hour before prayers. All this was like clock-work at Humblethwaite. There would always be some man or men with Sir Harry during these three-quarters of an hour,--a tenant, a gamekeeper, a groom, a gardener, or a bailiff. But Emily calculated that if she made her appearance and held her ground, the tenant or the bailiff would give way, and that thus she would ensure a private interview with her father. Were she to wait till after breakfast, this would be difficult. A very few minutes after the half-hour she knocked at the door and was admitted. The village blacksmith was then suggesting a new smithy.

"Papa," said Emily, "if you would allow me half a minute--"

The village blacksmith and the bailiff, who was also present, withdrew, bowing to Emily, who gave to each of them a smile and a nod. They were her old familiar friends, and they looked kindly at her. She was to be their future lady; but was it not all important that their future lord should be a Hotspur?

Sir Harry had thought it not improbable that his daughter would come to him, but would have preferred to avoid the interview if possible. Here it was, however, and could not be avoided.

"Papa," she said, kissing him, "you are going to Penrith to-day."

"Yes, my dear."

"To see Cousin George?"

"Yes, Emily."

"Will you remember what we were saying the other day;--what I said?"

"I will endeavour to do my duty as best I may," said Sir Harry, after a pause.

"I am sure you will, Papa;--and so do I. I do endeavour to do my duty. Will you not try to help him?"

"Certainly, I will try to help him; for your sake rather than for his own. If I can help him with money, by paying his debts and giving him means to live, I will do so."

"Papa, that is not what I mean."

"What else can I do?"

"Save him from the evil of his ways."

"I will try. I would,--if I knew how,--even if only for the name's sake."

"For my sake also, Papa. Papa, let us do it together; you and I and Mamma. Let him come here."

"It is impossible."

"Let him come here," she said, as though disregarding his refusal. "You need not be afraid of me. I know how much there is to do that will be very hard in doing before any,--any other arrangement can be talked about."

"I am not afraid of you, my child."

"Let him come, then."

"No;--it would do no good. Do you think he would live here quietly?"

"Try him."

"What would people say?"

"Never mind what people would say: he is our cousin; he is your heir. He is the person whom I love best in all the world. Have you not a right to have him here if you wish it? I know what you are thinking of; but, Papa, there can never be anybody else;--never."

"Emily, you will kill me, I think."

"Dear Papa, let us see if we cannot try. And, oh, Papa, pray, pray let me see him." When she went away the bailiff and the blacksmith returned; but Sir Harry's power of resistance was gone, so that he succumbed to the new smithy without a word.

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