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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 9. "I Know What You Are"
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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 9. 'I Know What You Are' Post by :pearsonbrown Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :1767

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Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite - Chapter 9. "I Know What You Are"

CHAPTER IX. "I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE"

The scene which took place that night between the mother and daughter may be easily conceived. Emily told her tale, and told it in a manner which left no doubt of her persistency. She certainly meant it. Lady Elizabeth had almost expected it. There are evils which may come or may not; but as to which, though we tell ourselves that they may still be avoided, we are inwardly almost sure that they will come. Such an evil in the mind of Lady Elizabeth had been Cousin George. Not but what she herself would have liked him for a son-in-law had it not been so certain that he was a black sheep.

"Your father will never consent to it, my dear."

"Of course, Mamma, I shall do nothing unless he does."

"You will have to give him up."

"No, Mamma, not that; that is beyond what Papa can demand of me. I shall not give him up, but I certainly shall not marry him without Papa's consent, or yours."

"Nor see him?"

"Well; if he does not come I cannot see him."

"Nor correspond with him?"

"Certainly not, if Papa forbids it."

After that, Lady Elizabeth did give way to a considerable extent. She did not tell her daughter that she considered it at all probable that Sir Harry would yield; but she made it to be understood that she herself would do so if Sir Harry would be persuaded. And she acknowledged that the amount of obedience promised by Emily was all that could be expected. "But, Mamma," said Emily, before she left her mother, "do you not know that you love him yourself?"

"Love is such a strong word, my dear."

"It is not half strong enough," said Emily, pressing her two hands together. "But you do, Mamma?"

"I think he is very agreeable, certainly."

"And handsome?--only that goes for nothing."

"Yes, he is a fine-looking man."

"And clever? I don't know how it is; let there be who there may in the room, he is always the best talker."

"He knows how to talk, certainly."

"And, Mamma, don't you think that there is a something,--I don't know what,--something not at all like other men about him that compels one to love him? Oh, Mamma, do say something nice to me! To me he is everything that a man should be."

"I wish he were, my dear."

"As for the sort of life he has been leading, spending more money than he ought, and all that kind of thing, he has promised to reform it altogether; and he is doing it now. At any rate, you must admit, Mamma, that he is not false."

"I hope not, my dear."

"Why do you speak in that way, Mamma? Does he talk like a man that is false? Have you ever known him to be false? Don't be prejudiced, Mamma, at any rate."

The reader will understand that when the daughter had brought her mother as far as this, the elder lady was compelled to say "something nice" at last. At any rate there was a loving embrace between them, and an understanding that the mother would not exaggerate the difficulties of the position either by speech or word.

"Of course you will have to see your papa to-morrow morning," Lady Elizabeth said.

"George will tell him everything to-night," said Emily. She as she went to her bed did not doubt but what the difficulties would melt. Luckily for her,--so luckily!--it happened that her lover possessed by his very birth a right which, beyond all other possessions, would recommend him to her father. And then had not the man himself all natural good gifts to recommend him? Of course he had not money or property, but she had, or would have, property; and of all men alive her father was the least disposed to be greedy. As she half thought of it and half dreamt of it in her last waking moments of that important day, she was almost altogether happy. It was so sweet to know that she possessed the love of him whom she loved better than all the world beside.

Cousin George did not have quite so good a time of it that night. The first thing he did on his return from Ulleswater to Humblethwaite was to write a line to his friend Lady Altringham. This had been promised, and he did so before he had seen Sir Harry.


DEAR LADY A.--I have been successful with my younger
cousin. She is the bonniest, and the best, and the
brightest girl that ever lived, and I am the happiest
fellow. But I have not as yet seen the Baronet. I am to do
so to-night, and will report progress to-morrow. I doubt I
shan't find him so bonny and so good and so bright. But,
as you say, the young birds ought to be too strong for the
old ones.--Yours most sincerely,

G. H.


This was written while he was dressing, and was put into the letter-box by himself as he came downstairs. It was presumed that the party had dined at the Falls; but there was "a tea" prepared for them on an extensive scale. Sir Harry, suspecting nothing, was happy and almost jovial with Mr. Fitzpatrick and the two young ladies. Emily said hardly a word. Lady Elizabeth, who had not as yet been told, but already suspected something, was very anxious. George was voluble, witty, and perhaps a little too loud. But as the lad who was going to Oxford, and who had drank a good deal of champagne and was now drinking sherry, was loud also, George's manner was not specially observed. It was past ten before they got up from the table, and nearly eleven before George was able to whisper a word to the Baronet. He almost shirked it for that night, and would have done so had he not remembered how necessary it was that Emily should know that his pluck was good. Of course she would be asked to abandon him. Of course she would be told that it was her duty to give him up. Of course she would give him up unless he could get such a hold upon her heart as to make her doing so impossible to her. She would have to learn that he was an unprincipled spendthrift,--nay worse than that, as he hardly scrupled to tell himself. But he need not weight his own character with the further burden of cowardice. The Baronet could not eat him, and he would not be afraid of the Baronet. "Sir Harry," he whispered, "could you give me a minute or two before we go to bed?" Sir Harry started as though he had been stung, and looked his cousin sharply in the face without answering him. George kept his countenance, and smiled.

"I won't keep you long," he said.

"You had better come to my room," said Sir Harry, gruffly, and led the way into his own sanctum. When there, he sat down in his accustomed arm-chair without offering George a seat, but George soon found a seat for himself. "And now what is it?" said Sir Harry, with his blackest frown.

"I have asked my cousin to be my wife."

"What! Emily?"

"Yes, Emily; and she has consented. I now ask for your approval." We must give Cousin George his due, and acknowledge that he made his little request exactly as he would have done had he been master of ten thousand a year of his own, quite unencumbered.

"What right had you, sir, to speak to her without coming to me first?"

"One always does, I think, go to the girl first," said George.

"You have disgraced yourself, sir, and outraged my hospitality. You are no gentleman!"

"Sir Harry, that is strong language."

"Strong! Of course it is strong. I mean it to be strong. I shall make it stronger yet if you attempt to say another word to her."

"Look here, Sir Harry, I am bound to bear a good deal from you, but I have a right to explain."

"You have a right, sir, to go away from this, and go away you shall."

"Sir Harry, you have told me that I am not a gentleman."

"You have abused my kindness to you. What right have you, who have not a shilling in the world, to speak to my daughter? I won't have it, and let that be an end of it. I won't have it. And I must desire that you will leave Humblethwaite to-morrow. I won't have it."

"It is quite true that I have not a shilling."

"Then what business have you to speak to my daughter?"

"Because I have that which is worth many shillings, and which you value above all your property. I am the heir to your name and title. When you are gone, I must be the head of this family. I do not in the least quarrel with you for choosing to leave your property to your own child, but I have done the best I could to keep the property and the title together. I love my cousin."

"I don't believe in your love, sir."

"If that is all, I do not doubt but that I can satisfy you."

"It is not all; and it is not half all. And it isn't because you are a pauper. You know it all as well as I do, without my telling you, but you drive me to tell you."

"Know what, sir?"

"Though you hadn't a shilling, you should have had her if you could win her,--had your life been even fairly decent. The title must go to you,--worse luck for the family. You can talk well enough, and what you say is true. I would wish that they should go together."

"Of course it will be better."

"But, sir,--" then Sir Henry paused.

"Well, Sir Harry?"

"You oblige me to speak out. You are such a one, that I do not dare to let you have my child. Your life is so bad, that I should not be justified in doing so for any family purpose. You would break her heart."

"You wrong me there, altogether."

"You are a gambler."

"I have been, Sir Harry."

"And a spendthrift?"

"Well--yes; as long as I had little or nothing to spend."

"I believe you are over head and ears in debt now, in spite of the assistance you have had from me within twelve months."

Cousin George remembered the advice which had been given him, that he should conceal nothing from his cousin. "I do owe some money certainly," he said.

"And how do you mean to pay it?"

"Well--if I marry Emily, I suppose that--you will pay it."

"That's cool, at any rate."

"What can I say, Sir Harry?"

"I would pay it all, though it were to half the property--"

"Less than a year's income would clear off every shilling I owe, Sir Harry."

"Listen to me, sir. Though it were ten years' income, I would pay it all, if I thought that the rest would be kept with the title, and that my girl would be happy."

"I will make her happy."

"But, sir, it is not only that you are a gambler and spendthrift, and an unprincipled debtor without even a thought of paying. You are worse than this. There;--I am not going to call you names. I know what you are, and you shall not have my daughter."

George Hotspur found himself compelled to think for a few moments before he could answer a charge so vague, and yet, as he knew, so well founded. Nevertheless he felt that he was progressing. His debts would not stand in his way, if only he could make this rich father believe that in other matters his daughter would not be endangered by the marriage. "I don't quite know what you mean, Sir Harry. I am not going to defend myself. I have done much of which I am ashamed. I was turned very young upon the world, and got to live with rich people when I was myself poor. I ought to have withstood the temptation, but I didn't, and I got into bad hands. I don't deny it. There is a horrid Jew has bills of mine now."

"What have you done with that five thousand pounds?"

"He had half of it; and I had to settle for the last Leger, which went against me."

"It is all gone?"

"Pretty nearly. I don't pretend but what I have been very reckless as to money; I am ready to tell you the truth about everything. I don't say that I deserve her; but I do say this,--that I should not have thought of winning her, in my position, had it not been for the title. Having that in my favour I do not think that I was misbehaving to you in proposing to her. If you will trust me now, I will be as grateful and obedient a son as any man ever had."

He had pleaded his cause well, and he knew it. Sir Harry also felt that his cousin had made a better case than he would have believed to be possible. He was quite sure that the man was a scamp, utterly untrustworthy, and yet the man's pleading for himself had been efficacious. He sat silent for full five minutes before he spoke again, and then he gave judgment as follows: "You will go away without seeing her to-morrow."

"If you wish it."

"And you will not write to her."

"Only a line."

"Not a word," said Sir Harry, imperiously.

"Only a line, which I will give open to you. You can do with it as you please."

"And as you have forced upon me the necessity, I shall make inquiries in London as to your past life. I have heard things which perhaps may be untrue."

"What things, Sir Harry?"

"I shall not demean myself or injure you by repeating them, unless I find cause to believe they are true. I do believe that the result will be such as to make me feel that in justice to my girl I cannot allow you to become her husband. I tell you so fairly. Should the debts you owe be simple debts, not dishonourably contracted, I will pay them."

"And then she shall be mine?"

"I will make no such promise. You had better go now. You can have the carriage to Penrith as early as you please in the morning; or to Carlisle if you choose to go north. I will make your excuses to Lady Elizabeth. Good night."

Cousin George stood for a second in doubt, and then shook hands with the Baronet. He reached Penrith the next morning soon after ten, and breakfasted alone at the hotel.

There were but very few words spoken on the occasion between the father and daughter, but Emily did succeed in learning pretty nearly the truth of what had taken place. On the Monday her mother gave her the following note:--


DEAREST,--At your father's bidding, I have gone
suddenly. You will understand why I have done so.
I shall try to do just as he would have me; but
you will, I know, be quite sure that I should never
give you up.--Yours for ever and ever,
G. H.


The father had thought much of it, and at last had determined that Emily should have the letter.

In the course of the week there came other guests to Humblethwaite, and it so chanced that there was a lady who knew the Altringhams, who had unfortunately met the Altringhams at Goodwood, and who, most unfortunately, stated in Emily's hearing that she had seen George Hotspur at Goodwood.

"He was not there," said Emily, quite boldly.

"Oh, yes; with the Altringhams, as usual. He is always with them at Goodwood."

"He was not at the last meeting," said Emily, smiling.

The lady said nothing till her lord was present, and then appealed to him. "Frank, didn't you see George Hotspur with the Altringhams at Goodwood, last July?"

"To be sure I did, and lost a pony to him on Eros."

The lady looked at Emily, who said nothing further; but she was still quite convinced that George Hotspur had not been at those Goodwood races.

It is so hard, when you have used a lie commodiously, to bury it, and get well rid of it.

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