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IN WHICH BARNES COMES A WOOING. T THEL had all along known that her holiday was to be a short
L one, and that, her papa and Barnes arrived, there was to be nomore laughing and fun, and sketching and walking with Clive; so shetook the sunshine while it lasted, determined to bear with a stout heart the bad weather.
Sir Brian Newcome and his eldest born arrived at Baden on the very night of Jack Belsize's performance upon the promenade; of course it was necessary to inform the young bridegroom of the facts. His acquaintances of the public, who by this time know his temper, and are acquainted with his language, can imagine the explosions of the one and the vehemence of the other; it was a perfect feu d'artifice of oaths which he sent up. Mr. Newcome only fired off these volleys of curses when he was in a passion, but then he was in a passion very frequently.
As for Lady Clara's little accident, ne was disposed to treat that very lightly. “Poor dear Clara, of course, of course," he said, “she's been accustomed to fainting fits; no wonder she was agitated on the sight of that villain, after his infernal treatment of her. If I had been. there" (a volley of oaths comes here along the whole line)," I should have strangled the scoundrel; I should have murdered him."
“Mercy, Barnes," cries Lady Ann.
“ It was a mercy Barnes was not there,” says Ethel, gravely; "a. fight between him and Captain Belsize would have been awful indeed."
"I am afraid of no man, Ethel,” says Barnes fiercely, with another oath.
“ Hit one of your own size, Barnes," says Miss Ethel (who had a number of school-phrases from her little brothers, and used them on occasions skilfully). “Hit Captain Belsize, he has got no friends."
As Jack Belsize from his height and strength was fitted to be not only an officer but actually a private in his former gallant regiment, and brother Barnes was but a puny young gentleman, the idea of a personal conflict between them was rather ridiculous. Some notion of this sort may have passed through Sir Brian's mind, for the Baronet said with his usual solemnity, “ It is the cause, Ethel, it is the cause, my dear, which gives strength; in such a cause as Barnes's, with a beautiful young creature to protect from a villain, any man would be strong, any man would be strong.” “Since his last attack,” Barnes used to say, “my poor old governor is exceedingly shaky, very groggy about the head;" which was the fact. Barnes was already master at Newcome and the bank, and awaiting with perfect composure the event which was to place the blood-red hand of the Newcome baronetcy on his own brougham.
Casting his eyes about the room, a heap of drawings, the work of a well-known hand which he hated, met his eye: there were a halfdozen sketches of Baden; Ethel on horseback again; the children and the dogs just in the old way. “D- him, is he here?” screams out Barnes. “Is that young pot-house villain here? and hasn't Kew knocked his head off? Clive Newcome is here, sir," he cries out to his father. “ The Colonel's son. I have no doubt they met by
“ By what, Barnes ?” says Ethel.
“ Clive is here, is he?” says the Baronet; “making caricatures, hey? You did not mention him in your letters, Lady Ann."
Sir Brian was evidently very much touched by his last attack.
Ethel blushed; it was a curious fact, but there had been no mention of Clive in the ladies' letters to Sir Brian.
“My dear, we met him by the merest chance, at Bonn, travelling with a friend of his; and he speaks a little German, and was very useful to us, and took one of the boys in his britzska the whole way.”
“ Boys always crowd in a carriage," says Sir Brian ; “ kick your shins; always in the way. I remember, when we used to come in the carriage from Clapham, when we were boys, I used to kick my brother Tom's shins. Poor Tom, he was a devilish wild fellow in those days. · You don't recollect Tom, my Lady Ann ?"
Farther anecdotes from Sir Brian are interrupted by Lord Kew's arrival. “How d'y'do, Kew?” cries Barnes. “How's Clara ?” and Lord Kew, walking up with great respect to shake hands with Sir Brian, says, “ I am glad to see you looking so well, sir," and scarcely takes any notice of Barnes. That Mr. Barnes Newcome was an individual not universally beloved, is a point of history of which there can be no doubt.
“ You have not told me how Clara is, my good fellow," continues Barnes. “I have heard all about her meeting with that villain, Jack Belsize."
“ Don't call names, my good fellow," says Lord Kew. “It strikes me you don't know Belsize well enough to call him by nicknames or by other names. Lady Clara Pulleyn, I believe, is very unwell, indeed."
“Confound the fellow! How dared he to come here?” cries Barnes, backing from this little rebuff.
“Dare is another ugly word. I would advise you not to use it tox the fellow himself.”
“What do you mean ?” says Barnes, looking very serious in an instant.
“Easy, my good friend. Not so very loud. It appears, Ethel, that poor Jack--I know him pretty well, you see, Barnes, and may call him by what names I like-had been dining to-day with cousin Clive; he and M. de Florac; and that they went with Jack to the promenade, not in the least aware of Mr. Jack Belsize's private affairs, or of the shindy that was going to happen."
“By Jove, he shall answer for it!” cries out Barnes, in a loud voice.
“ I daresay he will, if you ask him," says the other drily; “but not before ladies. He'd be afraid of frightening them. Poor Jack was. always as gentle as a lamb before women. I had some talk with the Frenchman just now," continued Lord Kew gaily, as if wishing to pass over this side of the subject. 66 Mi Lord Kiou,' says he, we have made your friend Jack to hear reason. He is a little fou, your friend Jack. He drank champagne at dinner like an ogre. How is the charmante Miss Clara ?' Florac, you see, calls her Miss Clara, Barnes ; the world calls her Lady Clara. You call her Clara. You happy dog, you."
“ I don't see why that infernal young cub of a Clive is always meddling in our affairs," cries out Barnes, whose rage was perpetually being whipped into new outcries. “Why has he been about this house? Why is he here ?”
“It is very well for you that he was, Barnes," Lord Kew said. " The young fellow showed great temper and spirit. There has been a famous row, but don't be alarmed, it is all over. It is all over, everybody may go to bed and sleep comfortably. Barnes need not. get up in the morning to punch Jack Belsize's head. I'm sorry for your disappointment, you Fenchurch Street fire-eater. Come away. It will be but proper, you know, for a bridegroom elect to go and ask news of la charinante Miss Clara."
“As we went out of the house," Lord Kew told Clive," I said to Barnes that every word I had uttered upstairs with regard to the reconciliation was a lie. That Jack Belsize was determined to have his blood, and was walking under the lime-trees by which we had to pass with a thundering big stick. You should have seen the state the fellow was in, sir. The sweet youth started back, and turned as yellow as a cream cheese. Then he made a pretext to go into his room, and said it was for his pocket-handkerchief, but I know it was for a pistol ; for he dropped his hand from my arm into his pocket every time I said 'Here's Jack,' as we walked down the avenue to Lord Dorking's apartment.”
A great deal of animated business had been transacted during the two hours subsequent to poor Lady Clara's mishap. Clive and Belsize had returned to the former's quarters, while gentle J. J. was utilising the last rays of the sun to tint a sketch which he had made during the morning. He fled to his own apartment on the arrival of the fiercelooking stranger, whose glaring eyes, pallid looks, shaggy beard, clutched hands, and incessant gasps and mutterings as he strode up and down, might well scare a peaceable person. Very terrible must Jack have looked as he trampled those boards in the growing twilight, anon stopping to drink another tumbler of champagne, then groaning expressions of inarticulate wrath, and again sinking down on Clive's bed with a drooping head and breaking voice, crying, “Poor little thing, poor little devil."
“If the old man sends me a message, you will stand by me, won't you, Newcome? He was a fierce old fellow in his time, and I have seen him shoot straight enough at Chanticlere. I suppose you know what the affair is about?”
"I never heard of it before, but I think I understand,” says Clive, gravely.
“I can't ask Kew, he is one of the family; he is going to marry Miss Newcome. It is no use asking him.”
All Clive's blood tingled at the idea that any man was going to marry Miss Newcome. He knew it before-a fortnight since, and it was nothing to him to hear it. He was glad that the growing darkness prevented his face from being seen. “ I am of the family, too,” said Clive, “and Barnes Newcome and I had the same grandfather."
“Oh, yes, old boy-old banker, the weaver, what was he? I forgot," says poor Jack, kicking on Clive's bed, “ in that family the Newcomes don't count. I beg your pardon,” groans poor Jack.
They lapse into silence, during which Jack's cigar glimmers from the twilight corner where Clive's bed is; whilst Clive wafts his fragrance out of the window where he sits, and whence he has a view of Lady Ann Newcome's windows to the right, over the bridge across the little rushing river, at the “Hôtel de Hollande” hard by. The lights twinkle in the booths under the pretty lime avenues. The hum of distant voices is heard; the gambling palace is all in a blaze; it is an assembly-night, and from the doors of the conversation rooms, as they open and close, escape gusts of harmony. Behind on the little hill the darkling woods lie calm, the edges of the fir-trees cut sharp against the sky, which is clear with a crescent moon and the lambent lights of the starry hosts of heaven. Clive does not see pine-robed hilis and shining stars, nor think of pleasure in its palace yonder, nor of pain writhing on his own bed within a few feet of him, where poor Belsize was groaning. His eyes are fixed upon a window whence comes the red light of a lamp, across which shadows float now and again. So every light in every booth yonder has a scheme of its own; every star above shines by itself; and each individual heart of ours goes on brightening with its own hopes, burning with its own desires, and quivering with its own pain.
The reverie is interrupted by the waiter, who announces M. le Vicomte de Florac, and a third cigar is added to the other two smoky lights. Belsize is glad to see Florac, whom he has known in a thousand haunts. He will do my business for me. He has been out half-a-dozen times, thinks Jack. It would relieve the poor fellow's boiling blood that some one would let a little out. He lays his affair before Florac, he expects a message from Lord Dorking.
“ Comment donc?” cries Florac. “Il y avait donc quelque chose.! Cette pauvre petite Miss ! Vous voulez tuer le père, après avoir délaissé la fille ?. Cherchez d'autres témoins, Monsieur. Le Vicomte de Florac ne se fait pas complice de telles lâchetés."
“By Heaven," says Jack, sitting up on the bed, with his eyes glaring, “ I have a great mind, Florac, to wring your infernal little neck, and to fling you out of the window. Is all the world going to turn against me? I am half mad as it is. If any man dares to think anything wrong regarding that little angel, or to fancy that she is not as pure, and as good, and as gentle, and as innocent, by Heaven, as any angel there, --if any man thinks I'd be the villain to hurt her, I should just like to see him," says Jack. “By the Lord, sir, just bring him to me. Just tell the waiter to send him upstairs. Hurt her! I hurt her! Oh! I'm a fool! a fool! a d d fool! Who's that?"
“It's Kew," says a voice out of the darkness from behind cigar No. 4, and Clive now, having a party assembled, scrapes a match and lights his candles.
“I heard your last words, Jack,” Lord Kew says bluntly,“ and you never spoke more truth in your life. Why did you come here? What right had you to stab that poor little heart over again, and frighten Lady Clara with your confounded hairy face? You promised me you would never see her. You gave your word of honour you wouldn't, when I gave.you the money to go abroad. Hang the money, I don't mind that; it was on your promise that you would prowl about her no more. The Dorkings left London before you came there; they gave you your innings. They have behaved kindly and fairly enough to that poor girl. How was she to marry such a bankrupt beggar as