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“And I am very glad,” the elder went on, “ that you and my boy. are good friends."
“Friends! of course. It would be unnatural if such near relatives were otherwise than good friends."
“ You have been hospitable to him, and Lady Clara very kind, and he wrote to me telling me of your kindness. Ahem ! this is tolerable claret. I wonder where Clive gets it?".
“ You were speaking about that indigo, Colonel !” here Barnes interposes. “Our house has done very little in that way to be sure; but I suppose that our credit is about as good as Baines & Jolly's, and if " but the Colonel is in a brown study.
“ Clive will have a good bit of money when I die," resumes Clive's father.
“ Why, you are a hale 'man-upon my word, quite a young man, and may marry again, Colonel,” replies the nephew fascinatingly.
“I shall never do that,” replies the other. “Ere many years are gone, I shall be seventy years old, Barnes."
“Nothing in this country, my dear sir ! positively nothing. Why, there was Titus, my neighbour in the country-when will you come down to Newcome ?who married a devilish pretty girl, of very good: family, too, Miss Burgeon, one of the Devonshire Burgeons. He looks, I am sure, twenty years older than you do. Why should not you do likewise ?"
“ Because I like to remain single, and want to leave Clive a rich man. Look here, Barnes, you know the value of our bank shares now?"
“ Indeed I do; rather speculative; but of course I know what some sold for last week,” says Barnes.
“ Suppose I realize now. I think I am worth six lakhs. I had nearly two from my poor father. I saved some before and since I invested in this affair; and could sell out tomorrow with sixty thousand pounds."
“A very pretty sum of money, Colonel," says Barnes. “ I have a pension of a thousand a year.”
“My dear Colonel, you are a capitalist! we know it very well,”?" remarks Sir Barnes.
“And two hundred a year is as much as I want for myself," continues the capitalist, looking into the fire, and jingling his money in his pockets. "A hundred a year for a horse; a hundred a year for pocketmoney, for I calculate, you know, that Clive will give me a bed-room and my dinner.”
“He-he! If your son won't, your nephew will, my dear Colonel!” says the affable Barnes, smiling sweetly.
“I can give the boy a handsome allowance, you see," resumes, Thomas Newcome.
“ You can make him a handsome allowance now, and leave him a good fortune when you die!” says the nephew, in a noble and courageous manner,--and as if he said Twelve times twelve are a hundred and forty-four, and you have Sir Barnes Newcome's authority-Sir Barnes Newcome's, mind you to say so.
“Not when I die, Barnes," the uncle goes on. “I will give him every shilling I am worth to-morrow morning, if he marries as I wish him."
“ Tant mieux pour lui!” cries the nephew; and thought to himself, “ Lady Clara must ask Clive to dinner instantly. Confound the fellow! I hate him-always have; but what luck he has."
“A man with that property may pretend to a good wife, as the French say; hey, Barnes ?” asks the Colonel, rather eagerly, looking up in his nephew's face.
That countenance was lighted up with a generous enthusiasm. “TO any woman, in any rank-to a nobleman's daughter, my dear sir !" exclaims Sir Barnes.
“ I want your sister; I want my dear Ethel for him, Barnes, cries Thomas Newcome, with a trembling voice, and a twinkle in his eyes. “ That was the hope I always had till my talk with your poor father stopped it. Your sister was engaged to my Lord Kew then; and my wishes of course were impossible. The poor boy is very much cut up, and his whole heart is bent upon possessing her. She is not, she can't be, indifferent to him. I am sure she would not be, if her family in the least encouraged him. Can either of these young folks have a better chance of happiness again offered to them in life? There's youth, there's mutual liking, there's wealth for them almost-only saddled with the incumbrance of an old dragoon, who won't be much in their way. Give us your good word, Barnes, and let them come together; and upon my word the rest of my days will be made happy if I can eat my meal at their table.”
Whilst the poor Colonel was making his appeal Barnes had time to collect his answer; which, since in our character of historians we take leave to explain gentlemen's motives as well as record their speeches and actions, we may thus interpret : “ Confound the young beggar!" thinks Barnes then. “He will have three or four thousand a year, will he? Hang him, but it's a good sum of money. What a fool his father is to give it away! Is he joking ? No, he was always half crazy—the Colonel. Highgate seemed uncommonly sweet on her, and was always hanging about our house. Farintosh has not been brought to book yet; and perhaps neither of them will propose for her. My grandmother, I should think, won't hear of her making a low marriage, as this certainly is: but it's a pity to throw away four thousand a year, ain't it?". All these natural calculations passed
briskly through Barnes Newcome's mind, as his uncle, from the opposite side of the fireplace, implored him in the above little speech.
“My dear Colonel," said Barnes, “my dear, kind Colonel! I needn't tell you that your proposal flatters us, as much as your extraordinary generosity surprises me. I never heard anything like it never. Could I consult my own wishes, I would at once I would, permit me to say, from sheer admiration of your noble character, say yes, with all my heart, to your proposal. But, alas, I haven't that power."
“Is-is she engaged ?" asks the Colonel, looking as blank and sad as Clive himself when Ethel had conversed with him.
“No-I cannot say engaged-though a person of the very highest rank has paid her the most marked attention. But my sister has, in a way, gone from our family, and from my influence as the head of it, an influence which I, I am sure, had most gladly exercised in your favour. My grandmother, Lady Kew, has adopted her; purposes, I believe, to leave Ethel the greater part of her fortune, upon certain conditions; and, of course, expects the—the obedience, and so forth, which is customary in such cases. By the way, Colonel, is our young soupirant aware that papa is pleading his cause for him?"
The Colonel said no; and Barnes lauded the caution which his uncle had displayed. It was quite as well for the young man's interests (which Sir Barnes had most tenderly at heart) that Clive Newcome should not himself move in the affair, or present himself to Lady Kew. Barnes would take the matter in hand at the proper season; the Colonel might be sure it would be most eagerly, most ardently pressed. Clive came home at this juncture, whom Barnes saluted affectionately, He and the Colonel had talked over their money business; their conversation had been most satisfactory, thank you. “Has it not, Colonel ?" The three parted the very best of friends.
As Barnes Newcome professed that extreme interest for his cousin and uncle, it is odd he did not tell them that Lady Kew and Miss Ethel Newcome were at that moment within a mile of them, at her ladyship's house in Queen Street, May Fair. In the hearing of Clive's servant, Barnes did not order his brougham to drive to Queen Street, but waited until he was in Bond Street before he gave the order.
And, of course, when he entered Lady Kew's house, he straightway asked for his sister, and communicated to her the generous offer which the good Colonel had made!
You see Lady Kew was in town, and not in town. Her ladyship was but passing through, on her way from a tour of visits in the North to another tour of visits somewhere else. The newspapers were not
even off the blinds. The proprietor of the house cowered over a bedcandle and a furtive tea-pot in the back drawing-room. Lady Kew's gens were not here. The tall canary ones with white polls only showed their plumage and sang in spring. The solitary wretch who takes charge of London houses, and the two servants specially affected to Lady Kew's person, were the only people in attendance. In fact her ladyship was not in town. And that is why, no doubt, Barnes Newcome said nothing about her being there.
THE figure cowering over the furtive tea-pot glowered grimly at 1 Barnes as he eritered; and an old voice said—“Ho, it's you!”
“I have brought you the notes, ma'am," says Barnes, taking a packet of those documents from his pocket-book. “I could not come sooner, I have been engaged upon bank business until now."
“I daresay! You smell of smoke like a courier.”
“A foreign capitalist: he would smoke. They will, ma'am. I didn't smoke, upon my word.”
“ I don't see why you shouldn't, if you like it. You will never get anything out of me whether you do or don't. How is Clara ? Is she gone to the country with the children? Newcome is the best place for her.”
“Doctor Bambury thinks she can move in a fortnight. The boy kas had a little "
“A little fiddlestick! I tell you it is she who likes to stay, and makes that fool, Bambury, advise her not going away. I tell you to send her to Newcome, the air is good for her.”
“By that confounded smoky town, my dear Lady Kew?"
“And invite your mother and little brothers and sisters to stay Christmas there. The way in which you neglect them is shameful, it is, Barnes.”
“Upon my word, ma'am, I propose to manage my own affairs without your ladyship's assistance,” cries Barnes, starting up; “and did not come at this time of night to hear this kind of—
“Of good advice. I sent for you to give it you. When I wrote to you to bring me the money I wanted, it was but a pretext; Barkins might have fetched it from the City in the morning. I want you to send Clara and the children to Newcome. They ought to go, sir, that is why I sent for you; to tell you that. Have you been quarrelling as much as usual ? "
“ Pretty much as usual,” says Barnes, drumming on his hat.
“Don't beat that devil's tattoo; you agacez my poor old nerves. When Clara was given to you she was as well broke a girl as any in London."