Imágenes de páginas

suddenly jumped and curvetted, displaying the padded warrior's cavalryseat to perfection. “Quiet, old lady !-easy, my dear! Well, sir, when I found the little beggar turning tail in this way, I said to him, "Dash me, sir, if you don't want me, why the dash do you send for me, dash me? Yesterday you talked as if you would bite the Colonel's head off, and to-day, when his son offers you every accommodation, by dash, sir, you're afraid to meet him. It's my belief you had better send for a policeman. A 22 is your man, Sir Barnes Newcome. And with that I turned on my heel and left him. And the fellow went off to Newcome that very night."

“A poor devil can't command courage, General," said the Colonel, quite peaceably, “any more than he can make himself six feet high." : “Then why the dash did the beggar send for me ? " called out General Sir George Tufto, in a loud and resolute voice; and presently the two officers parted company.

When the Colonel reached home, Mr. Warrington and Mr. Pendennis happened to be on a visit to Clive, and all three were in the young fellow's painting-room. We knew our lad was unhappy, and did our little best to amuse and console him. The Colonel came in. It was in the dark February days: we had lighted gas in the studio. Clive had made a sketch from some favourite verses of mine and George's: those charming lines of Scott's :

“ He turned his charger as he spake,

Beside the river shore ;
He gave his bridle-rein a shake,
With adieu for evermore,

My dear!

Adieu for evermore!" Thomas Newcome held up a finger at Warrington, and he came up to the picture and looked at it; and George and I trolled out

“Adieu for evermore,

My dear!

Adieu for evermore!" From the picture the brave old Colonel turned to the painter, regarding his son with a look of beautiful inexpressible affection. And he laid his hand on his son's shoulder, and smiled, and stroked Clive's yellow mustachio.

“And--and did Barnes send no answer to that letter you wrote him?” he said, slowly.

Clive broke out into a laugh that was almost a sob. He took both his father's hands. “My dear, dear old father!” says he, "what awhat an--old-trump you are !” My eyes were so dim I could hardly see the two men as they embraced.


HAS A TRAGICAL ENDING, CLIVE presently answered the question which his father put to him

u in the last chapter, by producing from the ledge of his easel a crumpled paper, full of Cavendish now, but on which was written Sir Barnes Newcome's reply to his cousin's polite invitation

Sir Barnes Newcome wrote, “that he thought a reference to a friend was quite unnecessary, in the most disagreeable and painful dispute in which Mr. Clive desired to interfere as a principal; that the reasons which prevented Sir Barnes from taking notice of Colonel Newcome's shameful and ungentlemanlike conduct applied equally, as Mr. Clive Newcome very well knew, to himself; that if further insult was offered, or outrage attempted, Sir Barnes should resort to the police for protection; that he was about to quit London, and certainly should not delay his departure on account of Mr. Clive Newcome's monstrous proceedings; and that he desired to take leave of an odious subject, as of an individual whom he had striven to treat with kindness, but from whom, from youth upwards, Sir Barnes Newcome had received nothing but insolence, enmity, and ill-will."

“He is an ill man to offend,” remarked Mr. Pendennis. “I don't think he has ever forgiven that claret, Clive.

“Pooh! the feud dates from long before that,” said Clive; “ Barnes wanted to lick me when I was a boy, and I declined: in fact, I think he had rather the worst of it; but then I operated freely on his shins, and that wasn't fair in war, you know.”

: “ Heaven forgive me," cries the Colonel; “I have always felt the fellow was my enemy: and iny mind is relieved now war is declared.

dinner. When I trusted him it was against my better instinct; and I have been struggling against it these ten years, thinking it was a wicked

“Why should we overcome such instincts?” asks Mr. Warrington. “Why shouldn't we hate what is hateful in people, and scorn what is mean? From what friend Pen has described to me, and from some other accounts which have come to my ears, your respectable nephew is about as loathsome a little villain as crawls on the earth. Good seems to be out of his sphere, and away from his contemplation. He ill-treats every one he comes near; or, if gentle to them, it is that they may serve some base purpose. Since my attention has been drawn to the creature, I have been contemplating his ways with wonder and curiosity. How much superior Nature's rogues are, Pen, to the villains you novelists put into your books! This man goes about his life business with a natural propensity to darkness and evil--as a bug crawls, and stings, and stinks. I don't suppose the fellow feels any more remorse than a cat that runs away with a mutton-chop. I recognise the Evil Spirit, sir, and do honour to Ahrimanes, in taking off my hat to this young man. He seduced a poor girl in his father's country town.

is it not natural? deserted her and her children- don't you recognise the beast? married for rank-could you expect otherwise from him? invites my Lord Highgate to his house in consideration of his balance at the bank.--Sir, unless somebody's heel shall crunch him on the way, there is no height to which this aspiring vermin mayn't crawl. I look to see Sir Barnes Newcome prosper more and more. I make no doubt he will die an immense capitalist, and an exalted Peer of this realm, He will have a marble monument, and a pathetic funeral sermon. There is a divine in your family, Clive, that shall preach it. I will weep respectful tears over the grave of Baron Newcome, Viscount Newcome, Earl Newcome; and the children whom he has deserted, and who, in the course of time, will be sent by a grateful nation to New South Wales, will proudly say to their brother convicts, 'Yes, the Earl was our honoured father!'"

6 I fear he is no better than he should be, Mr. Warrington," says the Colonel, shaking his head. “I never heard the story about the deserted children."

“ How should you, O you guileless man!” cries Warrington. “I am not in the ways of scandal-hearing myself much; but this tale I had from Sir Barnes Newcome's own county. Mr. Batters of the Newcome Independent is my esteemed client. I write leading articles for his newspaper, and when he was in town last spring he favoured me with the anecdote; and proposed to amuse the Member for Newcome by publishing it in his journal. This kind of writing is not much in my line; and, out of respect to you and your young one, I believe, I strove with Mr. Batters, and entreated him and prevailed with him, not to publish the story. This is how I came to know it."

I sat with the Colonel in the evening, when he commented on Warrington's story and Sir Barnes's adventures in his simple way. He said his brother Hobson had been with him the morning after the dispute, reiterating Barnes's defence of his conduct: and professing on his own part nothing but goodwill towards his brother. “Between ourselves the young baronet carries matters with rather a high hand

[ocr errors]


sometimes, and I am not sorry that you gave him a little dressing. But you were too hard upon him, Colonel-really you were." “ Had I known that child-deserting story I would have given it harder still, sir," says Thomas Newcome, twirling his mustachios:“but my brother had nothing to do with the quarrel, and very rightly did not wish to engage in it. He has an eye to business has Master Hobson, too," my friend continued: “for he brought ine a cheque for my private account, which of course, he said, could not remain after my quarrel with Barnes. But the Indian bank account, which is pretty large, he supposed need not be taken away? and indeed why should it? So that, which is little business of mine, remains where it was; and brother Hobson and I remain perfectly good friends.

“I think Clive is much better since he has been quite put out of his suspense. He speaks with a great deal more kindness and good nature about the marriage than I am disposed to feel regarding it: and depend on it has too high a spirit to show that he is beaten. But I know he is a good deal cut up, though he says nothing; and he agreed willingly enough to take a little journey, Arthur, and be out of the way when this business takes place. We shall go to Paris: I don't know where else besides. These misfortunes do good in one way, hard as they are to bear: they unite people who love each other. It seems to me my boy has been nearer to me, and likes his old father better than he has done of late." And very soon after this talk our friends departed.

· The Bulgarian minister having been recalled, and Lady Ann Newcome's house in Park Lane being vacant, her ladyship and her family came to occupy the mansion for this eventful season, and sat once more in the dismal dining-room under the picture of the defunct Sir Brian. A little of the splendour and hospitality of old days was revived in the house : entertainments were given by Lady Ann; and amongst other festivities, a fine ball took place, when pretty Miss Alice, Miss Ethel's younger sister, made her first appearance in the world, to which she was afterwards to be presented by the Marchioness of Farintosh. All the little sisters were charmed, no doubt, that the beautiful Ethel was to become a beautiful Marchioness, who, as they came up to womanhood one after another, would introduce them severally to amiable young earls, dukes, and marquises, when they would be married off and wear coronets and diamonds of their own right. At Lady Ann's ball I saw my acquaintance, young Mumford, who was going to Oxford next October, and about to leave Rugby, where he was at the head of the school, looking very dismal as Miss Alice whirled round the room dancing in Viscount Bustington's arms; -Miss Alice, with whose mamma he used to take tea at Rugby, and for whose pretty sake Mumford did Alfred Newcome's verses for him

and let him off his thrashings. Poor Mumford! he dismally went about under the protection of young Alfred, a fourth-form boy-not one soul did he know in that rattling London ball-room; his young face was as white as the large white tie, donned two hours since at the “ Tavistock" with such nervousness and beating of heart!

With these lads, and decorated with a tie equally splendid, moved about young Sam Newcome, who was shirking from his sister and his mamma. Mrs. Hobson had actually assumed clean gloves for this festive occasion. Sam stared at all the “ Nobs,” and insisted upon being introduced to " Farintosh," and congratulated his lordship with much graceful ease; and then pushed about the rooms perseveringly hanging on to Alfred's jacket. " I say, I wish you wouldn't call me Al," I heard Master Alfred say to his cousin. Seeing my face, Mr. Samuel ran up to claim acquaintance. He was good enough to say he thought Farintosh seemed devilish haughty. Even my wife could not help saying that Mr. Sam was an odious little creature.

So it was for young Alfred, and his brothers and sisters, who would want help and protection in the world, that Ethel was about to give up her independence, her inclination perhaps, and to bestow her life on yonder young nobleman. Looking at her as a girl devoting herself to her family, her sacrifice gave her a melancholy interest in our eyes. My wife and I watched her, grave and beautiful-moving through the rooms, receiving and returning a hundred greetings, bending to compliments, talking with this friend and that, with my lord's lordly relations, with himself, to whom she listened deferentially; faintly smiling as he spoke now and again,-doing the honours of her mother's house. Lady after lady of his lordship's clan and kinsfolk complimented the girl and her pleased mother. Old Lady Kew was radiant (if one can call radiance the glances of those darkling old eyes). She sat in a little room apart, and thither people went to pay their court to her. Unwittingly I came in on this levee with my wife on my arm : Lady Kew scowled at me over her crutch, but without a sign of recognition.

What an awful countenance that old woman has !” Laura whispered as we retreated out of that gloomy presence.

And Doubt (as its wont is) whispered too a question in my ear, 56 Is it for her brothers and sisters only that Miss Ethel is sacrificing herself? Is it not for the coronet, and the triumph, and the fine houses ?“When two motives may actuate a friend, we surely may try and believe in the good one," says Laura. “But, but I am glad Clive does not marry her-poor fellow he would not have been happy with her. She belongs to this great world : she has spent all her life in it: Clive would have entered into it very likely in her train; and you know, sir, it is not good that we should be our husbands' superiors," adds Mrs. Laura, with a curtsey.

« AnteriorContinuar »