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Lady Anna
by Anthony Trollope
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"But as yet I have only given you the preliminaries of my story." He had, in truth, told his story. He had, at least, told all of it that it will import that the reader should hear. He, indeed,—unfortunate one,—will have heard the most of that story twice or thrice before. But the audience in the Court of Queen's Bench still listened with breathless attention, while, under this new head of his story he told every detail again with much greater length than he had done in the prelude which has been here given. He stated the facts of the Cumberland marriage, apologizing to his learned friend the Serjeant for taking, as he said, the very words out of his learned friend's mouth. He expatiated with an eloquence that was as vehement as it was touching on the demoniacal schemes of that wicked Earl, to whom, during the whole of his fiendish life, women had been a prey. He repudiated, with a scorn that was almost terrible in its wrath, the idea that Josephine Murray had gone to the Earl's house with the name of wife, knowing that she was, in fact, but a mistress. She herself was in court, thickly veiled, under the care of one of the Goffes, having been summoned there as a necessary witness, and could not control her emotion as she listened to the words of warm eulogy with which the adverse counsel told the history of her life. It seemed to her then that justice was at last being done to her. Then the Solicitor-General reverted again to the two Italian women,—the Sicilian sisters, as he called them,—and at much length gave his reasons for discrediting the evidence which he himself had sought, that he might use it with the object of establishing the claim of his client. And lastly, he described the nature of the possessions which had been amassed by the late Earl, who, black with covetousness as he was with every other sin, had so manipulated his property that almost the whole of it had become personal, and was thus inheritable by a female heiress. He knew, he said, that he was somewhat irregular in alluding to facts,—or to fiction, if any one should call it fiction,—which he did not intend to prove, or to attempt to prove; but there was something, he said, beyond the common in the aspect which this case had taken, something in itself so irregular, that he thought he might perhaps be held to be excused in what he had done. "For the sake of the whole Lovel family, for the sake of these two most interesting ladies, who have been subjected, during a long period of years, to most undeserved calamities, we are anxious to establish the truth. I have told you what we believe to be the truth, and as that in no single detail militates against the case as it will be put forward by my learned friends opposite, we have no evidence to offer. We are content to accept the marriage of the widowed Countess as a marriage in every respect legal and binding." So saying the Solicitor-General sat down.

It was then past five o'clock, and the court, as a matter of course, was adjourned, but it was adjourned by consent to the Wednesday, instead of to the following day, in order that there might be due consideration given to the nature of the proceedings that must follow. As the thing stood at present it seemed that there need be no further plea of "Lovel v. Murray and Another." It had been granted that Murray was not Murray, but Lovel; yet it was thought that something further would be done.

It had all been very pretty; but yet there had been a feeling of disappointment throughout the audience. Not a word had been said as to that part of the whole case which was supposed to be the most romantic. Not a word had been said about the tailor.



CHAPTER XXIX.

DANIEL THWAITE ALONE.

There were two persons in the court who heard the statement of the Solicitor-General with equal interest,—and perhaps with equal disapprobation,—whose motives and ideas on the subject were exactly opposite. These two were the Rev. Mr. Lovel, the uncle of the plaintiff, and Daniel Thwaite, the tailor, whose whole life had been passed in furthering the cause of the defendants. The parson, from the moment in which he had heard that the young lady whom he had entertained in his house had engaged herself to marry the tailor, had reverted to his old suspicions,—suspicions which, indeed, he had never altogether laid aside. It had been very grievous to him to prefer a doubtful Lady Anna to a most indubitable Lady Fitzwarren. He liked the old-established things,—things which had always been unsuspected, which were not only respectable but firm-rooted. For twenty years he had been certain that the Countess was a false countess; and he, too, had lamented with deep inward lamentation over the loss of the wealth which ought to have gone to support the family earldom. It was monstrous to him that the property of one Earl Lovel should not appertain to the next Earl. He would on the moment have had the laws with reference to the succession of personal property altered, with retrospective action, so that so great an iniquity should be impossible. When the case against the so-called Countess was, as it were, abandoned by the Solicitor-General, and the great interests at stake thrown up, he would have put the conduct of the matter into other hands. Then had come upon him the bitterness of having to entertain in his own house the now almost undisputed,—though by him still suspected,—heiress, on behalf of his nephew, of a nephew who did not treat him well. And now the heiress had shown what she really was by declaring her intention of marrying a tailor! When that became known, he did hope that the Solicitor-General would change his purpose and fight the cause.

The ladies of the family, the two aunts, had affected to disbelieve the paragraph which Lady Fitzwarren had shown them with so much triumph. The rector had declared that it was just the kind of thing that he had expected. Aunt Julia, speaking freely, had said that it was just the kind of thing which she, knowing the girl, could not believe. Then the rector had come up to town to hear the trial, and on the day preceding it had asked his nephew as to the truth of the rumour which had reached him. "It is true," said the young lord, knitting his brow, "but it had better not be talked about."

"Why not talked about? All the world knows it. It has been in the newspapers."

"Any one wishing to oblige me will not mention it," said the Earl. This was too bad. It could not be possible,—for the honour of all the Lovels it could not surely be possible,—that Lord Lovel was still seeking the hand of a young woman who had confessed that she was engaged to marry a journeyman tailor! And yet to him, the uncle,—to him who had not long since been in loco parentis to the lord,—the lord would vouchsafe no further reply than that above given! The rector almost made himself believe that, great as might be the sorrow caused by such disruption, it would become his duty to quarrel with the Head of his family!

He listened with most attentive ears to every word spoken by the Solicitor-General, and quarrelled with almost every word. Would not any one have imagined that this advocate had been paid to plead the cause, not of the Earl, but of the Countess? As regarded the interests of the Earl, everything was surrendered. Appeal was made for the sympathies of all the court,—and, through the newspapers, for the sympathies of all England,—not on behalf of the Earl who was being defrauded of his rights, but on behalf of the young woman who had disgraced the name which she pretended to call her own,—and whose only refuge from that disgrace must be in the fact that to that name she had no righteous claim! Even when this apostate barrister came to a recapitulation of the property at stake, and explained the cause of its being vested, not in land as is now the case with the bulk of the possessions of noble lords,—but in shares and funds and ventures of commercial speculation here and there, after the fashion of tradesmen,—he said not a word to stir up in the minds of the jury a feeling of the injury which had been done to the present Earl. "Only that I am told that he has a wife of his own I should think that he meant to marry one of the women himself," said the indignant rector in the letter which he wrote to his sister Julia.

And the tailor was as indignant as the rector. He was summoned as a witness and was therefore bound to attend,—at the loss of his day's work. When he reached the court, which he did long before the judge had taken his seat, he found it to be almost impossible to effect an entrance. He gave his name to some officer about the place, but learned that his name was altogether unknown. He showed his subpoena and was told that he must wait till he was called. "Where must I wait?" asked the angry radical. "Anywhere," said the man in authority; "but you can't force your way in here." Then he remembered that no one had as yet paid so dearly for this struggle, no one had suffered so much, no one had been so instrumental in bringing the truth to light, as he, and this was the way in which he was treated! Had there been any justice in those concerned a seat would have been provided for him in the court, even though his attendance had not been required. There were hundreds there, brought thither by simple curiosity, to whom priority of entrance into the court had been accorded by favour, because they were wealthy, or because they were men of rank, or because they had friends high in office. All his wealth had been expended in this case; it was he who had been the most constant friend of this Countess; but for him and his father there might probably have been no question of a trial at this day. And yet he was allowed to beg for admittance, and to be shoved out of court because he had no friends. "The court is a public court, and is open to the public," he said, as he thrust his shoulders forward with a resolution that he would effect an entrance. Then he was taken in hand by two constables and pushed back through the doorway,—to the great detriment of the apple-woman who sat there in those days.

But by pluck and resolution he succeeded in making good some inch of standing room within the court before the Solicitor-General began his statement, and he was able to hear every word that was said. That statement was not more pleasing to him than to the rector of Yoxham. His first quarrel was with the assertion that titles of nobility are in England the outward emblem of noble conduct. No words that might have been uttered could have been more directly antagonistic to his feelings and political creed. It had been the accident of his life that he should have been concerned with ladies who were noble by marriage and birth, and that it had become a duty to him to help to claim on their behalf empty names which were in themselves odious to him. It had been the woman's right to be acknowledged as the wife of the man who had disowned her, and the girl's right to be known as his legitimate daughter. Therefore had he been concerned. But he had declared to himself, from his first crude conception of an opinion on the subject, that it would be hard to touch pitch and not be defiled. The lords of whom he heard were, or were believed by him to be, bloated with luxury, were both rich and idle, were gamblers, debauchers of other men's wives, deniers of all rights of citizenship, drones who were positively authorised to eat the honey collected by the working bees. With his half-knowledge, his ill-gotten and ill-digested information, with his reading which had all been on one side, he had been unable as yet to catch a glimpse of the fact that from the ranks of the nobility are taken the greater proportion of the hardworking servants of the State. His eyes saw merely the power, the privileges, the titles, the ribbons, and the money;—and he hated a lord. When therefore the Solicitor-General spoke of the recognised virtue of titles in England, the tailor uttered words of scorn to his stranger neighbour. "And yet this man calls himself a Liberal, and voted for the Reform Bill," he said. "In course he did," replied the stranger; "that was the way of his party." "There isn't an honest man among them all," said the tailor to himself. This was at the beginning of the speech, and he listened on through five long hours, not losing a word of the argument, not missing a single point made in favour of the Countess and her daughter. It became clear to him at any rate that the daughter would inherit the money. When the Solicitor-General came to speak of the nature of the evidence collected in Italy, Daniel Thwaite was unconsciously carried away into a firm conviction that all those concerned in the matter in Italy were swindlers. The girl was no doubt the heiress. The feeling of all the court was with her,—as he could well perceive. But in all that speech not one single word was said of the friend who had been true to the girl and to her mother through all their struggles and adversity. The name of Thomas Thwaite was not once mentioned. It might have been expedient for them to ignore him, Daniel, the son; but surely had there been any honour among them, any feeling of common honesty towards folk so low in the scale of humanity as tailors, some word would have been spoken to tell of the friendship of the old man who had gone to his grave almost a pauper because of his truth and constancy. But no;—there was not a word!

And he listened, with anxious ears, to learn whether anything would be said as to that proposed "alliance,"—he had always heard it called an alliance with a grim smile,—between the two noble cousins. Heaven and earth had been moved to promote "the alliance." But the Solicitor-General said not a word on the subject,—any more than he did of that other disreputable social arrangement, which would have been no more than a marriage. All the audience might suppose from anything that was said there that the young lady was fancy free and had never yet dreamed of a husband. Nevertheless there was hardly one there who had not heard something of the story of the Earl's suit,—and something also of the tailor's success.

When the court broke up Daniel Thwaite had reached standing-room, which brought him near to the seat that was occupied by Serjeant Bluestone. He lingered as long as he could, and saw all the barristers concerned standing with their heads together laughing, chatting, and well pleased, as though the day had been for them a day of pleasure. "I fancy the speculation is too bad for any one to take it up," he heard the Serjeant say, among whose various gifts was not that of being able to moderate his voice. "I dare say not," said Daniel to himself as he left the court; "and yet we took it up when the risk was greater, and when there was nothing to be gained." He had as yet received no explicit answer to the note which he had written to the Countess when he sent her the copy of his father's will. He had, indeed, received a notice from Mr. Goffe that the matter would receive immediate attention, and that the Countess hoped to be able to settle the claim in a very short time. But that he thought was not such a letter as should have been sent to him on an occasion so full of interest to him! But they were all hard and unjust and bad. The Countess was bad because she was a Countess,—the lawyers because they were lawyers,—the whole Lovel family because they were Lovels. At this moment poor Daniel Thwaite was very bitter against all mankind. He would, he thought, go at once to the Western world of which he was always dreaming, if he could only get that sum of L500 which was manifestly due to him.

But as he wandered away after the court was up, getting some wretched solitary meal at a cheap eating-house on his road, he endeavoured to fix his thoughts on the question of the girl's affection to himself. Taking all that had been said in that courtly lawyer's speech this morning as the groundwork of his present judgment, what should he judge to be her condition at the moment? He had heard on all sides that it was intended that she should marry the young Earl, and it had been said in his hearing that such would be declared before the judge. No such declaration had been made. Not a word had been uttered to signify that such an "alliance" was contemplated. Efforts had been made with him to induce him to withdraw his claim to the girl's hand. The Countess had urged him, and the lawyers had urged him. Most assuredly they would not have done so,—would have in no wise troubled themselves with him at all,—had they been able to prevail with Lady Anna. And why had they not so prevailed? The girl, doubtless, had been subjected to every temptation. She was kept secure from his interference. Hitherto he had not even made an effort to see her since she had left the house in which he himself lived. She had nothing to fear from him. She had been sojourning among those Lovels, who would doubtless have made the way to deceit and luxury easy for her. He could not doubt but that she had been solicited to enter into this alliance. Could he be justified in flattering himself that she had hitherto resisted temptation because in her heart of hearts she was true to her first love? He was true. He was conscious of his own constancy. He was sure of himself that he was bound to her by his love, and not by the hope of any worldly advantage. And why should he think that she was weaker, vainer, less noble than himself? Had he not evidence to show him that she was strong enough to resist a temptation to which he had never been subjected? He had read of women who were above the gilt and glitter of the world. When he was disposed to think that she would be false, no terms of reproach seemed to him too severe to heap upon her name; and yet, when he found that he had no ground on which to accuse her, even in his own thoughts, of treachery to himself, he could hardly bring himself to think it possible that she should not be treacherous. She had sworn to him, as he had sworn to her, and was he not bound to believe her oath?

Then he remembered what the poet had said to him. The poet had advised him to desist altogether, and had told him that it would certainly be best for the girl that he should do so. The poet had not based his advice on the ground that the girl would prove false, but that it would be good for the girl to be allowed to be false,—good for the girl that she should be encouraged to be false, in order that she might become an earl's wife! But he thought that it would be bad for any woman to be an earl's wife; and so thinking, how could he abandon his love in order that he might hand her over to a fashion of life which he himself despised? The poet must be wrong. He would cling to his love till he should know that his love was false to him. Should he ever learn that, then his love should be troubled with him no further.

But something must be done. Even, on her behalf, if she were true to him, something must be done. Was it not pusillanimous in him to make no attempt to see his love and to tell her that he at any rate was true to her? These people, who were now his enemies, the lawyers and the Lovels, with the Countess at the head of them, had used him like a dog, had repudiated him without remorse, had not a word even to say of the services which his father had rendered. Was he bound by honour or duty to stand on any terms with them? Could there be anything due to them from him? Did it not behove him as a man to find his way into the girl's presence and to assist her with his courage? He did not fear them. What cause had he to fear them? In all that had been between them his actions to them had been kind and good, whereas they were treating him with the basest ingratitude.

But how should he see Lady Anna? As he thought of all this he wandered up from Westminster, where he had eaten his dinner, to Russell Square and into Keppel Street, hesitating whether he would at once knock at the door and ask to see Lady Anna Lovel. Lady Anna was still staying with Mrs. Bluestone; but Daniel Thwaite had not believed the Countess when she told him that her daughter was not living with her. He doubted, however, and did not knock at the door.



CHAPTER XXX.

JUSTICE IS TO BE DONE.

It must not be thought that the Countess was unmoved when she received Daniel Thwaite's letter from Keswick enclosing the copy of his father's will. She was all alone, and she sat long in her solitude, thinking of the friend who was gone and who had been always true to her. She herself would have done for old Thomas Thwaite any service which a woman could render to a man, so strongly did she feel all that the man had done for her. As she had once said, no menial office performed by her on behalf of the old tailor would have been degrading to her. She had eaten his bread, and she never for a moment forgot the obligation. The slow tears stood in her eyes as she thought of the long long hours which she had passed in his company, while, almost desponding herself, she had received courage from his persistency. And her feeling for the son would have been the same, had not the future position of her daughter and the standing of the house of Lovel been at stake. It was not in her nature to be ungrateful; but neither was it in her nature to postpone the whole object of her existence to her gratitude. Even though she should appear to the world as a monster of ingratitude, she must treat the surviving Thwaite as her bitterest enemy as long as he maintained his pretensions to her daughter's hand. She could have no friendly communication with him. She herself would hold no communication with him at all, if she might possibly avoid it, lest she should be drawn into some renewed relation of friendship with him. He was her enemy,—her enemy in such fierce degree that she was always plotting the means of ridding herself altogether of his presence and influence. To her thinking the man had turned upon her most treacherously, and was using, for his own purposes and his own aggrandizement, that familiarity with her affairs which he had acquired by reason of his father's generosity. She believed but little in his love; but whether he loved the girl or merely sought her money, was all one to her. Her whole life had been passed in an effort to prove her daughter to be a lady of rank, and she would rather sacrifice her life in the basest manner than live to see all her efforts annulled by a low marriage. Love, indeed, and romance! What was the love of one individual, what was the romance of a childish girl, to the honour and well-being of an ancient and noble family? It was her ambition to see her girl become the Countess Lovel, and no feeling of gratitude should stand in her way. She would rather slay that lowborn artisan with her own hand than know that he had the right to claim her as his mother-in-law. Nevertheless, the slow tears crept down her cheeks as she thought of former days, and of the little parlour behind the tailor's shop at Keswick, in which the two children had been wont to play.

But the money must be paid; or, at least, the debt must be acknowledged. As soon as she had somewhat recovered herself she opened the old desk which had for years been the receptacle of all her papers, and taking out sundry scribbled documents, went to work at a sum in addition. It cannot be said of her that she was a good accountant, but she had been so far careful as to have kept entries of all the monies she had received from Thomas Thwaite. She had once carried in her head a correct idea of the entire sum she owed him; but now she set down the items with dates, and made the account fair on a sheet of note paper. So much money she certainly did owe to Daniel Thwaite, and so much she would certainly pay if ever the means of paying it should be hers. Then she went off with her account to Mr. Goffe.

Mr. Goffe did not think that the matter pressed. The payment of large sums which have been long due never is pressing in the eyes of lawyers. Men are always supposed to have a hundred pounds in their waistcoat pockets; but arrangements have to be made for the settling of thousands. "You had better let me write him a line and tell him that it shall be looked to as soon as the question as to the property is decided," said Mr. Goffe. But this did not suit the views of the Countess. She spoke out very openly as to all she owed to the father, and as to her eternal enmity to the son. It behoved her to pay the debt, if only that she might be able to treat the man altogether as an enemy. She had understood that, even pending the trial, a portion of the income would be allowed by the courts for her use and for the expenses of the trial. It was assented that this money should be paid. Could steps be taken by which it might be settled at once? Mr. Goffe, taking the memorandum, said that he would see what could be done, and then wrote his short note to Daniel Thwaite. When he had computed the interest which must undoubtedly be paid on the borrowed money he found that a sum of about L9,000 was due to the tailor. "Nine thousand pounds!" said one Mr. Goffe to another. "That will be better to him than marrying the daughter of an earl." Could Daniel have heard the words he would have taken the lawyer by the throat and have endeavoured to teach him what love is.

Then the trial came on. Before the day fixed had come round, but only just before it, Mr. Goffe showed the account to Serjeant Bluestone. "God bless my soul!" said the Serjeant. "There should be some vouchers for such an amount as that." Mr. Goffe declared that there were no vouchers, except for a very trifling part of it; but still thought that the amount should be allowed. The Countess was quite willing to make oath, if need be, that the money had been supplied to her. Then the further consideration of the question was for the moment postponed, and the trial came on.

On the Tuesday, which had been left a vacant day as regarded the trial, there was a meeting,—like all other proceedings in this cause, very irregular in its nature,—at the chambers of the Solicitor-General, at which Serjeant Bluestone attended with Messrs. Hardy, Mainsail, Flick, and Goffe; and at this meeting, among other matters of business, mention was made of the debt due by the Countess to Daniel Thwaite. Of this debt the Solicitor-General had not as yet heard,—though he had heard of the devoted friendship of the old tailor. That support had been afforded to some extent,—that for a period the shelter of old Thwaite's roof had been lent to the Countess,—that the man had been generous and trusting, he did know. He had learned, of course, that thence had sprung that early familiarity which had enabled the younger Thwaite to make his engagement with Lady Anna. That something should be paid when the ladies came by their own he was aware. But the ladies were not his clients, and into the circumstances he had not inquired. Now he was astounded and almost scandalized by the amount of the debt.

"Do you mean to say that he advanced L9,000 in hard cash?" said the Solicitor-General.

"That includes interest at five per cent., Sir William, and also a small sum for bills paid by Thomas Thwaite on her behalf. She has had in actual cash about L7,000."

"And where has it gone?"

"A good deal of it through my hands," said Mr. Goffe boldly. "During two or three years she had no income at all, and during the last twenty years she has been at law for her rights. He advanced all the money when that trial for bigamy took place."

"God bless my soul!" said Mr. Serjeant Bluestone.

"Did he leave a will?" asked the Solicitor-General.

"Oh, yes; a will which has been proved, and of which I have a copy. There was nothing else to leave but this debt, and that is left to the son."

"It should certainly be paid without delay," said Mr. Hardy. Mr. Mainsail questioned whether they could get the money. Mr. Goffe doubted whether it could be had before the whole affair was settled. Mr. Flick was sure that on due representation the amount would be advanced at once. The income of the property was already accumulating in the hands of the court, and there was an anxiety that all just demands,—demands which might be considered to be justly made on the family property,—should be paid without delay. "I think there would hardly be a question," said Mr. Hardy.

"Seven thousand pounds advanced by these two small tradesmen to the Countess Lovel," said the Solicitor-General, "and that done at a time when no relation of her own or of her husband would lend her a penny! I wish I had known that when I went into court yesterday."

"It would hardly have done any good," said the Serjeant.

"It would have enabled one at any rate to give credit where credit is due. And this son is the man who claims to be affianced to the Lady Anna?"

"The same man, Sir William," said Mr. Goffe.

"One is almost inclined to think that he deserves her."

"I can't agree with you there at all," said the Serjeant angrily.

"One at any rate is not astonished that the young lady should think so," continued the Solicitor-General. "Upon my word, I don't know how we are to expect that she should throw her early lover overboard after such evidence of devotion."

"The marriage would be too incongruous," said Mr. Hardy.

"Quite horrible," said the Serjeant.

"It distresses one to think of it," said Mr. Goffe.

"It would be much better that she should not be Lady Anna at all, if she is to do that," said Mr. Mainsail.

"Very much better," said Mr. Flick, shaking his head, and remembering that he was employed by Lord Lovel and not by the Countess,—a fact of which it seemed to him that the Solicitor-General altogether forgot the importance.

"Gentlemen, you have no romance among you," said Sir William. "Have not generosity and valour always prevailed over wealth and rank with ladies in story?"

"I do not remember any valorous tailors who have succeeded with ladies of high degree," said Mr. Hardy.

"Did not the lady of the Strachy marry the yeoman of the wardrobe?" asked the Solicitor-General.

"I don't know that we care much about romance here," said the Serjeant. "The marriage would be so abominable, that it is not to be thought of."

"The tailor should at any rate get his money," said the Solicitor-General, "and I will undertake to say that if the case be as represented by Mr. Goffe—"

"It certainly is," said the attorney.

"Then there will be no difficulty in raising the funds for paying it. If he is not to have his wife, at any rate let him have his money. I think, Mr. Flick, that intimation should be made to him that Earl Lovel will join the Countess in immediate application to the court for means to settle his claim. Circumstanced as we are at present, there can be no doubt that such application will have the desired result. It should, of course, be intimated that Serjeant Bluestone and myself are both of opinion that the money should be allowed for the purpose."

As the immediate result of this conversation, Daniel Thwaite received on the following morning letters both from Mr. Goffe and Mr. Flick. The former intimated to him that a sum of nine thousand odd pounds was held to be due to him by the Countess, and that immediate steps would be taken for its payment. That from Mr. Flick, which was much shorter than the letter from his brother attorney, merely stated that as a very large sum of money appeared to be due by the Countess Lovel to the estate of the late Thomas Thwaite, for sums advanced to the Countess during the last twenty years, the present Earl Lovel had been advised to join the Countess in application to the courts, that the amount due might be paid out of the income of the property left by the late Earl; and that that application would be made "immediately." Mr. Goffe in his letter, went on to make certain suggestions, and to give much advice. As this very large debt, of which no proof was extant, was freely admitted by the Countess, and as steps were being at once taken to ensure payment of the whole sum named to Daniel Thwaite, as his father's heir, it was hoped that Daniel Thwaite would at once abandon his preposterous claim to the hand of Lady Anna Lovel. Then Mr. Goffe put forward in glowing colours the iniquity of which Daniel Thwaite would be guilty should he continue his fruitless endeavours to postpone the re-establishment of a noble family which was thus showing its united benevolence by paying to him the money which it owed him.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE VERDICT.

On the Wednesday the court reassembled in all its judicial glory. There was the same crowd, the same Lord Chief Justice, the same jury, and the same array of friendly lawyers. There had been a rumour that a third retinue of lawyers would appear on behalf of what was now generally called the Italian interest, and certain words which had fallen from the Solicitor-General on Monday had assured the world at large that the Italian interest would be represented. It was known that the Italian case had been confided to a firm of enterprising solicitors, named Mowbray and Mopus, perhaps more feared than respected, which was supposed to do a great amount of speculative business. But no one from the house of Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus was in court on the Wednesday morning; and no energetic barrister was ever enriched by a fee from them on behalf of the Italian widow. The speculation had been found to be too deep, the expenditure which would be required in advance too great, and the prospect of remuneration too remote even for Mowbray and Mopus. It appeared afterwards that application had been made by those gentlemen for an assurance that expenses incurred on behalf of the Italian Countess should be paid out of the estate; but this had been refused. No guarantee to this effect could be given, at any rate till it should be seen whether the Italian lady had any show of justice on her side. It was now the general belief that if there was any truth at all in the Italian claim, it rested on the survivorship, at the time of the Cumberland marriage, of a wife who had long since died. As the proof of this would have given no penny to any one in Italy,—would simply have shown that the Earl was the heir,—Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus retired, and there was an end, for ever and a day, of the Italian interest.

Though there was the same throng in the court as on the Monday, there did not seem to be the same hubbub on the opening of the day's proceedings. The barristers were less busy with their papers, the attorneys sat quite at their ease, and the Chief Justice, with an assistant judge, who was his bench-fellow, appeared for some minutes to be quite passive. Then the Solicitor-General arose and said that, with permission, he would occupy the court for only a few minutes. He had stated on Monday his belief that an application would be made to the court on behalf of other interests than those which had been represented when the court first met. It appeared that he had been wrong in that surmise. Of course he had no knowledge on the subject, but it did not appear that any learned gentleman was prepared to address the court for any third party. As he, on behalf of his client, had receded from the case, his Lordship would probably say what, in his Lordship's opinion, should now be the proceeding of the court. The Earl Lovel abandoned his plea, and perhaps the court would, in those circumstances, decide that its jurisdiction in the matter was over. Then the Lord Chief Justice, with his assistant judge, retired for a while, and all the assembled crowd appeared to be at liberty to discuss the matter just as everybody pleased.

It was undoubtedly the opinion of the bar at large, and at that moment of the world in general, that the Solicitor-General had done badly for his client. The sum of money which was at stake was, they said, too large to be played with. As the advocate of the Earl, Sir William ought to have kept himself aloof from the Countess and her daughter. In lieu of regarding his client, he had taken upon himself to set things right in general, according to his idea of right. No doubt he was a clever man, and knew how to address a jury, but he was always thinking of himself, and bolstering up something of his own, instead of thinking of his case and bolstering up his client. And this conception of his character in general, and of his practice in this particular, became the stronger, as it was gradually believed that the living Italian Countess was certainly an impostor. There would have been little good in fighting against the English Countess on her behalf;—but if they could only have proved that the other Italian woman, who was now dead, had been the real Countess when the Cumberland marriage was made, then what a grand thing it would have been for the Lovel family! Of those who held this opinion, the rector of Yoxham was the strongest, and the most envenomed against the Solicitor-General. During the whole of that Tuesday he went about declaring that the interests of the Lovel family had been sacrificed by their own counsel, and late in the afternoon he managed to get hold of Mr. Hardy. Could nothing be done? Mr. Hardy was of opinion that nothing could be done now; but in the course of the evening he did, at the rector's instance, manage to see Sir William, and to ask the question, "Could nothing be done?"

"Nothing more than we propose to do."

"Then the case is over," said Mr. Hardy. "I am assured that no one will stir on behalf of that Italian lady."

"If any one did stir it would only be loss of time and money. My dear Hardy, I understand as well as any one what people are saying, and I know what must be the feeling of many of the Lovels. But I can only do my duty by my client to the best of my judgment. In the first place, you must remember that he has himself acknowledged the Countess."

"By our advice," said Mr. Hardy.

"You mean by mine. Exactly so;—but with such conviction on his own part that he positively refuses to be a party to any suit which shall be based on the assumption that she is not Countess Lovel. Let an advocate be ever so obdurate, he can hardly carry on a case in opposition to his client's instructions. We are acting for Lord Lovel, and not for the Lovel family. And I feel assured of this, that were we to attempt to set up the plea that that other woman was alive when the marriage took place in Cumberland, you, yourself, would be ashamed of the evidence which it would become your duty to endeavour to foist upon the jury. We should certainly be beaten, and, in the ultimate settlement of the property, we should have to do with enemies instead of friends. The man was tried for bigamy and acquitted. Would any jury get over that unless you had evidence to offer to them that was plain as a pikestaff, and absolutely incontrovertible?"

"Do you still think the girl will marry the Earl?"

"No; I do not. She seems to have a will of her own, and that will is bent the other way. But I do think that a settlement may be made of the property which shall be very much in the Earl's favour." When on the following morning the Solicitor-General made his second speech, which did not occupy above a quarter of an hour, it became manifest that he did not intend to alter his course of proceeding, and while the judges were absent it was said by everybody in the court that the Countess and Lady Anna had gained their suit.

"I consider it to be a most disgraceful course of proceeding on the part of Sir William Patterson," said the rector to a middle-aged legal functionary, who was managing clerk to Norton and Flick.

"We all think, sir, that there was more fight in it," said the legal functionary.

"There was plenty of fight in it. I don't believe that any jury in England would willingly have taken such an amount of property from the head of the Lovel family. For the last twenty years,—ever since I first heard of the pretended English marriage,—everybody has known that she was no more a Countess than I am. I can't understand it; upon my word I can't. I have not had much to do with law, but I've always been brought up to think that an English barrister would be true to his client. I believe a case can be tried again if it can be shown that the lawyers have mismanaged it." The unfortunate rector, when he made this suggestion, no doubt forgot that the client in this case was in full agreement with the wicked advocate.

The judges were absent for about half an hour, and on their return the Chief Justice declared that his learned brother,—the Serjeant namely,—had better proceed with the case on behalf of his clients. He went on to explain that as the right to the property in dispute, and indeed the immediate possession of that property, would be ruled by the decision of the jury, it was imperative that they should hear what the learned counsel for the so-called Countess and her daughter had to say, and what evidence they had to offer, as to the validity of her marriage. It was not to be supposed that he intended to throw any doubt on that marriage, but such would be the safer course. No doubt, in the ordinary course of succession, a widow and a daughter would inherit and divide among them in certain fixed proportions the personal property of a deceased but intestate husband and father, without the intervention of any jury to declare their rights. But in this case suspicion had been thrown and adverse statements had been made; and as his learned brother was, as a matter of course, provided with evidence to prove that which the plaintiff had come into the court with the professed intention of disproving, the case had better go on. Then he wrapped his robes around him and threw himself back in the attitude of a listener. Serjeant Bluestone, already on his legs, declared himself prepared and willing to proceed. No doubt the course as now directed was the proper course to be pursued. The Solicitor-General, rising gracefully and bowing to the court, gave his consent with complaisant patronage. "Your Lordship, no doubt, is right." His words were whispered, and very probably not heard; but the smile, as coming from a Solicitor-General,—from such a Solicitor-General as Sir William Patterson,—was sufficient to put any judge at his ease.

Then Serjeant Bluestone made his statement, and the case was proceeded with after the fashion of such trials. It will not concern us to follow the further proceedings of the court with any close attention. The Solicitor-General went away, to some other business, and much of the interest seemed to drop. The marriage in Cumberland was proved; the trial for bigamy, with the acquittal of the Earl, was proved; the two opposed statements of the Earl, as to the death of the first wife, and afterwards as to the fact that she was living, were proved. Serjeant Bluestone and Mr. Mainsail were very busy for two days, having everything before them. Mr. Hardy, on behalf of the young lord, kept his seat, but he said not a word—not even asking a question of one of Serjeant Bluestone's witnesses. Twice the foreman of the jury interposed, expressing an opinion, on behalf of himself and his brethren, that the case need not be proceeded with further; but the judge ruled that it was for the interest of the Countess,—he ceased to style her the so-called Countess,—that her advocates should be allowed to complete their case. In the afternoon of the second day they did complete it, with great triumph and a fine flourish of forensic oratory as to the cruel persecution which their client had endured. The Solicitor-General came back into court in time to hear the judge's charge, which was very short. The jury were told that they had no alternative but to find a verdict for the defendants. It was explained to them that this was a plea to show that a certain marriage which had taken place in Cumberland in 181—, was no real or valid marriage. Not only was that plea withdrawn, but evidence had been adduced proving that that marriage was valid. Such a marriage was, as a matter of course, prima facie valid, let what statements might be made to the contrary by those concerned or not concerned. In such case the burden of proof would rest entirely with the makers of such statement. No such proof had been here attempted, and the marriage must be declared a valid marriage. The jury had nothing to do with the disposition of the property, and it would be sufficient for them simply to find a verdict for the defendants. The jury did as they were bid; but, going somewhat beyond this, declared that they found the two defendants to be properly named the Countess Lovel, and Lady Anna Lovel. So ended the case of "Lovel v. Murray and Another."

The Countess, who had been in the court all day, was taken home to Keppel Street by the Serjeant in a glass coach that had been hired to be in waiting for her. "And now, Lady Lovel," said Serjeant Bluestone, as he took his seat opposite to her, "I can congratulate your ladyship on the full restitution of your rights." She only shook her head. "The battle has been fought and won at last, and I will make free to say that I have never seen more admirable persistency than you have shown since first that bad man astounded your ears by his iniquity."

"It has been all to no purpose," she said.

"To no purpose, Lady Lovel! I may as well tell you now that it is expected that his Majesty will send to congratulate you on the restitution of your rights."

Again she shook her head. "Ah, Serjeant Bluestone;—that will be but of little service."

"No further objection can now be made to the surrender of the whole property. There are some mining shares as to which there may be a question whether they are real or personal, but they amount to but little. A third of the remainder, which will, I imagine, exceed—"

"If it were ten times as much, Serjeant Bluestone, there would be no comfort in it. If it were ten times that, it would not at all help to heal my sorrow. I have sometimes thought that when one is marked for trouble, no ease can come."

"I don't think more of money than another man," began the Serjeant.

"You do not understand."

"Nor yet of titles,—though I feel for them, when they are worthily worn, the highest respect," as he so spoke the Serjeant lifted his hat from his brow. "But, upon my word, to have won such a case as this justifies triumph."

"I have won nothing,—nothing,—nothing!"

"You mean about Lady Anna?"

"Serjeant Bluestone, when first I was told that I was not that man's wife, I swore to myself that I would die sooner than accept any lower name; but when I found that I was a mother, then I swore that I would live till my child should bear the name that of right belonged to her."

"She does bear it now."

"What name does she propose to bear? I would sooner be poor, in beggary,—still fighting, even without means to fight, for an empty title,—still suffering, still conscious that all around me regarded me as an impostor, than conquer only to know that she, for whom all this has been done, has degraded her name and my own. If she does this thing, or, if she has a mind so low, a spirit so mean, as to think of doing it, would it not be better for all the world that she should be the bastard child of a rich man's kept mistress, than the acknowledged daughter of an earl, with a countess for her mother, and a princely fortune to support her rank? If she marries this man, I shall heartily wish that Lord Lovel had won the case. I care nothing for myself now. I have lost all that. The king's message will comfort me not at all. If she do this thing I shall only feel the evil we have done in taking the money from the Earl. I would sooner see her dead at my feet than know that she was that man's wife;—ay, though I had stabbed her with my own hand!"

The Serjeant for the nonce could say nothing more to her. She had worked herself into such a passion that she would listen to no words but her own, and think of nothing but the wrong that was still being done to her. He put her down at the hall door in Keppel Street, saying, as he lifted his hat again, that Mrs. Bluestone should come and call upon her.



CHAPTER XXXII.

WILL YOU PROMISE?

The news of the verdict was communicated the same evening to Lady Anna,—as to whose name there could now no longer be any dispute. "I congratulate you, Lady Anna," said the Serjeant, holding her hand, "that everything as far as this trial is concerned has gone just as we could wish."

"We owe it all to you," said the girl.

"Not at all. My work has been very easy. In fact I have some feeling of regret that I have not been placed in a position that would enable me to earn my wages. The case was too good,—so that a poor aspiring lawyer has not been able to add to his reputation. But as far as you are concerned, my dear, everything has gone as you should wish. You are now a very wealthy heiress, and the great duty devolves upon you of disposing of your wealth in a fitting manner." Lady Anna understood well what was meant, and was silent. Even when she was alone, her success did not make her triumphant. She could anticipate that the efforts of all her friends to make her false to her word would be redoubled. Unless she could see Daniel Thwaite, it would be impossible that she should not be conquered.

The Serjeant told his wife the promise which he had made on her behalf, and she, of course, undertook to go to Keppel Street on the following morning. "You had better bring her here," said the Serjeant. Mrs. Bluestone remarked that that might be sooner said than done. "She'll be glad of an excuse to come," answered the Serjeant. "On such an occasion as this, of course they must see each other. Something must be arranged about the property. In a month or two, when she is of age, she will have the undisputed right to do what she pleases with about three hundred thousand pounds. It is a most remarkable position for a young girl who has never yet had the command of a penny, and who professes that she is engaged to marry a working tailor. Of course her mother must see her."

Mrs. Bluestone did call in Keppel Street, and sat with the Countess a long time, undergoing a perfect hailstorm of passion. For a long time Lady Lovel declared that she would never see her daughter again till the girl had given a solemn promise that she would not marry Daniel Thwaite. "Love her! Of course I love her. She is all that I have in the world. But of what good is my love to me, if she disgraces me? She has disgraced me already. When she could bring herself to tell her cousin that she was engaged to this man, we were already disgraced. When she once allowed the man to speak to her in that strain, without withering him with her scorn, she disgraced us both. For what have I done it all, if this is to be the end of it?" But at last she assented and promised that she would come. No;—it would not be necessary to send a carriage for her. The habits of her own life need not be at all altered because she was now a Countess beyond dispute, and also wealthy. She would be content to live as she had ever lived. It had gone on too long for her to desire personal comfort,—luxury for herself, or even social rank. The only pleasure that she had anticipated, the only triumph that she desired, was to be found in the splendour of her child. She would walk to Bedford Square, and then walk back to her lodgings in Keppel Street. She wanted no carriage.

Early on the following day there was heard the knock at the door which Lady Anna had been taught to expect. The coming visit had been discussed in all its bearings, and it had been settled that Mrs. Bluestone should be with the daughter when the mother arrived. It was thought that in this way the first severity of the Countess would be mitigated, and that the chance of some agreement between them might be increased. Both the Serjeant and Mrs. Bluestone now conceived that the young lady had a stronger will of her own than might have been expected from her looks, her language, and her manners. She had not as yet yielded an inch, though she would not argue the matter at all when she was told that it was her positive duty to abandon the tailor. She would sit quite silent; and if silence does give consent, she consented to this doctrine. Mrs. Bluestone, with a diligence which was equalled only by her good humour, insisted on the misery which must come upon her young friend should she quarrel with the Countess, and with all the Lovels,—on the unfitness of the tailor, and the impossibility that such a marriage should make a lady happy,—on the sacred duty which Lady Anna's rank imposed upon her to support her order, and on the general blessedness of a well-preserved and exclusive aristocracy. "I don't mean to say that nobly born people are a bit better than commoners," said Mrs. Bluestone. "Neither I nor my children have a drop of noble blood in our veins. It is not that. But God Almighty has chosen that there should be different ranks to carry out His purposes, and we have His word to tell us that we should all do our duties in that state of life to which it has pleased Him to call us." The excellent lady was somewhat among the clouds in her theology, and apt to mingle the different sources of religious instruction from which she was wont to draw lessons for her own and her children's guidance; but she meant to say that the proper state of life for an earl's daughter could not include an attachment to a tailor; and Lady Anna took it as it was meant. The nobly born young lady did not in heart deny the truth of the lesson;—but she had learned another lesson, and she did not know how to make the two compatible. That other lesson taught her to believe that she ought to be true to her word;—that she specially ought to be true to one who had ever been specially true to her. And latterly there had grown upon her a feeling less favourable to the Earl than that which he had inspired when she first saw him, and which he had increased when they were together at Yoxham. It is hard to say why the Earl had ceased to charm her, or by what acts or words he had lowered himself in her eyes. He was as handsome as ever, as much like a young Apollo, as gracious in his manner, and as gentle in his gait. And he had been constant to her. Perhaps it was that she had expected that one so godlike should have ceased to adore a woman who had degraded herself to the level of a tailor, and that, so conceiving, she had begun to think that his motives might be merely human, and perhaps sordid. He ought to have abstained and seen her no more after she had owned her own degradation. But she said nothing of all this to Mrs. Bluestone. She made no answer to the sermons preached to her. She certainly said no word tending to make that lady think that the sermons had been of any avail. "She looks as soft as butter," Mrs. Bluestone said that morning to her husband; "but she is obstinate as a pig all the time."

"I suppose her father was the same way before her," said the Serjeant, "and God knows her mother is obstinate enough."

When the Countess was shown into the room Lady Anna was trembling with fear and emotion. Lady Lovel, during the last few weeks, since her daughter had seen her, had changed the nature of her dress. Hitherto, for years past, she had worn a brown stuff gown, hardly ever varying even the shade of the sombre colour,—so that her daughter had perhaps never seen her otherwise clad. No woman that ever breathed was less subject to personal vanity than had been the so-called Countess who lived in the little cottage outside Keswick. Her own dress had been as nothing to her, and in the days of her close familiarity with old Thomas Thwaite she had rebuked her friend when he had besought her to attire herself in silk. "We'll go into Keswick and get Anna a new ribbon," she would say, "and that will be grandeur enough for her and me too." In this brown dress she had come up to London, and so she had been clothed when her daughter last saw her. But now she wore a new, full, black silk dress, which, plain as it was, befitted her rank and gave an increased authority to her commanding figure. Lady Anna trembled all the more, and her heart sank still lower within her, because her mother no longer wore the old brown gown. When the Countess entered the room she took no immediate notice of Mrs. Bluestone, but went up to her child and kissed her. "I am comforted, Anna, in seeing you once again," she said.

"Dear, dearest mamma!"

"You have heard, I suppose, that the trial has been decided in your favour?"

"In yours, mamma."

"We have explained it all to her, Lady Lovel, as well as we could. The Serjeant yesterday evening gave us a little history of what occurred. It seems to have been quite a triumph."

"It may become a triumph," said the Countess;—"a triumph so complete and glorious that I shall desire nothing further in this world. It has been my work to win the prize; it is for her to wear it,—if she will do so."

"I hope you will both live to enjoy it many years," said Mrs. Bluestone. "You will have much to say to each other, and I will leave you now. We shall have lunch, Lady Lovel, at half-past one, and I hope that you will join us."

Then they were alone together. Lady Anna had not moved from her chair since she had embraced her mother, but the Countess had stood during the whole time that Mrs. Bluestone had been in the room. When the room door was closed they both remained silent for a few moments, and then the girl rushed across the room and threw herself on her knees at her mother's feet. "Oh, mamma, mamma, tell me that you love me. Oh, mamma, why have you not let me come to you? Oh, mamma, we never were parted before."

"My child never before was wilfully disobedient to me."

"Oh, mamma;—tell me that you love me."

"Love you! Yes, I love you. You do not doubt that, Anna. How could it be possible that you should doubt it after twenty years of a mother's care? You know I love you."

"I know that I love you, mamma, and that it kills me to be sent away from you. You will take me home with you now;—will you not?"

"Home! You shall make your own home, and I will take you whither you will. I will be a servant to minister to every whim; all the world shall be a Paradise to you; you shall have every joy that wealth, and love, and sweet friends can procure for you,—if you will obey me in one thing." Lady Anna, still crouching upon the ground, hid her face in her mother's dress, but she was silent. "It is not much that I ask after a life spent in winning for you all that has now been won. I only demand of you that you shall not disgrace yourself."

"Oh, mamma, I am not disgraced."

"Say that you will marry Lord Lovel, and all that shall be forgotten. It shall at any rate be forgiven, or remembered only as the folly of a child. Will you say that you will become Lord Lovel's wife?"

"Oh, mamma!"

"Answer me, Anna;—will you say that you will receive Lord Lovel as your accepted lover? Get up, girl, and look me in the face. Of what use is it to grovel there, while your spirit is in rebellion? Will you do this? Will you save us all from destruction, misery, and disgrace? Will you remember who you are;—what blood you have in your veins;—what name it is that you bear? Stand up, and look me in the face, if you dare."

Lady Anna did stand up, and did look her mother in the face. "Mamma," she said, "we should understand each other better if we were living together as we ought to do."

"I will never live with you till you have promised obedience. Will you, at any rate, pledge to me your word that you will never become the wife of Daniel Thwaite?" Then she paused, and stood looking at the girl, perhaps for a minute. Lady Anna stood before her, with her eyes turned upon the ground. "Answer me the question that I have asked you. Will you promise me that you will never become the wife of Daniel Thwaite?"

"I have promised him that I would."

"What is that to me? Is your duty to him higher than your duty to me? Can you be bound by any promise to so great a crime as that would be? I will ask you the question once more, and I will be governed by your answer. If you will promise to discard this man, you shall return home with me, and shall then choose everything for yourself. We will go abroad and travel if you wish it, and all things shall be prepared to give you pleasure. You shall have at once the full enjoyment of all that has been won for you; and as for your cousin,—you shall not for a while be troubled even by his name. It is the dear wish of my heart that you should be the wife of Earl Lovel;—but I have one wish dearer even than that,—one to which that shall be altogether postponed. If you will save yourself, and me, and all your family from the terrible disgrace with which you have threatened us,—I will not again mention your cousin's name to you till it shall please you to hear it. Anna, you knelt to me, just now. Shall I kneel to you?"

"No, mamma, no;—I should die."

"Then, my love, give me the promise that I have asked."

"Mamma, he has been so good to us!"

"And we will be good to him,—good to him in his degree. Of what avail to me will have been his goodness, if he is to rob me of the very treasure which his goodness helped to save? Is he to have all, because he gave some aid? Is he to take from me my heart's blood, because he bound up my arm when it was bruised? Because he helped me some steps on earth, is he to imprison me afterwards in hell? Good! No, he is not good in wishing so to destroy us. He is bad, greedy, covetous, self-seeking, a very dog, and by the living God he shall die like a dog unless you will free me from his fangs. You have not answered me. Will you tell me that you will discard him as a suitor for your hand? If you will say so, he shall receive tenfold reward for his—goodness. Answer me, Anna;—I claim an answer from you."

"Mamma!"

"Speak, if you have anything to say. And remember the commandment, Honour thy—" But she broke down, when she too remembered it, and bore in mind that the precept would have called upon her daughter to honour the memory of the deceased Earl. "But if you cannot do it for love, you will never do it for duty."

"Mamma, I am sure of one thing."

"Of what are you sure?"

"That I ought to be allowed to see him before I give him up."

"You shall never be allowed to see him."

"Listen to me, mamma, for a moment. When he asked me to—love him, we were equals."

"I deny it. You were never equals."

"We lived as such,—except in this, that they had money for our wants, and we had none to repay them."

"Money can have nothing to do with it."

"Only that we took it. And then he was everything to us. It seemed as though it would be impossible to refuse anything that he asked. It was impossible to me. As to being noble, I am sure that he was noble. You always used to say that nobody else ever was so good as those two. Did you not say so, mamma?"

"If I praise my horse or my dog, do I say that they are of the same nature as myself?"

"But he is a man; quite as much a man as,—as any man could be."

"You mean that you will not do as I bid you."

"Let me see him, mamma. Let me see him but once. If I might see him, perhaps I might do as you wish—about him. I cannot say anything more unless I may see him."

The Countess still stormed and still threatened, but she could not move her daughter. She also found that the child had inherited particles of the nature of her parents. But it was necessary that some arrangement should be made as to the future life, both of Lady Anna and of herself. She might bury herself where she would, in the most desolate corner of the earth, but she could not leave Lady Anna in Bedford Square. In a few months Lady Anna might choose any residence she pleased for herself, and there could be no doubt whose house she would share, if she were not still kept in subjection. The two parted then in deep grief,—the mother almost cursing her child in her anger, and Lady Anna overwhelmed with tears. "Will you not kiss me, mamma, before you go?"

"No, I will never kiss you again till you have shown me that you are my child."

But before she left the house, the Countess was closeted for a while with Mrs. Bluestone, and, in spite of all that she had said, it was agreed between them that it would be better to permit an interview between the girl and Daniel Thwaite. "Let him say what he will," argued Mrs. Bluestone, "she will not be more headstrong than she is now. You will still be able to take her away with you to some foreign country."

"But he will treat her as though he were her lover," said the Countess, unable to conceal the infinite disgust with which the idea overwhelmed her.

"What does it matter, Lady Lovel? We have got to get a promise from her, somehow. Since she was much with him, she has seen people of another sort, and she will feel the difference. It may be that she wants to ask him to release her. At any rate she speaks as though she might be released by what he would say to her. Unless she thought it might be so herself, she would not make a conditional promise. I would let them meet."

"But where?"

"In Keppel Street."

"In my presence?"

"No, not that; but you will, of course, be in the house,—so that she cannot leave it with him. Let her come to you. It will be an excuse for her doing so, and then she can remain. If she does not give the promise, take her abroad, and teach her to forget it by degrees." So it was arranged, and on that evening Mrs. Bluestone told Lady Anna that she was to be allowed to meet Daniel Thwaite.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

DANIEL THWAITE RECEIVES HIS MONEY.

There was of course much commotion among all circles of society in London as soon as it was known to have been decided that the Countess Lovel was the Countess Lovel, and that Lady Anna was the heiress of the late Earl. Bets were paid,—and bets no doubt were left unpaid,—to a great amount. Men at the clubs talked more about the Lovels than they had done even during the month preceding the trial. The Countess became on a sudden very popular. Exaggerated stories were told of the romance of her past life,—though it would have been well nigh impossible to exaggerate her sufferings. Her patience, her long endurance and persistency were extolled by all. The wealth that would accrue to her and to her daughter was of course doubled. Had anybody seen her? Did anybody know her? Even the Murrays began to be proud of her, and old Lady Jemima Magtaggart, who had been a Murray before she married General Mag, as he was called, went at once and called upon the Countess in Keppel Street. Being the first that did so, before the Countess had suspected any invasion, she was admitted,—and came away declaring that sorrow must have driven the Countess mad. The Countess, no doubt, did not receive her distant relative with any gentle courtesy. She had sworn to herself often, that come what come might, she would never cross the threshold of a Murray. Old Lord Swanage, who had married some very distant Lovel, wrote to her a letter full of very proper feeling. It had been, he said, quite impossible for him to know the truth before the truth had come to light, and therefore he made no apology for not having before this made overtures of friendship to his connection. He now begged to express his great delight that she who had so well deserved success had been successful, and to offer her his hand in friendship, should she be inclined to accept it. The Countess answered him in a strain which certainly showed that she was not mad. It was not her policy to quarrel with any Lovel, and her letter was very courteous. She was greatly obliged to him for his kindness, and had felt as strongly as he could do that she could have no claim on her husband's relations till she should succeed in establishing her rights. She accepted his hand in the spirit in which it had been offered, and hoped that his Lordship might yet become a friend of her daughter. For herself,—she feared that all that she had suffered had made her unfit for much social intercourse. Her strength, she said, had been sufficient to carry her thus far, but was now failing her.

Then, too, there came to her that great glory of which the lawyer had given her a hint. She received a letter from the private secretary of his Majesty the King, telling her that his Majesty had heard her story with great interest, and now congratulated her heartily on the re-establishment of her rank and position. She wrote a very curt note, begging that her thanks might be given to his Majesty,—and then she burned the private secretary's letter. No congratulations were anything to her till she should see her daughter freed from the debasement of her engagement to the tailor.

Speculation was rife as to the kind of life which the Countess would lead. That she would have wealth sufficient to blaze forth in London with all the glories of Countess-ship, there was no doubt. Her own share of the estate was put down as worth at least ten thousand a year for her life, and this she would enjoy without deductions, and with no other expenditure than that needed for herself. Her age was ascertained to a day, and it was known that she was as yet only forty-five. Was it not probable that some happy man might share her wealth with her? What an excellent thing it would be for old Lundy,—the Marquis of Lundy,—who had run through every shilling of his own property! Before a week was over, the suggestion had been made to old Lundy. "They say she is mad, but she can't be mad enough for that," said the Marquis.

The rector hurried home full of indignation, but he had a word or two with his nephew before he started. "What do you mean to do now, Frederic?" asked the rector with a very grave demeanour.

"Do? I don't know that I shall do anything."

"You give up the girl, then?"

"My dear uncle; that is a sort of question that I don't think a man ever likes to be asked."

"But I suppose I may ask how you intend to live?"

"I trust, uncle Charles, that I shall not, at any rate, be a burden to my relatives."

"Oh; very well; very well. Of course I have nothing more to say. I think it right, all the same, to express my opinion that you have been grossly misused by Sir William Patterson. Of course what I say will have no weight with you; but that is my opinion."

"I do not agree with you, uncle Charles."

"Very well; I have nothing more to say. It is right that I should let you know that I do not believe that this woman was ever Lord Lovel's wife. I never did believe it, and I never will believe it. All that about marrying the girl has been a take in from beginning to end;—all planned to induce you to do just what you have done. No word in courtesy should ever have been spoken to either of them."

"I am as sure that she is the Countess as I am that I am the Earl."

"Very well. It costs me nothing, but it costs you thirty thousand a year. Do you mean to come down to Yoxham this winter?"

"No."

"Are the horses to be kept there?" Now hitherto the rich rector had kept the poor lord's hunters without charging his nephew ought for their expense. He was a man so constituted that it would have been a misery to him that the head of his family should not have horses to ride. But now he could not but remember all that he had done, all that he was doing, and the return that was made to him. Nevertheless he could have bit the tongue out of his mouth for asking the question as soon as the words were spoken.

"I will have them sold immediately," said the Earl. "They shall come up to Tattersal's before the week is over."

"I didn't mean that."

"I am glad that you thought of it, uncle Charles. They shall be taken away at once."

"They are quite welcome to remain at Yoxham."

"They shall be removed,—and sold," said the Earl. "Remember me to my aunts. Good bye." Then the rector went down to Yoxham an angry and a miserable man.

There were very many who still agreed with the rector in thinking that the Earl's case had been mismanaged. There was surely enough of ground for a prolonged fight to have enabled the Lovel party to have driven their opponents to a compromise. There was a feeling that the Solicitor-General had been carried away by some romantic idea of abstract right, and had acted in direct opposition to all the usages of forensic advocacy as established in England. What was it to him whether the Countess were or were not a real Countess? It had been his duty to get what he could for the Earl, his client. There had been much to get, and with patience no doubt something might have been got. But he had gotten nothing. Many thought that he had altogether cut his own throat, and that he would have to take the first "puny" judgeship vacant. "He is a great man,—a very great man indeed," said the Attorney-General, in answer to some one who was abusing Sir William. "There is not one of us can hold a candle to him. But, then, as I have always said, he ought to have been a poet!"

In discussing the Solicitor-General's conduct men thought more of Lady Anna than her mother. The truth about Lady Anna and her engagement was generally known in a misty, hazy, half-truthful manner. That she was engaged to marry Daniel Thwaite, who was now becoming famous and the cause of a greatly increased business in Wigmore Street, was certain. It was certain also that the Earl had desired to marry her. But as to the condition in which the matter stood at present there was a very divided opinion. Not a few were positive that a written engagement had been given to the Earl that he should have the heiress before the Solicitor-General had made his speech,—but, according to these, the tailor's hold over the young lady was so strong, that she now refused to abide by her own compact. She was in the tailor's hands and the tailor could do what he liked with her. It was known that Lady Anna was in Bedford Square, and not a few walked before the Serjeant's house in the hopes of seeing her. The romance at any rate was not over, and possibly there might even yet be a compromise. If the Earl could get even five thousand a year out of the property, it was thought that the Solicitor-General might hold his own and in due time become at any rate a Chief Baron.

In the mean time Daniel Thwaite remained in moody silence among the workmen in Wigmore Street, unseen of any of those who rushed there for new liveries in order that they might catch a glimpse of the successful hero,—till one morning, about five days after the trial was over, when he received a letter from Messrs. Goffe and Goffe. Messrs. Goffe and Goffe had the pleasure of informing him that an accurate account of all money transactions between Countess Lovel and his father had been kept by the Countess;—that the Countess on behalf of herself and Lady Anna Lovel acknowledged a debt due to the estate of the late Mr. Thomas Thwaite, amounting to L9,109 3s. 4d., and that a cheque to that amount should be at once handed to him,—Daniel Thwaite the son,—if he would call at the chambers of Messrs. Goffe and Goffe, with a certified copy of the probate of the will of Thomas Thwaite the father.

Nine thousand pounds,—and that to be paid to him immediately,—on that very day if he chose to call for it! The copy of the probate of the will he had in his pocket at that moment. But he worked out his day's work without going near Goffe and Goffe. And yet he thought much of his money; and once, when one of his employers spoke to him somewhat roughly, he remembered that he was probably a better man than his master. What should he now do with himself and his money,—how bestow himself,—how use it so that he might be of service to the world? He would go no doubt to some country in which there were no earls and no countesses;—but he could go nowhere till he should know what might be his fate with the Earl's daughter, who at present was his destiny. His mind was absolutely divided. In one hour he would say to himself that the poet was certainly right;—and in the next he was sure that the poet must have been wrong. As regarded money, nine thousand pounds was as good to him as any sum that could be named. He could do with that all that he required that money should do for him. Could he at this time have had his own way absolutely, he would have left all the remainder of the wealth behind him, to be shared as they pleased to share it between the Earl and the Countess, and he would have gone at once, taking with him the girl whom he loved. He would have revelled in the pride of thinking that all of them should say that he had wanted and had won the girl only,—and not the wealth of the Lovels; that he had taken only what was his own, and that his wife would be dependent on him, not he on her. But this was not possible. It was now months since he had heard the girl's voice, or had received any assurance from her that she was still true to him. But, in lieu of this, he had the assurance that she was in possession of enormous wealth, and that she was the recognised cousin of lords and ladies by the dozen.

When the evening came he saw one of his employers and told the man that he wished that his place might be filled. Why was he going? Did he expect to better himself? When was he going? Was he in earnest? Daniel told the truth at once as far as the payment of the money was concerned. He was to receive on the following day a sum of money which had been due to his father, and, when that should have been paid him, it would not suit him to work longer for weekly wages. The tailor grumbled, but there was nothing else to be said. Thwaite might leave them to-morrow if he wished. Thwaite took him at his word and never returned to the shop in Wigmore Street after that night.

On reaching his lodgings he found another letter,—from Serjeant Bluestone. The Countess had so far given way as to accede to the proposition that there should be a meeting between her daughter and the tailor, and then there had arisen the question as to the manner in which this meeting should be arranged. The Countess would not write herself, nor would she allow her daughter to do so. It was desirable, she thought, that as few people should know of the meeting as possible, and at last, most unwillingly, the Serjeant undertook the task of arranging it. He wrote therefore as follows;—

Mr. Serjeant Bluestone presents his compliments to Mr. Daniel Thwaite. Mr. Thwaite has no doubt heard of the result of the trial by which the Countess Lovel and her daughter have succeeded in obtaining the recognition of their rank. It is in contemplation with the Countess and Lady Anna Lovel to go abroad, but Lady Anna is desirous before she goes of seeing the son of the man who was her mother's staunch friend during many years of suffering. Lady Anna will be at home, at No. —— Keppel Street, at eleven o'clock on Monday, 23rd instant, if Mr. Thwaite can make it convenient to call then and there.

Bedford Square, 17th November, 18—.

If Mr. Thwaite could call on the Serjeant before that date, either early in the morning at his house, or on Saturday at his chambers, —— ——, Inner Temple, it might perhaps be serviceable.

The postscript had not been added without much consideration. What would the tailor think of this invitation? Would he not be disposed to take it as encouragement in his pernicious suit? Would he not go to Keppel Street with a determination to insist upon the girl's promise? The Serjeant had thought that it would be best to let the thing take its chance. But the Serjeant's wife, and the Serjeant's daughters, and the Countess, too, had all agreed that something if possible should be said to disabuse him of this idea. He was to have nine thousand pounds paid to him. Surely that might be sufficient. But, if he was greedy and wanted more money, more money should be given to him. Only he must be made to understand that the marriage was out of the question. So the Serjeant again gave way, and proposed the interview. Daniel sent back his compliments to the Serjeant and begged to say he would do as he was bid. He would call at the Serjeant's chambers on the Saturday, and in Keppel Street on the following Monday, at the hours named.

On the next morning,—the first morning of his freedom from the servitude of Wigmore Street,—he went to Messrs. Goffe and Goffe. He got up late and breakfasted late, in order that he might feel what it was to be an idle man. "I might now be as idle as the young Earl," he said to himself; "but were I to attempt it, what should I do with myself? How should I make the hours pass by?" He felt that he was lauding himself as the idea passed through his mind, and struggled to quench his own pride. "And yet," said he in his thoughts, "is it not fit that I should know myself to be better than he is? If I have no self-confidence, how can I be bold to persevere? The man that works is to him that is idle, as light is to darkness."

He was admitted at once to Mr. Goffe's private room, and was received with a smiling welcome, and an outstretched hand. "I am delighted, Mr. Thwaite, to be able to settle your claim on Lady Lovel with so little delay. I hope you are satisfied with her ladyship's statement of the account."

"Much more than satisfied with the amount. It appeared to me that I had no legal claim for more than a few hundred pounds."

"We knew better than that, Mr. Thwaite. We should have seen that no great injury was done. But luckily the Countess has been careful, and has put down each sum advanced, item by item. Full interest has been allowed at five per cent., as is quite proper. The Countess is an excellent woman of business."

"No doubt, Mr. Goffe. I could have wished that she would have condescended to honour me with a line;—but that is a matter of feeling."

"Oh, Mr. Thwaite; there are reasons;—you must know that there are reasons."

"There may be good reasons or bad reasons."

"And there may be good judgment in such matters and bad judgment. But, however,—. You will like to have this money by a cheque, no doubt. There it is, L9,109 3s. 4d. It is not often that we write one cheque for a bigger sum than that, Mr. Thwaite. Shall I cross it on your bankers? No bankers! With such a sum as that let me recommend you to open an account at once." And Mr. Goffe absolutely walked down to Fleet Street with Daniel Thwaite the tailor, and introduced him at his own bank. The business was soon transacted, and Daniel Thwaite went away westward, a capitalist, with a cheque book in his pocket. What was he to do with himself? He walked east again before the day was over, and made inquiries at various offices as to vessels sailing for Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Quebec. Or how would it be with him if he should be minded to go east instead of west? So he supplied himself also with information as to vessels for Sydney. And what should he do when he got to the new country? He did not mean to be a tailor. He was astonished to find how little he had as yet realised in his mind the details of the exodus which he had proposed to himself.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

I WILL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR NOTHING.

On the Saturday, Daniel was at the Serjeant's chambers early in the morning,—long before the hour at which the Serjeant himself was wont to attend. No time had in fact been named, and the tailor had chosen to suppose that as he had been desired to be early in Bedford Square, so had it also been intended that he should be early in the Temple. For two hours he walked about the passages and the courts, thinking ill of the lawyer for being so late at his business, and endeavouring to determine what he would do with himself. He had not a friend in the world, unless Lady Anna were a friend;—hardly an acquaintance. And yet, remembering what his father had done, what he himself had helped to do, he thought that he ought to have had many friends. Those very persons who were now his bitterest enemies, the Countess and all they who had supported her, should have been bound to him by close ties. Yet he knew that it was impossible that they should not hate him. He could understand their feelings with reference to their own rank, though to him that rank was contemptible. Of course he was alone. Of course he would fail. He was almost prepared to acknowledge as much to the Serjeant. He had heard of a certain vessel that would start in three days for the rising colony called New South Wales, and he almost wished that he had taken his passage in her.

At ten o'clock he had been desired to call at eleven, and as the clock struck eleven he knocked at the Serjeant's door. "Serjeant Bluestone is not here yet," said the clerk, who was disposed to be annoyed by the man's pertinacity.

"He told me to come early in the morning, and this is not early."

"He is not here yet, sir."

"You told me to come at eleven, and it is past eleven."

"It is one minute past, and you can sit down and wait for him if you please." Daniel refused to wait, and was again about to depart in his wrath, when the Serjeant appeared upon the stairs. He introduced himself, and expressed regret that he should have found his visitor there before him. Daniel, muttering something, followed the lawyer into his room, and then the door was closed. He stood till he was invited to sit, and was determined to make himself disagreeable. This man was one of his enemies,—was one who no doubt thought little of him because he was a tailor, who suspected his motives, and was anxious to rob him of his bride. The Serjeant retired for a moment to an inner room, while the tailor girded up his loins and prepared himself for battle.

"Mr. Thwaite," said the Serjeant, as he re-entered the room, "you probably know that I have been counsel for Lady Lovel and her daughter in the late trial." Daniel assented by a nod of his head. "My connection with the Countess would naturally have been then closed. We have gained our cause, and there would be an end of it. But as things have turned out it has been otherwise. Lady Anna Lovel has been staying with Mrs. Bluestone."

"In Bedford Square?"

"Yes, at my house."

"I did not know. The Countess told me she was not in Keppel Street, but refused to inform me where she was staying. I should not have interfered with her ladyship's plans, had she been less secret with me."

"Surely it was unnecessary that she should tell you."

"Quite unnecessary;—but hardly unnatural after all that has occurred. As the Countess is with you only a friend of late date, you are probably unaware of the former friendship which existed between us. There was a time in which I certainly did not think that Lady Lovel would ever decline to speak to me about her daughter. But all this is nothing to you, Serjeant Bluestone."

"It is something to me, Mr. Thwaite, as her friend. Is there no reason why she should have treated you thus? Ask your own conscience."

"My conscience is clear in the matter."

"I have sent for you here, Mr. Thwaite, to ask you whether you cannot yourself understand that this which you have proposed to do must make you an enemy to the Countess, and annul and set aside all that kindness which you have shown her? I put it to your own reason. Do you think it possible that the Countess should be otherwise than outraged at the proposition you have made to her?"

"I have made no proposition to her ladyship."

"Have you made none to her daughter?"

"Certainly I have. I have asked her to be my wife."

"Come, Mr. Thwaite, do not palter with me."

"Palter with you! Who dares to say that I palter? I have never paltered. Paltering is—lying, as I take it. Let the Countess be my enemy. I have not said that she should not be so. She might have answered my letter, I think, when the old man died. In our rank of life we should have done so. It may be different with lords and titled ladies. Let it pass, however. I did not mean to make any complaint. I came here because you sent for me."

"Yes;—I did send for you," said the Serjeant, wishing with all his heart that he had never been persuaded to take a step which imposed upon him so great a difficulty. "I did send for you. Lady Anna Lovel has expressed a wish to see you, before she leaves London."

"I will wait upon Lady Anna Lovel."

"I need hardly tell you that her wish has been opposed by her friends."

"No doubt it was."

"But she has said with so much earnestness that she cannot consider herself to be absolved from the promise which she made to you when she was a child—"

"She was no child when she made it."

"It does not signify. She cannot be absolved from the promise which I suppose she did make—"

"She certainly made it, Serjeant Bluestone."

"Will you allow me to continue my statement? It will not occupy you long. She assures her mother that she cannot consider herself to be absolved from that promise without your sanction. She has been living in my house for some weeks, and I do not myself doubt in the least that were she thus freed an alliance would soon be arranged between her and her cousin."

"I have heard of that—alliance."

"It would be in every respect a most satisfactory and happy marriage. The young Earl has behaved with great consideration and forbearance in abstaining from pushing his claims."

"In abstaining from asking for that which he did not believe to be his own."

"You had better hear me to the end, Mr. Thwaite. All the friends of the two young people desire it. The Earl himself is warmly attached to his cousin."

"So am I,—and have been for many years."

"We all believe that she loves him."

"Let her say so to me, Serjeant Bluestone, and there shall be an end of it all. It seems to me that Lord Lovel and I have different ideas about a woman. I would not take the hand of a girl who told me that she loved another man, even though she was as dear to me, as,—as Lady Anna is dear to me now. And as for what she might have in her hand, it would go for naught with me, though I might have to face beggary without her. It seems to me that Lord Lovel is less particular in this matter."

"I do not see that you and I have anything to do with that," replied the Serjeant, hardly knowing what to say.

"I have nothing to do with Lord Lovel, certainly,—nor has he with me. As to his cousin,—it is for her to choose."

"We think,—I am only telling you what we think;—but we think, Mr. Thwaite, that the young lady's affections are fixed on her cousin. It is natural that they should be so; and watching her as closely as we can, we believe such to be the case. I will be quite on the square with you, Mr. Thwaite."

"With me and with everybody else, I hope, Serjeant Bluestone."

"I hope so," said the Serjeant, laughing; "but at any rate I will be so with you now. We have been unable to get from Lady Anna any certain reply,—any assurance of her own wishes. She has told her mother that she cannot accept Lord Lovel's addresses till she has seen you." The Serjeant in this was not quite on the square, as Lady Anna had never said so. "We believe that she considers it necessary, to her conscience, to be made free by your permission, before she can follow her own inclinations and accede to those of all her friends."

"She shall have my permission in a moment,—if she will ask for it."

"Could you not be more generous even than that?"

"How more generous, Serjeant Bluestone?"

"Offer it to her unasked. You have already said that you would not accept her hand if you did not believe that you had her heart also,—and the sentiment did you honour. Think of her condition, and be generous to her."

"Generous to her! You mean generous to Lady Lovel,—generous to Lord Lovel,—generous to all the Lovels except her. It seems to me that all the generosity is to be on one side."

"By no means. We can be generous too."

"If that be generosity, I will be generous. I will offer her that permission. I will not wait till she asks for it. I will beg her to tell me if it be true that she loves this cousin, and if she can say that it is true, she shall want no permission from me to be free. She shall be free."

"It is not a question, you see, between yourself and Lord Lovel. It is quite out of the question that she should in any event become your wife. Even had she power to do it—"

"She has the power."

"Practically she has no such power, Mr. Thwaite. A young person such as Lady Anna Lovel is and must be under the control of her natural guardian. She is so altogether. Her mother could not,—and would not,—constrain her to any marriage; but has quite sufficient power over her to prevent any marriage. Lady Anna has never for a moment supposed that she could become your wife since she learned what were the feelings of her mother and her family." The Serjeant certainly did not keep his promise of being "on the square." "But your generosity is necessary to enable Lady Lovel to bring to a happy termination all those sufferings with which her life has been afflicted."

"I do not owe much to the Countess; but if it be generous to do as I have said I would do,—I will be generous. I will tell her daughter, without any question asked from her, that she is free to marry her cousin if she wishes."

So far the Serjeant, though he had not been altogether as truthful as he had promised, had been discreet. He had said nothing to set the tailor vehemently against the Lovel interest, and had succeeded in obtaining a useful pledge. But, in his next attempt, he was less wise. "I think, you know, Mr. Thwaite, that the Countess also has been generous."

"As how?"

"You have received L9,000 already, I believe."

"I have received what I presume to be my own. If I have had more it shall be refunded."

"No;—no; by no means. Taking a liberal view of the matter, as the Countess was bound to do in honour, she was, I think, right in paying you what she has paid."

"I want nothing from her in what you call honour. I want nothing liberal. If the money be not mine in common honesty she shall have it back again. I want nothing but my own."

"I think you are a little high flown, Mr. Thwaite."

"I dare say I may be,—to the thinking of a lawyer."

"The Countess, who is in truth your friend,—and will always be your friend if you will only be amenable to reason,—has been delighted to think that you are now in possession of a sum of money which will place you above want."

"The Countess is very kind."

"And I can say more than that. She and all her friends are aware how much is due to your father's son. If you will only aid us in our present project, if you will enable Lady Anna to become the wife of her cousin the Earl, much more shall be done than the mere payment of the debt which was due to you. It has been proposed to settle on you for life an annuity of four hundred pounds a year. To this the Countess, Earl Lovel, and Lady Anna will all agree."

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