by Henry James
By Henry James
NO, my lord, Banks had replied, no stranger has yet arrived. But
I'll see if any one has come inor who has. As he spoke, however, he
observed Lady Sandgate's approach to the hall by the entrance giving
upon the great terrace, and addressed her on her passing the threshold.
Lord John, my lady. With which, his duty majestically performed, he
retired to the quarterthat of the main access to the spacious centre
of the housefrom which he had ushered the visitor.
This personage, facing Lady Sandgate as she paused there a moment
framed by the large doorway to the outer expanses, the small pinkish
paper of a folded telegram in her hand, had partly before him, as an
immediate effect, the high wide interior, still breathing the quiet air
and the fair pannelled security of the couple of hushed and stored
centuries, in which certain of the reputed treasures of Dedborough
Place beautifully disposed themselves; and then, through ample
apertures and beyond the stately stone outworks of the great seated and
supported houseuplifting terrace, balanced, balustraded steps and
containing basins where splash and spray were at restall the rich
composed extension of garden and lawn and park. An ancient, an assured
elegance seemed to reign; pictures and preserved pieces, cabinets and
tapestries, spoke, each for itself, of fine selection and high
distinction; while the originals of the old portraits, in more or less
deserved salience, hung over the happy scene as the sworn members of a
great guild might have sat, on the beautiful April day, at one of their
Such was the setting confirmed by generous time, but the handsome
woman of considerably more than forty whose entrance had all but
coincided with that of Lord John either belonged, for the eye, to no
such complacent company or enjoyed a relation to it in which the odd
twists and turns of history must have been more frequent than any dull
avenue or easy sequence. Lady Sandgate was shiningly modern, and
perhaps at no point more so than by the effect of her express
repudiation of a mundane future certain to be more and more offensive
to women of real quality and of formed taste. Clearly, at any rate, in
her hands, the clue to the antique confidence had lost itself, and
repose, however founded, had given way to curiositythat is to
speculationhowever disguised. She might have consented, or even
attained, to being but gracefully stupid, but she would presumably have
confessed, if put on her trial for restlessness or for intelligence,
that she was, after all, almost clever enough to be vulgar.
Unmistakably, moreover, she had still, with her fine stature, her
disciplined figure, her cherished complexion, her bright important
hair, her kind bold eyes and her large constant smile, the degree of
beauty that might pretend to put every other question by.
Lord John addressed her as with a significant manner that he might
have hadthat of a lack of need, or even of interest, for any
explanation about herself: it would have been clear that he was apt to
discriminate with sharpness among possible claims on his attention. I
luckily find you at least, Lady Sandgatethey tell me Theign's
She replied as with the general habit, on her side, of bland
reassurance; it mostly had easier consequencesfor herselfthan the
perhaps more showy creation of alarm. Only off in the parkopen
to-day for a school-feast from Dedborough, as you may have made out
from the avenue; giving good advice, at the top of his lungs, to four
hundred and fifty children.
It was such a scene, and such an aspect of the personage so
accounted for, as Lord John could easily take in, and his recognition
familiarly smiled. Oh he's so great on such occasions that I'm sorry
to be missing it.
I've had to miss it, Lady Sandgate sighedthat is to miss
the peroration. I've just left them, but he had even then been going on
for twenty minutes, and I dare say that if you care to take a look
you'll find him, poor dear victim of duty, still at it.
I'll warrantfor, as I often tell him, he makes the idea of one's
duty an awful thing to his friends by the extravagance with which he
always overdoes it. And the image itself appeared in some degree to
prompt this particular edified friend to look at his watch and
consider. I should like to come in for the grand finale, but I
rattled over in a great measure to meet a party, as he calls
himselfand calls, if you please, even me!who's motoring down by
appointment and whom I think I should be here to receive; as well as a
little, I confess, in the hope of a glimpse of Lady Grace: if you can
perhaps imagine that!
I can imagine it perfectly, said Lady Sandgate, whom evidently no
perceptions of that general order ever cost a strain. It quite sticks
out of you, and every one moreover has for some time past been waiting
to see. But you haven't then, she added, come from town?
No, I'm for three days at Chanter with my mother; whom, as she
kindly lent me her car, I should have rather liked to bring.
Lady Sandgate left the unsaid, in this connection, languish no
longer than was decent. But whom you doubtless had to leave, by her
preference, just settling down to bridge.
Oh, to sit down would imply that my mother at some moment of the
day gets up!
Which the Duchess never does?Lady Sand-gate only asked to be
allowed to show how she saw it. She fights to the last, invincible;
gathering in the spoils and only routing her friends? She abounded
genially in her privileged vision. Ah yeswe know something of that!
Lord John, who was a young man of a rambling but not of an idle eye,
fixed her an instant with a surprise that was yet not steeped in
compassion. You too then?
She wouldn't, however, too meanly narrow it down. Well, in this
house generally; where I'm so often made welcome, you see, and
Where, he broke in at once, your jolly good footing quite sticks
out of you, perhaps you'll let me say!
She clearly didn't mind his seeing her ask herself how she should
deal with so much rather juvenile intelligence; and indeed she could
only decide to deal quite simply. You can't say more than I feeland
am proud to feel!at being of comfort when they're worried.
This but fed the light flame of his easy perceptionwhich lighted
for him, if she would, all the facts equally. And they're worried now,
you imply, because my terrible mother is capable of heavy gains and of
making a great noise if she isn't paid? I ought to mind speaking of
that truth, he went on as with a practised glance in the direction of
delicacy; but I think I should like you to know that I myself am not a
bit ignorant of why it has made such an impression here.
Lady Sandgate forestalled his knowledge. Because poor Kitty
Imberwho should either never touch a card or else learn to suffer in
silence, as I've had to, goodness knows!has thrown herself, with her
impossible big debt, upon her father? whom she thinks herself entitled
to 'look to' even more as a lovely young widow with a good jointure
than she formerly did as the mere most beautiful daughter at home.
She had put the picture a shade interrogatively, but this was as
nothing to the note of free inquiry in Lord John's reply. You mean
that our lovely young widowsto say nothing of lovely young
wivesought by this time to have made out, in predicaments, how to
His temporary hostess, even with his eyes on her, appeared to decide
after a moment not wholly to disown his thought. But she smiled for it.
Well, in that set!
My mother's set? However, if she could smile he could laugh. I'm
Oh, she qualified, I don't criticise her Grace; but the ways and
traditions and tone of this house
Make ithe took her sense straight from herthe house in
England where one feels most the false note of a dishevelled and
bankrupt elder daughter breaking in with a list of her gaming debtsto
say nothing of others!and wishing to have at least those wiped out in
the interest of her reputation? Exactly so, he went on before she
could meet it with a diplomatic ambiguity; and just that, I assure
you, is a large part of the reason I like to come heresince I
personally don't come with any such associations.
Not the association of bankruptcyno; as you represent the payee!
The young man appeared to regard this imputation for a moment almost
as a liberty taken. How do you know so well, Lady Sandgate, what I
She bethought herselfbut briefly and bravely. Well, don't you
represent, by your own admission, certain fond aspirations? Don't you
represent the beliefvery natural, I grantthat more than one
perverse and extravagant flower will be unlikely on such a fine healthy
old stem; and, consistently with that, the hope of arranging with our
admirable host here that he shall lend a helpful hand to your
commending yourself to dear Grace?
Lord John might, in the light of these words, have felt any latent
infirmity in such a pretension exposed; but as he stood there facing
his chances he would have struck a spectator as resting firmly enough
on some felt residuum of advantage: whether this were cleverness or
luck, the strength of his backing or that of his sincerity. Even with
the young woman to whom our friends' reference thus broadened still a
vague quantity for us, you would have taken his sincerity as quite
possibleand this despite an odd element in him that you might have
described as a certain delicacy of brutality. This younger son of a
noble matron recognised even by himself as terrible enjoyed in no
immediate or aggressive manner any imputable private heritage or
privilege of arrogance. He would on the contrary have irradiated
fineness if his lustre hadn't been a little prematurely dimmed. Active
yet insubstantial, he was slight and short and a trifle too punctually,
though not yet quite lamentably, bald. Delicacy was in the arch of his
eyebrow, the finish of his facial line, the economy of treatment by
which his negative nose had been enabled to look important and his
meagre mouth to smile its spareness away.
He had pleasant but hard little eyesthey glittered, handsomely,
without promiseand a neatness, a coolness and an ease, a clear
instinct for making point take, on his behalf, the place of weight and
immunity that of capacity, which represented somehow the art of living
at a high pitch and yet at a low cost. There was that in his satisfied
air which still suggested sharp wantsand this was withal the
ambiguity; for the temper of these appetites or views was certainly,
you would have concluded, not such as always to sacrifice to form. If
he really, for instance, wanted Lady Grace, the passion or the sense of
his interest in it would scarce have been considerately irritable.
May I ask what you mean, he inquired of Lady Sandgate, by the
question of my 'arranging'?
I mean that you're the very clever son of a very clever mother.
Oh, I'm less clever than you think, he repliedif you really
think it of me at all; and mamma's a good sight cleverer!
Than I think? Lady Sandgate echoed. Why, she's the person in all
our world I would gladly most resemblefor her general ability to put
what she wants through. But she at once added: That is if!
pausing on it with a smile.
If what then?
Well, if I could be absolutely certain to have all in her kinds of
cleverness without exceptionand to have them, said Lady Sandgate,
to the very end.
He definitely, he almost contemptuously declined to follow her. The
very end of what?
She took her choice as amid all the wonderful directions there might
be, and then seemed both to risk and to reserve something. Say of her
so wonderfully successful general career.
It doubtless, however, warranted him in appearing to cut
insinuations short. When you're as clever as she you'll be as good.
To which he subjoined: You don't begin to have the opportunity of
knowing how good she is. This pronouncement, to whatever comparative
obscurity it might appear to relegate her, his interlocutress had to
takehe was so prompt with a more explicit challenge. What is it
exactly that you suppose yourself to know?
Lady Sandgate had after a moment, in her supreme good humour,
decided to take everything. I always proceed on the assumption that I
know everything, because that makes people tell me.
It wouldn't make we, he quite rang out, if I didn't want to! But
as it happens, he allowed, there's a question it would be convenient
to me to put to you. You must be, with your charming unconventional
relation with him, extremely in Theign's confidence.
She waited a little as for more. Is that your questionwhether
No, but if you are you'll the better answer it
She had no objection then to answering it beautifully. We're the
best friends in the world; he has been really my providence, as a lone
woman with almost nobody and nothing of her own, and I feel my footing
here, as so frequent and yet so discreet a visitor, simply perfect But
I'm happy to say thatfor my pleasure when I'm really curiousthis
doesn't close to me the sweet resource of occasionally guessing
Then I hope you've ground for believing that if I go the right way
about it he's likely to listen to me.
Lady Sandgate measured her groundwhich scarce seemed extensive.
The person he most listens to just nowand in fact at any time, as
you must have seen for yourselfis that arch-tormentor, or at least
beautiful wheedler, his elder daughter.
Lady Imber's here? Lord John alertly asked.
She arrived last night andas we've other visitorsseems to have
set up a side-show in the garden.
Then she'll 'draw' of course immensely, as she always does. But her
sister won't be in that case with her, the young man supposed.
Because Grace feels herself naturally an independent show? So she
well may, said Lady Sandgate, but I must tell you that when I last
noticed them there Kitty was in the very act of leading her away.
Lord John figured it a moment. Lady Imberhe ironically enlarged
the figurecan lead people away.
Oh, dear Grace, his companion returned, happens fortunately to be
This seemed to strike him for a moment as equivocal. Not against
me, howeveryou don't mean? You don't think she has a beastly
Surely you can judge about it; as knowing best what mayor what
mayn'thave happened between you.
Well, I try to judgeand such candour as was possible to Lord
John seemed to sit for a moment on his brow. But I'm in fear of seeing
her too much as I want to see her.
There was an appeal in it that Lady Sandgate might have been moved
to meet Are you absolutely in earnest about her?
Of course I amwhy shouldn't I be? But, he said with impatience,
I want help.
Very well then, that's what Lady Imber's giving you. And as it
appeared to take him time to read into these words their full sense,
she produced others, and so far did help himthough the effort was in
a degree that of her exhibiting with some complacency her own
unassisted control of stray signs and shy lights. By telling her, by
bringing it home to her, that if she'll make up her mind to accept you
the Duchess will do the handsome thing. Handsome, I mean, by Kitty.
Lord John, appropriating for his convenience the truth in this, yet
regarded it as open to a becoming, an improving touch from himself.
Well, and by me. To which he added with more of a challenge in
it: But you really know what my mother will do?
By my system, Lady Sandgate smiled, you see I've guessed. What
your mother will do is what brought you over!
Well, it's that, he allowedand something else.
Something else? she derisively echoed. I should think 'that,' for
an ardent lover, would have been enough.
Ah, but it's all one Job! I mean it's one idea, he hastened to
explainif you think Lady Imber's really acting on her.
Mightn't you go and see?
I would in a moment if I hadn't to look out for another matter
too. And he renewed his attention to his watch. I mean getting
straight at my American, the party I just mentioned
But she had already taken him up. You too have an American and a
'party,' and yours also motors down?
Mr. Breckenridge Bender. Lord John named him with a shade of
She gaped at the fuller light You know my Breckenridge?who
I hoped was coming for me!
Lord John as freely, but more gaily, wondered. Had he told you so?
She held out, opened, the telegram she had kept folded in her hand
since her entrance. He has sent me thatwhich, delivered to me ten
minutes ago out there, has brought me in to receive him.
The young man read out this missive. 'Failing to find you in Bruton
Street, start in pursuit and hope to overtake you about four.' It did
involve an ambiguity. Why, he has been engaged these three days to
coincide with myself, and not to fail of him has been part of my
Lady Sandgate, in her demonstrative way, appealed to the general
rich scene. Then why does he say it's me he's pursuing?
He seemed to recognise promptly enough in her the sense of a menaced
monopoly. My dear lady, he's pursuing expensive works of art.
By which you imply that I'm one? She might have been wound up by
her disappointment to almost any irony.
I implyor rather I affirmthat every handsome woman is! But what
he arranged with me about, Lord John explained, was that he should
see the Dedborough pictures in general and the great Sir Joshua in
particularof which he had heard so much and to which I've been thus
glad to assist him.
This news, however, with its lively interest, but deepened the
listener's mystification. Then whythis whole week that I've been in
the househasn't our good friend here mentioned to me his coming?
Because our good friend here has had no reasonLord John could
treat it now as simple enough. Good as he is in all ways, he's so best
of all about showing the house and its contents that I haven't even
thought necessary to write him that I'm introducing Breckenridge.
I should have been happy to introduce him, Lady Sandgate just
quaveredif I had at all known he wanted it.
Her companion weighed the difference between them and appeared to
pronounce it a trifle he didn't care a fig for. I surrender you that
privilege thenof presenting him to his hostif I've seemed to you to
snatch it from you. To which Lord John added, as with liberality
unrestricted, But I've been taking him about to see what's worth
whileas only last week to Lady Lappington's Longhi.
This revelation, though so casual in its form, fairly drew from Lady
Sandgate, as she took it in, an interrogative wail. Her Longhi?
Why, don't you know her great Venetian family group, the
What-do-you-call-'ems?seven full-length figures, each one a gem, for
which he paid her her price before he left the house.
She could but make it more richly resoundalmost stricken, lost in
her wistful thought: Seven full-length figures? Her price?
Eight thousandslap down. Bender knows, said Lord John, what he
And does he want onlyher wonder grew and grew
He most usually wants what he can't have. Lord John made scarce
more of it than that. But, awfully hard up as I fancy her, Lady
Lappington went at him.
It determined in his friend a boldly critical attitude. How
horribleat the rate things are leaving us! But this was far from the
end of her interest. And is that the way he pays?
Before he leaves the house? Lord John lived it amusedly over.
Well, she took care of that.
How incredibly vulgar! It all had, however, for Lady Sandgate,
still other connectionswhich might have attenuated Lady Lappington's
case, though she didn't glance at this. He makes the most scandalous
eyesthe ruffian!at my great-grandmother. And then as richly to
enlighten any blankness: My tremendous Lawrence, don't you know?in
her wedding-dress, down to her knees; with such extraordinarily
speaking eyes, such lovely arms and hands, such wonderful flesh-tints:
universally considered the masterpiece of the artist.
Lord John seemed to look a moment not so much at the image evoked,
in which he wasn't interested, as at certain possibilities lurking
behind it. And are you going to sell the masterpiece of the
She held her head high. I've indignantly refusedfor all his
pressing me so hard.
Yet that's what he nevertheless pursues you to-day to keep up?
The question had a little the ring of those of which the occupant of
a witness-box is mostly the subject, but Lady Sandgate was so far as
this went an imperturbable witness. I need hardly fear it perhaps
ifin the light of what you tell me of your arrangement with himhis
pursuit becomes, where I am concerned, a figure of speech.
Oh, Lord John returned, he kills two birds with one stonehe
sees both Sir Joshua and you.
This version of the case had its effect, for the moment, on his fair
associate. Does he want to buy their pride and glory?
The young man, however, struck on his own side, became at first but
the bright reflector of her thought. Is that wonder for sale?
She closed her eyes as with the shudder of hearing such words. Not,
surely, by any monstrous chance! Fancy dear, proud
I can't fancy himno! And Lord John appeared to renounce the
effort. But a cat may look at a king and a sharp funny Yankee at
These things might be, Lady Sandgate's face and gesture apparently
signified; but another question diverted her. You're clearly a
wonderful showman, but do you mind my asking you whether you're on such
an occasion awell, a closely interested one?
'Interested'? he echoed; though it wasn't to gain time, he showed,
for he would in that case have taken more. To the extent, you mean, of
my little percentage? And then as in silence she but kept a slightly
grim smile on him: Why do you ask ifwith your high delicacy about
your great-grandmotheryou've nothing to place?
It took her a minute to say, while her fine eye only rolled; but
when she spoke that organ boldly rested and the truth vividly appeared.
I ask because people like you, Lord John, strike me as dangerous to
thehow shall I name it?the common weal; and because of my general
strong feeling that we don't want any more of our national treasures
(for I regard my great-grandmother as national) to be scattered about
There's much in this country and age, he replied in an off-hand
manner, to be said about that, The present, however, was not
the time to say it all; so he said something else instead, accompanying
it with a smile that signified sufficiency. To my friends, I need
scarcely remark to you, I'm all the friend.
She had meanwhile seen the butler reappear by the door that opened
to the terrace, and though the high, bleak, impersonal approach of this
functionary was ever, and more and more at every step, a process to
defy interpretation, long practice evidently now enabled her to
suggest, as she turned again to her fellow-visitor a reading of it.
It's the friend then clearly who's wanted in the park.
She might, by the way Banks looked at her, have snatched from his
hand a missive addressed to another; though while he addressed himself
to her companion he allowed for her indecorum sufficiently to take it
up where she had left it. By her ladyship, my lord, who sends to hope
you'll join them below the terrace.
Ah, Grace hopes, said Lady Sandgate for the young man's
encouragement. There you are!
Lord John took up the motor-cap he had lain down on coming in. I
rush to Lady Grace, but don't demoralise Bender! And he went forth to
the terrace and the gardens.
Banks looked about as for some further exercise of his high
function. Will you have tea, my lady?
This appeared to strike her as premature. Oh, thankswhen they all
They'll scarcely all, my ladyhe indicated respectfully
that he knew what he was talking about. There's tea in her ladyship's
tent; but, he qualified, it has also been ordered for the saloon.
Ah then, she said cheerfully, Mr. Bender will be glad! And she
became, with this, aware of the approach of another visitor. Banks
considered, up and down, the gentleman ushered in, at the left, by the
footman who had received him at the main entrance to the house. Here
he must be, my lady. With which he retired to the spacious opposite
quarter, where he vanished, while the footman, his own office
performed, retreated as he had come, and Lady Sandgate, all
hospitality, received the many-sided author of her specious telegram,
of Lord John's irritating confidence and of Lady Lappington's massive
Having greeted him with an explicitly gracious welcome and both
hands out, she had at once gone on: You'll of course have tea?in the
But his mechanism seemed of the type that has to expand and revolve
before sounding. Why; the very first thing?
She only desired, as her laugh showed, to accommodate. Ah, have it
the last if you like!
You see your English teas! he pleaded as he looked about him, so
immediately and frankly interested in the place and its contents that
his friend could only have taken this for the very glance with which he
must have swept Lady Lappington's inferior scene.
They're too much for you?
Well, they're too many. I think I've had two or three on the
roadat any rate my man did. I like to do business before But his
sequence dropped as his eye caught some object across the wealth of
She divertedly picked it up. Before tea, Mr. Bender?
Before everything, Lady Sandgate. He was immensely genial, but a
queer, quaint, rough-edged distinctness somehow kept it safefor
Then you've come to do business? Her appeal and her
emphasis melted as into a caresswhich, however, spent itself on his
large high person as he consented, with less of demonstration but more
of attention, to look down upon her. She could therefore but reinforce
it by an intenser note. To tell me you will treat?
Mr. Bender had six feet of stature and an air as of having received
benefits at the hands of fortune. Substantial, powerful, easy, he shone
as with a glorious cleanness, a supplied and equipped and appointed
sanity and security; aids to action that might have figured a pair of
very ample wingswide pinions for the present conveniently folded, but
that he would certainly on occasion agitate for great efforts and
spread for great flights. These things would have made him quite an
admirable, even a worshipful, image of full-blown life and character,
had not the affirmation and the emphasis halted in one important
particular. Fortune, felicity, nature, the perverse or interfering old
fairy at his cradle-sidewhatever the ministering power might have
beenhad simply overlooked and neglected his vast wholly-shaven face,
which thus showed not so much for perfunctorily scamped as for not
treated, as for neither formed nor fondled nor finished, at all.
Nothing seemed to have been done for it but what the razor and the
sponge, the tooth-brush and the looking-glass could officiously do; it
had in short resisted any possibly finer attrition at the hands of
fifty years of offered experience. It had developed on the lines, if
lines they could be called, of the mere scoured and polished and
initialled mug rather than to any effect of a composed physiognomy;
though we must at the same time add that its wearer carried this
featureless disk as with the warranted confidence that might have
attended a warning headlight or a glaring motor-lamp. The object,
however one named it, showed you at least where he was, and most often
that he was straight upon you. It was fearlessly and resistingly across
the path of his advance that Lady Sandgate had thrown herself, and
indeed with such success that he soon connected her demonstration with
a particular motive. For your grandmother, Lady Sandgate? he then
For my grandmother's mother, Mr. Benderthe most beautiful
woman of her time and the greatest of all Lawrences, no matter whose;
as you quite acknowledged, you know, in our talk in Bruton Street.
Mr. Bender bethought himself furtheryet drawing it out; as if the
familiar fact of his being made up to had never had such special
softness and warmth of pressure. Do you want very, very
She had already caught him up. 'Very, very much' for her? Well, Mr.
Bender, she smilingly replied, I think I should like her full value.
I meanhe kindly discriminateddo you want so badly to work her
It would be an intense convenience to meso much so that your
telegram made me at once fondly hope you'd be arriving to conclude.
Such measure of response as he had good-naturedly given her was the
mere frayed edge of a mastering detachment, the copious, impatient
range elsewhere of his true attention. Somehow, however, he still
seemed kind even while, turning his back upon her, he moved off to look
at one of the several, the famous Dedborough picturesstray specimens,
by every presumption, lost a little in the whole bright bigness.
'Conclude'? he echoed as he approached a significantly small canvas.
You ladies want to get there before the road's so much as laid or the
country's safe! Do you know what this here is? he at once went
Oh, you can't have that! she cried as with full
authorityand you must really understand that you can't have
everything. You mustn't expect to ravage Dedborough.
He had his nose meanwhile close to the picture. I guess it's a
bogus Cuypbut I know Lord Theign has things. He won't do
He's not in the least, and can never be, in my tight place, Lady
Sandgate replied; but he's as proud as he's kind, dear man, and as
solid as he's proud; so that if you came down under a different
impression! Well, she could only exhale the folly of his error with
an unction that represented, whatever he might think of it, all her
competence to answer for their host.
He scarce thought of it enough, on any side, however, to be diverted
from prior dispositions. I came on an understanding that I should find
my friend Lord John, and that Lord Theign would, on his introduction,
kindly let me look round. But being before lunch in Bruton Street I
knocked at your door
For another look, she quickly interposed, at my Lawrence?
For another look at you, Lady Sandgateyour
great-grandmother wasn't required. Informed you were here, and struck
with the coincidence of my being myself presently due, he went on, I
despatched you my wire, on coming away, just to keep up your spirits.
You don't keep them up, you depress them to anguish, she
almost passionately protested, when you don't tell me you'll treat!
He paused in his preoccupation, his perambulation, conscious
evidently of no reluctance that was worth a scene with so charming and
so hungry a woman. Well, if it's a question of your otherwise
suffering torments, may I have another interview with the old lady?
Dear Mr. Bender, she's in the flower of her youth; she only yearns
for interviews, and you may have, Lady Sandgate earnestly declared,
as many as you like.
Oh, you must be there to protect me!
Then as soon as I return!
Well,it clearly cost him little to sayI'll come right round.
She joyously registered the vow. Only meanwhile then, please, never
Never a word, certainly. But where all this time, Mr. Bender
asked, is Lord John?
Lady Sandgate, as he spoke, found her eyes meeting those of a young
woman who, presenting herself from without, stood framed in the doorway
to the terrace; a slight fair grave young woman, of middle, stature and
simply dressed, whose brow showed clear even under the heavy shade of a
large hat surmounted with big black bows and feathers. Her eyes had
vaguely questioned those of her elder, who at once replied to the
gentleman forming the subject of their inquiry: Lady Grace must know.
At this the young woman came forward, and Lady Sandgate introduced the
visitor. My dear Grace, this is Mr. Breckenridge Bender.
The younger daughter of the house might have arrived in
preoccupation, but she had urbanity to spare. Of whom Lord John has
told me, she returned, and whom I'm glad to see. Lord John, she
explained to his waiting friend, is detained a moment in the park,
open to-day to a big Temperance school-feast, where our party is mostly
gathered; so that if you care to go out! She gave him in fine his
But this was clearly a thing that, in the conditions, Mr. Bender
wasn't the man to take precipitately; though his big useful smile
disguised his prudence. Are there any pictures in the park?
Lady Grace's facial response represented less humour perhaps, but
more play. We find our park itself rather a picture.
Mr. Bender's own levity at any rate persisted. With a big
Mr. Bender's a great judge of pictures, Lady Sandgate said as to
forestall any impression of excessive freedom.
Will there be more tea? he pursued, almost presuming on this.
It showed Lady Grace for comparatively candid and literal. Oh,
there'll be plenty of tea.
This appeared to determine Mr. Bender. Well, Lady Grace, I'm after
pictures, but I take them 'neat.' May I go right round here?
Perhaps, love, Lady Sandgate at once said, you'll let me show
A moment, dearLady Grace gently demurred. Do go round, she
conformably added to Mr. Bender; take your ease and your time.
Everything's open and visible, and, with our whole company dispersed,
you'll have the place to yourself.
He rose, in his genial mass, to the opportunity. I'll be in
cloversure! But present to him was the richest corner of the
pasture, which he could fluently enough name. And I'll find 'The
Beautiful Duchess of Waterbridge'?
She indicated, off to the right, where a stately perspective opened,
the quarter of the saloon to which we have seen Mr. Banks retire. At
the very end of those rooms.
He had wide eyes for the vista. About thirty in a row, hey? And he
was already off. I'll work right through!
Left with her friend, Lady Grace had a prompt question. Lord John
warned me he was 'funny'but you already know him?
There might have been a sense of embarrassment in the way in which,
as to gain time, Lady Sandgate pointed, instead of answering, to the
small picture pronounced upon by Mr. Bender. He thinks your little
Cuyp a fraud.
That one? Lady Grace could but stare. The wretch! However, she
made, without alarm, no more of it; she returned to her previous
question. You've met him before?
Just a littlein town. Being 'after pictures' Lady Sandgate
explained, he has been after my great-grandmother.
She, said Lady Grace with amusement, must have found him funny!
But he can clearly take care of himself, while Kitty takes care of Lord
John, and while you, if you'll be so good, go back to support
fatherin the hour of his triumph: which he wants you so much to
witness that he complains of your desertion and goes so far as to speak
of you as sneaking away.
Lady Sandgate, with a slight flush, turned it over. I delight in
his triumph, and whatever I do is at least above board; but if it's a
question of support, aren't you yourself failing him quite as much?
This had, however, no effect on the girl's confidence. Ah, my dear,
I'm not at all the same thing, and as I'm the person in the world he
least misses Well, such a fact spoke for itself.
You've been free to return and wait for Lord John?that was the
sense in which the elder woman appeared to prefer to understand it as
The tone of it, none the less, led her companion immediately, though
very quietly, to correct her. I've not come back to wait for Lord
Then he hasn't told youif you've talkedwith what idea he has
Lady Grace had for a further correction the same shade of
detachment. Kitty has told mewhat it suits her to pretend to
And Kitty's pretensions and suppositions always go with what
happensat the moment, among all her wonderful happeningsto suit
Lady Grace let that question answer itselfshe took the case up
further on. What I can't make out is why this should so suit
And what I can't! said Lady Sandgate without gross honesty
and turning away after having watched the girl a moment. She
nevertheless presently faced her again to follow this speculation up.
Do you like him enough to risk the chance of Kitty's being for once
Lady Grace gave it a thoughtwith which she moved away. I don't
know how much I like him!
Nor how little! cried her friend, who evidently found amusement in
the tone of it. And you're not disposed to take the time to find out?
He's at least better than the others.
The 'others'?Lady Grace was blank for them.
The others of his set.
Oh, his set! That wouldn't be difficultby what I imagine of some
of them. But he means well enough, the girl added; he's very charming
and does me great honour.
It determined in her companion, about to leave her, another brief
arrest. Then may I tell your father?
This in turn brought about in Lady Grace an immediate drop of the
subject. Tell my father, please, that I'm expecting Mr. Crimble; of
whom I've spoken to him even if he doesn't remember, and who bicycles
this afternoon ten miles over from where he's stayingwith some people
we don't knowto look at the pictures, about which he's awfully keen.
Lady Sandgate took it in. Ah, like Mr. Bender?
No, not at all, I think, like Mr. Bender.
This appeared to move in the elder woman some deeper thought May I
ask thenif one's to meet himwho he is?
Oh, father knowsor ought tothat I sat next him, in London, a
month ago, at dinner, and that he then told me he was working, tooth
and nail, at what he called the wonderful modern science of
Connoisseurshipwhich is upsetting, as perhaps you're not aware, all
the old-fashioned canons of art-criticism, everything we've stupidly
thought right and held dear; that he was to spend Easter in these
parts, and that he should like greatly to be allowed some day to come
over and make acquaintance with our things. I told him, Lady Grace
wound up, that nothing would be easier; a note from him arrived before
Lady Sandgate jumped the rest And it's for him you've come in.
It's for him I've come in, the girl assented with serenity.
Very goodthough he sounds most detrimental! But will you first
just tell me thiswhether when you sent in ten minutes ago for
Lord John to come out to you it was wholly of your own movement? And
she followed it up as her young friend appeared to hesitate. Was it
because you knew why he had arrived?
The young friend hesitated still. 'Why '?
So particularly to speak to you.
Since he was expected and mightn't know where I was, Lady Grace
said after an instant, I wanted naturally to be civil to him.
And had he time there to tell you, Lady Sand-gate asked, how very
civil he wants to be to you?
No, only to tell me that his friendwho's off therewas coming;
for Kitty at once appropriated him and was still in possession when I
came away. Then, as deciding at last on perfect frankness, Lady Grace
went on: If you want to know, I sent for news of him because Kitty
insisted on my doing so; saying, so very oddly and quite in her own
way, that she herself didn't wish to 'appear in it.' She had done
nothing but say to me for an hour, rather worryingly, what you've just
saidthat it's me he's what, like Mr. Bender, she calls 'after'; but
as soon as he appeared she pounced on him, and I left himI assure you
quite resignedlyin her hands.
She wantsit was easy for Lady Sandgate to remarkto talk of
you to him.
I don't know what she wants, the girl replied as with
rather a tired patience; Kitty wants so many things at once. She
always wants money, in quantities, to begin withand all to throw so
horribly away; so that whenever I see her 'in' so very deep with any
one I always imagine her appealing for some new tip as to how it's to
be come by.
Kitty's an abyss, I grant you, and with my disinterested devotion
to your fatherin requital of all his kindness to me since Lord
Sandgate's death and since your mother'sI can never be too grateful
to you, my dear, for your being so different a creature. But what is
she going to gain financially, Lady Sand-gate pursued with a strong
emphasis on her adverb, by working up our friend's confidence in your
listening to himif you are to listen?
I haven't in the least engaged to listen, said Lady Graceit
will depend on the music he makes! But she added with light cynicism:
Perhaps she's to gain a commission!
On his fairly getting you? And then as the girl assented by
silence: Is he in a position to pay her one? Lady Sandgate asked.
I dare say the Duchess is!
But do you see the Duchess producing moneywith all that
Kitty, as we're not ignorant, owes her? Hundreds and hundreds and
hundreds!Lady Sandgate piled them up.
Her young friend's gesture checked it. Ah, don't tell me how
manyit's too sad and too ugly and too wrong! To which, however, Lady
Grace added: But perhaps that will be just her way! And then as her
companion seemed for the moment not quite to follow: By letting Kitty
off her debt.
You mean that Kitty goes free if Lord John wins your promise?
Kitty goes free.
She has her creditor's release?
For every shilling.
And if he only fails?
Why then of course, said now quite lucid Lady Grace, she throws
herself more than ever on poor father.
Poor father indeed!Lady Sandgate richly sighed it
It appeared even to create in the younger woman a sense of excess.
Yesbut he after all and in spite of everything adores her.
To the point, you meanfor Lady Sandgate could clearly but
wonderof really sacrificing you?
The weight of Lady Grace's charming deep eyes on her face made her
pause while, at some length, she gave back this look and the
interchange determined in the girl a grave appeal. You think I
should be sacrificed if I married him?
Lady Sandgate replied, though with an equal emphasis, indirectly.
Could you marry him?
Lady Grace waited a moment Do you mean for Kitty?
For himself evenif they should convince you, among them, that he
cares for you.
Lady Grace had another delay. Well, he's his awful mother's son.
Yesbut you wouldn't marry his mother.
Nobut I should only be the more uncomfortably and intimately
conscious of her.
Even when, Lady Sandgate optimistically put it, she so markedly
This determined in the girl a fine impatience. She doesn't 'like'
me, she only wants mewhich is a very different thing; wants me
for my father's so particularly beautiful position, and my mother's so
supremely great people, and for everything we have been and have done,
and still are and still have: except of course poor not-at-all-model
To this luminous account of the matter Lady Sand-gate turned as to a
genial sun-burst. I see indeedfor the general immaculate
The words had no note of irony, but Lady Grace, in her great
seriousness, glanced with deprecation at the possibility. Well, we
haven't had false notes. We've scarcely even had bad moments.
Yes, you've been beatific!Lady Sandgate enviously, quite
ruefully, felt it. But any further treatment of the question was
checked by the re-entrance of the footmana demonstration explained by
the concomitant appearance of a young man in eyeglasses and with the
ends of his trousers clipped together as for cycling. This must be
your friend, she had only time to say to the daughter of the house;
with which, alert and reminded of how she was awaited elsewhere, she
retreated before her companion's visitor, who had come in with his
guide from the vestibule. She passed away to the terrace and the
gardens, Mr. Hugh Crimble's announced name ringing in her earsto some
effect that we are as yet not qualified to discern.
Lady Grace had turned to meet Mr. Hugh Crimble, whose pleasure in at
once finding her lighted his keen countenance and broke into easy
words. So awfully kind of youin the midst of the great doings I
noticedto have found a beautiful minute for me.
I left the great doings, which are almost over, to every one's
relief, I think, the girl returned, so that your precious time
shouldn't be taken to hunt for me.
It was clearly for him, on this bright answer, as if her white hand
were holding out the perfect flower of felicity. You came in from your
revels on purposewith the same charity you showed me from that first
moment? They stood smiling at each other as in an exchange of sympathy
already confessedand even as if finding that their relation had grown
during the lapse of contact; she recognising the effect of what they
had originally felt as bravely as he might name it. What the fine,
slightly long oval of her essentially quiet facequiet in spite of
certain vague depths of reference to forces of the strong high order,
forces involved and implanted, yet also rather spent in the
processkept in range from under her redundant black hat was the
strength of expression, the directness of communication, that her guest
appeared to borrow from the unframed and unattached nippers unceasingly
perched, by their mere ground-glass rims, as she remembered, on the
bony bridge of his indescribably authoritative (since it was at the
same time decidedly inquisitive) young nose. She must, however, also
have embraced in this contemplation, she must more or less again have
interpreted, his main physiognomic mark, the degree to which his clean
jaw was underhung and his lower lip protruded; a lapse of regularity
made evident by a suppression of beard and moustache as complete as
that practised by Mr. Benderthough without the appearance consequent
in the latter's case, that of the flagrantly vain appeal in the
countenance for some other exhibition of a history, of a process of
production, than this so superficial one. With the interested and
interesting girl sufficiently under our attention while we thus try to
evoke her, we may even make out some wonder in her as to why the so
perceptibly protrusive lower lip of this acquaintance of an hour or two
should positively have contributed to his being handsome instead of
much more logically interfering with it. We might in fact in such a
case even have followed her into another and no less refined a
speculationthe question of whether the surest seat of his good looks
mightn't after all be his high, fair, if somewhat narrow, forehead,
crowned with short crisp brown hair and which, after a fashion of its
own, predominated without overhanging. He spoke after they had stood
just face to face almost long enough for awkwardness. I haven't
forgotten one item of your kindness to me on that rather bleak
Bleak do you call it? she laughed. Why I found it, rather,
tropical'lush.' My neighbour on the other side wanted to talk to me
of the White City.
Then you made it doubtless bleak for him, let us say. I
couldn't let you alone, I remember, about thisit was like a
shipwrecked signal to a sail on the horizon. This obviously meant
for the young man exactly what surrounded him; he had begun, like Mr.
Bender, to be conscious of a thick solicitation of the eyeand much
more than he, doubtless, of a tug at the imagination; and he
brokecharacteristically, you would have been sureinto a great free
gaiety of recognition.
Oh, we've nothing particular in the hall, Lady Grace amiably
Nothing, I see, but Claudes and Cuyps! I'm an ogre, he
saidbefore a new and rare feast!
She happily took up his figure. Then won't you beginas a first
coursewith tea after your ride? If the other, that isfor there has
been an ogre before youhas left any.
Some tea, with pleasurehe looked all his longing; though when
you talk of a fellow-feaster I should have supposed that, on such a day
as this especially, you'd find yourselves running a continuous table
Ah, we can't work sports in our gallery and saloonthe banging or
whacking and shoving amusements that are all most people care for;
unless, perhaps, Lady Grace went on, your own peculiar one, as I
understand you, of playing football with the old benighted traditions
and attributions you everywhere meet: in fact I think you said the old
Hugh Crimble went more than half-way to meet this description of his
fondest activity; he indeed even beckoned it on. The names and stories
and stylesthe so often vain legend, not to be too invidiousof
author or subject or school? But he had a drop, no less, as from the
sense of a cause sometimes lost. Ah, that's a game at which we all
Though scarcely, Lady Grace suggested, at which we all can
The words appeared indeed to take meaning from his growing
impression of the place and its charmof the number of objects,
treasures of art, that pressed for appreciation of their importance.
Certainly, he said, no one can ever have scored much on sacred spots
of this orderwhich express so the grand impunity of their
pride, their claims, their assurance!
We've had great luck, she grantedas I've just been reminded;
but ever since those terrible things you told me in townabout the
tremendous tricks of the whirligig of time and the aesthetic fools'
paradise in which so many of us liveI've gone about with my heart in
my mouth. Who knows that while I talk Mr. Bender mayn't be pulling us
Hugh Crimble had a shudder of remembrance. Mr. Bender?
The rich American who's going round.
It gave him a sharper shock. The wretch who bagged Lady
Lady Grace showed surprise. Is he a wretch?
Her visitor but asked to be extravagant. Ratherthe scoundrel. He
offered his infernal eight thousand down.
Oh, I thought you meant he had played some trick!
I wish he hadhe could then have been collared.
Well, Lady Grace peacefully smiled, it's no use his offering
us eight thousandor eighteen or even eighty!
Hugh Crimble stared as at the odd superfluity of this reassurance,
almost crude on exquisite lips and contradicting an imputation no one
would have indecently made. Gracious goodness, I hope not! The man
surely doesn't suppose you'd traffic.
She might, while she still smiled at him, have been fairly enjoying
the friendly horror she produced. I don't quite know what he supposes.
But people have trafficked; people do; people are trafficking
Ah, Hugh Crimble cried, that's what deprives me of my rest and,
as a lover of our vast and beneficent art-wealth, poisons my waking
hours. That art-wealth is at the mercy of a leak there appears no means
of stopping. She had tapped a spring in him, clearly, and the
consequent flood might almost at any moment become copious. Precious
things are going out of our distracted country at a quicker rate than
the very quickesta century and more agoof their ever coming in.
She was sharply struck, but was also unmistakably a person in whom
stirred thought soon found connections and relations. Well, I suppose
our art-wealth came insave for those awkward Elgin Marbles!mainly
by purchase too, didn't it? We ourselves largely took it away from
somewhere, didn't we? We didn't grow it all.
We grew some of the loveliest flowersand on the whole to-day the
most exposed. He had been pulled up but for an instant. Great
Gainsboroughs and Sir Joshuas and Romneys and Sargents, great Turners
and Constables and old Cromes and Brabazons, form, you'll recognise, a
vast garden in themselves. What have we ever for instance more
successfully grown than your splendid 'Duchess of Waterbridge'?
The girl showed herself ready at once to recognise under his
eloquence anything he would. Yesit's our Sir Joshua, I believe, that
Mr. Bender has proclaimed himself particularly 'after.'
It brought a cloud to her friend's face. Then he'll be capable of
Of anything, no doubt, but of making my father capable! And you
haven't at any rate, she said, so much as seen the picture.
I beg your pardonI saw it at the Guildhall three years ago; and
am almost afraid of getting again, with a fresh sense of its beauty, a
livelier sense of its danger.
Lady Grace, however, was so far from fear that she could even afford
pity. Poor baffled Mr. Bender!
Oh, rich and confident Mr. Bender! Crimble cried. Once given his
money, his confidence is a horrid engine in itselfthere's the rub! I
dare saythe young man saw it allhe has brought his poisonous
She gave it her less exasperated wonder. One has heard of that, but
only in the case of some particularly pushing dealer.
And Mr. Bender, to do him justice, isn't a particularly pushing
No, Lady Grace judiciously returned; I think he's not a dealer at
all, but just what you a moment ago spoke of yourself as being.
He gave a glance at his possibly wild recent past. A fond true
As we all were in our lucky timewhen we rum-aged Italy and
He appeared to recognise this complicationof Bender's voracious
integrity; but only to push it away. Well, I don't know whether the
best lovers are, or ever were, the best buyersbut I feel to-day that
they're the best keepers.
The breath of his emphasis blew, as her eyes showed, on the girl's
dimmer fire. It's as if it were suddenly in the air that you've
brought us some light or some helpthat you may do something really
good for us.
Do you mean 'mark down,' as they say at the shops, all your
His chord of sensibility had trembled all gratefully into derision,
and not to seem to swagger he had put his possible virtue at its
lowest. This she beautifully showed that she beautifully saw. I dare
say that if you did even that we should have to take it from you.
Then it may very well be, he laughed back, the reason why I feel,
under my delightful, wonderful impression, a bit anxious and nervous
That shows, she returned, that you suspect us of horrors hiding
from justice, and that your natural kindness yet shrinks from handing
Well, clearly, she might put it as she likedit all came back to
his being more charmed. Heaven knows I've wanted a chance at you, but
what should you say if, having then at last just taken you in in your
so apparent perfection, I should feel it the better part of valour
simply to mount my 'bike' again and spin away?
I should be sure that at the end of the avenue you'd turn right
round and come back. You'd think again of Mr. Bender.
Whom I don't, however, you seeif he's prowling off therein the
least want to meet. Crimble made the point with gaiety. I don't know
what I mightn't do to himand yet it's not of my temptation to
violence, after all, that I'm most afraid. It's of the brutal mistake
of one's breakingwith one's priggish, precious modernity and one's
possibly futile discriminationsinto a general situation or
composition, as we say, so serene and sound and right. What should one
do here, out of respect for that felicity, but hold one's breath and
walk on tip-toe? The very celebrations and consecrations, as you tell
me, instinctively stay outside. I saw that all, the young man went on
with more weight in his ardour, I saw it, while we talked in London,
as your natural setting and your native airand now ten minutes on the
spot have made it sink into my spirit. You're a case, all together, of
enchanted harmony, of perfect equilibriumthere's nothing to be done
His friend listened to this eloquence with her eyes lowered, then
raising them to meet, with a vague insistence, his own; after which
something she had seen there appeared to determine in her another
motion. She indicated the small landscape that Mr. Bender had, by Lady
Sandgate's report, rapidly studied and denounced. For what do you take
that little picture?
Hugh Crimble went over and looked. Why, don't you know? It's a
jolly little Vandermeer of Delft.
It's not a base imitation?
He looked again, but appeared at a loss. An imitation of
Mr. Bender thinks of Cuyp.
It made the young man ring out: Then Mr. Bender's doubly
Singly is enough! Lady Grace laughed. But you see you have
Oh, to him, rather, after thatif you'll just take me to
Yes then, she said; but even while she spoke Lord John, who had
returned, by the terrace, from his quarter of an hour passed with Lady
Imber, was there practically between them; a fact that she had to
notice for her other visitor, to whom she was hastily reduced to naming
His lordship eagerly made the most of this tribute of her attention,
which had reached his ear; he treated ither Oh Lord John!as a
direct greeting. Ah Lady Grace! I came back particularly to find you.
She could but explain her predicament. I was taking Mr. Crimble to
see the pictures. And then more pointedly, as her manner had been
virtually an introduction of that gentleman, an introduction which Lord
John's mere noncommittal stare was as little as possible a response to:
Mr. Crimble's one of the quite new connoisseurs.
Oh, I'm at the very lowest round of the ladder. But I aspire! Hugh
You'll mount! said Lady Grace with friendly confidence.
He took it again with gay deprecation. Ah, if by that time there's
anything left here to mount on!
Let us hope there will be at least what Mr. Bender, poor man, won't
have been able to carry off. To which Lady Grace added, as to strike a
helpful spark from the personage who had just joined them, but who had
the air of wishing to preserve his detachment: It's to Lord John that
we owe Mr. Bender's acquaintance.
Hugh looked at the gentleman to whom they were so indebted. Then do
you happen to know, sir, what your friend means to do with his
The question got itself but dryly treated, as if it might be a
commercially calculating or interested one. Oh, not sell it again.
Then ship it to New York? the inquirer pursued, defining himself
somehow as not snubbed and, from this point, not snubbable.
That appearance failed none the less to deprive Lord John of a
betrayed relish for being able to displease Lady Grace's odd guest by
large assent. As fast as ever he canand you can land things there
now, can't you? in three or four days.
I dare say. But can't he be induced to have a little mercy? Hugh
Lord John pushed out his lips. A 'little'? How much do you want?
Well, one wants to be able somehow to stay his hand.
I doubt if you can any more stay Mr. Bender's hand than you can
empty his purse.
Ah, the Despoilers! said Crimble with strong expression. But it's
we, he added, who are base.
'Base'?and Lord John's surprise was apparently genuine.
To want only to 'do business,' I mean, with our treasures, with our
Hugh's words exhaled such a sense of peril as to draw at once Lady
Grace. Ah, but if we're above that here, as you know!
He stood smilingly corrected and contrite. Of course I knowbut
you must forgive me if I have it on the brain. And show me first of
all, won't you? the Moretto of Brescia.
You know then about the Moretto of Brescia?
Why, didn't you tell me yourself? It went on between them for the
moment quite as if there had been no Lord John.
Probably, yes, she recalled; so how I must have swaggered! After
which she turned to the other visitor with a kindness strained clear of
urgency. Will you also come?
He confessed to a difficultywhich his whole face begged her also
to take account of. I hoped you'd be at leisurefor something I've so
This had its effect; she took a rapid decision and turned
persuasively to Crimblefor whom, in like manner, there must have been
something in her face. Let Mr. Bender himself then show you.
And there are things in the library too.
Oh yes, there are things in the library. Lord John, happy in his
gained advantage and addressing Hugh from the strong ground of an
initiation already complete, quite sped him on the way.
Hugh clearly made no attempt to veil the penetration with which he
was moved to look from one of these counsellors to the other, though
with a ready Thank-you! for Lady Grace he the next instant started in
pursuit of Mr. Bender.
Your friend seems remarkably hot! Lord John remarked to his young
hostess as soon as they had been left together.
He has cycled twenty miles. And indeed, she smiled, he does
appear to care for what he cares for!
Her companion then, during a moment's silence, might have been
noting the emphasis of her assent. Have you known him long?
Nor seen him often?
Only oncetill now.
Oh! said Lord John with another pause. But he soon proceeded. Let
us leave him then to cool! I haven't cycled twenty miles, but I've
motored forty very much in the hope of this, Lady Gracethe
chance of being able to assure you that I too care very much for what I
care for. To which he added on an easier note, as to carry off a
slight awkwardness while she only waited: You certainly mustn't let
yourselfbetween us allbe worked to death.
Oh, such days as thisI She made light enough of her burden.
They don't come often to me at least, Lady Grace! I hadn't
grasped in advance the scale of your fête, he went on; but since I've
the great luck to find you alone! He paused for breath, however,
before the full sequence.
She helped him out as through common kindness, but it was a trifle
colourless. Alone or in company, Lord John, I'm always very glad to
Then that assurance helps me to wonder if you don't perhaps gently
guess what it is I want to say. This time indeed she left him to his
wonder, so that he had to support himself. I've tried, all
consideratelythese three monthsto let you see for yourself how I
feel. I feel very strongly, Lady Grace; so that at lastand his
impatient sincerity took after another instant the jumpwell, I
regularly worship you. You're my absolute ideal. I think of you the
She measured out consideration as if it had been a yard of pretty
ribbon. Are you sure you know me enough?
I think I know a perfect woman when I see one! Nothing now at
least could have been more prompt, and while a decent pity for such a
mistake showed in her smile he followed it up. Isn't what you rather
mean that you haven't cared sufficiently to know me? If so, that
can be little by little mended, Lady Grace. He was in fact altogether
gallant about it. I'm aware of the limits of what I have to show or to
offer, but I defy you to find a limit to my possible devotion.
She deferred to that, but taking it in a lower key. I believe you'd
be very good to me.
Well, isn't that something to start with?he fairly
pounced on it. I'll do any blest thing in life you like, I'll accept
any condition you impose, if you'll only tell me you see your way.
Shouldn't I have a little more first to see yours? she asked.
When you say you'll do anything in life I like, isn't there anything
you yourself want strongly enough to do?
He cast a stare about on the suggestions of the scene. Anything
that will make money, you mean?
Make money or make reputationor even just make the time pass.
Oh, what I have to look to in the way of a career? If that was her
meaning he could show after an instant that he didn't fear it. Well,
your father, dear delightful man, has been so good as to give me to
understand that he backs me for a decent deserving creature; and I've
noticed, as you doubtless yourself have, that when Lord Theign backs a
He left the obvious moral for her to take upwhich she did, but all
interrogatively. The fellow at once comes in for something awfully
I don't in the least mind your laughing at me, Lord John returned,
for when I put him the question of the lift he'd give me by speaking
to you first he bade me simply remember the complete personal liberty
in which he leaves you, and yet which doesn't cometake my word! said
the young man sagelyfrom his being at all indifferent.
No, she answeredfather isn't indifferent. But father's 'great'
Great indeed!her friend took it as with full comprehension. This
appeared not to prevent, however, a second and more anxious thought.
Too great for you?
Well, he makes me feeleven as his daughtermy extreme
It was easy, Lord John indicated, to see what she meant He's a
grand seigneur, and a serious onethat's what he is: the very type
and model of it, down to the ground. So you can imagine, the young man
said, what he makes me feelmost of all when he's so awfully
good-natured to me. His being as 'great' as you say and yet backing
mesuch as I am!doesn't that strike you as a good note for
me, the best you could possibly require? For he really would
like what I propose to you.
She might have been noting, while she thought, that he had risen to
ingenuity, to fineness, on the wings of his argument; under the effect
of which her reply had the air of a concession. Yeshe would like
Then he has spoken to you? her suitor eagerly asked.
He hasn't neededhe has ways of letting one know.
Yes, yes, he has ways; all his ownlike everything else he has.
She fully agreed. He's wonderful.
The tone of it appeared somehow to shorten at once for Lord John the
rest of his approach to a conclusion. So you do see your way?
Ah! she said with a quick sad shrinkage.
I mean, her visitor hastened to explain, if he does put it to you
as the very best idea he has for you. When he does thatas I believe
him ready to dowill you really and fairly listen to him? I'm certain,
honestly, that when you know me better! His confidence in short
donned a bravery.
I've been feeling this quarter of an hour, the girl returned,
that I do know you better.
Then isn't that all I want?unless indeed I ought perhaps to ask
rather if it isn't all you do! At any rate, said Lord John, I
may see you again here?
She waited a moment. You must have patience with me.
I am having it But after your father's appeal.
Well, she said, that must come first.
Then you won't dodge it?
She looked at him straight I don't dodge, Lord John.
He admired the manner of it You look awfully handsome as you say
soand you see what that does to me. As to attentuate a little
the freedom of which he went on: May I fondly hope that if Lady Imber
too should wish to put in another word for me?
Will I listen to her?it brought Lady Grace straight down. No,
Lord John, let me tell you at once that I'll do nothing of the sort
Kitty's quite another affair, and I never listen to her a bit more than
I can help.
Lord John appeared to feel, on this, that he mustn't too easily, in
honour, abandon a person who had presented herself to him as an ally.
Ah, you strike me as a little hard on her. Your father himselfin his
looser moments!takes pleasure in what she says.
Our young woman's eyes, as they rested on him after this remark, had
no mercy for its extreme feebleness. If you mean that she's the most
reckless rattle one knows, and that she never looks so beautiful as
when she's at her worst, and that, always clever for where she makes
out her interest, she has learnt to 'get round' him till he only sees
through her eyesif you mean that I understand you perfectly.
But even if you think me horrid for reflecting so on my nearest and
dearest, it's not on the side on which he has most confidence in his
elder daughter that his youngest is moved to have most confidence in
Lord John stared as if she had shaken some odd bright fluttering
object in his face; but then recovering himself: He hasn't perhaps an
absolutely boundless confidence
In any one in the world but himself?she had taken him straight
up. He hasn't indeed, and that's what we must come to; so that even if
he likes you as much as you doubtless very justly feel, it won't be
because you are right about your being nice, but because he is!
You mean that if I were wrong about it he would still insist that
Lady Grace was indeed sure. Absolutelyif he had begun so! He
began so with Kittythat is with allowing her everything.
Lord John appeared struck. Yesand he still allows her two
I'm glad to hear itshe has never told me how much! the girl
Then perhaps I oughtn't!he glowed with the light of contrition.
Well, you can't help it now, his companion remarked with
You mean that he ought to allow you as much? Lord John
inquired. I'm sure you're right, and that he will, he continued quite
as in good faith; but I want you to understand that I don't care in
the least what it may be!
The subject of his suit took the longest look at him she had taken
yet. You're very good to say so!
If this was ironic the touch fell short, thanks to his perception
that they had practically just ceased to be alone. They were in
presence of a third figure, who had arrived from the terrace, but whose
approach to them was not so immediate as to deprive Lord John of time
for another question. Will you let him tell you, at all events,
how good he thinks me?and then let me come back and have it from you
Lady Grace's answer to this was to turn, as he drew nearer, to the
person by whom they were now joined. Lord John desires you should tell
me, father, how good you think him.
'Good,' my dear?good for what? said Lord Theign a trifle
absurdly, but looking from one of them to the other.
I feel I must ask him to tell you.
Then I shall give him a chanceas I should particularly like you
to go back and deal with those overwhelming children.
Ah, they don't overwhelm you, father!the girl put it with
If you mean to say I overwhelmed them, I dare say I did, he
repliedfrom my view of that vast collective gape of six hundred
painfully plain and perfectly expressionless faces. But that was only
for the time: I pumped adviceoh such advice!and they held
the large bucket as still as my pet pointer, when I scratch him, holds
his back. The bucket, under the stream
Was bound to overflow? Lady Grace suggested.
Well, the strong recoil of the wave of intelligence has been not
unnaturally followed by the formidable break. You must really, Lord
Theign insisted, go and deal with it.
His daughter's smile, for all this, was perceptibly cold. You work
people up, father, and then leave others to let them down.
The two things, he promptly replied, require different natures.
To which he simply added, as with the habit of authority, though not of
It was absolute and she yielded; only pausing an instant to look as
with a certain gathered meaning from one of the men to the other.
Faintly and resignedly sighing she passed away to the terrace and
The nature that can let you downI rather like it, you
know! Lord John threw off. Which, for an airy elegance in them, were
perhaps just slightly rash wordshis companion gave him so sharp a
look as the two were left together.
Face to face with his visitor the master of Dedborough betrayed the
impression his daughter appeared to have given him. She didn't want to
go? And then before Lord John could reply: What the deuce is the
matter with her?
Lord John took his time. I think perhaps a little Mr. Crimble.
And who the deuce is a little Mr. Crimble?
A young man who was just with herand whom she appears to have
Where is he then? Lord Theign demanded.
Off there among the pictureswhich he seems partly to have come
Oh!it made his lordship easier. Then he's all righton such a
His companion could none the less just wonder. Hadn't Lady Grace
That he was coming? Not that I remember. But Lord Theign,
perceptibly preoccupied, made nothing of this. We've had other fish to
fry, and you know the freedom I allow her.
His friend had a vivid gesture. My dear man, I only ask to profit
by it! With which there might well have been in Lord John's face a
light of comment on the pretension in such a quarter to allow freedom.
Yet it was a pretension that Lord Theign sustainedas to show
himself far from all bourgeois narrowness. She has her friends by the
scoreat this time of day. There was clearly a claim here alsoto
know the time of day. But in the matter of friends where, by the
way, is your ownof whom I've but just heard?
Oh, off there among the pictures too; so they'll have met and taken
care of each other. Accounting for this inquirer would be clearly the
least of Lord John's difficulties. I mustn't appear to Bender to have
failed him; but I must at once let you know, before I join him, that,
seizing my opportunity, I have just very definitely, in fact very
pressingly, spoken to Lady Grace. It hasn't been perhaps, he
continued, quite the pick of a chance; but that seemed never to come,
and if I'm not too fondly mistaken, at any rate, she listened to me
without abhorrence. Only I've led her to expectfor our casethat
you'll be so good, without loss of time, as to say the clinching word
to her yourself.
Without loss, you mean, ofamy daughter's time? Lord Theign,
confessedly and amiably interested, had accepted these intimationsyet
with the very blandness that was not accessible to hustling and was
never forgetful of its standing privilege of criticism. He had come in
from his public duty, a few minutes before, somewhat flushed and blown;
but that had presently droppedto the effect, we should have guessed,
of his appearing to Lord John at least as cool as the occasion
required. His appearance, we ourselves certainly should have felt, was
in all respects charmingwith the great note of it the beautiful
restless, almost suspicious, challenge to you, on the part of deep and
mixed things in him, his pride and his shyness, his conscience, his
taste and his temper, to deny that he was admirably simple. Obviously,
at this rate, he had a passion for simplicitysimplicity, above all,
of relation with you, and would show you, with the last subtlety of
displeasure, his impatience of your attempting anything more with
himself. With such an ideal of decent ease he would, confound you,
sink a hundred other attributesor the recognition at least and the
formulation of themthat you might abjectly have taken for granted in
him: just to show you that in a beastly vulgar age you had, and small
wonder, a beastly vulgar imagination. He sank thus, surely, in defiance
of insistent vulgarity, half his consciousness of his advantages,
flattering himself that mere facility and amiability, a true effective,
a positively ideal suppression of reference in any one to anything that
might complicate, alone floated above. This would be quite his
religion, you might inferto cause his hands to ignore in whatever
contact any opportunity, however convenient, for an unfair pull. Which
habit it was that must have produced in him a sort of ripe and radiant
fairness; if it be allowed us, that is, to figure in so shining an air
a nobleman of fifty-three, of an undecided rather than a certified
frame or outline, of a head thinly though neatly covered and not
measureably massive, of an almost trivial freshness, of a face marked
but by a fine inwrought line or two and lighted by a merely charming
expression. You might somehow have traced back the whole character so
presented to an ideal privately invokedthat of his establishing in
the formal garden of his suffered greatness such easy seats and short
perspectives, such winding paths and natural-looking waters, as would
mercifully break up the scale. You would perhaps indeed have reflected
at the same time that the thought of so much mercy was almost more than
anything else the thought of a great option and a great marginin fine
of fifty alternatives. Which remarks of ours, however, leave his
lordship with his last immediate question on his hands.
Well, yesthat, of course, in all propriety, his companion
has meanwhile replied to it. But I was thinking a little, you
understand, of the importance of our own time.
Divinably Lord Theign put himself out less, as we may say, for the
comparatively matter-of-course haunters of his garden than for
interlopers even but slightly accredited. He seemed thus not at all to
strain to understand in this particular connectionit would be his
familiarly amusing friend Lord John, clearly, who must do most of the
work for him. 'Our own' in the sense of yours and mine?
Of yours and mine and Lady Imber's, yesand a good bit, last not
least, in that of my watching and waiting mother's. This struck no
prompt spark of apprehension from his listener, so that Lord John went
on: The last thing she did this morning was to remind me, with her
fine old frankness, that she would like to learn without more delay
where, on the whole question, she is, don't you know? What she
put to methe younger man felt his ground a little, but proceeded
furtherwhat she put to me, with her rather grand way of looking
all questions straight in the face, you see, was: Do we or don't
we, decidedly, take up practically her very handsome offer'very
handsome' being, I mean, what she calls it; though it strikes
even me too, you know, as rather decent.
Lord Theign at this point resigned himself to know. Kitty has of
course rubbed into me how decent she herself finds it. She hurls
herself again on mesuccessfully!for everything, and it suits her
down to the ground. She pays her beastly debtthat is, I mean to say,
and he took himself up, though it was scarce more than perfunctory,
discharges her obligationsby her sister's fair hand; not to mention
a few other trifles for which I naturally provide.
Lord John, a little unexpectedly to himself on the defensive, was
yet but briefly at a loss. Of course we take into account, don't we?
not only the fact of my mother's desire (intended, I assure you, to be
most flattering) that Lady Grace shall enter our family with all
honours, but her expressed readiness to facilitate the thing by an
understanding over and above
Over and above Kitty's release from her damnable payment?Lord
Theign reached out to what his guest had left rather in the air. Of
course we take everything into accountor I shouldn't, my dear
fellow, be discussing with you at all a business one or two of whose
aspects so little appeal to me: especially as there's nothing, you
easily conceive, that a daughter of mine can come in for by entering
even your family, or any other (as a family) that she wouldn't be quite
as sure of by just staying in her own. The Duchess's idea, at any rate,
if I've followed you, is that if Grace does accept you she settles on
you twelve thousand; with the condition
Lord John was already all there. Definitely, yes, of your settling
the equivalent on Lady Grace.
And what do you call the equivalent of twelve thousand?
Why, tacked on to a value so great and so charming as Lady Grace
herself, I dare say such a sum as nine or ten would serve.
And where the mischief, if you please, at this highly inconvenient
time, am I to pick up nine or ten thousand?
Lord John declined, with a smiling, a fairly irritating eye for his
friend's general resources, to consider that question seriously.
Surely you can have no difficulty whatever!
Why not?when you can see for yourself that I've had this year to
let poor dear old Hill Street! Do you call it the moment for me to have
liked to see myself all but cajoled into planking down even such a
matter as the very much lower figure of Kitty's horrid incubus?
Ah, but the inducement and the quid pro quo, Lord John
brightly indicated, are here much greater! In the case you speak of
you will only have removed the incubuswhich, I grant you, she must
and you must feel as horrid. In this other you pacify Lady Imber and
marry Lady Grace: marry her to a man who has set his heart on her and
of whom she has just expressedto himselfa very kind and very high
She has expressed a very high opinion of you?Lord Theign scarce
glowed with credulity.
But the younger man held his ground. She has told me she thoroughly
likes me and thatthough a fellow feels an ass repeating such
thingsshe thinks me perfectly charming.
A tremendous creature, eh, all round? Then, said Lord Theign,
what does she want more?
She very possibly wants nothingbut I'm to that beastly degree,
you see, his visitor patiently explained, in the cleft stick of my
fearfully positive mother's wants. Those are her 'terms,' and I don't
mind saying that they're most disagreeable to meI quite hate 'em:
there! Only I think it makes a jolly difference that I wouldn't touch
'em with a long pole if my personal feelingin respect to Lady
Gracewasn't so immensely enlisted.
I assure you I'd chuck 'em out of window, my boy, if I didn't
believe you'd be really good to her, Lord Theign returned with the
It only encouraged his companion. You will just tell her
then, now and here, how good you honestly believe I shall be?
This appeal required a momenta longer look at him. You truly hold
that that friendly guarantee, backed by my parental weight, will do
That's the conviction I entertain.
Lord Theign thought again. Well, even if your conviction's just,
that still doesn't tell me into which of my very empty pockets it will
be of the least use for me to fumble.
Oh, Lord John laughed, when a man has such a tremendous
assortment of breeches! He pulled up, however, as, in his motion,
his eye caught the great vista of the open rooms. If it's a question
of pocketsand what's in 'emhere precisely is my man! This
personage had come back from his tour of observation and was now, on
the threshold of the hall, exhibited to Lord Theign as well. Lord
John's welcome was warm. I've had awfully to fail you, Mr. Bender, but
I was on the point of joining you. Let me, however, still better,
introduce you to our host.
Mr. Bender indeed, formidably advancing, scarce had use for this
assistance. Happy to meet youespecially in your beautiful home, Lord
Theign. To which he added while the master of Dedborough stood
good-humouredly passive to his approach: I've been round, by your kind
permission and the light of nature, and haven't required support;
though if I had there's a gentleman there who seemed prepared to allow
me any amount. Mr. Bender, out of his abundance, evoked as by a
suggestive hand this contributory figure. A young, spare, nervous
gentleman with eye-glassesI guess he's an author. A friend of yours
too? he asked of Lord John.
The answer was prompt and emphatic. No, the gentleman is no friend
at all of mine, Mr. Bender.
A friend of my daughter's, Lord Theign easily explained. I hope
they're looking after him.
Oh, they took care he had tea and bread and butter to any extent;
and were so good as to move something, Mr. Bender conscientiously
added, so that he could get up on a chair and see straight into the
This was a touch, however, that appeared to affect Lord John
unfavourably. Up on a chair? I say!
Mr. Bender took another view. Why, I got right up myselfa little
more and I'd almost have begun to paw it! He got me quite
interestedthe proprietor of the picture would perhaps care to
knowin that Moretto. And it was on these lines that Mr. Bender
continued to advance. I take it that your biggest value, however, Lord
Theign, is your splendid Sir Joshua. Our friend there has a great deal
to say about that toobut it didn't lead to our moving any more
furniture. On which he paused as to enjoy, with a show of his fine
teeth, his host's reassurance. It has yet, my impression of
that picture, sir, led to something else. Are you prepared, Lord
Theign, to entertain a proposition?
Lord Theign met Mr. Bender's eyes while this inquirer left these few
portentous words to speak for themselves. To the effect that I part to
you with 'The Beautiful Duchess of Waterbridge'? No, Mr. Bender, such a
proposition would leave me intensely cold.
Lord John had meanwhile had a more headlong cry. My dear Bender, I
I guess you don't envy me, his friend serenely replied, as much
as I envy Lord Theign. And then while Mr. Bender and the latter
continued to face each other searchingly and firmly: What I allude to
is an overture of a strong and simple stampsuch as perhaps would shed
a softer light on the difficulties raised by association and
attachment. I've had some experience of first shocks, and I'd be glad
to meet you as man to man.
Mr. Bender was, quite clearly, all genial and all sincere; he
intended no irony and used, consciously, no great freedom. Lord Theign,
not less evidently, saw this, and it permitted him amusement. As rich
man to poor man is how I'm to understand it? For me to meet you, he added, I should have to be temptedand I'm not even temptable.
So there we are, he blandly smiled.
His blandness appeared even for a moment to set an example to Lord
John. 'The Beautiful Duchess of Waterbridge,' Mr. Bender, is a golden
apple of one of those great family trees of which respectable people
don't lop off the branches whose venerable shade, in this garish and
denuded age, they so much enjoy.
Mr. Bender looked at him as if he had cut some irrelevant caper.
Then if they don't sell their ancestors where in the world are all the
Doesn't it for the moment sufficiently answer your question, Lord
Theign asked, that they're definitely not bought at Dedborough?
Why, said Mr. Bender with a wealthy patience, you talk as if it
were my interest to be reasonablewhich shows how little you
understand. I'd be ashamedwith the lovely ideas I haveif I didn't
make you kick. And his sturdy smile for it all fairly proclaimed his
faith. Well, I guess I can wait!
This again in turn visibly affected Lord John: marking the moment
from which he, in spite of his cultivated levity, allowed an intenser
and more sustained look to keep straying toward their host. Mr.
Bender's bound to have something!
It was even as if after a minute Lord Theign had been reached by his
friend's mute pressure. 'Something'?
Something, Mr. Bender? Lord John insisted.
It made their visitor rather sharply fix him. Why, have you
an interest, Lord John?
This personage, though undisturbed by the challenge, if such it was,
referred it to Lord Theign. Do you authorise me to speaka littleas
if I have an interest?
Lord Theign gave the appealand the speakera certain attention,
and then appeared rather sharply to turn away from them. My dear
fellow, you may amuse yourself at my expense as you like!
Oh, I don't mean at your expense, Lord John laughedI mean at
Well, go ahead, Lord John, said that gentleman, always easy, but
always too, as you would have felt, aware of everythinggo ahead, but
don't sweetly hope to create me in any desire that doesn't already
exist in the germ. The attempt has often been made, over herehas in
fact been organised on a considerable scale; but I guess I've got some
peculiarity, for it doesn't seem as if the thing could be done. If the
germ is there, on the other hand, Mr. Bender conceded, it develops
independently of all encouragement.
Lord John communicated again as in a particular sense with Lord
Theign. He thinks I really mean to offer him something!
Lord Theign, who seemed to wish to advertise a degree of detachment
from the issue, or from any other such, strolled off, in his
restlessness, toward the door that opened to the terrace, only stopping
on his way to light a cigarette from a matchbox on a small table. It
was but after doing so that he made the remark: Ah, Mr. Bender may
easily be too much for you!
That makes me the more sorry, sir, said his visitor, not to have
been enough for you!
I risk it, at any rate, Lord John went onI put you, Bender, the
question of whether you wouldn't Move,' as you say, to acquire that
Mr. Bender's large face had a commensurate gaze. As I say? I
haven't said anything of the sort!
But you do 'love' you know, Lord John slightly overgrimaced.
I don't when I don't want to. I'm different from most peopleI can
love or not as I like. The trouble with that Moretto, Mr. Bender
continued, is that it ain't what I'm after.
His after had somehow, for the ear, the vividness of a sharp whack
on the resisting surface of things, and was concerned doubtless in Lord
John's speaking again across to their host. The worst he can do for
me, you see, is to refuse it.
Lord Theign, who practically had his back turned and was fairly
dandling about in his impatience, tossed out to the terrace the
cigarette he had but just lighted. Yet he faced round to reply: It's
the very first time in the history of this house (a long one, Mr.
Bender) that a picture, or anything else in it, has been offered!
It was not imperceptible that even if he hadn't dropped Mr. Bender
mightn't have been markedly impressed. Then it must be the very first
time such an offer has failed.
Oh, it isn't that we in the least press it! Lord Theign quite
Ah, I beg your pardonI press it very hard! And Lord John, as
taking from his face and manner a cue for further humorous license,
went so far as to emulate, though sympathetically enough, their
companion's native form. You don't mean to say you don't feel the
interest of that Moretto?
Mr. Bender, quietly confident, took his time to reply. Well, if you
had seen me up on that chair you'd have thought I did.
Then you must have stepped down from the chair properly impressed.
I stepped down quite impressed with that young man.
Mr. Crimble?it came after an instant to Lord John. With his
opinion, really? Then I hope he's aware of the picture's value.
You had better ask him, Mr. Bender observed.
Oh, we don't depend here on the Mr. Crimbles! Lord John returned.
Mr. Bender took a longer look at him. Are you aware of the value
His friend resorted again, as for the amusement of the thing, to
their entertainer. Am I aware of the value of the Moretto?
Lord Theign, who had meanwhile lighted another cigarette, appeared,
a bit extravagantly smoking, to wish to put an end to his effect of
That question needn't trouble uswhen I see how much Mr. Bender
himself knows about it.
Well, Lord Theign, I only know what that young man puts it at. And
then as the others waited, Ten thousand, said Mr. Bender.
Ten thousand? The owner of the work showed no emotion.
Well, said Lord John again in Mr. Bender's style, what's the
matter with ten thousand?
The subject of his gay tribute considered. There's nothing the
matter with ten thousand.
Then, Lord Theign asked, is there anything the matter with the
Yes, sirI guess there is.
It gave an upward push to his lordship's eyebrows. But what in the
Well, that's just the question!
The eyebrows continued to rise. Does he pretend there's a question
of whether it is a Moretto?
That's what he was up there trying to find out.
But if the value's, according to himself, ten thousand?
Why, of course, said Mr. Bender, it's a fine work anyway.
Then, Lord Theign brought good-naturedly out, what's the matter
with you, Mr. Bender?
That gentleman was perfectly clear. The matter with me, Lord
Theign, is that I've no use for a ten thousand picture.
'No use?'the expression had an oddity. But what's it your idea
to do with such things?
I mean, Mr. Bender explained, that a picture of that rank is not
what I'm after.
The figure, said his noble hostspeaking thus, under pressure,
commerciallyis beyond what you see your way to?
But Lord John had jumped at the truth. The matter with Mr. Bender
is that he sees his way much further.
Further? their companion echoed.
The matter with Mr. Bender is that he wants to give millions.
Lord Theign sounded this abyss with a smile. Well, there would be
no difficulty about that, I think!
Ah, said his guest, you know the basis, sir, on which I'm ready
On the basis then of the Sir Joshua, Lord John inquired, how far
would you go?
Mr. Bender indicated by a gesture that on a question reduced to a
moiety by its conditional form he could give but semi-satisfaction.
Well, I'd go all the way.
He wants, you see, Lord John elucidated, an ideally
Lord Theign appeared to decide after a moment to enter into the
pleasant spirit of this; which he did by addressing his younger friend.
Then why shouldn't I make even the Moretto as expensive as he
Because you can't do violence to that master's natural
modesty, Mr. Bender declared before Lord John had time to speak. And
conscious at this moment of the reappearance of his fellow-explorer, he
at once supplied a further light. I guess this gentleman at any rate
can tell you.
Hugh Crimble had come back from his voyage of discovery, and it was
visible as he stood there flushed and quite radiant that he had caught
in his approach Lord Theign's last inquiry and Mr. Bender's reply to
it. You would have imputed to him on the spot the lively possession of
a new idea, the sustaining sense of a message important enough to
justify his irruption. He looked from one to the other of the three
men, scattered a little by the sight of him, but attached eyes of
recognition then to Lord Theign's, whom he remained an instant longer
communicatively smiling at. After which, as you might have gathered, he
all confidently plunged, taking up the talk where the others had left
it. I should say, Lord Theign, if you'll allow me, in regard to what
you appear to have been discussing, that it depends a good deal on just
that questionof what your Moretto, at any rate, may be presumed or
proved to 'be.' Let me thank you, he cheerfully went on, for your
kind leave to go over your treasures.
The personage he so addressed was, as we know, nothing if not
generally affable; yet if that was just then apparent it was through a
shade of coolness for the slightly heated familiarity of so plain, or
at least so free, a young man in eye-glasses, now for the first time
definitely apprehended. Oh, I've scarcely 'treasures'but I've some
things of interest.
Hugh, however, entering the opulent circle, as it were, clearly took
account of no breath of a chill. I think possible, my lord, that
you've a great treasureif you've really so high a rarity as a
A 'Mantovano'? You wouldn't have been sure that his lordship
didn't pronounce the word for the first time in his life.
There have been supposed to be only seven real examples
about the world; so that if by an extraordinary chance you find
yourself the possessor of a magnificent eighth
But Lord John had already broken in. Why, there you are, Mr.
Oh, Mr. Bender, with whom I've made acquaintance, Hugh returned,
was there as it began to work in me
That your Moretto, Lord TheignMr. Bender took their informant
upisn't, after all, a Moretto at all. And he continued amusedly to
Hugh: It began to work in you, sir, like very strong drink!
Do I understand you to suggest, Lord Theign asked of the startling
young man, that my precious picture isn't genuine?
Well, Hugh knew exactly what he suggested. As a picture, Lord
Theign, as a great portrait, one of the most genuine things in Europe.
But it strikes me as probable that from far backfor reasons!there
has been a wrong attribution; that the work has been, in other words,
traditionally, obstinately miscalled. It has passed for a Moretto, and
at first I quite took it for one; but I suddenly, as I looked and
looked and saw and saw, began to doubt, and now I know why I
Lord Theign had during this speech kept his eyes on the ground; but
he raised them to Mr. Crimble's almost palpitating presence for the
remark: I'm bound to say that I hope you've some very good grounds!
I've three or four, Lord Theign; they seem to me of the bestas
yet. They made me wonder and wonderand then light splendidly broke.
His lordship didn't stint his attention. Reflected, you mean, from
other Mantovanosthat I don't know?
I mean from those I know myself, said Hugh; and I mean from fine
analogies with one in particular.
Analogies that in all these years, these centuries, have so
remarkably not been noticed?
Well, Hugh competently explained, they're a sort of thing the
very sense of, the value and meaning of, are a highly modernin fact a
quite recent growth.
Lord John at this professed with cordiality that he at least quite
understood. Oh, we know a lot more about our pictures and things than
ever our ancestors did!
Well, I guess it's enough for me, Mr. Bender contributed,
that your ancestors knew enough to get 'em!
Ah, that doesn't go so far, cried Hugh, unless we ourselves know
enough to keep 'em!
The words appeared to quicken in a manner Lord Theign's view of the
speaker. Were your ancestors, Mr. Crimble, great collectors?
Arrested, it might be, in his general assurance, Hugh wondered and
smiled. Minecollectors? Oh, I'm afraid I haven't anyto speak of.
Only it has seemed to me for a long time, he added, that on that head
we should all feel together.
Lord Theign looked for a moment as if these were rather large
presumptions; then he put them in their place a little curtly. It's
one thing to keep our possessions for ourselvesit's another to keep
them for other people.
Well, Hugh good-humouredly returned, I'm perhaps not so
absolutely sure of myself, if you press me, as that I sha'n't be glad
of a higher and wiser opinionI mean than my own. It would be awfully
interesting, if you'll allow me to say so, to have the judgment of one
or two of the great men.
You're not yourself, Mr. Crimble, one of the great men? his host
asked with tempered irony.
Well, I guess he's going to be, anyhow, Mr. Bender cordially
struck in; and this remarkable exhibition of intelligence may just let
him loose on the world, mayn't it?
Thank you, Mr. Bender!and Hugh obviously tried to look neither
elated nor snubbed. I've too much still to learn, but I'm learning
every day, and I shall have learnt immensely this afternoon.
Pretty well at my expense, however, Lord Theign laughed, if you
demolish a name we've held for generations so dear.
You may have held the name dear, my lord, his young critic
answered; but my whole point is that, if I'm right, you've held the
picture itself cheap.
Because a Mantovano, said Lord John, is so much greater a value?
Hugh met his eyes a moment Are you talking of values pecuniary?
What values are not pecuniary?
Hugh might, during his hesitation, have been imagined to stand off a
little from the question. Well, some things have in a higher degree
that one, and some have the associational or the factitious, and some
the clear artistic.
And some, Mr. Bender opined, have them allin the highest
degree. But what you mean, he went on, is that a Mantovano would come
higher under the hammer than a Moretto?
Why, sir, the young man returned, there aren't any, as I've just
stated, to 'come.' I accountor I easily canfor every one of
the very small number.
Then do you consider that you account for this one?
I believe I shall if you'll give me time.
Oh, time! Mr. Bender impatiently sighed. But we'll give you all
we've gotonly I guess it isn't much. And he appeared freely to
invite their companions to join in this estimate. They listened to him,
however, they watched him, for the moment, but in silence, and with the
next he had gone on: How much higherif your idea is correct about
itwould Lord Theign's picture come?
Hugh turned to that nobleman. Does Mr. Bender mean come to him, my lord?
Lord Theign looked again hard at Hugh, and then harder than he had
done yet at his other invader. I don't know what Mr. Bender
means! With which he turned off.
Well, I guess I mean that it would come higher to me than to any
one! But how much higher? the American continued to Hugh.
How much higher to you?
Oh, I can size that. How much higher as a Mantovano?
Unmistakablyfor us at leastour young man was gaining time; he
had the instinct of circumspection and delay. To any one?
To any one.
Than as a Moretto? Hugh continued.
It even acted on Lord John's nerves. That's what we're talking
But Hugh still took his ease; as if, with his eyes first on Bender
and then on Lord Theign, whose back was practically presented, he were
covertly studying signs. Well, he presently said, in view of the
very great interest combined with the very great rarity, more thanah
more than can be estimated off-hand.
It made Lord Theign turn round. But a fine Moretto has a very great
rarity and a very great interest.
Yesbut not on the whole the same amount of either.
No, not on the whole the same amount of either!Mr. Bender
judiciously echoed it. But how, he freely pursued, are you going to
Have I your permission, Lord Theign, Hugh brightly asked, to
attempt to find out?
The question produced on his lordship's part a visible, a natural
anxiety. What would it be your idea then to do with my
Nothing at all hereit could all be done, I think, at Verona. What
besets, what quite haunts me, Hugh explained, is the vivid image of a
Mantovanoone of the glories of the short listin a private
collection in that place. The conviction grows in me that the two
portraits must be of the same original. In fact I'll bet my head, the
young man quite ardently wound up, that the wonderful subject of the
Verona picture, a very great person clearly, is none other than the
very great person of yours.
Lord Theign had listened with interest. Mayn't he be that and yet
from another hand?
It isn't another handoh Hugh was quite positive. It's the hand
of the very same painter.
How can you prove it's the same?
Only by the most intimate internal evidence, I admitand evidence
that of course has to be estimated.
Then who, Lord Theign asked, is to estimate it?
Well,Hugh was all readywill you let Pap-pendick, one of the
first authorities in Europe, a good friend of mine, in fact more or
less my master, and who is generally to be found at Brussels? I happen
to know he knows your picturehe once spoke to me of it; and he'll go
and look again at the Verona one, he'll go and judge our issue, if I
apply to him, in the light of certain new tips that I shall be able to
Lord Theign appeared to wonder. If you 'apply' to him?
Like a shot, I believe, if I ask it of himas a service.
A service to you? He'll be very obliging, his lordship
Well, I've obliged him! Hugh readily retorted.
The obligation will be to weLord Theign spoke more formally.
Well, the satisfaction, said Hugh, will be to all of us. The
things Pappendick has seen he intensely, ineffaceably keeps in mind, to
every detail; so that he'll tell meas no one else really canif the
Verona man is your man.
But then, asked Mr. Bender, we've got to believe anyway what he
The market, said Lord John with emphasis, would have to believe
itthat's the point.
Oh, Hugh returned lightly, the market will have nothing to do
with it, I hope; but I think you'll feel when he has spoken that you
really know where you are.
Mr. Bender couldn't doubt of that. Oh, if he gives us a bigger
thing we won't complain. Only, how long will it take him to get there?
I want him to start right away.
Well, as I'm sure he'll be deeply interested
We mayMr. Bender took it straight upget news next
Hugh addressed his reply to Lord Theign; it was already a little too
much as if he and the American between them were snatching the case
from that possessor's hands. The day I hear from Pappendick you shall
have a full report. And, he conscientiously added, if I'm proved to
have been unfortunately wrong!
His lordship easily pointed the moral. You'll have caused me some
Of course I shall, the young man unreservedly agreedlike a
wanton meddling ass! His candour, his freedom had decidedly a note of
their own. But my conviction, after those moments with your picture,
was too strong for me not to speakand, since you allow it, I face the
danger and risk the test.
I allow it of course in the form of business. This produced in
Hugh a certain blankness. 'Business'? If I consent to the inquiry I
pay for the inquiry. Hugh demurred. Even if I turn out mistaken?
You make me in any event your proper charge. The young man thought
again, and then as for vague accommodation: Oh, my charge won't be
Ah, Mr. Bender protested, it ought to be handsome if the thing's
marked up! After which he looked at his watch. But I guess
I've got to go, Lord Theign, though your lovely old Duchessfor it's
to her I've lost my heartdoes cry out for me again.
You'll find her then still there, Lord John observed with
emphasis, but with his eyes for the time on Lord Theign; and if you
want another look at her I'll presently come and take one too.
I'll order your car to the garden-front, Lord Theign added to
this; you'll reach it from the saloon, but I'll see you again first.
Mr. Bender glared as with the round full force of his pair of motor
lamps. Well, if you're ready to talk about anything, I am. Good-bye,
Good-bye, Mr. Bender. But Hugh, addressing their host while his
fellow-guest returned to the saloon, broke into the familiarity of
confidence. As if you could be ready to 'talk'!
This produced on the part of the others present a mute exchange that
could only have denoted surprise at all the irrepressible young
outsider thus projected upon them took for granted. I've an idea,
said Lord John to his friend, that you're quite ready to talk with
Hugh then, with his appetite so richly quickened, could but rejoice.
Lady Grace spoke to me of things in the library.
You'll find it that wayLord Theign gave the indication.
Thanks, said Hugh elatedly, and hastened away.
Lord John, when he had gone, found relief in a quick comment. Very
sharp, no doubtbut he wants taking down.
The master of Dedborough wouldn't have put it so crudely, but the
young expert did bring certain things home. The people my daughters,
in the exercise of a wild freedom, do pick up!
Well, don't you see that all you've got to doon the question
we're dealing withis to claim your very own wild freedom? Surely I'm
right in feeling you, Lord John further remarked, to have jumped at
once to my idea that Bender is heaven-sentand at what they call the
psychologic moment, don't they?to point that moral. Why look anywhere
else for a sum of money thatsmaller or greateryou can find with
perfect ease in that extraordinarily bulging pocket?
Lord Theign, slowly pacing the hall again, threw up his hands. Ah,
with 'perfect ease' can scarcely be said!
Why not?when he absolutely thrusts his dirty dollars down your
Oh, I'm not talking of ease to him, Lord Theign
returnedI'm talking of ease to myself. I shall have to make a
Why not thenfor so great a conveniencegallantly make it?
Ah, my dear chap, if you want me to sell my Sir Joshua!
But the horror in the words said enough, and Lord John felt its
chill. I don't make a point of thatGod forbid! But there are other
things to which the objection wouldn't apply.
You see how it appliesin the case of the Moret-tofor him. A mere Moretto, said Lord Theign, is too cheapfor a Yankee 'on the
Then the Mantovano wouldn't be.
It remains to be proved that it is a Mantovano.
Well, said Lord John, go into it.
Hanged if I won't! his friend broke out after a moment. It
would suit me. I meanthe explanation came after a brief
intensity of thoughtthe possible size of his cheque would.
Oh, said Lord John gaily, I guess there's no limit to the
possible size of his cheque!
Yes, it would suit me, it would suit me! the elder man, standing
there, audibly mused. But his air changed and a lighter question came
up to him as he saw his daughter reappear at the door from the terrace.
Well, the infant horde? he immediately put to her.
Lady Grace came in, dutifully accounting for them. They've marched
offin a huge procession.
Thank goodness! And our friends?
All playing tennis, she saidsave those who are sitting it out.
To which she added, as to explain her return: Mr. Crimble has gone?
Lord John took upon him to say. He's in the library, to which you
addressed himmaking discoveries.
Not then, I hope, she smiled, to our disadvantage!
To your very great honour and glory. Lord John clearly valued the
effect he might produce.
Your Moretto of Bresciado you know what it really and spendidly
is? And then as the girl, in her surprise, but wondered: A Mantovano,
neither more nor less. Ever so much more swagger.
A Mantovano? Lady Grace echoed. Why, how tremendously jolly!
Her father was struck. Do you know the artistof whom I had never
Yes, something of the little that is known. And she
rejoiced as her knowledge came to her. He's a tremendous swell,
because, great as he was, there are but seven proved examples
With this of yours, Lord John broke in, there are eight.
Then why haven't I known about him? Lord Theign put it as if so
many other people were guilty for this.
His daughter was the first to plead for the vague body. Why, I
suppose in order that you should have exactly this pleasure, father.
Oh, pleasures not desired are like acquaintances not soughtthey
rather bore one! Lord Theign sighed. With which he moved away from
Her eyes followed him an instantthen she smiled at their guest.
Is he bored at having the higher prizeif you're sure it is
Mr. Crimble is surebecause if he isn't, Lord John added, he's a
Well, she returned, as he's certainly not a wretch it must be
true. And fancy, she exclaimed further, though as more particularly
for herself, our having suddenly incurred this immense debt to him!
Oh, I shall pay Mr. Crimble! said her father, who had turned
The whole question appeared to have provoked in Lord John a rise of
spirits and a flush of humour. Don't you let him stick it on.
His host, however, bethinking himself, checked him. Go you
to Mr. Bender straight!
Lord John saw the point. Yestill he leaves. But I shall find you
here, shan't I? he asked with all earnestness of Lady Grace.
She had an hesitation, but after a look at her father she assented.
I'll wait for you.
Then à tantôt! It made him show for happy as, waving his
hand at her, he proceeded to seek Mr. Bender in presence of the object
that most excited that gentleman's appetiteto say nothing of the
effect involved on Lord John's own.
Lord Theign, when he had gone, revolvedit might have been
nervouslyabout the place a little, but soon broke ground. He'll have
told you, I understand, that I've promised to speak to you for him. But
I understand also that he has found something to say for himself.
Yes, we talkeda while since, the girl said. At least he
Then if you listened I hope you listened with a good grace.
Oh, he speaks very welland I've never disliked him.
It pulled her father up. Is that allwhen I think so much
She seemed to say that she had, to her own mind, been liberal and
gone far; but she waited a little. Do you think very, very
Surely I've made my good opinion clear to you!
Again she had a pause. Oh yes, I've seen you like him and believe
in himand I've found him pleasant and clever.
He has never had, Lord Theign more or less ingeniously explained,
what I call a real show. But the character under discussion could
after all be summed up without searching analysis. I consider
nevertheless that there's plenty in him.
It was a moderate claim, to which Lady Grace might assent. He
strikes me as naturally quick andwell, nice. But I agree with you
than he hasn't had a chance.
Then if you can see your way by sympathy and confidence to help him
to one I dare say you'll find your reward.
For a third time she considered, as if a certain curtness in her
companion's manner rather hindered, in such a question, than helped.
Didn't he simplify too much, you would have felt her ask, and wasn't
his visible wish for brevity of debate a sign of his uncomfortable and
indeed rather irritated sense of his not making a figure in it? Do you
desire it very particularly? was, however, all she at last brought
I should like it exceedinglyif you act from conviction. Then of
course only; but of one thing I'm myself convincedof what he thinks
of yourself and feels for you.
Then would you mind my waiting a little? she asked. I mean to be
absolutely sure of myself. After which, on his delaying to agree, she
added frankly, as to help her case: Upon my word, father, I should
like to do what would please you.
But it determined in him a sharper impatience. Ah, what would
please me! Don't put it off on 'me'! Judge absolutely for
yourselfhe slightly took himself upin the light of my having
consented to do for him what I always hate to do: deviate from
my normal practice of never intermeddling. If I've deviated now you can
judge. But to do so all round, of course, takein reason!your time.
May I ask then, she said, for still a little more?
He looked for this, verily, as if it was not in reason. You know,
he then returned, what he'll feel that a sign of.
Well, I'll tell him what I mean.
Then I'll send him to you.
He glanced at his watch and was going, but after a Thanks, father,
she had stopped him. There's one thing more. An embarrassment showed
in her manner, but at the cost of some effect of earnest abruptness she
surmounted it. What does your AmericanMr. Benderwant?
Lord Theign plainly felt the challenge. 'My' American? He's none of
Well then Lord John's.
He's none of his eithermore, I mean, than any one else's. He's
every one's American, literallyto all appearance; and I've not to
tell you, surely, with the freedom of your own visitors, how
people stalk in and out here.
No, fathercertainly, she said. You're splendidly generous.
His eyes seemed rather sharply to ask her then how he could improve
on that; but he added as if it were enough: What the man must by this
time want more than anything else is his car.
Not then anything of ours? she still insisted.
Of 'ours'? he echoed with a frown. Are you afraid he has an eye
to something of yours?
Why, if we've a new treasurewhich we certainly have if we possess
a Mantovanohaven't we all, even I, an immense interest in it? And
before he could answer, Is that exposed? she asked.
Lord Theign, a little unready, cast about at his storied halls; any
illusion to the exposure of the objects they so solidly sheltered was
obviously unpleasant to him. But then it was as if he found at a stroke
both his own reassurance and his daughter's. How can there be a
question of it when he only wants Sir Joshuas?
He wants ours? the girl gasped.
At absolutely any price.
But you're not, she cried, discussing it?
He hesitated as between chiding and contenting herthen he
handsomely chose. My dear child, for what do you take me? With which
he impatiently started, through the long and stately perspective, for
She sank into a chair when he had gone; she sat there some moments
in a visible tension of thought, her hands clasped in her lap and her
dropped eyes fixed and unperceiving; but she sprang up as Hugh Crimble,
in search of her, again stood before her. He presented himself as with
What luck to find you! I must take my spin back.
You've seen everything as you wished?
Oh, he smiled, I've seen wonders.
She showed her pleasure. Yes, we've got some things.
So Mr. Bender says! he laughed. You've got five or six
Only five or six? she cried in bright alarm.
'Only'? he continued to laugh. Why, that's enormous, five or six
things of the first importance! But I think I ought to mention to you,
he added, a most barefaced 'Rubens' there in the library.
It isn't a Rubens?
No more than I'm a Ruskin.
Then you'll brand usexpose us for it?
No, I'll let you offI'll be quiet if you're good, if you go
straight. I'll only hold it in terrorem. One can't be sure in
these dreadful daysthat's always to remember; so that if you're not
good I'll come down on you with it. But to balance against that
threat, he went on, I've made the very grandest find. At least I
believe I have!
She was all there for this news. Of the Manto-vanohidden in the
Hugh wonderedalmost as if she had been before him. You don't mean
to say you've had the idea of that?
No, but my father has told me.
And is your father, he eagerly asked, really gratified?
With her conscious eyes on himher eyes could clearly be very
conscious about her fathershe considered a moment. He always prefers
old associations and appearances to new; but I'm sure he'll resign
himself if you see your way to a certainty.
Well, it will be a question of the weight of expert opinion that I
shall invoke. But I'm not afraid, he resolutely said, and I shall
make the thing, from its splendid rarity, the crown and flower of your
Her serious face shone at him with a charmed gratitude. It's
awfully beautiful then your having come to us so. It's awfully
beautiful your having brought us this way, in a flashas dropping out
of a chariot of firemore light and what you apparently feel with
myself as more honour.
Ah, the beauty's in your having yourself done it! he returned. He
gave way to the positive joy of it. If I've brought the 'light' and
the restthat's to say the very useful informationwho in the world
was it brought me?
She had a gesture of protest You'd have come in some other way.
I'm not so sure! I'm beastly shylittle as I may seem to show it:
save in great causes, when I'm horridly bold and hideously offensive.
Now at any rate I only know what has been. She turned off for
it, moving away from him as with a sense of mingled things that made
for unrest; and he had the next moment grown graver under the
impression. But does anything in it all, he asked, trouble you?
She faced about across the wider space, and there was a different
note in what she brought out. I don't know what forces me so to
tell you things.
'Tell' me? he stared. Why, you've told me nothing more monstrous
than that I've been welcome!
Well, however that may be, what did you mean just now by the chance
of our not 'going straight'? When you said you'd expose our bador is
it our false?Rubens in the event of a certain danger.
Oh, in the event of your ever being bribedhe laughed again as
with relief. And then as her face seemed to challenge the word: Why,
to let anythingof your best!ever leave Dedborough. By which I mean
really of course leave the country. She turned again on this, and
something in her air made him wonder. I hope you don't feel there
is such a danger? I understood from you half an hour ago that it
Well, it was, to me, half an hour ago, she said as she came
nearer. But if it has since come up?
'If' it has! But has it? In the form of that monster? What
Mr. Bender wants is the great Duchess, he recalled.
And my father won't sell her? No, he won't sell the great
Duchessthere I feel safe. But he greatly needs a certain sum of
moneyor he thinks he doesand I've just had a talk with him.
In which he has told you that?
He has told me nothing, Lady Grace saidor else told me quite
other things. But the more I think of them the more it comes to me that
he feels urged or tempted
To despoil and denude these walls? Hugh broke in, looking about in
his sharper apprehension.
Yes, to satisfy, to save my sister. Now do you think our
state so ideal? she askedbut without elation for her hint of
He had no answer for this save Ah, but you terribly interest me.
May I ask what's the matter with your sister?
Oh, she wanted to go on straight now! The matter isin the first
placethat she's too dazzlingly, dreadfully beautiful.
More beautiful than you? his sincerity easily risked.
Millions of times. Sad, almost sombre, she hadn't a shade of
coquetry. Kitty has debtsgreat heaped-up gaming debts.
But to such amounts?
Incredible amounts it appears. And mountains of others too. She
throws herself all on our father.
And he has to pay them? There's no one else? Hugh asked.
She waited as if he might answer himself, and then as he apparently
didn't, He's only afraid there may be some elsethat's how she
makes him do it, she said. And Now do you think, she pursued, that
I don't tell you things?
He turned them over in his young perception and pity, the things she
told him. Oh, oh, oh! And then, in the great place, while as, just
spent by the effort of her disclosure, she moved from him again, he
took them all in. That's the situation that, as you say, may force his
It absolutely, I feel, does force it. And the renewal of her
appeal brought her round. Isn't it too lovely?
His frank disgust answered. It's too damnable!
And it's you, she quite terribly smiled, whoby the 'irony of
fate'!have given him help.
He smote his head in the light of it. By the Mantovano?
By the possible Mantovanoas a substitute for the impossible Sir
Joshua. You've made him aware of a value.
Ah, but the value's to be fixed!
Then Mr. Bender will fix it!
Oh, butas he himself would sayI'll fix Mr. Bender! Hugh
declared. And he won't buy a pig in a poke.
This cleared the air while they looked at each other; yet she had
already asked: What in the world can you do, and how in the world can
you do it?
Well, he was too excited for decision. I don't quite see now, but
give me time. And he took out his watch as already to measure it.
Oughtn't I before I go to say a word to Lord Theign?
Is it your idea to become a lion in his path?
Well, say a cubas that's what I'm afraid he'll call me! But I
think I should speak to him.
She drew a conclusion momentarily dark. He'll have to learn in that
case that I've told you of my fear.
And is there any good reason why he shouldn't?
She kept her eyes on him and the darkness seemed to clear. No! she
at last replied, and, having gone to touch an electric bell, was with
him again. But I think I'm rather sorry for you.
Does that represent a reason why I should be so for you?
For a little she said nothing; but after that: None whatever!
Then is the sister of whom you speak Lady Imber?
Lady Grace, at this, raised her hand in caution: the butler had
arrived, with due gravity, in answer to her ring; to whom she made
known her desire. Please say to his lordshipin the saloon or
whereverthat Mr. Crimble must go. When Banks had departed, however,
accepting the responsibility of this mission, she answered her friend's
question. The sister of whom I speak is Lady Imber.
She loses then so heavily at bridge?
She loses more than she wins.
Hugh gazed as with interest at these oddities of the great. And yet
she still plays?
What else, in her set, should she do?
This he was quite unable to say; but he could after a moment's
exhibition of the extent to which he was out of it put a question
instead. So you're not in her set?
I'm not in her set.
Then decidedly, he said, I don't want to save her. I only want
He was going on, but she broke in: I know what you want!
He kept his eyes on her till he had made sureand this deep
exchange between them had a beauty. So you're now with me?
I'm now with you!
Then, said Hugh, shake hands on it
He offered her his hand, she took it, and their grasp became, as you
would have seen in their fine young faces, a pledge in which they stood
a minute locked. Lord Theign came upon them from the saloon in the
midst of the process; on which they separated as with an air of its
having consisted but of Hugh's leave-taking. With some such form of
mere civility, at any rate, he appeared, by the manner in which he
addressed himself to Hugh, to have supposed them occupied.
I'm sorry my daughter can't keep you; but I must at least thank you
for your interesting view of my picture.
Hugh indulged in a brief and mute, though very grave, acknowledgment
of this expression; presently speaking, however, as on a resolve taken
with a sense of possibly awkward consequences: May Ibefore you're
sure of your indebtednessput you rather a straight question, Lord
Theign? It sounded doubtless, and of a sudden, a little portentousas
was in fact testified to by his lordship's quick stiff stare, full of
wonder at so free a note. But Hugh had the courage of his undertaking.
If I contribute in ny modest degree to establishing the true
authorship of the work you speak of, may I have from you an assurance
that my success isn't to serve as a basis for any perilor
possibilityof its leaving the country?
Lord Theign was visibly astonished, but had also, independently of
this, turned a shade pale. You ask of me an 'assurance'?
Hugh had now, with his firmness and his strained smile, quite the
look of having counted the cost of his step. I'm afraid I must,
It pressed at once in his host the spring of a very grand manner.
And pray by what right here do you do anything of the sort?
By the right of a person from whom you, on your side, are accepting
Hugh had clearly determined in his opponent a rise of what is called
spirit. A service that you half an hour ago thrust on me, sirand
with which you may take it from me that I'm already quite prepared to
I'm sorry to appear indiscreet, our young man returned; I'm sorry
to have upset you in any way. But I can't overcome my anxiety
Lord Theign took the words from his lips. And you therefore invite
meat the end of half an hour in this house!to account to you for my
personal intentions and my private affairs and make over my freedom to
Hugh stood there with his eyes on the black and white pavement that
stretched about himthe great loz-enged marble floor that might have
figured that ground of his own vision which he had made up his mind to
stand. I can only see the matter as I see it, and I should be
ashamed not to have seized any chance to appeal to you. Whatever
difficulty he had had shyly to face didn't exist for him now. I
entreat you to think again, to think well, before you deprive us
of such a source of just envy.
And you regard your entreaty as helped, Lord Theign asked, by the
beautiful threat you are so good as to attach to it? Then as his
monitor, arrested, exchanged a searching look with Lady Grace, who,
showing in her face all the pain of the business, stood off at the
distance to which a woman instinctively retreats when a scene turns to
violence as precipitately as this one appeared to strike her as having
turned: I ask you that not less than I should like to know whom you
speak of as 'deprived' of property that happensfor reasons that I
don't suppose you also quarrel with!to be mine.
Well, I know nothing about threats, Lord Theign, Hugh said, but I
speak of all of usof all the people of England; who would
deeply deplore such an act of alienation, and whom, for the interest
they bear you, I beseech you mercifully to consider.
The interest they bear me?the master of Dedborough fairly
bristled with wonder. Pray how the devil do they show it?
I think they show it in all sorts of waysand Hugh's critical
smile, at almost any moment hovering, played over the question in a
manner seeming to convey that he meant many things.
Understand then, please, said Lord Theign with every inch of his
authority, that they'll show it best by minding their own business
while I very particularly mind mine.
You simply do, in other words, Hugh explicitly concluded, what
happens to be convenient to you.
In very distinct preference to what happens to be convenient to
you! So that I need no longer detain you, Lord Theign added with
the last dryness and as if to wind up their brief and thankless
The young man took his dismissal, being able to do no less, while,
unsatisfied and unhappy, he looked about mechanically for the
cycling-cap he had laid down somewhere in the hall on his arrival. I
apologise, my lord, if I seem to you to have ill repaid your
hospitality. But, he went on with his uncommended cheer, my interest
in your picture remains.
Lady Grace, who had stopped and strayed and stopped again as a mere
watchful witness, drew nearer hereupon, breaking her silence for the
first time. And please let me say, father, that mine also grows and
It was obvious that this parent, surprised and disconcerted by her
tone, judged her contribution superfluous. I'm happy to hear it,
Gracebut yours is another affair.
I think on the contrary that it's quite the same one, she
returnedsince it's on my hint to him that Mr. Crimble has said to
you what he has. The resolution she had gathered while she awaited her
chance sat in her charming eyes, which met, as she spoke, the
straighter paternal glare. I let him know that I supposed you to think
of profiting by the importance of Mr. Bender's visit.
Then you might have spared, my dear, yourI suppose and hope
well-meantinterpretation of my mind. Lord Theign showed himself at
this point master of the beautiful art of righting himself as without
having been in the wrong. Mr. Bender's visit will terminateas soon
as he has released Lord Johnwithout my having profited in the
Hugh meanwhile evidently but wanted to speak for his friend. It was
Lady Grace's anxious inference, she will doubtless let me say for her,
that my idea about the Moretto would add to your powerwell, he
pushed on not without awkwardness, of 'realising' advantageously on
such a prospective rise.
Lord Theign glanced at him as for positively the last time, but
spoke to Lady Grace. Understand then, please, that, as I detach myself
from any association with this gentleman's ideaswhether about the
Moretto or about anything elsehis further application of them ceases
from this moment to concern us.
The girl's rejoinder was to address herself directly to Hugh, across
their companion. Will you make your inquiry for me then?
The light again kindled in him. With all the pleasure in life! He
had found his cap and, taking them together, bowed to the two, for
departure, with high emphasis of form. Then he marched off in the
direction from which he had entered.
Lord Theign scarce waited for his disappearance to turn in wrath to
Lady Grace. I denounce the indecency, wretched child, of your public
defiance of me!
They were separated by a wide interval now, and though at her
distance she met his reproof so unshrinkingly as perhaps to justify the
terms into which it had broken, she became aware of a reason for his
not following it up. She pronounced in quick warning Lord John!for
their friend, released from among the pictures, was rejoining them, was
He spoke straight to his host on coming into sight. Bender's at
last off, buthe indicated the direction of the garden frontyou
may still find him, out yonder, prolonging the agony with Lady
Lord Theign remained a moment, and the heat of his resentment
remained. He looked with a divided discretion, the pain of his
indecision, from his daughter's suitor and his approved candidate to
that contumacious young woman and back again; then choosing his course
in silence he had a gesture of almost desperate indifference and passed
quickly out by the door to the terrace.
It had left Lord John gaping. What on earth's the matter with your
What on earth indeed? Lady Grace unaidingly asked. Is he
discussing with that awful man?
Old Bender? Do you think him so awful? Lord John showed
surprisewhich might indeed have passed for harmless amusement; but he
shook everything off in view of a nearer interest. He quite waved old
Bender away. My dear girl, what do we care?
I care immensely, I assure you, she interrupted, and I ask of
you, please, to tell me!
Her perversity, coming straight and which he had so little expected,
threw him back so that he looked at her with sombre eyes. Ah, it's not
for such a matter I'm here, Lady GraceI'm here with that fond
question of my own. And then as she turned away, leaving him with a
vehement motion of protest: I've come for your kind answerthe answer
your father instructed me to count on.
I've no kind answer to give you!she raised forbidding hands. I
entreat you to leave me alone.
There was so high a spirit and so strong a force in it that he
stared as if stricken by violence. In God's name then what has
happenedwhen you almost gave me your word?
What has happened is that I've found it impossible to listen to
you. And she moved as if fleeing she scarce knew whither before him.
He had already hastened around another way, however, as to meet her
in her quick circuit of the hall. That's all you've got to say to me
after what has passed between us?
He had stopped her thus, but she had also stopped him, and her
passionate denial set him a limit. I've got to saysorry as I
amthat if you must have an answer it's this: that never, Lord
John, never, can there be anything more between us. And her gesture
cleared her path, permitting her to achieve her flight. Never, no,
never, she repeated as she wentnever, never, never! She got off by
the door at which she had been aiming to some retreat of her own, while
aghast and defeated, left to make the best of it, he sank after a
moment into a chair and remained quite pitiably staring before him,
appealing to the great blank splendour.
LADY SANDGATE, on a morning late in May, entered her drawing-room by
the door that opened at the right of that charming retreat as a person
coming in faced Bruton Street; and she met there at this moment Mr.
Gotch, her butler, who had just appeared in the much wider doorway
forming opposite the Bruton Street windows an apartment not less ample,
lighted from the back of the house and having its independent
connection with the upper floors and the lower. She showed surprise at
not immediately finding the visitor to whom she had been called.
But Mr. Crimble?
Here he is, my lady. And he made way for that gentleman, who
emerged from the back room; Gotch observing the propriety of a prompt
I went in for a minute, with your servant's permission, Hugh
explained, to see your famous Lawrencewhich is splendid; he was so
good as to arrange the light. The young man's dress was of a form less
relaxed than on the occasion of his visit to Dedborough; yet the soft
felt hat that he rather restlessly crumpled as he talked marked the
limit of his sacrifice to vain appearances.
Lady Sandgate was at once interested in the punctuality of his
reported act. Gotch thinks as much of my grandmother as I doand even
seems to have ended by taking her for his very own.
One sees, unmistakably, from her beauty, that you at any rate are
of her line, Hugh allowed himself, not without confidence, the
amusement of replying; and I must make sure of another look at her
when I've a good deal more time.
His hostess heard him as with a lapse of hope. You hadn't then come
for the poor dear? And then as he obviously hadn't, but for
something quite else: I thought, from so prompt an interest, that she
might be coveted! It dropped with a yearning sigh.
You imagined me sent by some prowling collector? Hugh asked. Ah,
I shall never do their workunless to betray them: that I
shouldn't in the least mind!and I'm here, frankly, at this early
hour, to ask your consent to my seeing Lady Grace a moment on a
particular business, if she can kindly give me time.
You've known then of her being with me?
I've known of her coming to you straight on leaving Dedborough, he
explained; of her wishing not to go to her sister's, and of Lord
Theign's having proceeded, as they say, or being on the point of
proceeding, to some foreign part.
And you've learnt it from having seen herthese three or four
I've met herbut just barelytwo or three times: at a 'private
view' at the opera, in the lobby, and that sort of thing. But she
hasn't told you?
Lady Sandgate neither affirmed nor denied; she only turned on him
her thick lustre. I wanted to see how much you'd tell. She
waited even as for more, but this not coming she helped herself. Once
again at dinner?
Yes, but alas not near her!
Once then at a private view?when, with the squash they usually
are, you might have been very near her indeed!
The young man, his hilarity quickened, took but a moment for the
truth. Yesit was a squash!
And once, his hostess pursued, in the lobby of the opera?
After 'Tristan'yes; but with some awful grand people I didn't
She recognised; she estimated the grandeur. Oh, the Pennimans are
nobody! But now, she asked, you've come, you say, on 'business'?
Very important, pleasewhich accounts for the hour I've ventured
and the appearance I present.
I don't ask you too much to 'account,' Lady Sandgate kindly said;
but I can't not wonder if she hasn't told you what things have
He cast about. She has had no chance to tell me anythingbeyond
the fact of her being here.
Without the reason?
'The reason'? he echoed.
She gave it up, going straighter. She's with me then as an old firm
friend. Under my care and protection.
I seehe took it, with more penetration than enthusiasm, as a
hint in respect to himself. She puts you on your guard.
Lady Sandgate expressed it more graciously. She puts me on my
honouror at least her father does.
As to her seeing me
As to my seeing at leastwhat may happen to her.
Becauseyou saythings have happened?
His companion fairly sounded him. You've only talkedwhen you've
Well, he smiled, 'art is long'!
Then I hope it may see you through! But you should know first that
Lord Theign is presently due
Here, back already from abroad?he was all alert.
He has not yet gonehe comes up this morning to start.
And stops here on his way?
To take the train de luxe this afternoon to his annual
Salsomaggiore. But with so little time to spare, she went on
reassuringly, that, to simplifyas he wired me an hour ago from
Dedboroughhe has given rendezvous here to Mr. Bender, who is
particularly to wait for him.
And who may therefore arrive at any moment?
She looked at her bracelet watch. Scarcely before noon. So you'll
just have your chance
Thank the powers then!Hugh grasped at it. I shall have it best
if you'll be so good as to tell me firstwell, he faltered, what it
is that, to my great disquiet, you've further alluded to; what it is
that has occurred.
Lady Sandgate took her time, but her good-nature and other
sentiments pronounced. Haven't you at least guessed that she has
fallen under her father's extreme reprobation?
Yes, so much as thatthat she must have greatly annoyed himI
have been supposing. But isn't it by her having asked me to act for
her? I mean about the Mantovanowhich I have done.
Lady Sandgate wondered. You've 'acted'?
It's what I've come to tell her at lastand I'm all impatience.
I see, I seeshe had caught a clue. He hated thatyes; but you
haven't really made out, she put to him, the other effect of
your hour at Dedborough? She recognised, however, while she spoke,
that his divination had failed, and she didn't trouble him to confess
it. Directly you had gone she 'turned down' Lord John. Declined, I
mean, the offer of his hand in marriage.
Hugh was clearly as much mystified as anything else. He proposed
He had spoken, that day, beforebefore your talk with Lord
Theign, who had every confidence in her accepting him. But you came,
Mr. Crimble, you went; and when her suitor reappeared, just after you
had gone, for his answer
She wouldn't have him? Hugh asked with a precipitation of
But Lady Sandgate could humour almost any curiosity. She wouldn't
look at him.
He bethought himself. But had she said she would?
So her father indignantly considers.
That's the ground of his indignation?
He had his reasons for counting on her, and it has determined a
Hugh Crimble turned this overfeeling apparently for something he
didn't find. I'm sorry to hear such things, but where's the connection
Ah, you know best yourself, and if you don't see any-! In that
case, Lady Sandgate's motion implied, she washed her hands of it.
Hugh had for a moment the air of a young man treated to the sweet
chance to guess a conundrumwhich he gave up. I really don't see any,
Lady Sandgate. But, he a little inconsistently said, I'm greatly
obliged to you for telling me.
Don't mention it!though I think it is good of me, she
smiled, on so short an acquaintance. To which she added more gravely:
I leave you the situationbut I'm willing to let you know that I'm
all on Grace's side.
So am I, rather!please let me frankly say.
He clearly refreshed, he even almost charmed her. It's the very
least you can say!though I'm not sure whether you say it as the
simplest or as the very subtlest of men. But in case you don't know as
I do how little the particular candidate I've named
Had a right or a claim to succeed with her? he broke inall quick
intelligence here at least. No, I don't perhaps know as well as you
dobut I think I know as well as I just yet require.
There you are then! And if you did prevent, his hostess maturely
pursued, what wouldn't have beenwell, good or nice, I'm quite on
your side too.
Our young man seemed to feel the shade of ambiguity, but he reached
at a meaning. You're with me in my plea for our defending at any cost
of effort or ingenuity
The precious picture Lord Theign exposes?she took his presumed
sense faster than he had taken hers. But she hung fire a moment with
her reply to it. Well, will you keep the secret of everything I've
said or say?
To the death, to the stake, Lady Sandgate!
Then, she momentously returned, I only want, too, to make Bender
impossible. If you ask me, she pursued, how I arrange that with my
deep loyalty to Lord Theign
I don't ask you anything of the sort, he interruptedI wouldn't
ask you for the world; and my own bright plan for achieving the coup
You'll have time, at the most, she said, consulting afresh her
bracelet watch, to explain to Lady Grace. She reached an electric
bell, which she touchedfacing then her visitor again with an abrupt
and slightly embarrassed change of tone. You do think my great
He had strayed far from it and all too languidly came back. Your
Lawrence there? As I said, magnificent.
But the butler had come in, interrupting, straight from the lobby;
of whom she made her request. Let her ladyship knowMr. Crimble.
Gotch looked hard at Hugh and the crumpled hatalmost as if having
an option. But he resigned himself to repeating, with a distinctness
that scarce fell short of the invidious, Mr. Crimble, and departed on
Lady Sandgate's fair flush of diplomacy had meanwhile not faded.
Couldn't you, with your immense cleverness and power, get the
Government to do something?
About your picture? Hugh betrayed on this head a graceless
detachment. You too then want to sell?
Oh she righted herself. Never to a private party!
Mr. Bender's not after it? he askedthough scarce lighting his
reluctant interest with a forced smile.
Most intensely after it. But never, cried the proprietress, to a
Then I applaud your patriotism. Only why not, he asked, carrying
that magnanimity a little further, set us all an example as splendid as
the object itself?
Give it you for nothing? She threw up shocked hands. Because I'm
an aged female pauper and can't make every sacrifice.
Hugh pretendednone too convincinglyto think. Will you let them
have it very cheap?
Yesfor less than such a bribe as Bender's.
Ah, he said expressively, that might be, and still!
Well, she had a flare of fond confidence. I'll find out what
he'll offerif you'll on your side do what you canand then ask them
a third less. And she followed it upas if suddenly conceiving him a
prig. See here, Mr. Crimble, I've beenand this very first time
Icharming to you.
You have indeed, he returned; but you throw back on it a lurid
light if it has all been for that!
It has beenwell, to keep things as I want them; and if I've given
you precious information mightn't you on your side
Estimate its value in cash?Hugh sharply took her up. Ah, Lady
Sandgate, I am in your debt, but if you really bargain for your
precious information I'd rather we assume that I haven't enjoyed it.
She made him, however, in reply, a sign for silence; she had heard
Lady Grace enter the other room from the back landing, and, reaching
the nearer door, she disposed of the question with high gay bravery. I
won't bargain with the Treasury!she had passed out by the time Lady
As Hugh recognised in this friend's entrance and face the light of
welcome he went, full of his subject, straight to their main affair. I
haven't been able to wait, I've wanted so much to tell youI mean how
I've just come back from Brussels, where I saw Pappen-dick, who was
free and ready, by the happiest chance, to start for Verona, which he
must have reached some time yesterday.
The girl's responsive interest fairly broke into rapture. Ah, the
dear sweet thing!
Yes, he's a brickbut the question now hangs in the balance.
Allowing him time to have got into relation with the picture, I've
begun to expect his wire, which will probably come to my club; but my
fidget, while I wait, has driven mehe threw out and dropped his arms
in expression of his soft surrenderwell, just to do this: to
come to you here, in my fever, at an unnatural hour and uninvited, and
at least let you know I've 'acted.'
Oh, but I simply rejoice, Lady Grace declared, to be acting
Then if you are, if you are, the young man cried, why
everything's beautiful and right!
It's all I care for and think of now, she went on in her bright
devotion, and I've only wondered and hoped!
Well, Hugh found for it all a rapid, abundant lucidity. He was away
from home at first, and I had to waitbut I crossed last week, found
him and settled incoming home by Paris, where I had a grand four days'
jaw with the fellows there and saw their great specimen of our
master: all of which has given him time.
And now his time's up? the girl eagerly asked.
It must beand we shall see. But Hugh postponed that
question to a matter of more moment still. The thing is that at last
I'm able to tell you how I feel the trouble I've brought you.
It made her, quickly colouring, rest grave eyes on him. What do you
knowwhen I haven't told youabout my 'trouble'?
Can't I have guessed, with a ray of intelligence?he had his
answer ready. You've sought asylum with this good friend from the
effects of your father's resentment.
'Sought asylum' is perhaps excessive, Lady Grace returnedthough
it wasn't pleasant with him after that hour, no, she allowed. And I
couldn't go, you see, to Kitty.
No indeed, you couldn't go to Kitty. He smiled at her hard as he
added: I should have liked to see you go to Kitty! Therefore exactly
is it that I've set you adriftthat I've darkened and poisoned your
days. You're paying with your comfort, with your peace, for having
joined so gallantly in my grand remonstrance.
She shook her head, turning from him, but then turned back againas
if accepting, as if even relieved by, this version of the prime cause
of her state. Why do you talk of it as 'paying'if it's all to come
back to my being paid? I mean by your blest successif you
really do what you want.
I have your word for it, he searchingly said, that our really
pulling it off together will make up to you?
I should be ashamed if it didn't, for everything!she took the
question from his mouth. I believe in such a cause exactly as you
doand found a lesson, at Dedborough, in your frankness and your
Then you'll help me no end, he said all simply and sincerely.
You've helped me alreadythat she gave him straight back.
And on it they stayed a moment, their strenuous faces more intensely
You're very wonderfulfor a girl! Hugh brought out.
One has to be a girl, naturally, to be a daughter of one's
house, she laughed; and that's all I am of oursbut a true and a
right and a straight one.
He glowed with his admiration. You're splendid!
That might be or not, her light shrug intimated; she gave it, at any
rate, the go-by and more exactly stated her case. I see our
So do I, Lady Grace! he cried with the strongest emphasis. And
your father only doesn't.
Yes, she said for intelligent correctionhe sees it, there's
nothing in life he sees so much. But unfortunately he sees it all
Hugh seized her point of view as if there had been nothing of her
that he wouldn't have seized. He sees it all wrong then! My appeal the
other day he took as a rude protest. And any protest
Any protest, she quickly and fully agreed, he takes as an
offence, yes. It's his theory that he still has rights, she smiled,
though he is a miserable peer.
How should he not have rights, said Hugh, when he has really
everything on earth?
Ah, he doesn't even know thathe takes it so much for
granted. And she sought, though as rather sadly and despairingly, to
explain. He lives all in his own world.
He lives all in his own, yes; but he does business all in
oursquite as much as the people who come up to the city in the Tube.
With which Hugh had a still sharper recall of the stiff actual. And he
must be here to do business to-day.
You know, Lady Grace asked, that he's to meet Mr. Bender?
Lady Sandgate kindly warned me, and, her companion saw as he
glanced at the clock on the chimney, I've only ten minutes, at best.
The 'Journal' won't have been good for him, he addedyou doubtless
have seen the 'Journal'?
Noshe was vague. We live by the 'Morning Post.'
That's why our friend here didn't speak then, Hugh said with a
better lightwhich, out of a dim consideration for her, I didn't do,
either. But they've a leader this morning about Lady Lappington and her
Longhi, and on Bender and his hauls, and on the certaintyif we don't
do something energeticof more and more Benders to come: such a
conquering horde as invaded the old civilisation, only armed now with
huge cheque-books instead of with spears and battle-axes. They refer to
the rumour currentas too horrific to believeof Lord Theign's
putting up his Moretto; with the question of how properly to qualify
any such sad purpose in him should the further report prove true of a
new and momentous opinion about the picture entertained by several
Of whom, said the girl, intensely attached to this recital,
you're of course seen as not the least.
Of whom, of course, Lady Grace, I'm as yethowever I'm 'seen'the
whole collection. But we've timehe rested on that The fat, if
you'll allow me the expression, is on the firewhich, as I see the
matter, is where this particular fat should be.
Is the article, then, his companion appealed, very severe?
I prefer to call it very enlightened and very intelligentand the
great thing is that it immensely 'marks,' as they say. It will have
made a big public differencefrom this day; though it's of course
aimed not so much at persons as at conditions; which it calls upon us
all somehow to tackle.
Exactlyshe was full of the saving vision; but as the conditions
are directly embodied in persons
Oh, of course it here and there bells the cat; which means that it
bells three or four.
Yes, she richly broodedLady Lappington is a cat!
She will have been 'belled,' at any rate, with your father, Hugh
amusedly went on, to the certainty of a row; and a row can only be
good for usI mean for us in particular. Yet he had to bethink
himself. The case depends a good deal of course on how your father
takes such a resounding rap.
Oh, I know how he'll take it!her perception went all the way.
In the very highest and properest spirit?
Well, you'll see. She was as brave as she was clear. Or at least
Struck with all this in her he renewed his homage. You are,
I even, she laughed, surprise myself.
But he was already back at his calculations. How early do the
papers get to you?
At Dedborough? Oh, quite for breakfastwhich isn't, however, very
Then that's what has caused his wire to Bender.
But how will such talk strike him? the girl asked.
Hugh meanwhile, visibly, had not only followed his train of thought,
he had let it lead him to certainty. It will have moved Mr. Bender to
Rather, Lady Grace wondered, than have put him off?
It will have put him prodigiously on! Mr. Benderas he said
to me at Dedborough of his noble host there, Hugh pursuedis 'a very
nice man'; but he's a product of the world of advertisment, and
advertisement is all he sees and aims at. He lives in it as a saint in
glory or a fish in water.
She took it from him as half doubting. But mayn't advertisement, in
so special a case, turn, on the whole, against him?
Hugh shook a negative forefinger with an expression he might have
caught from foreign comrades. He rides the biggest whirlwindhe has
got it saddled and bitted.
She faced the image, but cast about Then where does our success
In our making the beast, all the same, bolt with him and throw
him. And Hugh further pointed the moral. If in such proceedings all
he knows is publicity the thing is to give him publicity, and it's only
a question of giving him enough. By the time he has enough for himself,
you see, he'll have too much for every one elseso that we shall 'up'
in a body and slay him.
The girl's eyebrows, in her wondering face, rose to a question. But
if he has meanwhile got the picture?
We'll slay him before he gets it! He revelled in the breadth of
his view. Our own policy must be to organise to that end the
inevitable outcry. Organise Bender himselforganise him to scandal.
Hugh had already even pity to spare for their victim. He won't know it
from a boom.
Though carried along, however, Lady Grace could still measure. But
that will be only if he wants and decides for the picture.
We must make him then want and decide for itdecide, that is, for
'ours.' To save it we must work him uphe'll in that case want it so
indecently much. Then we shall have to want it more!
Well, she anxiously felt it her duty to remind him, you can take
a horse to water!
Oh, trust me to make him drink!
There appeared a note in this that convinced her. It's you, Mr.
Crimble, who are 'splendid'!
Well, I shall bewith my jolly wire! And all on that scent again,
May I come back to you from the club with Pappendick's news? he
Why, rather, of course, come back!
Only not, he debated, till your father has left.
Lady Grace considered too, but sharply decided. Come when you
have it. But tell me first, she added, one thing. She hung fire
a little while he waited, but she brought it out. Was it you who got
the 'Journal' to speak?
Ah, one scarcely 'gets' the 'Journal'!
Who then gave them their 'tip'?
About the Mantovano and its peril? Well, he took a momentbut
only not to say; in addition to which the butler had reappeared,
entering from the lobby. I'll tell you, he laughed, when I come
Gotch had his manner of announcement while the visitor was mounting
the stairs. Mr. Breckenridge Bender!
Ah then I go, said Lady Grace at once.
I'll stay three minutes. Hugh turned with her, alertly, to the
easier issue, signalling hope and cheer from that threshold as he
watched her disappear; after which he faced about with as brave a smile
and as ready for immediate action as if she had there within kissed her
hand to him. Mr. Bender emerged at the same instant, Gotch withdrawing
and closing the door behind him; and the former personage, recognising
his young friend, threw up his hands for friendly pleasure.
Ah, Mr. Crimble, he cordially inquired, you've come with your
Hugh caught the allusion, it would have seemed, but after a moment.
News of the Moretto? No, Mr. Bender, I haven't news yet. But
he added as with high candour for the visitor's motion of
disappointment: I think I warned you, you know, that it would take
three or four weeks.
Well, in my country, Mr. Bender returned with disgust, it
would take three or four minutes! Can't you make 'em step more lively?
I'm expecting, sir, said Hugh good-humouredly, a report from hour
Then will you let me have it right off?
Hugh indulged in a pause; after which very frankly: Ah, it's
scarcely for you, Mr. Bender, that I'm acting!
The great collector was but briefly checked. Well, can't you just
act for Art?
Oh, you're doing that yourself so powerfully, Hugh laughed, that
I think I had best leave it to you!
His friend looked at him as some inspector on circuit might look at
a new improvement. Don't you want to go round acting with me?
Go 'on tour,' as it were? Oh, frankly, Mr. Bender, Hugh said, if
I had any weight!
You'd add it to your end of the beam? Why, what have I done that
you should go back on meafter working me up so down there? The
worst I've done, Mr. Bender continued, is to refuse that Moretto.
Has it deplorably been offered you? our young man cried,
unmistakably and sincerely affected. After which he went on, as his
fellow-visitor only eyed him hard, not, on second thoughts, giving the
owner of the great work away: Then why are youas if you were a
banished Romeoso keen for news from Verona? To this odd mixture of
business and literature Mr. Bender made no reply, contenting himself
with but a large vague blandness that wore in him somehow the mark of
tested utility; so that Hugh put him another question: Aren't you
here, sir, on the chance of the Mantovano?
I'm here, he then imperturbably said, because Lord Theign has
wired me to meet him. Ain't you here for that yourself?
Hugh betrayed for a moment his enjoyment of a big choice of
answers. Dear, no! I've but been in, by Lady Sandgate's leave, to see
that grand Lawrence.
Ah yes, she's very kind about itone does go 'in.' After which
Mr. Bender had, even in the atmosphere of his danger, a throb of
curiosity. Is any one after that grand Lawrence?
Oh, I hope not, Hugh laughed, unless you again dreadfully are:
wonderful thing as it is and so just in its right place there.
You call it, Mr. Bender impartially inquired, a very
Well, as a Lawrence, it has quite bowled me overHugh spoke as
for the strictly aesthetic awkwardness of that. But you know I take my
pictures hard. He gave a punch to his hat, pressed for time in this
connection as he was glad truly to appear to his friend. I must make
my little rapport. Yet before it he did seek briefly to
explain. We're a band of young men who careand we watch the great
things. Alsofor I must give you the real truth about myselfwe watch
the great people.
Well, I guess I'm used to being watchedif that's the worst you
can do. To which Mr. Bender added in his homely way: But you know,
Mr. Crimble, what I'm really after.
Hugh's strategy on this would again have peeped out for us. The man
in this morning's 'Journal' appears at least to have discovered.
Yes, the man in this morning's 'Journal' has discovered three or
four weeksas it appears to take you here for everythingafter my
beginning to talk. Why, they knew I was talking that time ago on
the other side.
Oh, they know things in the States, Hugh cheerfully agreed, so
independently of their happening! But you must have talked loud.
Well, I haven't so much talked as raved, Mr. Bender concededfor
I'm afraid that when I do want a thing I rave till I get it. You heard
me at Ded-borough, and your enterprising daily press has at last caught
Then they'll make up for lost time! But have you done it, Hugh
asked, to prepare an alibi?
By 'raving,' as you say, the saddle on the wrong horse. I don't
think you at all believe you'll get the Sir Joshuabut meanwhile we
shall have cleared up the question of the Moretto.
Mr. Bender, imperturbable, didn't speak till he had done justice to
this picture of his subtlety. Then, why on earth do you want to boom
You ask that, said Hugh, because it's the boomed thing that's
most in peril.
Well, it's the big, the bigger, the biggest things, and if you drag
their value to the light why shouldn't we want to grab them and carry
them offthe same as all of you originally did?
Ah, not quite the same, Hugh smiledthat I will say for
Yes, you stick it on nowyou have got an eye for the rise
in values. But I grant you your unearned increment, and you ought to be
mighty glad that, to such a time, I'll pay it you.
Our young man kept, during a moment's thought, his eyes on his
companion, and then resumed with all intensity and candour: You may
easily, Mr. Bender, be too much for meas you appear too much for far
greater people. But may I ask you, very earnestly, for your word on
this, as to any case in which that happensthat when precious
things, things we are to lose here, are knocked down to you,
you'll let us at least take leave of them, let us have a sight of them
in London, before they're borne off?
Mr. Bender's big face fell almost with a crash. Hand them over, you
mean, to the sandwich men on Bond Street?
To one or other of the placard and poster menI don't insist on
the inserted human slice! Let the great values, as a compensation to
us, be on view for three or four weeks.
You ask me, Mr. Bender returned, for a general assurance
to that effect?
Well, a particular oneso it be particular enough, Hugh
saidwill do just for now. Let me put in my plea for the issuewell,
of the value that's actually in the scales.
Mr. Bender carnivorously smiled. Hadn't we better know which it is
Hugh had a motion of practical indifference for this. The public
interestplaying so straight on the questionmay help to settle it.
By which I mean that it will profit enormouslythe question of
probability, of identity itself willby the discussion it will create.
The discussion will promote certainty
And certainty, Mr. Bender massively mused, will kick up a row.
Of course it will kick up a row!Hugh thoroughly
guaranteed that. You'll be, for the month, the best-abused man in
Englandif you venture to remain here at all; except, naturally, poor
Whom it won't be my interest, at the same time, to worry into
But whom it will be exceedingly mine to practise onand
Hugh laughed as at the fun before themif I may entertain the sweet
hope of success. The only thing isfrom my point of view, he went
onthat backing down before what he will call vulgar clamour isn't in
the least in his traditions, nothing less so; and that if there should
be really too much of it for his taste or his nerves he'll set his
handsome face as a stone and never budge an inch. But at least again
what I appeal to you for will have taken placethe picture will have
been seen by a lot of people who'll care.
It will have been seen, Mr. Bender amendedon the mere
contingency of my acquisition of itonly if its present owner
'Consents'? Hugh almost derisively echoed; why, he'll propose it
himself, he'll insist on it, he'll put it through, once he's angry
enoughas angry, I mean, as almost any public criticism of a personal
act of his will be sure to make him; and I'm afraid the striking
criticism, or at least animadversion, of this morning, will have blown
on his flame of bravado.
Inevitably a student of character, Mr. Bender rose to the occasion.
Yes, I guess he's pretty mad.
They've imputed to himHugh but wanted to abound in that
sensean intention of which after all he isn't guilty.
So thathis listener glowed with interested optimismif they
don't look out, if they impute it to him again, I guess he'll just go
and be guilty!
Hugh might at this moment have shown to an initiated eye as fairly
elated by the sense of producing something of the effect he had hoped.
You entertain the fond vision of lashing them up to that mistake, oh
fisher in troubled waters? And then with a finer art, as his
companion, expansively bright but crudely acute, eyed him in turn as if
to sound him: The strongest thing in such a typeone does make
outis his resentment of a liberty taken; and the most natural
furthermore is quite that he should feel almost anything you do take
uninvited from the groaning board of his banquet of life to be
such a liberty.
Mr. Bender participated thus at his perceptive ease in the exposed
aristocratic illusion. Yes, I guess he has always lived as he likes,
the way those of you who have got things fixed for them do, over
here; and to have to quit it on account of unpleasant remark
But he gave up thoughtfully trying to express what this must be;
reduced to the mere synthetic interjection My!
That's it, Mr. Bender, Hugh said for the consecration of such a
moral; he won't quit it without a hard struggle.
Mr. Bender hereupon at last gave himself quite gaily away as to his
high calculation of impunity. Well, I guess he won't struggle too hard
for me to hold on to him if I want to!
In the thick of the conflict then, however that may be, Hugh
returned, don't forget what I've urged on youthe claim of our
But his friend had an answer to this. My natural interest, Mr.
Crimbleconsidering what I do for itis in the claim of ours. But I
wish you were on my side!
Not so much, Hugh hungrily and truthfully laughed, as I wish you
were on mine! Decidedly, none the less, he had to go. Good-byefor
another look here!
He reached the doorway of the second room, where, however, his
companion, freshly alert at this, stayed him by a gesture. How much is
she really worth?
'She'? Hugh, staring a moment, was miles at sea. Lady Sandgate?
A responsible answer was preventedthe butler was again with them;
he had opened wide the other door and he named to Mr. Bender the
personage under his convoy. Lord John!
Hugh caught this from the inner threshold, and it gave him his
escape. Oh, ask that friend! With which he sought the further
passage to the staircase and street, while Lord John arrived in charge
of Mr. Gotch, who, having remarked to the two occupants of the front
drawing-room that her ladyship would come, left them together.
Then Theign's not yet here! Lord John had to resign himself as he
greeted his American ally. But he told me I should find you.
He has kept me waiting, that gentleman returnedbut what's the
matter with him anyway?
The matter with himLord John treated such ignorance as
irritatingmust of course be this beastly thing in the 'Journal.'
Mr. Bender proclaimed, on the other hand, his incapacity to seize
such connections. What's the matter with the beastly thing?
Why, aren't you aware that the stiffest bit of it is a regular dig
If you call that a regular dig you can't have had much
experience of the Papers. I've known them to dig much deeper.
I've had no experience of such horrid attacks, thank
goodness; but do you mean to say, asked Lord John with the surprise of
his own delicacy, that you don't unpleasantly feel it?
Feel it where, my dear sir?
Why, God bless me, such impertinence, everywhere!
All over me at once?Mr. Bender took refuge in easy humour.
Well, I'm a large manso when I want to feel so much I look out for
something good. But what, if he suffers from the blot on his
ermineain't that what you wear?does our friend propose to do about
Lord John had a demur, which was immediately followed by the
apprehension of support in his uncertainty. Lady Sandgate was before
them, having reached them through the other room, and to her he at once
referred the question. What will Theign propose, do you think,
Lady Sandgate, to do about it?
She breathed both her hospitality and her vagueness. To 'do'?
Don't you know about the thing in the 'Journal'awfully offensive
There'd be even a little pinch for you in it, Mr. Bender
said to herif you were bent on fitting the shoe!
Well, she met it all as gaily as was compatible with a firm look at
her elder guest while she took her place with them. Oh, the shoes of
such monsters as that are much too big for poor me! But she was
more specific for Lord John. I know only what Grace has just told me;
but since it's a question of footgear dear Theign will certainlywhat
you may calltake his stand!
Lord John welcomed this assurance. If I know him he'll take it
Mr. Bender's attention was genial, though rather more detached. And
whatwhile he's about itwill he take it particularly on?
Oh, we've plenty of things, thank heaven, said Lady Sandgate, for
a man in Theign's position to hold fast by!
Lord John freely confirmed it. Scores and scoresrather! And I
will say for us that, with the rotten way things seem going, the fact
may soon become a real convenience.
Mr. Bender seemed struckand not unsympathetic. I see that your
system would be rather a fraud if you hadn't pretty well fixed that!
Lady Sandgate spoke as one at present none the less substantially
warned and convinced. It doesn't, however, alter the fact that we've
thus in our ears the first growl of an outcry.
Ah, Lord John concurred, we've unmistakably the first growl of an
Mr. Bender's judgment on the matter paused at sight of Lord Theign,
introduced and announced, as Lord John spoke, by Gotch; but with the
result of his addressing directly the person so presenting himself.
Why, they tell me that what this means, Lord Theign, is the first
growl of an outcry!
The appearance of the most eminent figure in the group might have
been held in itself to testify to some such truth; in the sense at
least that a certain conscious radiance, a gathered light of battle in
his lordship's aspect would have been explained by his having taken the
full measurean inner success with which he glowedof some high
provocation. He was flushed, but he bore it as the ensign of his house;
he was so admirably, vividly dressed, for the morning hour and for his
journey, that he shone as with the armour of a knight; and the whole
effect of him, from head to foot, with every jerk of his unconcern and
every flash of his ease, was to call attention to his being utterly
unshaken and knowing perfectly what he was about. It was at this happy
pitch that he replied to the prime upsetter of his peace.
I'm afraid I don't know what anything means to you, Mr.
Benderbut it's exactly to find out that I've asked you, with our
friend John, kindly to meet me here. For a very brief conference, dear
lady, by your good leave, he went on to Lady Sandgate; at which I'm
only too pleased that you yourself should assist. The 'first growl' of
any outcry, I may mention to you all, affects me no more than the last
So I'm delighted to gatherLady Sandgate took him straight
upthat you don't let go your inestimable Cure.
He at first quite stared superior'Let go'?but then treated it
with a lighter touch. Upon my honour I might, you knowthat dose of
the daily press has made me feel so fit! I arrive at any rate, he
pursued to the others and in particular to Mr. Bender, I arrive with
my decision takenwhich I've thought may perhaps interest you. If that
tuppeny rot is an attempt at an outcry I simply nip it in the
Lord John rejoicingly approved. Absolutely the only waywith the
least self-respectto treat it!
Lady Sandgate, on the other hand, sounded a sceptical note. But are
you sure it's so easy, Theign, to hush up a real noise?
It ain't what I'd call a real one, Lady Sandgate, Mr. Bender said;
you can generally distinguish a real one from the squeak of two or
three mice! But granted mice do affect you, Lord Theign, it will
interest me to hear what sort of a trapby what you sayyou propose
to set for them.
You must allow me to measure, myself, Mr. Bender, his lordship
replied, the importance of a gross freedom publicly used with my
absolutely personal proceedings and affairs; to the cause and origin of
any definite report of whichin such circles!I'm afraid I rather
wonder if you yourself can't give me a clue.
It took Mr. Bender a minute to do justice to these stately remarks.
You rather wonder if I've talked of how I feel about your detaining in
your hands my Beautiful Duchess?
Oh, if you've already published her as 'yours'with your power
of publication! Lord Theign coldly laughed,of course I trace the
Mr. Benders acceptance of responsibility clearly cost him no shade
of a pang. Why, I haven't for quite a while talked of a blessed other
thingand I'm capable of growing more profane over my not
getting her than I guess any one would dare to be if I did.
Well, you'll certainly not 'get' her, Mr. Bender, Lady Sandgate,
as for reasons of her own, bravely trumpeted; and even if there were a
chance of it don't you see that your way wouldn't be publicly to abuse
our noble friend?
Mr. Bender but beamed, in reply, upon that personage. Oh, I guess
our noble friend knows I have to talk big about big things. You
understand, sir, the scream of the eagle!
I'll forgive you, Lord Theign civilly returned, all the big talk
you like if you'll now understand me. My retort to that hireling
pack shall be at once to dispose of a picture.
Mr. Bender rather failed to follow. But that's what you wanted to
Pardon me, said his lordshipI make a difference. It's what you
wanted me to do.
The mystification, however, continued. And you were notas
you seemed thenwilling?
Lord Theign waived cross-questions. Well, I'm willing now
that's all that need concern us. Only, once more and for the last
time, he added with all authority, you can't have our Duchess!
You can't have our Duchess!and Lord John, as before the altar of
patriotism, wrapped it in sacrificial sighs.
You can't have our Duchess! Lady Sandgate repeated, but with a
grace that took the sting from her triumph. And she seemed still all
sweet sociability as she added: I wish he'd tell you too, you dreadful
rich thing, that you can't have anything at all!
Lord Theign, however, in the interest of harmony, deprecated that
rigour. Ah, what then would become of my happy retort?
And whatas it is, Mr. Bender askedbecomes of my
Wouldn't a really great capture make up to you for that?
Well, I take more interest in what I want than in what I haveand
it depends, don't you see, on how you measure the size.
Lord John had at once in this connection a bright idea. Shouldn't
you like to go back there and take the measure yourself?
Mr. Bender considered him as through narrowed eyelids. Look again
at that tottering Moretto?
Well, its sizeas you sayisn't in any light a negligible
You mean thatbig as it isit hasn't yet stopped growing?
The question, however, as he immediately showed, resided in what
Lord Theign himself meant It's more to the purpose, he said to Mr.
Bender, that I should mention to you the leading feature, or in other
words the very essence, of my plan of campaignwhich is to put the
picture at once on view. He marked his idea with a broad but elegant
gesture. On view as a thing definitely disposed of.
I say, I say, I say! cried Lord John, moved by this bold stroke to
Lady Sandgate's approval was more qualified. But on view, dear
With one of those pushing people in Bond Street. And then as for
the crushing climax of his policy: As a Mantovano pure and simple.
But my dear man, she quavered, if it isn't one?
Mr. Bender at once anticipated; the wind had suddenly risen for him
and he let out sail. Lady Sand-gate, it's going, by all that'swell,
interesting, to be one!
Lord Theign took him up with pleasure. You seize me? We treat
it as one!
Lord John eagerly borrowed the emphasis. We treat it as
Mr. Bender meanwhile fed with an opened appetite on the thoughthe
even gave it back larger. As the long-lost Number Eight!
Lord Theign happily seized him. That will be itto a
It will make them, Mr. Bender asked, madder than anything?
His patronif not his clientput it more nobly. It will markedly
affirm my attitude.
Which will in turn the more markedly create discussion.
It may create all it will!
Well, if you don't mind it, I don't! Mr. Bender
concluded. But though bathed in this high serenity he was all for the
rapid application of it elsewhere. You'll put the thing on view right
As soon as the proper arrangement
You put off your journey to make it? Lady Sand-gate at once
Lord Theign bethought himselfwith the effect of a gracious
confidence in the others. Not if these friends will act.
Oh, I guess we'll act! Mr. Bender declared.
Ah, won't we though! Lord John re-echoed.
You understand then I have an interest? Mr. Bender went on to Lord
His lordship's irony met it. I accept that complicationwhich so
And yet also have a liberty?
Where else would be those you've taken? The point is, said Lord
Theign, that I have a show.
It settled Mr. Bender. Then I'll fix your show. He snatched
up his hat. Lord John, come right round!
Lord John had of himself reached the door, which he opened to let
the whirlwind tremendously figured by his friend pass out first. Taking
leave of the others he gave it even his applause. The fellow can do
anything anywhere! And he hastily followed.
Lady Sandgate, left alone with Lord Theign, drew the line at their
companion's enthusiasm. That may be true of Mr. Benderfor it's
dreadful how he bears one down. But I simply find him a terror.
Well, said her friend, who seemed disposed not to fatigue the
question, I dare say a terror will help me. He had other business to
which he at once gave himself. And now, if you please, for that girl.
I'll send her to you, she replied, if you can't stay to
I've three or four things to do, he pleaded, and I lunch with
Kitty at one.
She submitted in that casebut disappointedly. With Berkeley
Square then you've time. But I confess I don't quite grasp the so odd
inspiration that you've set those men to carry out.
He showed surprise and regret, but even greater decision. Then it
needn't trouble you, dearit's enough that I myself go straight.
Are you so very convinced it's straight?she wouldn't be a bore
to him, but she couldn't not be a blessing.
What in the world else is it, he asked, when, having good
reasons, one acts on 'em?
You must have an immense array, she sighed, to fly so in the face
'Opinion'? he commentedI fly in its face? Why, the vulgar
thing, as I'm taking my quiet walk, flies in mine! I give it a whack
with my umbrella and send it about its business. To which he added
with more reproach: It's enough to have been dished by Gracewithout
your falling away!
Sadly and sweetly she defended herself. It's only my great
affectionand all that these years have been for us: they it is
that make me wish you weren't so proud.
I've a perfect sense, my dear, of what these years have been for
usa very charming matter. But 'proud' is it you find me of the
daughter who does her best to ruin me, or of the one who does her best
Lady Sandgate, not undiscernibly, took her choice of ignoring the
point of this. Your surrenders to Kitty are your own affairbut are
you sure you can really bear to see Grace?
I seem expected indeed to bear much, he said with more and more of
his parental bitterness, but I don't know that I'm yet in a funk
before my child. Doesn't she want to see me, with any
contrition, after the trick she has played me? And then as his
companion's answer failed: In spite of which trick you suggest that I
should leave the country with no sign of her explaining?
His hostess raised her head. She does want to see you, I know; but
you must recall the sequel to that bad hour at Dedboroughwhen it was
you who declined to see her.
Before she left the house with you, the next day, for this?he
was entirely reminiscent. What I recall is that even if I had
condonedthat eveningher deception of me in my folly, I still
loathed, for my friend's sake, her practical joke on poor John.
Lady Sandgate indulged in the shrug conciliatory. It was your very
complaint that your own appeal to her became an appeal from
Yes, he returned, so well he remembered, she was about as civil
to me thenpicking a quarrel with me on such a trumped-up ground!as
that devil of a fellow in the newspaper; the taste of whose elegant
remarks, for that matter, she must now altogether enjoy!
His good friend showily balanced and might have been about to reply
with weight; but what she in fact brought out was only: I see you're
right about it: I must let her speak for herself.
That I shall greatly prefer to her speakingas she did so
extraordinarily, out of the blue, at Dedborough, upon my honourfor
the wonderful friends she picks up: the picture-man introduced by her
(what was his name?) who regularly 'cheeked' me, as I suppose he'd call
it, in my own house, and whom I hope, by the way, that under this roof
she's not able to be quite so thick with!
If Lady Sandgate winced at that vain dream she managed not to betray
it, and she had, in any embarrassment on this matter, the support, as
we know, of her own tried policy. She leads her life under this roof
very much as under yours; and she's not of an age, remember, for me to
pretend either to watch her movements or to control her contacts.
Leaving him however thus to perform his pleasure the charming woman had
before she went an abrupt change of tone. Whatever your relations with
others, dear friend, don't forget that I'm still here.
Lord Theign accepted the reminder, though, the circumstances being
such, it scarce moved him to ecstasy. That you're here, thank heaven,
is of course a comfortor would be if you understood.
Ah, she submissively sighed, if I don't always 'understand' a
spirit so much higher than mine and a situation so much more
complicated, certainly, I at least always defer, I at least
alwayswell, what can I say but worship? And then as he remained not
other than finely passive, The old altar, Theign, she went onand a
spark of the old fire!
He had not looked at her on thisit was as if he shrank, with his
preoccupations, from a tender passage; but he let her take his left
hand. So I feel! he was, however, kind enough to answer.
Do feel! she returned with much concentration. She raised the hand
to her pressed lips, dropped it and with a rich Good-bye! reached the
threshold of the other room.
May I smoke? he asked before she had disappeared.
He had meanwhile taken out his cigarette case and was looking about
for a match. But something else occurred to him. You must come to
Rather! she said with intensity; and with that she passed away.
Left alone he had a moment's meditation where he stood; it found
issue in an articulate Poor dear thing!an exclamation marked at
once with patience and impatience, with resignation and ridicule. After
which, waiting for his daughter, Lord Theign slowly and absently
roamed, finding matches at last and lighting his cigaretteall with an
air of concern that had settled on him more heavily from the moment of
his finding himself alone. His luxury of gloomif gloom it
wasdropped, however, on his taking heed of Lady Grace, who, arriving
on the scene through the other room, had had just time to stand and
watch him in silence.
Oh! he jerked out at sight of herwhich she had to content
herself with as a parental greeting after separation, his next words
doing little to qualify its dryness. I take it for granted that you
know I'm within a couple of hours of leaving England under a necessity
of health. And then as drawing nearer, she signified without speaking
her possession of this fact: I've thought accordingly that before I go
I shouldon this first possible occasion since that odious occurrence
at Dedboroughlike to leave you a little more food for meditation, in
my absence, on the painfully false position in which you there placed
me. He carried himself restlessly even perhaps with a shade of
awkwardness, to which her stillness was a contrast; she just waited,
wholly passivepossibly indeed a trifle portentous. If you had
plotted and planned it in advance, he none the less firmly pursued,
if you had acted from some uncanny or malignant motive, you couldn't
have arranged more perfectly to incommode, to disconcert and, to all
intents and purposes, make light of me and insult me. Even before this
charge she made no sign; with her eyes now attached to the ground she
let him proceed. I had practically guaranteed to our excellent, our
charming friend, your favourable view of his appealwhich you yourself
too, remember, had left him in so little doubt of!so that, having by
your performance so egregiously failed him, I have the pleasure of
their coming down on me for explanations, for compensations, and for
God knows what besides.
Lady Grace, looking up at last, left him in no doubt of the rigour
of her attention. I'm sorry indeed, father, to have done you any
wrong; but may I ask whom, in such a connection, you refer to as
'They'? he echoed in the manner of a man who has had handed back
to his more careful eye, across the counter, some questionable coin
that he has tried to pass. Why, your own sister to begin withwhose
interest in what may make for your happiness I suppose you decently
recognise; and his people, one and all, the delightful old
Duchess in particular, who only wanted to be charming to you, and who
are as good people, and as pleasant and as clever, damn it, when all's
said and done, as any others that are likely to come your way. It
clearly did his lordship good to work out thus his case, which grew
more and more coherent to him and glowed with irresistible colour.
Letting alone gallant John himself, most amiable of men, about whose
merits and whose claims you appear to have pretended to agree with me
just that you might, when he presumed, poor chap, ardently to urge
them, deal him with the more cruel effect that calculated blow on the
It was clear that in the girl's great gravity embarrassment had no
share. They so come down on you I understand then, father, that you're
obliged to come down on me?
Assuredlyfor some better satisfaction than your just moping here
without a sign!
But a sign of what, father? she askedas helpless as a lone
islander scanning the horizon for a sail.
Of your appreciating, of your in some degree dutifully considering,
the predicament into which you've put me!
Hasn't it occurred to you in the least that you've rather put me
He threw back his head as from exasperated nerves. I put you
certainly in the predicament of your receiving by my care a handsome
settlement in lifewhich all the elements that would make for your
enjoying it had every appearance of successfully commending to you.
The perfect readiness of which on his lips had, like a higher wave, the
virtue of lifting and dropping him to still more tangible ground. And
if I understand you aright as wishing to know whether I apologise for
that zeal, why you take a most preposterous view of our relation as
father and daughter.
You understand me no better than I fear I understand you, Lady
Grace returned, if what you expect of me is really to take back my
words to Lord John. And then as he didn't answer, while their breach
gaped like a jostled wound, Have you seriously come to proposeand
from him again, she addedthat I shall reconsider my resolute
act and lend myself to your beautiful arrangement?
It had so the sound of unmixed ridicule that he could only, for his
dignity, not give way to passion. I've come, above all, for this, I may say, Grace: to remind you of whom you're addressing when you
jibe at me, and to make of you assuredly a plain demandexactly as to
whether you judged us to have actively incurred your treatment
of our unhappy friend, to have brought it upon us, he and I, by my
refusal to discuss with you at such a crisis the question of my
disposition of a particular item of my property. I've only to look at
you, for that matter, Lord Theign continuedalways with a finer point
and a higher consistency as his rehearsal of his wrongs broadenedto
have my inquiry, as it seems to me, eloquently answered. You flounced
away from poor John, you took, as he tells me, 'his head off,' just to
repay me for what you chose to regard as my snub on the score of your
challenging my entertainment of a possible purchaser; a rebuke launched
at me, practically, in the presence of a most inferior person, a
stranger and an intruder, from whom you had all the air of taking your
cue for naming me the great condition on which you'd gratify my hope.
Am I to understand, in other words,and his lordship mounted to a
climaxthat you sent us about our business because I failed to
gratify your hope: that of my knocking under to your sudden
monstrous pretension to lay down the law for my choice of ways and
means of raising, to my best convenience, a considerable sum of money?
You'll be so good as to understand, once for all, that I recognise
there no right of interference from any quarterand also to let that
knowledge govern your behaviour in my absence.
Lady Grace had thus for some minutes waited on his wordswaited
even as almost with anxiety for the safe conduct he might look to from
some of the more extravagant of them. But he at least felt at the
endif it was an endall he owed them; so that there was nothing for
her but to accept as achieved his dreadful felicity. You're very angry
with me, and I hope you won't feel me simply 'aggravating' if I say
that, thinking everything over, I've done my best to allow for that.
But I can answer your question if I do answer it by saying that
my discovery of your possible sacrifice of one of our most beautiful
things didn't predispose me to decide in favour of a personhowever
'backed' by youfor whose benefit the sacrifice was to take place.
Frankly, the girl pushed on, I did quite hate, for the moment,
everything that might make for such a mistake; and took the darkest
view, let me also confess, of every one, without exception, connected
with it I interceded with you, earnestly, for our precious picture, and
you wouldn't on any terms have my intercession. On top of that
Lord John blundered in, without timeliness or tactand I'm afraid
that, as I hadn't been the least in love with him even before, he did
have to take the consequence.
Lord Theign, with an elated swing of his person, greeted this as all
he could possibly want. You recognise then that your reception of him
was purely vindictive!the meaning of which is that unless my
conduct of my private interests, of which you know nothing whatever,
happens to square with your superior wisdom you'll put me under boycott
all round! While you chatter about mistakes and blunders, and about our
charming friend's lack of the discretion of which you yourself set so
grand an example, what account have you to offer of the scene you made
me there before that fellowyour confederate, as he had all the air of
being!by giving it me with such effrontery that, if I had eminently
done with him after his remarkable display, you at least were but the
more determined to see him keep it up?
The girl's justification, clearly, was very present to her, and not
less obviously the truth that to make it strong she must, avoiding
every side-issue, keep it very simple, The only account I can give
you, I think, is that I could but speak at such a moment as I felt, and
that I feltwell, how can I say how deeply? If you can really bear to
know, I feel so still I care in fact more than ever that we shouldn't
do such things. I care, if you like, to indiscretionI care, if you
like, to offence, to arrogance, to folly. But even as my last word to
you before you leave England on the conclusion of such a step, I'm
ready to cry out to you that you oughtn't, you oughtn't, you oughtn't!
Her father, with wonder-moved, elevated brows and high commanding
hand, checked her as in an act really of violencesave that, like an
inflamed young priestess, she had already, in essence, delivered her
message. Hallo, hallo, hallo, my distracted daughterno 'crying out,'
if you please! After which, while arrested but unabashed, she still
kept her lighted eyes on him, he gave back her conscious stare for a
minute, inwardly and rapidly turning things over, making connections,
taking, as after some long and lamentable lapse of observation, a new
strange measure of her: all to the upshot of his then speaking with a
difference of tone, a recognition of still more of the odious than he
had supposed, so that the case might really call for some coolness.
You keep bad company, Graceit pays the devil with your sense of
proportion. If you make this row when I sell a picture, what will be
left to you when I forge a cheque?
If you had arrived at the necessity of forging a cheque, she
answered, I should then resign myself to that of your selling a
But not short of that!
Not short of that. Not one of ours.
But I couldn't, said his lordship with his best and coldest
amusement, sell one of somebody else's!
She was, however, not disconcerted. Other people do other
thingsthey appear to have done them, and to be doing them, all about
us. But we have been so decently differentalways and ever.
We've never done anything disloyal.
'Disloyal'?he was more largely amazed and even interested now.
Lady Grace stuck to her word. That's what it seems to me!
It seems to youand his sarcasm here was easymore disloyal to
sell a picture than to buy one? Because we didn't paint 'em all
ourselves, you know!
She threw up impatient hands. I don't ask you either to paint or to
Oh, that's a mercy! he interrupted, riding his irony hard;
and I'm glad to hear you at least let me off such efforts!
However, if it strikes you as gracefully filial to apply to your
father's conduct so invidious a word, he went on less scathingly, you
must take from him, in your turn, his quite other view of what makes
disloyaltyunderstanding distinctly, by the same token, that he
enjoins on you not to give an odious illustration of it, while he's
away, by discussing and deploring with any one of your
extraordinary friends any aspect or feature whatever of his walk and
conversation. Thatpressed as I am for time, he went on with a glance
at his watch while she remained silentis the main sense of what I
have to say to you; so that I count on your perfect conformity. When
you have told me that I may so countand casting about for his
hat he espied it and went to take it upI shall more cordially bid
His daughter looked as if she had been for some time expecting the
law thus imposed upon herhad been seeing where he must come out; but
in spite of this preparation she made him wait for his reply in such
tension as he had himself created. To Kitty I've practically said
nothingand she herself can tell you why: I've in fact scarcely seen
her this fortnight. Putting aside then Amy Sandgate, the only person to
whom I've spokenof your 'sacrifice,' as I suppose you'll let me call
it?is Mr. Hugh Crimble, whom you talk of as my 'confederate' at
Lord Theign recovered the name with relief. Mr. Hugh
Crimblethat's it!whom you so amazingly caused to be present, and
apparently invited to be active, at a business that so little concerned
He certainly took upon himself to be interested, as I had hoped he
would. But it was because I had taken upon my self
To act, yes, Lord Theign broke in, with the grossest want of
delicacy! Well, it's from that exactly that you'll now forbear; and
'interested' as he may befor which I'm deucedly obliged to
him!you'll not speak to Mr. Crimble again.
Never again?the girl put it as for full certitude.
Never of the question that I thus exclude. You may chatter your
fill, said his lordship curtly, about any others.
Why, the particular question you forbid, Grace returned with great
force, but as if saying something very reasonablethat question is
the question we care about: it's our very ground of conversation.
Then, her father decreed, your conversation will please to
dispense with a ground; or you'll perhaps, better stillif that's
the only way!dispense with your conversation.
Lady Grace took a moment as if to examine this more closely. You
require of me not to communicate with Mr. Crimble at all?
Most assuredly I require itsince it's to that you insist on
reducing me. He didn't look reduced, the master of Dedborough, as he
spokewhich was doubtless precisely because he held his head so high
to affirm what he suffered. Is it so essential to your comfort, he
demanded, to hear him, or to make him, abuse me?
'Abusing' you, father dear, has nothing whatever to do with
it!his daughter had fairly lapsed, with a despairing gesture, to the
tenderness involved in her compassion for his perversity. We look at
the thing in a much larger way, she pursued, not heeding that she drew
from him a sound of scorn for her larger. It's of our Treasure
itself we talkand of what can be done in such cases; though
with a close application, I admit, to the case that you embody.
Ah, Lord Theign asked as with absurd curiosity, I embody a case?
Wonderfully, fatheras you do everything; and it's the fact of its
being exceptional, she explained, that makes it so difficult to deal
His lordship had a gape for it. 'To deal with'? You're undertaking
to 'deal' with me?
She smiled more frankly now, as for a rift in the gloom. Well, how
can we help it if you will be a case? And then as her tone but
visibly darkened his wonder: What we've set our hearts on is saving
What you've set your hearts on, in other words, is working straight
But she persisted without heat. What we've set our hearts on is
working for England.
And pray who in the world's 'England,' he cried in his
stupefaction, unless I am?
Dear, dear father, she pleaded, that's all we want you to
be! I meanshe didn't fear firmly to force it homein the real, the
right, the grand sense; the sense that, you see, is so intensely ours.
'Ours'?he couldn't but again throw back her word at her. Isn't
it, damn you, just in ours?
No, no, she interruptednot in ours! She smiled at him
still, though it was strained, as if he really ought to perceive.
But he glared as at a senseless juggle. What and who the devil are
you talking about? What are 'we,' the whole blest lot of us, pray, but
the best and most English thing in the country: people walkingand
riding!straight; doing, disinterestedly, most of the difficult and
all the thankless jobs; minding their own business, above all, and
expecting others to mind theirs? So he let her have the stout sound
truth, as it wereand so the direct force of it clearly might, by his
view, have made her reel. You and I, my lady, and your two decent
brothers, God be thanked for them, and mine into the bargain, and all
the rest, the jolly lot of us, take us togethermake us numerous
enough without any foreign aid or mixture: if that's what I understand
you to mean!
You don't understand me at allevidently; and above all I see you
don't want to! she had the bravery to add, By 'our' sense of what's
due to the nation in such a case I mean Mr. Crimble's and mineand
nobody's else at all; since, as I tell you, it's only with him I've
It gave him then, every inch of him showed, the full, the grotesque
measure of the scandal he faced. So that 'you and Mr. Crimble'
represent the standard, for me, in your opinion, of the proprieties and
duties of our house?
Well, she was too earnestas she clearly wished to let him seeto
mind his perversion of it. I express to you the way we feel.
It's most striking to hear, certainly, what you expresshe had
positively to laugh for it; and you speak of him, with your
insufferable 'we,' as if you were presenting him as yourGod knows
what! You've enjoyed a large exchange of ideas, I gather, to have
arrived at such unanimity. And then, as if to fall into no trap he
might somehow be laying for her, she dropped all eagerness and rebutted
nothing: You must see a great deal of your fellow-critic not to be
able to speak of yourself without him!
Yes, we're fellow-critics, fathershe accepted this opening. I
perfectly adopt your term. But it took her a minute to go further. I
saw Mr. Crim-ble here half an hour ago.
Saw him 'here'? Lord Theign amazedly asked. He comes to
you hereand Amy Sandgate has been silent?
It wasn't her business to tell yousince, you see, she could leave
it to me. And I quite expect, Lady Grace then produced, that he'll
It brought down with a bang all her father's authority. Then I
simply exact of you that you don't see him.
The pause of which she paid it the deference was charged like a
brimming cup. Is that what you really meant by your condition
just nowthat when I do see him I shall not speak to him?
What I 'really meant' is what I really meanthat you bow to the
law I lay upon you and drop the man altogether.
Have nothing to do with him at all?
Have nothing to do with him at all.
In factshe took it ingive him wholly up.
He had an impatient gesture. You sound as if I asked you to give up
a fortune! And then, though she had phrased his idea without
consternationverily as if it had been in the balance for herhe
might have been moved by something that gathered in her eyes. You're
so wrapped up in him that the precious sacrifice is like that
sort of thing?
Lady Grace took her timebut showed, as her eyes continued to hold
him, what had gathered. I like Mr. Crimble exceedingly,
fatherI think him clever, intelligent, good; I want what he wantsI
want it, I think, really, as much; and I don't at all deny that he has
helped to make me so want it. But that doesn't matter. I'll wholly
cease to see him, I'll give him up forever, ifif! She faltered,
however, she hung fire with a smile that anxiously, intensely appealed.
Then she began and stopped again, Ifif! while her father caught
her up with irritation.
'If,' my lady? If what, please?
If you'll withdraw the offer of our picture to Mr. Benderand
never make another to any one else!
He stood staring as at the size of itthen translated it into his
own terms. If I'll obligingly announce to the world that I've made an
ass of myself you'll kindly forbear from your united effortthe
charming pair of youto show me up for one?
Lady Grace, as if consciously not caring or attempting to answer
this, simply gave the first flare of his criticism time to drop. It
wasn't till a minute passed that she said: You don't agree to my
Ah, the question but fatally sharpened at a stroke the stiffness of
his spirit. Good God, I'm to 'compromise' on top of everything?I'm
to let you browbeat me, haggle and bargain with me, over a thing that
I'm entitled to settle with you as things have ever been settled
among us, by uttering to you my last parental word?
You don't care enough then for what you name?she took it up as
scarce heeding now what he said.
For putting an end to your odious commerce? I give you the
measure, on the contrary, said Lord Theign, of how much I care: as
you give me, very strangely indeed, it strikes me, that of what it
costs you! But his other words were lost in the hard long look at
her from which he broke off in turn as for disgust.
It was with an effect of decently shielding herselfthe unuttered
meaning came so straightthat she substituted words of her own. Of
what it costs me to redeem the picture?
To lose your tenth-rate friendhe spoke without scruple now.
She instantly broke into ardent deprecation, pleading at once and
warning. Father, father, oh! You hold the thing in your hands.
He pulled up before her again as to thrust the responsibility
straight back. My orders then are so much rubbish to you?
Lady Grace held her ground, and they remained face to face in
opposition and accusation, neither making the other the sign of peace.
But the girl at least had, in her way, held out the
olive-branch, while Lord Theign had but reaffirmed his will. It was for
her acceptance of this that he searched her, her last word not having
yet come. Before it had done so, however, the door from the lobby
opened and Mr. Gotch had regained their presence. This appeared to
determine in Lady Grace a view of the importance of delay, which she
signified to her companion in a WellI must think! For the butler
positively resounded, and Hugh was there.
Mr. Crimble! Mr. Gotch proclaimedwith the further extravagance
of projecting the visitor straight upon his lordship.
Our young man showed another face than the face his friend had
lately seen him carry off, and he now turned it distressfully from that
source of inspiration to Lord Theign, who was flagrantly, even from
this first moment, no such source at all, and then from his noble
adversary back again, under pressure of difficulty and effort, to Lady
Grace, whom he directly addressed. Here I am again, you seeand I've
got my news, worse luck! But his manner to her father was the next
instant more brisk. I learned you were here, my lord; but as the case
is important I told them it was all right and came up. I've been to my
club, he added for the girl, and found the tiresome thing! But he
broke down breathless.
And it isn't good? she cried with the highest concern.
Ruefully, yet not abjectly, he confessed, Not so good as I hoped.
For I assure you, my lord, I counted
It's the report from Pappendick about the picture at Verona, Lady
Grace interruptingly explained.
Hugh took it up, but, as we should well have seen, under
embarrassment dismally deeper; the ugly particular defeat he had to
announce showing thus, in his thought, for a more awkward force than
any reviving possibilities that he might have begun to balance against
them. The man I told you about also, he said to his formidable
patron; whom I went to Brussels to talk with and who, most kindly, has
gone for us to Verona. He has been able to get straight at their
Mantovano, but the brute horribly wires me that he doesn't quite see
the thing; see, I meanand he gathered his two hearers together now
in his overflow of chagrin, conscious, with his break of the ice, more
exclusively of thatmy vivid vital point, the absolute screaming
identity of the two persons represented. I still hold, he persuasively
went on, that our man is their man, but Pappendick decides that he
isn'tand as Pappendick has so much to be reckoned with of
course I'm awfully abashed.
Lord Theign had remained what he had begun by being, immeasurably
and inaccessibly detachedonly with his curiosity more moved than he
could help and as, on second thought, to see what sort of a still more
offensive fool the heated youth would really make of himself. Yesyou
seem indeed remarkably abashed!
Hugh clearly was thrown again, by the cold cut of this, colder
than any mere social ignoring, upon a sense of the damnably poor figure
he did offer; so that, while he straightened himself and kept a mastery
of his manner and a control of his reply, we should yet have felt his
cheek tingle. I backed my own judgment strongly, I knowand I've got
my snub. But I don't in the least knock under.
Only the first authority in Europe doesn't care, I suppose, whether
you do or not!
He isn't the first authority in Europe, thank God, the
young man returnedthough he is, I admit, one of the three or four
first. And I mean to appealI've another shot in my locker, he went
on with his rather painfully forced smile to Lady Grace. I had already
written, you see, to dear old Bardi.
Bardi of Milan?she recognised, it was admirably manifest, the
appeal of his directness to her generosity, awkward as their
predicament was also for her herself, and spoke to him as she might
have spoken without her father's presence.
It would have shown for beautiful, on the spot, had there been any
one to perceive it, that he devoutly recorded her intelligence. You
know of him?how delightful of you! For the Italians, I now feel, he
quickly explained, he must have most the instinctand it has
come over me since that he'd have been more our man. Besides of course
his so knowing the Verona picture.
She had fairly hung on his lips. But does he know ours?
Nonot ours yet. That ishe consciously and quickly took himself
upnot yours! But as Pap-pendick went to Verona for us I've asked
Bardi to do us the great favour to come hereif Lord Theign will be so
good, he said, bethinking himself with a turn, as to let him examine
the Moretto. He faced again to the personage he mentioned, who, simply
standing off and watching, in concentrated interest as well as
detachment, this interview of his cool daughter and her still cooler
guest, had plainly elected, as it were, to give them rope to hang
themselves. Staring very hard at Hugh he met his appeal, but in a
silence clearly calculated; against which, however, the young man,
bearing up, made such head as he could. He offered his next word, that
is, equally to the two companions. It's not at all impossiblefor
such curious effects have been!that the Dedborough picture seen
after the Verona will point a different moral from the Verona seen
after the Dedborough.
And so awfully long afterwasn't it? Lady Grace asked.
Awfully long afterit was years ago that Pappen-dick, being in
this country for such purposes, was kindly admitted to your house when
none of you were there, or at least visible.
Oh of course we don't see every one!she heroically kept
You don't see every one, Hugh bravely laughed, and that makes it
all the more charming that you did, and that you still do, see me. I
shall really get Bardi, he pursued, to go again to Verona
The last thing before coming here?she had guessed before he
could say it; and still she sustained it, so that he could shine at her
for assent. How happy they should like so to work for you!
Ah, we're a band of brothers, he returned'we few, we happy
few'from country to country; to which he added, gaining more ease
for an eye at Lord Theign: though we do have our little rubs and
disputes, like Pappendick and me now. The thing, you see, is the
ripping interest of it all; since, he developed and explained,
for his elder friend's benefit, with pertinacious cheer and an
assurance superficially at least recovered, when we're really 'hit'
over a case we'll do almost anything in life.
Lady Grace, recklessly throbbing in the breath of it all,
immediately appropriated what her father let alone. It must be so
lovely to feel so hit!
It does spoil one, Hugh laughed, for milder joys. Of course what
I have to consider is the chanceputting it at the merest
chanceof Bardi's own wet blanket! But that's again so very
smallthough, he pulled up with a drop to the comparative dismal,
which he offered as an almost familiar tribute to Lord Theign, you'll
retort upon me naturally that I promised you the possibility of
Pappendick's veto would be: all on the poor dear old basis, you'll
claim, of the wish father to the thought. Well, I do wish to be right
as much as I believe I am. Only give me time! he sublimely insisted.
How can we prevent your using it? Lady Grace again interrupted;
or the fact either that if the worst comes to the worst
The thinghe at once pursuedwill always be at the least the
greatest of Morettos? Ah, he cried so cheerily that there was still a
freedom in it toward any it might concern, the worst sha'n't come to
the worst, but the best to the best: my conviction of which it is that
supports me in the deep regret I have to expressand he faced Lord
Theign againfor any inconvenience I may have caused you by my
abortive undertaking. That, I vow here before Lady Grace, I will yet
more than make up!
Lord Theign, after the longest but the blankest contemplation of
him, broke hereupon, for the first time, that attitude of completely
sustained and separate silence which he had yet made compatible with
his air of having deeply noted every element of the sceneso that it
was of this full view his participation had effectively consisted, I
haven't the least idea, sir, what you're talking about! And he
squarely turned his back, strolling toward the other room, the
threshold of which he the next moment had passed, remaining scantily
within, however, and in sight of the others, not to say of ourselves;
even though averted and ostensibly lost in some scrutiny that might
have had for its object the great enshrined Lawrence.
There ensued upon his words and movement a vivid mute passage, the
richest of commentaries, between his companions; who, deeply divided by
the width of the ample room, followed him with their eyes and then used
for their own interchange these organs of remark, eloquent now over
Hugh's unmistakable dismissal at short order, on which obviously he
must at once act. Lady Grace's young arms conveyed to him by a
despairing contrite motion of surrender that she had done for him all
she could do in his presence and that, however sharply doubtful the
result, he was to leave the rest to herself. They communicated thus,
the strenuous pair, for their full moment, without speaking; only with
the prolonged, the charged give and take of their gaze and, it might
well have been imagined, of their passion. Hugh had for an instant a
show of hesitationof the arrested impulse, while he kept her father
within range, to launch at that personage before going some final
remonstrance. It was the girl's raised hand and gesture of warning that
waved away for him such a mistake; he decided, under her pressure, and
after a last searching and answering look at her reached the door and
let himself out. The stillness was then prolonged a minute by the
further wait of the two others, Lord Theign where he had been standing
and his daughter on the spot from which she had not moved. It presently
ended in his lordship's turn about as if inferring by the silence that
the intruder had withdrawn.
Is that young man your lover? he said as he drew again near.
Lady Grace waited a little, but spoke as quietly as if she had been
prepared. Has the question a bearing on the promise you a short time
ago demanded of me?
It has a bearing on the so extraordinary appearance of your
intimacy with him!
You mean that if he should bewhat you ask me aboutyour
exaction would then be modified?
My request that you break it short off? That request would, on the
contrary, Lord Theign pronounced, rest on an immense new ground.
Therefore I insist on your telling me the truth.
Won't the truth be before you, father, if you'll think a
momentwithout extravagance? After which, while, as stiffly as
everand it probably seemed to her impatience as stupidlyhe didn't
rise to it, she went on: If I offered you not again to see him,
does that make for you the appearance?
If you offered it, you mean, on your conditionmy promising not to
sell? I promised, said Lord Theign, absolutely nothing at all!
She took him up with all expression. So I promised as little! But
that I should have been able to say what I did sufficiently meets your
She might, wronged as she held herself, have felt him stupid not to
see how wronged; but he was in any case acute for an evasion.
You risked your offer for the great equivalent over which you've so
wildly worked yourself up.
Yes, I've worked myselfthat, I grant you and don't blush for! But
hardly so much as to renounce my 'lover'if, she prodigiously smiled,
I were so fortunate as to have one!
You renounced poor John mightily easilywhom you were so fortunate
as to have!
Her brows rose as high as his own had ever done. Do you call Lord
John my lover?
He was your suitor most assuredly, Lord Theign inimitably said,
though without looking at her; and as strikingly encouraged as he was
Encouraged by you, dear father, beyond doubt!
Encouragederby every one: because you were (yes, you were!
) encouraging. And what I ask of you now is a word of common candour as
to whether you didn't, on your honour, turn him off because of your
just then so stimulated views on the person who has been with us.
Grace replied but after an instant, as moved by more things than she
could saymoved above all, in her trouble and her pity for him, by
other things than harshness: Oh father, father, father!
He searched her through all the compassion of her cry, but appeared
to give way to her sincerity. Well then if I have your denial I
take it as answering my whole questionin a manner that satisfies me.
If there's nothing, on your word, of that sort between you, you can all
the more drop him.
But you said a moment ago that I should all the more in the other
casethat of there being something!
He brushed away her logic-chopping. If you're so keen then for past
remarks I take up your own wordsI accept your own terms for your
putting an end to Mr. Crimble. To which, while, turning pale, she said
nothing, he added: You recognise that you profess yourself ready
Not again to see him, she now answered, if you tell me the
picture's safe? Yes, I recognise that I was readyas well as
how scornfully little you then were!
Never mind what I then wasthe question's of what I actually am,
since I close with you on it The picture's therefore as safe as you
please, Lord Theign pursued, if you'll do what you just now engaged
I engaged to do nothing, she replied after a pause; and the face
she turned to him had grown suddenly tragic. I've no word to take
back, for none passed between us; but I won't do what I
mentioned and what you at once laughed at Because, she finished, the
case is different.
Different? he almost shoutedhow, different?
She didn't look at him for it, but she was none the less strongly
distinct He has been hereand that has done it He knows, she
Knows what I think of him, no doubtfor a brazen young
prevaricator! But what else?
She still kept her eyes on a far-off point. What he will have
seenthat I feel we're too good friends.
Then your denial of it's false, her father fairly thunderedand
you are infatuated?
It made her the more quiet. I like him very much.
So that your row about the picture, he demanded with passion, has
been all a blind? And then as her quietness still held her: And his a
blind as muchto help him to get at you?
She looked at him again now. He must speak for himself. I've said
what I mean.
But what the devil do you mean? Lord Theign, taking in the
hour, had reached the door as in supremely baffled conclusion and with
a sense of time lamentably lost.
Their eyes met upon it all dreadfully across the wide space, and,
hurried and incommoded as she saw him, she yet made him still stand a
minute. Then she let everything go. Do what you like with the
He jerked up his arm and guarding hand as before a levelled blow at
his face, and with the other hand flung open the door, having done with
her now and immediately lost to sight. Left alone she stood a moment
looking before her; then with a vague advance, held apparently by a
quickly growing sense of the implication of her act, reached a table
where she remained a little, deep afresh in thoughtonly the next
thing to fall into a chair close to it and there, with her elbows on
it, yield to the impulse of covering her flushed face with her hands.
HUGH CRIMBLE waited again in the Bruton Street drawing-roomthis
time at the afternoon hour; he restlessly shifted his place, looked at
things about him without seeing them; all he saw, all he outwardly
studied, was his own face and figure as he stopped an instant before a
long glass suspended between two windows. Just as he turned from that
brief and perhaps not wholly gratified inspection Lady Gracethat he
had sent up his name to whom was immediately apparentpresented
herself at the entrance from the other room. These young persons had
hereupon no instant exchange of words; their exchange was mutethey
but paused where they were; while the silence of each evidently tested
the other for full confidence. A measure of this comfort came first, it
would have appeared, to Hugh; though he then at once asked for
confirmation of it.
Am I right, Lady Grace, am I right?to have come, I mean,
after so many days of not hearing, not knowing, and perhaps, all too
stupidly, not trying. And he went on as, still with her eyes on him,
she didn't speak; though, only, we should have guessed, from her stress
of emotion. Even if I'm wrong, let me tell you, I don't caresimply
because, whatever new difficulty I may have brought about for you here
a fortnight ago, there's something that to-day adds to my doubt and my
fear too great a pang, and that has made me feel I can scarce bear the
suspense of them as they are.
The girl came nearer, and if her grave face expressed a pity it yet
declined a dread. Of what suspense do you speak? Your still being
without the other opinion?
Ah, that worries me, yes; and all the more, at this hour, as I say,
that He dropped it, however: I'll tell you in a moment! My real
torment, all the while, has been not to know, from day to day, what
situation, what complication that last scene of ours with your father
here has let you in for; and yet at the same timehaving no sign nor
sound from you!to see the importance of not making anything possibly
worse by approaching you again, however discreetly. I've been in the
dark, he pursued, and feeling that I must leave you there; so
that nowjust brutally turning up once more under personal need and at
any costI don't know whether I most want or most fear what I may
learn from you.
Lady Grace, listening and watching, appeared to choose between
different ways of meeting this appeal; she had a pacifying, postponing
gesture, marked with a beautiful authority, a sign of the value for her
of what she gave precedence to and which waved off everything else.
Have you hadfirst of allany news yet of Bardi?
That I have is what has driven me straight at you
againsince I've shown you before how I turn to you at a crisis. He
has come as I hoped and like a regular good 'un, Hugh was able to
state; I've just met him at the station, but I pick him up again, at
his hotel in Clifford Street, at five. He stopped, on his way from
Dover this morning, to my extreme exasperation, to 'sample' Canterbury,
and I leave him to a bath and a change and tea. Then swooping down I
whirl him round to Bond Street, where his very first apprehension of
the thing (an apprehension, oh I guarantee you, so quick and clean and
fine and wise) will be the flash-light projectedwell, said the young
man, to wind up handsomely, but briefly and reasonably, over the whole
field of our question.
She panted with comprehension. That of the two portraits being but
the one sitter!
That of the two portraits being but the one sitter. With everything
so to the good, more and more, that bangs in, up to the head, the
golden nail of authenticity, andhe quite glowed through his gloom
for itwe take our stand in glory on the last Mantovano in the
It was a presumption his friend visibly yearned forbut over which,
too, with her eyes away from him, she still distinguished the shadow of
a cloud. That is if the flash-light comes!
That is if it comes indeed, confound it!he had to enlarge a
little under the recall of past experience. So now, at any rate, you
see my tension!
She looked at him again as with a vision too full for a waste of
words. While you on your side of course keep well in view Mr.
Yes, while I keep well in view Mr. Bender's; though he doesn't
know, you see, of Bardi's being at hand.
Still, said the girl, always all lucid for the case, if the
'flash-light' does presently break!
It will first take him in the eye? Hugh had jumped to her idea,
but he adopted it only to provide: It might if he didn't now wear
goggles, so to say!clapped on him too hard by Pappendick's so
damnably perverse opinion. With which, however, he quickly bethought
himself. Ah, of course, these wretched days, you haven't known of
Pappendick's personal visit. After that wire from Verona I wired him
And that brought him? she cried.
To do the honest thing, yesI will say for him: to renew,
for full assurance, his early memory of our picture.
She hung upon it. But only to stick then to what he had
To declare that for him, lackaday! our thing's a pure
Morettoand to declare as much, moreover, with all the weight of his
authority, to Bender himself, who of course made a point of seeing
So that Bendershe followed and wonderedis, as a consequence,
It made her friend's humour play up in his acute-ness. Bender, Lady
Grace, is, by the law of his being, never 'wholly' offor
on!anything. He lives, like the moon, in mid-air, shedding his silver
light on earth; never quite gone, yet never all theresave for
inappreciable moments. He would be in eclipse as a peril, I
grant, Hugh went onif the question had struck him as really closed.
But luckily the blessed Presswhich is a pure heavenly joy and now
quite immense on itkeeps it open as wide as Piccadilly.
Which makes, however, Lady Grace discriminated, for the danger of
Ah, but all the more for the shame of a surrender! Of course I
admit that when it's a question of a life spent, like his, in waiting,
acquisitively, for the cat to jump, the only thing for one, at a given
moment, as against that signal, is to be found one's self by the animal
in the line of its trajectory. That's exactly, he laughed, where we
She cast about as intelligently to note the place. Your great idea,
you mean, has so workedwith the uproar truly as loud as it has
seemed to come to us here?
All beyond my wildest hope, Hugh returned; since the sight of the
picture, flocked to every day by thousands, so beautifully tells. That we must at any cost keep it, that the nation must, and hang on to
it tight, is the cry that fills the airto the tune of ten letters a
day in the Papers, with every three days a gorgeous leader; to say
nothing of more and more passionate talk all over the place, some of it
awfully wild, but all of it wind in our sails.
I suppose it was that wind then that blew me round there to see the
thing in its new light, Lady Grace said. But I couldn't stayfor
Ah, Hugh insisted on his side for comfort, we'll crow loudest
yet! And don't meanwhile, just don't, those splendid strange
eyes of the fellow seem consciously to plead? The women, bless them,
adore him, cling to him, and there's talk of a 'Ladies' League of
Protest'all of which keeps up the pitch.
Poor Amy and I are a ladies' league, the girl joylessly jokedas
we now take in the 'Journal' regardless of expense.
Oh then you practically have it allsince, Hugh, added
after a brief hesitation, I suppose Lord Theign himself doesn't
At far-off Salsomaggioreby the papers? No doubt indeed he isn't
spared even the worst, said Lady Graceand no doubt too it's a drag
on his cure.
Her companion seemed struck with her lack of assurance. Then you
don'tif I may askhear from him?
I? Never a word.
He doesn't write? Hugh allowed himself to insist.
He doesn't write. And I don't write either.
And Lady Sandgate? Hugh once more ventured.
Doesn't she write?
Doesn't she hear? said the young man, treating the other
form of the question as a shade evasive.
I've asked her not to tell me, his friend repliedthat is if he
simply holds out.
So that as she doesn't tell youHugh was clear for the
inferencehe of course does hold out. To which he added almost
accusingly while his eyes searched her: But your case is really bad.
She confessed to it after a moment, but as if vaguely enjoying it.
My case is really bad.
He had a vividness of impatience and contrition. 197
And it's I whoall too blunderingly!have made it so?
I've made it so myself, she said with a high head-shake, and you,
on the contrary! But here she checked her emphasis.
Ah, I've so wanted, through our horrid silence, to help
you! And he pressed to get more at the truth. You've so quite fatally
To the last pointas I tell you. But it's not to that I refer,
she explained; it's to the ground of complaint I've given you.
And then as this but left him blank, It's timeit was at once
timethat you should know, she pursued; and yet if it's hard for me
to speak, as you see, it was impossible for me to write. But there it
is. She made her sad and beautiful effort. The last thing before he
left us I let the picture go.
You mean? But he could only wondertill, however, it glimmered
upon him. You gave up your protest?
I gave up my protest. I told him thatso far as I'm concerned!he
might do as he liked.
Her poor friend turned pale at the sharp little shock of it; but if
his face thus showed the pang of too great a surprise he yet wreathed
the convulsion in a gay grimace. You leave me to struggle alone?
I leave you to struggle alone.
He took it in bewilderingly, but tried again, even to the heroic,
for optimism. Ah well, you decided, I suppose, on some new personal
Yes; a reason came up, a reason I hadn't to that extent looked for
and which of a suddenquickly, before he wentI had somehow to
deal with. So to give him my word in the dismal sense I mention was my
only way to meet the strain. She paused; Hugh waited for something
further, and I gave him my word I wouldn't help you, she wound up.
He turned it over. To act in the matterI see.
To act in the mattershe went through with itafter the high
stand I had taken.
Still he studied it. I seeI see. It's between you and your
It's between him and meyes. An engagement not again to trouble
Hugh, from his face, might have feared a still greater complication;
so he made, as he would probably have said, a jolly lot of this. Ah,
that was nice of you. And natural. That's all right!
Noshe spoke from a deeper depthit's altogether wrong. For
whatever happens I must now accept it.
Well, say you musthe really declined not to treat it almost as
rather a larkif we can at least go on talking.
Ah, we can at least go on talking! she perversely sighed.
I can say anything I like so long as I don't say it to him she
almost wailed. But she added with more firmness: I can still hopeand
I can still pray.
He set free again with a joyous gesture all his confidence. Well,
what more could you do, anyhow? So isn't that enough?
It took her a moment to say, and even then she didn't. Is it enough
for you, Mr. Crimble?
What is enough for mehe could for his part readily name
itis the harm done you at our last meeting by my irruption; so that
if you got his consent to see me!
I didn't get his consent!she had turned away from the searching
eyes, but she faced them again to rectify: I see you against his
Ah then thank God I came!it was like a bland breath on a feu
de joie: he flamed so much higher.
Thank God you've come, yesfor my deplorable exposure. And to
justify her name for it before he could protest, I offered him
here not to see you, she rigorously explained.
'Offered him?Hugh did drop for it. Not to see meever again?
She didn't falter. Never again.
Ah then he understood. But he wouldn't let that serve?
Not for the price I put on it.
His yielding on the picture?
His yielding on the picture.
Hugh lingered before it all. Your proposal wasn't 'good enough'?
It wasn't good enough.
I see, he repeatedI see. But he was in that light again
mystified. Then why are you therefore not free?
Becausejust afteryou came back, and I did see you
Ah, it was all present. You found you were too sorry for me?
I found I was too sorry for youas he himself found I was.
Hugh had got hold of it now. And that, you mean, he couldn't
So little that when you had gone (and how you had to go you
remember) he at once proposed, rather than that I should deceive you in
a way so different from his own
To do all we want of him?
To do all I did at least.
And it was then, he took in, that you wouldn't deal?
Welltry though she might to keep the colour out, it all came
straighter and straighter nowthose moments had brought you home to
me as they had also brought him; making such a difference, I
felt, for what he veered round to agree to.
The differenceHugh wanted it so adorably definitethat you
didn't see your way to accepting?
No, not to accepting the condition he named.
Which was that he'd keep the picture for you if you'd treat me as
If I'd treat you, said Lady Grace with her eyes on his fine young
face, as impossible.
He kept her eyeshe clearly liked so to make her repeat it. And
not even for the sake of the picture? After he had given her time,
however, her silence, with her beautiful look in it, seemed to admonish
him not to force her for his pleasure; as if what she had already told
him didn't make him throb enough for the wonder of it. He had
it, and let her see by his high flush how he made it his ownwhile,
the next thing, as it was but part of her avowal, the rest of that
illumination called for a different intelligence. Your father's
reprobation of me personally is on the ground that you're all such
She spared him the invidious answer to this as, a moment before, his
eagerness had spared her reserve; she flung over the ground that his
question laid bare the light veil of an evasion, 'Great people,' I've
learned to see, mustn'tto remain greatdo what my father's doing.
It's indeed on the theory of their not so behaving, Hugh returned,
that we see themall the inferior rest of usin the grand glamour of
If he had spoken to meet her admirable frankness half-way, that
beauty in her almost brushed him aside to make at a single step the
rest of the journey. You won't see them in it for longif they don't
now, under such tests and with such opportunities, begin to take care.
This had given him, at a stroke, he clearly felt, all freedom for
the closer criticism. Lord Theign perhaps recognises some such canny
truth, but 'takes care,' with the least trouble to himself and the
finest short cutdoes it, if you'll let me say so, rather on the
cheapby finding 'the likes' of me, as his daughter's trusted friend,
out of the question.
Well, you won't mind that, will you? Lady Grace asked, if he
finds his daughter herself, in any such relation to you, quite as much
Different enough, from position to position and person to person,
he brightly brooded, is the view that gets itself most
comfortably taken of the implications of Honour!
Yes, the girl returned; my father, in the act of despoiling us
all, all who are interested, without apparently the least unpleasant
consciousness, keeps the balance showily even, to his mostly so fine,
so delicate sense, by suddenly discovering that he's scandalised at my
caring for your friendship.
Hugh looked at her, on this, as with the gladness verily of
possession promised and only waitingor as if from that moment forth
he had her assurance of everything that most concerned him and that
might most inspire. Well, isn't the moral of it all simply that what
his perversity of pride, as we can only hold it, will have most done
for us is to bring usand to keep usblessedly together?
She seemed for a moment to question his simply. Do you regard us
as so much 'together' when you remember where, in spite of everything,
I've put myself?
By telling him to do what he likes? he recalled without
embarrassment. Oh, that wasn't in spite of 'everything'it was only
in spite of the Manto-vano.
'Only'? she flushedwhen I've given the picture up?
Ah, Hugh cried, I don't care a hang for the picture! And then as
she let him, closer, close to her with this, possess himself of her
hands: We both only care, don't we, that we're given to each other
thus? We both only care, don't we, that nothing can keep us apart?
Oh, if you've forgiven me! she sighed into his fond face.
Why, since you gave the thing up for me, he pleadingly
laughed, it isn't as if you had given me up!
For anything, anything? Ah never, never! she breathed.
Then why aren't we all right?
Well, if you will!
Oh for ever and ever and ever!and with this ardent cry of his
devotion his arms closed in their strength and she was clasped to his
breast and to his lips.
The next moment, however, she had checked him with the warning Amy
Sandgate!as if she had heard their hostess enter the other room.
Lady Sand-gate was in fact almost already upon themtheir disjunction
had scarce been effected and she had reached the nearer threshold. They
had at once put the widest space possible between thema little of the
flurry of which transaction agitated doubtless their clutch at
composure. They gave back a shade awkwardly and consciously, on one
side and the other, the speculative though gracious attention she for a
few moments made them and their recent intimate relation the subject
of; from all of which indeed Lady Grace sought and found cover in a
prompt and responsible address to Hugh. Mustn't you go without more
delay to Clifford Street?
He came back to it all alert At once! He had recovered his hat and
reached the other door, whence he gesticulated farewell to the elder
lady. Please pardon meand he disappeared.
Lady Sandgate hereupon stood for a little silently confronted with
the girl. Have you freedom of mind for the fact that your father's
suddenly at hand?
He has come back?Lady Grace was sharply struck.
He arrives this afternoon and appears to go straight to
Kittyaccording to a wire that I find downstairs on coming back late
from my luncheon. He has returned with a rushas, said his
correspondent in the elation of triumph, I was sure he would!
Her young friend was more at sea. Brought back, you mean, by the
outcryeven though he so hates it?
But she was more and more all luciditysave in so far as she was
now almost all authority. Ah, hating still more to seem afraid, he has
come back to face the music!
Lady Grace, turning away as in vague despair for the manner in which
the music might affect him, yet wheeled about again, after thought, to
a positive recognition and even to quite an inconsequent pride.
Yesthat's dear old father!
And what was Lady Sandgate moreover but mistress now of the subject?
At the point the row has reached he couldn't stand it another day; so
he has thrown up his cure andlest we should oppose him!not even
announced his start.
Well, her companion returned, now that I've done it all I
shall never oppose him again!
Lady Sandgate appeared to show herself as still under the impression
she might have received on entering. He'll only oppose you!
If he does, said Lady Grace, we're at present two to bear it.
Heaven save us thenthe elder woman was quick, was even cordial,
for the sense of thisyour good friend is clever!
Lady Grace honoured the remark. Mr. Crim-ble's remarkably clever.
And you've arranged?
We haven't arrangedbut we've understood. So that, dear Amy, if
you understand! Lady Grace paused, for Gotch had come in from
His lordship has arrived? his mistress immediately put to him.
No, my lady, but Lord John hasto know if he's expected here, and in that case, by your ladyship's leave, to come up.
Her ladyship turned to the girl. May Lord Johnas we do await your
As suits you, please!
He may come up, said Lady Sandgate to Gotch. His lordship's
expected. She had a pause till they were alone again, when she went on
to her companion: You asked me just now if I understood. WellI do
Lady Grace, with Gotch's withdrawal, which left the door open, had
reached the passage to the other room. Then you'll excuse me!she
made her escape.
Lord John, reannounced the next instant from the nearest quarter and
quite waiving salutations, left no doubt of the high pitch of his
eagerness and tension as soon as the door had closed behind him. What
on earth then do you suppose he has come back to do? To which
he added while his hostess's gesture impatiently disclaimed conjecture:
Because when a fellow really finds himself the centre of a
Isn't it just at the centre, she interrupted, that you keep
remarkably still, and only in the suburbs that you feel the rage? I
count on dear Theign's doing nothing in the least foolish!
Ah, but he can't have chucked everything for nothing, Lord John
sharply returned; and wherever you place him in the rumpus he can't
not meet somehow, hang it, such an assault on his character as a great
nobleman and good citizen.
It's his luck to have become with the public of the newspapers the
scapegoat-in-chief: for the sins, so-called, of a lot of people! Lady
Sandgate inconclusively sighed.
Yes, Lord John concluded for her, the mercenary millions on whose
traffic in their trumpery valueswhen they're so lucky as to have
any!this isn't a patch!
Oh, there are cases and cases: situations and
responsibilities so intensely differ!that appeared on the whole, for
her ladyship, the moral to be gathered.
Of course everything differs, all round, from everything, Lord
John went on; and who in the world knows anything of his own case but
the victim of circumstances exposing himself, for the highest and
purest motives, to be literally torn to pieces?
Well, said Lady Sandgate as, in her strained suspense, she freshly
consulted her bracelet watch, I hope he isn't already tornif you
tell me you've been to Kitty's.
Oh, he was all right so far: he had arrived and gone out again,
the young man explained, as Lady Imber hadn't been at home.
Ah cool Kitty! his hostess sighed againbut diverted, as she
spoke, by the reappearance of her butler, this time positively
preceding Lord Theign, whom she met, when he presently stood before
her, his garb of travel exchanged for consummate afternoon dress, with
yearning tenderness and compassionate curiosity. At last, dearest
friendwhat a joy! But with Kitty not at home to receive you?
That young woman's parent made light of it for the indulged
creature's sake. Oh I knew my Kitty! I dressed and I find her at
five-thirty. To which he added as he only took in further, without
expression, Lord John: But Bender, who came there before my
arrivalhe hasn't tried for me here?
It was a point on which Lord John himself could at least be
expressive. I met him at the club at luncheon; he had had your
letterbut for which chance, my dear man, I should have known nothing.
You'll see him all right at this house; but I'm glad, if I may say so,
Theign, the speaker pursued with some emphasisI'm glad, you know,
to get hold of you first.
Lord Theign seemed about to ask for the meaning of this remark, but
his other companion's apprehension had already overflowed. You haven't
come back, have youto whatever it may be!for trouble of any
sort with Breckenridge?
His lordship transferred his penetration to this fair friend, Have
you become so intensely absorbedthese remarkable days!in
She felt the shadow, you would have seen, of his claimed right, or
at least privilege, of searchyet easily, after an instant, emerged
clear. I've thought and dreamt but of yoususpicious man!in
proportion as the clamour has spread; and Mr. Bender meanwhile, if you
want to know, hasn't been near me once!
Lord John came in a manner, and however unconsciously, to her aid.
You'd have seen, if he had been, what's the matter with him, I
thinkand what perhaps Theign has seen from his own letter: since, he
went on to his fellow-visitor, I understood him a week ago to have
been much taken up with writing you.
Lord Theign received this without comment, only again with an air of
expertly sounding the speaker; after which he gave himself afresh for a
moment to Lady Sandgate. I've not come home for any clamour, as you
surely know me well enough to believe; or to notice for a minute the
cheapest insolence and aggressionwhich frankly scarce reached me out
there; or which, so far as it did, I was daily washed clean of by those
blest waters. I returned on Mr. Bender's letter, he then vouchsafed to
Lord Johnthree extraordinarily vulgar pages about the egregious
About his having suddenly turned up in person, yes, and, as
Breckenridge says, marked the picture down?the young man was clearly
all-knowing. That has of course weighed on Benderbeing
confirmed apparently, on the whole, by the drift of public opinion.
Lord Theign took, on this, with a frank show of reaction from some
of his friend's terms, a sharp turn off; he even ironically indicated
the babbler or at least the blunderer in question to Lady Sandgate. He
too has known me so long, and he comes here to talk to me of 'the drift
of public opinion'! After which he quite charged at his vain
informant. Am I to tell you again that I snap my fingers at the drift
of public opinion?which is but another name for the chatter of all
the fools one doesn't know, in addition to all those (and plenty of
'em!) one damnably does.
Lady Sandgate, by a turn of the hand, dropped oil from her golden
cruse. Ah, you did that, in your own grand way, before you went
I don't speak of the matter, my dear man, in the light of its
effect on you, Lord John importantly explainedbut in the
light of its effect on Bender; who so consumedly wants the picture, if
he is to have it, to be a Mantovano, but seems unable to get it
taken at last for anything but the fine old Moretto that of course it
has always been.
Lord Theign, in growing disgust at the whole beastly complication,
betrayed more and more the odd pitch of the temper that had abruptly
restored him with such incalculable weight to the scene of action.
Well, isn't a fine old Moretto good enough for him; confound him?
It pulled up not a little Lord John, who yet made his point. A fine
old Moretto, you know, was exactly what he declined at Dedboroughfor
its comparative, strictly comparative, insignificance; and he only
thought of the picture when the wind began to rise for the enormous
That that mendacious young cad who has bamboozled Grace, Lord
Theign broke in, tried to befool us, for his beggarly reasons, into
claiming for it?
Lady Sandgate renewed her mild influence. Ah, the knowing people
haven't had their last wordthe possible Mantovano isn't exploded
yet! Her noble friend, however, declined the offered spell. I've
had enough of the knowing peoplethe knowing people are serpents! My
picture's to take or to leaveand it's what I've come back, if you
please, John, to say to your man to his face.
This declaration had a report as sharp and almost as multiplied as
the successive cracks of a discharged revolver; yet when the light
smoke cleared Lady Sand-gate at least was still left standing and
smiling. Yes, why in mercy's name can't he choose which?and
why does he write him, dreadful Breckenridge, such tiresome
Lord John took up her idea as with the air of something that had
been working in him rather vehemently, though under due caution too, as
a consequence of this exchange, during which he had apprehensively
watched his elder. I don't think I quite see how, my dear
Theign, the poor chap's letter was so offensive.
In that case his dear Theign could tell him. Because it was a
tissue of expressions that may pass currentover counters and in awful
newspapersin his extraordinary world or country, but that I
decline to take time to puzzle out here.
If he didn't make himself understood, Lord John took leave to
laugh, it must indeed have been an unusual production for Bender.
Oh, I often, with the wild beauty, if you will, of so many of his
turns, haven't a notion, Lady Sandgate confessed with an equal gaiety,
of what he's talking about.
I think I never miss his weird sense, her younger guest again
loyally contendedand in fact as a general thing I rather like it!
I happen to like nothing that I don't enjoy, Lord Theign rejoined
with some asperityand so far as I do follow the fellow he assumes on
my part an interest in his expenditure of purchase-money that I neither
feel nor pretend to. He doesn't wantby what I spell outthe picture
he refused at Dedborough; he may possibly wantif one reads it sothe
picture on view in Bond Street; and he yet appears to make, with great
emphasis, the stupid ambiguous point that these two 'articles' (the
greatest of Morettos an 'article'!) haven't been 'by now' proved
different: as if I engaged with him that I myself would so prove them!
Lord John indulged in a pausebut also in a suggestion. He must
allude to your hopingwhen you allowed us to place the picture with
Mackintoshthat it would show to all London in the most precious light
Well, if it hasn't so shownand Lord Theign stared as if
mystifiedwhat in the world's the meaning of this preposterous
The racket is largely, his young friend explained, the
vociferation of the people who contradict each other about it.
On which their hostess sought to enliven the gravity of the
question. Someyesshouting on the housetops that's a Mantovano of
the Mantovanos, and others shrieking back at them that they're donkeys
if not criminals.
He may take it for whatever he likes, said Lord Theign, heedless
of these contributions, he may father it on Michael Angelo himself if
he'll but clear out with it and let me alone!
What he'd like to take it for, Lord John at this point saw
his way to remark, is something in the nature of a Hundred Thousand.
A Hundred Thousand? cried his astonished friend.
Quite, I dare say, a Hundred Thousandthe young man enjoyed
clearly handling even by the lips so round a sum.
Lady Sandgate disclaimed however with agility any appearance of
having gaped. Why, haven't you yet realised, Theign, that those are
the American figures?
His lordship looked at her fixedly and then did the same by Lord
John, after which he waited a little. I've nothing to do with the
American figureswhich seem to me, if you press me, you know, quite
Well, I'd be as vulgar as anybody for a Hundred Thousand! Lady
Sandgate hastened to proclaim.
Didn't he let us know at Dedborough, Lord John asked of the master
of that seat, that he had no use, as he said, for lower values?
I've heard him remark myself, said their companion, rising to the
monstrous memory, that he wouldn't take a cheap pictureeven though a
'handsome' oneas a present.
And does he call the thing round the corner a cheap picture? the
proprietor of the work demanded.
Lord John threw up his arms with a grin of impatience. All he wants
to do, don't you see? is to prevent your making it one!
Lord Theign glared at this imputation to him of a low ductility. I
offered the thing, as it was, at an estimate worthy of itand of me.
My dear reckless friend, his young adviser protested, you named
no figure at all when it came to the point!
It didn't come to the point! Nothing came to the point but
that I put a Moretto on view; as a thing, yes, perfectlyLord Theign
accepted the reminding gestureon which a rich American had an eye
and in which he had, so to speak, an interest. That was what I wanted,
and so we left itparting each of us ready but neither of us bound.
Ah, Mr. Bender's bound, as he'd say, Lady Sand-gate
interposed'bound' to make you swallow the enormous luscious plum
that your appetite so morbidly rejects!
My appetite, as morbid as you likeher old friend had shrewdly
turned on heris my own affair, and if the fellow must deal in
enormities I warn him to carry them elsewhere!
Lord John, plainly, by this time, was quite exasperated at the
absurdity of him. But how can't you see that it's only a plum, as she
says, for a plum and an eye for an eyesince the picture itself, with
this huge ventilation, is now quite a different affair?
How the deuce a different affair when just what the man himself
confesses is that, in spite of all the chatter of the prigs and
pedants, there's no really established ground for treating it as
anything but the same? On which, as having so unanswerably spoken,
Lord Theign shook himself free again, in his high petulance, and moved
restlessly to where the passage to the other room appeared to offer his
nerves an issue; all moreover to the effect of suggesting to us that
something still other than what he had said might meanwhile work in him
behind and beneath that quantity. The spectators of his trouble watched
him, for the time, in uncertainty and with a mute but associated
comment on the perversity and oddity he had so suddenly developed; Lord
John giving a shrug of almost bored despair and Lady Sandgate
signalling caution and tact for their action by a finger flourished to
her lips, and in fact at once proceeding to apply these arts. The
subject of her attention had still remained as in worried thought; he
had even mechanically taken up a book from a tablewhich he then,
after an absent glance at it, tossed down.
You're so detached from reality, you adorable dreamer, she
beganand unless you stick to that you might as well have done
nothing. What you call the pedantry and priggishness and all the rest
of it is exactly what poor Breckenridge asked almost on his knees,
wonderful man, to be allowed to pay you for; since even if the
meddlers and chatterers haven't settled anything for those who
knowthough which of the elect themselves after all does seem
to know?it's a great service rendered him to have started such a hare
Lord John took freedom to throw off very much the same idea.
Certainly his connection with the whole question and agitation makes
no end for his glory.
It didn't, that remark, bring their friend back to him, but it at
least made his indifference flash with derision. His 'glory'Mr.
Bender's glory? Why, they quite universally loathe himjudging by the
stuff they print!
Oh, hereas a corrupter of our morals and a promoter of our decay,
even though so many are flat on their faces to himyes! But it's
another affair over there where the eagle screams like a thousand
steam-whistles and the newspapers flap like the leaves of the forest:
there he'll be, if you'll only let him, the biggest thing going;
since sound, in that air, seems to mean size, and size to be all that
counts. If he said of the thing, as you recognise, Lord John went on,
'It's going to be a Mantovano,' why you can bet your life that it
isthat it has got to be some kind of a one.
His fellow-guest, at this, drew nearer again, irritated, you would
have been sure, by the unconscious infelicity of the pairworked up to
something quite openly wilful and passionate. No kind of a furious
flaunting one, under my patronage, that I can prevent, my boy!
The Dedborough picture in the marketowing to horrid little
circumstances that regard myself aloneis the Dedborough picture at a
decent, sufficient, civilised Dedborough price, and nothing else
whatever; which I beg you will take as my last word on the subject.
Lord John, trying whether he could take it, momentarily
mingled his hushed state with that of their hostess, to whom he
addressed a helpless look; after which, however, he appeared to find
that he could only reassert himself. May I nevertheless reply that I
think you'll not be able to prevent anything?since the
discussed object will completely escape your control in New York!
And almost any discussed objectLady Sand-gate rose to the
occasion alsois in New York, by what one hears, easily worth
a Hundred Thousand!
Lord Theign looked from one of them to the other. I sell the man a
Hundred Thousand worth of swagger and advertisement; and of fraudulent
swagger and objectionable advertisement at that?
WellLord John was but briefly baffledwhen the picture's his
you can't help its doing what it can and what it will for him
Then it isn't his yet, the elder man retortedand I promise you
never will be if he has sent you to me with his big drum!
Lady Sandgate turned sadly on this to her associate in patience, as
if the case were now really beyond them. Yes, how indeed can it ever
become his if Theign simply won't let him pay for it?
Her question was unanswerable. It's the first time in all my life
I've known a man feel insulted, in such a piece of business, by
happening not to be, in the usual way, more or less swindled!
Theign is unable to take it in, her ladyship explained, thatas
I've heard it said of all these money-monsters of the new typeBender
simply can't afford not to be cited and celebrated as the
biggest buyer who ever lived.
Ah, cited and celebrated at my expensesay it at once and
have it over, that I may enjoy what you all want to do to me!
The dear man's inimitableat his 'expense'! It was more than Lord
John could bear as he fairly flung himself off in his derisive
impotence and addressed his wail to Lady Sandgate.
Yes, at my expense is exactly what I mean, Lord Theign
asseveratedat the expense of my modest claim to regulate my
behaviour by my own standards. There you perfectly are about the
man, and it's precisely what I saythat he's to hustle and harry me
because he's a money-monster: which I never for a moment dreamed
of, please understand, when I let you, John, thrust him at me as a
pecuniary resource at Dedborough. I didn't put my property on view that
he might blow about it!
No, if you like it, Lady Sandgate returned; but you certainly
didn't so arrangeshe seemed to think her point somehow would
helpthat you might blow about it yourself!
Nobody wants to 'blow,' Lord John more stoutly interposed, either
hot or cold, I take it; but I really don't see the harm of Bender's
liking to be known for the scale of his transactionsactual or merely
imputed even, if you will; since that scale is really so magnificent.
Lady Sandgate half accepted, half qualified this plea. The only
question perhaps is why he doesn't try for some precious work that
somebodyless delicious than dear Theigncan be persuaded on
bended knees to accept a hundred thousand for.
'Try' for one?her younger visitor took it up while her elder
more attentively watched him. That was exactly what he did try for
when he pressed you so hard in vain for the great Sir Joshua.
Oh well, he mustn't come back to thatmust he, Theign? her
That personage failed to reply, so that Lord John went on,
unconscious apparently of the still more suspicious study to which he
exposed himself. Besides which there are no things of that
magnitude knocking about, don't you know?they've got to be
worked up first if they're to reach the grand publicity of the Figure!
Would you mind, he continued to his noble monitor, an agreement on
some such basis as this?that you shall resign yourself to the
biggest equivalent you'll squeamishly consent to take, if it's at the
same time the smallest he'll squeamishly consent to offer; but that,
that done, you shall leave him free
Lady Sandgate took it up straight, rounding it off, as their
companion only waited. Leave him free to talk about the sum offered
and the sum taken as practically one and the same?
Ah, you know, Lord John discriminated, he doesn't 'talk' so much
himselfthere's really nothing blatant or crude about poor Bender.
It's the rate at whichby the very way he's 'fixed': an awful way
indeed, I grant you!a perfect army of reporter-wretches, close at his
heels, are always talking for him and of him.
Lord Theign spoke hereupon at last with the air as of an impulse
that had been slowly gathering force. You talk for him, my dear
chap, pretty well. You urge his case, my honour, quite as if you were
assured of a commission on the jobon a fine ascending scale! Has he
put you up to that proposition, eh? Do you get a handsome
percentage and are you to make a good thing of it?
The young man coloured under this stinging pleasantrywhether from
a good conscience affronted or from a bad one made worse; but he
otherwise showed a bold front, only bending his eyes a moment on his
watch. As he's to come to you himselfand I don't know why the
mischief he doesn't come!he will answer you that graceful question.
Will he answer it, Lord Theign asked, with the veracity that the
suggestion you've just made on his behalf represents him as so
beautifully adhering to? On which he again quite fiercely turned his
back and recovered his detachment, the others giving way behind him to
a blanker dismay.
Lord John, in spite of this however, pumped up a tone. I don't see
why you should speak as if I were urging some abomination.
Then I'll tell you why!and Lord Theign was upon him again for
the purpose. Because I had rather give the cursed thing away outright
and for good and all than that it should hang out there another day in
the interest of such equivocations!
Lady Sandgate's dismay yielded to her wonder, and her wonder
apparently in turn to her amusement. 'Give it away,' my dear friend,
to a man who only longs to smother you in gold?
Her dear friend, however, had lost patience with her levity. Give
it awayjust for a luxury of protest and a stoppage of chatterto
some cause as unlike as possible that of Mr. Bender's power of sound
and his splendid reputation: to the Public, to the Authorities, to the
Thingumbob, to the Nation!
Lady Sandgate broke into horror while Lord John stood sombre and
stupefied. Ah, my dear creature, you've flights of extravagance!
One thing's very certain, Lord Theign quite heedlessly
pursuedthat the thought of my property on view there does give
intolerably on my nerves, more and more every minute that I'm conscious
of it; so that, hang it, if one thinks of it, why shouldn't I, for my
relief, do again, damme, what I like?that is bang the door in
their faces, have the show immediately stopped? He turned with the
attraction of this idea from one of his listeners to the other. It's
my showit isn't Bender's, surely!and I can do just as I choose
Ah, but isn't that the very point?and Lady Sandgate put it to
Lord John. Isn't it Bender's show much more than his?
Her invoked authority, however, in answer to this, made but a motion
of disappointment and disgust at so much rank follywhile Lord Theign,
on the other hand, followed up his happy thought. Then if it's
Bender's show, or if he claims it is, there's all the more reason! And
it took his lordship's inspiration no longer to flower. See here,
Johndo this: go right round there this moment, please, and tell them
from me to shut straight down!
'Shut straight down'? the young man abhorrently echoed.
Stop it to-nightwind it up and end it: see? The more the
entertainer of that vision held it there the more charm it clearly took
on for him. Have the picture removed from view and the incident
You seriously ask that of me! poor Lord John quavered.
Why in the world shouldn't I? It's a jolly lot less than you asked
of me a month ago at Dedborough.
What then am I to say to them? Lord John spoke but after a long
moment, during which he had only looked hard andan observer might
even then have feltominously at his taskmaster.
That personage replied as if wholly to have done with the matter.
Say anything that comes into your clever head. I don't really see that
there's anything else for you! Lady Sandgate sighed to the
messenger, who gave no sign save of positive stiffness.
The latter seemed still to weigh his displeasing obligation; then he
eyed his friend significantlyalmost portentously. Those are
absolutely your sentiments?
Those are absolutely my sentimentsand Lord Theign brought this
out as with the force of a physical push.
Very well then! But the young man, indulging in a final, a fairly
sinister, study of such a dealer in the arbitrary, made sure of the
extent, whatever it was, of his own wrong. Not one more day?
Lord Theign only waved him away. Not one more hour!
He paused at the door, this reluctant spokesman, as if for some
supreme protest; but after another prolonged and decisive engagement
with the two pairs of eyes that waited, though differently, on his
performance, he clapped on his hat as in the rage of his resentment and
departed on his mission.
He can't bear to do it, poor man! Lady Sand-gate ruefully remarked
to her remaining guest after Lord John had, under extreme pressure,
dashed out to Bond Street.
I dare say not!Lord Theign, flushed with the felicity of
self-expression, made little of that. But he goes too far, you see,
and it clears the airpouah! Now thereforeand he glanced at the
clockI must go to Kitty.
Kittywith what Kitty wants, Lady Sandgate opinedwon't thank
you for that!
She never thanks me for anythingand the fact of his resignation
clearly added here to his bitterness. So it's no great loss!
Won't you at any rate, his hostess asked, wait for Bender?
His lordship cast it to the winds. What have I to do with him now?
Why surely if he'll accept your own price!
Lord Theign thoughthe wondered; and then as if fairly amused at
himself: Hanged if I know what is my own price! After which he
went for his hat. But there's one thing, he remembered as he came
back with it: where's my too, too unnatural daughter?
If you mean Grace and really want her I'll send and find out.
Not nowhe bethought himself. But does she see that
Mr. Crimble? Yes, she sees him.
He kept his eyes on her. Then how far has it gone?
Lady Sandgate overcame an embarrassment. Well, not even yet, I
think, so far as they'd like.
They'd 'like'heaven save the mark!to marry?
I suspect them of it. What line, if it should come to that, she
asked, would you then take?
He was perfectly prompt. The line that for Grace it's simply
The force of her deprecation of such language was qualified by tact.
Ah, darling, as dreadful as that?
He could but view the possibility with dark resentment. It lets us
so downfrom what we've always been and done; so down, down, down that
I'm amazed you don't feel it!
Oh, I feel there's still plenty to keep you up! she soothingly
He seemed to consider this vague amountwhich he apparently judged,
however, not so vast as to provide for the whole yearning of his
nature. Well, my dear, he thus more blandly professed, I shall need
all the extra agrément that your affection can supply.
If nothing could have been, on this, richer response, nothing could
at the same time have bee more pleasing than her modesty. Ah, my
affectionate Theign, is, as I think you know, a fountain always in
flood; but in any more worldly element than thatas you've ever seen
for yourselfa poor strand with my own sad affairs, a broken reed; not
'great' as they used so finely to call it! You arewith the
natural sense of greatness and, for supreme support, the instinctive
grand man doing and taking things.
He sighed, none the less, he groaned, with his thoughts of trouble,
for the strain he foresaw on these resolutions. If you mean that I
hold up my head, on higher grounds, I grant that I always have. But how
much longer possible when my children commit such vulgarities? Why in
the name of goodness are such children? What the devil has got into
them, and is it really the case that when Grace offers as a proof of
her license and a specimen of her taste a son-in-law as you tell me I'm
in danger of helplessly to swallow the dose?
Do you find Mr. Crimble, Lady Sandgate as if there might really be
something to say, so utterly out of the question?
I found him on the two occasions before I went away in the last
degree offensive and outrageous; but even if he charged one and one's
poor dear decent old defences with less rabid a fury everything about
him would forbid that kind of relation.
What kind of relation, if any, Hugh's deficiencies might still
render thinkable Lord Theign was kept from going on to mention by the
voice of Mr. Gotch, who had thrown open the door to the not altogether
assured sound of Mr. Breckenridge Bender. The guest in possession
gave a cry of impatience, but Lady Sandgate said Coming up?
If his lordship will see him.
Oh, he's beyond his time, his lordship pronouncedI can't see
Ah, but mustn't youand mayn't I then? She waited,
however, for no response to signify to her servant Let him come, and
her companion could but exhale a groan of reluctant accommodation as if
he wondered at the point she made of it. It enlightened him indeed
perhaps a little that she went on while Gotch did her bidding. Does
the kind of relation you'd be condemned to with Mr. Crimble let you
down, down, down, as you say, more than the relation you've been having
with Mr. Bender?
Lord Theign had for it the most uninforming of stares. Do you mean
don't I hate 'em equally both?
She cut his further reply short, however, by a Hush! of
warningMr. Bender was there and his introducer had left them.
Lord Theign, full of his purpose of departure, sacrificed hereupon
little to ceremony. I've but a moment, to my regret, to give you, Mr.
Bender, and if you've been unavoidably detained, as you great bustling
people are so apt to be, it will perhaps still be soon enough for your
comfort to hear from me that I've just given order to close our
exhibition. From the present hour on, sirhe put it with the firmness
required to settle the futility of an appeal.
Mr. Bender's large surprise lost itself, however, promptly enough,
in Mr. Bender's larger ease. Why, do you really mean it, Lord
Theign?removing already from view a work that gives innocent
gratification to thousands?
Well, said his lordship curtly, if thousands have seen it I've
done what I wanted, and if they've been gratified I'm contentand
invite you to be.
Mr. Bender showed more keenness for this richer implication. In
other words it's I who may remove the picture?
Wellif you'll take it on my estimate.
But what, Lord Theign, all this time, Mr. Bender almost
pathetically pleaded, is your estimate?
The parting guest had another pause, which prolonged itself, after
he had reached the door, in a deep solicitation of their hostess's
conscious eyes. This brief passage apparently inspired his answer.
Lady Sandgate will tell you. The door closed behind him.
The charming woman smiled then at her other friend, whose
comprehensive presence appeared now to demand of her some account of
these strange proceedings. He means that your own valuation is much
too shockingly high.
But how can I know how much unless I find out what he'll
take? The great collector's spirit had, in spite of its volume,
clearly not reached its limit of expansion. Is he crazily waiting for
the thing to be proved not what Mr. Crimble claims?
No, he's waiting for nothingsince he holds that claim demolished
by Pappendick's tremendous negative, which you wrote to tell him of.
Vast, undeveloped and suddenly grave, Mr. Bender's countenance
showed like a barren tract under a black cloud. I wrote to report, fair and square, on Pap-pendick, but to tell him I'd take the picture
just the same, negative and all.
Ah, but take it in that way not for what it is but for what it
We know nothing about what it 'isn't,' said Mr. Bender, after all
that has happenedwe've only learned a little better every day what it
You mean, his companion asked, the biggest bone of artistic
Yes,he took it from herthe biggest that has been thrown into
the arena for quite a while. I guess I can do with it for that.
Lady Sandgate, on this, after a moment, renewed her personal
advance; it was as if she had now made sure of the soundness of her
main bridge. Well, if it's the biggest bone I won't touch it; I'll
leave it to be mauled by my betters. But since his lordship has asked
me to name a price, dear Mr. Bender, I'll name oneand as you prefer
big prices I'll try to make it suit you. Only it won't be for the
portrait of a person nobody is agreed about. The whole world is agreed,
you know, about my great-grandmother.
Oh, shucks, Lady Sandgate!and her visitor turned from her with
the hunch of overcharged shoulders.
But she apparently felt that she held him, or at least that even if
such a conviction might be fatuous she must now put it to the touch.
You've been delivered into my handstoo charmingly; and you won't
really pretend that you don't recognise that and in fact rather like
He faced about to her again as to a case of coolness
unparalleledthough indeed with a quick lapse of real interest in the
question of whether he had been artfully practised upon; an
indifference to bad debts or peculation like that of some huge hotel or
other business involving a margin for waste. He could afford, he could
work waste too, clearlyand what was it, that term, you might have
felt him ask, but a mean measure, anyway? quite as the artful,
opposed to his larger game, would be the hiding and pouncing of
children at play. Do I gather that those uncanny words of his were
just meant to put me off? he inquired. And then as she but boldly and
smilingly shrugged, repudiating responsibility, Look here, Lady
Sandgate, ain't you honestly going to help me? he pursued.
This engaged her sincerity without affecting her gaiety. Mr.
Bender, Mr. Bender, I'll help you if you'll help me!
You'll really get me something from him to go on with?
I'll get you something from him to go on with.
That's all I askto get that. Then I can move the way I
want. But without it I'm held up.
You shall have it, she replied, if I in turn may look to you
for a trifle on account.
Well, he dryly gloomed at her, what do you call a trifle?
I meanshe waited but an instantwhat you would feel as one.
That won't do. You haven't the least idea, Lady Sandgate, he
earnestly said, how I feel at these foolish times. I've never
got used to them yet.
Ah, don't you understand, she pressed, that if I give you an
advantage I'm completely at your mercy?
Well, what mercy, he groaned, do you deserve?
She waited a little, brightly composedthen she indicated her inner
shrine, the whereabouts of her precious picture. Go and look at her
again and you'll see.
His protest was large, but so, after a moment, was his
compliancehis heavy advance upon the other room, from just within the
doorway of which the great Lawrence was serenely visible. Mr. Bender
gave it his eyes once morethough after the fashion verily of a man
for whom it had now no freshness of a glamour, no shade of a secret;
then he came back to his hostess. Do you call giving me an advantage
squeezing me by your sweet modesty for less than I may possibly bear?
How can I say fairer, she returned, than that, with my backing
about the other picture, which I've passed you my word for, thrown in,
I'll resign myself to whatever you may be
disposedcharacteristically!to give for this one.
If it's a question of resignation, said Mr. Bender, you mean of
course what I may be disposedcharacteristically!not to
She played on him for an instant all her radiance. Yes then, you
dear sharp rich thing!
And you take in, I assume, he pursued, that I'm just going to
lean on you, for what I want, with the full weight of a determined
Well, she laughed, I promise you I'll thoroughly obey the
direction of your pressure.
All right then! And he stopped before her, in his unrest,
monumentally pledged, yet still more massively immeasurable. How'll
you have it?
She bristled as with all the possible beautiful choices; then she
shed her selection as a heaving fruit-tree might have dropped some
round ripeness. It was for her friend to pick up his plum and his
privilege. Will you write a cheque?
Yes, if you want it right away. To which, however, he added,
clapping vainly a breast-pocket: But my cheque-book's down in my car.
At the door? She scarce required his assent to touch a bell. I
can easily send for it. And she threw off while they waited: It's so
sweet your 'flying round' with your cheque-book!
He put it with promptitude another way. It flies round pretty well
Mr. Bender's cheque-bookin his car, she went on to Gotch, who
had answered her summons.
The owner of the interesting object further instructed him: You'll
find in the pocket a large red morocco case.
Very good, sir, said Gotchbut with another word for his
mistress. Lord John would like to know
Lord John's there? she interrupted.
Gotch turned to the open door. Here he is, my lady.
She accommodated herself at once, under Mr. Bender's eye, to the
complication involved in his lordship's presence. It's he who went
round to Bond Street.
Mr. Bender stared, but saw the connection. To stop the show? And
then as the young man was already there: You've stopped the show?
It's 'on' more than ever! Lord John responded while Gotch retired:
a hurried, flurried, breathless Lord John, strikingly different from
the backward messenger she had lately seen despatched. But Theign
should be here!he addressed her excitedly. I announce you a call
from the Prince.
The Prince?she gasped as for the burden of the honour. He
Mr. Bender, with an eagerness and a candour there was no mistaking,
recognised on behalf of his ampler action a world of associational
advantage and auspicious possibility. Is the Prince after the
Lord John remained, in spite of this challenge, conscious of nothing
but his message. He was there with Mackintoshto see and admire the
picture; which he thinks, by the way, a Mantovano pure and simple!and
did me the honour to remember me. When he heard me report to Mackintosh
in his presence the sentiments expressed to me here by our noble friend
and of which, embarrassed though I doubtless was, the young man
pursued to Lady Sandgate, I gave as clear an account as I could, he
was so delighted with it that he declared they mustn't think then of
taking the thing off, but must on the contrary keep putting it forward
for all it's worth, and he would come round and congratulate and thank
Theign and explain him his reasons.
Their hostess cast about for a sign. Why Theign is at Kitty's,
worse luck! The Prince calls on him here?
He calls, you see, on you, my ladyat five-forty-five; and
graciously desired me so to put it you.
He's very kind, butshe took in her conditionI'm not even
You'll have timethe young man was a comfortwhile I rush to
Berkeley Square. And pardon me, Benderthough it's so nearif I just
bag your car.
That's, that's it, take his car!Lady Sandgate almost swept him
You may use my car all right, Mr. Bender contributedbut what I
want to know is what the man's after.
The man? what man? his friend scarce paused to ask.
The Prince thenif you allow he is a man! Is he after my
Lord John vividly disclaimed authority. If you'll wait, my dear
fellow, you'll see.
Oh why should he 'wait'? burst from their cautious companiononly
to be caught up, however, in the next breath, so swift her gracious
revolution. Wait, wait indeed, Mr. BenderI won't give you up for any
Prince! With which she appealed again to Lord John. He wants to
On Theign's decision, as I've told youwhich I announced to
Mackintosh, by Theign's extraordinary order, under his Highness's nose,
and which his Highness, by the same token, took up like a shot.
Her face, as she bethought herself, was convulsed as by some quick
perception of what her informant must have done and what therefore the
Prince's interest rested on; all, however, to the effect, given their
actual company, of her at once dodging and covering that issue. The
decision to remove the picture?
Lord John also observed a discretion. He wouldn't hear of such a
thingsays it must stay stock still. So there you are!
This determined in Mr. Bender a not unnatural, in fact quite a
clamorous, series of questions. But where are we, and what has
the Prince to do with Lord Theign's decision when that's all I'm
here for? What in thunder is Lord Theign's decisionwhat was
his 'extraordinary order'?
Lord John, too long detained and his hand now on the door, put off
this solicitor as he had already been put off. Lady Sandgate, you
tell him! I rush!
Mr. Bender saw him vanish, but all to a greater bewilderment. What
the hthen (I beg your pardon!) is he talking about, and what
'sentiments' did he report round there that Lord Theign had been
His hostess faced it not otherwise than if she had resolved not to
recognise the subject of his curiosityfor fear of other recognitions.
They put everything on me, my dear manbut I haven't the least
He looked at her askance. Then why does the fellow say you have?
Much at a loss for the moment, she yet found her way. Because the
fellow's so agog that he doesn't know what he says! In addition
to which she was relieved by the reappearance of Gotch, who bore on a
salver the object he had been sent for and to which he duly called
The large red morocco case.
Lady Sandgate fairly jumped at it. Your blessed cheque-book. Lay it
on my desk, she said to Gotch, though waiting till he had departed
again before she resumed to her visitor: Mightn't we conclude before
The Prince? Mr. Bender's imagination had strayed from the ground
to which she sought to lead it back, and it but vaguely retraced its
steps. Will he want your great-grandmother?
Well, he may when he sees her! Lady Sandgate laughed. And Theign,
when he comes, will give you on his own question, I feel sure, every
information. Shall I fish it out for you? she encouragingly asked,
beside him by her secretary-desk, at which he had arrived under her
persuasive guidance and where she sought solidly to establish him,
opening out the gilded crimson case for his employ, so that he had but
to help himself. What enormous cheques! You can never draw one
That's exactly what you deserve I should do! He remained
after this solemnly still, however, like some high-priest circled with
ceremonies; in consonance with which, the next moment, both her hands
held out to him the open and immaculate page of the oblong series much
as they might have presented a royal infant at the christening-font.
He failed, in his preoccupation, to receive it; so she placed it
before him on the table, coming away with a brave gay Well, I leave it
to you! She had not, restlessly revolving, kept her discreet distance
for many minutes before she found herself almost face to face with the
recurrent Gotch, upright at the door with a fresh announcement.
Mr. Crimble, pleasefor Lady Grace.
Mr. Crimble again?she took it discomposedly.
It reached Mr. Bender at the secretary, but to a different effect.
Mr. Crimble? Why he's just the man I want to see!
Gotch, turning to the lobby, had only to make way for him. Here he
is, my lady.
Then tell her ladyship.
She has come down, said Gotch while Hugh arrived and his companion
withdrew, and while Lady Grace, reaching the scene from the other
quarter, emerged in bright equipmentin her hat, scarf and gloves.
These young persons were thus at once confronted across the room,
and the girl explained her preparation. I was listening hardfor your
knock and your voice.
Then know that, thank God, it's all right!Hugh was breathless,
A Mantovano? she delightedly cried.
A Mantovano! he proudly gave back.
A Mantovano!it carried even Lady Sandgate away.
A Mantovanoa sure thing? Mr. Bender jumped up from his business,
all gaping attention to Hugh.
I've just left our blest Bardi, said that young manwho hasn't
the shadow of a doubt and is delighted to publish it everywhere.
Will he publish it right here to me? Mr. Bender hungrily
Well, Hugh smiled, you can try him.
But try him how, where? The great collector, straining to instant
action, cast about for his hat Where is he, hey?
Don't you wish I'd tell you? Hugh, in his personal elation, almost
Won't you wait for the Prince? Lady Sandgate had meanwhile asked
of her friend; but had turned more inspectingly to Lady Grace before he
could reply. My dear childthough you're lovely!are you sure you're
ready for him?
For the Prince!the girl was vague. Is he coming?
At five-forty-five. With which she consulted her bracelet watch,
but only at once to wail for alarm. Ah, it is that, and I'm not
dressed! She hurried off through the other room.
Mr. Bender, quite accepting her retreat, addressed himself again
unabashed to Hugh: It's your blest Bardi I want firstI'll take the
The young man clearly could afford indulgence now. Then I left him
at Long's Hotel.
Why, right near! I'll come back. And Mr. Bender's flight was on
the wings of optimism.
But it all gave Hugh a quick question for Lady Grace. Why does the
Prince come, and what in the world's happening?
My father has suddenly returnedit may have to do with that.
The shadow of his surprise darkened visibly to that of his fear.
Mayn't it be more than anything else to give you and me his final
I don't knowand I think I don't care. I don't care, she said,
so long as you're right and as the greatest light of all declares you
He is the greatestHugh was vividly of that opinion now:
I could see it as soon as I got there with him, the charming creature!
There, before the holy thing, and with the place, by good luck,
for those great moments, practically to ourselveswithout Macintosh to
take in what was happening or any one else at all to speak ofit was
but a matter of ten minutes: he had come, he had seen, and I had
Naturally you had!the girl hung on him for it; and what was
happening beyond everything else was that for your original dear
divination, one of the divinations of geniuswith every creature all
these ages so stupidyou were being baptized on the spot a great man.
Well, he did let poor Pappendick have it at least-he doesn't think
he's one: that that eminent judge couldn't, even with such a leg
up, rise to my level or seize my point. And if you really want to
know, Hugh went on in his gladness, what for us has most
particularly and preciously taken place, it is that in his opinion, for
Your reputation, she cried, blazes out and your fortune's made?
He did a happy violence to his modesty. Well, Bardi adores
intelligence and takes off his hat to me.
Then you need take off yours to nobody!such was Lady Grace's
proud opinion. But I should like to take off mine to him, she
added; which I seem to have put onto get out and away with
youexpressly for that.
Hugh, as he looked her over, took it up in bliss. Ah, we'll go
forth together to him thenthanks to your happy, splendid
impulse!and you'll back him gorgeously up in the good he thinks of
His friend yet had on this a sombre second thought. The only thing
is that our awful American!
But he warned her with a raised hand. Not to speak of our awful
For the door had opened from the lobby, admitting Lord Theign,
unattended, who, at sight of his daughter and her companion, pulled up
and held them a minute in reprehensive viewall at least till Hugh
undauntedly, indeed quite cheerfully, greeted him.
Since you find me again in your path, my lord, it's because I've a
small, but precious document to deliver you, if you'll allow me to do
so; which I feel it important myself to place in your hand. He drew
from his breast a pocket-book and extracted thence a small unsealed
envelope; retaining the latter a trifle helplessly in his hand while
Lord Theign only opposed to this demonstration an unmitigated
blankness. He went none the less bravely on. I mentioned to you the
last time we somewhat infelicitously met that I intended to appeal to
another and probably more closely qualified artistic authority on the
subject of your so-called Moretto; and I in fact saw the picture half
an hour ago with Bardi of Milan, who, there in presence of it, did
absolute, did ideal justice, as I had hoped, to the claim I've been
making. I then went with him to his hotel, close at hand, where he
dashed me off this brief and rapid, but quite conclusive, Declaration,
which, if you'll be so good as to read it, will enable you perhaps to
join us in regarding the vexed question as settled.
His lordship, having faced this speech without a sign, rested on the
speaker a somewhat more confessed intelligence, then looked hard at the
offered note and hard at the floorall to avert himself actively
afterward and, with his head a good deal elevated, add to his distance,
as it were, from every one and everything so indelicately thrust on his
attention. This movement had an ambiguous makeshift air, yet his
companions, under the impression of it, exchanged a hopeless look. His
daughter none the less lifted her voice. If you won't take what he has
for you from Mr. Crimble, father, will you take it from me? And then
as after some apparent debate he appeared to decide to heed her, It
may be so long again, she said, before you've a chance to do a thing
The chance will depend on yourself! he returned with high dry
emphasis. But he held out his hand for the note Hugh had given her and
with which she approached him; and though face to face they seemed more
separated than brought near by this contact without commerce. She
turned away on one side when he had taken the missive, as Hugh had
turned away on the other; Lord Theign drew forth the contents of the
envelope and broodingly and inexpressively read the few lines; after
which, as having done justice to their sense, he thrust the paper forth
again till his daughter became aware and received it. She restored it
to her friend while her father dandled off anew, but coming round this
time, almost as by a circuit of the room, and meeting Hugh, who took
advantage of it to repeat by a frank gesture his offer of Bardi's
attestation. Lord Theign passed with the young man on this a couple of
mute minutes of the same order as those he had passed with Lady Grace
in the same connection; their eyes dealt deeply with their eyesbut to
the effect of his lordship's accepting the gift, which after another
minute he had slipped into his breast-pocket. It was not till then that
he brought out a curt but resonant Thank you! While the others
awaited his further pleasure he again bethought himselfthen he
addressed Lady Grace. I must let Mr. Bender know
Mr. Bender, Hugh interposed, does know. He's at the present
moment with the author of that note at Long's Hotel.
Then I must now write himand his lordship, while he spoke and
from where he stood, looked in refined disconnectedness out of the
Will you write there?and his daughter indicated Lady
Sandgate's desk, at which we have seen Mr. Bender so importantly
Lord Theign had a start at her again speaking to him; but he bent
his view on the convenience awaiting him and then, as to have done with
so tiresome a matter, took advantage of it. He went and placed himself,
and had reached for paper and a pen when, struck apparently with the
display of some incongruous object, he uttered a sharp Hallo!
You don't find things? Lady Grace askedas remote from him in one
quarter of the room as Hugh was in another.
On the contrary! he oddly replied. But plainly suppressing any
further surprise he committed a few words to paper and put them into an
envelope, which he addressed and brought away.
If you like, said Hugh urbanely, I'll carry him that myself.
But how do you know what it consists of?
I don't know. But I risk it.
His lordship weighed the proposition in a high impersonal mannerhe
even nervously weighed his letter, shaking it with one hand upon the
finger-tips of the other; after which, as finally to acquit himself of
any measurable obligation, he allowed Hugh, by a surrender of the
interesting object, to redeem his offer of service. Then you'll
learn, he simply said.
And may I learn? asked Lady Grace.
You? The tone made so light of her that it was barely
May I go with him?
Her father looked at the question as at some cup of supreme
bitternessa nasty and now quite regular dose with which his lips were
familiar, but before which their first movement was always tightly to
close. With me, my lord, said Hugh at last, thoroughly
determined they should open and intensifying the emphasis.
He had his effect, and Lord Theign's answer, addressed to Lady
Grace, made indifference very comprehensive. You may do what ever you
At this then the girl, with an air that seemed to present her choice
as absolutely taken, reached the door which Hugh had come across to
open for her.
Here she paused as for another, a last look at her father, and her
expression seemed to say to him unaidedly that, much as she would have
preferred to proceed to her act without this gross disorder, she could
yet find inspiration too in the very difficulty and the old faiths
themselves that he left her to struggle with. All this made for depth
and beauty in her serious young faceas it had indeed a force that,
not indistinguishably, after an instant, his lordship lost any wish for
longer exposure to. His shift of his attitude before she went out was
fairly an evasion; if the extent of the levity of one of his daughter's
made him afraid, what might have been his present strange sense but a
fear of the other from the extent of her gravity? Lady Grace passes
from us at any rate in her laced and pearled and plumed slimness and
her pale concentrationleaving her friend a moment, however, with his
hand on the door.
You thanked me just now for Bardi's opinion after all, Hugh said
with a smile; and it seems to me thatafter all as wellI've grounds
for thanking you! On which he left his benefactor alone.
Tit for tat! There broke from Lord Theign, in his solitude, with
the young man out of earshot, that vague ironic comment; which only
served his turn, none the less, till, bethinking himself, he had gone
back to the piece of furniture used for his late scribble and come away
from it again the next minute delicately holding a fair slip that we
naturally recognise as Mr. Bender's forgotten cheque. This apparently
surprising value he now studied at his ease and to the point of its
even drawing from him an articulate What in damnation? His
speculation dropped before the return of his hostess, whose approach
through the other room fell upon his ear and whom he awaited after a
quick thrust of the cheque into his waistcoat.
Lady Sandgate appeared now in duethat is in the most happily
adjustedsplendour; she had changed her dress for something smarter
and more appropriate to the entertainment of Princes, Tea will be
downstairs, she said. But you're alone?
I've just parted, her friend replied, with Grace and Mr.
'Parted' with them?the ambiguity struck her.
Well, they've gone out together to flaunt their monstrous
You speak, she laughed, as if it were too grossI They're surely
Back to you, if you likebut not to me.
Ah, what are you and I, she tenderly argued, but one and the same
quantity? And though you may not as yet absolutely rejoice inwell,
whatever they're doing, she cheerfully added, you'll get beautifully
used to it.
That's just what I'm afraid ofwhat such horrid matters make of
At the worst then, you seeshe maintained her optimismthe
recipient of royal attentions!
Oh, said her companion, whom his honour seemed to leave
comparatively cold, it's simply as if the gracious Personage were
coming to condole!
Impatient of the lapse of time, in any case, she assured herself
again of the hour. Well, if he only does come!
Johnthe wretch! Lord Theign returnedwill take care of that:
he has nailed him and will bring him.
What was it then, his friend found occasion in the particular tone
of this reference to demand, what was it that, when you sent him off,
John spoke of you in Bond Street as specifically intending?
Oh he saw it now all lucidlyif not rather luridlyand thereby the
more tragically. He described me in his nasty rage as
His rageshe pieced it sympathetically outat your destroying
his cherished credit with Bender?
Lord Theign was more and more possessed of this view of the manner
of it. I had come between him and some profit that he doesn't confess
to, but that made him viciously and vindictively serve me up there, as
he caught the chance, to the Princeand the People!
She cast about, in her intimate interest, as for some closer
conception of it. By saying that you had remarked here that you
offered the People the picture?
As a sacrificeyes!to morbid, though respectable scruples. To
which he sharply added, as if struck with her easy grasp of the scene:
But I hope you've nothing to call a memory for any such extravagance?
Lady Sandgate waitedthen boldly took her line. None whatever! You
had reacted against Benderbut you hadn't gone so far as that!
He had it now all vividly before him. I had reactedlike a
gentleman; but it didn't thereby follow that I actedor spokelike a
demagogue; and my mind's a complete blank on the subject of my having
So that there only flushes through your conscience, she suggested,
the fact that he has forced your hand?
Fevered with the sore sense of it his lordship wiped his brow. He
has played me, for spite, his damned impertinent trick!
She found but after a minutefor it wasn't easythe right word, or
the least wrong, for the situation. Well, even if he did so
diabolically commit you, you still don't wantdo you?to back out?
Resenting the suggestion, which restored all his nobler form, Lord
Theign fairly drew himself up. When did I ever in all my life back
Never, never in all your life of course!she dashed a bucketful
at the flare. And the picture after all!
The picture after allhe took her up in cold grim gallant
despairhas just been pronounced definitely priceless. And then to
meet her gaping ignorance: By Mr. Crimble's latest and apparently
greatest adviser, who strongly stamps it a Mantovano and whose
practical affidavit I now possess.
Poor Lady Sandgate gaped but the moreshe wondered and yearned.
Definitely priceless. After which he took from its place of
lurking, considerately unfolding it, the goodly slip he had removed
from her blotting-book. Worth even more therefore than what Bender so
Her attention fell with interest, from the distance at which she
stood, on this confirmatory document, her recognition of which was not
immediate. And is that the affidavit?
This is a cheque to your order, my lady, for ten thousand pounds.
Ten thousand?she echoed it with a shout.
Drawn by some hand unknown, he went on quietly.
Unknown?again, in her muffled joy, she let it sound out.
Which I found there at your desk a moment ago, and thought best, in
your interest, to rescue from accident or neglect; even though it be,
save for the single stroke of a name begun, he wound up with his look
like a playing searchlight, unhappily unsigned.
Unsigned?the exhibition of her design, of her defeat, kept
shaking her. Then it isn't good?
It's a Barmecide feast, my dear!he had still, her kind friend,
his note of grimness and also his penetration of eye. But who is it
writes you colossal cheques?
And then leaves them lying about? Her case was so bad that you
would have seen how she felt she must do somethingsomething
quite splendid. She recovered herself, she faced the situation with all
her bright bravery of expression and aspect; conscious, you might have
guessed, that she had never more strikingly embodied, on such lines,
the elegant, the beautiful and the true. Why, who can it have been but
poor Breckenridge too?
'Breckenridge'? Lord Theign had his smart echoes. What
in the world does he owe you money for?
It took her but an instant moreshe performed the great repudiation
quite as she might be prepared to sweep, in the Presence impending, her
grandest curtsey. Not, you sweet suspicious thing, for my
great-grandmother! And then as his glare didn't fade: Bender makes my
life a burdenfor the love of my precious Lawrence.
Which you're weakly letting him grab?nothing could have been
finer with this than Lord Theign's reprobation unless it had been his
She shook her head as in bland compassion for such an idea. It
isn't a payment, you gooseit's a bribe! I've withstood him, these
trying weeks, as a rock the tempest; but he wrote that and left it
there, the fiend, to tempt meto corrupt me!
Without putting his name?her companion again turned over the
She bethought herself, clearly with all her genius, as to this
anomaly, and the light of reality broke. He must have been interrupted
in the artful acthe sprang up with such a bound at Mr. Crimble's
news. At once thenfor his interest in ithe hurried off, leaving the
cheque forgotten and unfinished. She smiled more intensely, her eyes
attached, as from fascination, to the morsel of paper still handled by
her friend. But of course on his next visit he'll add his great
The devil he will!and Lord Theign, with the highest spirit, tore
the crisp token into several pieces, which fluttered, as worthless now
as pure snowflakes, to the floor.
Ay, ay, ay!it drew from her a wail of which the character, for
its sharp inconsequence, was yet comic.
This renewed his stare at her. Do you want to back out? I
mean from your noble stand.
As quickly, however, she had saved herself. I'd rather do even what
you're doingoffer my treasure to the Thingumbob!
He was touched by this even to sympathy. Will you then join
me in setting the example of a great donation?
To the What-do-you-call-it? she extravagantly smiled.
I call it, he said with dignity, the 'National Gallery.'
She closed her eyes as with a failure of breath. Ah my dear
It would convince me, he went on, insistent and persuasive.
Of the sincerity of my affection?she drew nearer to him.
It would comfort mehe was satisfied with his own expression. Yet
in a moment, when she had come all rustlingly and fragrantly close, It
would captivate me, he handsomely added.
It would captivate you? It was for her, we should have
seen, to be satisfied with his expression; and, with our more informed
observation of all it was a question of her giving up, she would have
struck us as subtly bargaining.
He gallantly amplified. It would peculiarlyby which I mean it
would so naturallyunite us!
Well, that was all she wanted. Then for a complete union with
youof fact as well as of fond fancy! she smiledthere's nothing,
even to my one ewe lamb, I'm not ready to surrender.
Ah, we don't surrender, he urgedwe enjoy!
Yes, she understood: with the glory of our grand gift thrown in.
We quite swagger, he gravely observedthough even swaggering
would after this be dull without you.
Oh, I'll swagger with you! she cried as if it quite settled
and made up for everything; and then impatiently, as she beheld Lord
John, whom the door had burst open to admit: The Prince?
The Prince!the young man launched it as a call to arms.
They had fallen apart on the irruption, the pair discovered, but she
flashed straight at her lover: Then we can swagger now!
Lord Theign had reached the open door. I meet him below.
Demurring, debating, however, she stayed him a moment. But oughtn't
Iin my own house?
His lordship caught her meaning. You mean he may think? But he
as easily pronounced. He shall think the Truth! And with a kiss of
his hand to her he was gone.
Lord John, who had gazed in some wonder at these demonstrations, was
quickly about to follow, but she checked him with an authority she had
never before used and which was clearly the next moment to prove
irresistible. Lord John, be so good as to stop. Looking about at the
condition of a room on the point of receiving so august a character,
she observed on the floor the fragments of the torn cheque, to which
she sharply pointed. And please pick up that litter!