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JACK AND THREE JILLS.
WARD & DOWNEY'S
LOUISA. By K. S. Macquoid.
THE LADYE NANCYE. By " Rita."
THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER. By F. C.
MERE SHAKINGS. By J. P. Keane.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. By P. C. Philips.
SOCIAL VICISSITUDES. By F. C. Philips.
PROPER PRIDE. By B. M. Croker.
PRETTY MISS NEVILLE. By B. M. Croker "
MISS GASCOIGNE. By Mrs. Riddell.
THE PRETTIEST WOMAN IN WARSAW By
HER WEEK'S AMUSEMENT. By the Author of
" Molly Bawn."
A COQUETTE'S CONQUEST. By " Basil."
IN A SILVER SEA. By B. L« Farjeon.
GREAT PORTER SQUARE. By B. L. Farjeon.
THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS. By B. L.
GRIF. By B. L. Farjeon.
THE LAST STAKE. By Madame Foli.
SNOWBOUND AT EAGLE'S. By Bret Harte.
THE FLOWER OF DOOM. By M. Betham-
VIVA. By Mrs. Forrester.
A MAIDEN ALL FORLORN. By the Author of
FOLLY MORRISON. By Frank Barrett.
HONEST DAVIE. By Frank Barrett.
UNDER ST. PAUL'S. By Richard Dowling
THE DUKE'S SWEETHEART. By Richard
THE OUTLAW OF ICELAND. By Victor Hugo.
THAT VILLAIN ROMEO. By Fitzgerald Molloy.
WHAT HAST THOU DONE? By Fitzgerald
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
F. C PHILIPS.
AS IK A LOOKING-GLASS," " SOCIAL VICISSITUDES," "A LUCKY YOUNG
WOMAN," ' THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER," "THE STRANGE
ADVENTURES OF LUCY SMITH," ETC
WARD & DOWNEY,
12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON.
[All rights reserved."]
WARD & DOWNEY'S
JOHN 0' LONDON. By Somervillb Gibney.
STAINED PAGES : the Story of Anthony Grace. By
G. Manvillb Fenn.
THROUGH GREEN GLASSES. By F. M. Allen.
AT THE RED GLOVE. By K. S. Macquoid.
A BIRD OF PASSAGE. By B. M. Croker.
HIS HELPMATE. By Frank Barrett.
A TERRIBLE LEGACY By G. W Appleton.
THE MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES. Bj G.
IN JEOPARDY By G. Manvillb Fenn.
DOUBLE CUNNING. By G. Manville Fenn.
THE ALIENS. By Henry F. Keenan.
AS IN A LOOKING GLASS. By F. C. Philips.
A LUCKY YOUNG WOMAN. By F. C. Philips.
TEMPEST DRIVEN. By Richard Dowling.
A MENTAL STRUGGLE. By the Author of " Molly
LIL LORIMER. By Theo. Gift.
THE SACRED NUGGET. By B. L. Farjeon.
THE CHILCOTES. By Leslie Keith.
Mitb Bffectlonate IRegarD.
WARD & DOWNEY'S
IN LUCK'S WAY By Byron Webber.
THE DIAMOND LENS. By Fitzjames O'Brien.
THE FOX AND THE GOOSE.
JACK ALLYN'S FRIENDS. By G. W Appleton.
LIEUTENANT BARNABAS. By Frank Barrett.
TWO PINCHES OF SNUFF. By William
THE CONFESSIONS OF A COWARD AND
COQUETTE. By the Author of « The Parish of
A LIFE'S MISTAKE. By Mrs. Lovett Cameron.
IN ONE TOWN. By E. Downey.
ANCHOR WATCH YARNS. By E. Downey.
ATLA. By Mrs. J. Gregory Smith.
LESS THAN KIN. By J. E. Panton.
A REIGNING FAVOURITE. By Annie Thomas.
THE SEW RIVER. By Somerville Gibney.
UNDER TWO FIG TREES. By H. Francis
COMEDIES FROM A COUNTRY SIDE. By W.
F.C. PHILIPS' WORKS of FICTION
'Mr. Philips' racy humour just suits the jaded
palate of the day.'— The Times.
AS IN A LOOKING-GLASS.
SEVENTH EDITION, TWO SHILLINGS.
1 Le roman est bien conduit, exact et vivant, amusant d'un
bout a l'autre. C'est. en somm'e, un des meilleurs que la literature
anglaise ait produit depuis longtemps.' — Le Temps.
' Mr. Philips' story is a work of art, and being much superior
to the rough sketches of an average novelist, it discharges the
true function of every work of art by representing things as they
actually are, and teaching the observer to discriminate between
appearances and realities.' — Saturday Review.
' Headers of Mr. F. 0. Philips' brilliant novel, " As in a Look-
ing-Glass," will not be surprised that it should thus early have
found its way to the stage. The essence of a drama is that its story
should be living, real, poignant ; and no work of recent years
answers that description more closely than "As in a Looking-Glass,"
which now enjoys the distinction, rare among English novels, of
running as &fem//eton in French, German, and Italian newspapers
simultaneously.' — The Times.
A LUCKY YOUNG WOMAN.
One Vol. 6s.
' We can bestow unstinted praise on the unflagging spirit
aud genuine humour with which Mr. Philips tells his story. Sir
Hugo Conyers, a sort of aristocratic Pecksniff, is an exceedingly
clever sketch ; while Marcia, the " lucky young woman," is an
excellent specimen of a high-spirited and straightforward girl.'
WARD & DOWNEY, PUBLISHERS, LONDON.
Mr. Philips' Works of Fiction.
One Vol. 2s.
' A smarter or more amusing set of sketches has not appeared
since Mrs. Linton lashed the " Young Women of the Period." ' —
St. Stephen's Review.
' It requires to go back to Balzac in order to match the
pitiless analyses and incisive descriptions which characterise this
portfolio of letters exchanged between persons of both sexes, of
diverse ages, and of all ranks in the world of fashion
Incontestably places Mr. Philips in the first rank of our most
artistic and brilliant writers.' — Morning Post.
' In this collection of society sketches Mr. Philips is quite at
his best. Bach of them contains as much plot as would amply
furnish forth an ordinary novel, yet each is short, pointed, and
racy.' — The Times.
JACKlND THREE JILLS.
One Vol. 2s.
' In every part this novel bears the mark of being written by
a man of the world, of cynical humour, and a remarkable
knowledge of how to enjoy himself.' — The Times.
' Deliriously original and amusing.' — Northern Echo.
THE DEAN AMD HIS DAUGHTER.
One Vol. 2s.
' The cruelty with which the world treats a divorced woman
was, perhaps, never illustrated so powerfully or with such sarcasm
as in this straightforward narrative, told by the victim herself
without a complaint or a single cry of indignation.' — The Times.
' It displays much knowledge of the world, is brimful of
brightness, and has, moreover, an agreeable individuality of tone
and manner.' — The Globe.
WARD & DOWNEY, 12, York Street, Covent Garden, W.O
ALSO BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
The Strange Adventures of Lucy Smith.
2 Vols. 21s.
SWAN, SONNENSCHBIN, LOWREY & CO.,
Paternoster Square, E.C.
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
My earliest recollections are of a sirange little
country house down in Essex. It was a snug
house of red briek, tiled with blue slate, which
looked as if it might have come out of a box of
Dutch toys, or have been swept and transplanted
bodily by a whirlwind from some brick-field suburb
of London — Langley, let us say — and allowed to
drop itself into the centre of fat grazing meadows
and deep stagnant dykes and big elms, where rooks
held their conclave, and shrieked defiance at the
sparrow-hawk and owl, having themselves a keen
eye to the adjacent domicile of the wood-pigeon,
and the unprotected excavation of the plover.
Nature is still luxuriant in Essex, and the Essex
Uiind is not so much intolerant of new ideas as
incapable of ideas of any kind. No Essex labourer
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
has ever heard of anything, or ever talks of any-
thing, or, if he reads, has ever read of anything
beyond a radius of fourteen miles — which makes
twenty-eight for going and returning — from his own
home. Suffolk is sometimes called " Silly Suffolk " ;
the agricultural population of Essex has not even
the wit to be silly. It is the connecting link
between man and the gorilla, if you commence by
denuding the gorilla of his brutal and aggressive
attributes. For the Essex louts are peaceable, and
in their way kindly, and even courteous. This is
the most that Christianity has done for them,
although Essex livings are as well endowed as any
My father was an Essex squire, and as like
other Essex squires as are peas and mould-made
bricks and empty oyster-shells to one another.
Study, aided by the microscope, may perhaps reveal
minute differences between individual specimens.
But such differences are like Gratiano's three grains
of wheat hid in three bushels of chaff. You may
look all day ere you find them, and when you find
them they are not worth the search
Thus I vegetated on in Essex, thoughtless and
unthonght for, growing as any ugly duckling may
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
grow, if chance has warmed its egg to maturity and
hatched out the product. And a very ugly duck-
ling indeed I must have been, and I know that I
was dissatisfied with myself, although I had no
standard of measurement ready by me, and conse-
quently used none. Self-dissatisfaction is the
beginning and essential condition of all growth.
The snail is the only living thing in favour of
which nature has made an unfair exception. As
the snail increases in statue, and (presumably) in
favour with his brother snails, his tenement grows
along him. The architect of the universe has
been kinder to snails than to men.
But I had some sort of education for which I still
remain devoutly grateful. Let me describe its
manner and method. I was turned over to the
curate of the parish. He wanted to make me learn
by heart " Propria quae maribus." I absolutely
rebelled. Ultimately we hit on a via media. It
was supplied by Martyn's Greorgics, a copy of which
I had routed out among his books. Then between
us we got hold of a natural history. The curate
was astonished to discover that its author was not a
naturalist, so much as a Fellow of an Oxford
college, and a learned classicist. Pupil and teacher
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
were thus on their level, and settled down to an
understanding. He was to teach me the dead
languages — Greek and Latin, — and I, on the other
hand, was to teach him what I knew of woodcraft.
Each was to be docile as pupil, and stern as master.
We stuck to this compact, and as we worked it
honestly it worked well. Before he and I parted
company I could read Latin, if not Greek, and could
even speak it. In fact, we adopted the rule of the
Jesuists, and talked Latin that we might improv.e
ourselves. He might have asked, — " What's
o'clock ? " Instead, he asked, — " Quota hora ?" I
might have wished to say, — " Time for a swim."
I used to say, — " Natandum est." Thus we got
All that I knew of my father at this time was
that he was always in money difficulties. Nor do I
say this by way of blame to him. Financially, lie
was neither better off nor worse than other Essex
squires and landlords, who were, for the most part,
alike, hopelessly insolvent and impecunious. You
cannot get out of your land more than it will
carry. When a camel is over-loaded, it remains
squatting on its legs and refuses to move. Stir it
will not, although you may beat it to death. The
JACK AXD THREE JILLS.
camel served under Abraham, the father of the
elect, and is consequently the one animal that has
taken the measure of man.
My eldest brother was hardly even a memory in
the household. He had done something too dread-
ful to be even remembered. His name, so far as
domestic; formalities can go, had been blotted out
from the family record. As I shall not have to deal
with him again, I may as well say what was his ulti-
mate career in life. He entered the service of the
Peruvian Government, and became their chief
Minister of Marine. His juvenile indiscretion,
which, according to my father, unfitted him for any
further useful or honourable work on the face of
this earth, was not that he had made love to a dairy-
maid, but that a dairy-maid had made love to
him, and had carried him off as Omphale did
My second brother had been destined for a civil
engineer, and with a view to that result had been,
so to say, potted out in Victoria Street, Westminster,
which, I am told, is a place where, in the course of
the day, more guineas, or their equivalents, pass
hands than honest words are spoken. He soon be-
came thoroughly qualified, and was then sent to
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
New Zealand, where, I believe, he is doing credit to
I was the third son. My youngest brother w%
barely out of the nursery, and unequal to the per-
formance of his matutinal bath.
My sisters in no way concerned me. There were
two of them. They were gluttonous devourers of
novels in three volumes. They adopted the latest
fashion in dress, whatever it might be. They knew
everything about everything, and they rested con-
tent in that sublime omniscience. Being, moreover,
the vicegerents of the household, they enjoyed au-
thority and exercised it.
I have not yet spoken of my mother. I shall
always remember her with love. She had been the
daughter of an eminent Queen's Counsel, who had
made a great deal of money and was expected to
die rich, as indeed he did. When my mother
married he behaved liberally. He was always avail-
able for a cheque in any emergency, and when he
died he left her a good round sum to be hers for
life, with remainder to her ehildren, in equal pro-
My father did not find it an easy thing to be a
landlord. The best of his tenants paid unpunctu-
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
ally, others got into heavy arrears, others did not
pay at all. " "What are you to do ? " my father used
to say. " If you cannot get another tenant, you
had better allow the present one to remain. He
will, at all events, scratch the face of the ground,
keep down the weeds and repair the hedges. He
is an unsalaried bailiff, and you have your shooting
over his farm for whatever it may be worth."
At times would come a pinch more than usually
severe. For our meat and vegetables we relied on
our own resources. But coals and groceries and
clothing had to be paid for, and as you cannot pay
a bill of twenty pounds with a five pound note, my
mother's income had to be anticipated. As her
trustees never consented to this operation, the
process was an expensive one. Thus we rubbed on
in a miserable kind of way, living from hand to
mouth, and without much hope for the future. No
man is more wretched than a needy country squire ;
no man so poor as a poor gentleman with appear-
ances to keep up.
By the time I was twenty I had had my full
share of such adventures as Essex can yield. I had
attended fairs, ridden steeple-chases, engaged my-
self in personal conflict with poachers and gipsies,
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
and, as a matter of course, fallen desperately in love
with the only heiress in the neighbourhood, not
because she was an heiress, but because she
happened to be good-looking — which last opinion,
like the affection itself, was distinctly reciprocal.
This love affair was the first turning point in my
life. Of course we wrote letters to each other —
about two a day — or, if we did not meet, four or
thereabouts. In the nature of things, these letters
were intercepted. They were very silly and very
earnest. The result of their discovery was that
Isabella Vivian was packed off to a boarding-school
in the Isle of Wight, and I was despatched to
London to read for the Bar.
Heading for the Bar meant this : — I had the run
of a pleader's chambers, to which I never went ; 1
lodged at a boarding-house in Bayswater ; I made
my billiards furnish me with pocket money ; I was
on familiar terms with every omnibus driver on my
route, and I think i can honestly state that I never
missed a suburban race meeting. In this way I
qualified myself to defend my fellow-creatures put
upon trial for their lives, and to argue appeals in-
volving hereditary titles and vast estates before the
House of Lore 1 .'?
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Let me, on the other hand, do myself justice,
Honestly, I do not believe that I had any vices.
I never drank more than I could carry. I never
borrowed money which I did not promptly repay.
I never made a bet on a certainty, or insulted a
man smaller than myself; and I treated all women
with reverence. With these exceptions I was no
doubt as idle and worthless a young vagabond as
any in town.
The boarding-house, for sharing in all the pri-
vileges of which, including the entree to the billiard
room and the use of the piano, I paid the modest
sum of thirty shillings a week, was in the semi-
aristocratic district of Bayswater, which looks down
upon Paddington, and is itself looked down upon by
South Kensington. It was kept by a widow, who
must once have been good-looking, but who now
was worried and overworked, and never weary of
discoursing about her troubles, past and present.
The company was distinctly mixed. There were
two gentlemen, who were each something in the
city — what it might be I never inquired. There
10 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
was another whom I knew to be a bookmaker, but
not a member of Tattersall's. There was a half-pay
officer, a brevet-lieutenant-colonel, a clerk from
Somerset House, and a gentleman of the press.
As for the ladies, they too were a little mixed.
There was a general's widow, who spoke with a rich
Irish accent, and always referred to her husband on
every possible opportunity as " The Djineral."
There were two grass widows, whose husbands were
said to be serving in India ; but there was some
sort of difficulty in ascertaining the regiments to
which these gallant officers belonged, a fact of
which Mrs. General very spitefully made the most.
There was a Miss M'Lachlan, who boasted much
of her nephew " The M'Lachlan." She dressed
severely, had an obtrusive nose, and was an extreme
Calvinist, regarding all forms of episcopacy as being
little better than the Scarlet Woman herself.
Lastly, there was a Mrs. Brabazon, who might have
been an age between twenty-five and thirty-five,
and whom all the other women hated, partly
because she dressed better than they did, having all
her frocks from Paris, partly because she was very
good-looking, and all the men were in love with
her, and partly because she allowed herself luxuries,
x JACK AND THREE JILLS. 11
such as a pint of champagne with her dinner, and
occasionally hothouse fruit, while in the matter of
flowers she was positively reckless, managing to
procure them from Nice when they were not to be
had in London at any price.
At the end of a week Mrs. Brabazon and I were
very good friends. At the end of a fortnight I was
allowed to escort her in her morning walk. After
a dozen or so of these expeditions, which were
usually in Kensington Gardens, I told her more or
less loutishly, being in earnest, that I loved her,
and she replied that I was a very naughty and
impudent boy to tell her so to her face.
" But I do love you," I said. " On my soul I do."
" You silly little cock - sparrow ! I am old
enough to be your mother." And she rubbed her
cheek vigorously with her pocket handkerchief to
show, I suppose, that its roses were genuine. " If
you dare to talk any more such nonsense to me I
shall order you away and go home alone. You
ought to be whipped for your impertinence."
I looked rapidly round and could see no one
watching us, so I boldly threw my arm round her
waist and kissed her. In return, of course, I got a
box on the ears, but I do not believe it could
12 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
possibly have been intended to hurt me. If it was,
it certainly failed.
" You are very rude. You ought to be ashamed
of yourself. You are hardly out of jackets, and you
smell of bread and butter. I hate you overgrown
boys ; dont on coupe le pain en tartines."
" If you are not civil to me," I replied, somewhat
colloquially, " I shall do it again."
"No, pray don't," said the lady. "At least not
here. For heaven's sake respect the proprieties.
We shall have all the nursemaids laughing at us,
and the park-keeper ordering us out."
" I shall only kiss you all the more when I get
" That's your business, my young man. But
perhaps if you are good you may."
So we walked home the best of friends, and I
may mention, as a mere matter of detail, that as
soon as we were in the passage and the street door
was shut, I kissed her then and there on the door
mat a good dozen of times at least. Such were my
A month passed rapidly, uneventfully and
pleasantly. My remittances from home were ex-
tremely irregular, but I kept straight with that
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 13
poor hard-worked Martha, Mrs. Jessett, and paid
her as regularly as I could. Sometimes if I had
had a good run at billiards I would even pay her a
little in advance, telling her that otherwise I should
be losing it again, and that she had better make
sure of it while she had the opportunity. She used
to shake her head a little over my billiards, but
evidently considered me, upon the whole, a
respectable young man, well behaved, and a credit,
if not an ornament, to what she called her " select
I was in vigorous health, and used to take
enormous walks. There were a certain number of
dinners to be eaten at the Temple, and these
formed the staple of my legal education. I rather
liked them. The wine was far from bad, and the
little messes of four were most friendly parties
carrees. I only remember one disagreeable inci-
dent occurring at any of them. A prig of a cousin
of mine being afraid lest I should recognise him
and probably corrupt his precious morals, folded
down the paper on which you write your name to
prove your attendance, and then handed it on to
the next man. He being a good-natured fellow and
a sturdy, deliberately unfolded it, flattened it out,
14 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
wrote his own name upon it in the largest possible
fist, and handed it on to me ; after which silence
fell on the mess until we ordered a bottle of port,
at which my worthy cousin precipitately left.
I occasionally come across this young gentleman,
and were it not that I am certain he has never yet
read Tom Jones, I should slap him on the back and
address him as Blifil But the shot would fall dead.
What was it that the late Lord Westbury said of a
corporation ? " It had neither a soul to be saved
nor a body to be kicked." My cousin's carcase was
too worthless for kicking. His soul is his own
affair, Of all hateful products of the present
day, your sucking young Pharisee is about the
Thus my life — except, of course, for my love
affair — ran in an even and monotonous path. 1
could easily make enough money for all my simple
amusements. Now and again I would indulge my-
self in the luxury of a good long ride with a quiet
dinner at some old-fashioned hotel. Then I am
afraid my tastes, or at all events some of them,
must have been barbaric, for I discovered an old-
fashioned riverside house at Chelsea where the
bargemen used to play quoits and skittles for pots
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 15
of beer. I am particularly fond of skittles. It is a
vulgar game, no doubt, but it is admirable exercise on
a wet day, and I remember reading somewhere that
when Peter the Great worked as a shipwright at
Deptford, he could not only fight any man in the
whole place, but was also much addicted to skittles,
the simplicity of the game and its roughness
pleasing his barbaric fancy. As a matter of fact, I
know a learned judge now on the bench who is
very partial to skittles, and makes no secret of the
fact, and a skittle alley is one of the many resources
of Marlborough House.
To conclude, I found that the bulk of my fellow
students and of the junior Bar were most excellent
and estimable fellows, and I made a. number of
friendships, which aided materially to make my
life pleasant. Need any man have been happier ?
Nor must I forget Mrs. Brabazon. Sometimes
I would catch a favourable tide and row her up to
Richmond, when we would dine at the dear old
Castle, and return by train. We made all kinds of
happy little excursions together — to Ham House,
to Hampton Court, with its galleries and gardens,
to the Lion at Farningham, where we would
probably fish all day with indifferent luck or none,
16 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
and dine pleasantly by an open window, richly
festooned with roses and honeysuckle. Nothing
pleased her so much as to go to a new place ; and
nothing pleased me so much as discovering a new
place to which to take her. We were as happy as
children and — so far as I can see — about as innocent.
It pleased us to lead our own lives in our own way,
and if that is sin, as Miss M'Lachlan expressed her
strong conviction it was (" thoroughly carnal " is
what she called it), I can only say that it is ex-
tremely pleasant, and that I am very sorry for
those who have never tried it. There are some
people who, I really believe, would, if they could,
stop the birds from singing on Sunday, and confine
the bright-eyed rabbits strictly to their burrows
during the hours of Divine worship ; and Miss
M'Lachlan was of this type, taking things austerely,
and paying strict tithe of her mint and anise and
cummin, while serenely indifferent to the weightier
matters of the iavc
There were occasional skirmishes at the dinner-
table between the Scotch spinster and Mrs.
Brabazon, in which the latter had so much the
best of it that, on one occasion, Miss M'Lachlan, to
the relief of everybody, and the unconcealed
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 17
merriment of Mr. Brattle, the jolly old bookmaker,
burst into tears and left the room. Mr. Brattle
summed up the merits of the dispute judicially,
tersely, and vigorously, and confirmed his opinion
by offering to lay ten to one against the old cat with
maiden allowance and weight for age. He found
no takers ; but he was sufficiently tickled with his
own joke to console him for the loss of what he
called giving a little lively interest to the thing.
Bookmakers, like Jews, are of many types, but a
good-hearted bookmaker, like a good-hearted Jew,
is one of the very best of fellows.
Fortune was not always favourable to me. Billiards
has less chance in it than any game in the
world ; but even at billiards there is such a thing
as a persistent run of luck against you, and I
remember one day reaching what Mr. Micawber
would have called a " climax in my misfortunes."
I had no money. My father was in arrears with my
allowance, and I knew literally no one to whom to
apply, so I dressed myself with more than usual
18 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
care, paying particular attention to my boots, and
marched round to the establishment of Mr. Eaphael
in Half-moon Street, Piccadilly.
Now, Mr. Eaphael was a money-lender, and made
no secret of the fact. There was a neat brass plate
on the front door, and an office bell with a small
plate underneath it. I was shown into a waiting-
room, magnificently furnished with exquisite paint-
ings and statuettes and valuable china. Mr.
Eaphael's taste was apparently as sound as his
judgment. Admitted to his sanctum, I was not
long in coming to business. I wanted a hundred
pounds, and I told Mr. Eaphael so. He scrutinised
me very carefully, and I returned the compliment.
He was most unmistakably a Hebrew, but one of a
high type. He was plainly dressed, and had not
even a diamond ring, and his hands, physically at
any rate, were small, white, and clean.
He soon ascertained that I had a small reversion,
on the death of my mother.
" Very well, Mr. Severn," he said, " you must
give me a charge on that, which my solicitor, Mr.
Jacobs, will prepare. I suppose it's not charged
already ? "
"Certainly not," I answered. "I have never
JACK A:ND THEEE JILLS. 19
thought of it. How soon can I have the
money ? "
"Well, Mr. Jacobs must make inquiries. I
suppose you are in a hurry."
I replied most emphatically that I was.
" Well, if things turn out right, as I daresay they
will, you can have it at one o'clock the day after
" And meantime you can let me have a ten-pound
note ? "
" I think you're honest, Mr. Severn. Yes, I
think you may be trusted with a ten-pound note."
So he produced two five-pound notes, for which I
gave him an I U, and he also produced a pint
of very excellent dry champagne and a box of
"You have never asked me, by the way," he
observed, "what I am going to charge you fo
this hundred, nor told me how long you want it."
I blushed scarlet. He was taking my measure
" Beggar's mustn't be choosers," I said. *' Yo
will make your own terms, I suppose."
" Well, I shall charge you twenty pounds, and
take your bill at three months. At the end of that
20 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
time I shall probably renew if you are going on
steadily, which I shall make it my business to find
out. By the way, are you in any profession ? "
" I am about to be called to the Bar," I re-
" Ah, well ! I wish you luck. But it's horribly
overstocked, and the barristers, as far as I can see,
are all cutting one another's throats. I'd sooner,
for your own sake? you were anything else. If, at
the end of your first five years, you have paid your
expenses, you will be doing uncommonly well. And,
let me tell you that, as a rule, I don't touch a
barrister with a pair of tongs. You must marry a
solicitor's daughter. Jacobs has one who would
iust do for you. She's not exactly a beauty, and
she's got a devil of a temper. But there's plenty
of her for the money, for she can't ride an ounce
under sixteen stone. You might do worse ; you
might indeed. Think it over."
I laughed, and told him I would., and the next
moment his clerk entered.
" Well, Mason, what is it ? "
" Colonel Pierce, sir."
" Very well, then. I sha'n't see him, Tell him
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 21
" He says he has two other names, sir, and
he's brought the paper with him. They're good
" That's another matter. Let him wait half-
an-hour and then show him in. Good morning,
Mr. Severn. Mason, show Mr. Severn out."
So I shook hands with Mr. Eaphael, and de-
parted not altogether unfavourably impressed by
Gret out of your head the idea that a money-
lender is of necessity an unclean beast, and if he is
a Jew you will probably find him a decent fellow,
with a far higher sense of honour than the great
bulk of his customers. I prefer him to a solicitor,
any day ; and I believe in the long run he is
cheaper. Solicitors have swallowed up more estates
and ruined more families than have any number of
Here the attorney dwells in county state,
With his twelve acres and his park-like gate ;
But wait awhil---, if times become more dark,
His neighbour's woes will buy his gate a park.
It is very seldom that a money-lender makes a
large fortune. It is very seldom, overstocked as
the trade is, that a solicitor dies poor.
Armed with my ten pounds I hurried home, anp
22 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
as some instinct had forwarned me would be the
case, found Mrs. Brabazon in.
" What is the matter with you, Jack ? You
seem flushed with delight. Don't tell me of any
bonnes fortunes, for I won't listen to them. You've
been winning again at billiards, I'm sure."
" No, I haven't ; but I have had a stroke of luck
all the same. Let us dine and go to the theatre."
" Yes, I will, if you will dine reasonably, like a
good boy, and sit quietly in the stalls afterwards. I
must have no wasting of money."
The bargain was struck and ratified. "We dined
— never mind where, I will name no particular
place — for the usual half-guinea, with one bottle of
well-iced champagne between us. Then we sat
most decorously in the T stalls, taking, I suppose, about
as much interest in the performance as did anyone
else. We left before the farce, and I purchased a
veil in Coventry Street, under cover of which Mrs.
Brabazon came with me to the Cafe de l'Europe,
where we took a modest supper.
There was really, as I almost believe I have re-
marked before, something childlike, and to that
extent innocent, in our simple methods of making
ourselves happy. And then we drove back to the
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 23
boarding-house, my companion insisting that I
should get out at the corner of the street, and allow
the ,cab to deposit her at the door alone. It would
not have done to have followed too soon, so I ad-
journed to a neighbouring hostel, where I sat for a
while with the landlord in his own bar parlour,
ultimately obtaining my admission to the select
boarding-house with my own latch-key.
I am not going to multiply details of these
folles journlies. It is certain that I was madly in
love. It is equally certain that my devotion pleased
Mrs. Brabazon. I often wonder how it was I did
not marry her, but I think I see an answer to the
question in her own sound common sense, and
better even than that, in her honesty and loyalty.
Her common sense told her that she was older than
myself, and that our relations had better remain
such as they were for so long as they might ; that
we might thus, if the summer blossom of love fell
off the tree, at all events secure the autumn fruit of
friendship. And, honestly, I think that Susan
Brabazon valued my friendship more than my
love, and that when she first commenced to en-
courage me it was rather pour se desennuyer than
for any other reason. And also, without being a
24 JACK AND THREE .TILLS.
puppy or vain, I think I may say that she was proud
of me, and wanted to see me do something in life,
and then turn round upon those who had ill-
treated me and cold-shorddered me.
We men are never astonished because a man of
fifty-five falls in love with a big school-girl of
seventeen. We do not think of the life to which
the poor child is to be condemned for what ought to
be the best and brightest years of her own. No !
the old grey-beards solemnly wag their heads, and
say that it has been a very suitable and fortunate
match. Why should it not be an equally suitable
and fortunate combination of circumstances for a
woman of middle age to take under her wing a
stripling young enough by all laws of nature to be
her son ? You will answer, " Oh yes, we have
heard all this before. You are making out your
own case." Well ! and is it not the duty of every
man to make out his own case ? And is there
anything new under the sun ?
Looking back at all these things now, I marvel
at my own luck in a very different spirit from that
in which Clive, after looting lakh upon lakh of
rupees, marvelled at his own moderation, and drew
comparisons between himself on the one hand, and
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Cortes and Pizzarro on the other, not at all favour-
able to those two eminent buccaneer adventurers.
In her infinite moderation and genuine tender-
ness of womanly sympathy, Mrs. Brabazon watched
over me, but would do nothing more. I firmly
believe that, at any moment of our friendship, or
more than friendship, she would have been better
pleased than any one else to have seen me marry
happily and well, and would have done everything
in her power to bring about such a match if she
had espied time, place and opportunity.
Prudes, and moralists, who are often worse than
prudes, may think what they please of her conduct.
To me it seems " pure womanly.'
At the appointed date I made my second visit to
Mr. Raphael, who received me in a manner at once
friendly and benignant. He was satisfied, he said,
with the security, and would let me have the
money I required. Mr. Jacobs had prepared the
necessary documents, and they were waiting for me,
but perhaps I would like to read them through
before I signed them.
JACK AND TKREE JILLS.
I had a very fair general ignorance of law, and of
conveyancing law the most profound ignorance in
the world. Besides, I wanted to have my money
and to get away with it. So I signed a promissory
note for one hundred and twenty pounds, receiving
back my I U for ten pounds and a cheque for
" I have not deducted the professional charges of
Mr. Jacobs," observed my guide, philosopher, and
friend. " I will satisfy those myself. You will
perhaps be coming to me again. I should be glad
to see you at any time within reasonable limits —
both as to time, that is to say, and as to amounts."
Why ! Here seemed an indefinite vista of golden
caverns open before me. I felt myself as by some
touching of the lamp a second Aladdin, and the
blood rushed to my face.
" You will come and lunch with me, I hope," I
asked my new Maecsenas.
"You are very kind. I dare not lunch. My
digestion is entirely ruined. I live by doctors'
rule, and principally on rice puddings and Stein-
wein. Good-bye. Let me give you a word of
advice before you go. If you want any more ready
come back to me. Don't go to anybody else. I
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 27
should hear of it if you did. I should then have to
secure myself, by telling your trustees all about our
relations, which would not, I should imagine, be at
all pleasant for you. Besides, I could put a dis-
tringas on you. You know what that means ? "
I blushed, and replied that I did not.
" Go back to your Inn of Court and ask some of
your friends. But there, you're a gentleman, Mr.
Severn, and will do nothing underhand with me, I
am sure. I am busy now. Gro to the mint."
I went away to " the mint," or, in other words, to
the West End branch of the Bank of England, and
there converted my cheque into solid cash. The
West End branch being at a corner of Burlington
Gardens, I made my way to the arcade of the same
name, where I plunged a bit in trifles for Mrs.
Brabazon, making also a few additions to my own
toilette. I was "combed and curled" until I
looked, as Tennyson has it, like any
" Oiled and curled Assyrian bull."
There is, a little below the Burlington (which I
did not leave without a fan, and gloves, and a sun-
shade), a famous fruiterer's shop looking south.
Here I procured nectarines. The nectarine is the
28 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
very finest fruit in the world, but it comes late in
Then my driver carted me back to Bayswater,
taking Tattersall's as he went, that, under the
pretence of watering his horse, he might glean, or
attempt to glean, the latest odds. The good nature
of youth is always exuberant. When I got out I
gave him a shilling cigar and two shillings more
than his fare. I believe he fancied that I was under
misapprehension as to the exact sum chargeable,
and wanted to escape dispute by the offer of the
regalia, for he received both the gratuity in cash
and the gratuity in kind without the least attempt
to wear out the brim of his hat, and whipped away
his horse as if he were glad to be rid of me.
Dinner was in full preparation when I entered
the passage, and Mrs. Brabazon was in what we
called the reception-room up to five and the
dining-room after that hour. It was just five, and
a dirty and towsled maid-servant was beginning to
spread upon the table a dinner cloth three days
" You're incorrigible. You're going into training
for running a race and carrying weight. You are
loaded up like an argosy. Are your father and
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
brothers dead, and have you come into the family
estates ? "
".Not a bit of it. I had just the tail end of my
patrimony, and I have sold it all for a mess of
pottage. Not a bad mess either, as things go."
" You have been doing something foolish ? "
"And what if I have ? "
" Why, that you had better not stop in this inner
circle of sweltering mud and pitch, and drink bad
beer, and worse Marsala, and begin to talk about it.
You must take me out to-night. Come along with
me. I order you. You do not want any brandy
or soda, nor even sal volatile, although I have
1 followed her some way up the stairs, and then,
like a great schoolboy, as I still was, hesitated again
She stamped her little foot on the floor.
" Come up ! " she said. So I went up with her
to her own room.
I followed her in submissively. The room was
a small sitting-room, and my first proceeding was
to deposit all my packages and parcels on the
table. Then, without invitation, I sat down in a
large wicker-work chair. She, without a word,
drew another chair out at a right angle, so that
30 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
she could catch, as I know now, the exact profile
of my features and detect their expression. Then
" I repeat what I told you downstairs. I told
you there that you were a silly boy. Now, I tell
you, having got you all alone to myself, that
you're much worse. You're as bad as a fourth-
form boy at a public school. You are perfectly
incapable of taking care of yourself. What on
earth have you been doing ? "
"I want a brandy and soda," I pleaded, "and
then I can tell you."
" You want nothing of the sort, any more than
I want rubies in this ham and beef shop, where, if
I wore them, the other women would con-
gratulate me on the magnificent size of my garnets.
Now, be a good boy ; pour yourself out a glass of
water, and light yourself a cigarette. I know you
have got cigarettes about you, as certain as if I had
been with you when you were buying them. I am
ashamed of myself for taking you out the other
night, and getting you into mischief. When you
have lit your cigarette you may tell me every-
Then she left her chair and drew a hassock up
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 31
close by me. Then she held my hand in hers,
turned her face full towards mine, and waited for
me to begin.
"Well," I said, with considerable disquietude.
" I have been out getting money. That is all. And
I have only spent a little of it ; and I have all the
rest with me."
" Good boy, so far. I know what getting money
means. I know you have had to pay for it. It is
the dearest thing in this world. Well, I will
forgive you that. What else have you been
doing ? "
" Shopping. I have been to the Burlington, and
one or two other places, and have come straight
There was a silence for a moment, during which
we looked steadily at each other.
"You have only been shopping?" she asked.
" I assure you, Susan, only shopping. I have
some debts still left to pay. And besides, I wanted
some more, to go on with. Why ! I know I play
billiards, but I have not a bet standing over in the
world, although I have not paid a single one to-day.
You don't understand my billiards, Susan. It's as
harm/less with me as lawn-tennis. I can't help
32 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
winning at it, although. I go out of my way to
She sprang to her feet, and began to pace up and
down the room. I was astonished for the first
time to see her excited. I, for my own part,
conscious of no more wrong than is a schoolboy
who has plucked an overhanging apple, and jerked
out a trout with a foul cast of his minnow, was
perfectly unabashed. It seemed to me that she
was making an unnecessary fuss about matters
which, after all, were entirely my own, so I waited
with such philosophy as belongs to a man of my
" We'll talk no more business at present," she
suddenly said. " You shall take me out again to-
night to some nice quiet place, somewhere where
there will be nothing to jar upon us or annoy us,
or make us feel at all like our real selves. You stop
here. I'll just run upstairs and put on my things.
Never mind the people. We'll go out together.
What need we care, after all, for such canaille,
either you or I? Poor creatures! They have
nothing to do but to talk scandal. The cackling
idiots ! Now wait. I will take the greatest care
to look a credit to you."
JACK AND TIIKEE JILLS. 33
She ran upstairs, and in a very short time came
down again, looking certainly marvellous. I do not
think that it was in the least my own intemperate
tone that fanned my admiration. I firmly believe
that nine men out of ten would have agreed with
me. She had put on a little walking-dress of dark
grey silk, cut in the plainest possible fashion. Her
cuffs and collar were plain white linen ; her gloves
dark lavender. Her bonnet was small, close fitting,
and fastened without strings. Its only ornament
was a Marshal Niel rosebud. She had a dark jacket
of fleecy wool, evidently made by a good tailor, and
a little sunshade too large for a parasol and too
small for a genuine umbrella.
" It's too early for some things, Jack, at present,
and it's too late for others — too late in the day, and
too late in the year. Let us go and dine somewhere
quietly first — at some decent place, and yet not too
To suggest a place that was decent and respect-
able, and yet not too dull, was beyond the range of
my experience, and I frankly told her as much.
"Then leave it to me."
She took me to a hotel which is in the district
of St. James's. It is an hotel which has an open
34 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
coffee-room, with dinner set and a la carte. It
was a handsome room, with nothing about it of the
restaurant, or in any way garish. On the contrary,
it was painted in sober colours, and lit for the most
part by wax candles. It was distinctly English.
"I shall order the dinner and the wine and
everything," she said. "You shall see what infinite
capabilities there are in me of great things as soon
as the wind begins to blow from the gates of the
I am not writing the menu of that little dinner
from memory. It was written on a dainty card,
which I carried away, and which I still treasure.
If my reader thinks me a Brillat Savarin, he is
mistaken; but I recall this dinner because it was
the occasion, or rather the pretence, of its sur-
roundings, circumstances, and conditions. We had
oysters, spring soup, sole au vin blanc, cutlets a la
Soubise, a partridge, salad, an omelette, rice
pudding, grapes, and Parmesan biscuits. The only
wine was still hock, which made its appearance with
the oysters, and after it thoroughly-iced champagne
of '68 Perrier Jouet. I am content to leave this
menu to the judgment of those who understand
those things better than myself.
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 35
It is but a short drive from where we dined i o
that London attempt at a Trocadero, the Alhambra.
There we went and took a small private box, where
I could smoke and Susan could enjoy a cup of black
coffee and a glass of chartreuse.
The Alhambra that night gave us its usual
choice, or, to be more exact, variety. There were
star singers — not perhaps with all that talent which-
is only to be found in Paris, but certainly better
than anything of their kind to be met with in
London. The irrepressible Jones may not be the
equal of Paulus or Libert, but he is very good in
his way when he does his best. Then there were
the acrobats, and English acrobats are admittedly
the best in the world, as are English boxers, having
more muscle and more stolid indifference to danger
than have their Continental confreres. Then, too,
there was the ballet. The Alhambra ballets fall
short of the Parisian in gorgeousness of costume
and scenery, and although we import our premieres
danseuses, our corps de ballet is never so well
trained as it would be in France or Italy. It is the
great fault of England to recklessly waste good raw
material instead of training it to the utmost. But
then no one in England — not even the Bishop of
36 JACK AND THF.EK JILLS.
London — seriously regards the ballet as a pro-
When we emerged I called a cab, giving the man
instructions as before to put me down in advance,
and then to deposit Mrs. Brabazon at the door. As
it was probably his last chance of another fare that
night, he drove slowly, economising his horse for
" You have been to the Jews, you bad boy," Susan
said, as soon as the horse had settled down to his
steady jolt, and we were clear of the noisiest of the
"Well, and what if I have? It's my ov;n
" Not entirely your own business, for I, at any
rate, care for you sufficiently to tell you that any-
thing that stood in the way of the future before you
would make the remainder of my own life dark with
its shadow. Come ! There is nothing incurable
except dishonour, of which you are incapable. Tell
me all about it."
I obeyed her commands, and told her " all about
it " as well as I could. The narrative was imperfect,
with the exception of the figures, which, of course,
I remembered accurately. When I had finished
she took my right hand into her left and patted it
gently with her other hand.
" Have you really told me the whole truth ? Have
you kept back nothing whatever ? Please don't
mislead me or I will never ask you to trust me
" On my honour, Susan, I have told you every-
thing, down to the last farthing."
" Very well then. Do not take a single other
step in this wretched matter without asking me first.
Of course you are tied up for a while and, so, safe.
I fancy you will find it is easier to get into the net
than to cut your way out, but we will see what we
can do. And now let us talk of something
So we talked of something else, un il it became
time, as before, to arrange with the cabman and to
38 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
manoeuvre our separate entry. When I returned,
after some fifteen minutes of solitude and reflection,
I found the house in darkness. That I slept soundly
goes without saying.
Mrs. Brabazon did not appear at breakfast next
morning, and so, when the meal was concluded, I
took my way towards the river, which I managed to
strike, and availed myself of the steamboat for the
best approach to a blow of air which London can
give you, unless you resort to such out-of-the-way
places as Primrose Hill.
The boat landed me at Temple Pier. My pleader
was apparently indifferent to my absence. At all
events he made no comment upon it, but after
remarking that it was a fine day for the time of
year, handed me a set of interrogatories to draw and
to leave for his approval, on the back of which he
had pencilled certain weird and illegible references
to " Adolphus and Ellis." '• Petheram on Interro-
gatories," and " Meeson and Welby." Into these I
plunged, if not quite con amore, at any rate with
the distinct feeling that they were a change. When
I had finished them, and had been graciously assured
that they were extremely creditable, I sallied out
into the garden.
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 39
The day was still young, and it was my first
impulse to go back, on the strength of having done
a virtuous day's work, and to try and tempt Mrs.
Bra^azon out again ; but she had managed to make
me, in a certain sense, afraid of her, and my love
for her was not altogether of the kind that casteth
out fear, however perfect it may otherwise have
been. So I found my way to some billiard rooms
in Holborn, where I set to work at pool, backing
myself wherever I could get the chance. The
stakes were not high ; but if you win, or even take
stroke and divide a pool of twenty four, now and
then judiciously betting upon your stroke, it is not
difficult to collect a couple of sovereigns. And with
about this sum I left the rooms at an early hour
and walked home, feeling myself a pattern of all
the virtues, and full of the most vague and tem-
I would get called to the Bar, and would burst
upon it like a meteor. I would keep a yacht and
cruise in it during the long vacation with Mrs.
Brabazon. I would go into Parliament (actually at
this moment I did not know whether I was a Tory,
Whig, Liberal, Kadical, or Home Euler) ; and then
came hazy ideas, as if through some dim arch, of
40 JACK AND THREE JILLf-
the woolsack and of a peerage. SI ice jeionesse
savait! SI la veillesse pouvait ! **■
Next day I was in no humour for work in any
form, and least of all for work at my pleader's
chambers. I had passed through a cyclone, and
was in what sailors call " the doldrums." In a
cyclone the wind catches you from every quarter at
once. In the doldrums there is no wind to catch
you from any quarter at all, and you consequently
lie " as idle as a painted ship upon a painted
ocean." I was, I say at this moment in the
In this frame of mind I wrote a little note asking
Susan to come for a walk, sent it up and received a
verbal reply that she would be ready immediately.
We strolled together into the Grove, and so made
our way into Kensington Gardens, full, as usual, of
soldiers, nursemaids, children, babies, and loafers.
We sat down close by the water under an
immense elm. The leaves were falling already,
and the trees were turning russet. Kensino-ton
Gardens are still a paridise of birds. Swallows
were even yet flitting overhead. One could hear
the plaintive note of the wood-pigeon, and now and
jack and three jills. 41
again a sliy, shy little nut hatch would dart about
over the bark, hanging, in its parrot-fashion, head
downwards, darting its neck to this side and that,
and peering with its tiny inquisitive eyes for
vagrant insects. In Kensington Gardens nobody is
suspicious or captious. Nobody cares who is walk-
ing with whom. We were as entirely alone as if we
had been in the very heart of a tropical forest.
I began to talk with but indifferent success, and
had an uneasy suspicion that she was enjoying my
perplexity. This made me more or less desparate,
and at last I came to the conclusion that I was
driven into a corner and had better at once open
fire. There is a grimly humorous proverb which
recommends you, as " the eleventh commandment
with promise," to tell a lie and stick to it. It
seemed to me that telling the truth was not only
the right thing for me to do, but, under all the
circumstances, the best. I do not of course mean
the best from any low or unworthy point of view- -
my past history will, I hope, acquit me of any such
suggestion. I merely mean that I wanted to bring
matters to a head, and consequently set to work in
my own blundering fashion to do so.
" Look here, Susan," I suddenly broke out.
42 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
" Look at what, my dear boy ? "
" Oh, don't turn all my earnest into fun. Take
" I always do take you seriously. I have never
deceived or even misled you for a moment."
" Well, then, I want you to marry me. I want
you to do so out of kindness to me and pity for me.
I will get called, and we will go away somewhere to
the Colonies, and I will practise at the Colonial bar,
where they like young men, and where I really
think I shall be sure to get on. We shall meet
nobody whom we know — nobody to worry us or give
us any trouble or make things in any way unplea-
sant. It is difficult to imagine a simpler and a
more complete change of life. It will be a trans-
formation effected in about six weeks with no more
trouble than that involved in a very pleasant run in
a magnificent steamer ; and we will be married
before we start."
" The world moves, Jack. I remember when
young men used to build castles in the air. You
are not content unless you map out empires and
dynasties in it."
" Be I 'auclace ! Be I 'auclace ! Toujours de
I 'audace ! " I answered.
JACK ASJJ THREE JILLS. 43
"Everything," she answered, "even a correct
French accent, will come to a young man in time,
if he will only have sufficient self-control to wait."
"Wait!" I echoed, angrity. "Wait! It is
always the same answer. Wait! Wait till the
spring ; wait till the full summer ; wait till the
autumn. I am tired of waiting, and I will wait no
longer. One may wait till one's hair is grey, and
at the waiting game death, who waits the longest
and is its croupier, sweeps the board. I, for my
part, shall wait no longer. I have, so far perhaps,
made a mistake of life ; but the mistake is not at
all irretrievable. Anything but it ; and it is just
my quiet but fixed determination to commence life
over again. I have opened out badly, made the
wrong gambit ; but I have still some confidence in
myself, and I mean to begin all over again. My
old age, if I ever reach it, shall not be a regret."
" I am not talking of myself, Jack. On the con-
trary, I am talking in earnest. It is idle for you
to think of marrying me, and it would be worse
than idle in me to encourage you in any such
notion. You do not know all about me."
" Oh, dear me ; no, you do not — not in the very
ii JACK AND THREE JILLS.
least. I have a very bad record ; and, apart alto-
gether from that, I am idle, selfish, and incurably
extravagant. I should hold you in a fool's paradise
for a month or two, and then some morning you
would find yourself left alone, with the additional
mortification of knowing upon the very best
authority that I had gone away with someone else.
I am far too fond of you to see you subjected to this
kind of thing, and I will be no party to anything
whatever that leads up to it, however remotely or
indirectly — of that you may rest most absolutely
assured. You are a most dear, good, lovable boy.
I will say, if you wish it, dear, good, lovable man.
And it is for that very reason that I mean to protect
you against yourself. And now, Jack, I am tho-
roughly tired. I always did hate arguments. Take
me back to the Grove, and give me some ices. And
for another week, at all events, during which time
you will perhaps come to your senses, there must
not be another word of all this nonsense."
Of course I could only obey, although I felt quite
aware that I did so with a very sulky grace ; and
in this frame of mind I escorted Mrs. Brabazon to
Westbourne Grove. There we had our ices and a
little fruit, and a harmless pint of claret with a
JACK AND TITKEE JILLS. 45
syphon of soda water. The entertainment was given
in its simplicity, and at its conclusion she insisted
on walking home alone.
" You may go and play billiards," she said ; that
is a game at which you will not singe your poor
I do not know whether this was meant as a sneer
or not ; but it was too dangerously like one to at all
improve my temper.
" Sou vent femrae v.irie
Bienfolle qui s'y fie."
So I muttered to m}self as I strode away in
quest of Calverley's virides sed non e gramine
I did not have my usual fortune, thereby directly
contradicting the old saying " Unlucky in love,
lucky at play." I missed easy strokes, which for me
ought to have been a certainty. I left myself
perversely in the very centre of the table. Ultimately
I got disgusted, and walked away the winner by
only some two or three shillings. The marker added
fuel to the fire by suggesting, in a friendly under-
46 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
tone, that my nerves were a little shaky, and
advising what he called a peg of brown brandy and
green curacoa. I was then, and always have been,
a temperate man ; but I am assured by veterans in
the other camp, that brown brandy and curacoa in
even moderate doses would kill a rhinoceros in a
The next morning I rose early, wrote a note to
Mis. Brabazon, telling her I should return at
twelve, and, without waiting for breakfast, walked
into the park. I struck due south until I reached
the river. There were some barges lying on the
shore, with the bargemen round about them. In
an indolent mood I invited these worthies to
partake of beer at my expense. Between them
they consumed about a gallon, and I remember
playing one aged mariner a rubber of skittles, in
which he came off decidedly the conqueror. The
stakes were unimportant, and at the conclusion of
the game I took my departure.
" If you want a run, sir, at any time," said one
Polyphemus in a catskin cap, a blue guernsey,
corduroys, and ankle jacks, " come to this house
and ask for the Matilda and Clara. I'm always to
be heard of here, and there's always a bunk in my
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 47
cabin. The accomodation's limited, but it's clean,
and I'll put you ashore wherever you like."
I thanked my new friend, entered his name in
my pocket-book, and so departed. From Battersea
to Hyde Park and across the park to Bayswater
is an easy walk. I marched along at a good
swinging pace, and reached home half-an-hour
after my appointed time. The servant must have
been looking out for me; for, as I turned my
latch-key in the door, she quickly opened it and
handed me a letter, retreating at once herself to
the lower regions.
The envelope itself was formidable, being of the
largest size known in attorney's offices, but my
name upon it was in Susan's handwriting, and the
seal was also her own.
I hurried up to my own room and tore the
packet open. First of all fell out the charge on
my reversion, that I had given to Mr. Eaphael. I
looked at it in blank bewilderment, intensified
when I noticed that it bore engrossed upon its
back a full and absolute discharge and release.
Pinned to it was my promissory note, vigorously
cancelled and with the stamp cut out. So far I
saw daylight. But there was a third enclosure —
49 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
a letter from Susan herself. I locked the door,
and then tore the letter open. I had to read it
two of three times before I could believe it.
It ran upon this wise : — ■
September 28th, 18 —
" My oo dear Boy,— I send you the papers
which you were foolish enough to give Eaphael,
that you might waste the money upon myself.
Does not one silly turn deserve another ? By the
time you have got this letter I shall be many miles
away — in fact, altogether out of your reach,
although I hope and trust we shall meet again and
he as gord friends as ever. You have been some-
thing very much more than a mere glimpse of
sunshine in my chequered and tempestuous
" Vt'Iiatever you do, mind and get called to the
Bar as soon as possible. You will, I feel certain,
find yourself thrust into an appointment almost at
once, without knowing how, or why, or by whom,
and you will then have the world before you, with
a fair chance of enjoying it.
« Do not go falling in love with anybody— no t
even with Miss M'Lachlan. You may continue to
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 49
love me if you like. I shall be in Paris, to-morrow,
and will send you thence my photograph.
" I shall not answer any of your letters, but you
ma-y write to me if you care to do so. My solicitor,
Mr. Amos Clarke, of the Old Jewry, will forward
your letters ; but he will not give you my address,
and his clerks do not know it. Be good and take
care of yourself, and some day you shall hear from
me again. — Ever yours,
" Susan Brabazox."
I thrust the letter into my pocket, and hurried
rapidly into the streets. Striking to the northward
across the park, I reached the canal, the towing
path of which in the daytime is practically deserted.
Here I paced up and down to consider this
Evidently Susan was determined, for the present
at any rate, to hide herself from me, and it would
be idle, unless I had large funds at my disposal, to
attempt to track her out. A mere journey to Paris,
for instance, on the chance of finding her there,
would have been worse than useless. She might
be at Vienna, Venice, Biarritz, Eome, anywhere.
And even if she were in Pails, how was I to find
50 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
her out ? Advertising in the papers was useless.
It would annoy her, and besides, her solicitor had
her address. There was nothing to be done, except
to bow to fate with a bad grace. This I did,
cursing my luck, and then, more anglico, pro-
ceeded to stupefy myself at a hostel, known as the
York and Albany, with London stout and a clay pipe.
In the tavern in question is, or was at that time,
a taproom, frequented by cabmen and the drivers
and conductors of omnibuses. Here I sought a
refuge, and before long found myself with no
underhand intention listening to the general con-
" Well," continued an omnibus driver, dividing
his attention impartially between his bread and
cheese, his beer and certain complicated structural
alterations in the lash of his whip, " what does Bill
do? Did 'e drown hisself? Not likely. 'E
thought better of it. ' She never told lies before,'
says Bill to himself. « As likely as not she's telling
the truth this 'ere show. So I shall 'old on,' he
says, ' I shall 'old on.' And so he did 'old on for
two mortal years."
And here the narrator buried his features in his
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 51
" And I suppose the young woman married some
other bloke ? " inquired a young conductor of
dandified dress, with a white hat and a penny
flower in his button-hole.
" You're always sharp, you are, Joe, and I dessay
you're sharp enough, if you're up to only half yer
own estimate o' yourself. But for onst yer 'appen
to be wrong. Three months after that very identical
young man was riding home beside me on my near
side when a young woman on the roof leans over
and touches 'im on the shoulder. 'E gives a sort o'
yell, and scrambles on to the roof. It were more
flyin' than scramblin'. And then 'e were by her in
broad daylight, with 'is arm round 'er waist a
huggin' 'er like mad, till I 'ad to ask 'im to stow it>
as it was becomin' jest a trifle too 'ot and public
" And what then ? " inquired the sceptic.
" What" then ? " was the contemptuous reply.
" What then ? Why, what on earth do you think ?
Why, they was married that day week ! 'Ed 'ad the
banns out all the time, only she never knew it,
through not goin' to church o' Sundays, whereby
she lost the information. And I don't believe 'e'd
ever 'is eye off of 'er. But look 'ere ; time's up."
52 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
And he finished his beer and hurried out.
I strolled out again over the bridge into the
Eegent's Park, and sauntered down to Portland
Eoad Station. Hard by the station the road strikes
due south for Oxford Street. I followed it, and then
made my way through Soho Square and Soho to
Piccadilly Circus. I could not bear the idea of
dining at Bayswater, so I contented myself with a
steak and a pint of stout at Stone's, after which I
went to the pit of the Adelphi, where was being
enacted a melodrama of the genuine old Adelphi
type, followed, of course, by a screaming farce.
Then, the performance concluded, I sallied out and
The next morning I called on Mr. Rapheal, who
this time received me with promptitude, but with
some signs of astonishment. When I told him
that I had not come this time to borrow money, he
was more astonished still, and asked me, not rudely
but still brusquely, what I had come for.
This I explained to him as well as I could. I told
that I wished to know under what circumstances his
claim upon me had been settled.
"Easily enough," he said. "A lady came here;
I daresay you know who she is She said she was
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 53
a member of your family, and I only hope, for your
sake, you've more of them. She paid me up, took
the bit of stiff and the parchment skins, and then
gave me a regular good jacketing, — let me have it
hot, I can tell you ; called me all the names she
could lay her tongue to. When I suggested a
biscuit and a pint of dry, I really believe I was as
near having my eyes clawed out as I ever wish to
be again. However, the notes were all right, and
I did the proper thing and handed her back the
papers. But I tell you one thing, Mr. Severn, I
mean to keep my word to her. There's no more
truck between you and me. That's straight."
" I'm sorry the lady was so hard on you, Mr.
Raphael," I replied, hardly able to control my
amusement. " I myself shall always consider that
you have behaved most fairly and kindly to me."
" Well, Mr. Severn, business is business. People
chuck stones at my line of business, but they can't
chuck stones at the way in which I carry it on. I'm
not afraid of any Equity Judge on the bench
though they've all got their knives into me. Lots
of my transactions have been ripped up, but they've
always stood the light, and Jacobs has pocketed his
little bill of costs every time. It isn't every banker
51 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
in the City of London who can say as much as that.
Will you have a pint of champagne ? No ? Well,
if you won't, have a cigar at all events. Good
morning, and good luck to you Mr. Severn.
Mason, show Mr. Severn out."
So I made my way down into Piccadilly, and
walked back to Bayswater more at sea than ever.
But on two things I had made up my mind.
Nothing should induce me to get into debt again.
And, in the second place, I would get " called " as
soon as possible. That would be the best return for
her kindness that I could make at present. She
would almost certainly write to congratulate me on
my call, and I could then go to her at once, or at
all events set to work with a light heart to find her
These good resolutions did not go the way of
most of their kind, and find their way into a pave-
ment which only Dante could describe. I did not
content myself with making them, but I also stuck
to them. My course of life now became tedious
and uneventful. I ate my dinners and attended my
pleader's chambers with commendable regularity.
I passed my examinations, and was duly called.
And thereat my father so far departed from his
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 55
usual rule of strict economy as to send me a cheque
for a hundred pounds, and to inform me that my
allowance would now be raised to a hundred and
fifty a year, which would be paid me as before,
quarterly. He also suggested that I should come
down for Christmas. There were still some
pheasants left, and there would probably be good
skating on the lake, which had already caught over
once or twice.
I replied to this epistle in a proper spirit of filial
gratitude ; settled my account at the boarding-
house ; took leave of Mrs. Jessett, of Miss
M'Lachlan, and of the other boarders ; and then,
before going home, ran down to Brighton, that I
might divide a week between the harriers and the
The air of Brighton seems to act upon Londoners
in a really marvellous fashion, and before a couple
of days were over, I felt myself once again a boy of
In this frame of mind I made my way home. A
country has delights and pleasures of its own, even
if you do not, as did I in this case, know every
inch of its grounds. Three years' absence may alter
yourself, but they do not alter the face of nature.
There were the same trees in the long avenue. The
very hole from which I had taken the nest of the
great red woodpecker had not been covered over
with sheet lead, and, as my fly drove past, an old
woodpecker darted out with a noisy shriek and
chuckle, and scudded away across the park. The
lake was unaltered, except by its margin one or two
immemorial willtws must either have tumbled
down from extreme old age or else have been
mercifully relieved the trouble of further existence.
In the immense elms by its side the herons were
still clustered, and I could recognise some of the
old nests, which I had often attempted to reach at
imminent risk of my neck. The rabbits were
darting about in and under the bracken, and as we
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 57
neared the house I heard again the solemn chatter
of the rooks upon the terrace elms.
My arrival had been expected, and I found the
family drawn up to receive me. My father, en
grand seigneur, shook hands, complimented me on
my growth, and expressed his satisfaction that I had at
last embarked upon a career which could, of course,
only end in the woolsack.
My mother kissed me, and told me that I was
growing, and that I reminded her very much of
her own eldest brother Horace, especially about the
hair and the bridge of the nose, with regard to
which last feature she could have taken me for
Horace himself. Then my sisters in succession, by
seniority, administered flabby, pecky kisses, popping
their great red lips down on to my cheek, and
snapping them away again as suddenly as if I were
a dish of snap-dragon, or were suffering from some
unpleasant contagious malady. My youngest
brother, who had by this time attained the dignity
of jackets, sidled up and took my hand, rubbed it
all over his face and head, and then continued to
hold it firmly.
I was asked, of course, if I would not like some
refreshment. We had a room, presided over by the
58 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
cook, and called in solemn make-believe the butler's
pantry. I replied that I would make my way
thither, and that then I should like to take a turn
round the grounds, if Dick, my youngest brother,
could accompany me. To this suggestion no oppo-
sition whatever was offered. In fact, my proposal to
take myself off at once and to give no further
trouble, seemed to be hailed as a symptom that I
had at last learned how to behave myself, and was
reduced to a proper state of humility and Christian
The butler, as it pleased us to call him, was de-
lighted. He first, without comment, drew me an
immense glass of old ale. When I had finished it,
he favoured me with a solemn wink while cutting a
bountiful sandwich from a cold haunch of veni-
" Eare goings on you've had, Master Jack. Eare
capers, I'll be bound. Well, well, let a boy begin
to be a man early. That's what I say. And don't
let a man begin to get an old man too soon. You're
coming on, Master Jack. I'm getting old, myself.
I'm bigger round the stomach than I care to be, and
smaller round the thigh. 'Tisn't much I could do
now, over a hurdle or across a ditch, and I ain't up
JACK AND THREE JILLS. r,o
to following the hounds a-foot, as I did twenty years
ago, when I could tire out the best horse in the
field. Never mind. It does an old man good to see
the young folk coming on. You won't find much
change in the place. There's William down at the
stables, still, and Mat too. Mat's married and got
a family, and his wife, she combs his hair a bit.
But she's a managing woman, and she looks after
his clothes. He was a bit untidy when he was
single, so it's as broad as it's long. Too much beer
ain't good for a young gentleman. Try this." And
he produced a quaint Dutch flagon of blue glass,
with a neck like that of a stork. It was a genuine
Amsterdam curacoa, and I freely confess that it
warmed my blood.
Next I hunted up Dick, whom I found in all the
dignity of a pea-jacket, and who at once took me
under his charge. His ambition seemed to be to
take me to every place at once ; but I cooled down
his youthful impetuosity, and told him that I wanted
to go for just a stroll.
So we roamed through the grounds, which seemed
to me much dilapidated, and sadly in need of re-
planting. And then from the stables to the kitchen
garden, and from the hitchen garden to the home
CO JACK AND THREE JILLS.
farm, where we kept our one cow ; Dick and I wended
our way to what was called the hanger — a piece of
hillside thickly wooded, and noted for its badgers,
squirrels and jays. I had more than won Dick's
heart by the present of a big, three-bladed knife
with a swivel and chain, by which it might be con-
veniently attached to his belt or braces.
" I say, Jack," he said, " they've ail been talking
" Have they, indeed ? And pray, what did they
" Oh, Pa said that you were exactly like himself ;
that you were dreadfully lazy, but very clever ; and
that, if you chose to try, you could do whatever you
pleased. Georgie took your part, and said you
weren't lazy at all, and Eachel didn't say anything.
She never does say anything, but she always
manages to have her own way. She's very clever,
Now this intelligence, satisfactory in so far as it
went, was yet not exactly reassuring. Evidently I
had returned as a suspect and upon my good be-
haviour. No man likes to play the part of the
prodigal son ; but to enact this role when there
is no fatted calf killed for you, none of the old wine
JACK AND THREE JILL?. fil
brought forth, and no lifting up of the sackbut,
harp, psaltery, dulcimer, and all manner of music,
is but poor work indeed. So I continued my way
moodily, while Dick, picking up a huge fa' leu fir
cone, made satisfactory trial of his new knife.
We arrived at the lake to find it was caught over,
scantily, but with promise of skating to come.
Dick rushed from place to place on the bank, to
take up and reset his night lines, on which, in spite
of the weather, were two or three big eels. These
he strung in solemn triumph on a long withe, and
so we turned back to the house. In the house I
found them all re-assembled. It still wanted a
couple of hours till dinner time, so I invited Dick
up to my bedroom. Fresh country air invariably
makes you sleepy, and I felt coming upon me what
Shakespeare terms an " Exposition of Sleep." I
took off my boots, threw myself down on my bed,
and giving Dick strict orders to wake me in time
for the hot water before dinner, was soon fast asleep.
Dreamless sleep is of all blessings in this world, and
of all anodynes incomparably the first and
Two or three days afterwards the ice on the lake
62 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
was pronounced to be competent, and the surface
was swept with due and proper care, until it
glistened like a great sheet of looking glass. The
intelligence spread through the village and its out-
lying parts, and by noon the frozen surface was
fairly well covered, and the clear shrill ring of steel
echoed through the surrounding shrubberies, and
died away in the palm branches overhead. Although
Essex is a great skating country, we yet had no
scientific skaters amongst us to make an exclusive
circle to themselves, and so spoil the harmony of
the meeting. Very few of us were masters of the
outside edge. None could venture beyond a figure
of eight. All that we attempted to do was to enjoy
ourselves in our own way ; and this we achieved
I was roaming about alone, rolling in that delight-
fully easy method, the perfection of laziness, when
you never lift either foot from the ice for a stroke,
but fling your body from side to side, swing along
by dead weight in a perpetual zigzag. I bad lit a
wooden pipe, buttoned up the collar of my pea-
jacket, and looked in all respects as much like all
other young men as any modest young man need
desire to look. Suddenly I became aware that there
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 63
was someone on the ice whom I knew, and ought
to remember only too well. It was my old sweet-
heart, Izzie Vivian, in the company of my sisters.
I at once struck out my most superb outside edge,
and joined them with a flourish as complicated, if
not perhaps as expressive, as the derniere pirouette
of a premiere danseuse.
I bowed and shook hands, and I can solemnly
declare that there was not even a twinkle, or the
suspicion of it, in the eye of either of us.
" Has he not grown, my dear ? " remarked my
" Immensely," was Miss Vivian's somewhat prosaic
This nonchalent acquiescence a little irritated me.
As a matter of fact, I was neither taller nor shorter
by the sixteenth of an inch than when I left Essex
more than three years ago.
Then came the usual feeble gossip, for which my
sisters were entirely responsible. Yesterday's mail
had brought down the last number of the Queen
and a batch of new novels from the London librarian.
I was asked what the park looked like, and who
were playing at the different theatres, and we got
into a general atmosphere of the Court and Shakes-
C4 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
peare and musical glasses. Tt was easy talking
enough for one, but it was none the less terribly
dull. I could not help noticing, however, that my
old flame had, in the language of novelists of the
Eichardson epoch, vastly improved. She had grown;
she was more self-conscious ; even her hair was
more deftly and coquettishly arranged than of yore,
while her feet no longer seemed too large for her
body or troubled her as to their disposition. She
was in every way more filled out and rounded off,
if, in my capacity of son of an Essex squire, I may
borrow a phrase from the vocabulary of the racing
stable. We know how immense is the difference
between the very youngest " man " and the biggest
and burliest of all possible school-boys, even if the
latter rejoice in the bushiest of whiskers and be
captain of the eleven or the football team. There
is the same difference between your young lady who
has been to her first four or five balls, and her
younger sisters who are still redolent of bread and
butter and the nursery.
Pondering on these things in a listless manner,
and thinking of nothing else in particular, I be-
came suddenly aware that my sisters had veered off
and had left myself and Miss Vivian alone.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. fi.i
" I sea you are back from the Isle of Wight," I
It was awkward and foolish of me, but I
really could think of nothing else whatever to
" Oh yes," she laughed. " You know I had done
nothing so very desperately wicked after all. Perhaps,
too, the good old ladies at the school did not find
me particularly tractable. At all events, they re-
ported that, in their opinion, my education might
be considered as ' finished ' down to the very last-
extra, and on the strength of that certificate I am
now at home again, and am told that I am to con-
sider myself, in the accepted phraseology, as out ;
which means that I have been presented, that I dine
in the evening when we give a dinner party, and
am allowed to wear a necklace and a couple of
bangles, and to indulge in a dress of something a
little less simple than muslin."
In default of anything else, I asked her how she
liked the change.
" I can hardly tell you," she replied. " Some-
times the new life pleases me well enough. At
others I wish the old days were back again. There
was crrtainly more freedom in them. But the
C6 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
change must come, of course, sooner or later. It is
a great trouble."
Then we began to talk of other things, until it
neared half-past three, and the day began to close.
It was time to leave the ice, and we soon found
ourselves at the summer house, where in summer
we kept our bait and fishing tackle, and where now
there was a general clatter as of the removal of
Of course I managed, under cover of my sisters,
to escort Izzie to our lodge gates.
" You will come to-morrow ? " cried the girls in
chorus. " William says the thermometer is falling,
and that the ice to-morrow will be splendid, if it
is well swept in the evening."
" Oh, of course I shall come. I love skating, of
all things." And so our little company broke
As we returned to the house, my sisters wanted
to know if I thought Izzie had improved. I replied
evasively that 1 supposed all girls improved about
her age. I was told in return that I had come
back with no more manners than a bear, to which
I retorted that I had been diligently practising the
art of cross-examination, and had not returned with
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 67
any intention of being vivisected. " Besides,"' I
remarked mockingly, " I have passed through an
entire season at a select Bayswater boarding-house,
and my heart is now as tough as the leg of a five-
year-old rooster, or, for the matter of that, its
" What a wonderful man of the world you have
become ! " cried my sisters in chorus, " and how
immensely London has improved your manners.
Pray, when are you going to be presented at
Court ? "
" When I take silk," I retorted, " I shall have to
submit to that troublesome ceremony. It is one of
the nuisances involved in taking silk."
" And, pray, what may taking silk mean ? "
"It means, my dear sisters, 'coming out' and
learning to mind your own business and not to talk
about the business of other people, unless you are
well paid for doing so, and do it in your professional
capacity. In which case loquacity assumes the
rank of a virtue."
" Dear me," remarked (xeorgie, addressing her
younger sister, with a little sigh. " Quite a
philosopher for his age, my dear."
To this sneer I did not condescend to reply, and
68 JACK AND THREK JILLS.
the girk feeling, I suppose, that they had the best
of the skirmi>h, assumed a corresponding air of
aggressive importance. I did not long for Susan
to bring them to their senses. Miss M'Lachlan
would have been quite enough. But the presence
of that most worthy spinster I should have hailed
with clean delight. Her antipathy to young men
was as nothing as compared to her aversion to
I went to bed early that night. Skating makes
one very indolent. I know of no exercise, except
swimming, and perhaps tennis, out of which you
can get a larger amount of fatigue in a given
amount of time. I carefully opened my window,
made up the fire so as to have a good draught up
the chimney, and got into bed. Then, with my
pipe alight, I began to turn matters over.
Susan Brabazon was out of my reach. With
money and time I could no doubt have traced her.
I had written to her through her solicitor, thanking
her for what she had done in extricating me from
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 69
the clutches of Mr. Raphael, and begging her to
give me her address ; but I had received no answer
whatever, and was not likely to receive one now
after the lapse of so many weeks, especially as
Mr. Amos Clarke's managing clerk assured me,
with every appearance of truth, that my letter had
reached her, and that she had acknowledged its
receipt in a business communication addressed to
Clearly, then, I could only wait until it might
please her to write to me herself. Meantime what
could I do better than stay where I was ? It was
to this conclusion, several considerations combined.
I was unquestionably comfortable. It would have
been idle to pretend I was not. I was living
economically, and indeed saving money, which I
should otherwise have wasted in London. And
then, too, there was my rencontre with Izzie Vivian,
for whom I felt all my old attachment reviving. I
think it is as well to be thus entirely frank. I had
been, no doubt, madly in love with Susan. But it
had been the wild stormy love of passion. It
might of course leap up at any moment if I saw her
again ; of this the chances seemed at present
70 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Izzie Vivian, on the other hand, had been my
On revient toujours k ses premiers amours.
Besides, she had developed more in proportion
to the few years that had gone over our heads than
had I myself. I, although nominally a man, was
still in reality only a youth. She had become a
grown woman, tall, comely and winning. The odds
in every way were against me — that is, if I was to
attempt to resist the situation.
It was what bookmakers call a moral, that I should
fall in love with her again, and, of course, I at once
proceeded to do so in the most orthodox and
There are, as I had by this time discovered, and
as probably very few of my readers will need to be
told, more ways than one of making love, according
to the age, disposition, and rank of life of the lady.
Among the list of books studied by the great
Pantagruel, Master Franpois Eabelais enumerates
De Calcaribus retinendis decades undecim. Decades
centum might certainly be written on the various
methods of making love, a matter on which, it may
be remembered, even Mr. Pickwick himself did not
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 71
scorn to take the friendly advice of Mr. Peter
Izzie had grown into a woman, and must be made
love to accordingly ; and in this scientific frame of
mind it was that I resolved to set to work. The
resolution taken, I lit a final pipe, and mixed my-
self some more whisky and water. Then I con-
sidered details, and having disposed of them to my
complete satisfaction, I knocked the ashes out of my
pipe, blew out my candle, and almost immediately
was fast asleep.
The gift of instantaneous sleep is one of the
happy privileges of those who, like young men and
condemned criminals on the eve of execution,
have the worst of their trouble yet before them.
The Vivians were one of the *oldest families in
the county. There are other Vivians in England
who cannot prove common ancestry, although they
are presumably connected, as they all have the same
coat-of-arms and the same motto.
Izzie's father was an Essex Vivian, and chief of
that ilk, but there were also the Northumberland
Vivians and the Cornish Vivians — all with pedigrees
72 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
going back to William tlie Conqueror, at least,
and sufficient to mystify even a Gfarter King-
at-Arms. Somehow or other, too, money went
with the name. Either there were coal mines or
slate quarries, or else there would be broad acres and
large rent-rolls, with perhaps salmon fishing rights.
The Vivians, in a word, ranked among those old
county families which, as an acute French critic of
our social life has observed, are prouder of their
descent, and have better reason to be proud of it
than have the bulk of our nobility.
Izzie was an only child, and, as the estates were
unentailed, would ultimately enjoy in her own
absolute right some twelve thousand a year. Thirty-
five pounds a day, or thereabouts in round figures,
is a very comfortable income, on which life can be
most pleasantly spent. No wonder that when, three
years ago, our youthful attachment was discovered
she should have been hurried out of my way. And
yet here we were together again ; and she now her
own mistress, and very possibly as ready to renew
our old attachment as ever.
What chances some men have ! And yet I can
honestly declare that I did not then, nor have
evercared for money. It seems to me that if a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 73
man can hunt four days a week in the season, keep
a sailing yacht of about eighty tons in the summer,
and never know what it is to be troubled for a five-
pound note, he ought to be not only happy, but
extremely grateful. Beyond some such limits as
these wealth becomes like that of the Vanderbilts,
the Astors, the Stewarts, and the Mackays — a
Next day we were all on the ice again. I am free
to confess that I had dressed myself with more
than my usual care, and had critically superin-
tended the grinding of my skates, without
which precaution the outside edge is apt to
prove a snare and a delusion even to the most
It was a glorious day. The sun shone in a
cloudless sky. The snow hung crisply on the fir
trees, and in the frosty air every sound rang clearly
and distinctly. All this I noticed as I left the
house. As I was finally adjusting the screws of my
skates, my sister Georgie touched me on the
shoulder, and I looked sharply up.
" Jack," she whispered, " it's a lovely day. For
once in your life make good use of your time, and
don't be a fool. It's a beautiful day," she added, in
74 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
a lighter tone, for the benefit of all whom it might
" Never knew a jollier day in my life," I replied,
at once proceeding to convert my legs into com-
passes, and to describe with them geometrical
diagrams — things in spirals, catenaries, and other
transcendental curves, only to be approached by the
aid of the differential calculus, and even then to be
treated with respect as liable to involve you at any
moment in a multiple point or a cusp, or, in the
homely language of the ice, a " purl."
Very soon I found the object of my quest. Miss
Vivian was on the ice bestowing her smiles im-
partially between the curate of the parish — not my
dear old friend and tutor, but a raw-boned successor
from St. John's, Cambridge — and a lad of about
sixteen or seventeen, the son of a neighbouring
gentleman not among the county families, fresh
from Harrow, and far more conversant with bat
fives and tuck shops than with anything at all
approaching to a flirtation.
From our companions when I joined the group
we soon managed to disengage ourselves. Both
the curate and the schoolboy made some welcome
excuse, and started off in different directions, so
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 75
that Izzie and I found ourselves circling round the
lake, she making the best of her pace, and I easily
holding at her side with little more than the sway
of my body to propel me.
" And, pray, what have you been doing in town ? "
she asked, after we had exchanged a few stray shots.
" Flirting, I suppose ? In fact, I have heard as
much from my cousin "Walter, who has several
friends in the Temple."
This was a bold stroke for " chase number one ; "
but I answered it by a cut for the '' grille,"
" Then your cousin Walter troubles himself more
about my affairs than I do about his, and apparently
knows rather less of them. Shall I tell you a Little
story about your dear cousin "Walter ? "We had all
been dining the other night at a place called the
Blue Posts, in Burlington Street, you know where,
at the top of the Burlington Arcade; and after
dinner we had a crown bowl of rack punch, which, I
am afraid, made some of us a little valiant; and
your worthy cousin told the waiter he was no
gentleman, and wanted to fight him, and the waiter,
being, as he volubly assured us, 'the son of a
jintleman as well known in county Corrck as any
other,' declared his perfect readiness to make the
76 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
matter ' an affair of honour.' So we interfered, and
vowed that enough had been said on each side, and.
insisted that the two should express their mutual
regret and shake hands; and your cousin had
swallowed so much punch, and the waiter was so
carried away by his vanity, that they actually did
shake hands most solemnly. If you doubt me ask
your cousin himself. He mayn't like it, but he'll
tell you, no doubt."
" It's too bad of you," she replied, bursting into a
fit of laughter;, "and as for the poor waiter, I
think he came more creditably out of the matter
than any of you."
" Don't you know what the Marquis of Waterford
did after he had thrown the waiter out of the
window ? Sent for the landlord, and told him to
stick down the broken waiter in the bill, and to send
up another at once."
" Young gentleman who talk like you were hung
at the lamp-posts in the French Revolution."
" Yes ; and their descendants have ruled with a
rod of iron, and have tamed with a hand of steel
the descendants of the very men who hung them.
It's all ' the whirligig of time.' I don't believe you
care a bit for me now," I continued, boldly changing
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 77
the subject to th.Q one which I was determined
" If you don't know," she answered maliciously,
"I am sure I don't see how I can. You are
tremendously clever, and ought to know everything,
even if you do not."
This was altogether too exasperating, and I began
to feel myself almost losing my temper.
"You know what I mean," I said, "perfectly
well. You know, at any rate, that I care for you,
or ought to know it."
" Oh, indeed. You have not done much to
remind me of the fact during the last three years.
I felt quite proud yesterday, to find that you still
remembered me. I had heard that you had con-
descended to transfer your affections to a lady
named Brabazon, whom you were going to lead to
the altar after first, of course, shooting her hus-
band, or in some other way distinguishing your-
Now this was distinctly awkward, so I fenced with
the thrust, —
" People seem to have been very busy with my-
self and my name and my affairs. I had no idea
whatever that I was of so much importance."
78 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
She was roused now.
" You may possibly have been of more importance
than your own modesty allowed you to imagine, but
that was some time ago."
" Then I am in disgrace. It seems very hard,
when even my father has taken the prodigal son to
his bosom, and — veal not being in season at this
time of year — has killed the fattest and most well-
beloved of all his turkeys."
" If you are profane I shall refuse to forgive you
at all, and shall at once whistle for my little
" Then I will be as pious as you please."
" No, nor pious either. Do, pray, let us enjoy
our skating. Your examination and cross-exami-
nation, which, I suppose, you have been practising
up in town with a view to the confusion of thieves,
quite worries me."
" I can take a hint," I replied gallantly.
" You can certainly take liberties. You are, for
your age, a most impertinent young man. Now,
how is it you do the ' Dutch Koll ? ' I have quite
And we went on circling about the ice, talking of
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 79
every subject under heaven but the one upon which
I had wished to force her attention.
I could see as I passed my sisters that they were
fairly delighted, and for myself I felt flushed and
insolent with victory ; for I knew enough of Izzie
Vivian, down even to the very tones of her voice, to
be perfectly satisfied that she was in reality as fond
of me as ever, and perhaps even more so. Some
fires burn all the better if they have been for a while
Next day the ice was in better condition than
ever. An enthusiast from Scotland, a Mr. Campbell,
had telegraphed up to Perthshire for curling stones,
and there was great excitement over the curling,
which seemed to me to be a somewhat stupid imita-
tion of bowls, inferior upon the whole to croquet,
and intensely monotonous to lookers on. As, how-
ever, the thing was a novelty, it, of course, as they
say in the theatre, drew.
I joined the select company on the ice, the vil-
lagers being permitted to gape in bewildered as-
80 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
tonishment from the banks, and to wonder at a sport
rather less intelligible to them than a spot-barred
match would have been. Bat as we were all clus-
tered together, and as almost everybody was pre-
tending to know all about the game, and explaining
it to everybody else, I found my opportunity to
get near Izzie, and under cover of pointing out to
her and emphasising with my stick the merits and
beauties of the game, of which I was in reality pro-
foundly ignorant, commenced a brief and earnest
" You cannot possibly have meant what you said
yesterday ? " I observed tentatively.
" But indeed I did mean it and I mean it now. I
do not want you, out of your great goodness, to
throw your glove to me, Mr. Severn. The world is
large enough for you and for me ; and it is not at
all for a mere country girl such as I am to presume
to match myself against Mrs. Brabazon, of whose
beauty and accomplishments I have heard so
" I do not see what Mrs. Brabazon has to do with
the matter," I replied with considerable warmth. "I
love you very dearly, and I want you to marry me.
It seems to me that the matter is one in which
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 81
Mrs. Brabazon's name need not be in any way in-
volved. I do not know what you may have been
told about that lady, but if you have been told the
truth, you must know as well as I do that the facts
are almost childishly simple."
" You think so," said Izzie.
" Yes, I do. Mrs. Brabazon and I boarded in the
same house, and met every day. She is considerably
older than I am "
" So I have been informed," Izzie interrupted.
" She is considerably older than I am," I repeated,
with angry emphasis. " We were surrounded by
a set of vulgar, stupid people, and she kindly took
an interest in me, and on one occasion rendered me
a very great service. That is the whole of the story,
without the least reservation. I did, no doubt, tell
her that I admired her, and she in almost so many
words told me in return that I was a silly schoolboy,
and, metaphorically speaking, boxed my ears. If
you have ever read the Secretaire Intime "
" I do not read French novels, Mr. Severn."
" Well, if you ever should read that book, you will
know what I mean. She may not have intended my
conge to have been humiliating, for she is naturally
kindhearted, but it most decidedly had that effect
82 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
upon me. I have neither seen nor beard from her
since ; and I have not the least idea where she is."
" Oh, you will no doubt see her or hear from her
in sufficiently good time, Mr. Severn. Yours, I am
sure, is not a faint heart. And in the little interval
you must bear up, possess your soul in patience and
" You are mocking me," I said.
" I am not mocking you at all. It is not kind
of you or fair of you to say so. I am only doing
what is right.''
I hardly knew what I said. I went at my task
with the pertinacity of a Caleb Cushing. I said
the same thing over and over again, using vain
repetitions as the heathen do, in the hope that I
should be heard for my much speaking. And to
my astonishment I actually produced my effect.
Before we had left the ice Izzie had told me that
she believed every word I had said, and was as fond
of me as ever.
Thus, then, I went home in a happy frame of
mind, and made myself more than usually agreeable
to the other members of the household.
Next morning the weather had changed. It was
not exactly raining, but a sort of Scotch mist was
JACK AXD THREE JILLS. 83
falling, and the mercury was slightly above freezing
point, varying uneasily as the wind shifted. The
surface of the snow, instead of being clear and
crisp, was pitted and scarred ; and with each
movement of the boughs, the trees shook off their
burdens, while the eaves and thatch dripped
I was watching all this in a dissatisfied and
querulous frame of mind, from one of the windows
in the hall, when I saw Mr. Vivian's dog-cart driving
hurriedly up the avenue. Mr. Vivian himself held
the reins, and his groom occupied the back seat. I
guessed there was mischief, and I certainly had no
intention of shirking the fray, but I judged it more
prudent, for the present at any rate, to keep out of
the way and to see how events might shape them-
selves, instead of doing anything rash on my own
account. Accordingly I retreated from the hall,
instead of advancing, as I ordinarily should have
done, to greet the newcomer.
I heard, from an upper room which commanded
the hall, Mr. Vivian enter, and saw him ushered
into the library, where, as I knew, my father was
at that time, busy with his new -papers, letters and
accounts. Then I withdrew to the shrubberies
84 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
and indulged in a pipe, leaving word with the
servants where I could be found in case I was
I had no occasion to think out my plans, as I had
nothing of which to be ashamed and nothing to
conceal. If I had not exactly covered myself with
glory up in London, I had, at all events, been called
within the usual time, and was now a Barrister-at-
law, ranking heraldically as Esquire with Justices
of the Peace, and immediately after the Sheriff and
the County Coroner. My love episode with Mrs. Bra-
bazon, and my transactions with Mr. Kaphael, were
certainly unknown to either Mr. Vivian or my
father ; else the latter would have alluded to them
at once, and in no very pleasant manner, on the
moment of my return, while I should have been
told by Izzie, that her father knew all about
Something else must have happened ; and what
it was I very soon discovered, as a footman, specially
sent on the service, hunted me out, and summoned
me to my father's presence. When I entered the
library, a dull, ponderous room, with ponderous and
dilapidated furniture, my father was standing upon
the rug in his most approved attitude of command
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
while Mr. Vivian was seated in a stiff horsehair
chair, looking anything but comfortable.
I entered the room defiantly, and with a look that
most distinctly said, " Gentlemen of the guard,
fire first." My father commenced in his most
" Mr. Vivian informs me, Jack, that you have so
far violated all those rules of hospitality by which
the conduct of a gentleman ought always to be
controlled and, I may say, guided, as to again
address yourself to his daughter in a most un-
becoming and, indeed, ur> gentlemanly fashion.
You have, he tells me, assuring me that he has the
word of the young lady herself for the fact, again
spoken to her of your affection, in spite of all that
has taken place, and of all the unhappiness, that
your conduct has caused. You have, in fact, he
tells me, made love to her. If, sir, this be so, your
conduct calls for, and in my judgment demands,
something much more than an explanation."
Mr. Vivian expressed his entire concurrence in
these choicely worded and evenly-balanced senti-
ments, emphasising his opinion with an oath which,
if neither novel nor appropriate, was at all events
vigorous and cheerful, and for which either of the
86 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
two gentlemen would any day in his capacity of
magistrate have fined an agricultural labourer five
shillings, with five-and-twenty shillings costs, or in
default have committed him for the largest possible
period of hard labour allowed by the statutes in that
case made and provided.
A confused metaphor will best express my state
of mind. The murder was out, so I stood to my
" What you have heard, sir, is perfectly correct."
" Then, by the Lord, you ought to be horse-
whipped ! " roared Mr. Vivian.
" You are under a father's roof, sir," I replied,
turning on him so sharply that he started in his
chair. " If that is really your opinion you may
give it me again in the market-place on Tuesday
next, and I will bring my own whip with me for
Now this was really dreadful. It was altogether
too much. Here was I, a mere boy, defying a
couple of gentlemen, of whom one had actually
been High Sheriff, while the other was every year
expecting to be pricked. The speech fell upon the
two magnates like a bomb-shell. They could
hardly believe their ears. Not Captain Van sly-
JACK AND -THREE JILLS. 87
perk en in Marryat's inimitable Dog-Fiend could
have been more outraged on hearing that the
audacious Jemmy had d — d the eyes of the Port-
" You ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir ! "
cried my father, throwing into his voice as much of
a roar as its natural compass would permit.
" You are only after my daughter's money ! "
bellowed Mr. Vivian, with select words of emphasis
of his own.
Now, Mr. Vivian's estates were within a month
of passing from his hands when he had rescued
them from the hammer by marrying Izzie's mother
— one of the two daughters of a wealthy oil crusher
and linseed cake manufacturer at Wapping. And
of this fact I thought the opportunity offered
itself to cheerfully remind him.
He rapped out another oath worthy of a
regimental sergeant-major, and struggled to his
feet with every symptom of imminent apoplexy.
. " Leave the room, sir ! " yelled my father.
" Certainly, sir," I replied ; and swinging round
on my heel I slammed the door after me briskly
and defiantly as a sort of farewell slap in the
88 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Then I deliberately lit a cigar in the hall, and so
strolled out on to the terrace, where I knew they
could see me, and sauntered indolently up and
down, puffing at my cigar with sufficient pantomime
to indicate thorough enjoyment of it.
They must have talked for about twenty minutes,
and then I heard Mr. Vivian's dog-cart roll away
over the gravel. I returned to the house, marched
into the butler's pantry and drew myself a tankard
of ale. This I consumed slowly and deliberately ;
but my father either did not want me, or certainly
did not send for me, and as there was nothing
better to be done, I selected myself a stout walking-
stick, whistled a favourite terrier from the stable-
yard, and once in the high road set off at a brisk
pace for the nearest village, where I intended to see
the landlord of the "Severn Arms," and gather
from him, so far as I could, what amount of gossip
as to my affairs might be afloat.
Early the next morning, one of the grooms found
me out, and handed me a letter. It had been
given him by a gardener of Mr. Vivian's, to whom
it had been given by one of the maid-servants, and
having passed through so many hands, it was pro-
portionately dirty and crumpled. I tore open the
envelope, and found inside a letter which, of
course, I had expected, and which, with all its
girlish iteration, and doubts and hopes and fears, it
would be unkind to set out here in totidem
Izzie was heart-broken. Her father had threat-
ened all kinds of dreadful things ; but she did not
believe that the law would allow him to do any of
them, and so she didn't much care. Besides, she
was weary of life. As for giving me up, nothing
should ever make her do anything of the sort ; and
as for believing all the horrid, odious, dreadful
things that they all kept on saying about me, she
did not believe a word of them, and wished to tell
90 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
me that no power on earth would ever make her do
so. She would give anything to see me, if it was
only for a minute, and she should always think of
me the last thing at night and the first thing in
Of course, she would never for a moment do
anything so horrible as to marry any one except
myself. At the same time, she felt she could not
marry without her father's consent, but he was very
fond of her, and no doubt in a year or two I
should be defending all the murderers at the
assizes, and so be made a judge or even Lord
Chancellor, and between now and then she would
do all she could to coax him round. And then
came her signature in a bold, firm hand.
I put her letter into my inner breast coat-pocket,
and, to prevent the possibility of accident, care-
fully pinned the pocket up. I devoted the best
part of the day to a brisk stroll through the fields
of neighbouring and friendly farmers, taking with
me a light single-barrelled gun, and a favourite old
I knocked over a hare, which I left at the house
of the tenant on whose land it had been killed, and
in some marshy land flushed and bowled over a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 91
brace of jack snipe, which I reserved for our
rector. Then I strode manfully home to dinner,
resolving to get to my room as soon as possible
after the meal, to light a roaring fire, and to sit
before it and think things over. This virtuous, or,
at all events, modest programme I fully carried
out. Only, before I had been thinking things over
five minutes, the warmth and the noisy crackle of
the blazing logs made me drowsy, and ultimately
I fell asleep, until I was roused by the crash and
rattle of my pipe, which had fallen from between
my teeth into the fender. Then I pulled myself
together, undressed leisurely, and, under the im-
mense quilt of strange old fancy patch-work,
dreamed placidly and persistently, not of Izzie
Vivian, but of Mrs. Brabazon.
Philosophers and psychologists tell us that we
are not responsible for our dreams, and I suppose
this must be the case, for, as the great philosopher
Plato has pointed out, even the most respectable
and sober-minded of people are apt at times to
dream of the most extraordinary and awful things,
and very often to be the chief actors in and about
them. From which he argues that, in sleep, we
can pretty well estimate the worst side of our
fi:3 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
nature, guage for ourselves its intensity, and so the
better put ourselves on our guard against it in our
All this is very philosophical, and may or may
not be true. But it is undeniably certain that, as
a matter of fact, I dreamed of Mrs. Brabazon, of
whom, for some days past, I had not even been
thinking. I was yachting with her, and then
hunting with her, and then skating with her. But
whatever I was doing, she was with me, and I am
bound to confess that I felt the better and brighter
and happier for her company.
Next morning came a long interview with my
father, which gave me a deeper insight than ever
into the extent of his worldly wisdom. In reality,
it seemed the old gentleman would be immensely
pleased to see me married to Miss Vivian. There
was nothing he would like better, only he did not
care to say so, or, to be more exact, had not the
necessary moral courage to say so. He was dread-
fully afraid of offending Mr. Vivian, who was
richer by far and more powerful than himself, and
with whom all the squires round about would be
sure to side. He owned this to me with a frank-
ness worthy of Panurge himself, and after using
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 93
some very strong language with regard to Mr.
Vivian, and more especially with regard to his
eyes, liver, and soul, assured me that, as far as he
had any feeling in the matter, he sympathised
heartily with myself; that I had done nothing to
be ashamed of; and that, when he was my age, he
would have acted exactly as I had. The oration
was prosy and self-conscious, but it was reassuring,
and we shook hands heartily at its conclusion.
My sisters were equally sympathetic, but vague,
of course, as is the school-girl habit, hoping that all
would come well, but not being exactly sure about
it, and emphasising their remarks with sage shak-
ings of the head. But they meant well ; and upon
the whole I felt that the tide of public opinion was
distinctly in my favour. And it is always best to
have public opinion with you, whether you be a
cabinet minister or only a young and briefless
Two days later the frost had entirely disappeared,
and as the hounds met within two miles of our
place, I modestly apparelled myself in buckskins,
butcher boots, and a black coat, and trotted over to
Izzie was there with her father, and with the old
94 jack and three jills.
coachman to do special duty as her groom ; and in
the bustle of trying to persuade an obstinate old
fox to break cover, I found myself near her. We
bad opportunity for a few hurried words.
" I thought it best," said I, " not to answer your
letter. The answer might not have reached you."
" You were quite right," she said ; " I doubt if it
would have reached me. Now, all that you have
got to do is to go back to town and set to work as
hard as you can. I shall be sure to hear of you,
and I daresay you will hear from me. But don't
write until I write to you. And be very good and
very industrious for my sake."
This, of course, I vowed to be, and at that
moment we heard from the other corner of the
wood the cry of " Gone away ! gone away ! gone
away ! " I had no resource but to leave Izzie under
her escort and to settle clown to my work.
I rode hard that day, and straight, and fairly
covered myself with glory, being in the first flight
and at the very tail of ths hounds from start to
finish. The fox was rolled over in the open, and
there was but little left of him by the time the
hounds were beaten off. A hard riding farmer got
the brush, which was presented with due solemnity
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 95
to the eldest daughter of the lord lieutenant, who
happened to be in the field ; and as it was too late
for the chance of a second kill, I let out my stirrups
and jogged leisurely home.
My father, who was in good temper, congratulated
me on my riding, of which he told me he had
heard considerable praise Id competent quarters,
and we then had dinner together, and after dinner,
a bottle of port. The port warmed the old gentle-
man's veins, and we sat smoking our cigars over
the logs until the orthodox hour of ten, when I bid
my father good-night.
On my return to town, which took place in a day
or two, I stuck to chambers with laudable assiduity,
and actually got a few briefs. I did not burst upon
the world after the fashion of Erskine, but I tried to
do my work efficiently and thoroughly. There is,
as any barrister will tell you, hardly any step at the
Bar between fifty pounds a year and five hundred.
And I before long found that, one way and another,
I was making as nearly five hundred as might be,
and, in fact, was being looked upon as a rising
96 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
It has been said that a leading firm of London
solicitors can take a young man fresh from the
University, pilot him through his career at the
Bar, and eventually land him on the Woolsack.
This may be a slightly exaggerated statement, but,
as far as my experience goes, it is substantially true.
At all events, success at the Bar depends almost
entirely upon the patronage of solicitors ; and I
should have had but a poor chance, if Mr. Honeybone,
senior partner in the firm of Honeybone, Salter,
Mould and Honeybone, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, who,
five-and-twenty years before, had been in the habit
of instructing my grandfather, had not taken me
"I have heard, Mr. Severn," said Mr. Honeybone,
who presented himself in person one day at my
chambers, " that you have been lately called to the
Bar, and, for the sake of your grandfather — a most
remarkably talented gentleman, sir, who, if he had
met with his deserts would have been Lord Chan-
cellor — I am anxious to do what I can for you. I
hope to send you a few briefs , and if you will kindly
give them your attention, I am sure that our rela-
tions will not be unsatisfactory, so far as you are
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 97
I thanked Mr.*Honeybone very cordially, and
promised to do my best; and I am bound to say
that he was as good as his word, and, in the lan-
guage of the judge in Mr. Gilbert's witty skit,
Trial by Jury, " briefs came trooping gaily."
Through Mr. Honeybone's intervention I became
known, and I got on. I shall never forget his dis-
I lived with the strictest economy, allowing
myself no amusement except my favourite pool ;
and thus it came about that, one happy morning, I
found, on consulting my banker's book, that I was
able to draw a cheque for something more than the
one hundred and twenty pounds I owed Susan
Brabazon, and to purchase into the bargain, at
London and Ryder's, a very handsome little bracelet
of emeralds and black pearls.
Armed with the cheque and with the bracelet
neatly packed, I made my way to Mrs. Brabazon's
solicitor in the Old Jewry, who again refused to
give me the address of his client, but informed me
that he would at once forward any letter to her that
I might give to him. So I left my letter and its
enclosure together with the little parcel in his
hands, and went my way.
98 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
Four days later I found a letter from her at my
chambers, so characteristic that I cannot refrain
from giving its words, —
" Grand Hotel,
"Nice, November 19, 18 — .
" My dear Jack, — I have heard of you oftener
than you have thought. I have made it my
business to be posted up in your movements, and I
can see, from the law reports in the newspapers,
that you are doing very well indeed. I always
thought this would be so, and if good wishes help
anyone, you have most certainly had mine.
" I do not mind telling you that I should like to
see you again, and hardly think there would be any
impropriety in doing so. What say you ? Suppose
when the courts rise for the Christmas vacation, you
run over here for a week or a fortnight, and enjoy
yourself quietly, or, as I have to go to Ireland, shall
I take London in my way ? I think I should like
to see dull old London again, and if you behave
yourself you may take me about a little. That
will, I think, be the best. However, I leave it
" If you insist on treating my little present as a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 99
debt, I cannot quarrel with you, and do not think
the worse of you for your independence. The
bracelet is a very beautiful one, and you shall see it
on my wrist when we meet.
" If you wire to me, I will start for Paris at once,
and if you like to see me across the Channel, I will
meet you at the Westminster, where I generally
stay, and we will have a night at the play, or, if you
prefer it. at the Eden, — I would as soon the one as
the other. Kind love. — Ever yours,
I wired as I was requested, and left London for
Paris the next night. Is there any pride of a better
kind than that of a young man in spending, as a
gentleman ought, the money which he has made by
his own honest work.
We had at Paris what I may distinctly term a good
time of it. Susan's tastes were still as simple as
ever. "We went to the theatre ; we dined modestly
at Bignon's, and the only approach to anything like
frivolity was an evening at the Folies Bergeres,
with a supper afterwards at the Cafe de la Paix.
Susan was the same as ever — warm-hearted, full
of life, and evidently thoroughly happy to be with
me again. The day in Paris became four or five
days of the most intense enjoyment. Recollect, I
had never before been to Paris in my life. And
then, at last, we found ourselves in the Calais train
hurrying over the snow-clad country, with all the
paraphernalia of railway travel complete. Oddly
enough, we encountered no one whom we knew on
the journey, and I deposited Susan at the Charing
Cross Hotel, taking up my own abode at my
Next evening we dined esriy at Francatelli's, and
went, after dinner, to the Lyceum, where I had se-
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 101
cured a couple of stalls. Irving was more than
usually characteristic. His sect would, no doubt,
have considered him at his best, although I doubt if
Macbeth is altogether a part that suits him. I was,
however, thoroughly enjoying the performance,
when, between the acts, I stood up to take a look
round the house, and, to my astonishment and dis-
comfiture, saw Izzie with some friends in a private
I bowed to her at once, but she returned my
salute with a quiet, steady stare, and then began
to busy herself in conversation with a young man of
the most approved Foreign Office type, who was
leaning over the back of her chair.
There was nothing to be done for it but to see the
piece out, which I did, paying my companion the
most marked attention, and otherwise assuming an
air of thorough defiance.
When the curtain finally fell, I looked after her
wraps and opera-glas.s, and took her boldly through
the foyer to our brougham, into which I had the
pleasure of handing her and following her under
Izzie's very eyes. We went to a restaurant famous
for its suppers ; and that most enjoyable meal of
the day over, I saw her to her hotel. Then I lit
102 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
my cigar, and strolled back to the Temple in a
meditative frame of mind.
" There will be," said I to myself, as I finally blew
out my candle, " the very devil himself to pay, and
short allowance of pitch," and like a bad young man
I went to sleep.
During the afternoon of the next day I got a
letter which, for better security had been registered.
I knew the handwriting, I need hardly say, and
tore it open.
"Dear Mr. Severn," it began, — "After what 1
saw last night, you can hardly be surprised at my
writing to you to tell you that you must nevei
speak to me again, and that if you do I must ask
my father to protect me from you.
"You have behaved very cruelly and very
wickedly. I would not have believed it of you if
your worst enemies had told me as much. I will
not say a word about sorrow, for I doubt if I feel
any. If you have any letters of mine, I trust to
such good feeling as there may still be in you to let
me have them back at once, and never to mention
my name to any of your acquaintances or friends.
— Yours truly, " Isabella Vivian."
JACK AND 1UREE JILLS. 103
The epistle acted upon me like a cold douche. I
read it three or four times before locking it up in
my secretary. Then I put on my hat and sallied
out in a purposeless manner towards Spring Gar-
dens and St. James's Park.
" After all," said I to myself, " if this is really a
specimen of her temper, perhaps things are better
as they are. I, at all events, will not allow myself
to be worried by so preposterous a quarrel." This
frame of mind ultimately brought me to the Wind
ham, where I looked in for my letters, and finding
none to trouble me, had a philosophical lunch.
There is some marvellous burgundy at the Windham
which is much to be recommended as steadying the
nerves, nor does it go at all amiss with game pie.
I could now afford myself these small creature
comforts, and I was not above doing so. Then I
turned over the evening papers, and so lit my cigar
and strolled round to Charing Cross. Mrs. Bra-
bazon had afternoon tea to offer me, and was plea-
santer than ever. If I had nothing better to do
that evening, would I give her the rest of the day ?
She would play the piano if I liked, or we could
talk, or I might make myself comfortable on the
sofa, and if I chose, go to sleep.
104 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
I elected to stop with her, and she came and sat
by my side. Once again I was thoroughly happy. I
have no idea what we talked about, or whether we
talked at all, but I remember the hours slipping by
until dinner-time ; and I remember that after
dinner we drew up our chairs in front of the fire,
and made ourselves very happy and comfortable. It
was two o'clock before I left her. On the table in
my chambers was my clerk's usual memorandum.
The day was a blank one. I had no case in the
paper, and no clients wanted an appointment. The
prospect of a holiday suited me exactly, for I had of
late had quite as much work as I wanted. So I
drew the bearskin coverlet over myself in a happy
frame of mind, and slept far too soundly for any
When my laundress roused me in the morning to
inquire whether I would have tea or brandy-and-
soda, I virtuously chose the tea, and I then saun-
tered down to the Windham to draft an answer to
Izzie's letter. " I am not a boy to have my face
slapped in this way," I muttered to myself as I
turned into St. James's Square. And the unde-
niable truth of this reflection put me in the best
possible terms with myself, so that I glanced over
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 105
my Times with all the importance of a county
member, or a city merchant, and threatened to
back my bill with a complaint as to the inferior
quality of my fillet of sole. The grey-headed coffee-
room clerk was startled, and evidently wondered
what the world was coming to when young men,
little more than schoolboys, ordered the waiters
about as if the club were an ordinary hotel, and
wound up their breakfast with liqueur.
Then I concocted a letter to Izzie. It was very
long, and no doubt very stupid. But it practically
told her as much of the truth as it was at all conve-
nient for me that she should know. I began by
accusing her of a jealousy which, I boldly declared,
amounted almost to insanity, and warned her that
to give way to idle suspicion without reason or
inquiry would make her life a burden to herself,
and lose her the friendship of all. those whose
opinion she might value.
I told her that Mrs. Brabazon was, as she must
106 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
now have seen for herself, sufficiently old to make
the idea of our being in love with each other
ludicrous. I had met her at the boarding-house in
Bayswater, of which she had heard me speak, and
which was a cheap, humdrum, respectable place,
with a curate and a Scotch spinster among its
leading pensionaires. Our acquaintance thus com-
menced, had improved. More than that I had
nothing to tell. If any man said a word against
Mrs. Brabazon, I should know how to act. As for
what women might say or think I cared very little.
I was sorry she wanted her letters back, but I
supposed I must send them, else she might perhaps
accuse me of showing them about. She should
receive them by hand that evening.
Then I stopped to consider whether there was
anything else disagreeable that I could conve-
niently add, and coming to the conclusion that
there was not, went round to the address in Princes
Gate from which she had written, and left the letter
with my card in person.
Then I made my way back to my chambers,
hunted up all her letters to me, arranged them
neatly in chronological order, docketed them
savagely with their dates, tied them up with most
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 107
uncompromising red tape, sealed them up in a linen
envelope, and sent them down to Princes Grate by a
After all this I turned into the Strand, and down
a little court on the south side, where there is a
Eoman well of icy-cold water perpetually spurting
up from the ground into a small stone bath. Into
this I plunged, and came out feeling considerably
fresher and better. After a bath a small cup of
black coffee is, as we all know, recommended by
the faculty. The bath and the coffee over I walked
briskly down to Charing Cross.
Susan was in and radiant. She was going to
start for Ireland the next day. Meantime, she
wanted another quiet evening. She had had quite
enough of theatres, but I might, if I liked, take her
out to dinner.
So we dined at a hotel in Jermyn Street, which
used to be then, and I believe still is, notorious for
the skill of its chef, and then made our way back to
Charing Cross, where we sat talking over one thing
and another until one in the morning.
The next day, or, to be more exact, that day, I
saw her off from Euston, and then with a light
heart found myself in London my own master, free
103 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
from trouble, but suffering from loneliness. There
are times when, as compared with London, most of
us must have felt that the Sahara, or Tadmor, or a
Yucatan forest seem cheerful, lively, bustling
Then I betook myself to my club, where, after a
cutlet and a pint of claret, I withdrew to the
smoking-room with a view of thinking things
Thinking things over, even in the most comfort-
able of chairs, usually leaves things pretty much
where they were when you began. Your life is
before you like a great diorama, or a view from a
mountain top, but you gain very little additional
knowledge. All I arrived at in the way of a con-
clusion was that, for the present, I might just as
well let things take their course. This sage resolve
made, and the night being still young, I walked off
to Eegent Street, where I had the satisfaction of
convincing a young and promising marker that he
still had a good deal to learn. And I then made
my way back to my chambers, and read myself to
sleep with a novel. There is all the difference in
the world between an idle day and a vicious day,
although it suits a certain class of parsons, and a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 109
certain stamp of steady men of business to affect to
confound the two. There are worse pleasures in the
world than sitting on a five-barred gate, listening to
the lark and thinking of nothing. Of course
bishops and Lord Chancellors and city men never
sit on a gate and listen to the lark. So much the
worse for them ; that it all.
A few days later Susan took town on her way back
to Nice. She gave up to me the best part of a day,
and we enjoyed ourselves quietly and pleasantly
after our usual manner.
Her own portion of the amusement consisted to a
great extent in giving me good advice. I was
to keep out of debt ; I was to stick to the Bar, and
avoid wasting the day of little beginnings. I had
better have my name up at good chambers in the
Temple, and have a room in some riverside street
off the Thames, or, better still, in Mayfair. I was
to avoid gambling, and as soon as I could afford it,
to keep a horse — a horse of his own being, in her
opinion, as necessary to a young man in town, if he
can afford it, as is even his club.
I listened very patiently to all this, interspersing
110 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
it with comments of my own, and we parted the
best of friends.
" You shall hear from me," she said, " regularly
once a week, and you must write back once a week.
You were always a dear good boy, and you amuse
me immensely. In the good old days of the good
old East India Company you would have carved
your way out pretty well with your sword. But
there's right stuff in you, Jack, if you don't let it
rust. And now you must go for the night. I
have things to do and people to see. I leave by
the tidal to-morrow, and you may come to the
hotel, if you like, three-quarters of an hour before it
I went to the hotel at the time appointed, saw
her get into the train, and then quietly followed
her in, insisting that I had nothing else to do for
the day ; that I pass the afternoon at Folkestone,
and that the smell of sea air would do me good.
Susan demurred a little at my disobedience, but I
think that, upon the whole, she took the compli-
ment as a practical one and was pleased by it.
What we had to say to one another my readers
can pretty well guess. We were neither of us in
the love-making stage or the love-making mood,
JACK AND THREE JILLS. . Ill
and if our compartment had contained four other
passengers, their presence would in no way have
disconcerted or annoyed us.
I saw her safely on board, waited till the very last
stroke of the bell, and then stood on the quay and
watched until the vessel faded away into a streak of
smoke, and the streak of smoke itself into the haze
of the horizon.
I returned to London by the afternoon train and
got to my chambers. Next day I did a good day's
work. Business was beginning to grow upon me,
and it was business, too, of a good kind — mercantile
work from large city firms, where there are thou-
sands of pounds involved on each side, and a few
hundreds of guineas, more or less, for counsel is
but a mere trifle in the bill of costs.
I had a naturally clear head, and I took a keen
interest in the topography and natural history of
that debatable belt of ground which lies between
the custom of merchants and the law of the land.
And now there began to appear upon my shelves
the United States law reports as well as those of my
own country, and if my friends had wanted to see
my name in the papers, they would have had to
look to the reports of what were then called the
112 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
sittings at Guildhall, and to those of the Admiralty
and the Wreck Commissioners' Court. Work of
this kind is very lucrative. I had, before long, to
consult my bankers as to how I should invest my
savings. I took lodgings in Mayfair as Susan had
suggested, and at six o'clock in the evening, during
each day in term, a groom used to make his
appearance with my horse under the windows of my
I could have dined out if I had so pleased every
evening, but I used to plead business as an excuse
as often as I could, and got the reputation of being
a more or less obstinate bachelor.
Of any vice, unless playing billiards for the love
of the thing be a vice, I was utterly ignorant. I
was never seen in questionable company, or at
questionable places of resort. Fast clubs — the
Monaco, Ihe Ecarte Club, and the Peacock were
unknown to me ; and if a private detective had
been told off by any anxious mother to watch my
movements, he would, I am sure, have reported
that I was a most quiet and well-conducted young
I had all this time received no answer to my letter
from Izzie, although I heard of her from my sisters
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 113
and occasionally from people in the neighbourhood.
Sometimes her silence distressed me ; at others it
simply made me angry. But, exactly as muscles
will wither from disuse, I began to find myself
growing indifferent towards her, if not indeed
positively a little resentful. In a very few years,
if things went on as they were g&mg, I should be
a Queen's Counsel. I had already made up my
mind to endeavour to secure a seat in Parliament at
the next general election.
Meantime I regarded home and everything con-
nected with it, with a daily increasing apathy. If
I had met my father in Pall Mall I should most
probably have nodded to him. If I had met him
out at dinner I should have shaken hands and asked
him how he was. But there is no greater mistake
in the world than to fancy yourself master of
destiny because you happen for the moment to be
master of the situation. Were I given to sticking
up texts over my portals, the one I should select
would be, I think, " Time and I against any two."
Only, take the old father respectfully but firmly by
his forelock, else he will shamble by you and you
will find yourself idle in the market-place.
Long Vacation came at last, after six months of
more than usually hard work, compensated for by
more than unusually heavy fees.
My lodging in Chapel Street, Park Lane, had
their shutters put up, and the upholsterer's man
solemnly wrapped my books and pictures in brown
holland. My horses had their shoes taken off, and
were turned out to grass, and my groom con-
descended to transmute himself for the nonce into
a travelling factotum.
I began with some idea of visiting either Venice
or the ruined cities of Zuyder Zee ; but I abandoned
each idea. Barristers in practice take their pleasure
very mechanically. They object to long journeys
and hotels, crowded with a surging ebb and How of
tourists of all kinds from the roturier of St.
Swithin's Lane, down to the suburban grocer, intent
upon his honeymoon.
So I ran down to one of the quaintest little
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 115
places that I know in England — Dawlish, which is
too near Torquay to become a suburb of that
immense city of villas, as Paignton has, and which
still remains little more than an overgrown village,
with its trout stream babbling down its centre to
the sea, and its lodging-houses on either bank, and
behind it running away up the chine into the hills,
the hanging woods of Luscombe. Dawlish had
begun to boast of a hotel, and after ingratiating
myself with the landlord, I took his best sitting-
room and a couple of bedrooms, telling him that I
might want the second for a friend. And the day
being now drawing towards its close, I took a brisk
stroll along the sea-wall to what is called the
Dawlish is as dull and primitive a place as you
need come across in a fortnight's tour. Luckily I
had brought down some novels and a box of my
own cigars. Besides, if I did not like the place, I
had only to leave it. " It is a funny thing," I said
to myself, as I turned into bed that night, " you
declare very valiantly that, if you do not like a
place, you have only to leave it. You go down to
it. You find it a more beastly place than even the
worst reports of its enemies had led you to expect.
116 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
There is nothing to be done. There is not even
shooting or fishing; and yet you find yourself
stopping on and loafing about with your hands in
your pockets, and chatting to the boatmen, and
vowing every day that you will go to-morrow.
Now, I shouldn't be at all surprised if you were to
find yourself doing nothing here for a fortnight at
least. Well, perhaps a fortnight on the mud will
do you no harm. And if you want excitement,
Torquay and Paignton are handy."
Next morning I wrote to Mrs. Brabazon, whose
address I happened to know, telling her where I
was, and asking her to come down and prevent
suicide from melancholia, which would certainly be
my fate if she did not intervene, as now that I had
got to the place, I felt far too lazy, apathetic and
nerveless to leave it.
The letter was hardly any exaggeration. South
Devon is the most enervating climate in England,
or, for the matter of that, in the whole of her
Majesty's dominions. Nor do things mend until
you approach the limits of Cornwall. The women
are old and haggard at thirty, and grey and
wrinkled at thirty-five, while the men by forty
are eaten up with rheumatic gout, and its kindred
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 117
ailments. A week of it is, or thought to be,
enough for any man. So I was thinking to myself,
when the chambermaid brought me my early cup
of coffee and my letters.
I despatched all of them before I came to Mrs.
Brabazon's. Hers was short, womanly and friendly.
She had heard of Dawlish, she told me, and had
known people who had been there once. She
had never even heard of anyone who had had the
hardihood to venture there a second time. No
doubt I found it dull, but she would come down
with pleasure. I might expect her at any hour,
and had better make preparations for her speedy
She dated from London, and only two trains from
London reached Dawlish in the course of the day,
so I killed time by wandering towards the Warren
in quest of sandpiper until the indicated hour for
the arrival of the first train, and met it in looking, as
I flattered myself, fresh and bronzed and wholesome
as a young Englishman should.
Mrs. Brabazon arrived by it, and after giving
orders about her luggage, I took her up to the
hotel and installed her in her quarters. Then we
taxed the resources of the towu, and discovered a
118 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
pony-basket, with a decent Exmoor pony, and so
made our way up to Luscombe.
Luscombe was in all its beauty, and I know few
country seats more lovely. I certainly would sooner
own it than either Powderham or Chudleigh. It is
a place that would gladden the heart of a Stanfield
or a Grainsborough — distinctly English scenery ; as
English as Normandy itself, which is saying a good
Then we returned to the inn, and had one of our
old happy tete-a-tete dinners, after which she, as
usual, took the sofa, while I wheeled an arm-chair
up by her feet, and stretched myself out in placid
enjoyment of a cigar, with some black coffee.
" And how are you getting on at the Bar ? " she
asked. " Are you paying the rent of your chambers
and your evening steak and mashed potatoes at the
< Cock ' ? "
" I have nothing to grumble at," I laughed. " I
have chambers in the Temple on the first floor,
with imposing Turkey carpet, oak furniture, and
properly bound law reports, from the earliest days
down to the latest monthly number. My clerk is
prosperous, and has a villa of his own somewhere
up at Stoke Newington. My own chambers are in
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 119
Chapel Street, and I ride up to the Temple every
morning. That will let you know how the Bar has
used me. It is a most gambling profession. You
may stick at it for years and never pay your
laundress, or you may get into the right groove m
a manner simply miraculous. As often as not the
cleverest men are left in the ditch, while men with
not a tithe of their wits or of their solid knowledge,
sail away over the country with both hands down.
You never can tell ; I will defy anybody to do so."
She laughed at this, but I could see that her
mind was a little uneasy, and she arranged her pose
" And how about your love affairs ? I suppose you
have had any number."
" A barrister in full work has no time for love-
making. It is as much as he can do to dine out
once or twice a week. If he is to do any justice to
his work, he must keep his head clear by going to
bed at twelve, or even eleven if he can manage it.
That is why barristers so often marry their cooks or
their laundresses. They say, as they look in the
glass and see the crow's feet and the bald temples,
'By Jove! It's getting time I married. Whom
shall I marry ? Why not Mrs. Jackson ? She
120 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
knows my ways, and she won't give herself airs.'
It's certainly not romantic — quite the reverse ; but
then you know it has been profoundly observed
that the perfection of sound English common law is
nothing more nor less than the perfection of sound
English common sense."
" And have you informed your laundress of your
intention ? "
" No, I have not. She is a married woman with
one eye, sis children — whom she supports — and a
drunken husband, whom she occasionally thrashes.
You might, as Sydney Smith said, read the Riot
Act to her and disperse her, or call out the military
to ride her down, or send her out to people a colony,
but the idea of any one man marrying her as she
now stands is simply ridiculous. It is out of the
" Then your heart is whole "
" Absolutely whole," I replied, " and as hard as a
bullock's hide, or the nether millstone itself. My
love days are over. I look back on them with much
the same curiosity as I do on the old days of marbles,
jam tarts, and green apples."
" Then, I suppose, you will marry for money? "
" I make more money than I can spend. I have
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 121
to ask my bankers what to do with it every now and
" Then you will marry a judge's daughter,
or the daughter of some peer with a large
si Why on earth can you not believe me ? I
have told you that I prefer my freedom, and that I
mean to keep it. Why, if I were to marry I should
have to be solemnly reconciled to my family. And
what a fearful purgatory in life that would involve.
My father has tried drawing bills on me as it is,
but I have refused to pay them, and have left him
to take the consequences, which, I fancy, were un-
" You might surely make a marriage that would
involve none of these terrible consequences. You
could find a woman who would sympathise with
you, look up to you, obey you, and be an ornament
to your house."
" I do not know where such a woman is to be
found. And I have no house, and so do uot want
my house adorned. I prefer my liberty to every-
thing else in the world, and it is my inflexible de-
termination to keep it."
" That sounds worse than hard-hearted. It sounds
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
positively selfish ; and selfishness is hateful in the
" Perhaps it is. My youth, as you call it, -will
care itself. My selfishness, I am afraid, will grow
worse. It is, you know, the besetting sin that grows
upon one with old age."
" I shall argue with you no longer," she pouted
" It would really be waste of time," I replied,
"and now that we are together again, we can put
our time to much better and brighter purpose."
" Very well, Jack," she said, " I suppose you must
have your own way," and in a minute or two we
were chatting about all manner of things as if no-
thing whatever had passed.
It was a glorious moonlight, and we took a turn
on the Parade by the side of the railway, before
bringing the day to a close.
" Grood-night," I said, as I shook hands with her
in the little hall. " We will breakfast at nine to-
morrow, if it suits you, and I will come back to you
fresh from the sea and fragrant of ozone."
" Grood-night," she said, " and pleasant dreams."
And so, under the very eyes of the gaunt and bitter
chambermaid, we parted with an affectionate kiss.
JACK AND THfiEE JILLS. 123
" Thank heaven ! " said I, as I blew out my
candle and dived into bed. " Thank heaven that
that business is over for good and all ! But it was
a fair crunch while it lasted."
Three days later we left Dawlish. I took Mrs.
Brabazon up to London, and deposited her in safety
at the Charing Cross Hotel, en route for the Con-
tinent. And we dined together again — this time
at a noted Italian restaurant, where they keep
Chianti, and as near an approach to Lacrymse
Christi, as a man who dines in a public room has
any right to expect for his money.
Then we spent the evening together by a large
open window, looking down in all the roar and
turmoil of London. We had nothing much about
which to talk, being perfectly en accord, so that we
were most delightfully lazy. I remember, amongst
other things, that we played first at Bob-Cherry,
and then at Fly-Loo. The former pastime has the
124 JACK AND THR^E JILLS.
merit of contorting your features and making you
ridiculous. You must take a fine cherry by the
stalk between your teeth, bend your head down
fairly over your plate, and try to pull up the cherry
into your mouth by the aid of your teeth and your
tongue. The feat is far more difficult than might
Fly-Loo is much simpler, requiring nothing on
your own part but entire immobility. You select a
lump of sugar, and place it in the centre of your
plate. Your friend at the other side of the table
does the same ; or you may make a round game of
it with as many players as you like. The pool is
formed, and is swept by the man upon whose sugar
the first fly settles. As there is no banker the
stakes are limited, and you need not ruin yourself
at Fly-Loo unless you try very hard indeed to
When we had finished our Bob-Cherry and our
Loo, I bid her a most genuinely affectionate good-
night. Then I went round to my club and hurried
off some necessary business letters. After that, I
slept the sleep of the just, and next morning was
rattling along the road to Scotland as fast as a
eouple of enormous engines, yoked tandem-fashion,
JACK AN# THREE JILLS. 125
could drag the long train of heavily-loaded car-
I had secured a window seat in a smoking com-
partment. I had every travelling luxury from- the
morning papers to a luncheon case. This being so
I could afford to disregard my companions.
It is a bad habit to make acquaintances in a
railway train. Nine travellers out of every ten are
distinct bores, and the tenth is as often as not
something very much worse than a bore, no matter
in what style he may be making his journey.
Georges Lachaud, son of that veteran advocate,
Maitre Lachaud, is a most amusing writer, and
when I was not looking out of the window I was
laughing at his pages. So the time slipped away,
until with infinite click and rattle of points and
leyers and grinding of wheels, and blowing of the
whistle, we rolled into Edinburgh, a city the
hotels of which are as good as those of any
other in the United Kingdom — if not indeed
Next morning I continued my journey in the
direction of Killiecrankie, until I reached the
shooting-box which my friends had taken. We
were as compact a bachelor party as need be — about
123 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
eight of us, all told, with any amount of stores and
any number of gillies, and the water, as I was told,
and soon found to be the fact, was positively alive
with fish. Next morning we sallied out early, and
by the time we were disposed to return to the
bothie I had landed four very creditable fish to my
own rod, the largest, which was twenty-five pounds
in weight, giving me very fair exercise for more
What an appetite- the tramp over the boulders by
the riverside gives you ! How your legs ache after
it when you return for your scrub and evening
toilette. How your arms ache after wielding the
immense double-handed rod. Was it not Sir Hum-
phry Davy who said that there is no medium in
anything, and that for his part gudgeon fishing
from a punt on the Thames, and casting for salmon
in a Scotch river, were the only two forms of sport
for which he cared ? If so, he was more frank over
his discovery than he was over one which he
undoubtedly made, and which has undoubtedly
perished with him — I mean, of course, the artificial
manufacture of the diamond.
At that time the scientific world had not taught
us that ozone is one thing and oxygen another ;
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 127
and that ozone is to existence what champagne is
to society — the one and only source of brilliancy
and sparkle. But I had all the benefit of the
ozone without knowing it, and soon began to feel a
" The first requisite for success at the Bar," said
a very eminent judge, " is high animal spirits ; and
the second is high animal spirits ; and the third is
high animal spirits ; and if to these a young man
adds a little knowledge of law, it will not materially
hamper him in his career."
What is true of the Bar is true of the business of
life, and I left the land of scones and salmon, cut-
lets and haggis, and Athole brose, feeling five
hundred per cent, better, as a city man would say,
than when I started for it. But there must be an end
of all things, and it became time for me, with the
end of August, to move south, as I had an invita-
tion which it was for many reasons for my interest
to accept, to spend the first of September, and as
many days after as I might please, at the house of
Lord Wessex, in Norfolk.
Thither I went, armed with the latest novelty in
choke bores, with my muscles almost in the condition
of those of a professional pedestrian, and with tbat
123 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
happily balanced mind which comes of well-grounded
Wessex Hall was full, but a room had been re-
served for me, which, I noticed with a smile,
marked me out as a commoner of distinct eminence,
in his own walk of life. You can pretty well tell
the estimate people form of you by the kind of
room in which they put you to sleep. I was on the
first floor, and not among the gables. I looked out
upon the lawn, and had the house with all its
contents been my own, I could not have desired
Ask any American what it is that his nation
envies us most, and he will tell you at once that it
is our country seats. Every New Yorker and
Bostonian has his villeggiatura, but it is only in
Virginia, as it was before the war, that you can find
anything at all approaching to our English country
The guests of Lord Wessex were much what might
have been expected. There were from twenty to
thirty men, and about as many ladies. There were
neighbouring peers and squires. There was the
latest literary lion, and the latest explorer, who this
time came from Paraguay. There was an amateur
yachtsman and circumnavigator, a Eoyal Academi-
cian, and a secretary from the American Legation,
who, in addition to mixing cocktails and playing
poker, was also a man of the stamp of Oliver
Wendell Holmes — widely read, and himself an
author of daily growing reputation.
Bat among the company there happened also to
be Mr. Vivian, and with him Izzie. Mr. Vivian
positively made for me, and wearied me with his
grotesque effusion. He supposed I should be Lord
Chancellor in the very next change of ministry, in
fact, he had offered the Lord Lieutenant fifty to ten
upon it, but his lordship had sagaciously shaken
his head and said nothing, which looked as if the
130 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
matter were a certainty. He was glad to see the
law had not made me musty, nor turned my hair
grey. He hated mustiness as he did dissent and
the devil. In short, the old gentleman played the
part of Squire Western to perfection.
With her father was Izzie, who had certainly de-
veloped, and in many respects improved, since I saw
her last. She had now ripened into a woman,
with that indescribable bloom upon her, like the
bloom on a bunch of grapes, which American ladies
so envy their English sisters, and which no cosmetics
"When we joined the ladies after dinner it was
clearly my duty to single her out, and, if I may
indulge in a confusion of metaphors worthy of the
Irishman, who said of his own speech, that it
kindled a flame which completely drowned the
eloquence of his antagonist, I resolved to be bold,
and to take the bull by the horns.
"The last time I saw you, Miss Vivian, was, I
think, at the Lyceum."
She blushed as red as any peony, and answered,
" And I heard from you the next day."
This time she bowed her head.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. l.'i
" I hope,'' I said, with that vague assumption of
interest usually employed for stopping gaps in
conversation with trifles, " that you received the
things I sent you safely ? "
" Quite safely, thank you — all of them."
"The lady you saw me with was Mrs. Brabazon,
of whom, I think, I have told you before. She was
very kind to me, as kind as a mother could be, and
when I was in immense difficulty — money difficulty
—found it out and literally rescued me from ruin.
I owe her everything in life — much more than my
gratitude will ever be able to repay. But for her,
my career would have been an utter failure.
" She was very beautiful, certainly," Izzie
answered firmly ; " but, Mr. Severn, I did not like
what I saw, and I think I told you so in my
'•You did, with the most effective simplicity.
It is some sort of pleasure to me now to be able
to assure you that you were under a mis-
" There was only one conclusion to come to that
I could see," she answered defiantly, ;i and you
ought not to blame me for having arrived at it.
And where is Mrs. Brabazon now ? "
132 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
" That is more than I can tell you. Her solicitors
always know her address, and if I wanted to write
to her, I should do so through them. She hovers
about from place to place. I know that she is now
abroad; but whether it is at St. Petersburg or
Saratoga, at Vienna or Honolulu, I cannot tell you.
I have heard nothing of her for some little time."
" I suppose you are great friends."
"That is hardly the word. She is one of the
best of women in the world, and the simplest ; and
it is a privilege for a man to be allowed to know
" When," said an old sergeant-instructor to his
recruits at bayonet drill, "you have driven your
weapon well in, give it a twist and a wriggle, and
pull it out with a wrench to make the wound in-
These were exactly the tactics that I was pursu-
ing, and it was pretty clear that they were producing
the calculated effect.
After faltering for a few minutes, she said, very
softly and quietly, —
" I think, Mr. Severn, you might have told me all
this at the time."
" I should certainly have done so, if you had
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 133
given me the chance, but you see you executed me
first, passed sentence afterwards, and then, I sup-
pose, proceeded to try the case in your own way.
I know that is the method usually adopted with
poachers by county squires, but I did not expect
that their daughters adopted it in the most im-
portant matters of life."
" You are mocking me, Mr. Severn."
"I assure you most frankly that I am doing
nothing of the kind. I am simply giving my own
version of what has taken place. I have a clear
ight to do so, and it is a right I shall always
exercise, both in this matter and in others, when I
feel that there is any occasion for it."
" Then," she said, " Mr. Severn, I think we had
better say no more about the matter."
" That is as you please," I retorted.
She made the slightest possible inclination of her
head and joined a group of ladies at the other end
of the room. I, looking round, perceived a knot of
men, principally of a sporting turn, engaged in
active conversation. I strolled up to them and
found, of course, that they were discussing par-
tridges, poachers, battue shooting, Irish setters, and
the advantages and disadvantages of driving.
\M JAOK AND THREE JILLS.
I did not care much about any of these things,
being, although the son of a county squire, more or
less a Gallio as to sporting discussions, in which no
man ever convinces another, and hot argument often
ljads to hot temper. Being, however, appealed to
;.s to the heinousness of poaching, I replied that,
under the present system of preserving and turning
down, I could see practically no difference whatever
between a pheasant and a barn-door fowl, and that I
would punish the man who stole the one in precisely
the same manner, and upon precisely the same
principle, as I would punish the man who stole the
This expression of opinion was not at all
graciously received by one or two of the company,
and the war of words broke out again with a vigour
worthy of political controversy itself.
It is a characteristic of lawyers that they hate
to argue a point unless they are paid to do so, and
that their dislike to argument increases in exact
proportion to the depth of their convictions upon
the matter, if they happen to have any. So I
evaded discussion, and contented myself instead
with a study of human nature.
Later on the men adjourned to the smoking-
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 135
room. The smoking-room at Wessex Hall was
remarkably comfortable, and apt to tempt its
occupants to late or rather to early hours. It was
fitted very much like the smoking-room of a club,
with leather arm-chairs, American rocking-chairs,
marble-topped tables, and a sideboard, containing
every requisite in the way of ice, claret, lemons,
waters, both mineral and strong, a snuff box, and
for those who might prefer such atrocities, a tobacco
jar and clay pipes. Between a really good cigar,
and a cool (< churchwarden," there is, in my humble
opinion, no via media, and this evening, iu true
Bohemian spirit, I selected a long clay, and mixed
myself some whisky and water.
Lord Wessex, our host, was at his best in the
smoking-room, where his natural geniality overcame
every ct'ier element in him, whether inherited or
acquired. He crossed the room and sat down by
" You must have thought me uncommonly rude,
Mr Severn, or uncommonly neglectful, but the
house is so full that I hardly know where I am.
I'm delighted to have so good and keen a sportsman
as yourself amongst us. The country is dull, no
doubt, but I daresay you'll find it a change from
136 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
London. Change of air does us all good. I know
for myself, who am always stuck in the country,
that a week in London seems to make a new man
of me — shakes out the dust, I suppose, just as
Londoners coming down here to us shakes out the
soot and smoke."
To this cheery broadside I made the most
friendly responses, and I think fairly won my host's
heart by complimenting him upon a short-horned
bull I had noticed, which, as it turned out, was a
very celebrated prize winner, and had lately obtained
a gold medal at the county show.
He then kindly referred to a private bill, in
which he had been personally interested to a very
considerable extent, and in the navigation of which
through committee I had rendered its promoters no
little assistance — assistance handsomely recognised
but not the less valuable.
It was through this bill, in fact, that I first made
Lord Wessex's acquaintance. He was a genial old
gentleman, who looked sixty, but may have been
older, with a ruddy, clean-shaved face, crisp curling
locks, almost white ; cheerful, hazel eye, and a clear,
ringing voice, — a typical English landed proprietor,
wi-h all the good qualities of his class, and,
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 137
for all I know or care, all their prejudices as
" But I must introduce you to Lord Ashford," he
said. " I don't think he's much of a lawyar, but
he's a brother barrister all the same. He got called
to the Bar because he said a county magistrate
ought at least to know as much law as the clerk of
the peace. He has travelled up the Nile and shot
giraffe and hippopotamus, and is as modest about it
all as possible. He brought back several waggon-
loads of horns and hides ; but when they told him
he ought to write a book about his travels he
laughed, and said that, if he told the truth, nobody
would believe him, and that he really could not
take the trouble to tell anything else."
Lord Ashford impressed me very favourably. He
was a typical Kentish giant, with an indolent
manner, which I do not think was assumed, and
beneath which evidently lay a considerable amount
of determination and courage. I asked him, of
course, how he liked partridges and pheasant after
" Very much indeed," he replied. " Who was it
— somebody that ought to know — who said that
partridge shooting will remain our national sport
138 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
long after every other form of sport, except perhaps
angling, has died out. I've shot peacock and
ostrich — both good birds in their way — but I still
think that a chance kill right and left in a heavy
turnip field is as good sport as any going."
Although no traveller, I still am, and then was,
an enthusiastic reader of books of travel, which, in
my opinion, are worth all the novels in the world,
so that I was fairly able to keep up the conversa-
tion with him. But before long it veered round to
other subjects, and ultimately we all began to
gather into knots, previous to the final adjournment
for the night.
'■' I can offer you no sport myself," I said, with
a laugh. " There are sparrows near my chambers
in the Temple, and I believe my office-boy practises
at them with a blow-pipe, for I have detected him
cooking them in a Dutch oven before the fire. We
unhappy lawyers have little time for sport of any
kind ; and it is many years since you could catch
roach and dace among the reeds at the bottom of the
Temple Gardens. But I look forward to big game
as just the possibility of the future, should I be
able to give up work before my eyes dim, or
my natural force abates." And with this Lord
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 139
Ashford and I shook hands and parted for the
I threw my bedroom window wide open, and sat
at it for some time, looking out on the moonlit
lawn with its trim beds and its lawn-tennis ground
and the tall elms at its foot. After all, what was
my life to be like? It had been a success, no
doubt ; but what was it to be for me ? For success
in life by no means always secures happiness for
the man who achieves it, any more than does
wealth, which can purchase everything that is ex-
changeable, enable you to purchase health, or to do
many things you wish to do, and which are hope-
lessly beyond your reach. Would it not be better,
after all, to work for just a few years longer until I
had " rounded off my little pile," and then retire
with no definite object beyond that of enjoying my-
self in my own way ? There would be the whole
world before me, and I could roam in it like
Browning's Waring — coming and going as I pleased;
or should I hold on for the moral certainty and dull
semi-drudgery of a judgeship, and apparel myself
in imposing robes to decide knotty points of " stop-
page in transitu," " bottomry bonds," " general
average," and " contributory negligence " ?
140 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
And as I pondered drowsily over these things a
little bat flitted in at the open window, and hovered
noiselessly about the room till it settled on the
window curtains, where it hung itself up by its legs
with its head downwards. " I wonder," said I to
myself, " if the tiny creature is a familiar spirit
bringing me good luck. Anyhow, it shall not be
left to the tender mercies of the housemaid." So I
captured it gently in the bottom of my hand, and
turned it out again into the night. And then, my-
self, turned in with a dreamy kind of notion that I
was not, after all, fairly justified in grumbling at
the manner in which fortune up to now had treated
The man who expects nothing in this world is
the happiest of all, for the very sufficient reason
that he is never disappointed. I had never expected
much myself. My good fortune, such as it was, had,
as it were, grown. It would have been an affecta-
tion to pretend that it was entirely undeserved ;
but it would be untrue to say that I had won it by
any extraordinary course of merit or self-denial.
There is far more luck in this world than people
imagine, and I had certainly had even more than
my fair share of it.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. Ml
Then I found myself falling asleep. The hoot of
an owl — a bird with regard to which I entertain no
superstitions or prejudices — roused me again for a
moment, and I began to lay a plan for my next
Long Vacation. I would secure Mrs. Brabazon, and
charter a small steam yacht, and we would go
cruising about the north-west coast of Scotland,
shooting and fishing, and generally doing nothing,
and with no definite plan.
The dolce far niente, when it has in it no taint-
ing element of physical idleness, is distinctly the
most delightful of all forms of human enjoyment.
I have no patience with the men who go to Monte
Carlo that they may sit all day under the palm trees
in the marble terraces, and play all the evening at
the tables. But healthy wholesome idleness, such
as that of the yachtsman or the explorer, is the
nearest approach to that ideal of happiness which
the Greek philosophers were always trying to ac-
curately define, but could never present to us in an
The sun woke me in the morning streaming in at
the window. I dressed myself, was out of the house
before the shutters were open, and had a magnificent
plunge in the neighbouring mill-pool. After which
142 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
I repaired to the village hostel, the " Wessex Arms,"
where I chatted awhile with the daughter of the
house, and solaced myself with a tankard of ale
before rejoining the family circle at the formal
Looking back now, I am perfectly conscious how
much I owed at that time to my naturally fine
physique, which I had never in any way abused, or
even unduly strained. The man who can drink a
pint of sound beer, and eat a good breakfast after
it, can easily afford to give weight, and good weight
too, in the race of life to his less fortunate com-
Breakfast over, the company dispersed in genuine
country-house fashion. The men, of course, weie
off to the turnips and the stubble, the women
scattered anyhow. I, pleading my letters, was
allowed to withdraw to the solitude of the billiard-
room. I had sufficiently distinguished myself as a
sportsman, and ingratiated myself by fair shooting
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 1-13
and want of jealousy, to be able to believe that the
regrets expressed at my absence from the party were
In the solitude of the billiard- room I began to
take stock of the situation. It was very foolish of
me ; I admitted as much to myself, but I was un-
doubtedly in love with Izzie again. I knew this
time, or at all events I believed, that I could
reckon upon at least the benevolent neutrality of
her father; and as regarded that best and truest
of friends, Mrs. Brabazon, I had long since agreed
with her original view of our relations, and was
satisfied that our position had better remain that of
sworn allies, offensive and defensive.
Izzie was undoubtedly now at her best ; not at
the prime of her beauty but in the full, rich spring
of it. The pear was ready to drop into my hand
if I only tapped the bough. Besides there was a
distinct impulse of chivalry in the matter which I
should have been a cur indeed if I had not felt, for
Izzie herself had been willing to take me as I stood
when I had neither position, money, nor friends,
and it was almost a point of honour to appeal to
her again now that everything was secured. And
my future, full of hope as it was, I could
144 JACK AND TIIKEE JILLS.
practically afford to regard with philosophical
The Lyceum difficulty was by no means insuper-
able. Evidently with a little tact it could be
engineered, and, as I turned all these considerations
over, I came to the conclusion that I would again
apply for Izzie's hand, but, in proper strategical
fashion and orthodox, have an interview with her
So I decided to catch the old squire before break-
fast the next morning, and with this virtuous
resolution full upon me I got through some work,
despatched my batch of letters, and then placidly
waited for the dinner-bell.
I really forget whom it fell to my lot to take
down to dinner, but I know it was not Izzie, who
descended under the escort of Lord Ashford. She
was evidently on the best of terms with him, and
they were conversing through the whole of dinner,
much after the fashion of a couple of love-birds.
It was very wrong of me, of course, to feel malice
towards Ashforcl, who had done me no harm and
was quite innocent of any intention of doing so.
But I could hardly resist an uncharitable and
malicious desire to pick a quarrel with him and a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 145
vague yearning, worthy only of a school-boy, to
invite him to take off his coat and have it
I am perfectly aware that all these confessions
tell very seriously against myself, but as I have
before now observed, it is the very first duty of a
historian, and much more of an autobiographer, to
be strictly truthful.
Next morning I managed to secure my chance,
and instead of seeing Mr. Vivian, found Izzie prac-
tically alone. I say alone, for she had only one
companion, a lady of years of discretion, who had
the good sense to invent some hopelessly unanswer-
able excuse and to retire. The coast thus clear, for
a while at any rate, I opened fire at once : —
" Lord Ashford, Miss Vivian, seems at present the
favoured recipient of those smiles and confidences
which I once used to consider my own, and that too
upon your own authority, which I presume is the
She flushed red with anger.
" Lord Ashford," she retorted bitterly, " is more
than a nobleman, Mr. Severn, he is a gentleman,
and has never done anything to disgrace himself, or
to forfeit the good opinion of any body."
H6 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
" Very possibly. I do not dispute it for a moment.
I am not aware that I have ever done so myself."
" And I am not aware, Mr. Severn, how you can
be sufficiently mean to pursue this cowardly system
of persecution. I wish I had a brother, or any
friend" — she laid an emphasis on this word, —
" whom I could trust to take my part, or to call you
to account, as you most richly deserve."
"I am wholly unaware that I have done or said
anything unworthy of a gentleman."
" Then your success, as I suppose I must call it,
at the Bar must have turned your head, or you
must have altered strangely under the influences of
new friends and companions."
" I think if you would only listen to me patiently
for a few minutes — "
" I could not listen patiently to you for a minute,"
she interrupted, with a gleam of angry light in her
eyes, and a fierce stamp of her little foot upon the
gravel. " I know all about you that you can tell
me, and more than you would tell me. I have been
careful to believe nothing that has not been suffi-
ciently proved. Ask your own conscience, if you
have any shreds of it left, and, if you have any
sense of decency remaining, leave off persecuting
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 147
me in this wicked way. You make my life un-
The monstrous injustice of all this fairly amazed
me. I was, as I know, perfectly innocent of any
persecution such as that laid to my charge, either
in word, act, or even thought, but what on earth
was I to say ? or, if I said anything, of what possible
avail would it be ? I could only repeat very quietly,
" I think at least you might listen to me for a
minute or two."
" And I have told you once for all, that I decline
to listen to you at all. Can you not take an
answer ? What a coward you are ! "
" Miss Vivian, no man has ever yet dared to call
me a coward."
" Possibly no man ever thought it worth his
while. You are too utterly contemptible. Can you
not believe me, when I tell you again that I despise
you altogether — that the very sight of you is hateful
to me ? I am going. If you attempt to follow me,
I shall appeal to the first man I see for help." And
with these words she almost sprang to her feet, and
walked rapidly away, availing herself of the very
first turning in her path that hid her from my sight.
To have followed her would have been worse than
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
foolish, so I thrust my hands deeply into my pocket,
and walked slowly back towards the house, not so
much thinking over the position which I could
scarcely grasp, as marvelling at it, and at the
extraordinary, and if the phrase be permissible,
dogged, perversity of the female mind. I remember
it occurring to me that an American would almost
certainly have described Miss Vivian's conduct as
amounting to " downright cussedness," and laugh-
ing at the idea. But the laugh was more or less
a forced one, and I was not sorry to find myself in
the solitude of my own room, where the open
window admitted the fresh, cool breeze, and the
murmur, as Tennyson has it, of tremulous aspen
trees, and poplars, with their noise of falling
" I will think of nothing," I said to myself, " or
I shall go wild." So I took down a stray volume
from the shelves — I think it was Nicholas Nickleby —
and made a gallant effort at reading. The attempt
proved fairly successful. It was early in the morn-
ing, but I felt strangely tired and wearied. After a
little bit the lines of print began to get confused,
and I gave up the effort to follow them. Then I
took to studying the pattern of the wall paper, and
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 149
converting it into geometrical figures and combina-
tions. This was a pleasant and dreamy work. After
a little while, one particular piece of the pattern
seemed to mesmerise me. I found myself staring
at it vaguely, much like a mesmeric patient, staring
at the zinc disc in the palm of his hand, and then
I became happily conscious that I was falling asleep.
The room was so delightfully cool, and the whole
atmosphere and surroundings were so somnolent,
that I slept dreamlessly on, until a servant came
with my hot water in one hand, and on his other
arm my neatly brushed and folded evening clothes.
I woke with a start.. It was half-past six, and time
to dress for dinner. I felt little inclination to join
the party. But I could not see my way to even a
colourable excuse, so I languidly arrayed myself,
and after a final and most refreshing ablution with
eau de Cologne and water, made my way to the
The lady allotted to me was a sufficiently unin-
teresting person, the wife of a neighbouring squire,
with voluminous views of her own as to rosemary
tea and its virtues, the wickedness and danger of
Dissent, the froTard behaviour of the lower orders,
and the vast amount of evil that had been done by
150 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
educating the masses above their position. It was a
trying ordeal, but I had to go through with it. I
was never more thankful than when our hostess
left, and the wine began to circulate, while the con-
versation turned on politics and local matters.
I woke next morning none the worse for Lord
Wessex's claret, and tumbling out of bed made my
way towards the window, which I threw wide open.
I wonder why absurd people use the phrase
" springing out of bed " ? In the first place no man
can spring out of bed were he to try ever so. If
you doubt my assertion, make the experiment.
You will find it as effectual as an attempt to sit
down in a basket, and then to lift yourself up,
basket and all, by the two handles.
It was a glorious September morning. The
yellow and russet tints in the trees were only just
beginning to show themselves. Nature was wide
awake. The small birds were noisy in the trees.
From a distant meadow I caught the strange
grating note of the corncrake. On the lawn black-
birds and thrushes were hopping about in busy
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 151
quest of lazy worms that had been lying out on the
grass all night, and had loitered too long before
withdrawing to the security of their burrows.
I still hold, and always shall, that the perfestion
of rural life is to be found in an English country
house, and for choice in the " sexes " and " folks "
rather than in the shires, although Hampshire and
Kent have no doubt claims of their own.
After drinking in the glorious morning air I
rang my bell, retreating again between the sheets,
and in due course the appointed servant made his
appearance with my boots, clothes, water for my
bath, and letters, and a large tumbler of hot milk.
The house prided itself upon its dairy, and it was
one of the institutions of the establishment, that a
pint or so of fresh milk should be brought first
thing each morning to the chamber of each guest.
I drank the milk and then I turned to the
letters. With one exception, they were wholly
unimportant. But the one letter in question so
distinctly interested me, that, before I even com-
menced my toilette, I read it through three or -four
times as carefully as if it had been a case to
advise, marked with a heavy fee, and an extra fee
152 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
The envelope contained two letters. The first
and the shorter was from Izzie herself.
" Mr Severn, — On consideration, I think it only
right that I should send you this letter, which, as
you see, is not anonymous. When you have read
it, you may, if you choose, return it to me under
cover to my father ; but please do not attempt to
write to me, as I shall send back any letter of yours
" Isabella Vivian."
I did not know the handwriting of the second
letter, which was voluminous, so I looked at the
signature, and thus gathered that it came from that
most venomous of spinsters, Miss M'Lachlan.
It was a long rigmarole about myself and Mrs.
Brabazon, in which truth and falsehood were blended
with such diabolical cunning, that even I, accus-
tomed to the shiftiest of witnesses and the shadiest
of tales, marvelled at the old hag's ingenuity.
Her story was, that while I had been an inmate
of the select establishment of Mrs Jessett, my con-
duct, and that of Mrs Brabazon, had been so
outrageous, flagrant, and shameless, that the worthy
JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
old dame had been compelled one evening to turn
us both at a minute's notice out of the doors.
Everybody in the house had known that I was in
debt, and everybody knew also that Mrs. Brabazon
had paid my debts and made me an allowance, and
that, in fact, I had occupied the position of her
amant de cceur.
How the miserable liaison had ended, Miss
M'Lachlan had not taken the trouble to inquire.
She had no doubt it was still going on, as we had
always seemed to glory in our infamy, and to be
disposed to defy the opinion, not of decent people
merely, but of the world at large. For her own
part, she had been strictly brought up, and when
she saw sin — she might say flagrant sin — she felt it
a sacred duty not to spare the sinner. Her only
prayer was, that these words of warning might not
arrive too late, and that my soul through tribulation
and penitence might yet perhaps be plucked as a
brand from the burning.
How the information had reached the vicious old
woman, that Izzie and I might possibly renew our
early vows, the letter discreetly omitted to state ;
but there was, as usual in the letters of women, a
peculiarly venomous postscript, assuring Izzie that
154 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
while at Bayswater, I had, to the disgust of the
other inmates of Mrs Jessett's establishment, com-
mitted the unpardonable sin of Monaldeschi against
Christina of Sweden, and had ridiculed, and worse
than ridiculed her (Izzie) to Mrs Brabazon publicly,
and in the hearing of everybody.
As Miss Vivian had not insisted that the letter
was to be returned, I sealed it carefully up and
deposited it securely in my despatch box. " Susan
shall see it before I return it, at any rate," I said to
myself. And with this determination in my mind,
I dismissed the whole matter from my thoughts,
and sallied serenely down to breakfast. Before
going down, however, I carefully packed up my
things, and made every preparation for my de-
I was early in the dining-room, but I found my
hostess there, and it was easy enough to plead a
sudden recall to the Temple on my old standing
excuse — the great Scotch Salmon Fisheries Case.
Then I took a seat near the door, and waited till
Izzie came in. She seated herself as far as possible
from roe, hurried through her meal, and then,
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 155
trusting, I suppose, that I should not speak to her,
rose and made a move towards the door.
There may have been about half-a-dozen persons
in the room, without reckoning the servants. I
did not trouble to count the heads. When she saw
that I was in her path, she stopped and drew
herself up to her full height, looking defiantly at
me. I, for my part, said the few words I had to say
in a clear, dull monotone, as distinct as that of a
young High Church curate telling us how " the
Scripture moveth us in sundry places."
" Miss Vivian," I said, " the letter which you
have enclosed to me is from beginning to end a
tissue of lies. The woman who wrote it is as vulgar
and illiterate as she is malicious. You must surely
have noticed that she cannot even spell correctly.
I shall keep the letter a little longer, as, unless I
change my present intention, I shall prosecute her,
and have her punished for writing and sending it.
That, I think, is a duty I owe to the lady whom
this Miss M'Lachlan has so foully traduced.
Otherwise, I should take no notice of the
Then I stepped on one side, and Izzie hurried by
me with her face scarlet. I waited a couple of
156 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
minutes to give her fair and reasonable law, and
then made my way off myself.
In less than an hour I was on my road to London,
unable to shut my eyes to the comic side of what
had happened, but distinctly determined to punish
Miss M'Lachlan if I possibly could, and to punish
her effectually. For, as Macchiavelli sa} T s in his
Principe, it is worse than idle to scotch a snake.
If the business has to be done, put your heel upon
the venomous creature's head, and grind it into
slime. These are not his exact words, but they
sufficiently convey my meaning.
Arrived in London, I inspected the letters and
circulars which had accumulated during my absence.
As I had become a methodical man, there was
nothing of any importance, or in any way calculated
to startle me or even quicken my pulse. But there
was a short letter from Susan Brabazon, as indeed
the handwriting told me at once. It was charac-
teristically like her, and so brief, that I can afford
to reproduce it.
" Write me as fully as time permits with news of
yourself. It makes me feel younger to hear that
you are flourishing. I have nothing to trouble or
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 157
annoy me, and often wish I could have you with
me again for an hour or so. To have you with me
always would be pleasant enough for me, but utter
ruin for you. A letter will find me at the Poste
Restante, Venice, for which quaint city I am just
starting. I have bad such a thing in my life as a
donkey ride at Scarborough, and I am curious to try
one on the Lido. Besides, I may perhaps meet the
Wandering Jew, who, as you know, makes Venice
his head-quarters. Adio, my dear boy. "When the
Courts are sitting, I always study the Law Reports
in the Times ; and only the other day I sat next a
large Leghorn shipowner at table cVhote, who knew
you perfectly well, although he had never seen you.
He had been interested in some case of running-
down at sea, which he said you had managed
admirably, and he compared you to Grotius, and a
great number of other gentlemen of whom I have
never heard. I consequently begin to see that you
must be making your way, although England is, of
all countries, the one that is ' he most difficult for a
young man. — Yours ever,
" Susan Brabazon."
This dear letter, like the writer in every line of it
JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
I answered at considerable length — writing fully,
freely, carelessly and truthfully. And in the course
of my epistle, I mentioned the M'Lachlan episode,
and enclosed Miss M'Lachlan's own letter.
I do not know precisely in what the charm con-
sisted, but Susan Brabazon was a woman to whom it
was a positive pleasure even to write, just as it is plea-
sant to wake up at night and listen to the murmur of
the sea, although you cannot see it, and it may
be miles away. I did up my letter with special care
in a stout linen envelope, sealed it with ostentatious
profusion of wax, registered it and posted it, and
then turned my mind once again to business matters,
and more especially to the deeply-interesting case
of Wilkins, Stubbles, and Others against the London
and North-Western Kailway Company — a case of
which it was very difficult to get at the rights, as
both parties were obstinately in the wrong, and had
already wasted in litigation about twenty times the
value of the wretched quarter of an acre of land
that was the causa teterrima belli.
There was still a good month left of the Long
Vacation, so I thrust the voluminous documents in
re Wilkins, Stubbles, and Others into my port-
manteau, and ran down to Essex.
r JACK AND THREE JILLS. 159
I found my father, as I might have expected,
older than I had last seen him, and with marked
symptoms of shakiness ; but he was pleased to see
me, and it was some sort of a pleasure to talk over
his affairs with him, and to put him straight — for,
of course, he was overdrawn again at the County
Then, too, there were my sisters, who were un-
feignedly glad to see me, and not at all averse to
a few stray bank-notes secretly and judiciously
planted. For my mother I had brought down some
special presents — a Cashmere shawl, some tea,
given me by an attache at the Eussian Embassy,
and one or two other such trifles. Trifles they
seemed to me, but marvels to the dear old lady.
I was thus a welcome guest, and as I gave no
trouble, and was content to roam about with my
walking-stick, or my gun, and do nothing, I have
no doubt that they were all fully as glad to have
me with them as they professed themselves to be.
I might have stopped longer in Essex had I not
received a letter from an eminent firm of solicitors
and parliamentary agents in Victoria Street, West-
minster, informing me that Sir Joseph Chivery,
forty years member for the ancient loyal and
constituency of Pullborough, had fallen dead on his
hearthrug in an apoplectic fit, after a more than
usually hearty breakfast of Scotch haddock and
devilled kidneys. Pullborough wanted a member
whose political views, whatever they might be,
were identical in every respect with its own, and
it was perfectly ready to be convinced at a day's
notice, and subject to satisfactory references that I
was the very man of whom it had always been in
quest as its ideal representative.
When matters are put plainly and straightfor-
wardly like this, business is amazingly simplified. I
ran down to Pullborough; saw the local magnates,
who did me the honour of dining with me at the
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 161
principal hotel — the " Groat and Bagpipes " — and
so conciliated their good graces, that a few weeks
later I found myself returned member for Pull-
borough without opposition, and charged with the
responsible duty of representing and protecting in
Parliament the interests of that upright and
The whole thing did not cost four hundred
pounds, and I have always thought that it was
cheap at the money.
Then I had to hurry back to town, where there
was plenty for me to do, as term had begun, and
my table in the inner room was covered with
papers. My hack had been out at grass, and was
back freshly clipped and shod and the picture of
health ; and it was a pleasure to dine once again at
my club off the joint and a pint of claret, and to
smoke a quiet cigar afterwards over the usual
shilling pool with sixpenny lines. What a singular
delusion it is that clubs are nests of extravagance
My terminal work was of the usual kind — pon-
derous, dull, and lucrative. There were the Con-
servators of the Slush Estuary against the Slush and
Puddlecombe Local Board, with the free fishermen 01
162 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Puddlecombe and its Liberties intervening. There
were oyster beds concerned in this case, and the fees
were proportionately luscious. There was the Slop-
shire Main Drainage Board against the Mayor and
Corporation of Slopperton and Sludgeborough ; and
there was the Queen of the West against the Bessie
Belford, with the Polly Jane intervening for salvage,
which had fought its way right up from the local
Admiralty Court at Liverpool.
It is difficult to give any idea how interesting
a heavy case is, and how delightful it is to find
yourself rising above the level of Bardell and
Pickwick, and freed from interpleader for the highei
mysteries of Stoppage in Transitu.
Most of my work was now A B C to me, as I
knew my law reports up to date, and kept myself
as current with them as does a surgeon in any
practice with his hospital reports, and his weekly
Lancet. So I consequently welcomed the work
with pleasure, and set myself down to the mass of
papers with a voracity that gladdened the soul of
my senior clerk, a stout gentleman, with a clean-
shaved face, a heavy gold watch chain, a repeater,
and an elaborately chased snuff-box.
I thus had my day fully taken up, but I made it
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 163
a sacred rule from which nothing short of a con-
sultation with the Treasury solicitors would make
me deviate, that I did no work after seven, or at
any rate only such work as I could do in my easy-
chair, and as involved no tedious and troublesome
interviews. I was consequently enabled to dine
out as often as I pleased, and I must confess that I
had now developed a weakness for dining out. A
dinner in a really well-appointed house is almost
always better than the very best that can be set
before you at the most expensive hotel ; and how-
ever brilliant the display of plate, and however
gorgeous the liveries of the lacqueys, there is yet a
distinct air of home about the whole thing, bringing
it pleasantly near to reality.
Among my earliest invitations after my return to
toTna, was one from the American Legation, to
which, of course, I returned an acquiescent answer ;
and it was thus that I met and had to take down
to dinner Miss Elizabeth Maria Jemima Bock,
daughter of Cyrus Napoleon Washington Q. Kock
of Eockburg, U.S.
Mr Cyrus Napoleon Washington Q. Kock had
" struck oil," and his operations were now pumping
it up at the rate of heaven knows how miuy
164 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
hundred of hogshead9 a day. He did a
ready-money business in the precious pro-
duct of the earth, complacently realising his
little pile every week, and banking with the
Lafittes in Paris and the Bank of England in
What he was worth no one exactly knew. It was
doubtful whether he knew himself ; for the oil kept
squirting up like a geyser, and his only outlay was
for cooperage and transport, or rather for cooperage
only, leaving transport and freight to be paid by
He was not at all a vulgar man, or of a shoddy
type, or possessed of the idea that the world revolves
on its axis subject always to the constitution of the
United States. He was a shrewd, hard-headed man,
of much the same type as Brassey and Stephenson,
and he had taught himself many things. He was a
very good judge of pictures and of china, and bought
He did not race or hnct, but no Yorkshireman
could have got the better of him in a bargain over
a pair of carriage horses or a high-stepping cob.
He lived at hotels because, as he frankly said, he
hated the worry of an establishment of his own ;
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 1^5
and he drove four-in-hand with all the skill of a
past-master in the art.
" I drove the mail in Kentucky when I was a
lad," he used to remark. Bad roads, one bolter,
two jibbers, and a kicker. That was my average
team. I guess that gives you practice. In those days
I always had to carry a small store of traces and
lashes and running gear in my boot, and so many
bars slung up behind that the back of the coach
looked like a butcher's shop on strike. Yes, sir,
you bet I've learnt to drive. Go your bottom
dollar on that speculation. And now let's have a
cool cocktail and a little shilling poker."
Miss Eock, as I could soon find out, was one
of the best types of American girls. She had read
everything, — Shakspeare, Herbert Spencer, Zola,
Goethe, Prescoit, and De Tocqueville, of course,
and was era courant with all the light surge of
modern literature. She had views of her own about
the Italian opera ; the higher education of women ;
the Canadian fisheries question ; the descent of
man from the gorilla ; the claims of the Vaticaa,
and the latest novelty in double stars.
And yet she was not garrulous nor even tiresome
in the least degree, for, under all her chatter, — if ib
166 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
deserved the name — ran a rich vein of shrewd
human and genial common sense, combined with
what you very seldom find in a girl of her age,
tolerably accurate information as to facts.
I can hardly describe her to do her justice. She
was dressed expensively, and not at all extravagantly,
her only ornament being of plain gold. I think
she wore what ladies call white tulle, picked out
with branches of natural gloire de Dijon and ste-
phanotis, but I will not pledge my memory to such
Her figure and features had not that excessive
delicacy, amounting almost to fragility, so common
among her country-women. On the contrary, she
was bright and healthy, without being in any way
aggressively robust. Nor was there the least tinge
of even Bostonese in her accent — that tinge which
made Holmes remark in despair that everybody in
Paris speaks English, except, of course, the wealthier
We talked at first upon every conceivable subject.
Then she settled down upon England, and I had to
run a gauntlet of questions.
" I have read my Murray, of course, Mr. Severn,
and my Baedecker, and papa has ordered in piles of
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 167
photographs and guide books, but I'll tell you what
I want to see."
" What is that ? " I asked in curiosity.
"Well, I've seen the Tower, of course, and
Windsor Castle, and Westminster Abbey, and St.
Paul's, and the Docks, and the British Museum.
But I want someone to find me a guide who will
take me over London, and show me the old places
in Dickens — the old curiosity shop, and Mr. Pick-
wick's lodgings in Gos.well Street, and Newgate
Prison, and the opium den in Batcliffe Highway,
and Saffron Hill, where Fagin had his thieves'
lodging-house and academy. I suppose you have
guides to do all that kind of thing ? "
I had to explain to her astonishment that London
is absolutely destitute of professional guides.
" Oh, never mind. We must advertise for one
in the Times. I daresay he'll turn up. And then
papa always lets me have my own way, and so we're
going to Warwick, and Kenilworth, and Tintern,
and Harlech, and Furness, and Abbotsford, and,
of course, to Killiecrankie. I guess Killiecrankie
isn't up to Niagara any more than Windermere to
Erie, or Snowdon to the Eockies, but I mean
to do my England off the reel, and make a
IG8 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
square job of it before I recross the old herring
It was impossible to resist her intense flood of
high spirits. I agreed with her that she had got a
large business on hand, but opined that with resolu-
tion that it could be put through, and the contract
completed in a shorter time than might have been
"Well, now, you're comforting. I met a young
man last evening who parted his hair down the
middle, and talked about culture and all that kind
of show. What do you think he said ? Guess now ?
' Miss Eock,' said he — and pulled a face as long as
a stump orator orating to three niggers, a washer-
woman on strike, and a bubbly-jock — ' Miss Eock,
you must lrve in England for years. Its beauties
and its treasures must grow into your existence and
become a part of you. They are to be approached
reverently and tenderly, not to be rushed past by
almost sacrilegious feet. They are hallowed with
traditions that come down to us through the mist of
ages, like the voice of the Pythia chanting from her
tripod through the fumes *of the Delphic cavern.' "
" And what did you say ? " I inquired.
" Well, I felt sort of irritated at being preached
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 109
to, so I just said, ' O Jerusalem ! Snakes and
snapping turtles ! ' "
Our eyes met with a full flood of mischievous
merriment, and we burst out laughing heartily.
" But look here now. It's time for us ladies to
be getting. I suppose I shall see you after your
wine. In the States the ladies stop. We exercise
a sort of holy influence, and keep the men's minds
away from trotting matches, and time bargains, and
Ward politics. That's our mission, that is, and we
put it through as straight as need be."
Over the few glasses of claret and the coffee that
followed I found myself very little occupied with
the general conversation, and more interested in
listening to Mr Eock, who, after the fashion of his
nation, launched out at some length upon things in
He was a Federalist, with no personal bitterness
against the South, and spoke with reverence of Lee
and Jackson, more especially of " old 'Stonewall,"
whose dogged courage had evidently won his heart.
With him, somehow, I made favourable progress,
and so won his heart, that'fce asked me to dine with
him the day after next at the Hotel Continental,
where he was at present located, and to meet one
170 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
or two American friends, principally city men in
large American houses, but, as he emphatically
remarked, " Sterling."
Then we went upstairs, and I very shortly took
my departure ; but before I went I ascertained from
Miss Eock that she was willing to wait for three
weeks until the Courts rose, and to then allow me
to act as a cicerone to herself and her father
through those parts of London, at any rate, which
she was anxious to see. And next afternoon I
procured editions of Dickens and Thackeray, which
I marked and dog's-eared at the appropriate places,
and so sent them round to her with another trea-
sure which I had long seen at Quaritch's — a large
folio full of old plates and engravings, collected
from every quarter and pasted down scrap-book
fashion, with the text of Peter Cunningham dexter-
ously fitted in as a running commentary.
And then came the Conservators of the Dee, and
the Plumstead Local Board, and the Mersey Dock
Extension, and the humble appeal of Eumtijee
Cursitjee Chunderlal against the judgment of the
Supreme Court of Calcutta, in favour of his Highness
the Rajah of Eunderpore and others — a tough case,
of which even the litigants themselves did not
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 171
profess to understand the rights, but over which
they had sworn by all the shrines of Benares to
fight the matter out before the great Empress of
the East herself, down to the last rupee in their
My consignment of books having been duly de-
spatched to the Continental, I made my appearance
then at the appointed time. The company was
mixed, but good. There was a racing peer with a
name absolutely above suspicion on the turf, and
with a penchant for trotting horses, and a Scotch
peer who was shortly on his way to see what could
be done in the shape of sport on the slopes of
the Alleghanies and the Rockies. There was a
yachtsman, owner of a schooner well known in the
Mediterranean, and enthusiastic on the vexed ques-
tions of centre-boards and measurement-tonnage.
There was one of our best known journalists and
best of all raconteurs, who is perhaps even more
popular in the States than in London itself. There
were some city men — shrewd, intelligent speculators
172 JACK AJx'D THEEE JILLS.
in stocks, timber, cotton, tinned provisions, and
Some of these brought their wives, some their
daughters. We made about forty, all told, but
although the party was large it was most harmo-
nious, and, as far as possible, united.
The lady allotted to my share was the wife of a
gentleman who had done a good stroke of business,
by making '* a corner " in pickled pork, at Chicago,
and had now retired upon his " pile." Three years
before be had ruined himself, and the bulk of his
friends, by an attempt to engineer a corner in
molasses ; but when the pork turned up a " straight
hand," he had paid all his old creditors a hundred
red cents in each dollar, which, as his wife told me,
was more than any of them ever expected, or, for
the matter of that, deserved.
"But Hiram's got his pile now, I calculate,"
continued the worthy lady, with pardonable pride,
" and I reckon he's learnt enough by this time to
sit as steady on it as an old rooster. Money's a
good egg, Mr. Severn, sir, and it's my fixed idea that
it ought to be laid in a warm nest."
I expressed my entire concurrence in these most
practical sentiments, and she then insisted on my
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 173
telling her all I knew about tlie private habits and
mode of life of the Koyal family, and of one or two
of our principal dukes and marquises.
It was impossible to classify her as a bore, — she
was so entirely natural and vivacious, with not a
taint in her endless chatter of her own personality.
Before leaving I managed to hunt out Miss Eock
again, and under the excuse of piloting her through
the difficulties of procuring a final Neapolitan ice,
with its essential adjuncts of wafer and still cham-
pagne, had another opportunity, of which I carefully
availed myself to, at all events, form the materials,
for thoroughly making up my mind about her.
Then I returned to Chapel Street, and before
turning in, considered matters on my sofa, with the
aid of seven feet of cherry stem, withont a flaw, and
a huge lump of anatolia clay of the purest quality,
the gift of some Greek merchants in the city, in
whose matters I was standing counsel.
Tobacco, when it is good, mild and cool, aids
reflection most essentially. The normal pulse of a
man in the prime of life should beat from seventy
to seventy-five times in the minute. So at least
physicians tell us. Many great men have had
pulses abnormally slow. Napoleon's heart hardly
174 [JACK AND THBEE JILLS.
beat faster than, that of a reptile. Shelley's pulse,
if he were only betrayed into conversation, would at
once mount to ninety. His blood was always
dashing itself in angry surges against the walls of
his heart. Those whom the gods love die young.
He would have died of heart disease if the sea,
which he so loved, had not claimed him for her
I, not being a Shelley, was able to enjoy my pipe
complacently, and to watch with interest the ring
of smoke edging up from the bowl to the ceiling,
and I was also able to think things over. Should I
cffer my hand to Miss Eock ? I need have no false
shame in doing so. I could stipulate that every
dollar of her fortune should be unconditionally
settled on herself, with full power to her to deal
with it as she might please, and without even a
nominal sum to be settled on me.
I should insist on these terms in any case, as
they would put my motives absolutely above sus-
picion. And then, too, I could very well afford
to make them. I had quite enough money of my
own securely invested, upon which to retire to my
Tusculan villa, or my Sabine farm, at any moment
that I might please. Four hundred a year — to take
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 175
a low estimate of my financial position, were I to
leave off practice at once, and to live on the interest
of my capital saved — is not a fortune, of course.
But what is more than a pound a day, is a sufficient
competence for any man, unless he wish to live at
Vienna, or to have an entresol in the Avenue de
l'Opera. Besides, I had no intention of retiring,
being hardly yet in the summer of life, and as fond
of my work for its own sake, as if it were salmon
fishing or deer stalking.
So I decided to begin by tackling old Eock in
person, without any waste of time. For Americans
have a fancy for titles, as they have for bric-a-brac,
and London has only too many impecunious peers
only too anxious to pick up what it pleases them,
in their impertinence, to call a shoddy nugget.
So I invited Mr. Eock to dine with me at White's,
to which club I now belonged, and when, as it
happened, a certain very distinguished royal Per-
sonage was dining that evening with one or two
other distinguished royal Personages, and a sprink-
ling of Serenes, at a table next but one to our own.
This pleased Mr. Eock immensely. " It is incor-
rect, sir," he said, " to say that you English are
exclusive, sir, — it is not so. Sir, here am I, Cyrus
5 76 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Napoleon Washington Q. Eock, of Eockburg, U.S.,
dining in his own club, with the Heir-Apparent to
the Throne of the Plantagenets, and the Tudors
and the Stuarts at the next table but one. Sir, it
does me proud, and I thank you for myself and my
country, for your hospitality and for this occasion.
I shall wire it, sir, to Eockburg, and they will
make an editorial of it there in the Daily Bulletin."
I expressed my satisfaction at Mr. Eock's delight,
and then began cautiously to feel my way towards
the business of the evening. This we did not
reach until we were almost the only occupants of
the smoking-room, when the waiter had fixed a mint
julep completely to Mr. Eock's approval, and vastly
to his own. Then with what diplomacy I could, and
with commendable brevity, I opened my case to
him, carefully dwelling on the point that money
was no object whatever to me, and that if it were
made a condition, I should not object to giving up
my profession, and becoming a naturalised citizen
of the United States, although it had always been
my ambition to wear the English ermine, if only for
a term, and that prize was now practically within
Mr. Eock closed his eyes for a miuute or two
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 177
and, I presume, meditated. Then he opened them
and took a square look at me. Then he opened
his mouth and began what he had to say in the
most unembarrassed manner possible, but with the
broad accent peculiar to him, when he meant what
he was saying.
" Well, Mr. Severn, you are a smart young man,
and as handy, and you come of a family as good as
most peerages, and you've chumped your sawdust
without butter or molasses, and you've made your-
self what you are. I can respect you for that.
I'm a self-made man myself. My neighbours tell
me it relieves the Almighty of a very great respon-
sibility. Perhaps it may, although it isn't for me
to perch on the top of my own pile, and crow to the
parish. But I like you, Mr. Severn. There must
have been grit in you all along, and there's plenty
of it now. I don't want a good marriage for my
gell, though no doubt you are well enough off.
What I want to find for her is a man who'll behave
fair and square and honourable to her, and I'm in-
clined to think that those are your views and your
sentiments. And, so far, the coast is clear. Now,
hev you, or hev you not been making signals to her
in the offing?"
173 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
I was enabled to assure Mr. Eock, with a most
perfect sincerity, that, intentionally at any rate,
I stood entirely guiltless of any such, piratical
"Wal, squire," rejoined Mr. Eock, "then I'll
speak to rny gell about this biz to-morrow morning
and if she says ' Yes,' Cyrus Napoleon Washington
Q. Eock will be the last man under the star and
stripes to shove in his oar and say < No.' On that
deal you hev my fist. I guess from what I've seen
with my eyes half open, that my gell will say
' Yes.' She alius did like you Britishers. But go
bail for her, I can't. And it's too much to expect
of any parent in these onnatral days. I'll let you
be posted up, squire, in due course ; and now, if I
may trespass on your hospitality, I should like
that smart young waiter to fix me just another
So the julep was " fixed " and solemnly consumed,
and Mr. Cyrus Napoleon Washington Q. Eock and
I took leave of each other in the portals of White's
on the most friendly terms.
Next afternoon I received a brief communication
from Mr. Eock.
" Dear Sir, — I enclose a letter from my daughter.
— Yours truly,
" Cyrus Napoleon Washington Q. Eock."
The letter from Miss Eock wihs equally
" Dear Mr. Severn, — I shall be in to-day after
five, as papa is going to dine with one or two city
men, with whom he is running a little plant, which
he says will turn out a straight flush. Chip in if
you will at the Continental any time after five, and
I should very much enjoy it, if you would take me
to some show. —Yours sincerely,
"Elizabeth M. J. Eock."
To this I sent a trusty messenger with an answer,
180 JACK AND THREE JTLLS.
and made my appearance at Mr, Bock's hotel at
the time appointed. Miss Bock received me with,
a most cordial shake of the hand, not at all
masculine, but as simple and unaffected as the ring
of her voice — the slight American intonation in
which was just sufficienly perceptible to be
" Well, Mr. Severn," she said, " my father's given
me carte blanche in this deal, and I think I know
how I'm going to play it. But it's going for the
bank, you know, and it wants con-sideration. I
haven't quite clearly fixed my mind up, and it's no
good pretending I have ; but I sha'n't keep you
waiting off and on longer than is really fair and
reasonable. A fortnight deferred isn't much of a
couple of valuable lives, and I'm not the girl to
make up my mind on such a matter in less than a
" A most reasonable time allowance," I answered,
with my best smile, and a bow which would have
been wasted on a Lord Chancellor on the
" Well, I don't say it is, and I don't say it isn't,
but it's what I want, and, now as you are here tc-
night, and I mean if you can spare the time
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 181
to skip around a bit, suppose you take me some-
" What will Mr. Eock say ? " I gently urged.
"Of course I shall be perfectly delighted."
" Say ? What should he say ? Why ! very much
obliged to you for your attention and kindness to
an ignorant young Yank like me."
" Would Mr. Eock mind my taking you out to
dinner ? "
" Not a cent ; and I wouldn't mind coming. But,
suppose you dine here, and let's skip round to the
play afterwards. You can send a messenger for
your clothes, and we'll do the thing like citizens
with a stake in our respective countries."
I, of course, said I was only too charmed, and
sent a messenger at once for my evening apparel.
Being Miss Eock's guest, I had naturally to accept
her place of entertainment and her bill of fare.
Both were excellent. With genuine American tact,
she chose the public coffee-room. The bill of fare
displayed, as I knew, a full acquaintance with
Saratoga ; for it included hot boiled lobster — a dish
practically unknown in England — and also baked
oysters. I concluded that the superintendence of
Mr. Eock's banquets at Delmonico's and elsewhere
182 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
had been one of the pleasant and daughterly
methods by which Miss Eock had lightened his
labours. Apart altogether from the fact that I
already entertained towards her feelings wholly dis-
tinct from those of friendship, her versatility and
general savoir faire impressed me wonderfully.
To the Criterion we ultimately repaired. The
piece was of the ordinary Criterion, or, to be
perhaps more exact, Palais Eoyal type. It was, if
I remember rightly, The Wife with Tivo Mother s-
in-Law, or something of the sort. Of course, all
the peculiarly Parisian humour of the French
original had of necessity been strictly excised, but
there was sufficient movement to atone for want of
genuine incident, and sufficient sprightliness of
dialogue to enable the actors to dispense with
Honestly, I can declare that I enjoyed mvself,
and I am sure that my companion was equally
pleased, for she was entirely silent and attentive
beyond laughter during the progress of the piece
itself, and vigorously earnest about its merits during
the intervals between the acts.
When we returned to the hotel, we found that
Mr, Eock had not yet arrived, having, as the hall
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 183
porter informed us, gone out to see the conclusion
of a big billiard match, in which he was much
interested ; so, at her request, I went upstairs with
his daughter to await his arrival.
" Papa wont't be long," said Miss Eock. " Wait
and see him ; it will please the old man. He's as
regular as a rooster, and won't keep us beyond the
" Kegular as a rooster " Mr. Eock arrived within
rather less than five minutes. He nodded to his
daughter and shook hands with me.
" Wal, squire, I suppose you've been taking my
gell round. Grells give a power .of trouble; I know
her dear mother did, and I know she takes after her
mother. It's kind of you to interest yourself in
this way, and I take it as a compliment — not to my
dollars, sir, but to an American citizen."
" Always talking about your dollars, papa," inter-
rupted Miss Eock.
" Wal ! " retorted her parent, jerking the bell
vigorously, " what else have I got to talk about ?
Not you anyhow, though you're as dootiful a gell as
need be. I'm not an educated man. I'm not a
gentleman. I don't reckon any friends in Borston.
I haven't been there yet to see the hub of the
184 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
universe sticking out like the bottom of a teacup in
a pumpkin pie. That's a flush. But I like this old
country, and I like you, sir, if it isn't a liberty to say
so a second time on so short an aquaintance. When
a Britisher runs square, he's squarer than any man
on the track. There's no psalm-smiting and foot-
shuffling about him. I won't go so far as to say
Bunker's Hill wasn't a blunder. But the checks
have been handed in over that little show, and the
job's over. Hammer down to the highest bidder.
Here Mr. Eock, who had imbedded his hand in
his shirt front, and was planted on the hearth-rug
with his other hand under his coat tails, stood like
Brutus, and paused for a reply. The reply was a
ripple of laughter, which his minor raised to a
perfect peal. Then I said that I thought I must be
" We'll have a sling before we go, squire, to show
there's good feeling, and you just consider yourself
free of my location to come in and out as you please.
The details of this little biz will, I suppose, have to
be fixed up ; but if all goes well, you and my gell
will be equal to that emergency. And I cannot help
a remark. New York is a fine city, so is New
Orleans. So for the matter of that is 'Frisco, bar
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 185
those misbegotten sons of Chinese. So Eockburg
will be when it's located out. But give Cyrus
Napoleon Washington Q. Eock, London, before all
the cities in the universe, — now that Niniveh and
Babylon are disestablished and disendowed."
Soon after I took a most friendly leave, and so
ended my first evening in the domestic circle — if
two points can fix the locus of a circle, which geome-
tricians deny — of Mr. Eock.
Fortunately the London Christmas that year was
fine. There was no fog, no rain, and no mud, and
hardly any frost of which to speak. I was conse-
quently able to fulfil my promise to the letter, and
I took Miss Eock to really everything in London and
every place in London that an American of an in-
quiring turn of mind and anxious to " put his
London through," would wish to see.
Let me give a short list by way of sample. Of
course there were the Docks and the British Museum,
Westminster Abbey, and the Tower, and similar
places, most of which she had visited, but very
imperfectly. Then there was the Mint and the
Monument, and Billingsgate Market ; and there
1*6 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
were a number of quaint little places — the Halls of
the City Companies, to one of which. I was standing
counsel; and Newgate, and St. John's Grate at
Clerkenwell, and the old red tower at Canonbury.
Mr. Eock, too, was interested in places even where
their authenticity was doubtful, such as the old
Jamaica Coffee-house and Great St. Helen's and the
Barbican. We actually included Primrose Hill in
the round of our investigations, not forgetting
Hampstead Heath and the Spaniards. We spent
the best part of an afternoon in St. Martin's Lane,
Leicester Square, Soho, and the " Convent Garden."
We dived into Southwark, and visited the Tabard,
which had not then been demolished. We explored
Chelsea, and endeavoured to identify Don Saltero's
and the Old Bun House. I think I left no nook
untried, and I know that my services were fully
Amongst other things — for Americans take a
great interest in criminal cases — we visited the
locality of several famous murders, such as • Great
Coram Street, Saffron Hill, the Hen and Chickens in
the Borough, and others. We dived into crypts,
wasted many precious minutes over monuments and
inscriptions, spent a whole afternoon in what was
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 187
once Grub Street and its neighbourhood, and other-
wise, as Mr. Eock expressed it, so " petered our
London out that a gross of Chinamen couldn't
extract a dollar piece from the refuse."
" I shall go back to Eockburg, sir," said Mr. Eock
" a prouder man and a taller by a considerable
number of inches. I will not, sir, compare myself
to the travelled monkey in the fable of your fellow-
countryman, Goldsmith, with whose Yicar of Wake-
field I am well acquainted as with Knickerbocker's
History of New York ; but you have travelled me a
bit, Mr. Severn. You have expanded the map, and
I am much obliged to you, sir."
All's well that ends well.
Meantime, the allotted period of probation drew
to its conclusion, and I was not astonished to receive
one morning a brief and characteristic letter from
" Dear Mr. Severn, — I think we have seen
enough of each other to come to an opinion, unless
either of us is keeping back a secret. I know it is
not so with me, and I would believe no one who
said it was so with you. I think you may come
round to the Continental as soon as you like
JACK AND THREE JILLS.
without troubling ydur mind. We shall both be
glad to see you.
" I like England so well that I am more than
content to take it up for a permanency. It's the
difference between a prairie and a flower garden,
but I have my fancies for the flower garden. — Yours
" Elizabeth M. T. Rock."
I read the letter through, pocketed it, told my
clerk that I should not return till the next morning,
and in really less than ten minutes was at the Hotel
We dined en famillef that night, and an ex-
tremely happy party we made. I was triumphant,
Mr Eock serene and satisfied, and Elizabeth tranquil
We talked about everything except ourselves,
and before I left, by way of making the thing a
solemn family party, we actually indulged in a
little three-handed euchre, much to the amazemant
of the waiter, who apparently " did uot under-
stand " the game. Then I took my departure, Mr.
Eock evincing his sense of impending relationship
by very nearly crushing my hand and dislocating
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 189
my arm, and I found myself on the flags in front of
the Boyal Academy, not a rich man only, but
practically a millionaire.
Yes, my whole life was now closed, except so far
as ambition might guide or^caprice be able to tempt
me. I should have at my command money more
than sufficient to carry out any deliberate plan of
action or any sudden impulse. I knew that so it
was, and yet I think I hardly realised the fact until
I found myself in my bedroom trying to get to
sleep upon the events of the day, and for some time
failing signally in the effort.
But I slept soundly, nevertheless, and arose next
morning ready for my bef ore-break fast ride, from
which I returned with my muscles braced, my blood
bounding through my veins, and an indefinite
horizon open to my vision.
Had I, after all, been more industrious, or more
deserving than other young men, or was it simply
that fortune had favoured me ?
I philosophically decided that my gratitude was
entirely due to fortune, and I astonished the groom
who was waiting for my horse by giving him a
sovereign along with the usual nod in recognition
of his solute.
KO JACK AND THREE JILLS.
" May your honour have all the luck your honour
deserves," said the man in question, whose name
happened to be Flanagan, " and may the Blessed
Virgin and all the holy Saints look after your
honour and keep your honour from the cess and the
And I believe that Mr Flanagan's sincerity was
independent of the piece of gold, if, perhaps, stimu-
lated into outbreak by it. Anyhow I felt disposed
to accept his complex benediction as an augury
As it happened, the next morning was Saturday,
and for once in a way I had only one case to which
to attend. It was in the Court of Appeal, and was
not likely to be reached.
So, as had been arranged the night before, I met
Elizabeth and her father in the great hall of the
Courts of Justice, and conducted them by the
counsels' corridors and entrances from court t«
Elizabeth was interested, but nob altogether
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 191
amused. Mr Eock was profoundly impressed. The
building, he remarked, was fine, and had very many
points about it considered as a structure, although,
in his view, it did not compare to advantage with
the Capitol at Washington. Washington, however,
was a hole of a location, only fit for Indians and
mean whites. You were up to knees there in
summer in the dust, to say nothing of cyclones
of dust in the air, and you were up to your middle
in winter in the slush, which was as bad as an
up-river lot on the foreshore, or back away in the
If he were President of the United States he
would engineer a bill to locate the Capital at Sara-
toga, and he guessed it would be a popular measure,
and would go far towards securing him a second
term. But we didn't understand these things in
England. Here was our Court fixed at Buckingham
Palace, which wasn't a patch, nor a quarter of a
patch, on Hampton Court. Greenwich Hospital we
turned into a sort of naval West Point. Now Peter
the Great, who had his eyes just as open as had old
Cardinal Wolsey, had pitched on Greenwich Hospital
for his palace, and Peter wasn't far out.
He didn't deny that there were points about
192 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Windsor Castle, and also about the Tower. But as
for Buckingham Palace, he considered it altogether
shoddy and much the same style of architecture as
Eegent Street. St. James's Palace was a curious
" Now, if we had any old buildings in our country,
sir," he continued, warming up, " we should take a
pride in them, and treat them with respect ; not
let them out for paupers and pensioners off the
Government and the Court. Why, if we had in all
New York such a place as your Chelsea Hospital,
with its glorious old red brick, and its quadrangles,
and its gardens running down to the river, our
people would come all the way from Florida to see
it, and would think themselves well paid for their
journey. I wish we could buy one of those places
off you, squire, and transport it wholesale and entire
on a big pontoon. We are buying up all your old
plate and pictures and books as it is. We don't
want to buy your horses. I reckon we can show as
good of our own. However, if we can't transplant
these treasures of yours, we can always cross the
pond to see them for ourselves, and it makes us
kinder recollect that we are English after all and
straddle round accordingly."
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 193
So Mr. Eock, with more of the same sort. He
was a perpetual vein of rich native ore, largely mixed
with grit, but cropping up from an apparently in-
It has been wisely said that your first rough
impressions of a place are not only the most valuable
but generally the most accurate. To lose yourself
in detail is a misfortune both for yourself, and — if
you have any — for your listeners ; or, as the case
may be, your readers.
A few days later the Eocks departed for Paris,
where it was settled I was to join them as soon as
the Courts rose. They went by the shortest route ;
and I was consequently able to so time my engage-
ments as to bid them farewell on the deck of the
steamer at Folkestone, and return to town myself
by the next train.
Meantime, Mr. Eock and I had had a very definite
conversation, and it had been arranged that the
marriage should take place in June. Mr. Eock was
disappointed to find that it would be difficult to
obtain permission from the Dean and Chapter to
have the thing " fixed up and put through " at
Westminster Abbey, and that there were even
greater obstacles in the way of St. George's Chapel,
194 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
Windsor, with which, and with its oak stalls and
its organ and its garter banners, he had been much
" If," he profoundly remarked, " these places
belonged to the nation, they ought to be available
to the nation for all reasonable purposes, at a tariff
sufficient to prevent a block of business, but no more.
Ultimately, we agreed that, if the marriage was to
take place in London, it should be at St. George's,
Hanover Square ; and this matter settled, Mr. Rock
and his daughter took their departure.
As to settlements, Mr. Eock took a liberal but
an American view of them.
" I shall settle a few dollars on my gell, squire —
absolutely. The bulk of my pile she will, of course,
have sooner or later. But how I shall tie ^it up,
or whether I shall tie it up at all, are matters that
I have not yet settled in my own mind ; and I have
taken the liberty of settling a few dollars a year
on you, with remainder to her and her heirs, because
in this ill-regulated world things do not always go
on or turn out as you might expect, and so I want
to make you, without taking any liberty, a present
of a small insurance against accidents or other con-
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 195
I could only assure Mr. Eock that I appreciated
his munificence, and fully sympathised with his
"Wal!" he said; "it's best to let business be
business, and pleasure pleasure. Keep 'em apart.
You may shake 'em up together, but they won't
amalgamate any more'n ile and vinegar. Them's
my intentions, squire, and I have telegraphed full
instructions to my attorneys in New York to put
the matter straight through ; and now let's have a
small something short and hot, onless you prefer
As I preferred the " something short and hot,"
we ratified the contract with it, and, as I remember,
we exchanged cigar cases, he having a fancy for
mine, which was set with plaques of pink Du Barry
porcelain, and I, for his, which was of bark from
the Yosemite, bound in oxydised silver.
It is the philosopher of Stagira who somewhere
remarks that the exchange of gifts, when it does
not amount to a colourable form of bribery, is one
of the surest symptoms of friendship, and one of
its most pleasant cements.
And now my reader will most naturally ask — ■
what I have not perhaps as yet sufficiently
196 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
explained — what were really my feelings towards
Miss Eock herself, and how far was I acting
honestly, or, — to use the more current phrase, —
honourably in marrying her.
It is a difficult question to answer. The motives
of all of us are apt to be mixed. There probably
never yet was a soldier of the Cross, however pious,
from the Crusaders down to Gordon, who did not
enjoy fighting for its own sake.
The strict honesty I should say, that I was very
much in the state of mind described in Tennyson's
Northern Farmer, of the new style. I was not
" marrying for money," but I was distinctly
"marrying where money was." My inclinations
and my interests happened to coincide. Had I
been in the Church, I should probably have said
that Providence, in its inscrutable wisdom, was
summoning me, for purposes of its own, to a wider
sphere of usefulness. Not being in the Church, I
said nothing of the kind, but was nevertheless very
well satisfied with the turn which Providence had
given to matters, or at any rate allowed them to
My cards had somehow all turned trumps in
my hand, as if I had been playiDg whist. I could
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 197
have laid them on the table and called the game.
Fortune always comes with a rush to the aid of
those who aid themselves, exactly as when you are
on the decline, the fickle jade is ever ready to lend
you an accelerating push.
Of course I wrote to my people down in Essex,
and received back letters from them, brimming with
excitement. My father was delighted beyond
measure, at what he was pleased to term my most
prudent choice, and after a page or two of wisdom
in the style of Polonius, began as usual to
refer dismally to the condition of his banking
My sisters were more straightforward. They
were both very pleased. They expressed a strong
desire to be bridesmaids, and they both, poor
things, reminded me that the only really expensive
item in a bridesmaid's accoutrements was the
locket, which it was the fashion now to decorate
with the monograms of the bride on one side
and bridegroom on the other, set in various
stones, the initials of which spelt out the two
They sent also for me to forward on profuse
letters of congratulation to my fiancee, which
198 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
I have no doubt were laboured master-pieces of
So much for home. " So long as thou doest good
unto thyself men shall speak well of thee."
It is difficult to keep many threads in your hand at
once. I ought, however, just to glance at my Par-
liamentary duties. Practically they gave me no
trouble whatever. I had gone into Parliament
when I could afford to do so, exactly as I had set up
a horse and a groom of my own as soon as I could
afford to do so, but I had spoken very seldom, and only
on subjects in which I personally took an interest ;
and on these rare occasions I had addressed Mr.
Speaker with most commendable brevity.
Divisions I did not attend, unless they were of
real importance to my party, when I made it a
point to be present, whatever else might require me
elsewhere. In fads, such as bills to regulate the
hours for the sale of ginger beer and other non-
intoxicant liquids on Sundays and red letter days,
or to forbid the crying of muffins and crumpets by
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 199
bell during the hours of divine worship, I took no
manner of interest.
I had consequently proved myself not a fussy
member but a useful one. And above all, I had
avoided the blunder of asking for papers bearing
on the designs of Eussia in the Equatorial African
Belt, or the exact condition, according to latest
devices, of our relations with the Border tribes of
Patagonia, and the validity of guarantees given by
the chiefs of that country for the safety of Noncon-
formist and other missionaries.
So I began to be looked upon before very long as
a member who prefers to work for the country
rather than to make speeches for buncombe. This
was what I wanted, but I ought to add that I never
forgot to open my mouth on any question of inter-
national law ; for international law is sound com-
mon sense, and it is easy to make it intelligible to
a common sense audience as eminently practical
as is the House of Commons. And, besides, to be
credited with a knowledge of international law
gives you something more than a European repu-
Men whom I could mention, and who are still
alive, have made not only reputations but fortunes,
200 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
and won their way to places of emolument and
dignity by a very superficial acquaintance indeed
with Grotius, Puffendorff, and Vattel, gleaned at
secondhand from Wheaton and Travers Twiss.
The House likes a man with a speciality in him,
and to a certain extent I may fairly claim that it
found that man in myself.
Thus, then, to sum up I was moving every way,
in Parliament and in my profersion ; but less in
society, for which I obviously had not the time
even if I had had the inclination. I know -I was
looked upon as a man, who, if not quite un-
sympathetic, was yet, at all events, shy and re-
served, which fact they kindly ascribed to pressure
of work, and the malicious to arrogance. Both
were wide of the mark. The sole causes of my
hermit-crab existence were self-containment and a
something which was not exactly indolence nor yet
indifference, but a neutral tint between the two.
Nor do I believe this frame of mind to be at all
unwholesome. It certainly in no way impairs yeur
position, usefulness either to the world at large, or
to those that have direct claims upon you; and
these are, after all, the best test of a man's mental
habits that I can suggest.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 201
About this time a criminal case occurred which
excited the wildest interest, not in England only,
but over the whole Continent.
A young girl of about two-and-twenty, singularly
beautiful, but with a very doubtful character and a
notoriously resolute and vindictive temper, was
charged with poisoning a very worthless kind of
fellow, a French drawing-master, with a remarkably
bad dossier in Paris, and nothing to recommend
him in England except his good looks, his smooth
tongue, his savoir faire, and a certain facility with
The girl's name was Margaret Wilson, and she
was the daughter of a Liverpool merchant. Having
some talent, or at any rate liking for art, she had
attended the art classes at the Ladies' College, with
the full knowledge of her parents, and here she
had made the acquaintance of Monsieur Achille
Daubray, who was one of the masters at the college
in question, but of whose antecedents bterally
nothing seemed to be known.
He had dropped into the town nobody knew how
or from where, and had commenced by allowing the
fancy shopkeepers to sell pretty little water-colour
sketches for him upon a liberal commission. His
202 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
sketches were dexterous enough in the smartest
manner of the Boulevards, but so carefully toned
down as to avoid even the possibility of a shock to
He then, as I have said, secured himself a footing
in the Ladies' College, and now dropped his trifles,
and refused to paint anything but portraits at a rate
by no means deterrent, but more than sufficient to
enable him, either openly or secretly, to gratify all
his tastes, which were those of the very worst,
most selfish and most unscrupulous Parisian
maquereau. Inter alia, as it turned out when his
dossier was sent over by the Parisian police, he was
acquainted with Toulon, and had been more than
once suspected of crimes which, if proved, would
have resigned him to travaux forces a perpetuite.
This man had, according to all popular belief,
carried on an intrigue for some months with
Margaret Wilson, doing the best he could to ascer-
tain her pecuniary position, and evidently intend-
ing to go through the form of marriage with her if
her fortune, when he could form an estimate of it,
should justify him in the step.
When he found that his prize was not as large as
he had imagined, and that he could play his cards
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 203
with better advantage elsewhere, he most brutally
told the girl as much, and insisted that all relations
between them should be broken off.]
She wrote him a very artful letter, submitting
fully to his prudence and better judgment, and,
without any idle or irritating reproaches or com-
plaints, but she sent him some keys by which he
could gain admission to the house after dusk, and
begged him, as a last favour, to visit her for the
last time, in the dead of the night, and in her own
There he sat, according to his own account, for
about an hour, during which she pressed upon him
a couple of glasses of wine. The night was chilly,
and he hardly needed the pressing, but at last the
sky began to lighten, and it was time for him to
sneak away. He had hardly reached his own
lodgings when he was seized with the most violent
symptoms, and at once sent for medical aid, com-
municating his suspicions to the doctors. The
medical aid was too late. He had taken a dose of
tartar emetic, enough to kill not one man, but half-
a-dozen, and he died in agonies, which he fully
The tartar emetic was found in him in quantities
204 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
practically enormous, and, as he was about the last
man to have committed suicide, and, in fact, died
in the most abject terror, there was but one con-
clusion at which prima facie to arrive. So, at all
events, the magistrates thought, for they committed
Miss Wilson to take her trial at the next
I had just mastered the case from the detailed
reports in the Liverpool papers, and had, of course,
formed my own conclusion on it, when my clerk
informed me that a gentleman of the name of Jack-
son had paid me a special retainer, and a very con-
siderable fee, and wished to see me at once.
I heard incidentally afterwards that the funds for
the defence, which was extremely costly, involving
the calling of many eminent experts, had been very
liberally contributed to by the French Embassy,
which happened to know all about Monsieur
Daubray, and to be rather glad than otherwise that
he was out of the way.
Mr. Jackson was accordingly admitted. He was
a portly man, respectably dressed, with an immensely
fat face — apparently devoid of any expression — a
solemn but extremely deferential manner and
apparel, which, together with a heavy watch chain
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 205
and a gold signet — he was entirely innocent of
other jewellery — denoted extreme solvency.
" This is a most sad case, sir," he commenced,
clearing his throat, and with something like moisture
in his eyes. " I never knew so sad a case in the
whole of my long professional experience. But I
have the assurance of the young lady herself — a
most charming, accomplished, and, indeed, lovely
girl, that she is entirely innocent, her own belief
being that the miscreant committed suicide out of
revenge, which seems possible enough to those who,
like members of your learned profession, have to
necessarily be familiar with every side of human
nature. I have left the papers, sir, with your clerk,
and with your permission will have a consultation,
when you have mastered them ; and I have taken
the liberty of asking yonr clerk to suggest two
juniors to hold under you, which he has very kindly
done, although," — and here he smiled discreetly —
" it was certainly not professional conduct on my
part to do as much. Meantime we wish for a writ
under Palmer's Act, in order that the case may be
tried in London. I hardly fancy the application
will be opposed, as my affidavits are extremely
strong. The local press has taken the matter up
206 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
with the most extreme ignorance and virulence, and
local opinion is so excited that meetings have
actually been held, and speeches made, to say
nothing of sermons in the local pulpits. All this,
of course, makes our application little more than
formal, but I have given due notice to the Crown,
and will arrange with the Treasury solicitor to have
the matter brought on at your convenience. I am
afraid I shall have to trouble you with several
farther consultations, but all that I will arrange
with your clerk."
And here Mr. Jackson rose to his feet and made
me a most profound bow.
" I will give the case all my attention, Mr. Jack-
son," said I, " and as it is a matter of life aritl death,
will let nothing interfere with my personal attend-
ance at it."
" You are too kind, sir. It's more than my client
could have expected, but I will at once inform her,
and relieve her mind, and she will, I am sure, be
correspondingly grateful, as indeed she ought."
And with this expression of opinion, Mr. Jack-
son profoundly bowed himself out.
As soon as Mr. Jackson had left, my clerk, Mr.
Grutteridge, entered. Barristers' clerks are like
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 207
Pharaoh's cattle, of two kinds, the lean kind and
the fat kind, and Grutteridge certainly belonged to
the sleeker variety. His appearance was that of a
prosperous stockbroker, or of a wealthy merchant,
and it was easy to see that the stagnation and de-
pression of which the majority of his brother clerks
were complaining had, at any rate, exercised no
baleful influence upon him.
The Bar at present is as severely depressed as are
all other professions and occupations, and one sign
of this depression is very noticeable. If you saunter
leisurely through the Temple, you are almost cer-
tain to come across a man past the prime of life, of
unmistakably respectable demeanour, and whose
apparel has obviously seen its best days. He is
doing nothing. It is clear, indeed, that he is on
the look out for a job, or is, to borrow the expressive
phrase of Mr. Montagu Tigg, " round the corner."
You meet him, let us say, in Essex Court. In
Pump Court you will come across a second speci-
men. There is a third waiting in a hopeless kind
of way under Goldsmith Buildings. And there are
almost sure to be a couple in King's Bench Walk,
listlessly interested in the trees and the sparrows,
but with the weather-eye wide open for anything
208 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
that might turn up. These more or less dilapidated'
individuals are barristers' clerks out of employment,
and in quest of a new situation. Their last em-
ployer has died, or has retired from practice, or has
accepted a Colonial judgeship, and the unhappy
clerk has found himself t out of employment, and
with literally nothing to which he can turn his
The career of a barrister's clerk is extremely pre-
carious. There are great prizes in it, no doubt.
The clerk of a great leader will make fifteen hundred
a year very easy by legitimate fees, and half as much
again indirectly. Then, of course, if his master
becomes a judge, he is permanently provided for.
But the majority of barristers' clerks have a very
hard time of it. They have usually commenced life
as office boys at a few shillings a week. The office
boy of the Temple is a gamin sui generis. His
impishness is something absolutely incredible, his
precocity miraculous, and his knowledge of the
world worthy of a Queen's counsel and circuit
leader. For most boys — stable boys, errand boys,
shop boys, and other such varities of the genus —
the law has its terrors. The office boy in the Tem-
ple knows better. Familiarity has bred contempt
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 209
in him, and he will even go so far as to contest the
right of way upon the pavement with a city
policeman. Of these promising young gentle-
men a certain number are dismissed for petty
offences. A few are convicted of theft and em-
bezzlement, and disappear from the society they
have enlivened. A still larger number abandon
the law in disgust and take to more adventurous
callings, — becoming sailors, or railway porters,
or potmen, or enlisting, or otherwise adopting a
buccaneer life. A select few take kindly to the
law, and ultimately develope into barristers' clerks.
The nominal duties of a barrister's clerk are very
light. He has to wait upon his master, to aid him
in robing and unrobing, to introduce clients to his
notice, to receive the fees, and to account for them.
His actual duties go very far beyond this. He is
expected to act as a sort of factotum to his employer,
to go messages for him, to make inconvenient ex-
cuses for him, and generally to tell, or, indeed, to
invent, any lie that may be necessary upon the
spur of the moment. He must also make him
acquainted with solicitors, and must ascertain which
among that fraternity are respectable and likely to
pay their fees, and which are of shady reputation
210 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
and not to be trusted at all, or at any rate beyond*
a given limit. Barristers' clerks confer together
upon these subjects, and have private black books of
their own, far more terrible than any memoranda
ever issued from the bureaux of Stubbs or Perry.
But this is the mere fringe of the clerk's work.
His real duty is to act as " bonnet " to the barrister,
whom he serves. I use the term " bonnet " in no
invidious sense. A chaperon is to a certain extent
a " bonnet " to the young lady whom she escorts.
It is a recognised part of her duty to represent the
fair debutante as accomplished, amiable, affectionate,
and generally possessed of all the cardinal virtues.
She has, in short, to beat a big drum, and to dis-
course music upon the pipes. The duties of the
barrister's clerk are analogous. Whatever may be
his own private opinion, he has to endeavour to
make everybody believe in the immense capabilities
profound learning, and consummate experience of
his " governor." He has, in other words, to tout
There are more ways than one of touting, and the
best clerk is the one who displays the greatest
amount of finesse in this difficult art. Much might
be written on touting as one of the fine arts,
dividing it into its kinds, and distinguishing
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 211
between the clerk who hangs about bars in Fleet
Street, chronicling his master's achievements, and
the clerk who takes a promising solicitor to a Sunday
dinner at Eichmond, captures a big brief with a
cheque inside the red tape, and receives the ex-
penses of the day as secret service money. These
peculiar functions tend to create a special kind of
intimacy between the clerk and his master. Many
barristers on retiring from practice deal most
handsomely by their clerks, starting them in a
business, or otherwise providing for them. Others
can no more dispense with their clerk than could
Mr. Pickwick have dispensed with Mr. Samuel
Weller. He has become a necessary part of their
existence, or, to put it mildly, a necessary evil;
and so, under one excuse or another, they continue
to retain his services. And this affection is often
reciprocal. I know of one instance, so recent, that
I forbear to give the names, of a clerk who died
without wife or family, and left all his savings —
several thousand pounds — to his master. Indeed,
the clerk is an informal partner with the barrister,
and is often treated as such.
The usual method of payment is for the barrister
to guarantee his clerk a small sum. The clerk's
212 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
fees beyond this amount are his own. Everything
for him depends, of course, upon the success of his
employer. The two are in the same boat.
"I hope, sir," said Mr. Gutteridge, "that you
will excuse my congratulating you upon getting
this case. Ferret" (Ferret was clerk to Mr.
Searcher, the famous criminal advocate) " told me
this morning that his governor was instructed. I
know Ferret's not too truthful, but I did believe
him this time, and you could have knocked me over
with a feather when Mr. Jackson called and told
me what he had come about. I do indeed congratu-
late you, sir."
I thanked Mr. Gutteridge very cordially, for I
knew that he was perfectly sincere, and that his
joy at my good fortune was quite unalloyed with
any selfish motive.
" I am afraid it is too great a responsibility,
" Not a bit of it, sir, not a bit of it ! If there's
a solicitor in London who knows his business it's
Mr. Jackson ; and when he picked you out, sir, he
knew what he was about. Can you excuse me, sir,
far a quarter of an hour ? "
"Certainly, Gutteridge." So Mr. Gutteridge
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 213
went out, and I have little doubt that his object
was to fall across the mendacious Ferret, and to
pulverise that gentleman with the weighty news
of this eventful afternoon.
Here, at any rate, was a case which, instead of
putting judges together by the ears and adding
to the already enormous bulk of Law Eeports,
would probably involve no point of law whatever,
which would be for awhile the cause celebre of
Europe, and which was in itself extremely curious
So I took the papers, and as far as I could read
through them for the first time, making brief notes
in the margin with blue and red pencil. The de-
positions came out only too clearly. The magis-
trates would have grossly neglected their duty if
they had dismissed the charge. But I could see my
way to a defence sufficiently plausible in the lines
so astutely suggested by Mr. Jackson; and it
was a defence not at all unlikely to succeed, if made
Then I found myself dwelling on technical parts
of the evidence, into which space forbids me now
214 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
to enLer, although. I recollect them distinctly. And
so I sat for several hours until I felt I knew enough
of the matter to abandon it for the day.
After dinner at the Windham, 1 visited ,the
smoking-room, where conversation ran upon
nothing but the case. Precluded from joining in
the talk that was going on, I was yet a most at-
tentive listener to it, and went away with a very
good idea of the lines upon which I should have to
deal with the jury.
There is nothing so invaluable in practical life as
the opinion of the man in the street; and the
opinion of the man in the smoking-room of your
club is. the next best to that of the man in the
street which you can possibly get or even want.
Fortified with much of this collective sagacity, I
went home, seeing two things very clearly — that
the guilt of Margaret Wilson was believed in with-
out a doubt ; that her acquittal was universally
desired, and that as for the no doubt inconveniently
painful death of Daubray, there was a strong
current of opinion to the effect that it only served
So far then my work with the jury would be com-
paratively easy. My task would be to break down
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 215
the facts as much as possible ; to badger the scien-
tific witnesses for the Crown, and, on my own side, to
get out as much as I could of the character of Dau-
bray himself ; to put him at his worst before the jury,
and to further bewilder, the average minds of the
twelve good men and true, by calling as many
scientific witnesses on my own side as I possibly
I communicated these conclusions to Mr. Jackson
the next morning, and he set to work with the
greatest zeal, at once 'securing by telegraph the
attendance of the Government expert in medical
jurisprudence at Berlin, of two most eminent physi-
cians from Paris, and of all the best talent in
London, that was not already arrayed on the
This would %f course cost money. " But money,
sir," said Mr. Jackson, with a profundity worthy
of Lord Burleigh himself, " is no object, abso-
lutely no object whatever." And it certainly
seemed as if this astute gentleman was thoroughly
justified in his assertions, for I never knew a case in
which money was spent more lavishly. When, for
instance, the treasury, which is always late, set
about finding medical experts to back its opinion,
216 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
it found to its dismay that all the medical experts
were on the other side. I fear, moreover, that one
or two witnesses for the Crown, not of essential im-
portance, but still valuable, found it necessary to
disregard their recognizances and to pay a flying
visit to France. It is scarcely necessary to add that
this was a matter in reference to which I did
not receive Mr. Jackson's confidences.
Mr. Jackson let me know of the facts from day to
day. " We have innocence on our side, no doubt,"
he observed, with a face that might have been
carved out of solid granite. " We have innocence
on our side, but I must admit that fortune also
seems to favour us. And I am devoutly thankful
to Providence that such should be the case."
And then he shook his head and took snuff.
Our application to have the case tried in London
was of course successful. The possibility of preju-
dice at Liverpool was too obvious for any number
of affidavits to swear it away; and our own affidavits,
as Jackson had told me, were practically unanswer-
able. So I had now only to wait till the day
came, and then go up to the Old Bailey and do
"Nor was it a case that required immense study.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 217
It was not a campaign. It would rather be a sharp
cavalry skirmish, needing nerve and dash, a steadily-
balanced seat, a firm light left hand, and a heavy,
swinging right. So that, as Mr. Jackson hinted with
the greatest tact, it was far more important that I
should come up to the scratch in good physical trim
than that I should be worried with details.
" I will leave the details, sir," he said, " to your
learned juniors, and I will stick right below you
myself in the well of the court, and never leave
you for a minute. Take care of yourself, sir, and
trust your humble servant." And with a bow com-
bining at once humility, independence, and omnis-
cience, Mr. Jackson backed himself out.
The man had impressed me immensely. It could
hardly be that he had missed his chances in life,
or wasted them. He could never have had them.
I could not help feeling that in many ways he was
most distinctly my superior, and yet our system of
society, which is as ridiculous as that of the Hindoos,
had made me a Brahmin and him a criminal
lawyer — a thing in English eyes little better than a
But the man somehow fascinated me. The case
interested me ; and I saw the wisdom of his advice
218 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
that I should look to my nerves rather than to my
brief, and I acted upon it.
A few days before the trial, I received a very
long and sisterly letter from Susan. She was at
Nice, but had read all about the case in the
English papers ; and the Parisian papers, especially
the Figaro and the Gazette des Tribunaux, which
latter she was specially taking in, were full of it,
and she saw that I had been retained. I
had now, she said, the chance not of success,
which I had already won, but of something like a
brilliant trumph, something to show for once and
for all what I was worth, and I must use it most
" Curiously enough, I know something of Mr.
Jackson," the letter went on. " He is immensely
capable, entirely to be relied upon, and not in the
least likely to mislead you by any over confidence of
his own." Then she rattled on about other things.
" I sometimes think," she concluded, " of retiring
to a convent, not as a sister, but as a penitent.
The idea, however, is only transitory. I am not
conscious of any very great sins, and I am still very
fond of life, in which, while I am free, I find the
opportunities and have the power of doing good.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 219
This would be a miserable world indeed if we could
not do a little good in it without organised effort —
I in my way, you in yours, and M. le Cure and M.
le Prefet each in theirs. That you are doing good I
am certain. All honest work is noble, if it be only
sweeping out a stable or blacking boots. The sur-
geon with his diplomas and his case of instruments
is not higher in my mind than the dresser with his
lint and sponges. But yours is work of the highest
caste, and I think you have succeeded in it, because
you were born to it. Gro on and succeed. I am too
old and too fond of you to flatter you. — Yours
" Susa> t Brabazon."
If anything could have pulled me together for the
trial, this letter would have done it. I may just
add that after reading it over and over again I had
put it into my watch-pocket, and went into Court
with it (by a coincidence, for I am by no means
superstitious) exactly over my heart.
The day for the trial came, and I felt with mis-
giving that the forces arrayed against me were
distinctly formidable. The Attorney-Greneral, who
led for the Crown, was a cold, clear-headed, calcu-
lating man, with considerable presence, some pre-
tensions to eloquence, and great readiness. Beyond
these he had no virtues, not being a genius, as was
Cockburn, or a born aristocrat, and consequently a
bom gentleman, as was John Burgess Karslake.
I speak of these two great men with a reverence
which perhaps may not be apparent. They were
the giants of my day, and I doubt if at the Common
Law Bar, at any rate, they have ever had their
equals. The Attorney-G-eneral's junior, or, as he is
now commonly termed, " devil," Mr. E. L. Jones,
was also a dangerous man, clear-headed, vigorous,
and resolute, with inexhaustible power of work.
Then there was Mr. Berners, an experienced stuff
gown of any age, of exasperating accuracy in detail,
and with a mind like a machine.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 221
" When the jury," said Mr. Berners to me, " are
told to consider their verdict, my work is over, and
I really do not care twopence what that verdict may
be. If there is a point of law to be reserved, that
is quite another matter. The points of law are
always interesting. They have nothing to do
whatever with the merits of the case, and they con-
sequently have for an impartial mind a charm of
their own. Now I know, my dear fellow, as well
as you ought to know, that your interesting client
poisoned this scoundrel, and you and I are probably
agreed that he richly deserved it. I suppose that
line will be your red herring with the jury, although,
of course, I am not asking. But I am concerned
with the fact of the poisoning, and I want to see
the jury convinced of it. I should lunch with the
judge and sheriffs, if I were you. It's best to do
so. And it prevents the piece being talked about
between the acts, which is always undesirable."
And Mr. Berners sorted his papers, and, for all
men at the Bar develop funny little habits of their
own, hoisted up the slack of his breeches as if he
were a sailor.
The judge, Sir John Manley, had an evil reputa-
tion as a hanging judge. It was thoroughly un-
222 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
deserved. He merely did his duty with an entire
absence of mawkish sentiment. He was a strange
mixture of contrarieties. He lived practically as
alone as Mr. Tulkinghorn of Bleak House, in an
immense mansion in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. He
was supposed to be superior to every human in-
firmity, and in many respects he resembled Igna-
tius Loyola, just as intense frost resembles intense
heat. His mind was as precise as a chronometer,
and almost as insensible to external influences. In
private life he was, if not austere, at all events,
simple, almost to the point of ostentation. His
only two weaknesses were horse-racing and fox
terriers. Of the latter he had a strain of his own,
and was seldom seen abroad in mufti without two or
three of them at his heels. He also never missed
a horse-race, and was understood to be confidential
adviser to the Jockey Club, of which ornament to
our civilisation he had been for many years an
He was a most unpleasant judge with whom to
have to deal in such a case, but his clear-headed-
ness was at any rate a gain. I believe that for
the wretched prisoner he felt as little sympathy
one way or the other as do the cocottes of Monaco
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 223
for the miserable crippled pigeons that tumble
into the sea beyond the limits of the shooting-
ground. And yet there were strange streaks of
humanity in him, of which perhaps the most re-
markable was a detestation, amounting almost to
hatred, of anything like cruelty, meanness, or
oppression. This humanitarianism, if I may so
term it, he carried into the minutest details of
life, and he would devote a whole morning of his
life to attending a police court, that he might give
evidence against a costermonger for torturing a
Thus everything would depend partly upon the
humour he was in, and partly upon the particular
view he might take of the case.
Tartar emetic is a cruel poison. It tortures as
well as kills, and this fact, was, of course, against
us. On the other hand, mental torture, which the
prisoner had undoubtedly suffered in its wickedest
form, was a something that would make his blood
boil and predispose him to almost take upon himself
some of the functions of her advocate. I doubt
upon the whole if we could have had a better
I may add, that I was personally acquainted with
224 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Sir John Manley, who, when at the Bar, had been
an intimate friend of my grandfather's, and I had
received much kindness from him.
The prisoner appeared in the dock in the plainest
possible dress, and with a heavy veil, which she
lifted to plead, and then let fall again. She was
allowed a seat, and she never once changed or
moved her attitude. The jury, for all that they
could tell, might have been trying a veiled statue.
The Attorney-General's opening was logical,
dispassionate, and extremely dangerous. He began
by telling the jury that they must dismiss from
their minds, as he did from his, all sentiments
except that of simple justice. He was there un-
sworn to do his duty. They were there sworn upon
their oaths to give a true verdict according to the
evidence, and the evidence alone. And he then
proceeded to weave his rope.
Daubray was a man beneath human contempt,
but not the less under the protection of the law.
With his character they were not concerned. They
had to try the simple issue of how he came by his
death. He believed he should satisfy them beyond
all possibility of doubt that the prisoner had the
strongest reasons in the world for wishing to remove
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 225
him out of her path. He should show them that
she purchased clandestinely a poison well known as
producing effects strikingly similar to those of
ordinary disease, and one perpetually recurring in
the dreary annals of criminal trials. He would
prove that after she had possessed herself of this
poison Daubray visited her at her own instigation.
He returned home, and was almost immediately
seized with the most violent and agonizing symptoms.
He at once expressed his conviction that he had
been poisoned, and that conviction was amply justi-
fied by his almost immediate death and by the dis-
covery of the poison in his body, in quantities that
could leave no doubt it had been feloniously ad-
ministered. What possible explanation of these
facts, which could be proved down to their minutest
detail, would be offered by his learned friends for the
defence, it was not his part to anticipate. It would
be for the jury to consider these facts in all their
bearings, and to give their evidence in accordance
with them. And these facts he would now establish
to such demonstration as is possible in all human
matters short of scientific problems. All he begged
was for the jury to discharge their duty as impartially
and with as little feeling as it was his hope, and he
226 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
might say his prayer, that he should discharge his
I must confess that I had never before heard a
more telling, powerful, and utterly unimpassioned
Then came the evidence with which my reader is
already acquainted, and which I will not again inflict
upon him in detail. The judge, exasperated me,
and at the same time I think did me good with the
jury, by putting questions of his own intended to
bring out little points which it seemed to him the
prosecution had missed. But the evidence continued
its course irresistibly, and I could not help wonder-
ing whether the jury, being simple men on their
oat lis, would be capable of resisting it.
The one point to which I directed myself was the
amount of tartar emetic taken, and in this I confess
my object was rather to mystify the jury than to
set up any theory of my own. The twelve good
men and true got fairly bewildered by the amount
of the drug that had been used. It had been enough
to kill half-a-dozen men. How could one man have
taken it without being aware of the fact, and how
could he have got home without being overtaken by
ts effects upon the road ? Might it not have been
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 227
possible that he had taken the poison himself out of
bravado, and knowing that in an overdose it was its
own antidote, by the intense vomiting it produces ?
I could see that they were ready, as Daubray's
character came out, more and more to catch at an^
suggestion which would enable them to give the
wretched girl the benefit of a doubt.
I must here say that I am condensing a trial
which began on a Monday and ended late on a
Friday night, and that I do not wish to spin it out
into many chapters, much less into a volume.
By the time the evidence for the Crown was con-
cluded, I had brought out more than enough in
cross-examination to make the jury look upon Dau-
bray as a noxious vermin whose death on any except
legal grounds was a consummation to be devoutly
sympatised with. If there is one offence more
heinous in the eyes of an average Englishman than
another, it is the crime of chantage, and of this they
had clearly made up their minds that Daubray had
been guilty. They must have jumped at this con-
clusion, as there was no direct evidence of it, but
they had evidently got it fixed in their heads, and I
could see that it was working with them strongly in
the prisoner's favour.
228 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
We have all kinds of more or less absurd rules as
to what may or may not be brought out in evidence
upon a criminal trial. In theory, these rules are
more or less admirable. In law treatises they are
stated with the utmost perspicuity. But, as a
matter of fact, in any trial of importance everything
that the jury ought to know to aid them in their
judgment, somehow comes out as clearly as if we had
no rules of evidence whatever. The jury, in a
dogged way, are determined to get at the whole
truth, including anything collateral that may aid
them, and it has been my experience that they
On the fourth day of the trial, a Thursday, I had
to open my case for the defence, and I cannot even
now refrain from briefly indicating the line I took.
Beginning with the customary common-places, I
told the jury I should invite them to believe that
this miserable adventurer, seducer, and blackmailer
had, as a last attempt, made a pretence of poisoning
himself, and had carried his wicked attempt at
intimidation and extortion too far. Upon this view
I dwelt in all its probabilities, until I could see
that the twelve good men and true had thoroughly
got hold of it, and were prepared to clutch at it if
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 229
they could possibly see their way to do so. And I
then ventured upon what, looking back even at this
time, I cannot but consider a coup.
Daubray, I invited the jury to believe, had
persuaded his victim to buy the poison herself, at
different places, and in her own name ; telling her
that he wanted it, and adding that as an alien, and
not favourably known in the town, he would have
difficulties himself in its purchase. He had then,
meeting her by his own appointment, and having
received the drug from her, threatened, with that
love of theatrical effect which is so innate in
Frenchmen of the worst type, to take the whole
dose upon the spot, unless she consented to all his
demands. I reminded them that the threat of
suicide is the dernier ressort of a French adven-
turer, and is one to which they almost invariably
have recourse. Supposing he had carried out this
vile design, was it not possible that he might have
drunk the dose in her presence, perhaps miscalcu-
lating its full strength, perhaps intending that the
very amount of the poison might prove its own
antidote ? I then sketched the state of mind of his
victim, more horror-struck than ever, with not only
shame upon her head, but with the scaffold clearly
230 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
in her path, powerless, bewildered, and incapable of
action — paralysed in mind, and probably even in
limb, by the horror of the situation and its terrible
Daubray, I suggested, finding that to reason with
her was hopeless, and fearing that to stay with her
would be dangerous, had, hurried home. The
agonies of death had come upon him even in that
brief journey. He had hurriedly sent for medical
aid, and had died with a lie upon his perjured lips,
endeavouring to take away the life itself of the girl
whom he had blackmailed, ruined, and betrayed.
The whole facts of the case, and the whole ante-
cedents of the man, harmonised with this theory.
It left no fact unexplained, or unaccounted for. It
contradicted no single fact that had been deposed
to in evidence. It was complete in itself, and if
they found it so, it was their duty to give credence
to it, and to acquit the young girl in the dock of
the terrible crime of which she stood charged. Her
young life and her fair fame were in their hands,
and were infinitely more valuable than the life of
the miscreant who, as I begged them to believe,
had terminated his wretched career with malice and
murder in his heart, and with a lie trembling on his
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 231
lips as he had passed to a tribunal higher and more
infallible than any on earth.
The most tragic of criminals have a cruelly
matter-of-fact side. I sat down, so the papers said,
amidst applause, which was immediately suppressed
by the officers of the court. But I could see that I
had not mistaken my effect upon the jury. Then I
turned my glance to the left, where the prisoner
was seated, veiled and motionless, in the dock.
Then I looked up at the bench, and in spite of the
strain of mind that was upon me, could not refrain
from a start.
Seated by one of the Sheriffs, with the customary
large bouquet of flowers which is a relic of the old
days when the court was strewed with herbs as an
antidote to the gaol fever, was a lady with her veil
down, but whom I none the less recognised at once.
It was Suzan Brabazon.
I hurried out of court, which was adjourned at
the end of my speech, and I hunted up and down
through the corridors and lobbies, and made every
inquiry, but without result. All I could gather was
that the lady had come in with a sheriff's order —
which it is not at all a difficult thing to procure —
that her brougham had been waiting in the yard all
232 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
the morning, and that she had driven away the
moment the court had risen.
There was nothing to be done for it but to go
through the solemn mid-day luncheon with the
judge, sheriffs, and aldermen in the aldermen's
When this repast was concluded, the court re-
assembled, and I began to call my few scientific
witnesses — few but admirably selected by Mr. Jack-
son. That gentleman sat below me with solemn,
stolid confidence on his vast expanse of features,
and my witnesses certainly did their work uncom-
They all declared that the facts were perfectly
consistent with my theory ; that tartar emetic is a
poison most uncertain and capricious in its action;
that most minute doses of it have proved fatal,
and that large doses of it have been taken with
impunity, and of both these propositions, they
cited any number of instances in proof. It was a
poison which when used by murderers had always
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 233
been given in very minute doses, and at intervals,
being what is known to toxicologists as a slow
poison. In this way it often escapes detection,
eliminating itself from the system while its mur-
derous effects are still going en. And there is
little doubt that it was antimony in the form of
tartar emetic which was the Aqua Tofana of the
They were very profound in their manner and
demeanour, were these gentlemen. Some of them
gave their evidence through an interpreter, but the
majority spoke very slowly but most intelligibly in
strongly-accentuated English. They puzzled the
jury, but they did no more.
I briefly summed up their evidence, and the
Attorney-General, either from courtesy, or because
he had exhausted all that he could urge, did little
more than remind the jury of their terrible re-
sponsibility, disclaim any attempt on his own part
to give colour to the case, and generally remind
them of the gravity of the issue and the sacred
nature of the oath.
And now came the turn of Mr. Justice Manley.
His lordship was almost ostentatiously impartial,
and yet it was only too clear that his own mind
234 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
was made up. I could find no fault with what he
said ; I could take no exception to it, but I in-
wardly feared that it was telling against the
motionless statue in the dock, and I knew his
lordship well enough to know that it was intended
to do so.
The jury listened with profound attention, and
retired without asking any irrelevant or foolish
It was seven o'clock when they left. Mr. Justice
Manley retired to his private room, and the jury
to consider their verdict. The crowd in court
produced flasks, oranges, and other comestibles, and
began to discuss the case in all its bearings, and
the probability of the verdict, as is their invariable
" Let us come out into the corridor, sir," said
Mr. Jackson. " These lunatics have come for a
hanging match. But I think you have won on the
For an hour I paced with Mr. Jackson up and
down the cool matted corridors. Mr. Jackson was
confident that we should win. I was more than
" I know the average British dunderhead better
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 235
perhaps than you do," said he. " Our doctors have
fogged them a little. The fellow was a thorough-
paced blackguard, which is a thing they naturally
dislike, and he was a foreigner, which in these days
of foreign competition, is a thing your British
tradesman hates, as he hates co-operative stores,
or anything that touches his pocket. The be-
haviour of our client was perfect : it could not
have been better, and told vastly in her favour. If
the jury can let her off, they will, but it will be
a bad sign if they're over an hour. They are
bound to wait a considerable time for decency's
For an hour almost to the minute we had to pace
up and down. Then it was announced that the
jury had arrived at their verdict, and were coming
back, so we too quickly returned to court.
The prisoner stood at the bar of the dock,
immovable, and with her eyes looking out before
her into space. Even now I can recollect the
extreme beauty of her face. Her hair was brushed
plainly back, as you can see the hair in the Greek
statues of Artemis. Against her closely-fitting
black dress and small black bonnet, her clearly-cut
features showed out with a terrible paleness. Mr.
236 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Justice Manley was evidently as anxious as anyone
else, and to those who know that learned ornament
to the bench, I need hardly say more.
" Gentlemen of the jury," asked the clerk of
arraigns, after the names had been called over, "are
you all agreed upon your verdict ? "
" We are," answered the foreman resolutely.
"Do you say that the prisoner at the bar is
guilty of the wilful murder of Achille Daubray, or
not guilty ? "
" Not guilty," replied the foreman firmly.
Then several things happened at once. The
clerk of arraigns uttered the formula, "You say
that she is not guilty, and that is the verdict of
you all ; " Mr. Justice Manley held up his hand
imperatively ; and the ushers shouted silence, which
was preserved in court, although the roar of the
crowd outside rendered his lordship's metallic notes
" You have had a long and responsible duty," he
said ; " and I will give orders that you are exempted
from further service at this court for a very con-
The jury bowed their acknowledgments and
scrambled out of the box. The judge hurried away
JACK AND TflUEE JILLS. ,237
through his private door. I turned my eyes to the
dock, but the acquitted woman had disappeared. I
looked into the well. Mr. Jackson had vanished
also. Then, to avoid the crowd, I clambered up on
the judge's bench, and retired to the robing-room.
There was Mr. Jackson at the door. I shook hands
with him cordially.
" Our client wishes me to thank you, sir," he said.
" I wish to congratulate you on the most brilliant
and powerful speech I have ever heard. I will do
myself the honour of seeing your clerk to-morrow
morning." And Mr. Jackson bowed his departure.
I unrobed hurriedly, and was driven off not to
the Windham, where I should have been pestered
with questions, but to a restaurant, where nobody
could come and interrupt me or bother me with his
own criticisms and opinions. Then I solemnly and
in silence enjoyed an excellent dinner and a bottle of
burgundy. An immense weight was off my mind,
and I was proportionately relieved. And then — so
wayward are the caprices of re-action — I went round
to a friend's club, where I was little known, and
played a game or two at pool, with varying luck.
For, now that the thing was over, my hand was not
as steady as it might have been.
238 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
The pool finished, I lit a cigar, bade my friend
good-night, sauntered back to Chapel Street, and
went to bed most prosaically. My only interruption
was on the doorstep, where my landlord was waiting
to catch me.
" All London's talking of it, sir," said that gentle-
man. " They're crazy about it. I humbly offer
you my congratulations. What time in the morning
would you like to be called ? "
My landlord was, as a rule, a most undemon-
strative man and his kindly thoughtfulness so
affected me that I could scarcely answer him, but I
managed to name my usual hour, and went upstairs.
And so ended what had certainly been, one way or
another, the most eventful day in a not altogether
When I woke in the morning, which was at about
a quarter to nine — for I had slept rather later than
usual — I still felt a little played-out, more with
triumph, I believe, and the reaction of it, than with
I rang the bell, and my landlord made his ap-
pearance with a number of letters, and the an-
nouncement that my clerk was waiting. My clerk
brought good news. There were only two matters
that day which had required my personal attention,
and he had already adjourned one of them by
consent, and handed over the other to a brother
barrister, with whom T frequently exchanged work.
Thus, then, my day was clear, and I resolved that I
would make an absolute holiday of it.
With this virtuous resolve upon me, I ensconced
myself comfortably in the pillows, and began to
open my letters. First I took those which were
obviously circulars or on business, looked at them
and tossed them aside. This left a remainder of
210 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
only three. One was from Mr. Justice Manley,
marked " Strictly Private," congratulating me on
my success, but concluding with the emphatic
words, "All the same, young gentleman, you
cheated justice." Another, long and passionate,
but very sensible, was from my client herself. It was
the sort of letter a young woman might be expected
to write under such circumstances, and concluded
by begging that I would not trouble myself to
answer it. The third was, as I had seen from the
address, from Susan Brabazon, and I turned myself
round in bed to read it leisurely, for she must have
sat up till late to write it, as there were many pages
It began by telling me what I had not known —
that she had been unable to resist coming over
from Nice on purpose to hear the case, and through
the city influence of her bankers, had managed to
secure a seat on the bench throughout its whole
course, although, perhaps, I had not noticed her.
Then she expressed her opinion on the case itself,
which was very shrewd and clever, but which I need
not give in detail. Evidently she was of opinion
that strictly legal justice had been baffled. Then
followed some pleasant reminiscences of our old
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 241
days in Bayswater and elsewhere, and then came
the postscript, in which is always to be found the
object of a woman's letter.
" I am in town for a few days, and as I have paid
you the compliment of giving several of these to
yourself, I wish you would manage to give one of
those that are left to me. Let us spend a day after
the old fashion. You shall drive me out somewhere
into the country, and we will dine at a roadside inn
off roast fowl and potatoes and apple tart, and other
such rural fare. I am hungry for an inn with a
signboard flapping over the doorway, and a touch
of rustic simplicity about it."
The letter was dated from Claridge's, a very few
minutes' walk from my lodgings, and I at once sent
round a messenger with a note to say that I would
come as soon as I was dressed, and would drive her
out when she pleased.
" We will have," said I, as I picked out a com-
fortable tweed suit, with appropriately countrified
additions, " a rustic day of it ;" and having finished
my toilette, I at once hurried round to some stables
in Piccadilly where I was well known, and selected
as neat a tandem and as comfortable a dog-cart as
could be put together. With this equipage, and
242 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
my groom with Napoleonically-folded arms on the
back seat, looking as if the whole turn-out, including
myself, belonged to him, and he had yesterday
snatched the verdict in person, I trotted round and
drew up at the door of Claridge's in the very best
Essex style — and most Essex men know how to
Mrs. Brabazon did not keep me waiting in the
coffee-room three minutes. She hurried down,
charmingly dressed in dark-grey silk, a long otter-
skin jacket, gauntlet gloves, and a compact little
black bonnet of the style which will hand down to
immortality the name of Maria Hamm.
At her entry, the waiter conveniently and dis-
creetly withdrew. There happened to be no one
else in the room, and she seized me by both hands
and gave me a most hearty kiss.
" You did it splendidly, Jack," she said ; " splen-
didly ! She was guilty, of course, though I mustn't
ask you, but I declare you almost made me believe
her innocent. At all events, you proved that there
wasn't evidence on which to hang a — well, let us
say a torn cat, and you look as fresh after it all as if
nothing had happened. It's wonderful ! I suppose
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 243
These were genuine compliments, and I liked
them. They made me feel as I told her, several
inches taller, and proportionately important. Then
we went through our paraphernalia, as all travellers
should, and we sallied into the street. My groom
was standing at the leader's head, an assistant ostler
from the hotel yard was by the wheeler.
Mrs. Brabazon was in her seat in a moment. I
followed her, gathered up the reins, gave my whip
a fresh double thong worthy of the Yorkshire road,
and away we went, my groom clambering up behind,
and then assuming an air which seemed to say
" find a better turn-out than this, if you can."
We rattled pleasantly through the streets, until
we came into the open country, and we shaped our
course for a pleasant little village which I know in
Hertfordshire, not many miles beyond Hendon,
with its so-called lake. The place I selected was
not altogether inappropriate, as it was many years
ago the scene of a murder which set not London
only, but England, and not England only, but
Europe, talking and wondering. I mean the murder
of Weare, the gambler, by his companions, Hunt,
Thurtell, and Probert. The place is called Ellstree,
and near it is a little wood, exquisite in the
244 .TACK AND THREE JILLS.
summer time, but bearing the un-idyllic name of
Although only the beginning of February, the
sun was shining brightly, the roads were dry and
hard, and the horses' feet rattled on them. In the
leafless trees and along the leafless hedges the birds
were noisy, and now and again we could hear the
querulous cackle of a blackbird scuttling along the
hedge, disturbed by our clatter, or in the fallows,
the cheep of the partridge and the shrill note of
We passed neither magpie, crow, nor any other
bird of evil omen, and I never even now can
remember in my life a brighter, happier drive.
Everything was perfect in its way — the weather,
the scenery, and, although I say it, the Napoleonic
groom, and the horses, who had evidently worked
together before and were thoroughly accustomed to
We pulled up at the door of the Eed Lion, and
the landlord hurried out, as befitted the importance
of a visit from persons of superior quality. He
could give us, he explained, a dinner which he
thought we should really like. We must not think
that the resources of his house were limited. He
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 215
could produce spring soup, eels, a mutton cutlet,
which we should find it hard to beat, a couple of
his own spring chickens, with mushrooms and
pastry. And he had some wine which he could
recommend. He knew what was proper, for he had
been a gentleman's servant himself, and his house
was much frequented in the summer. Might I
Leave things to him, and at what hour would we
I named the time when twilight would be closing,
and then Susan and I started for a stroll along the
Hertfordshire roads, which were dry and hard under
foot, and as yet innocent of dust.
For a while we talked about everything — about
the great case, and the judge (with whom Susan
had fallen in love), and the counsel engaged in it ;
about the latest burlesque, and the latest novel ;
about Nice, where Susan had been stopping, and
Monte Carlo, where she had been playing carefully
and losing steadily. Then we talked about the old
boarding-house days at Bays water, and she broke
out into a laugh so loud and merry that it almost
made the few echoes in the neighbourhood ring.
" I have something to tell you about that," she
246 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
" What is it ?" I asked.
" I will tell you after dinner. It is too good to
be told now."
Then, as the time was drawing in, we sauntered
back to the inn. The rustics in that neighbourhood
are doltish, and we were unknown ; and I have some
sort of a dim recollection that we walked hand in
hand like children going to church. I know that
we made a short cut through some fields, which
involved one stile and two swing gates, and that
I sternly exacted toll at each. There was something
Theocritean about the whole day and its surround-
ings, and so at last we found ourselves at the inn.
How we loitered over our dinner ; how thoroughly
we enjoyed it; how we chattered; how we had the
landlord in, and complimented him, and made him
drink an immense tumbler of his wine and light
one of my cigars, and give us his views on the
ministry and the agricultural crisis ; how we had the
tandem brought round ; how, when we were seated,
the landlord's wife made her appearance with a
bunch of early violets and small glasses of hot milk
punch, brewed from a special recipe of her grand-
mother's, and warranted to keep out the evening
damp j how we rattled off, and how merrily we
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 247
bowled along the road, downhill for almost its
entire extent, till we drew up at the portals of
Claridge's, are things I cannot tell in detail ; but
it was a happy day, and will remain written
as such for ever on the "remembering tablets of
" Come in for a minute," said Susan, and in I
" To-morrow is Sunday,"' she continued. " You
cannot be wanted in court to-morrow ; come and
dine with me. Come early, and take me for a walk
in the Park first. I want to keep you out of the
company of flatterers and time-servers, or else this
success of yours will be turning your young head."
" Well," I laughed, " I will be here at three, and
we will go for a walk if it's fine, or,J will sit indoors
with you if it is wet. By the way, you have not
told me about your joke in reference to the Bays-
She burst out laughing again.
" A demain. It is a full-flavoured tale. I will
tell it you in the Park if it is fine, and here if it is
wet. Now, go away with you, and be punctual to-
" And I too," I added, " have something to
24.8 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
tell you about myself — something really most
" What is it, Jack ? " she asked, with an imme-
diate change in her voice.
"I will keep it till to-morrow, after you have told
me your own story. If it does not astonish you,
why, as the elder Mr. Weller observed, < I am one
Dutchman and you are another,' and that's just all
" I am no Dutchman, Mr. Severn," she retorted,
drawing herself up to her full height, with a mock
air of injured dignity that was very comical.
" I never said you were," I answered. " On the
contrary, I know better."
" You ought to have your face slapped for your
impertinence. Be punctual to-morrow by way of
And so I strolled round to Chapel Street, and
found, amongst other things, a telegram from
Paris. It was from Mr. Cyrus Napoleon Washington
Q. Kock, who was so fond of his names that they ap-
peared in the missive in full. The body of the
communication was as follows : —
"Magnificently done, my son. Everybody here
wild about it. If you were a born citizen we should
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 249
run you for President. Elizabeth agrees. We are
both chirpy. Write to us, and expect letter. Paris
good enough, but not a patch on Saratoga.
Everybody rather English here, except us Yanks.
Kindest regards and congratulations from both
" He is an old trump," I said, as I clambered into
my bed, and what was more, I meant it.
" The next day being Sunday," as Eobinson Crusoe
would have it in his diary, I made my appearance
at Claridge's at the appointed hour. It happened
to be a very beautiful day indeed, and Susan and I
proceeded at once to those glorious gardens of the
Botanical Society in the Eegent's Park, where we
wandered about on the thick velvety grass, which
by this time had lost its morning dampness, for the
sun was shining brightly. And we strayed through
the tropical house, where the immense bananas and
other palms tower up over your head, and we visited
the water-lily house and inspected the gigantic
leaves of the Victoria lily.
250 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
The great charm of the Eegent's Park, and of
the Botanical Gardens in particular, has always
been to my mind the enormous number of birds to
be found there unsuspected in the centre of
London's wilderness of houses. I believe there is
hardly a British bird wanting, except perhaps such
rare things as the golden eagle or the night herorj,
or local varieties, such as the Cornish chough and
the Eoyston crow.
As we walked up and down, the little nut-hatch,
with its bright eye and lissom neck, darted about
the bark ; great thrushes hopped about almost
under our very feet ; the wood-pigeons answered
one another in the elms ; and upon the ornamental
water, utterly regardless of the native and accli-
matised swans, geese, and ducks, a pair of saucy
dab-chicks were bobbing up and down, and scutter-
ing to and fro like schoolboys just turned out of
It was like a glorious patch from the heart of a
forest transplanted by magic to the centre of
London, and dressed with the gardener's most con-
summate skill. If you want to see the place at its
worst, go when marquees have been erected and
bunting is flying, and the so-called beau monde of
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 251
London is en fSte, and three or four bands of the
household troops are making evening hideous with
valses and operatic selections. To-day we had the
place practically to ourselves.
" Jack," she said, " business before pleasure, as
the schoolmaster said who always did his flogging
in the quarter of an hour before dinner. Let me
hear what you have to say."
I felt a little awkward, but the thing had to be
done, so I told her as briefly and yet as fully as I
could about my engagement to Miss Eock.
" Do you care for her, Jack ? "
" Yes, I honestly think I do, as much as I am
ever likely or should have been ever likely to care
for any woman in the world except yourself. She
is good-looking, naturally clever, without being
brilliant, has an admirable temper, so far as I can
judge, is fond of animals and treats them kindly,
which is always a good sign in a woman, and, as I
need not tell you, has any amount of money. Eock,
her father, is shrewd but genuine, and his good
qualities are very sterling."
"I believe you are right," she answered. "I
happen to know some people who have met them
both in the States and here, and who have all given
252 JACK AND THKEEI JILLS.
me pretty much the same account. For Mr. Eock
having made his pile, and having realised it and
stuck to it, is more or less a marked man wherever
" He is not at all ostentatious about his pile," I
answered, rather deprecatingly. " He is as simple
as a schoolboy."
" All Americans of the true grit are. It is your
shoddy man, only fat for 'down-city,' who gives
himself airs and puts on side. Whatever the Eocks
may be, they are not shoddy." This opinion I
most cordially endorsed. "And Miss Eock, too,"
she continued, " is good-looking I know, for I have
seen her photographs in any number. They were
conspicuous at Walery's and Disderi's ; and I hear
she is accomplished."
" Eather say naturally clever," I replied.
" She is that too, but she is accomplished as well.
Americans are immensely particular over the educa-
tion of their children, far more than we in England
are. Well, Jack, you have done wisely in every
way, and I congratulate you with all my heart.
Yours were capital pigs, no doubt, if one may be
vulgar in this lovely place, but you have managed
to bring them to a very excellent market."
JACK AND THREE; JILLS. 253
I don't ask my reader to believe it, but I am
satisfied in my own mind that Susan Brabazon was
perfectly sincere in her congratulations.
" And what was it you had to tell me about
Bayswater ? " I asked, feeling it time to turn the
" Ah, I must tell you ; and it's a story only to be
told in the open. I shall laugh over it till the day
of my death. Well, I went round to the old
boarding-house to ask after a stray volume or two :
I had left them by accident. I had Bruno with
me, an immense St. Bernard that I have lately
bought, the size of a calf, but as gentle as a kitten
I purchased him in the Lower Alps; and I had
with me a rather formidable dog-whip, which I
carry for show rather than use, and it has a
swivel in the butt which makes it handy as a
" I know the kind of instrument," I replied ; " it
is made of any number of strings, and knotted like
a Eussian knout."
" You are quite right," she answered, half choking
with suppressed laughter. " Well I went round,
and old Bruno lay down on the steps outside, and
in I went, and while I was waiting in the frowsy old
234 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
dining-room who should come in but the M'Lachlan
in all her war-paint."
" And what did you say to her ? "
(< Why, I took with me her precious epistle to
Miss Vivian, so I pulled it out and asked her as
gravely as a judge whether that was her name and
her handwriting. She turned as red as a peony and
then as white as a sheet. Then she pulled herself
together and said : ' Yes, madam, it is ; and in doing
my duty, I hope 1 have been a humble instrument
in the hands of Providence for doing good.' Well,
Jack, her impudence put me in such a rage that I
felt the strength of a giant on me. I hauled her
over my knees like a naughty child, held her firm
in spite of all her wrigglings and squirmings, and
gave her a good half-dozen with Bruno's whip. Her
language, when she had shaken down her skirts,
was such as I cannot repeat. ' Swear away, madam,'
said I, as coolly as nesd be ; 'it will take more than
all your swearing to rub out those marks ; and re-
collect that if you go to a police magistrate for
redress, you will have to show them to him in
open court, which I should think your old-
established maiden modesty would revolt from.
If you write any more letters about me, aud I
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 255
hear of it, I will come round and repeat the
dose ! "
I laughed till the tears rolled down my cheeks.
" And what did she do ? "
" Well, you see, Jack, my child, she couldn't
exactly sit down — I doubt if she'll achieve that
operation for seme few days to come, for I must
almost have flayed her. But she waddled out of the
room with as much clannjsh dignity as was possible
under the circumstances, stumbling over the maid-
of-all-work, whose eye, I suppose, had been glued
to the key-hole the whole time. The two sprawled
together on the mat. Besides, just as I was going
out of the door, that good-natured bookmaker came
in and asked me how I was and what I was laughing
at, and admired my " dawg." So I told him I was
well, thanked him for his compliment to Bruno,
and advised him to ask Sarah, or else Miss M'Lach-
lan herself, what bad happened, for I could not
exactly tell him myself. He went in with a broad
grin on his features, and of course the story will be
all over the neighbourhood. I fancy the M'Lachlan
will have to seek fresh fields and pastures new, as
soon as she is able to dispense with the diachylon
and to get about again."
256 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
The broad humour of the scene was so ir-
resistibly comic that we both burst out into
peals of laughter, which fairly scared the water
" Well Jack, that was business, and as we've no
more business to talk over, I vote for pleasure. I
can't ask to be one of your wife's bridesmaids, . I'm
afraid, but there's no reason why we shouldn't have
a good evening of it to-night. I leave for Eome to-
morrow. Let us kill time before dinner, for the
grass is getting damp."
So we killed time for the rest of that day very
innocently. First we drove straight to the Langham,
where we had the orthodox tea. Then we made our
way to Claridge's, where I sat with her until dinner
time. We were waited upon at dinner by a gentle-
man, with assistants under him, of course, who
must have somehow missed his mark in life. Nature
clearly intended him, from his solemn features,
down to his portly chest and statuesque calves, for a
shovel hat. And his demeanour was archiepiscopally
grave and impressive.
Dinner over, this functionary — for waiter I cannot
bring myself to call him in cold blood — reverentially,
and almost sacrificially, placed the claret jug on a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 257
small table before the fire, arranged the dessert, and
It is Dickens who says that a waiter never either
runs or walks, but that he possesses a mysterious
power of skimming in and out of the room which
is altogether unknown to other mortals. This
power our waiter possessed in an almost supernatural
Then Susan betook herself to the piano, and half
played, half improvised to me while I smoked. She
bad an exquisite touch, and a natural genius for
music. And then we sat talking on, not about any-
thing in particular, until the clocks struck twelve,
when we parted, after the fashion of sworn brothers
and sisters, but as natural brothers and sisters very
seldom do part in this world, so far as my experience
" It has been such a happy day," said Susan,
" that I shall go to sleep at once instead of ruining
my eyes by reading in bed."
"And I," I replied, "will be a good boy, and
follow your example."
I was as good as my word; but I rose next
morning early, and after my canter in the Eow,
stopped at Solomon's, and then left my card at
258 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
Claridge's with, a pretty bouquet of exotics, orchids,
and early blossoms from the Riviera, with a short
note to say that I had kept my word and slept
soundly, not even dreaming of the M'Lachlan.
I saw Susan off by the evening mail from Victoria,
and being now entirely alone in London, reverted
to my regular work. The latter, familiar as I now
was with all routine and with any point of law
likely to arise, was yet hard enough, by reason of
its very bulk. Besides, I had to attend in Parlia-
ment for the divisions, and occasionally to speak
upon any legal matter that might crop up. Thus I
came to make the House my club, and a very
pleasant club it is — the most comfortable and
luxurious certainly, if not the most select, in
The Eocks had gone to the Eiviera, where they
were to stay till Easter, that we might then meet
in Paris. Elizabeth wrote to me, I think more or
less every day. I, with a touch of business in my
habits, wrote every day at greater or less length
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 259
usually less — and took care to keep her posted up
in my doings.
But my life was matter of sufficiently eventful
routine until Easter set me free, and then I hurried
off to Paris to meet my fiancee and her father,
taking up my quarters at Hotel Meurice. The
Kocks had not as yet arrived, but were expected
at the Grand.
I idled away my time until they came. To idle
in Paris is a science yielding extremely pleasant, if
not exactly profitable, results. My tastes were
simple and sedate. I made a few purchases,
mostly cheap ones, out of curiosity and idleness
more than because I wanted the things. I went
one evening to the Hippodrome ; saw Bidel banging
his lions about, and actually persuaded him to do
me the honour of having supper with me.
He was much, poor fellow, after the best type of
our English prize-fighters ; very modest and reticent
about his prowess, but evidently proud of it, and as
simple as a schoolboy. He left a singular, but very
lasting, impression on me.
Then, too, I a bit astonished the Parisians by
driving about tandem in my best Essex style. The
French are now admirable four-in-hand whips — as
260 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
good, indeed, as ourselves ; but for tandem, with a
lightly-running dogcart, they seem somehow not to
have the nerve.
I had not been thus killing time for three days
before the Rocks arrived, having duly notified me
of their coming by any number of telegrams. And
then we had what Mr. Rock called " a time of it,"
and " went through over Paris fair and straight and
As everybody must know what this means, I
need hardly dwell upon the details. There is
always a youthful element in Americans, especially
among those who have made their fortune early in
life, which asserted itself very strongly in Mr. Rock,
cropping up to the surface like rich metal through
quartz, and bursting out in an irrepressible jet at a
moment's notice, like the petroleum with which he
filled his tubs.
He was decorous, of course, as became the father
of a marrigeable, and, in fact, an engaged daughter,
but he was brimming over with wild fun and animal
spirits, which with his native shrewdness made him
We had, as he himself emphatically said, all the
fun of the fair — the World's Fair, Paris, which so
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. £61
strangely resembles in many respects the Vanity
Fair of John Bunyan.
But the days although busy were very pleasant;
and what I may honestly and straightforwardly call
my attachment for Elizabeth Rock grew in strength
continually. She was then a charming girl, as she
is now a charming woman, and it was a pleasure
to be with her, which is more than you can say of
many of her sex, as those who are the best able to
judge are usually the first to admit.
Mr. Rock's experiences of Monte Carlo were
peculiarly amusing and edifying, and I can hardly
help giving them, with some condensation, in more
or less his own words.
"Wal, squire," said he, " I've played poker and
euchre, likewise monte. I've played them in
Bowery, and on Mississippi steamers. Likewise
I've shot the tiger at 'Frisco, where every man
went to the saloon with his shooting-irons handy.
At your Monte Carlo its all straight and respect-
able. No shooting-irons there; but, phew! they
play high, they do, in spite of the limit. There
was an Austrian prince there who planked down his
dollars like a prince. The run favoured him,
squire. He realised considerably, and he went
262 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
away with joy and peace in his countenance. Then
besides the regular lot you always see round any
green cloth wherever the location is sufficiently
aristocratic, there was a Jew with a face like a
vulture, who always went the maximum. They
told me he was a cent, per center over in your
gay metropolis. Well, sir, he did not realise, but
he did not much seem to mind, and for all I know
to the contrary, he's punting there still. The
occupation seemed to soothe him. Then theie was
your humble servant. Well, sir, I punted a bit for
the honour of my country, and so did Elizabeth,
and how do you suppose we stood at the finish ? "
" Lost ? " I inquired.
" No, Mister Attorney ; no, sir. Between us we
realised the stakes. We paid our bill at the Hotel
de Paris, and all our incidentals, and we came
away with a trifle over five thousand dollars, play-
ing moderately. So I reckon we weren't exactly
skinned. There's pickings on our carcases yet.
No, squire, if you don't care to win one way or
the other, not even for the fun of the thing, you
generally do win. At least that's my experience.
The luck leaves you when you have to plank your
dollars in airnest."
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 263
I expressed my concurrence in these maxims as
being thoroughly philosophical, and Mr. Eock re-
ceived my congratulations with solemn com-
" And now, squire," he said, " we'll have a quiet
night of it, unless you are of the contrary disposi-
tion. I've had enough of racket for a week or two.
It's only five o'clock. We'll dine first, go to opera
afterwards, and wind up at the Cafe de la Paix.
It's near our hotel, and the victuals are good."
There was no gainsaying these hospitable pro-
posals, and we carried them out to the letter.
Elizabeth, I remember, wore a white dress, with a
brooch, necklace, and a bracelet of magnificent
black pearls. Mr. Eock was the American citizen,
with what he called a " hammer-claw " and a huge
lay-down collar, and a cataract of black satin falling
down his chest, and fastened by a diamond brooch
over which his clean-shaved, clear-cut, pallid
features, set, as it were, in his long black hair,
were almost ghastly in their total absence of any-
thing like colour.
It was a pleasant enough night — I ought indeed
to say more than pleasant, and after we had de-
posited Elizabeth at the Grand, Mr. Eock and I
284 JACK AND TI1KEE JILLS.
smoked some of his cigars, which were genuine
Cubas of the Eothschild brand, and drank juleps of
his own mixing, and listened to the plashing of the
fountain until an early hour.
" I expect big news to-morrow, senator," said my
future father-in-law, as I left ; " they've cabled me
to expect important advices ; and my gell '11 be
tired. Gruess I'll look you up, with or without her
as the case may be, about two o'clock. There's one
blessing about oil; it runs of itself. You can
reckon on it for a moral, else these cussed cables
would have made me a bit on easy."
At the idea of anything occurring that could
possibly afford Mr. Eock grounds for " oneasiness,"
we both laughed, but yet Mr. Rock was evidently
grave and thoughtful, and shook hands with me as
if he were glad upon the whole that the day was
I turned out on to the Boulevards, walked to
Meurice's and was soon fast asleep, without the least
anxiety on my part as to what the to-morrow might
or might not bring forth.
Next morning I refreshed myself with a brisk
stroll in the Champs Elysees, breakfasted at Bignon's,
read the latest procurable copy of the Times, and
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 265
then walked back to my hotel to write some letters.
It was a lovely morning. Rain had fallen before
sunrise and was still glistening on the trees. The
Paris sparrows were chirping as noisily as if they
were awaiting their old friend of the Tuileries, and
eager to dive into his pockets, perch on his shoulders,
and peck crumbs out of his hand.
I purchased Zola's latest — not that I care for that
talented author, but out of curiosity to see to what
farther lengths he had permitted himself to venture,
and then loitered back to Meurice's.
I was lazily interested in a more than usually fetid
chapter when Mr. Rock was announced. I could see
at once that something had happened to strangely
disturb him. His long and pale face was longer and
paler than ever, and his solemn expression more
He shook hands gravely, but without any cordiality
that I could detect, and then plunged himself into an
arm-chair and threw up his feet on the table. I
waited, wondering what all this might mean.
" I guess, squire," said he, in a somewhat parched
tone of voice, " I'll put myself outside a flash of
lightning. My throat's as dry as a copper-smelting
266 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
" The flash of lightning " having been produced,
in the shape of a caraffe of cognac, Mr. Eock, to my
surprise, put himself rapidly outside several " flashes"
in rapid succession.
" Cognac," said he, " as you get it in Paris, is like
Rcederer as you get it in St. Petersburg. It's almost
too good a drink for sinful mortals. But I want it
this morning, as sartain as my name is Cyrus
Napoleon Washington Q. Rock.
And he took another flash. Then he expanded
his chest, and took up his parable.
" Squire," Mr. Rock said, " I'm no good on the
stump. I am no orator as Brutus is, but as you
know me, squire, a plain blunt man that love my
friend. And so, squire, I am not going to see you
let into the hole. Not for Cyrus Napoleon. Squire,
no man was ever so eternally and all-firedly busted
up as is your humble servanb at this juncture of
events. Squire, my wells are petered out. They
air run dry. Look at this here cable from my
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 2C7
agents." And he handed me a long cablegram
which sufficiently bore out his assertion.
The wells had ceased to yield. The supply of oil
had stopped altogether. Nothing came up but sand
and slime, which choked the pipes. The men had
all " vamoosed." Everything at the wells was
deserted, and Eockburg had become in a week a
Tadmor in the Wilderness.
I expressed my sorrow and surprise as well as I
could, but suggested that it was fortunate that Mr.
Eock had still his little pile.
" Yes, squire," said he, " that would be fortunate,
if I still possessed it. It would, as you say, be a
consolation in the midst of this eternal smash. But,
squire, things never come single. You remember
your great London crash, — the memorable Black
Monday — when, to the astonishment of the city, the
house of Overend and Gurney did not draw up its
shutters and open its doors as per usual. Or, if you
do not remember it, you have heard of it. Wal,
squire, if you look at your Times to-day you will see,
when it comes in, that the house of Day, Bold & Co
has collapsed, and that its creditors are expected to
realise something like a red cent, in the spread
eagle. I could have stood either of these two facers
268 JACK AND THUEE JILLS.
singly. But the two of them, one fair and square in
each eye, has poleaxed yours obediently. I have,
squire, just a few dollars left here to my credit at
Lafitte's, and I must pay up my hotel bill and make
And he took some more brandy, gulping it down
without any water. I had never seen a man drink
brandy so recklessly before without the least effect
being produced upon him by it. He took it as if it
were lemonode, and it certainly seemed to steady
" It is bad news, indeed, Mr. Eock," I said, " and
from all I know of oil, I am afraid it's hopeless, and
the oil is more likely to run again than the Day,
Bold & Co. to liquidate favourably. Business first,
Mr. Eock. Consider me your banker for the present.
I can't draw to an unlimited amount, but I can
draw for a couple of thousand any day without
troubling my head to consult my banker's."
" You are very good, squire. We shall be leaving
Paris immediately. Of course, I shall realise my
effects here — the tomfooleries I and my gell have
been amusing ourselves with — but a few dollars
from you to help us back across the pond may prove
acceptable. And they shall be repaid, squire. But
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 269
now, squire," he continued, very seriously, " there's
another matter. This marriage between you and
my gell must be broken off. It was another thing
when she had a pile. Now there isn't a thin plaster
knocking round to buy hairpins ; and we Eocks air
too proud to let our gells marry above their pecu-
niary station. Elizabeth concurs with me in them
sentiments, and we shall have to wish you an adoo."
And he gulped down some more brandy and rose to
" We are shifting from the Grand, and Elizabeth
is at this moment looking out for diggings some-
where down by the Jardin des Plantes. It's handy
to Notre Dame, and she likes the music there.
They'll take in my letters at the Grand."
I had always considered myself a man of re-
sources, but I did not see my way to expostulate
with simple Spartan resolution of this kind. I felt
that it would have been hopeless, so I said :
" Well, Mr. Rock, as you will not be leaving Paris
for a day or two yet, we needn't talk business any
more at present. If I can be" of any use to you in
the States I'll come over, but I fancy there's no
flesh on the bones to be quarrelled over."
" Not a scrap, squire," assented Mr. Rock-
270 JACK AND THREE JILLS,
" However, I'll come over if you like. It rests
with you. And now would you like some more
cognac ? "
" No, thank you, squire. I've drank more cognac
this morning than they'll pump ile at Eockburg
for centuries to come. But I'll pull myself to-
gether with a cigar, if you'll let me. I have a
few of my own left," he added. And he produced
a case of colossal regalias. " My gell, squire, took
a fancy to this case. I didn't like it so well as
the one you gave me, but I carried it to-day to
It was a curious piece of filagree work in oxy-
dised silver, with a design chased upon it which for
a moment puzzled me.
"That design, Mr. Severn, is an allegory. It
represents Moses striking the rock and making the
water gush out. I thought it was appropriate when
I ordered it to be executed. It is symbolical of
Providence guiding me, Cyrus Eock, to strike ile.
But somehow the parallel don't seem to hold."
I could have burst out laughing were it not that
Mr. Eock spoke with such deep feeling and evident
" And now, Mr. Eock," I said, " you had better
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 271
stop in England. Surely you will do so as soon as
your affairs in the United States are wound up.
There will be plenty of room for you in our house
— I mean, of course, Elizabeth's house and mine ;
and on the whole we shall be happier than if we
had to cross the Atlantic every time we wanted to
see each other. Besides, it will be pleasant for
us to be all together when I fix upon a little box in
the country, which I have not yet done."
" Ah ! There we come to it, Mr. Severn. There
must be no mistake here. This match is off. My
gell is too proud, and so am I, to have it said that
we allowed you to marry a pauper. I quite under-
stand, as a gentleman, your sense of honour stands
you to the contract, and no doubt people will think
the better of you for it, as they ought to do. But
that kind of feeling must not be mixed up in busi-
ness. I have my sense of honour, squire, and so has
my gall, quite as strong as any Britisher, without
intending anything personal to yourself. And it
isn't what people would think of you, but it's what
people would think of us, and say of us too. No,
Mr. Severn, our two minds are fixed square. And
the marriage is as dead as my wells. I'm sorry for
it. But it's a plain, simple duty, and there's no
272 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
going back from it ; and between Cyrus Eock and
his duty not even the President of the United
States shall put his veto."
Mr. Eock seemed thoroughly in earnest, and I
felt that it would have been idle for the present
to contradict him.
" Well, anyhow, you will dine with me quietly
to-night at Bignon's. We can have a private room."
" I will come myself, squire, and Elizabeth shall
come if she is equal to it ; but I guess she will be
pretty considerably fatigued, as she has been round
to all the shops this morning trying to get them
to take back the tomfooleries we've purchased of
them, at their own valuation, and her legs '11 be
weary with the tramp, strong as she is, for it's a
" Well," said I, " I shall wait here till you come
anyway. I must insist on your bringing Elizabeth,
Mr. Eock, if you have to carry her yourself. You
must argue it with her."
" Wal, squire, you shall have your way ; and naow
I'll bid you good morning." And after another im-
mense dose of brandy, and a grip of the hand that
would have done credit to a blacksmith, Mr. Eock
stalked down the staircase.
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 273
I put on my hat and walked slowly out into the
gardens of the Tuileries. After all, what did it
matter to me, sorry as I was for Mr. Kock, if I could
only persuade Elizabeth to change her mind. I
had never cared for her so much as now that I saw
the chance of losing her. I had been ready to
give up anything for her, even my profession ; and
it would be Quixotism on her part not to give np a
really foolish question of pride for me. I could not
see it in any other point of view. The more I
looked at matters, the more I became convinced
that I was in the right, and that Mr. Cyrus Kock
was in the wrong.
This is a way with young men, from which I was
by no means exempt. But I resolved that I would
let matters rest for some hours at any rate, if nc>t
for some days.
So we dined that evening at Bignon's, and the
catastrophe of the " petered out wells " was not so
much as alluded to. Mr. Rock was apparelled as
usual, with the exception of the diamond in his
cravat and his repeater and chain, all of which
articles were conspicuously absent.
Elizabeth wore a plain and simple dress, with jet
brooch and solitaires, and was sheltered from the
274 JACK AND THKEE JILLS.
evening air by a dark cloth, jacket. There was the
usual chatter about things in general, and I could
not but admire the fortitude with which both
the father and the daughter bore so crushing a
I walked part of the way home with them, and
bade them good-night at an omnibus station, from
which they took their departure in the direction of
the Quartier Latin.
Then I strolled for awhile on the Quays " and so,"
as Pepys has it, to Meurice's and to bed, where I
fell asleep, determined to have my own way, but
feeling very distinctly that the Eocks were
awkward customers, and that all my work was cut
out for me.
As I have said, I had never cared so much for my
fiancee as I did now, and the thought of her troubles
and anxieties distressed me beyond measure. " I
will conquer that Quixotic determination on Mr.
Eock's part," I said to myself. " Nothing shall stop
my marriage with Elizabeth. The old gentleman
was ready to heap money upon me when he had
got it, and now that he is ruined, he shall share
Throughout this narrative I have never attempted
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 275
to gloss over my faults and failings, my errors and
imperfections, or to conceal the selfishness of my
nature — a quality by no means singular in my sex.
It is therefore only fair to myself to state that upon
this occasion I was guided by no unworthy motives,
and that in all I said and did, my first thought was
for the woman I truly and honestly loved, and my
second for the man whom I sincerely respected, and
with whose misfortunes I deeply sympathised.
Next morning Mr. Rock came round. He was as
cheerful as if nothing had happened : in the frame
of mind of a man who knew the worst.
"Squire," said he, "among my many varied
experiences I was once a mason. They were reno-
vating some blocks in Broadway. Mine was a humble
position. I was down on the pavement stirring up
the concrete. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning,
a man comes down from the top of the very highest
combination of ladders lashed together, and is
deposited on the pavement. We were going to-
wards him to pick up the pieces, but he pulled
276 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
himself together on his hind legs, as a citizen of
the United States ought to do. ' Thank Providence,
my friends,' says he, 'that little job's over for the
present.' Them's my sentiments at this minute, Mr.
I complimented him on his perfect appreciation of
the principles of the Stoic philosophy, and then
asked after Elizabeth.
"She's a good gell, Mr. Severn. She's a gell
with grit and pluck. She'll pull bow oar in the
same boat with her old dad yet. I don't mean to
deny that she's a bit annoyed. It's hard to lose
your dollars and come down to dimes. But she
holds on wonderful." And after this Mr. Eock
For some time I meditated. Then I went out
into the open air. Then I came back and medi-
tated again. Then I was driven direct to the
American Legation. My name and position at the
English Bar were sufficient introduction, and I was
at once in presence of the senior attache. He was
a typical American, hailing from Boston. I soon
satisfied him as to who I was. Then I told him
that I required his services in a delicate matter,
which was purely personal. He was very busy at
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 277
the time of my call, but he was courtesy itself, and
he made an early appointment with me.
American gentlemen are said to be rare. But
when you do meet one, he is the finest gentleman
in the world.
The next day I called upon him at four o'clock.
After the customary cordial shake of the hand, he
went into business.
" Well, Mr. Severn," he said, " your business is
not exactly of a diplomatic character, and it does
not come within the range of my functions to aid
you in any way except as a personal friend, which I
hope from this time I may consider myself. But
we have a young fellow here in the Legation, and
I have sent him round, quite unofficially, to see Mr.
Eock. Oddly enough, he comes from the neighbour-
hood of Eockburg, and his mother is eighth cousin
nine times removed, or something of that sort,
from Mr. Eock himself. You must distinctly
understand, Mr. Severn, that these negotiations are
absolutely private. I am acting entirely as your
personal friend. If you come here to the Legation
as an American subject and tell me you want five
dollars, I refer you to the Cousulate. If you want
something entirely different, I consider it, and I
278 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
either drop the matter like a hot potato, or I carry
it through. I cannot promise you success, but
time shows everything. Sometimes you measure
it by seconds, and sometimes by hours. But we all
of us have a limited pull at it."
I then had some business negotiations with the
attache, which were not at all difficult, as I had
taken the precaution of providing myself with notes
of the Bank of France. The amount I need not
trouble myself to state, but the notes themselves
were indisputable, and the attache promised me
that the source from which they came should not
be known. Then I loafed about the Boulevards
until night had run more than a quarter of her
time. And so ended not an eventful day so much
as a day of heavy business.
In the morning I waited events, and at about ten
I received a letter — rather a stiff one — from my
friend of yesterday, the attach^. He told me
almost in so many words that he had gone out of
his way to help me, and that if I had not made a
fool of him, Mr. Eock at all events must have made
a fool of me. That Mr. Eock was in no need of
money at all, and had offered to cash the cheque
of the Legation in Napoleons, allowing for the rate
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 279
of the day's discount on the Bourse, for any amount
" There must be some extraordinary blunder
somewhere, Mr. Severn," the letter concluded. " I
acquit you of any ill intention. But the blunder
has certainly not been on my part. The money
you placed in my hands I now return to you ; and I
have the honour to be," etc., etc.
This communication puzzled me more than ever.
I had intended to do good by stealth, without the
least desire that I should blush to find it fame, and
here I was written down an ass. I have not hitherto
touched on my own self-respect, but it must be
admitted that the situation was exasperating. Ex-
plain matters away how I might, everybody would
believe I had made a fool of myself. And I had
done worse. I had done so in the most public
manner. Next day, in all human probability, the
whole story would be in the Figaro and in the
'petite presse. I felt beside myself with rage.
I left Meurice's and strolled into the gardens of
the Palais Koyal. I stuffed my pockets on the way
with bon-bons, with which I tempted the children,
to the consternation and indignation of their bonnes.
I turned into a billiard salon, and had an hour
280 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
during which my troubles never crossed my brain.
I threw the marker some money, and told him he
could keep the change if he could beat me. All
the skill of my old days broke out again. The
marker was nowhere. At the end of the hour he
tendered me my change with profuse compliments,
and seemed very much astonished that I did not
Billiard markers are accustomed to the seamy
side of society. My own private impression is that
this particular marker considered me a flat, and he
at once pracured a substitute, lest I should come
back repenting of my generosity, and insisting that
I had made a mistake.
Then I returned to Meurice's, threw myself on
the sofa, and speculated in a listless and dreamy
way on everything.
Have you ever looked through a kaleidoscope?
You see a most gorgeous arrangement in every
colour of the rainbow. You rotate the tube by an
inch or a fraction of it ; the phantasmagoria tumbles
to pieces, and another vision of beauty arises in its
place. I seemed to feel the spirit of a true philo-
sopher creeping over me.
" I will realise my mo^ey," I said to myself,
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 2S1
" and invest it carefully. I will have a little pied a
terre in Hampshire within sound of the sea. In
London I can quarter myself where I please. I
will get a schooner yacht, not ostentatious but
seaworthy, and I will roam the rest of my life
without any definite purpose. When the place
suits me, I will stop for just as long as I please.
When it does not suit me, I will go elsewhere.
Nothing can add to my present success in my pro-
fession. All else that will come to me will come as
a matter of course, and not in consequence of any
labour or exertion on my own part. I have done
the work of my life, and, thanks to my great luck,
have got it over early. Now I will take the quiet,
I had almost forgotten Mr. Eock ; and feeling as
comfortable as a sailor in his hammock, I let my
thoughts drift towards him. It would be best after
all to make one more attempt. No doubt the man
considered me an adventurer. That was his ignor-
ance. But I wished to end with him in a friendly
understanding at any rate. And I had also some-
thing very much stronger than a sneaking desire to
see Elizabeth once more.
So I lay on my sofa turning things over, and
282 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
relieving my meditations by constructing geome-
trical patterns out of the paper on the walls, and
listening to the twitter of the sparrows on my
balcony, and to the chimes of the clocks, when
suddenly the waiter made his appearance, with a
double allowance of obsequiousness in his usual
Parisian manner, and murmured, —
" Monsieur, Monsieur Rock est en bas."
Me. Rock stalked into the room with a cigar in
his mouth. I noticed also that his watch and
chain and rings and diamond studs were, as he
himself would have phrased it, in their appropriate
locality. Here clearly was a new move in the
game. But as it was Mr. Rock who came to me, it
could only mean a point in my favour.
He shook me by the hand, grasping it as if he
were attempting to squeeze water out of a piece of
quartz. Then he ensconced himself in the corner of
" Squire," said he, " I owe you a very long and a
very big apology. Don't interrupt me, squire, be-
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 283
cause my buzzum is full, and I must speak my piece
before I get off the stump."
I gravely inclined my head in assent.
" Squire, my gell is my only child. I love her
for herself, and I love her for the sake of her
mother, who, although-she was an Irishwoman from
Tipperary, with a tongue from Cape Horn to Baffin's
Bay, and the temper of a smelting furnace, is now
a saint in heaven, or ought to be. Squire, I've
taken liberties with you. That demands an apology.
I tender that apology now. You didn't misunder-
stand me, squire. But I misunderstood you. When
there are dollars about, you will alius find ring-
tailed squealers, and likewise copperheads. Squire,
I'm a bit fixed. I've got to beg your pardon. Since
I struck ile, every man has begged my pardon, so
I've had no trouble that way. Before I struck ile,
if a man didn't beg my pardon when it was on the
cards that he ought to do so, I went for him. I
usually pulled off the deposits. Here I am, squire,
to beg your pardon, and actually to dip the
stars and stripes for playing it down low on
It seemed like a dream. To assure myself that I
was in the land of the living, I shook hands with
284 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Mr. Rock once again, to the imminent danger of
my palm and knuckles.
" I've played it down on you, squire," repeated
Mr. Eock. " I felt it was my plain and straight-
forward duty so to do. Do you forgive me for so
doing ? "
" Mr. Eock," I replied, " you're a trump ; what I
believe you would call the ' right bower.' Now,
where is Elizabeth, and how is she ? It seems to
me, unless there is any difficulty with her, that our
business is over."
" Quite right, squire," said Mr. Eock; "right you
are. No occasion for playing out any more chin
music. We understand one another, and we don't
want any Alabama Treaty, unless it can put work in
your way as a rising British lawyer, in which event
1 should welcome the negotiations."
" But where is Elizabeth ? " I again inquired,
" She is round at the Grand, squire, where dinner
is waiting for us at seven. Squire, I have taken a
liberty, and risked myself on a chance. I did not
know how events might turn out. Nor, for the
matter of that, did my gell. ' Dad,' she said,
' you've riled him past everything.' Thank the
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 285
powers ! squire, I haven't. But I've a few friends
round to-night at the Grand, who know nothing of
matters. I should like you to meet them. I've
got most of our Embassy and some friends of my
own; and, please the poker, we'll play the game
through. I shall expect you, squire, at seven."
And with no more ado, Mr. Rock took his de-
parture. From my balcony I saw him walking
along the Rue de la Paix, with his hands in his
pockets, his hat on the back of his head, and his
chest inflated, as becomes a citizen of the United
States who has struck oil.
The dinner wa? solemn and pompous. The re-
sources of the hotel must have been taxed to the
utmost. The table in its centre was a mass of rare
exotics and orchids. There were about two waiters
to each chair. The menu was a work of art, and
on its back were the Union Jack and the Stars and
Stripes amicably intercrossed. There were great
pyramids of ice dispersed on small tables to cool
the room ; and when the dinner was over there
were professional singers — I need not give their
names, but they were the best known in Paiis —
286 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
who, to judge by their exertions to do full justice to
their powers, must have been royally paid.
In some fear and trembling, I anticipated an
oration from Mr. Eock, announcing the turn events
had taken. He had more tact than I had credited
him with. He had whispered the secret to each
guest at the door, and had intimated his express
desire that there should be no " orating."
The one exception to this golden rule was found
in the French Under-Secretary of Marine, with any
number of decorations, from the Legion of Honour
downwards, who rose to his feet and said, —
" Mademoiselle and gentlemen, let us drink all to
the United States, the most free and most Eepubli-
can country upon which the sun rises and sets."
Then the senior attache of the American Legation,
wholly devoid of even a scrap of ribbon, pulled him-
self up to his full height of about six feet and as
many inches, — for he hailed from Kentucky, — and
" Sir, I thank you in the revered name of the
Stars and Stripes." And that was literally all. For
which fact I was grateful.
We broke up as all parties must, but next morn-
ing I was round at the Grand, punctual to the
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 287
appointment I had made with Elizabeth, having
first fortified myself with a brisk gallop in the Bois,
and a cold plunge after it in the Seine.
The details of lovers' conversation are tedious,
monotonous, and prosaic, at least to every one except
themselves. No man even at this time knew this
fact better than myself. I must candidly own that
I was unequal to the situation. Elizabeth helped
me over the stile like a lame dog, as I was busy
suggesting to her father that we should spend the
day at Vincennes.
We had the day, and, for all reasonable purposes,
the place entirely to ourselves. Nor was there any
dialogue here worthy of record. No one of us was
disposed to open the topic of Mr. Eock's ruse. We
simply chatted as a family party might between
the members of which there were no family differ-
ences. It was only when I was leaving Mr. Eock
at the door of the] Grand that he came back to
" I should have liked this ceremony to have
taken place in Eockburg, or, at all events, in New
York or Washington itself. But I think, under all
the circumstances, it must be in England. There's
St. Paul's, squire, and the Westminster Abbey, and
288 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
there's; St. George's, Hanover Square, and there's
that old fabric, with its darned witch's hat for a
belfry, closely adjacent to the Langham, and there's
St. James's. But I think, squire, we'll be married,
if it is all the same to you, in your own parish, and
we'll give every soul in the parish a blow out, and a
something by which to remember the auspicious
day. We'll do the thing, squire, as it ought to be
done — as befits the daughter of a simple citizen of
the United States, equal and no more to all other
citizens under her blessed and glorious constitu-
I told him that I left the matter entirely in his
hands ; but before we parted we agreed that what
Mr. Rock profanely denominated the fixture, should
have its venue in my own parish church at Essex, at
the earliest possible date, subject to the demands of
milliners and other such necessary but tiresome
When T got back to my hotel I found a letter
from my sister Eachel, full of the usual idle gossip.
The only piece of news in it that in any way
concerned myself, was that Izzie Vivian had been
married three days ago to Lord Ashford ; that the
tenants had had dinner in a marquee, and that the
JACK AND THEEE JILLS. 2S9
school-children had been regaled with buns and
ginger-beer, and gratified by a conjuror, and a
Punch and Judy specially brought down from Lon-
don for the purpose.
She could have wished the wedding had been my
own, but she supposed I was old enough, or at any
rate sufficiently wilful, to manage my own affairs in
my own way. Izzie had always been the dearest
and sweetest of girls. Lord Ashford was not at all
proud, although it was expected that he would
shortly be made Under Secretary of Slate for the
Colonies, a post for which his conscientiousness and
immense abilities amply qualified him.
" He rides better to hounds," ended the letter
spitefully, " than any man in the county, not excep-
ting your precious self, and he is deservedly popular
with everybody. He has become a sincere Chistian,
and taken a class in the Sunday-school, and he is
writing a book called A Fortnight among the Red
Deer of the Scottish Highlands"
If women only knew how men laugh at this kind
of spitting venom without biting, I think they
would give the habit up. But they imagine it to be
as infallible as their crushing remark to their dearest
friend, — " It is a very beautiful dress, my dear, but
290 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
I wonder you should have let your dressmaker
persuade you into a colour so entirely unsuited to
It had been arranged that we should leave Paris by
the night train, and cross by the day boat from
Calais, Elizabeth being, like most Americans, an
admirable sailor, and loving the deck. This gave
us a day to ourselves. Americans are much freer in
their notions, customs, and habits than ourselves.
In the East you never see your bride until it has
been settled that you are to marry her, and all the
preliminaries have been arranged. You have then
to take her literally for better or for worse. You
may find her forty instead of twenty ; fat and
'frowsy instead of fragile and fair. You have
bought your pig in a poke, and you must stand by
France — about Germany I cannot speak — comes
very close to tne land of the Prophet. The
marriage is an arranged matter. You see the
young lady once or twice, and remark that it is a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 291
beautiful day, and she replies that you are right.
That is about the extent of your courtship.
My English readers will probably agree with me
that our own customs are more sensible, and more
adapted to that freedom which is the natural
heritage of man. In America, when an engage-
ment is " fixed up," the two young people have the
most absolute liberty, and use it. The swain goes
about with his fiancee as if she were his wife. A
chaperon is a thing unknown. He takes her to the
opera ; he drives her out ; he takes her to dinner at
Delmonico's; he goes round with her on visits to
her friends and his ; and, if he be living en g argon,
she comes and visits him at his chambers or other
This apparent licence is hardly ever abused.
Any attempt to trespass upon it would be resented
by the six-shooter and by public opinion.
I consequently had a most cheerful time of it up
to the very day of our wedding, which, as Mr Eock
wished, took place in our parish church. Let me
give a brief idea of the day's proceedings, which
Mr Eock took into his own hands, remarking that
he wished to see the thing put through according
to his own notion.
292 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
We all stayed for a week at my father's house,
and I could not help noticing, although, it was no
part of my duty to show my consciousness of the
fact, that a sun such as that which fell on Danae
seemed suddenly to gild the place. The neglected
gardens became trim. The paths were radiant with
new gravel. The interior of the house seemed
to be renovated, without any change wrought or
violence done to its old, quiet, sombre aspect. The
lawns were mowed — a process of which they stood
in sad need — and the borders of the shrubberies
became gay with flowers.
My father told me one morning that I had always
been the best of sons, and that he had always
confidently predicted my success to everybody.
After which he went down himself into the cellar,
and returned with a pint bottle of madeira, bottled
by rny great-grandfather, and conscious of three
voyages round the Cape.
We discussed this in what he called his study,
where he kept his few volumes of law, as befits a
'j ustice of the peace, and his boot-trees and his guns
and his fishing-rods and his account-books. Library
in the room there was none, but on the lower shelf
of the vacant bookcase was a leaden jar of tobacco,
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 292
and round about it were clay pipes from the village
inn. The floor was of old oak, and as there was no
carpet, a spittoon was an unnecessary luxury.
" Jack," said my father, " I am proud of you.
You always were, and you have always remained, my
favourite child. Little as you may guess it, I have
with a father's eye, carefully superintended every
step and stage in your education ; and my grey
hair will go down with pride to the grave to see
that my efforts have been crowned with success,
and that I have a son who is worthy of the family
Dame and of myself. You are a man now, Jack,
I am speaking to you as an equal. My few years
are numbered, and I have nothing for which to
wish. But I should like to see the dear old place
come down unencumbered, without any cutting of
timber, or any such painful extremity. I think,
Jack, that my credit at the bank is still sufficiently
good for you and me to manage this between us.
without your entailing upon yourself more than a
nominal responsibility. Grod bless you, my boy,
and God bless the lovely and most charming young
lady who is to become your wife."'
Before the interview was over my father was the
happier by a few bank-notes with which I had pro-
294 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
vided myself in lieu of a cheque, guessing that his
account would be overdrawn, and fearing a stoppage
That evening I had a walk with Elizabeth round
what was still called the home farm. It had ceased
to be the home farm for many years, having been
let to a west end milkman. It was a pretty little
place, with paddocks and cowhouses, and old plane
trees and low hawthorn hedges, red and white,
which in the twilight threw out a marvellous fra-
grance, making the air heavy and happy.
" Jack," she said, " we are going to entirely
change all our relations in life."
To this undeniable and most business-like state-
ment I gave my concurrence.
" Well, Jack, it's due to yourself to tell you why
father acted as he did. And it's still more due to
father, who is the best old man on two legs in this
universe. Father thought you were after our
dollars. Everybody told him so. And it's no good
pretending we haven't dollars, Jack, because we
have, as everybody knows from San Francisco
harbour light round to the Grolden Horn. So father
said he'd play a bit of euchre, and he ordered me
to hold my tongue. Of course I had to obey him.
JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
I knew your cards would turn up trumps, but I
won't go so far as to say that it wasn't an un-
pleasant time. The worst of it was that father,
being uncertain in his own mind, kept on looking
round at me the whole time, and wanted to know
why I'd given him all this trouble. He was at me
from morning to night, saying that a daughter next
to dollars was the biggest plague a man could
have. Well, Jack, father, as you know, has friends
at the Legation, and he was able to read between
the lines of your little bit of business there.
" That staggered him a litttle. If I had been
an English girl I should have been at him night
and day, crying and going into hysterics, and lying
in bed. Instead of that, I went on just as usual.
One morning — I can't tell you which, for the whole
thing seems like an ugly dream — father had
finished his breakfast, and finished his papers, and
his cigar. Then he got on the stump, or rather on
the hearthrug, a stump not being handy and con-
venient. And I knew tolerably well what was
coming, 'Elizabeth,' he said, 'this Mr. Severn
has cut a full hand. Air your affections still sot
on him?' Well, Jack, of course I answered that
they were ; and I also told father what I felt it
2!)6 JACK AND TH.REE JILLS.
my duty as a daughter to do, that he'd been
fooling around and making himself ridiculous
about nothing at all. ' That pint,' father answered,
' I won't contradict. It ain't for me to argue with
you, gell. If I were to try and clear out that
location, my hands would be considerable full.
And then he and I made it up. And that's
really all about it, Jack.
" But, Jack, I don't think father in his own
heart ever believed you mean. He only felt it
was a kind of sort his duty to poke you up a
bit, and try. Father has his own ways. They
mayn't be my ways, though it isn't for me to
gainsay them, or go contrary to them. But it
will be a cold day in August before I again take
any such job in hand."
" ' All's well that ends well,' Elizabeth," I an-
swered. I am not at all sure your father wasn't
perfectly right. He knows his way about as well
as most men, and is fully entitled to his own
opinion and his own course of conduct. Besides,
he was most careful not to put the least affront
upon me. If I had wanted a handle against him,
I couldn't have found it. It has been a funny
little chapter of stories, but it's all over now."
JACK AND THKEE JILLS. 297
If she had been an English, girl, I should, like
Tennyson's Lord Ronald, have " turned and kissed
her where she stood." As she was American, we
solemnly shook hands. I am not at all sure that I
do not prefer American manners to our own.
When we arrived at the house, I found my father
and Mr. Eock solemnly pacing up and down the
elm avenue under the rookery. My father was
radiant. He saw boundless wealth before him, to
be gained by his own exertion and his own local
knowledge. Mr. Eock had agreed with him that
the only idea he had ever had in his own life was
the very best one he could possibly have enter-
tained. It was wonderful, Mr. Eock had observed,
how my father could have hammered out an idea so
uncommonly original and brilliant. What remained
of the estate had obviously been intended by Provi-
dence from the very first for a large dairy farm, to
be carried on in so gentlemanly a manner that a
justice of the peace, with subordinates under, him,
could boss the concern himself, without treading on
the time required by his public duties. The only
thing needed was capital, which Mr. Eock was
anxious to invest, being sure that the speculation
was essentially sound.
298 JACK AND THREE JILLS.
Part of the estate would have to be put into
swedes and mangolds, part in pasturage, to be
utilised in the fall of the year as hay. .Eanches
must be built, and chere must be a little home
farm, of course, with stone floors and tiled walls,
and all the rest of it, for the cream and the
" Your father, Mr. Severn," said Mr. Rock, with-
out a change in his features or a modulation in his
voice, " is a very long-headed man of business. He
mentioned the plan to me, and told me he had been
considering it all his life, but that capital had stood
in his way. Naturally I replied that I had a little
capital knocking 'about in hard want of a sound
investment, and that this seemed the soundest in-
vestment of which I had heard for many a long
Mr. Eock was so portentously business-like that I
dared not even smile.
" But your father, Mr. Severn," he continued,
" is getting too old to be worried and mussed about
with figures and ledgers, and that kind of routine.
Besides, they do not suit the dignity of an English
deputy-lieutenant and justice of the peace, so I have
arranged that there is to be a working-partner, a
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 299
young man I know in Jersey City, about as sharp as
they make them, who will take the details out of
your father's hands, leaving him unfettered in the
control and administration. That young man I
shall cable for, and he will come over at once. And
I think, Mr. Severn, your father sees at last how to
develope his estate. I won't say there is ile in it,
sir. Providence, for its own reasons, has confined
ile to the United States. But there are dollars in
it when it is developed. And developed it shall be
subject always to the constitution of the United
And here Mr. Eock lit a cigar, and remarked
that it was a hot day, and that he was tired of
talking, and that he should like to stroll with me,
and have a long drink under the elms. So we went
and sat under the immense trees, talking very little
but thoroughly contented, as ought to be the con-
dition of men who have no enemies, and have
satisfactorily disposed of the most troublesome
among their friends.
Before I turned in that night my mother sent for
me to her dressing-room, when she cried a great
deal, as is the habit of mothers, and also told me
that I had always been her favourite child, coupling
the information with some details on the circum-
stances of my first appearance in this world. This
also is a habit mothers have, and I am not sure that
their honest pride in what are, possibly, indisputable
facts is not a credit to them.
She said that Elizabeth had struck her immensely,
and that I had made a match which the lord-lieu-
tenant might envy me ; and she added, with feminine
power of perception, that, so far as she could see,
Izzie's hair was getting thin at the parting, and that
she had to lace until her nose was red. No mother
ever forgives a woman whom she thinks has in-
sulted her own son.
As for our wedding, it is chronicled in the
Morning Post, and several columns of it were
cabled over by my father-in-law to the Rockburg
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 301
Gazette and Sentinel and Bulletin. The village was
en fete all day. Mr. Eock, who had taken matters
entirely into his own hands, brought down a circus,
which completely eclipsed the conjuror from London
at the Ashford- Vivian marriage. There was open
house all over the place, and if there were no
charges during the nest few days, Mr. Eock must
have taken the precaution of squaring the local
constable, for the amount of liquor in which my
health and that of Mrs. John Severn was drunk,
would have floated a three-decker with all her guns
We left — that is to say Elizabeth and I— very
soon after the cutting of the cake. Here again old
Eock had made all arrangements. Money was
nothing to him, and he liked people to understand
as much. So we had a special train to Liverpool
Street. Never before had a special train been
known to start from our own little roadside station ;
and at Dover we found the last triumph of Mr.
Eock's sumptuousness, like the bang at the end of
a squib, in a special boat to take us over by
We walked on the deck of that boat under the
stars, with the phosphorescent sea below us. It
302 JACK AND THEEE JILLS.
would be idle to pretend that I was not entirely
and completely happy. I was also contented. And
content is an adjunct to happiness, and improves
it, as vinegar, chopped mint, and lump sugar
improve spring lamb, although spring lamb in
itself is a very admirable thing, and one mentioned
with tenderness by every Brillat Savarin.
" Elizabeth," I said, as we walked up and down
the deck, " I do not really think I have any secrets
that I need tell you."
" Most men have their secrets, dear," she replied ;
" and if a man is a gentleman, you will always find
that his secrets do him credit; so that the fools
who poke their noses into them get very few cents
in change for their dollar. My only secret I told
out in church to-day, and to it I mean to stick.
Look at that star, Jack. I think it's Jupiter. If
so, it's luck for you. Besides, I want to see his
belts. Send word to the skipper to lumber round
with his telescope."
This the skipper did, and the planet turned out
to be Jupiter, and nothing less. After this what
followed would have been more or less foolishness,
had not Mrs. Severn been an American, of that
marvellous race in which sentiment, however
JACK AND THREE JILLS. 303
powerful, is always controlled and corrected by-
dry, bracing, native humour.
We paced the deck heedless of the dew, and
watched the lights of other vessels crossing and
passing our own, until at last through the morning
mist the harbour lights of Calais showed them-
selves, and our vessel was warped up alongside the
A man has no business to be always talking
about himself and his own feelings. But if ever
I was supremely happy it was as I went up that
almost Alpine slope of gangway, with my wife's
right hand on my arm, and my own right hand
held over it.
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