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LONDON: 
::lder and co,, C5, cokkhill. 



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LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 



BY 



W, M. THACKERAY, 



WITH ILLUBTBATIONB. 



LONDON: 
SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 66, CORNHILL. 



MJDCCCLXI. 



[ Th; right of TVansliUkm u reserved."] 



JLS-d> J^ ^ 



CONTENTS. 



I. Thb BicHBLOB OP Bbax Stkbm . 
n. Lr WHics Iifiss Fbiob is ExPt at ike 
HI. Ih which I Plat thh Spt . 
IV. A Black Sheep . 

V, J3 WHICH I AM StDITQ BT A SbBPBNT 

VI. Cboilla's SvcosaBOE ' . 



LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 



CHAPTER L 
THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STBEET. 

10 sbaU be tba 
hero of this 

tale? Not I 
who write it. 
I am but the" 
Chonis of the 
Play. I make 
remarks on the 
condnct of the 
characters: I 
sarrate their 
simple story. 
There is love 
and marriaga 
in it : there is 
gi'ief and disappointment : the scene is in the 
parlonr, and the region beneath the parlour. No : 
1 



2 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

it may be the parlour and kitchen^ in this 
instance^ are on the same level. There is qo 
high life^ unless^ to be sore^ you call a baronet's 
mdow a lady^ m high life; and some ladies 
may be^ while some certainly are not. I don't 
think there's a villain in the whole perform- 
ance. There is an abominable selfish old woman^ 
certainly; an old highway robber; an old sponger 
on other people's kindness; an old haunter of 
Bath and Cheltenham boar£ng-hoiises (about 
which how can I know anything, never having 
been in a boarding-house at Bath or Cheltenham 
in my life ?) ; an old swindles of tradesmen^ 
tyrant of servants, bully of tha poor — who, to be 
sure, might do duty for adiJUidn, Hot she con- 
siders herself as virtuous a ipomon m esrar was 
bom. The heroine is nokflRiflifass (aU: thirir will 
be a great relief to soma ffiks^^for nmn; writers' 
good women are, you. know, aeDtrert^ ixuspid)* The 
principal personage you. may 'vsry likely iiiink to 
be no better than a muC B^. is many ar.. respec- 
table man of our acquaintance much better? and 
do muffs know that they are what they are, or^ 
knowing it, are they unhappy ? Do girls decline 
to marry one if he is rich ? Do we refuse to dine 



THE BACHELOB OP BEAK STREET. 3 

with one ? I liBteued to one at Glmrcb last Son- 
day, with all the women erying and sobbing ; and, 
oh, dear me ! bow finely be preacbed ! Don't we 
give bim great credit for wisdom and eloqnence 
in tbe Htmse of Commons ? Don't we give him 
important commandB in the army ? Can yon, or 
can yon not, point oat one who haa been made a 
peer ? Doesn't your wife call one in tbe moment 
any of tbe children are ill ? Don't we read his 
dear poems, or even novels ? Yes ; perhaps even 
this one is read and written by — ^Well ? Quid 
rides ? Do yon mean tbat I am painting a portrait 
which hangs before me every morning in the look- 
ing-glass when I am shaving ! Apr^s ? Do yon 
suppose that I snppose tbat I have not infinnities 
like my neighbonrs ? Am I weak ? It is notorions 
to all my friends there is a certain dish I can't 
resist ; no, not if I have already eaten twice too 
mnch at dinner. So, dear sir, or madam, have yott 
your weakness — your irresistible dish of tempta- 
tion? (or if yon don't know it, yonr friends do). 
No, dear Mend, the chances are tbat yon and I are 
not people of the highest intellect, of the largest 
fortune, of tbe most ancient family, of tbe most 
consummate Tirtne, of the most laoltless beauty 

1-2 



4 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

in &ce and figure. We are no heroes nor angels ; 
neither are we fiends from abodes unmentionable, 
blaqk assassins, treacherous lagos, &miliar with 
stabbing and poison — murder our amusement, 
daggers our playthings, arsenic our daily bread, 
lies our conversation, es\di forgery our common 
handwriting. No, we are not monsters of crime, 
or angels walking the earth — at least I know one 
of us who isn't, as can be shown any day at home 
if the knife won't cut or the mutton comes up 
raw. But we are not altogether brutal and unkind, 
and a few folks like us. Our poetry is not as 
good as Alfred Tennyson's, but we can turn a 
couplet for Miss Fanny's album : our jokes are not 
always first-rate, but Mary and her mother smile 
very kindly when papa tells his story or makes 
his pun. We have many weaknesses, but we are 
not ruffians of crime. No more was my friend 
Lovel. On the contrary, he was as harmless and 
kindly a fellow as ever lived when I first knew 
him. At present, with his changed position, he 
is, perhaps, rather fine (and certainly I am not 
asked to his best dinner-parties as I used to be, 
where you hardly see a commoner — but stay ! I 
am advancing matters). At the time when this 



THE BACUELOR OP BEAK STKEBT. 5 

story begins, I say, Lovel had hia fanlta — which 
of us has not ? He had buried his wife, hBTing 
notorionsly been henpecked by her. How many 
men and brethren are like him ! He had a good 
fortune — I wish I had as much — though I daresay 
many people are ten times as rich. He was a 
good-looking fellow enough ; 'though that depends, 
ladies, upon whether you like a fair man or a dark 
one. He had a country house, but it was only at 
Putney. In &ct, he was ia business in the city, 
and being a hospitable man, and having three or 
four spare bed-rooms, some of his friends were 
always welcome at Slirublands, especially after 
Mrs. Level's death, who liked me pretty well at 
the period of her early marriage with my hriend, 
but got to dislike me at last and to show me the 
cold shoulder. That is a joint I never could 
like (though I have known fellows who persist 
in dining off it year after year, who cling hold 
of it, and refuse to be separated from it). I say, 
when Level's wife began to show me that she was 
tired of my company, I made myself scarce : used 
to pretend to be engaged when Fred faintly asked 
me to Shrublands ; to accept his meek apologies/ 
proposals to dine en garfon at Greenwich, the 



6 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

cinb, find so forth; and never visit upon him 
my i^rath at his wife's indifference — for, after all, 
he had been my Mend at many a pinch : he never 
stinted at Harts's or Lovegrove's, and always made 
a point of having the wine I liked, never mind 
what the price was. As for his wife, there was, 
assuredly, no love lost between ns — I thought her 
a lean, scraggy, lackadaisical, egotistical, conse- 
quential, insipid creature : and as for his mother- 
in-law, who stayed at Fred's as long and «is often 
as her daughter would endure her, has anyone 
who ever knew that notorious old Lady Baker at 
Bath, at Cheltenham, at Brighton, — wherever 
trumps and frumps were found together ; where- 
ever scandal was cackled; wherever fly-blown 
reputations were assembled, and dowagers with 
damaged titles trod over each other for the pas ; 
— ^who, I say, ever had a good word for that old 
woman ? What party was not bored where she 
appeared? What tradesman was not done with 
whom she dealt? I wish with all my heart I 
was about to narrate a story with a good mother- 
in-law for a character; but then you know, my 
dear madam, all good women in novels are insipid. 
This woman certainly was not. She was not only 



THE BACHELOB OF BEAK 6TBEET. 7 

not insipid, bnt ezoeedingi; bad tasted. She had 
a iovi, lond tongue, a stnpid head, a bad temper, 
an ImmeDBe pride and arrogance, an extravagant 
son, and very little money. Can I sa; much 
more of a woman than this ? Aha ! my good 
Lady Baker I I was a Tnaiwais sujet, was I ? — 
X was leading Fred into smoking, drinking, and 
low bachelor halatB, was I? I, his old friend, 
who have borrowed money from him any time 
these twenty years, was not fit company for yoa 
«nd yonr precious daughter ? Indeed 1 I paid 
the money I borrowed from him like a man ; bnt 
did you ever pay him, I should like to know? 
"When Mrs. Level was in the first column of 
The Times, then Fred and I nsed to go off to 
Greenwich and Blackwall, as I said ; then Ms 
kind old heart was allowed to feel for his Mend ; 
then we could have the other bottle of claret 
without the appearance of Bedford and the coffee, 
which in Mrs. L.'s time nsed to be sent in to 
us before we could ring for a second bottle, 
although she and Lady Baker had had three 
fosses each out of the first. Three full glasses 
«ach, I give yon my word 1 No, madam, it was 
yonr torn to bully me once — now it is mine. 



8 ^ LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

and I use it. No, yon old Catamaran, thongh 
you pretend you never read novels, some of your 
confounded good-natured friends wiU let you know 
of this one. Here you are, do you hear ? Here 
you shall be shown up. And so I intend to show 
up other women and other men who have offended 
me. Is one to be subject to slights and scorn, 
and not have revenge? Kindnesses are easily 
forgotten ; but injuries ! — ^what worthy man does 
not keep those in mind ? 

Before entering upon the present narrative, 
may I take leave to inform a candid public that, 
though it is all true, there is not a word of truth 
in it ; that though Level is alive and prosperous, 
and you very likely have met him, yet I defy you 
to point him out ; that his wife (for he is Lovel 
the Widower no more) is not the lady you imagine 
her to be, when you say (as you prill persist i^ 
doing), '' Oh, that character is intended for 
Mrs. Thingamy, or was notoriously drawn from 
Lady So-and-so." No. You are utterly mis- 
taken. Why, even the advertising-puffers have 
almost given up that stale stratagem of announc- 
ing *^Kevelations from High Life. — The beau 
monde will be startled at recognizing the portraits 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET. 9 

of some of its brilliant leaders in Miss Wiggins's 
forthcoming roman de soditeJ^ Or, "We suspect a 
certain ducal house will be puzzled to guess how the 
pitiless author of May Fair Mysteries has become* 
acquainted with (and exposed with a fearless hand). 
certain family secrets which were thought only to 
be known to a few of the very highest members 
of the aristocracy." No, I say ; these silly baits 
to catch an unsuspecting public shall not be our 
arts. If you choose to occupy yourself with trying 
to ascertain if a certain cap fits one amongst ever 
so many thousand heads, you may possibly pop it 
on the right one : but the cap-maker will perish 
before he tells you ; unless, of course, he has 
some private pique to avenge, or malice to wreak, 
upon some individual who can't by any possibility 
hit again ; — then^ indeed, he will come boldly 
forward and seize upon his victim — (a bishop, 
say, or a woman without coarse, quarrelsome male 
relatives, will be best) — and clap on him, or her, 
such a cap, with such ears, that all the world 
shall laugh at the poor wretch, shuddering, and 
blushing beet-root red, and whimpering deserved 
tears of rage and vexation at being made the 
common butt of society. Besides, I dine at 



10 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

Lovel's BtiU ; his company and cnisine are 
amongst the best in London. If ihey suspected 
I was taking fhem off, he and his wife would 
leave off inviting me. Would any man of a gene- 
rous disposition lose such a valued Mend for a 
joke, or be so foolish as to show him up in u 
story ? All persons with a decent knowledge of 
the world will at once banish the thought, as not 
merely base, but absurd. I am invited to his 
house one day next week : vovs concevez I can't 
mention the very day, for then he would find me 
out — and of course there would be no more cards 
for his old Mend. He would not like appearing, 
as it must be owned he does in this memoir, as 
a man of not very strong mind. He believes 
himself to be a most determined, resolute person. 
He is quick in speech, wears a fierce beard, speaks 
with asperity to his servants (who liken, him to 
a — to that before-named sable or ermine con- 
trivance, in which ladies insert their hands in 
winter), and takes his wife to task so smartly, 
that I believe she believes he believes he is the 
master of the house. ** Elizabeth, my love, he 
must mean A, or B, or D," I fiuicy I hear Level 
say ; and she says, *^ Yes ; oh ! it is certiEdnly 



THE BACHELOR OP BEAK STREET. 11 

D — liis very image ! ** " D to a T," Bays Lovel 
(who is a neat wit). She may know that I mean 
to depict her husband in the above unpretending 
lines: but she will never let me know of her 
knowledge except by a little extra courtesy; except 
(may I make this pleasing exception ?) by a few 
more invitations ; except by a look of those un- 
fathomable eyes (gracious goodness ! to think she 
wore spectacles ever so long, and put a Ud over 
them as it were !), into which, when you gaze 
sometimes, you may gaze so deep, and deep, and 
deep, that I defy you to plumb half-way down 
into their mystery. 

When I was a young man, I had lodgings in 
Beak Street, Eegent Street (I no more have lived 
in Beak Street than in Belgrave Square : but I 
choose to say so, *and no gentleman will be so 
rude as to contradict another) — ^I had lodgings, I 
say, in Beak Street, Eegent Street. Mrs. Prior 
was the landlady's name. She had seen better 
days — ^landladies frequently have. Her husband 
— ^he could not be called the landlord, for Mrs. P. 
was manager of the place — had been, in happier 
times, captain or lieutenant in the militia ; then 
of Diss, in Norfolk, of no profession; then 



12 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

of Norwich Castle, a prisoner for debt ; then of 
Southampton Buildings, London, law-writer ; then 
of the Bom-Betiro Ca9adores, in the service 
of H. M. the Queen of Portugal, lieutenant and 
paymaster; then of Melina Place, St. George's 
Fields, &c. — ^I forbear to give the particulars of 
an existence which a legal biographer has traced 
step by step, and which has more than once been 
the subject of judicial investigation by certain com- 
missioners in Lincoln's-inn Fields. Well, Prior, 
at this time, swimming out of a hundred ship- 
wrecks, had clambered on to a lighter, as.it were, 
and was clerk to a coal-merchant, by the river- 
side. " You conceive, sir," he would say, " my 
employment is only tempory — the fortune of war, 
the fortune of war ! " He smattered words in not 
a few foreign languages. His person was pro- 
fusely scented with tobacco. Bearded individuals, 
padding the muddy hoof in the neighbouring 
Begent Street, would call sometimes of an even- 
ing, and ask for '' the captain." He was known 
at many neighbouring billiard-tables, and, I ima- 
gine, not respected. You will not see enough of 
Captain Prior to be very weary of him and his 
coarse swagger, to be disgusted by his repeated 



iimeBS, lie everj evemng conuucieti w wnau ne 
called her " academy." Yon aie right. Elizabeth 
is the principal character in this story. When I 
knew her, a thin, fireckled giil of fifteen, with a 
lean frock, and hair of a reddish hne, ehe used 
to borrow my books, and play on the First Floor's 
piano, when he was from home — Slnmley his 
name was. He was editor of the Swell, a 
newspaper then pubHshed ; anthor of a great 
number of popular songs, a friend of several 
music-selling hoases ; and it was by Mti Slomley's 
interest that Elizabeth was received as a papil at 
what the family called " the academy." 

Captain Prior then used to conduct hie girl to 
the Academy, bat she often had to conduct him 
home again. Having to wait about the premises 
for two, or three, or five hours sometimes, whilst 



14 LOVEL THE WIDOWBE. 

Elizabeth was doing her leasonB, he would natU'- 
xally desire to. shelter himself from the cold at 
some neighbouring house of entertainment. Eveiy 
Friday, a prize of a golden medal, nay, I believe 
sometimes of twenty-five silver medals, was 
awarded to Miss Bellenden and other young ladies 
for their good conduct and assiduity at this 
academy. Miss Bellenden gave her gold medal to 
her mother, only keeping five shillings for herself, 
with which the poor child bought gloves, shoes, 
and her humble articles of millinery* 

Once or twice the captain succeeded in inter- 
cepting that piece of gold, and I daresay treated 
some of his whiskered Mends, the clinking 
trampers of the Quadrant pavement. He was a 
free-handed fellow whfen he had anybody's money 
in his pocket. It was owing to differences regard- 
ing the settlement of accounts that he quarrelled 
with the coal-merchant, his very last empbyer. 
Bessy, after yielding once or twice to his impor- 
tunity, and trying to believe his solemn promises 
of repayment, had strength of mind to refuse her 
father the pound which he would have taken. 
Her five shillings — ^her poor little slender pocket- 
money, the representative of her charities and 



THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STREET. 15 

Mndnessea to the little brothers and sisters, of her 
little toilette ornaments^ nay necessities ; of those 
well-mended gloves^ of those ofk-damed stockings, 
of. those poor boots, which had to walk many a 
weary mile after midnight ; of those little knick- 
nacksy in the shape of brooch or bracelet, with 
which the poor child adorned her homely robe or 
sleeve — ^her poor five shillings, out of which Mary 
sometimes found a pair of shoes, or Tonmiy a 
flannel jacket, and little Bill a coach and horse — 
this wretched sum, this mite, which Bessy admi- 
nistered among so many poor — ^I very mnoh fear 
her fftther sometimes confiscated. . I charged the 
child with the fact, and she could not deny me. 
I vowed a tremendous vow, that if ever I heard 
of her giving Prior money again, I would quit the 
lodgings, and never give those children lolly-pop> 
nor peg-top, nor sixpence ; nor the pungent mar- 
malade, nor the biting gingerbread-nut, nor the 
theatre-characters, nor the paint-box to illuminate 
the same ; nor the discarded clothes, which became 
smaller clothes upon the persons of little Tommy 
and little Bill, for whom Mrs. Prior, and Bessy,, 
and the little maid, cut, clipped, altered, ironed, 
darned, mangled, with the greatest ingenuity. I 



16 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

say, considering what had passed between me and 
the Priors — considering those money transactions, 
and those clothes, and my kindness to the children 
— it was rather hard that my jam-pots were 
poached, and my brandy-bottles leaked. And 
then to frighten her brother with the story of 
the inexorable creditor — oh, Mrs. Prior !— oh, fie, 
Mrs. P. ! 

So Bessy went to her school in a shabby shawl, 
a &ded bonnet, and a poor little lean dress flonnced 
with the mud and dust of all weathers, whereas 
there were some other young ladies, fellow-pupils 
of her, who laid out their gold medals to much 
greater advantage. Miss Delamere, with her 
eighteen shillings a week (calling them '* silver 
medaU,^ was only my wit, you see), had twenty 
new bonnets, silk and satin dresses for all seasons, 
feathers in abundance, swansdown mufis and 
tippets, lovely pocket-handkerchiefs and trinkets, 
and many and many a half-crown mould of jelly, 
bottle of sherry, blanket, or what not, for a poor 
fellow-pupil in distress ; and as for Miss Montan- 
ville, who had exactly the same sal — ^well, who 
had a scholarship of exactly the same value, viz. 
about fifty pounds yearly — she kept an elegant 



THE BACHELOR OP BEAK STREET. 17 

little cottage in the Begent's Park, a brougham 
with a horse all over brass harness, and a groom 
with a prodigious gold lace hat-band, who was 
treated with frightful contumely at the neigh- 
bouring cab-stand : an aunt or a mother, I don't 
know which (I hope it was only an aunt), always 
comfortably dressed, and who looked after Montan- 
viUe : and she herself had bracelets, brooches, and 
velvet peKsses of the very richest description. 
But then Miss Montanville waff a good economist. 
She was never known to help a poor friend in 
distress, or give a fainting brother and sister a crust 
or a glass of wine. She allowed ten shillings a 
week to her father, whose name was Boskinson, 
said to be clerk to a chapel in Paddington ; but 
she would never see him— no, not when he was in 
hospital, where he was so ill ; and though she 
certainly lent Miss Wilder thirteen pounds, she 
had Wilder arrested upon her promissory note for 
twenty-four, and sold up every stick of Wilder's 
furniture, so that the whole academy cried shame ! 
Well, an accident occurred to Miss Montanville, 
for which those may be sorry who choose. On 
the evening of the 26th of December, Eighteen 
hundred and something, when the conductors of 



18 LiOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

the academy were giving Iheir grand ammal 
Christmas Pant — ^I should say examination of the 
academy pupils before their numerous friends — 
MontanTille, who happened to be present, not in 
her brougham this time, but in an aerial chariot 
of splendour drawn by doves, fell off a rainbow, 
and through the roof of the Bevolving Shrine 
of the Amaranthine Queen, thereby very nearly 
^i^TWftgiTig Bellenden, who was occupying the 
shrine, attired in a light-blue spangled dress, 
waving a wand, and uttering some idiotic verses 
composed for her by the Professor of Literature 
attached to the academy. As for Montanville, let 
her go shrieking down that trap-door, break her 
leg, be taken home, and never more be character 
of ours. She never could speak. Her voice was 
as hoarse as a fishwoman's. Can that immense 

stout old box-keeper at the theatre, who 

limps up to ladies on the first tier, and offers that 
horrible footstool, which everybody stumbles over, 
and makes a clumsy curtsey, and looks so knowing 
and hardy as if she recognized an acquaintance 
in the splendid lady who enters the box — can that 
old female be the once brilliant Emily Montanville ? 
I am told there are no lady box-keepers in the 




THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STREET. 19 

English tiieatres. This, I submity is a proof 
of my consummate care and artifice in rescuing 
from a prorient curiosity the indiTidaal personages 
from whom the characters of the ^ present story 
are taken. Montanville is not a box-opener. She 
may, nnder another name, keep a trinket-shop in 
the Bnrlington Arcade, for what you know: but 
this secret no torture shall induce me to divulge. 
Life has its rises and its downfiEtlls, and you haye 
had yours, you hobbling old creature. Montan- 
yille, indeed ! Go thy ways ! Here is a shilling 
for thee. (Thank you, sir.) Take away that 
confounded footstool, and never let us see thee 
more ! 

Now the fairy Amarantha was like a certain dear 
young lady of whom we have read in early youth. 
Up to twelve o'clock, attired in sparkling raiment, 
she leads the dance with the prince (Gradini, 
known as Grady in his days of banishment at the 
T. E. Dublin). At supper, she takes her place 
by the prince's royal father (who is alive now, 
and still reigns occasionally, so that we will not 
mention his revered name). She makes believe to 
drink from the gilded pasteboard, and to eat of 
the mighty pudding. She smiles as the good old 

2—2 



20 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

irascible monarch knocks the prime minister and 
the cooks about : she blazes in splendour : she 
beams with a thousand jewels^ in comparison with 
which the Koh-i-noor is a wretched lustreless little 
pebble : she disappears in a chariot^ such as a 
Lord Mayor neyer rode in : — and at midnight, 
who is that young woman tripping homeward 
through the wet streets in a battered bonnet, a 
cotton shawl, and a lean frock fringed with the 
dreary winter flounces ? 

Our Cinderella is up early in the morning : she 
does no little portion of the house-work: she 
dresses her sisters and brothers : she prepares 
papa's break&st. On days when she has not to 
go to morning lessons at her academy, she helps 
with the dinner. Heaven help us ! She has 
often brought mine when I have dined at home, 
and owns to having made that famous mutton- 
broth when I had a cold. Foreigners come to 
the house — professional gentlemen — to see Slumley 
on the first floor ; exiled captains of Spain and 
Portugal, companions of the warrior her father. 
It is surprising how she has learned their accents, 
and has picked up French and Italian, too. And 
she played the piano in Mr. Slumley's room some- 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STBEET. 21 

times, as I have said; but refrained from that 
presently, and from, yisiting him altogether. I 
suspect he was not a man of principle. His Paper 
used to make direful attacks upon individual repu- 
tations ; and you would find theatre and opera 
people most curiously praised and assaulted in the 
Swell. I recollect meeting him, several years 
after, in the lobby of the opera, in a very noisy 
frame of mind, when he heard a certain lady's 
carriage called, and cried out with exceeding strong . 
language, which need not be accurately reported, 
** Look at that woman ! Confound her ! I made 
her, sir ! Got her an engagement when the family 
was starving, sir ! Did you see her, sir ! She 
wouldn't even look at me!" Nor indeed was 
Mr. S. at that moment a very agreeable object 
to behold. 

Then I reiiprembered that there had been some 
quarrel with this man, when we lodged in Beak 
Street together. If difficulty there was, it was 
solved ambulando. He quitted, the lodgings, 
leaving an excellent and costly piano as security 
for a heavy bill which he owed to Mrs. Prior, 
and the instrument was presently fetched away 
by the music-sellers, its owners.. But regarding 



22 ^OVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

Mr« S.'s valnablQ biography, let as speak veiy 
gently. Yon see it is ** an insult to literature '* 
to say that there are disreputable and dishonest 
persons who \?rite in newspapers. 

Nothings dear friend, escapes yonr penetration : 
if a joke is made in your company, yon are down 
npon it instanter, and yonr smile rewards the wag 
who amuses you : so you knew at once, whilst I 
was talking of Elizabeth and her academy, that a 
theatre was meant, where the poor child danced 
for a guinea or fiye-and-twenty shillings per week. 
Nay, she must have had not a little skill and 
merit to advance to the quarter of a hundred ; 
for she was tiot pretty at this time, only a rough, 
tawny-haired fiUy of a girl, with great eyes. 
Dolphin, the manager, did not think much of 
her, and she passed before him in his regiment 
of Sea-nymphs, or Bayad^es, or Fairies, or 
Mazurka maidens (with their fluttering lances and 
little scarlet slyboots !) scarcely more noticed than 
private Jones standing under arms in his com* 
pany when his Boyol Highness the Field-marshal 
gallops by^ There were no dramatic triumphs for 
Miss Bellenden : no bouquets were flung at her 
feet: no cunning Mephistopheles — the emissaty 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET, 23 

of some philandeiiitg Eanstas outside — corrupted 
her duemia, or brought her caskets of diamonds* 
Had therd been any such admirer for Bellenden, 
Dolphin would not only not have been shocked^ 
but he would very likely have raised her salary. 
As it was, though himself, I fear, a person of 
loose morals, he respected better things. '' That 
Bellenden's a good hhonest gurl," he said to the 
present writer : " works- hard : gives her money 
to her femily : father a shy old cove. Very good 
family, I hear they are ! " and he passes on to 
some other of the innumerable subjects which 
engage a manager. 

Now, why should a poor lodging-house keeper 
make such a mighty secret of having a daughter 
earning an honest guinea by dancing at a theatre? 
Why persist in calling the theatre an academy ? 
Why did Mrs. Prior speak of it as such,»to me 
who knew what the truth was, and to whom 
Elizabeth herself made no mystery of her calling? 

There are actions and events in its life over 
which decent Poverty often chooses to cast a veil 
that is not unbecoming wear. We can all, if we 
are minded, peer through this poor flimsy screen : 
often there is no shame behind it : — only empty 



24 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

platters^ poor scraps, and other threadbare evidence 
of want and cold. And who is called on to show 
his rags to the public, and cry out his hunger 
in the street ? At this time (her character has 
developed itself not so amiably since), Mrs. Prior 
was outwardly respectable; and yet, as I have 
said, my groceries were consumed with remarkable 
rapidity; my wine and brandy bottles were all 
leaky, until they were excluded from air undei' 
a patent lock;— my Morel's raspberry jam, of 
which I was passionately fond, if exposed on the 
table for a few hours, was always eaten by the 
cat, or that wonderful little wretch of a maid- 
of-all-work, so active, yet so patient, so kind, so 
dirty, so obliging. Was it the maid who took 
those groceries ? I have seen the Oazza Ladra, 
and know that poor little maids are sometimes 
wrongfully accused ; and besides, in my particular 
case, I own I don't care who the culprit was. At 
the year's end, a single man is not much poorer 
for this house-tax which he pays. One Sunday 
evening, being confined with a cold, and partaking 
of that mutton-broth which Elizabeth made so 
well, and which she brought me, I entreated her 
to bring from the cupboard, of which I gave her 



THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STB.EET. 25 

the key, a certain brandy-bottle. She saw my 
£ace when I looked at her : there was no mistaking 
its agony. There was scarce any brandy left : it 
had all leaked away: and it was Sunday^ and 
no good brandy was to be bought that evening. 

Elizabeth, I say, saw my grief. She put down 
the bottle, and she cried : she tried to prevent 
herself from doing so at first, but she fairly burst 
into tears. 

*' My dear — dear child," says I, seizing her 
hand, " you don't suppose I fancy you '* 

** No — no ! '* she says, drawing the large hand 
over her eyes. *' No — ^no ! but I saw it when you 
and Mr. Warrington last 'ad some. Oh ! do have 
a patting lock ! " 

"A patent lock, my dear?" I remarked. 
''How odd that you, who have learned to pro- 
nounce Italian and French words so well, should 
make such strange slips in English? Your 
mother speaks well enough." 

'' She was born a lady. She was not sent to 
be a milliner's girl, as I was, and then among 
those noisy girls at that — oh ! that place I " cries 
Bessy, in a sort of desperation, clenching her 
hand. 



26 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

Here the bells of St. Beak's began to ring 
quite cheerily for evening service. I heard 
" Elizabeth ! " cried out from lower regions by 
Mrs. Prior's cracked voice. And the maiden wait 
her way to church, which she and her mother 
never missed of a Sunday; and I daresay I slept 
just as well without the brandy-and-water. 

Slumley being gone, Mrs. Prior came to me 
rather wistfully one day, and wanted, to know 
whether I would object to Madame Bentivoglio, 
the opera-singer, having the first floor ? This 
was too much, indeedJ How was my wotk to go 
on with that woman practising all day and roaring 
underneath me ? But, after sending away so 
good a customer, I could not refase to lend 
the Priors a little more money ; and Prior 
insisted upon treating me to a new stamp, and 
making out a new and handsome bill for an 
amount nearly twice as great as the last : which 
he had no doubt under heaven, and which he 
pledged his honour as an officer and a gentleman, 
that he would meet. Let me see : That was how 
many years ago? — Thirteen, fourteen, twenty? 
Never mind. My fair Elizabeth, I think if you 
saw your poor old father's signature now, you 



THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STBEET. 27 

would pay it. I came upon it lately in an old 
box I haven't opened these fifteen years^ along 
Trith some letters ivritten — ^never mind by whom 
— and an old glove that I used to set an absurd 
value by; and that emerald-green tabinet waist- 
coat which kind old Mrs. Macmanns gave me^ and 
which I wore at L — d L — ^t — nt's ball, Ph-n-x 
Park, Dublin, once, when I danced with her 
there ! Lord ! — ^Lord ! It would no more meet 
round my waist now than round Daniel Lambert's. 
How we outgrow things ! 

But as I never presented this united bill of 48Z. 
odd (the first portion of 28{., &c. was advanced by 
me in order to pay an execution out of the house) — 
as I never, expected to have it paid any more than 
I did to be Lord Mayor of London, — ^I say it was 
a little hard that Mrs. Prior should write off to 
her brother (she writes a capital letter), blessing 
Providence that had given him a noble income, 
promising hini the benefit of her prayers, in order 
that he should long live to enjoy his large salary, 
and informing him that an obdurate creditdr, who 
shall be nameless (meaning me), who had Captain 
Prior in his power (as if, being in possession of that 
dingy scrawl, I diould have, known what to do with 



28 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

• 

it), who held Mr. Prior's acceptance for 43Z. lis Ad. 
due on the 8rd July (my bill), would infallibly bring 
their feimily to ruin, unless a part of the money was 
paid up. When I went up to my old college, and 
called on Sargent, at Boniface Lodge, he treated 
me as civilly as if I had been an undergraduate ; 
scarcely spoke to me in hall, where, of course, I 
dined at the Fellows' table ; and only asked me to 
one of Mrs. Sargent's confounded tea-parties 
during the whole time of my stay. Now it was 
by this man's entreaty that I went to lodge at 
Prior's ; he talked to me after dinner one day, he 
hummed, he ha'd, he blushed, he prated in his 
pompous way, about an unfortunate sister in 
London — fetal early marriage — husband. Captain 
Prior, Knight of the Swan with two Necks of 
Portugal, most distinguished officer, but impru- 
dent speculator — advantageous lodgings in the 
centre of London, quiet, though near the Clubs — 
if I was ill (I am a confirmed invalid), Mrs. Prior, 
his sister, would nurse me like a mother. So, in 
a word, I went to Prior's : I took the rooms : I 
was attracted by some children: Amelia Jane 
(that little dirty maid before mentioned) dragging 
a go-cart, containing a little dirty pair; another 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET. 29 

marching by them, carrying a fourth well nigh as 
big as himself. These little folks, having threaded 
the mighty flood of Begent Street, debouched into 
the quiet creek of Beak Street, just as I happened 
to follow them. And the door at which the small 
caravan halted, — ^the very door I was in search 
of, — was opened by Elizabeth, then only just 
emerging from childhood, with tawny hair falling 
into her solemn eyes. 

The aspect o;f these little people, which would 
have deterred many, happened to attract me. I 
am a lonely man. I may have been ill-treated by 
some one once, but that is neither here nor there. 
If I had had children of my own, I think I should 
have been good to them. I thought Prior a dread- 
ful vulgar wretch, and his wife a scheming, greedy 
little woman. But the children amused me : and 
I took the rooms, liking to hear overhead in the 
morning the patter of their little feet. The person 
I mean has several ; — ^husband, judge in the West 
Indies. Alhns ! now you know how I came to 
live at Mrs. Prior's. 

Though I am now a steady, a confirmed old 
bachelor (I shall call myself Mr. Batchelor, if you 
please, in this story ;'and there is some one fer — 



30 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

fiir away who knows why I will keteb take another 
title)^ I was a gay young fellow enough once. I 
was not above the pleasures of youth : in fact^ I 
learned quadrilles on purpose to dance with her 
that long vacation when I went to read with my 
young friend, Lord Viscount Poldoody at Dub — 
psha ! Be still, thou foolish heart ! Perhaps I 
misspent my time as an undergraduate. Perhaps 
I read too many novels, occupied myself too much 
with *' elegant literature" (that used to be our 
phrase), and spoke too often' at the Union, where 
I had a considerable reputation. But those fine 
words got me no college prizes : I missed my 
fellowship: was rather in disgrace with my rela- 
tions afterwards, but had a small independence of 
my own, which I eked out by taking a few pupils 
for little goes and the common degree. At length, 
a relation dying, and leaving me a further small 
income, I left the university, and came to reside in 
London. 

Now, in my third year at college, there came to 
St. Boniface a young gentleman, who was one of 
the few gentlemen-pensioners of our society. His 
popularity speedily was great. A kindly and 
simple youth, he would have been liked, I dare- 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STBEET. 31 

say^ eVjBii though he had been no richer than the 
rest of OS ; but this is certain^ that flattery^ worlds 
linesB, mammon-worship, are vices as weU known 
to young as to old boys ; and a rich lad at school 
or college has his followers, tuft-hunters, led- 
captams, little courts, just as much as any elderly 
millionary of Pail-Mall, who gazes round his dub 
to see whom he shall take home to dinner, while 
humble trencher-men Wait anxiously, thinking — 
Ah ! will he take me this time ? or will he ask 
that abominable sneak and toady Henchman 
again? Well — well! this is an old story about 
parasites and flatterers. My dear good sir, I am 
not for a moment going to say that you ever were 
one ; and I daresay it was very base and mean 
of us to like a man chiefly on account of his 
money. ** I know " — Tom Itoml used to say — 
^'I know fellows come to my rooms because I 
have a large allowance, and plenty of my poor 
old governor's wine, and give good dinners : I am 
not deceived; but, at least, it is pleasanter to 
come to me and have good dinners, and good 
wine, than to go to Jack Highson^s dreary tea 
and turnout, or to Ned Boper's abominable Ox- 
bridge port." And so I admit at once that LoveUs 



32 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

parties were more agreeable than most men's in 
the college. Perhaps the goodness of the fare, 
by pleasing the guests, made them more pleasant. 
A dinner in hall, and a pewter plate is all very 
well, and I can say grace before it with all my 
heart ; but a dinner with fish from Londo;n, game, 
and two or three nice little entrdes, is better — and 
there was no better cook in the university than 
ours at St. Boniface, and ah me ! there were 
appetites then, and digestions which rendered the 
good dinner doubly good. 

Between me and young' Level a friendship 
sprang up, which, I tfust, even the publication 
of this story will not diminish. There is a iV 
period, inmxediately after the taking of his bache- 
lor's degree, when many a university-man finds 
himself embarrassed. The tradesmen rather rudely 
press for a settlement of their accounts. Thoso 
prints we orierei calidi juventd ; those shirt-studs 
and pins which the jewellers would persist in 
thrusting into our artless bosoms ; those fine coats 
we would insist on having for our books, as well 
as ourselves ; all these have to be paid for by the 
graduate. And my father, who was then alive, 
refusing to meet these demands, under the — I 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET. 33 

own — just plea, that my allowance had been 
ample, and that my half-sisters ought not to be 
mulcted of thehr slender portions in consequence 
of my extravagance, I should have been subject 
to very serious inconvenience — nay, possibly, to 
personal incarceration — ^had not Level, at the 
risk of rustication, rushed up to London to his 
mother (who then had especial reasons for being 
very gracious with her son), obtained a supply 
of money from her, and brought it to me at 
Mr. Shackell's horrible hotel, where I Was lodged. 
He had tears in. his kind eyes; he grasped my 
hand a hundred and hundred times as he flung 
the notes into my lap ; and the recording tutor 
(Sargent was only tutor then) who was going to 
bring him up before the master for breach of dis- 
cipline, dashed away a drop from his own lid, 
when, with a moving eloquence, I told what had 
happened, and blotted out the transaction with 
some particular old 1811 Port, of which we freely 
partook in his private rooms that evening. By 
laborious instalments, I had the happiness to pay 
Level back. I took pupils, as I said ; I engaged 
in literary pursuits: I became connected with a 
Hterary periodical, and I am ashamed to say, I 

8 



34 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

imposed myself upon the public as a good classical 
scholar. I was not thonght the less learned, when, 
my relative dying, I found myself in possession of 
a small independency ; and my Translations from 
the Greek, my Poems by Beta, and my articles in 
the paper of 'which I was part proprietor for 
several years, have had their little success in their 
day. 

Indeed at Oxbridge, if I did not obtain uni* 
Tcrsity honours, at least I showed literary tastes* 
I got the prize essay one year at Boniface, and 
plead guilty to having written essays, poems, and 
a tragedy. My college Mends had a joke at my 
expense (a very small joke serves to amuse those 
port-wine-bibbing fogies, and keeps them laughing 
for ever so long a time) — ^they are welcome, I 
say, to make merry at my charges — ^in respect 
of a certain bargain which I made on coming to 
London, and in which, had I been Moses Prim* 
rose purchasing green spectacles, I could scarcely 
have been more taken in. My Jenkinson was an 
old college acquaintance, whom I was idiot enough 
to imagine a respectable man: the fellow had a 
very smooth tongue, and sleek, sanctified exterior. 
He was rather a popular preacher^ and used to cry 



THE ^AGHELOB OF BEAK STREET. 35 

% » 

a good deal in the pulpit. He, and a queer wine^ 
mercbant and bill discoontery Sherrick by name, 
bad somehow got possession of that neat little 
literary paper, the Museum, which, perhaps, yon 
remember ; and this eligible literary property my 
firiend Honeyman, with his wheedling tongae, 
induced me to purchase. I bear no malice : the 
fellow is in India now, where I trust he pays his 
butcher and baker. He was in dreadful straits tbx 
money when he sold me the Museum. He began 
crying when I told him some short time after- 
wards that he was a swindler, and from behind 
his pocket-handkerchief sobbed a prayer that I 
should one day think better of him ; whereas my 
remarks to the same effect produced an exactly 
contrary impression upon his accomplice, Sher- 
rick, who burst out laughing in my &ce, and said, 
'* The more fool you." Mr. Sherrick was right. 
He was a fool, without mistake, who had any 
money-dealing with him; and poor Honeyman 
was right, too ; I don't think so badly of him as 
I did. A fellow so hardly pinched for money 
could not resist the temptation of extracting it 
from such a greenhorn. I daresay I gave myself 
airs as editor of l^t confounded Museum, and 

8—2 



36 LOVEL THE WIDOWEIL 

proposed to educate the public taste^ to difiuse 
morality and sound literature throughout the 
nation, and to pocket a liberal salary in return 
for my services. I daresay I printed my own 
sonnets, my own tragedy, my own verses (to a 
Being who shall be nameless, but whose conduct 
has caused a faithful heart to bleed not a little). 
I daresay I wrote satirical articles, in which I 
piqued myself upon the fineness of my wit, and 
criticisms, got up for the nonce, out of encyclo- 
psBdias and biographical dictionaries; so that I 
would be actually astounded at my own know- 
ledge. I daresay I made a gaby of myself to the 
world : pray, my good friend, hast thou never done 
likewise ? If thou hast never been a fool, be sure 
thou wilt never be a wise man. 

I think it was my brilliant confrere on the first 
floor (he had pecuniary transactions with Sherrick, 
and visited two or three of her Majesty's metro- 
politan prisons at that gentleman's suit) who first 
showed me how grievously I had been cheated 
in the newspaper 9iatter. Slumley wrote ^for a 
paper printed at our office. The same boy, often 
brought proofs to both of us — a little bit of a 
puny bright-eyfed chap, who looked scarce twelve 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET. 37 

years old, when he was sixteen ; who in wit was 
a man, when in stature he was a child, — like many 
other children of the poor. 

This little Dick Bedford nsed to sit many hours 
asleep on my landing-place or Slumley's, whilst 
we were preparing our invaluable compositions 
within our respective apartments. S. was a good- 
natured reprobate, and gave the child of his meat 
and his drink. I used to like to help the little 
man &om my breakfEist, and see him enjoy the 
meal. As he sate,. with his bag on his kneed, his 
head sunk in sleep, his Httle high-lows scarce 
reaching the floor, Dick made a touching little 
picture. The whole house was fond of him. 
The tipsy captain nodded him a welcome as he 
swaggered downstairs, stock, and coat, and waist- 
coat in hand, to his worship's toilette in the back 
kitchen. The children and Dick were good friends ; 
and Elizabeth patronized him, and talked with 
him now and again, in her grave way. You know 
Clancy, the composer ? — ^know him better, perhaps, 
under his name of Friederich Donner ? Donner 
used to write music to Slumley's words, or vice 

m 

versd ; and would come now and again to Beak 
Street, where he and his poet would try their 



38 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

joint work at the piano. At the Botind of that 
mosicy little Dick's eyes used to kindle. ^' Oh, 
it's prime ! " said the yoxmg enthusiast. And I 
will say, that good-natured miscreant of a Slumley 
not only gave the child pence, but tickets for the 
play, concerts, and so forth. Dick had a neat 
little suit of clothes at home ; his mother made 
him a very nice little waistcoat out of my under- 
graduate's gown ; and he and she, a decent 
woman, when in their best raiment, looked respec- 
table enough for any theatre-pit in England. 

Amongst other places of public amusement which 
he attended, Mr. Dick frequented the academy where 
Miss Bellenden danced, and whence poor Elizabeth 
Prior issued forth after midnight in her shabby 
frock. And once, the captain, Elizabeth's father 
and protector, being unable to walk very accurately, 
and noisy and incoherent in his speech, so that 
the attention of Messieurs of the police was 
directed towards him, Dick came up, placed Eliza- 
beth and her father in a cab, paid the fare with 
his own money, and brought the whole party home 
in triimiph, himself sitting on the box of the 
yehicle. I chanced to be coming home myself 
(from one of Mrs* Wateringham's elegant tea 



THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STBEET. 39 

^ovr^esy in Dorset Sqiiare)^ and reached my door 
just at the arrival of Dick and his caravan. 
" Here, cabby ! " says Dick, handing out the fare, 
and looking with his brightest eyes. It is 
pleasanter to look at that beaming little fisuse, than 
at the captain yonder, reeling into his house, 
supported by his daughter. Dick cried, Elizabeth 
told me, when, a week afterwards, she wanted to 
pay him back his shilling ; aad she said he wa9 
a strange child, that he was. 

I revert to my friend Level. I was coaching 
Level for his degree (which, between ourselves, 
I think he never would have attained), when he 
suddenly announced to me, from Weymouth, where 
he was passing the vacation, his intention to quit 
the university, and to travel abroad. "Events 
have happened, dear friend," he wrote, "which 
will make my mother's home miserable to me (I 
little knew when I went to town about your 
business, what caused her wonderful complaisance 
to me). She would have broken my heart, Charles 
(my Christian name is Charles), but its wounds 
have found a consoler ! " 

Now, in this little chapter, there are some Uttle 
mysteries propounded, upon which, were I not 



40 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

above any such artifice, I might easily leave tho 
reader to ponder for a month. 

1. Why did Mrs. Prior, at the lodgings, persist 
in calling the theatre at which her daughter danced 
the academy ? 

2. What were the special reasons why Mrs. 
Lovel should be very gracious with her son, 
and give him 150Z. as soon as he asked for the 
money ? 

8. Why was Fred Level's heart nearly broken ? 
and 4. Who was his consoler ? 

I answer these at once, and without the slightest 
attempt at delay or circumlocution. 1, Mrs. Prior, 
who had repeatedly received money from her 
brother, John Erasmus Sargent, D.D., Master of 
St. Boni&ce College, knew perfectly well that if 
the Master (whom she already pestered out of 
his life) heard that she had sent a niece of his 
on the stage, he would never give her another 
shilling. 

2. The reason why Emma, widow of the late 
Adolphus Loeffel, of Whitechapel Boad, sugar- 
baker, was so particularly gracious to her son, 
Adolphus Frederick Lovel, Esq., of St. Bonifhce 
College, Oxbridge, and principal partner in the 



r 



THE BACHELOR OF BEAK STREET. 41 

house of Loeffel aforesaid, an in&nt, was that 
she, Emma, was abont to contract a second mar- 
riage with the Bev. Samuel Bennington. 

8. Fred Lovel's heart was so very much broken 
by this intelligence, that he gave himself airs of 
Hamlet, dressed in black, wore his long fiedr hair 
over his eyes, and exhibited a hundred signs of 
grief and desperation : until — 

4. Louisa (widow of the late Sir Popham Baker, 
of Bakerstown, Co. Kilkenny, Baronet,) induced 
Mr. Level to take a trip on the Bhine with her 
and Cecilia, fourth and only unmarried daughter 
of the aforesaid Sir Popham Baker, deceased. 

My opinion of Cecilia I have candidly given in 
a previous page. I adhere to that opinion. I 
shall not repeat it. The subject is disagreeable 
to me, as the woman herself was in life. What 
Fred found in her to admire, I cannot tell: 
lucky for us all that tastes, men, women, vary. 
You will never see her aUve in this history. 
That is her picture, painted by the laije Mr. Gan- 
dish. She stands fingering that harp with which 
she has often driven me half mad with her Tarawa 
Halls and her Poor Marianne. She used to 
bully Fred so, and be so rude to his guests, that 



42 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

in order to pacify her^ he would meanly say, 
^' Do, my love, let us have a little music ! 'V and 
thrumpty— thmmpty, off would go her gloves, 
and Ta/ra^B HaUs would begin. ^' The harp that 
once,** indeed ! the accursed catgut scarce knew 
any other music, and ^^once" was a hundred 
times at least in my hearing. Then came the 
period when I was treated to the cold joint which 
I have mentioned ; and, not liking it, I gave up 
going to Shrublands. 

So, too, did my Lady Baker, but not of her 
own free willf mind you. She did not quit the 
premises because her reception was too cold, but 
because the house was made a great deal too hot 
for her. I remember Fred coming to me in high 
spirits, and describing to me, with no little 
humour, a great battle between Cecilia and Lady 
Baker, and her ladyship's defeat and flight. She 
fled, however, only as far as Putney village, where 
^e formed again, as it were, and fortified herself 
in a lodging. Next day she made a desperate and 
feeble attack, presenting herself at Shrublands 
lodge-gate, and threatening that she and sorrow 
would sit down before it ; and that all the world 
should know how a daughter treated her mother. 



THE BACHELOB 07 BEAK 8TBEET. 43 

But the gate was locked, and Bamet, the gardener, 
appeared behind it, saying, " Since yon are come, 
my lady, perhaps you will pay my missis the fonr- 
and-twenty shillings you borrowed of her." And 
he grinned at her through the bars, until she fled 
before him, cowering. Lovel paid the little for- 
gotten account ; the best four-and-twenty shillings 
he had ever laid out, he said. 

Eight years passed away ; during the last four 
of which I scarce saw my old Mend, except at 
clubs and tayems, where we met privily, and 
renewed, not old warmth and hilarity, but old 
kindness. One winter he took his fiEunily abroad ; 
Cecilia's health was delicate, Lovel told me, and 
the doctor had advised that she should spend a 
winter in the south. He did not stay with them : 
he had pressing afiairs at home ; he had embarked 
in many businesses besides the paternal sugar- 
bakery; was concerned in companies, a director 
of a joint-stock bank, a man in whose fire were 
many irons. A Mthful governess was with the 

, children ; a faithful man and maid were in atten- 
dance on the invalid ; and Lovel, adoring his wife, 

. as he certainly did, yet supported her absence with 
great equanimity. 



44 ' LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

In the spring I was not a little scared to read 
amongst the deaths in the newspaper: — "At 
Naples, of scarlet fever, on the 26th ult., Cecilia, 
wife of Frederick Lovel, Esq., and daughter of 
the late Sir Popham Baker, Bart." I knew what 
my friend's grief would be. He had hurried 
abroad at the news of her illness; he did not 
reach Naples in time to receive the last words 
of his poor Cecilia. 

Some months after the catastrophe, I had a 
note from Shrublands. Lovel wrote quite in the 
old affectionate tone. He begged his dear old 
friend to go to him, and console him in his soli- 
tude. Would I come to dinner that evening ? 

Of course I went off to him straightway. I 
found him in deep sables in the drawing-room 
with his children, and I confess I was not 
astonished to see my Lady Baker once more in 
that room. 

" You sedin surprised to see me here, Mr. 
Batchelor ! " says her ladyship, with that grace 
and good breeding which she generally exhibited ; 
for if she accepted benefits, she took care to insult 
those from whom she received them. 

"Indeed, no," said I, looking at Lovel, who" 



. THE BACHELOB OF BEAK STREET. 45 

piteonsly hting down his head. He had his little 

ft 

Cissy at his knee : he was sitting nnder the por* 
trait of the defanct musician, whose harp, now 
mufiSed in leather, stood dimly in the comer of 
the room. 

'^ I am here not at my own wish, but &om a 
feeling of duty towards that — departed — angel ! " 
says Lady Baker, pointing to the picture. 

" I am sure when maroma was here, you were 
always quarrelling," says little Popham, with a 
scowl. 

« 

^' This is the way those innocent children have 
been taught to regard me," cries grandmamma. 

** Silence, Pop," says papa, "and don't be a 
rude boy." 

" Isn't Pop a rude boy ? " echoes Cissy. 

" Silence, Pop," continues papa, " or you must 
go up to Miss Prior." 



CHAPTER n. 

IN WHICH MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 

0? course vre all know who she was, the Miss 
Prior of ShrahlaiidB, whom papa and grand- 
mamma called to the nnruly children. Years 



HISS PSIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOB. 47 

had passed since I had shaken the Beak Street 
dnst off my feet* The brasa plate of " Prior " 
was lemoyed &om the once fsuniliar door, and 
screwed, for ^hat I can tell, on to the late repro* 
bate owner's cofBn. A little eruption of mush- 
room-formed brass knobs I saw on the door-post 
when I passed by it last week, and CafA deb 
AjoASSABETms was thereon inscribed, with three 
fly-blown blue teacups, a couple of co&e-pots of 
the weU-known Britannia metal, and two freckled 
copies of the Ind&pendcmce Beige hanging over 
the window blind. Were those their Excellencies 
the Ambassadors at the door, smoking cheroots ? 
Pool and Billiards were written on their counte- 
nances, their hats, their elbows* They may have 
been ambassadors down on their luck, as the 
phrase is. They were in disgrace, no doubt, at 
the court of her imperial majesty Queen Fortune. 
Men as shabby have retrieved their disgraces ere 
now, washed their cloudy &ces, strapped their 
dingy waistcoats with cordons, and stepped into 
fine carriages from quarters not a whit more 
reputable than the GafS des Ambassadeurs. If 
I lived in the Leicester Square neighbourhood, 
and Jkept a cafe^ I would always treat foreigners 



48 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

with respect. They may be billiard-markers now, 
or doing a little shady police business ; bat why 
should they not afterwards be generals and great 
officers of' state ? Suppose that gentleman is at 
present a barber, with his tongs and stick of 
fixature for the mustachios, how do you know he 
has not his epaulettes and his baton de mar^chal 
in the same pouch? I see engraven on the 
second-floor bell, on my rooms, " Plugwell." 
Who can Plugwell be, whose feet now warm at 
the fire where I sate many a long evening*? And 
this gentleman with the fur collar, the straggling 
beard, the frank and engaging leer, the somewhat 
husky voice, who is calling out on the door-step, 
** Step in, and 'ave it done. Your correct like- 
ness, only one shilling " — is he an ambassador, 
too ? Ah, no : he is only the charge d'affaires 
of a photographer who lives upstairs : no doubt 
where the little ones used to be. Law bless me ! 
Photography was an in&nt, and in the nursery, 
too, when we lived in Beak Street. 

Shall I own that, for old time's sake, I went 
upstairs, and " *ad it done " — ^that correct like- 
ness, price one shilling? Would Some One (I 
have said, I think, that the party in question 



I 



MISS PBIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 49 

iff well married in a distant island) like to have 
the thing, I wonder, and be reminded of a man 
whom she knew in life's prime, with brown curly 
locks, as she looked on the effigy of this elderly 
gentleman, with a forehead as bare as a billiard 
ball? 

As I went up and down that darkling stair, 
the ghosts of the Prior children peeped out 
from the banisters ; the little faces smiled in 
the twilight: it may be wounds (of the heart) 
throbbed and bled again, — oh, how freshly and 
keenly! How infernally I have suffered behind 
that door in that room — ^I mean that one where 
Plugwell^ now lives. Confound Plugwell ! I 
wonder what that woman thinjis of me as she 
sees me shaking my fist at the door? Do you 
think me mad, madam ? I don't care if you do. 
Do you think when I spoke anon of the ghosts 
of Prior's children, I mean that any of them are 
dead ? None are, that I know of. A great hulk- 
ing Bluecoat boy, with fluffjr whiskers, spoke to 
me not long since, ifi an awful bass voice, and 
announced his name as ** Gus Prior." And 
" How's Elizabeth ? " he added, nodding his 
bullet head. Elizabeth, indeed, you great vulgar 

4 



50 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

boy ! Elizabeth, — and, by the way, how long we 
hffve been keeping her waiting ! 

You see, as I beheld her, a heap of memories 
Btmck upon me, and I could not help chattering ; 
when of conrse — and you are perfectly right, only 
you might just as well have left the observation ' 
alone : for I knew quite well what you were going 
to say — ^when I had much better have held my 
tongue. Elizabeth means a history to me. She 
came to me at a critical period of my life. Bleed* 
ing and wounded from the conduct of that other 
individual (by her present name of Mrs. O'D — 
her present O'D-ous name — ^I say, I will never 
— ^never call her)-— desperately wounded and mise- 
rable on my return from a neighbouring capital, I 
went back to my lodgings in Beak Street, and 
there there grew up a strange intimaqr between me 
and my landlady's young daughter. I told her my 
story— indeed, I believe I told anybody who would 
listen. She seemed to compassionate me. She 
, would come wistfidly into my rooms, bringing me 
my gruel and things (I could scarcely bear to eat 
for awhile after — after that affair to which I may 
have alluded before) — she used to come to me, 
and she used to pity me, and I used to tell her 



MISS PRIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 61 

all, and to tell her over and over again. Days 
and days have I passed tearing my heart oat 
in that second-floor room which answers to the 
name of Plngwell now. Afternoon after afternoon 
have I spent there, and ponred ont my stoiy of 
love and wrong to Elizabeth, showed her that 
waistcoat I told you of — that glove (her hand 
wasn't so very small either) — ^her letters, those 
two or three vactrons, meaningless letters, with 
^'My dear sir, mamma hopes you will come to 
tea;" or, '^If dear Mr. Batchelor should be 
riding in the Phoenix Park near the Long MUe^ 
stone, about 2, my sister and I will be in the 
car, and,'* &c. ; or, " Oh, you kind man ! thd 
tickets (she called it tickuts — by heaven! she 
did) were too welcome, and the bouquays too 
lovely " (this word, I saw, had been operated on 
with a penknife. I found no &ults, not even in 
her spelling — ^then) ; or — never mind what more. 
But more of this pvJmg, of this humbug, of this 
bad spelling, of this infernal jilting, swindling, 
heartless hypocrisy (all her mother's doing, I own ; 
for until he got his place, my rival was not so 
well received as I was) — more of this rubbish, 
I say, I showed Elizabeth, and she pitied me ! 

4—2 



52 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

She used to come to me day after day, and I 
used to talk to her. She used not to say much. 
Perhaps she did not listen; but I did not care 
for that. On — and on— and on I would go with 
my prate about my passion, my wrongs, and 
despair ; and untiring as my complaints were, still 
more constant was my little hearer's compassion. 
Mamma's shrill voice would come to put an end 
to our conversation, and she would rise up with 
an " Oh, bother ! " and go away : but the next day 
the good girl was sure to come to me again, when 
we would have another repetition of our tragedy. 

I daresay 70U are beginning to suppose (what, 
after all, is a very common case, and certainly no 
conjuror is wanted to make the guess) that out of 
all this crying and sentimentality, which a soft- 
hearted old fool of a man poured out to a young 
girl — out of all this < whimpering and pity, some- 
thing which is said to be akin to pity might arise. 
But in thi^, my good madam, you are utterly 
wrong. Some people have the small-pox twice ; I 
do not In my case, if a heart is broke, it's broke : 
if a flower is withered, it's withered. If I choose 
to put my grief in a ridiculous light, why not ? 
^hy do you suppose I am going to make a tragedy 



MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 63 

of such an old, used-up, battered, stale, vulgar, 
trivial, every- day subject as a jilt who plays with a 
man's passion, and laughs at him, and leaves him? 
Tragedy indeed ! Oh, yes ! poison — ^black-edged 
note-paper — Waterloo Bridge — one more unfortu- 
nate, and so forth ! No: if she goes, let her go ! 
— si celerea quatit pennas, I pufif the what-d'ye-call 
away! But I'll have no tragedy, mind you. 

Well, it must be confessed that a man despe- 
rately in love (as I fear I must own I then was, 
and a good deal cut up by Glorvina's conduct) is a 
most selfish being : whilst women are so soft and 
unselfish that they can forget or disguise their 
own sorrows for awhile, whilst they minister to a 
friend in affliction, t did not see, though I talked 
with her daily, on my return from that accursed 
Dublin, that my little Elizabeth was pale and dis' 
traitCy and sad, and silent. She would sit quite 
dumb whilst I chattered, her hands between her 
knees, or draw one of them over her eyes. She 
would say, " Oh, yes ! Poor fellow^poor fellow ! " 
now and again, as giving a melancholy confirma- 
tion of my 4isxnal stories ; but mostly she remained 
quiet, her head drooping towards the ground, a 
hand to her chin, her feet to the fender. 



54 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

I was one day harping on the nsnal Btring. I 
was telling Elizabeth how^ after presents had been 
accepted, after letters had passed between ns (if 
her scrawl eonld be called letters, if my impas- 
sioned song could be so constmed), after every- 

thing but the actual word had passed onf lips — ^I 
* 

was telling Elizabeth how, on one accursed day, 
Glorvina's mother greeted me on my arrival in 
M-rr-n Square, by saying, "Dear, dear Mr. 
Batchelor, we look on you quite as one of the 
family ! Congratulate me — congratulate my child ! 
Dear Tom has got his appointment as Recorder of 
Tobago ; and it is to be a match between him and 
his cousin Glory." 

"BSs cousin What!'* I shriek with a maniao 
laugh. 

*' My poor Glorvina ! Sure the children have 
been fond of each other ever s/nce they could 
speak. I knew your kind heart would be the first 
to rejoice in their happiness ! " 

And so, say I; — ending the story — I, who 
thought myself loved, was left without a pang of 
pity: I, who could mention a hundred reasons 
why I thought Glorvina well disposed to me, was 
told she regarded me as an uncle! Were her 



MISS FBIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOB. 55 

letters such as nieces write ? Who ever heard of 
an nncle walking round Merrion Square for hoars 
of a rainy nighty and looking up to a bedroom 
window^ because his niece, forsooth, was behind 
it? I had set my whole heart on the cast, and 
this was the return I got for it. For months she 
cajoles me — her eyes follow me, her cursed smiles 
welcome and £Eiscinate me, and at a moment, at 
the beck of another — she laughs at me and 
leaves me ! 

At this, my little pale Elizabeth, still hanging 
down, cries, " Oh, the villain ! the villain ! " and 
sobs so that you might have thought her little 
heart would break. 

" Nay," said I, " my dear, Mr. O'Dowd is no 
villain. His uncle. Sir Hector, was as gallant an 
old officer as any in .the service. His aunt was a 
MoUoy, of Molloy's Town, and they are of excel- 
' lent &mily, though, I believe, of embarrassed cir- 
cumstances ; and young Tom " 

" Tom ? '* cries Elizabeth, with a pale, bewil- 
dered look. ^* His name wasnH Tom, dear Mr. 
Batchelor; his name was Woo-woo-iUiaml" and 
the tears begin again. 

Ah, my child ! my child ! my poor young crea- 



•) 



56 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

tore ! and you^ too, have felt the infernal stroke. 
You, too, haye passed the tossing nights of pain 
— have heard the dreary hours toll — h&Ye looked 
at the cheerless sunrise with your blank sleepless 
eyes — ^have woke out of dreams, mayhap in which 
the beloved was smiling on you, whispering 
love-words — oh ! how sweet and fondly remem- 
bered ! What ! — ^your heart has been robbed, too, 
and your treasury is rifled and empty ! — ^poor girl ! 
And I looked in that sad face, and saw no grief 
there ! You could do your little sweet endeavour 
to soothe my wounded heart, and I never saw 
yours was bleeding ? Did you suffer more than I 
did, my poor little maid? I hope not. Are you 
so young, apd is all the flower of life blighted for 
you? the cup without savour, the sun blotted, or 
almost invisible over your head. ? The truth came 
on me all at once : I felt ashamed that my own 
selfish grief should have made me blind to hers. 

''What!" said I, "my poor child. Was 
it . . . ?" and I pointed with my finger dowri' 
wards. 

S-ie nodded her poor head. 

I knew it was the lodger who had taken the 
first floor shortly after Slumley's departure. He 



MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 57 

was an officer in the Bombay Army. He had had 
the lodgings for three months. He had sailed 
for India shortly before I returned home from 
Dublin. 

Elizabeth is waiting all this time — shall she 
come in ? No, not yet. I have still a little more 
to say about the Priors- 

You understand that she was no longer Miss 
Prior of Beak Street, and that mansion, even at 
the time of which I write, had been long handed 
over to other tenants. The captain dead, his 
widow with many tears pressed me to remain with 
her, and I did, never having been able to resist 
that kind of appeal. Her statements regarding her 
afiBurs were not strictly correct. — Are not women 
sometimes incorrect about money matters?— ^ A 
landlord (not unjustly indignant) quickly handed 
over the mansion in Beak Street to other tenants. 
The Queen's taxes swooped down on poor Mrs. 
Prior's scanty furniture — on hers? — on mine 
likewise : on my neatly-bound college books, 
emblazoned with the effigy of Bonifacius, our 
patron, and of Bishop Budgeon, our founder ; on 
my elegant Baphael Morghen prints, purchased 
in undergraduate days — (ye Powers ! what dH 



58 XOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

xoake ns boys go tick for 'fifteen-gainea proofs of 
Baphael, Dying Stags, Bake of Wellington Ban- 
qnets, and the like ?) ; my harmonium, at whieh 
SOME ONE has warbled songs of my composition — 
(I mean the words, artfully describing my passions, 
my hopes, or my despair) ; on my rich set of 
Bohemian glass, bonght on the Zeil, Frankfort 
0. M. ; on my picture of my fietther, the late 
Captain Batehelor (Hopner), KN.^ in white ducks, 
and a telescope, pointing, of course, to a tempest, 
in the midst of which was a naval engagement ; 
on my poor mother's miniature, by old Adam 
Buck, in pencil and pink, with no waist to speak 
of at all ; my tea and cream pots (bullion), with 
a hundred such fond knicknacks as decorate the 
chamber of a lonely man. I found all these 
household treasures in possession of the myrmidons 
of the law, and had to pay the Priors* taxes with 
this hand, before I could be redintegrated in my 
own property* Mrs. Prior could only pay me 
back with a widow's tears and blessings (Prior had 
quitted ere this time a world where he had long 
ceased to be of use or ornament). The tears and 
blesmngs, I say, she offered me freely, ai^d they 
were all rery weU. But why go on tampering 



MISS PMOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 59 

"with the tea-box, madam ? Why put your finger 
— your finger ? — ^your whole paw — in the jam-pot ? 
And it is a horrible &Gt that the wine and spirit 
bottles were just as leaky after Prior's decease 
as they had been during his disreputable lifetime. 
One afternoon, haying a sudden occasion to return 
to my lodgings, I found my wretched landlady 
in the very act of marauding sherry. She gave 
an hysterical laugh, and then burst into tears. 
She declared that since her poor Prior's death she 
hardly knew what she said or did. She may have 
been incoherent ; she was ; but she certainly 
spoke truth on this occasion. 

I am speaking lightly — flippantly, if you please 
— about this old Mrs. Prior, with her hard, eager 
smile, her weazened &ce, her frowning look, her 
cruel voice; and yet, goodness knows, I could, 
if I liked/ be serious as a sermonizer. Why, this 
woman had once red cheeks, and was well-looking 
enou^, and told few lies, and stole no sherry, 
and felt the tender passions of the heart, and I 
daresay kissed the weak old beneficed clergyman 
her fEither very fondly and remorsefully that night 
when she took leave of him to skip round to 
the back garden-gate and run away with Mr. Prior. 



60 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Maternal instinct she had, for she nursed her 
young as best she could from her lean breast, 
and went about hungrily, robbing and pilfering 
for thexQ. On Sundays she furbished up that 
threadbare black silk gown and bonnet^ ironed the 
collar, and clung desperately to church. She had 
a feeble pencil drawing of the vicarage in Dorset- 
shire, and silhouettes of her father and mother, 
which were hung np in the lodgings wherever 
she went. She migrated much : wherever she 
went she fastened on the gown of the clergyman 
of the parish ; spoke of her dear father the vicar, 
of her wealthy and gifted brother the Master of 
Boni&ce, with a reticence which implied that 
Dr. Sargent might do more for his poor sister and 
her family, if he would. She plumed herself 
(oh ! those poor moulting old plumes !) upon 
belonging to the clergy; had read a good deal 
of good sound old-fashioned theology in early life, 
and wrote a noble hand, in which she had been 
used to copy her father's sermons. She used to 
put cases of conscience, to present her humble 
duty to the Bev. Mr. Green, and ask explanation 
of such and such a passage of his admirable 
sermon, and bring the subject round so as to be 



MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 61 

reminded of certain quotations of Hooker, Beve- 
ridge, Jeremy Taylor. I think she had an old 
commonplace book with a score of these extracts, 
and she worked them in very amusingly and 
dexterously into her conversation. Green would 
be interested : perhaps pretty young Mrs. Green 
would call, secretly rather shocked at the coldness 
of old Dr. Brown, the rector, about Mrs. Prior. 
Between Green and IMrs. Prior money transactions 
would ensue : Mrs. Green's visits would cease : 
Mrs. Prior was an expensive woman to know. I 
remember Pye of Maudlin, just before he " went 
over," was perpetually in Mrs. Prior's back parlour 
with little books, pictures, medals, &c. &c. — you 
know. They called poor Jack a Jesuit at Ox- 
bridge; but one year at Bome I met him (with 
a half-crown shaved out of his head, and a hat as 
big as Don Basilio's) ; and he said, '' My dear 
Batchelor, do you know that person at your 
lodgings ? I think she was an artful creature ! 
She borrowed fourteen pounds of me, and I forget 
how much of — seven, I think — of Barfoot, of 
Corpus, just— just before we were received. And 
I believe she absolutely got another loan from 
Pummel, to be able to get out of the hands of us 



62 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

Jesuits. Are yon going to hear the Cardinal? 
Do — do go and hear him — everybody does : it's 
the most fsishionable thing in Borne." And from 
this I opine that there are slyboots in other com- 
munions besides that of Borne. 

Now Mamma Prior had not been xmaware of 
the love passages between her daughter and the 
fugitive Bombay captain. Like Elizabeth, she 
called Captain Walkingham '^ villain " readily 
enough ; but, if I know woman's nature in the 
least (and I don't), the old schemer had thrown 
her daughter only too frequently in the officer's 
way, had done no small portion of the flirting 
herself, had allowed poor Bessy to receive presents 
from. Captain Walkingham, and had been the 
manager and directress of much of the mischief 
which ensued. You see, in this humble class of 
life, unprincipled mothers wiU coax and wheedle 
and cajole gentlemen whom they suppose to be 
eligible, in order to procure an establishment for 
their darling children ! What the Prioress did 
was done from the best motives of course. "Never 
— ^never did the monster see Bessy without me, or 
one or two of her brothers and sisters, and Jack 
and dear Ellen are as sharp children as any in 



MISS PBIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 63 

England ! " protested the indignant Mrs. Prior to 
me ; ** and if one of my boys had been grown up, 
WaUdngham never would have dared to act as hf 
did — ^the unprincipled wretch ! My poor husband 
would have punished the villain as he deserved; 
but what could he do in his shattered state of 
health? Oh! you men, — ^you men, Mr, Batchelor! 
how unprmcipled you are ! " 

" Why, my good Mrs. Priw," said I, ** you let 
Elizabeth come to my room often enough." 

" To have the conversation of her uncle's friend, 
of an educated man, of a man so much older than 
herself ! Of course, dear sir I Would not a 
mother wish every advantage for her child ? and 
whom could I trust, if not you, who have ever 
been such a friend to me and mine ? " asks 
Mrs. Prior, wiping her dry eyes with the comer 
of her handkerchief, as she stands by my fire, 
my monthly bills in hand, — ^written in her neat 
old-fashioned writing, and caljculated with that 
prodigal liberality which she always exercised in 
compiling the little accounts between us. "Why, 
bless me ! " says my cousin, little Mrs. Skinner, 
coming to see me once when I was unwell, and 
examining one of the just-mentioned documents, 



64 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

— "bless me ! Charles, you consume more tea 
than all my £eimily, though we are seven in the 
parlour, and as much sugar and butter, — ^well, it's 
no wonder you are bilious ! " 

"But then, my dear, I like my tea so very 
strong," said I; "and you take yours uncom- 
monly mild. I have remarked it at your parties." 

"It's a shame that a man should be robbed so," 
cried Mrs. S. 

" How kind it is of you to cry thieves, Flora ! '! 
I reply. 

" It's my duty, Charles !" exclaims my cousin. 
" And I should like to know who that great, tall, 
gawky, red-haired girl in the passage is ! " 

Ah me ! the name of the only woman who ever 
had possession of this heart was not Elizabeth ; 
though I own I did think at one time that my 
little schemer of a landlady would not have ob- 
jected if I had proposed to make Miss Prior 
Mrs. Batchelor. And it is not only the poor and 
needy who have this mania, but the rich, too. 
In the very highest circles, as I am informed by 
the best authorities, this match-making goes on. 
Ah woman — ^woman ! — ah wedded wife ! — ah fond 
mother of fair daughters! how strange thy passion 



MISS PEIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOE. 65 

is to add to thy titles that of mother-ia-law ! I 
am told, when you have got the title^ it is often 
but a bitterness and a disappointment. Vezy 
likely the scm-in-law is rude to you, &e coarse^ 
ungrateful brute ! and Tery possibly the daughter 
rebels, the thsnUftss serpent! And yet you will 
go on scheming : and hairing met only with disap^ 
pointment £rom Louisa and her husband, you will 
try and get one for Jemima, and Maria, and down 
even to little Toddles coming out of the nurfiery 
in her red shoes ! When you see her with little 
Tommy, your neighbour's child, fighting over the 
same Noah's ark, or clambering on the same rock- 
ing-horse, I make no doubt, in your fond siUy 
head, you are thinking, ** Will those little people 
meet some twenty years hence ? " And you give 
Tommy a very large piece of cake, and have a 
fine present for him on the Christmas tree — ^you 
know you do, though he is but a rude, noisy t 
child, and has already beaten Toddles, and taken 
her doll away from her, and made her cry, I . 
remember, whjen I myself was suflfering from the 
conduct of a young woman in— in a capital which 
is distinguished by a viceregal court — and from 
her heartlessness, as well as that of her relative, 

6 



\ 



66 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB, 

who I once thought would be my mother-in-law 
— shrieking out to a friend who happened to be 
spouting some lines &om Tennyson's Ulysses : — 
" By George ! Warrington, I have no doubt that 
when the young sirens set their green caps at 
the old Greek captain and his crew, waving and 
beckoning biTn with their white arms and glancing 
smiles, and wheedling him with their sweetest 
pipes — I make no doubt, sir, that the mother 
syreiiB were hehind the rocks (with their dyed 
fronts and cheeks painted, so as to resist water), 
and calling out — * Now, Halcyone, my child, that 
air from the Pirata ! Now, Glaukopis, dear, look 
well at that old gentleman at the helm ! Bathy- 
kolpos, love, there's a young sailor on the maintop, 
who will tumble right down into your lap if you 
beckon him ! ' And so on — and so on," And I 
laughed a wild shriek of despair. For I, too, 
have been on the dangerous island, and come away 
thence, mad, furious, wanting a strait-waistcoat. 

And so, when a white-armed siren, named 
Glorvina, was bedevilling me with her all too 
tempting ogling and singing, I did not see at the 
time, but now I know, that her artful mother was 
egging that artful child on. 



MISS PRIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 67 

How, when the captain died, bailiffs and execu- 
tions took possession of his premises, I have told 
in a previous page, nor do I care to enlarge much 
upon the odious theme. I think the bailiffs were 
on the premises before Prior's exit: but he did 
not know of their presence. If I had to buy 
them out, 'twas no great matter : only I say it 
was hard of Mrs. Prior to represent me in the 
character of Shylocl^ to the Master of Boniface. 
Well — ^well ! I suppose there are other gentlemen 
besides Mr. Charles Batchelor who have been mis- 
represented in this life. Sargent and I made up 
matters afterwards, and Miss Bessy was the cause 
of our coining together again. *^ Upon my word, 
my dear Batchelor," says he one Christmas, when 
I went up to the old college, *' I did not know 
how much my — ahem ! — my family was obliged to 
you! My— ahem! — niece. Miss Prior, has in- 
formed me of various acts of — ahem ! — generosity 
which you showed to my poor sister, and her still 
more wretched husband. You got my second — 
ahem ! — ^nephew — pardon me if I forget his Chris- 
tian name — into the what-d'you-call'em — ^Bluecoat 
school ; you have been, on various occasions, of 
considerable pecuniary service to my sister's family. 

5—2 



68 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

A man need not take high university honours to 
have a good — ahem ! — heart; and, upon my word, 
Batchelor, I and my — ahem ! — ^wife, are sincerely 
obUged to you ! " 

" I tell you what, Master," said I, " there is a 
point upon which you ought really to be obliged to 
me, and in which I have been the means of putting 
money into your pocket too." 

*' I confess I firil to comprehend you," says the 
Master, with his grandest air. 

" I have got you and Mrs. Sargent a very good 
governess for your children, at the very smallest 
remuneration," says I. 

'^ Do you know the charges that unhappy sister 
of mine and her family have put me to already ? " 
says the Master, turning as red as his hood. 

" They have formed the frequent subject of your 
conversation," I replied. "You have had Bessy 
as a governess . . •" 

" A nursery governess— she has learned Latin, 
and a great deal more, since she has been in my 
house ! " cries the Master. 

" A nursery governess at the wages of a house- 
maid," I continued, as bold as Corinthian brass. 

" Does my niece, does my— ahem! — children's 



MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 69 

governess^ complain of my treatment in my col- 
lege ? " cries the Master, 

" My dear Master," I asked, " you don't sup- 
pose I would have listened to her complaints, or, 
at any rate, have repeated them, until now ? " 

" And why now, Batchelor, I should like to 
know?'^ says the Master, pacing up and down 
his study in a fume, under the portraits of Holy 
Bonifaicius, Bishop Budgeon, and all the defanct 
bigwigs of the college. "And why now, Batchelor, 
I should like to know ? " says he. 

"Because, though after staying with you for 
three years, and haying improved herself greatly, 
as every woman must in your society, my dear 
Master, Miss Prior is worth at least fifty guineas 
a year more than you give her, I would not have 
had her speak until she had found a better place." 

" You mean to say she pioposes to go away ? " 

" A wealthy friend of mine, who was a member 
of our college by the way, wants a nursery go- 
Temess, and I have recommended Miss Prior to 
him, at seventy guineas a yeir." 

" And pray who's the member of my college 
who will give my niece seventy guineas ? " asks 
the Master, fiercely. 



70 LOViX THE WIDOWEE. 

** You remember Loyel, the gentleman-pen- 
sioner ? " 

^^ The sngar-baking man — ^the man who took 
you out of ga , • ? " 

'^ One good turn deserves another/' says I, 
hastily. ^* I have done as much for some of your 
funily, Sargent ! " 

The red Master, who had been rustling up and 
down his study in his gown and bands, stopped in 
his walk as if I had struck him. He looked at 
me. He turned redder than ever. He drew his 
hand over his eyes. "Batchelor," says he, "I 
ask your pardon. It was I who forgot myself — 
may heaven forgive me ! — ^forgot how good you 
have been to my feunily, to my — ahem ! — humble 
&mily, and — and how devoutly thankfdl I ought 
to be for the protection which they have found in 
you«" His voice quite fell as he spoke : and of 
course any little wrath which I might have felt 
was disanned before his contrition. We parted 
the best friends* He not only shook hands with 
me at the study door, but he actually followed me 
to the hall door, and shook hands at his lodge 
porch, sub Jove, in the quadrangle. HucUes, the 
tutor (Highlow Huckles we used to call him in 






MISS FRIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOB. 71 

OUT time), and Botts (Tnimpeiian professor), who 
happened to be passing through the court at the 
time, stood aghast as they witnessed the phe- 
nomenon. 

" I say, Batchelor," asks Huckles, " have you 
been made a marquis by any chance ? " 
Why a marquis, Huckles ? " I ask* 
Sargent never comes to his lodge-door with 
any man under a marquis," says Huckles, in a low 
whisper. 

^' Or a pretty woman,' ' says that Botts (he wiU 
have his joke). *^ Batchelor, my elderly Tiresias^ 
are you turned into a lovely young lady par 
hasa/rd ? " 

" Get along, you absurd Trumperian pro- 
fessor ! " say I. But the circumstance was the 
talk not only in Compotation Room that evening 
over our wine, but of the whole college. And 
further, events happened which made each man 
look at his neighbour with wonder. For that 
whole term Sargent did not ask our nobleman 
Lord Sackville (Lord Wigmore's son) to the 
lodge. (Lord W.'s &ther, you know. Duff, was 
baker to the college.) For that whole term he was 
rude but twice to Perks, the junior tutor, and 



72 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

ihen only in a veiy mild way : and what ia more, 
he gave his nieee a present of a gown, of his 
Messing, of a Mss^ and a high character, when 
she went down ; — and promised to put one of her i 
young brothers to school — which promise, I need 
not say, he &iihfully kept : for he has good prin- 
ciples, Sargent has. He is rude : he is ill-bred : 
he is humptiouB beyond almost any man I ever 
knew : he is spoiled not a little by prosperity; — 
but he is magnanimous : he can own that he has 
Been in the wrong ; and oh me \ what a quantity 
d Greek he knows I 

Although my late Mend the captain never 
seemed to do aught but spend the femily money, 
his disreputable presence somehow acted for good 
in the household. ^'My dear husband kept our 
&mily together,*' Mrs. Prior said, shaking her 
lean head under her meagre widow's cap. 
*^ Heaven knows how I shaU provide for these 
lambs now he is gone." Indeed, it was not until 
after the death of that tipsy shepherd that the 
wolves of the law came down upon the lambs — 
myself included, who have passed the age of lamb- 
hood and mint sauce a long time. They came 
down npon onr fdd in Beak Street^^ I say, and 



MISS PEIOE IS WSPT AT THE DOOB. 73 

isTaged it. What was I to do ? Conld I leave 
that widow and children in their distress ? I was 
not ignorant of misfbrtone, and knew how to 
succour the miserable. Nay, I thinks the little 
excitement attendant upon the seizure of my 
.goods, &c., the insolent Tolgarity of the low per- 
sons in possession — ^with one of whom I was very 
near coming to a personal encounter — and other 
incidents which occurred in the bereft household, 
served to rouse me, and dissipate some of the 
languor and misery under which I was sufiering, 
in consequence of Miss Mulligan's conduct to me. 
I know I took the late captain to his final abode. 
My good Mends the pidnters of the Museum took 
one of his boys into their counting-house. A blue 
coat and a pair of yellow stockings were procured 
for Augustus; and seeing the Masiier's children 
walking about in Boni&ce gardens with a glum- 
looking old wretch of a nurse, I bethought me of 
proposing to him to take his nieee Miss Prior — 
and, heaven be good to me ! never said one word 
to her uncle about Mis9 Bellenden and the 
Academy. I daresay I drew a number of leng 
bows about her. I managed about the bad gram- 
mar pretty well, by lamenting that Elizabeth's 



74 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

poor mother had heen forced to allow the girl to 
keep company with ill-educated people : and added, 
that she could not £Edl to mend her English in the 
house of one of the most distinguished scholars in 
Europe, and one of the best-bred women* I did 
say so, upon my word, looking that half-bred, 
stuck-up Mrs. Sargent gravely in the face ; and I 
humbly trust, if that bouncer has^ been registered 
against me, the Becording Angel will be pleased 
to consider that the motive was good, though the 
statement was unjustifiable. But I don't think it 
was the compliment ; I think it was the tempta- 
tion of getting a govemess for next to nothing 
that operated upon Ma^^m Sargent. And so 
Bessy went to her aunt, partook of the bread of 
dependence, and drank of the cup of humiliation, 
and ate the pie of humihty, and brought up her 
odious little cousins to the best of her small power, 
and bowed the head of hypocrisy before the don 
her uncle, and the pompous little upstart her 
aunt. She the best-bred woman in England, 
indeed! She, the little vain skinflint! 

Bessy's mother was not a little loth to part wiiji 
the fifty pounds a year which the child brought 
home from the Academy; but her departure thence 



MISS PKIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOIl. 75 

was ineTitable. ' Some quarrel had taken place 
ihere^, about which the girl did not care to talk. 
Some rudeness had been offered to Miss Bellen- 
den, to which Miss Prior was. determined not to 
submit: or was it that she wanted to go away 
from the scenes of her own misery, and to try and 
forget that Indian captain? Gome, fellow-sufferer! 
. Come, child of misfortune, come hither ! Here is an 
old bachelor who wiU weep with thee tear for tear ! 
I protest here is Miss Prior coming into the 
room at last. A pale feice, a tawny head of hair 
combed bagk, under a black cap : a pair of blue 

. spectacles, as I live ! a tight mourning dress, but- 
toned up to her white throat ; a head hung meekly 
down : such is Miss Prior. She takes my hand 

* when I offer it. She drops me a demure little 
curtsey, and answers my many questions with 
humble monosyllabic replies. She appeals con- 
stantly to Lady Baker for instruction, or for con- 
firmation of her statements. What ! have sis 
years of slavery so changed the frank daring young 
girl whom I remember in Beak Street? She is 
taller and stouter than she was. She is awkward 
and high-shouldered^ but surely she h&s a very 
fine figure* 



76 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 



tt 



/■ 



Will Miss Cissy and Master Popham have 
ibeir teas here or in the schoolroom ? ^' asks Bed- 
ford, the butler, of his master. Miss Prior looks 
appealingly to Lady Baker. 

" In the sch ^" Lady Baker is beginning. 

" Here — ^here ! " bawl out the children. " Much 
better fan down here: and youll send us out 
some &uit and things &om dinner, papa!" cries 
Cissy. 

" It's time to dress for dinner," says her lady- 
ship. 

" Has the first bell rung ?" asks Level. 

'^ Yes, the first bell has rung, and grandmamma 
must go, for it always takes her a precious long 
time to dress for dinner ! " cries Pop. And, 
indeed, on looking at Lady Baker, the connoisseur 
might perceiye that her ladyship was a highly 
composite person, whose charms required very 
xfiuch care and arrangement. There are some 
cracked old houses where the painters and plum- 
bers and puttyers are always at work. 

^' Have the goodness to ring tho bell ! " she says, 
in a majestic manner, to Miss Prior, though I 

r 

think Lady Baker herself was nearest. 

I sprang towards the bell myself, and my hand 



MISS PEIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 77 

meets Elizabeth's there, who was obeying . her 
ladyship's summonSy and who retreats, making me 
the demurest cnrtsey. At the summons, enter 
Bedford the butler (he was an old friend of mine, 
too) and young Buttons, the page under that 
butler. 

Lady Baker points to a heap of articles on a 
table, and says to Bedford : " If you please, Bed- 
ford, tell my man to givp those things to Pinhom, 
my maid, to be taken to my room." 

'^ Shall not I iake them up, dear Lady Baker ? " 
says Miss Prior. 

But Bedford, looking at his subordinate, says : 
*' Thomas ! tell Bulkeley, her ladyship's man, to 
take her ladyship's things, and give them to her 
ladyship's maid." There was a tone of sarcasm, 
even of parody, in Monsieur Bedford's voice ; but 
his manner was profoundly grave and respectful. 
Drawing up her person, and making a motion, I 
don't know whether of politeness or defiance, exit 
Lady Baker, followed by page, bearing bandboxes, 
shawls, paper parcels, parasols — I know not what. 
Dear Popham stands on his head as grandmamma 
leaves the room. " Don't be vulgar ! " cries little 
Cecy (the dear child is always acting as a little 



78 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Mentor to her brbther), " I shall, if I like," says 
Pop ; and he makes &ces at her. 

" You know your room. Batch ? " asks the 
master of the house. 

''Mr. Batehelor's old room — ^always has the blue 
room," says Bedford, looking very kindly at me. 

"Give us," cries Lovel, " a bottle of that 
Sau. . . " 

"... teme, Mr. Batchelor used to like. 
Chateau Yquem. All right ! " says Mr. Bedford. 
" How will you have the turbot done you brought 
down ? — ^Dutch sauce ? — ^Make lobster into salad ? 
Mr. Bennington likes lobster salad," says Bedford. 
Pop is winding up the butler's back at this time. 
It is evident Mr. Bedford is a privileged person 
in the feimily. As he bad entered it on my nomi- 
nation several years ago, and had been ever dince 
the &ithful valet, butler, and major-domo of Level, 
Bedford and I were always good Mends when we 
met. 

" By the way, Bedford, why wasn't the barouche 
sent for me to the bridge ?" cries Level. " I had 
to walk all the way home, with a bat and stumps 
for Pop, with the basket of fish, and that bandbox 
with my lady's " 



MfeS PRIOB IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 79 

" He— he ! " grins Bedford. 

" ' He — ^he ! ' Confound you, why do you stand 
grinning there ? Why didn't I have the carriage, 
I say?" bawls the master of the house. 

" You know, sir," says Bedford. " She had 
the carriage." And he indicated the door through 
which Lady Baker had just retreated. 

" Then why didn't I have the phaeton?" asks 
Bedford's master. 

" Your ma and Mr. Bennington had the 
phaeton." 

**And why shouldn't they, pray? Mr. Ben- 
nington is lame : I'm at my business all day. I 
should like to know why they shouldn't Ibave the 
phaeton?" says Level, appealing to me. As we 
had been sitting talking together , previous to . 
Miss Prior's appearance. Lady Baker had said to 
Level, "Your mother and Mr. Bennington are 
coming to dinner of course, Frederick;" and 
Level had said, ** Of course they are," with a 
peevish bluster, whereof I now began to under- 
stand the meaning. The fact was, these two 
wdmen were fighting for the possession of this 
child; but who was the Solomon to say which 
should have him? Not I. Nenni. I put my , 



80 IiOYEL THE WIDOWEfi. 

oar in no man's boat. Give me an easy life, my 
dear friends, and row me gently over. 

^' Yon had better go and dress/' says Bedford 
sternly, looking at his master ; ^' the first bell has 
rung this quarter of an hour. Will you have 
some 84?" 

Lovel started np ; he lools^d at the clock. 
^'You are all ready, Batch, I see. I hope you 
are going to stay some time, ain't yon?" And 
he disappeared to array himself in his sables and 
starch. I was thus alone with Miss Prior, and 
her young charges, who resnmed straightway their 
infantine gambols and quarrels. 

"My dear Bessy !'^ I cry, holding out both 
hands, " I am heartily glad to " 

" Ne rrCappeUz que de mon nom patemel devant 
tout ce monde s^U votis plait, mon cher ami, Tnon 
bon protecteur/** she says, hastily, in very good 
French, folding her hands and making a curtsey, f 

" Owi, oui, ouif Pao'leZ'^ouB Frangais f Taime^ 
tu aim^s, U aime I " cries out dear Master Popham. 
"What are you talking about? "Here's the 
phaeton ?" and the young innocent dashes through 
the open window on to the lawn, whither he is |j 

followed by his. sister, and where we see the \ 



MISS PBI03 IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 81 

carriage containing Mr. and Mrs. Boimington 
rolling over the smooth walk. 

Bessy advances towards me, and gives me 
readily enough now the hand she had refused 
anon. 

" I never thought you would have refused it, 
Bessy," said L 

^' Befuse it to the best friend I ever had ! " she 
says, pressing my hand. * *^ Ah, dear Mr. Batchelor, 
what an ungrateful wretch I should be, if I 
did!" 

" Let me see your eyes. Why do you^ wear 
spectacles ? You never wore them in Beak Street," 
I say. You see I was very fond of the child. 
She had wound herself around me in a thousand 
fond ways. Owing to a certain Person's con- 
duct my heart may be a ruin — a Persepolis, 
sir — a perfect Tadmor. But what then? May 
not a traveller rest under its shattered columns ? 
May not an Arab maid repose there till the 
morning dawns and the caravan passes on ? Yes, 
my heart is a Palmyra, and once a queen inhabited 
me (0 Zenobia ! Zenobia ! to think thou shouldst 
have been led away captive by an O'D. !) Now, 
I am alone, alone in the solitary wilderness. 



82 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Nevertheless, if a stranger comes to me I have 
a spring for his weary feet, I will give him the 
shelter of my shade. Best thy cheek awhile, 
young maiden, on my marble — then go thy ways, 
.and leave me. 

This I thonght, or something to this effect, as 
in reply to my remark, " Let me see your eyes," 
Bessy took off her spectacles, and I took them 
up and looked at her. "Why didn't I say to her, 
" My dear brave Elizabeth ! as I look in your 
face, I see you have had an awful deal of suffering. 
Your eyes are inscrutably sad. We who are 
initiated, know the members of our Community of 
Sorrow. We have both been wrecked in different 
ships, and been cast on this shore. Let us go 
hand-in-hand, and find a cave and a shelter some- 
where together." I say, why didn't I say this 
to. her ? She would have come, I feel sure she 
would. We would have been semi-attd<5hed as it 
were. We would have locked up that room in 
either heart where the skeleton was, and said 
nothing about it, and pulled down the party-wall 
and taken our mild tea in the garden. I live in 
Pump Court now. It would have been better 
than this dingy loneliness and a snuffy laundress 



I 



f 



BeMj's Spectacle*. 



MISS PBIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOK. 83 

who bullies me. But for Bessy? Well — ^well, 
perhaps better for her too. 

I remember these thoughts rushing through 
my mind whilst I held the spectacles. What a 
number of other things too ? I remember two 
canaries making a tremendous concert in their 
cage. I remember the voices of the two children 
quarrelling on the lawn, the sound of the carriage- 
wheels^ grinding over the gravel ; and then of a 
little old familiar cracked voice in my ear, with 
a '^ La, Mr. Batchelor ! are you here ?" And a 
sly face looks up at me from under an old 
bonnet. 

" It is mamma," says Bessy. 

'^ And Tm come to tea with Elizabeth and the 
dear children ; and while you are at dinner, dear 
Mr. Batchelor, thankful — thankful for all mercies ! 
An^, dear me ! here is Mrs. Bonnington, I do 
declare ! Dear madara, how well you look — not 
twenty, I declare ! And dear Mr. Bonnington ! 
Oh, sir ! lot me — let me, I must press your hand. 
What a sermon last Sunday ! All Putney was in 
tears ! " 

And the little woman, flinging out her lean 
arms, seizes portly Mr. Bennington's fEit hand: 

6—2 



84 LOV&L THE WIDOWER. 

ftB he a&d kind Mrs. Bonnington enter at the 
open casement. The little woman seems inclined 
to do the honours of the honse. ^' And won't 
yon go upstairs^ and put on joxa cap? Dear 
me, what a lovely ribbon ! How blue does become 
Mrs. Bonnington ! I always say i»> to Elizabeth/' 
fihe cries, peeping into a little packet which 
Mrs. Bonnington bears in her hand. After ex- 
changing friendly words and greetings with m^^ 
that lady retires to pnt the loTely cap on, followed 
by her little jackal of an aide-de-camp. The 
portly clergyman surveys his pleased person in 
ihe spacious mirror. *' Your things are in your 
old room — ^like to go in, and brush up a bit ? '^ 
whispers Bedford to me. I am obliged to go, 
you see, though, for my part, I had thought,, 
until Bedford spoke, that the ride on the top of 
the Putney omnibus had left me without any need 
of brushing ; having aired my clothes, and given 
my young cheek a fresh and agreeable bloom. 

My old room, as Bedford calls it, was that snug 
apartment communicating by double doors with 
the drawing-room, and whence you can walk on 
to the lawn out of the windows. 

*' Here's your books, here's your writing-paper," 



MISS PRIOR IS KEPT AT THE DOOR. 85 



says Bedford, leading the way into the chamber. 
** Does sore eyes good to see youi down here 
again, sir. You josj smoke now. Clarence Baker 
smokes when he comes. Go and get some of 
that wine you like for dinner.** And the good 
fellow's eyes beam kindness upon me as be nods 
his head, and depazts to superintend the duties 
of his table. Of course you uodj^rstasid that this 
Bedford was my young printer's boy of former 
days. What a queer fellow! I bad not only 
been kind to bimi but he was gratefdi. 



CHAPTER m. 

IN WHICH 1 PLAT THE SPY. 

The room to whioli Bedford cooducted me I hold 
to be the vety pleasanteet chamber in all the man- 
sion of Shrablands. To lie on that comfortable, 
cool badielor'a bed there, and eee the biidg hop- 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 87 

ping about on the lavm; to peep out of the French 
window at early mornings inhale the sweet air, 
mark the dewy bloom on the grass, listen to the ' 
Kttle warblers performing their chorus, Step forth 
in your dressing-gown and sUppers, pick a straw- 
berry from the bed, or an apricot in its season ; 
blow one, two, three, just half-a-dozen puflFs of a 
cigarette ; hear the venerable towers of Putney toll 
the hour of six (three hours from breakfast, by 
consequence), and pop back into bed again with a 
favourite novel, or review, to set you off (you see I 
am not malicious, or I could easily insert here the 
name of some twaddler against whom I have a- 
grudgekin) : to pop back into bed again, I say, 
with a book which sets you off into that dear, 
invaluable second sleep, by which health, spirits, 
appetite are so prodigiously improved : — all these 
I hold to be most cheerful and harmless pleasures, 
and have partaken of them often at Shrublands 
with a grateful heart. That heart may have had 
its griefs, but is yet susceptible of enjoyment and 
consolation. That bosom may have been lacerated, 
but is not therefore and henceforward a stranger 
to comfort. After a certain affedr in Dublin — nay, 
very soon after, three months after — ^I recollect 



88 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

remarking to myself: '^ Well, ibank my stars, I 
still have a relish for 84 claret." Once at Shrab- 
lands I heard steps pacing OTorhead at night, and 
the feeUa but continued wail of an infimt. I 
wakened from my sleep, was sul^, but turned and 
slept again. Biddlecombe the barrister I knew 
was the occupant of the upper chamber. He came 
down the next morning looking wretchedly yellow 
about the cheeks, and li^id round the eyes. His 
teething infiEmt had kept him on the march all 
night, and Mrs. Biddlecombe, I am told, scolds 
him frightfully besides. He munched a shred of 
toast, and was off by the omnibus to chambers. 
I chipped a second egg ; I may have tried one or 
two other nice little things on the table (Stras- 
bourg pate I know I neyer cui resist, and am 
convinced it is perfectly wholesome). I could see 
my own sweat &ce in the mirror opposite, and my 
gills were as rosy as any broiled salmon. ^^ Well 
— ^well I " I thought, as the barrister disappeared 
on the roof of the coach, ^^he has domv^ aaid 
'placenB itxor^^hui is she placemf Placetne to 
walk about.all night with a roaring baby ? Is it 
pleasing to go to bed after a long hard day's work, 
and have your wife nagnagging you because she 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 89 

has not been invited to the Lady Ghancelloress's 
sair^ey or what not ? Suppose the Glorvina whom 
you loved so had been yours? Her eyebrows 
looked as if they could scowl ; her eyes as if they 
could flash with anger. Remember what a slap 
she gave the little knife-boy for upsetting the 
butter-boat over her tabinet. Suppose parvvlm 
mdd, a little Batchelor, your son, who had the 
toothache all night in your bed-room ? " These 
thoughts passed rapidly through my mind as I 
helped myself to the coix^ortable meal before me. 
" I say, what a lot of mufltos you're eating ! " 
cried innocent Master Lovel. Now the married, 
the wealthy, the prosperous Biddlecombe only took 
his wretched scrap of dry toast. "Aha ! " you 
say, " this man i^ conscding himself after his mis- 
fortune." churl ! and do you grudge me conso- 
lation ? " Thank you, dear Miss Prior. Another 
cup, and plenty of cream, if you please." Of 
course, Lady Baker was not at table when I said^ 
"Dear Miss Prior," at break£Eist. Before her 
ladyship I was as mum as a mouse. Elizabeth 
found occasion to whisper to me during the day, 
in her demure way : " This is a very rare occa- 
sion.' Lady B. never allows me to break&st alone 



90 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

with Mr. Lovely bnt has taken her extra nap, I 
snpposei because yon and Mr. and Mrs. Biddle- 
combe were here." 

Now it may be that one of the double doors of 
the room which I inhabited was occasionally 6pen, 
and that Mr. Batchelor's eyes and ears are uncom- 
monly quick, and note a number of things which 
less observant persons would never regard or dis- 
cover ; but out of this room, which I occupied for 
some few days, now and subsequently, I looked 
out as from a Httle ambush upon the proceedings 
of the house, and got a queer little insight into 
the history and characters of the personages round 
about me. The two grandmothers of LovePs 
children were domineering over that easy gentle- 
man, as women — not grandmothers merely, but 
sisters, wives, aunts, daughters, when the chance 
is given them— will domineer. Ah ! Glorvina, 
what a grey mare you might have become had 
you chosen Mr. Batchelor for your consort ! (But 
this I only remark with a parenthetic sigh.) The 
two children had taken each the side of a grand- 
mamma, and whilst Master Pop was declared by 
his maternal grandmother to be a Baker all over, 
and taught to despise sugar-baking and trade, 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 91 

little Cecilia was Mrs. Bonningtoh's fjEtyonrite, 
repeated Watts's hymns with fervent precocity; 
declared that she would marry none hut a clergy- 
man ; preached infieaitine sermons to her brother 
and maid about worldliness; and somewhat wearied ^ 
me, if the truth must be told, by the intense self- 
respect with which she regarded her own virtues: 
The old ladies had that love for each other, which 
one may imagine that their relative positions would 
engender. Over.tHe bleeding and helpless bodies 
of Level and his worthy and kind stepfather, 
Mr. Bonnington, they skirmished, and fired shots 
at each other. Lady B. would give hints about 
Second marriages, and second families, and so 
forth, which of course made Mrs. Bennington 
wince. Mrs. B. had the better of Lady Baker, 
in consequence of the latter's notorious pecuniary 
irregularities. She had never had recourse to her 
son's purse, she could thank Heaven. She was 
not afraid of meeting any tradesman in Putney or 
London : she had never been ordered out of the 
house in the late Cecilia's lifetime : she coul(f 
go to Boulogne and enjoy the freah air there. 
This was the terrific whip she had over Baker. 
Lady B.| I regret to say, in consequence of the 



92 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

failure of remittances, had been locked up in 
prison, just at a time when she was in a state of 
violent quarrel with her late daughter, and good 
Mr. Bonnington had helped her out of durance. 
How did I know this ? Bedford, Loyel's factotum, 
told me : ajid how the old ladies were fighting like 
two cats. 

There was one point on which the two ladies 
agreed. A very wealthy widower, young still, 
good-looking, and good-tempered, we know can 
sometimes find a dear woman to console his lone*- 
liness, and protect his motherless children. From 
the neighbouring Heath, from Wimbledon, Boe- 
hampton, Barnes, Mortlake, Bichmond, Esher, 
Walton, Windsor, nay, Beading, Bath, Exeter, 
and Penzance itself, or from any other quarter of 
Britain, over which your femcy may please to 
travel, families would have come ready with dear 
young girls to take charge of that man's future 
happiness : hut it is a fact that these two dragons 
kept all women off from their ward. An un- 
married woman, with decent good looks, was 
scarce ever allowed to enter Shrublsinds gate. If 
such an one appeared, Lovel's two mothers sallied 
out, and enmched her hapless bones* Once or 



IN WHICH I PLAT THE SPY. 93 

twice he dared to dine with his neighbours, but 
the ladies led him such a Ii& that the poor crea- 
ture gave up the practice^ and £untly announced 
his preference for home. *' My dear Batch/' says 
he^ '' what do I care for the dinners of the people 
round about ? Has any one of them got a better 
cook or better wine than mine ? When I come 
home from business^ it is an intolerable nuisance 
to have to dress and go out seven or eight miles to 
cold entries, and loaded claret, and sweet port. I 
can't stand it, sir. I wonH stand it " (and he 
stamps his foot in a resolute manner). " Give 
me an easy life, a wine merchant I can trust, and 
my own Mends, by my own fireside. Shall we 
have some more ? We can manage another bottle 
between us three, Mr. Bennington ? " 

'^Well," says Mr. Bennington, winking at the 
ruby goblet, "I am sure I have no objection, 
Frederick, to another bo " 

" Coffee is served, sir," cries Bedford, entering. 

"Well — ^well, perhaps we have had enough," 
says worthy JBonnington. 

" We have had enough ; we all drink too much," 
says Level, briskly. " Come in to coffee ?" 

We go to the drawing-room. Fred and I, and 



94 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

the two ladies, sit down to a rubberi whilst Miss 
Prior plays a piece of Beethpyen to a slight 
warbHng accompaniment from Mr. Bonnington's 
handsome nose, who has fallen asleep over the 
newspaper. During our play, Bessy glides out of 
the room — ^a grey shadow. Bennington wakens 
lip when the tray is brought in. Lady Baker 
likes that good old custom : it was always the 
fashion at the Castle, and she takes a good glass of 
negus, too ; and so do we all ; and the conversa- 
tion is pretty merry, and Fred Level hopes I shall 
sleep better to-night, and is very facetious about 
poor Biddlecombe, and the way in which that 
eminent Q.C. is henpecked by his wife. 

From my bachelor's room, then, on the ground 
floor ; or from my solitary walks in the garden, 
whence I could oversee many things in the house ; 
or from Bedford's communications to me, which 
were very friendly, curious, and unreserved; or 
from my own observation, which I promise you 
can see as far into the mill-stones of life as most 
folks', I grew to find the mysteries of Shrublands 
no longer mysterious to me; and, like another 
Diable Boiteux, had the roofs of a pretty number 
of the Shrublands' rooms taken off for me. 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 95 

For instance, on thai very first day of my stay, 
whilst the £amily were attiring themselves for 
dinner, I chanced to find two secret cupboards of 
the honse unlocked, and the contents unveiled to 
me. Pinhorn, the children's maid, a giddy little 
flirting thing in a pink ribbon, brought some 
articles of the toilette into my worship's apart- 
ment, and as she retired did not shut the door 
behind her. I might have thought that pert little 
head had never been made to ache by any care; 
but ah! black care sits behind the horseman, as 
Horace remarks, and not only behind the horse- 
man, but behind .the footman ; and not only on 
the footman, but on the buxom shoiilders of the 
lady's-maid. So with Pinhorn. You surely have 
remarked respecting domestic servants that they 
address you in a tone utterly affected and unna- 
tural — adopting, when they are amongst each 
other, voices and gestures entirely different to 
those which their employers see and hear. Now, 
this little Pinhorn, in her occasional intercourse 
with your humble servant, had a brisk, quick, 
fluttering toss of the head, and a Msky manner, 
no doubt capable of charming some persons. As 
for me, ancillary aUurements have, I own, had but 



96 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

small temptations. If Yeniis brought me a bed- 
room candle, and a jng of hot-water — ^I should 
give her sixpence, and no more. Haying, yon see, 

given my all to one wom ^Psha! never mind 

that old story. — ^Well, I daresay this little creature 
may have been a flirt, but I took no more notice of 
her than if she had been a coal-scuttle. 

Now, suppose she was a flirt. Suppose, under 
a mask of levity, she hid a profound sorrow. Do 
you suppose she was the first woman who ever 
has done so ? Do you suppose, because she has 
fifteen pounds a year, her tea, sugar, and beer^ 
and told fibs to her masters and mistresses, she 
had not a heart ? She went out of the room, 
absolutely coaxing and leering at me as she 
departed, with a great counterpane over her arm ; 
but in the next apartment I heard her voice quite 
changed, and another changed voice too — though 
not so much altered — interrogating her. My friend 
Dick Bedford's voice, in addressing those whom 
Fortune had pleased to make his superiors, was 
gruff and brief. He seemed to be anxious to 
deliver himself of his speech to you as quickly 
as possible; and his tone always seemed to 
hint, *' There — ^there is my message, and I have 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 97 

delivered it; but you know perfectly well that I 
am as good as you." And so he was^ and so 
I always admitted : so even the trembling, believ- 
ing^ flustering, suspicious Lady Baker herself 
admitted, when she came into communication 
with this man. I have thought of this little 
Dick as of Swift at Sheen hard by, with Sir 
William Temple : or Spartacus when he was as 
yet the servant of the fortunate Boman gentleman 
who owned him. Now if Dick was intelligent, 
obedient, useful, only not rebeUious, with his 
superiors, I should fancy that amongst his equals 
he was by no means pleasant company, and that 
most of them hated him for his arrogance, his 
honesty, and his scorn of them all. 

But women do not always hate a man for scorn- 
ing and despising them. Women do not revolt 
at the rudeness and arrogance of us their natural 
superiors. Women, if properly trained, come 
down to heel at the master's bidding, and lick 
the hand that has been often raised to hit them. 
I do not say the ^rave little Dick Bedford ever 
raised an actual hand to this poor serving girl, 
but his tongue whipped her, his behaviour trampled 
on her, and she cried, and came to him whenever 

7 



08 IiOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

lie lifted a finger. Psha ! Don't tell me. If 
yon want a quiet, contented, orderly home, and 
things comfortable about you, that is the way you 
must manage your women. 

Well, Bedford happens to be in the next room. 
It is the morning-room at Shrublands. You enter 
the dining-room from it, and they are in the habit 
of laying out i^e dessert there, before taking it in 
for dinner. Bedford is laying out his dessert as 
Pinhorn enters from my chamber, and he begins 
upon her with a sarcastic sort of grunt, and a 
" Ho ! suppose you've been making up to B., 
have you ? " 

*' Oh, Mr. Bedford, you know very weU who it 
is I cares for ! " she says, with a sigh. 

" Bother ! " Mr. B. remarks. 

" Well, Eichard, then ! " (here she weeps.) 

" Leave go my 'and ! — leave go my a-hand, I 
say ! " (What could she have been doing to cause 
this exclamation ?) 

" Oh, Bichard, it's not your ^and I want— it's 
your ah-ahrart, Bichard ! " 

" Mary Pinhorn," exclaims the other, " what's 
the use of going on with this game ? You know 
we couldn't be a-happy together — ^you know your 



m WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 99 

ideers ain't no good, Mary. It ain't yonr fault. 
I don't blame you for it, my dear. Some people 
are bom clever, some are bom tall : I ain't tall." 
" Oh, you're tall enough for me, Richard ! " 
Here Bichard again found occasion to cry out : 
*' Don% I say ! Suppose Baker was to come in 
and find you squeezing of my hand in this way ? 
I say, some people are bom with big brains. 
Miss Pinhom, and some with big figures. Look 
at that ass Bulkeley, Lady B.'s man.! He is as 
big as a Life-guardsman, and he has no more 
education, nor no more ideas, than the beef he 
feeds on." 

^* La ! Bichard, whathever do you mean ?" 
" Pooh ! How should you know what I mean ? 
Lay them books straight. Put the volumes 
together, stupid ! and the papers, and get the 
table ready for nursery tea, and don't go on there 
mopping your eyes and making a fool of yourself, 
Mary Pinhom ! " 

" Oh, your heart is a stone — a stone—a stone ! " 
cries Mary, in a burst of tears. "And I wish 
it was hung round my neck, and I was at the 
bottom of the well, and — ^thiere's the hupstairs 
beU!" with which signal I suppose Mary dis- 

7—2 



100 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

appeared, for I only heard a sort of grunt from 
Mr. Bedford; then the clatter of a dish or two, 
the wheeling of chairs and furniture, and then 
came a brief silence, which lasted until the entry 
of Dick's subordinate. Buttons, who laid the table 
for the children's and Miss Prior's tea. 

So here was an old story told over again. Here 
was love unrequited, and a little passionate heart 
wounded and unhappy. My poor little Mary ! 
As I am a sinner, I will give thee a crown when 
I go away, and not a couple of shillings, as my 
wont has been. Five shillings will not console 
thee much, but they will console thee a little. 
Thou wilt not imagine that I bribe thee with any 
privy thought of evil ? Away ! Ich Iidbe genossen 
das irdische Gluck — ich hdbe — geliebtf 

At this juncture I suppose Mrs. Prior must 
have entered the apartment, for though I could 
not hear her noiseless step, her little cracked 
voice came pretty clearly to me with a " Good 
afternoon, Mr. Bedford ! Oh, dear me ! what a 
many — many years we have been acquainted. To 
think of the pretty little printer's boy who used 
to come to Mr. Batchelor, and see you grown such 
a fine man ! " 



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IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 101 

Bedford. " How ? I'm only five foot four." 

Mrs. P. " But such a fine figure, Bedford ! 
You are — now indeed you are ! Well, you are 
strong and I am weak. You are well, and I am 
weary and feint." 

Bedford. ^ The tea's a-coming directly, Mrs. 
Prior." 

Mrs. P. " Could you give me a glass of water 
first — and perhaps a little sherry in it, please. 
Oh, thank you. How good it is ! How it revives 
a poot old wretch ! — and your cough, Bedford ? 
How is your cough ? I have brought you some 
lozenges for it — some of Sir Henry Halford's own 
prescribing for my dear husband, and " 

Bedford (abruptly). "I must go — never mind 
the cough now, Mrs. P." 

Mrs. Prior. " What's here ? almonds and 
raisins, macaroons, preserved apricots, biscuits for 
dessert — and — la bless the man ! how you 
sta — artled me ! " 

Bedford. "Don't! Mr^. Prior: I beg and 
implore of you, keep your 'ands out of the dessert. 
I can't stand it. I must tell the governor if this 
game goes on." 

Mrs. P. " Ah ! Mr. Bedford, it is for my poor 



102 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

— ^poor child at home : the doctor recommended 
her apricots. Ay, indeed, dear Bedford; he did^ 
for her poor chest ! " 

Bedford, " And I'm blest if you haven't been 
at the sherry-bottle again ! Oh, Mrs. P., you 
drive me wild — ^you do. I can't see Level put 
upon in this way. You know it's only last week 
I whopped the boy for steding the sherry^ and 
'twas you done it." 

Mrs. Prior (passionately). " For a sick child, 
Bedford. What won't a mother do for her sick 
chUd?" 

Bedford, " Your children's always sick. You're 
always taking things for 'em. I tell you, by the 
laws, I won't and mustn't stand it, Mrs. P." 

Mrs. Prior (with much spirit). '* Go and tell 
your master, Bedford ! Go and tell tales of me, 
sir. Go and have me dismissed out of this house. 
Go and have my daughter dismissed Qut of this 
house, and her poor mother brought to dis* 
grace." 

Bedford. " Mrs. Prior — ^Mrs. Prior ! you have 
been a-taking the sherry. A glass I don't mind : 
but you've been a-bringing that bottle again." 

Mrs^ P. (whimpering). "It's for Charlotte, Bed- 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 103 

< 

ford ! my poor delicate angel of a Shatty ! she's 
ordered it, indeed she is ! " 

Bedford. " Confound your Shatty ! I can't 
stand it, I mustn't, and won't, Mrs. P. ! " 

Here a noise and clatter of other persons arriv- 
ing interrupted the conversation between Level's 
major-domo and the mother of the children's 
governess, and I presently heard master Pop's 
voice saying, " You're going to tea with us, 
Mrs. Prior?" 

Mrs, P. " Your kind dear grandmammas have 
asked me, dear Master Popham." 

Pop.." But you'd like to go to dinner best, 
wouldn't you ? I daresay you have doocid bad 
dinners at your house. Haven't you, Mrs. Prior?'* 

Cissy, "Don't say doocid. It's a naughty word, 
Popham ! " 

Pop. "I mK say doocid. Doo-oo-oocid! There! 
V And I'll say worse words too, if I please, and you 
hold your tongue. What's there for tea ? jam for 
tea? strawberries for tea? muffins for tea? That's 
it : strawberries and muffins for tea ? And we'll 
go into dessert besides : that's prime. I say, Miss 
Prior ? " 

Miss Prior. " What do you say, Popham ?" 



Wftere the Sugar goes. 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 105 

Mr8. p. " I know three dear children who very 
— ^very seldom have nice marmalade and delicious 
cake." 

Pop. " I know whom you mean : you mean 
Augustus, and Frederick, and Fanny — your 
children ? Well, they shall have marmalade 
and cake." 

CiB, " Oh, yes, I wiU give them all mine." 

Pop. (who speaks, I think, as if his mouth was 
full). " I won't give *em mine : but they can have 
anothei" pot, you know. You have always got a 
basket with you ; you know you have, Mrs. Prior. 
You had it the day you took the cold fowl." 

Mrs. P. " For the poor blind black man ! 
Oh, how thankful he was to his dear young 
benefactors ! He is a man and a brother, and 
to help him was most kind of you, dear Master 
Popham ! " 

Pop. "That black beggar my brother? He ain't 
my brother." 

Mrs. P. "No, dears, you have both the most 
lovely complexions in the world." 

Pop. " Bother complexions ! I say, Mary, 
another pot of marmalade." 

Mary. " I don't know. Master Pop " 



106 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

Pop. " I will have it, I say. If you don't, I'll 
smash everything, I will." 

Cis. " Oh, you naughty, rude boy ! " 

Pop. '* Hold your tongue, stupid ! I w^U have 
it, I say." 

Mrs. P. " Do humour him, Mary, please. And 
I'm silre my dear children at home will be better 
for it." 

Pop. " There's your basket. Now put this cake 
in, and this bit of butter, and this sugar on the 
top of the butter. Hurray! hurray! Oh, what 
jolly fan ! Here's some cake — no, I think I'll 
keep that ; and, Mrs. Prior, tell Gus, and Fanny^ 
and Fred, I sent it to 'em, and they shall never 
want for anything, as long as Frederick Popham 
Baker Lovel, Esquire, can give it them. Did Gus 
like my gray greatcoat that I didn't want ?" 

Miss P. "You did not- give him your new 
greatcoat?" 

Pop. "It was beastly ugly, and I did give it 
him ; and I'll give him this if I choose. And don't 
you speak to me ; I'm going to school, and I ain't 
going to have no governesses soon." 

Mrs. Prior. " Ah, dear child ! what a nice coat 
it is ; and how well my poor boylooks in it ! " 



IN WHICH 1 PLAY THE SPY. 107 

Miss Prior. " Mother, mother ! I implore you 
— mother!" 

Mr. Lovel enters. '* So the children at high tea! 
How d'ye do, Mrs. Prior? I think we shall he 
ahle to manage that little matter for your second 
hoy, Mrs. Prior." » 

Mrs. Prior. "Heaven hless you, — ^bless you, 
my dear, kind henefactor ! Don't prevent me, 
Elizabeth : I must kiss his hand. There ! " 

And here the second bell rings, and I enter the 
morning-room, and can see Mrs. Prior's great 
basket popped cunningly under the table-doth. 
Her basket? — her porte-manteau, her porte-hou- 
teille, her porte-gdteau, her porte-pantalon, her 
porte-butin in general. Thus I could see that 
every day' Mrs. Prior visited Shrublands she 
gleaned greedily of the harvest. Well, Boaz was 
rich, and this ruthless Buth was hungry and 
poor. » 

At the welcome smnmons of the second bell, 
Mr. and Mrs. Bonnington also made their appear- 
ance ; the latter in the new cap which Mrs. Prior 
had admired, and which she saluted with a nod of 
smiling recognition : " Dear madam, it is lovely — 
I told you it was," whispers Mrs. P., and the 



108 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

wearer of the blue ribbons turned her bonny, good- 
natured face towards the looking-glass, and I hope 
saw no reason to doubt Mrs. Prior's sincerity. As 
for Bennington, I could perceive that he had been 
taking a little nap before dinner, — a practice by 
which the appetite is improved, I think, and the 
intellect prepared for the bland prandial conversa- 
tion. 

"Have the children been quite good?" asks 
papa, of the governess. 

" There are worse children, sir," says Miss 
Prior, meekly. 

"Make haste and have your dinner; we are 
coming into dessert ! " cries Pop. 

"You would not have us go to dine without 
your grandmother?" papa asks. Dine without 
Lady Baker, indeed ! I should have liked to see 
him go to dinner without Lady Baker. 

Pending her ladyship's arrival, papa and Mr. 
Bennington walk to the open window, and gaze on 
the lawn and the towers of Putney rising over the 
wall. 

"Ah, my good Mrs. Prior," cries Mrs. Ben- 
nington, *' those grandchildren of mine are sadly 
spoiled." 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY, 109 

" Not by you^ dear madam," says Mrs. Prior, 
with a look of commiseration. " Your dear 
children at home are, I am sure, perfect models 
of goodness. Is master Edward well, ma'am ? 
and Master Bobert, and Master Bichard, and dear 
fimny little Master William? Ah, what blessings 
those children are to you ! If a certain wilful 
little nephew of theirs took after them .! " 

" The little naughty wretch ! " cried Mrs. Bon- , 
nington; "do you know. Prior, my grandson 
Frederick — (I don't know why they call him Pop- 
ham in this house, or why he should be ashamed 
of his fftther's name) — do you know that Popham 
spilt the ink over my dear husband's bands, which 
he keeps in his great dictionary, and fought with 
my Bichard, who is three years older than Pop« 
ham, and actually beat his own uncle ! " 

" Gracious goodness ! " I cried ; " you don't 
mean to say, ma'am, that Pop has been laying 
violent hands upon his venerable relative ? " I 
feel ever so gentle a pull at my coat. Was it 
Miss Prior who warned me not to indulge in the 
sarcastic method with good Mrs. Bonnington ? 

" I don't know why you call my poor child a 
venerable relative," Mrs. B. remarks. "I know 



110 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

that Popham wa& very rude to him; and then 
Bobert came to his brother^ and that graceless 
little Popham took a sticky and my husband came 
oaty and do you know Popham Lovel actually 
kicked Mr. Bonnington on the shins, and butted 
him like a little naughty ram ; and if you think 
such conduct is a subject for ridicule — I dan\ 
Mr. Batchelor ! " 

** My dear — dear lady ! " I cried, seizing her 
hand ; for she was going to cry, and in woman's 
eye the unanswerable tear always raises a deuce 
of a commotion in my mind. ** I would not for 
the world say a word that should willingly tex 
you ; and as for Popham, I give you my honour, 
I think nothing would do that child so much good 
as a good whipping. " 

" He is spoiled, madam ; we know by whom,^* 
says Mrs. Prior. ^' Dear Lady Baker ! how that 
red does become your ladyship." In fact. Lady B. 
sailed in at this juncture, arrayed in ribbons of 
scarlet ; with many brooches, bangles, and other 
gimcracks ornamenting her plenteous person. And 
now her ladyship having arrived, Bedford announced 
that dinner was served, and Lovel gave his mother- 
in-law an arm, whilst I offered mine to Mrs. Bon- 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. Ill 

nington to lead her to the adjoining dining-room. 
And the pacable kind soul speedily made peace 
with me. And we ate and drank of Lovel's best. 
And Lady Baker told ns her celebrated anecdote 
of George the Fourth's compUment. to her late 
dear husband, Sir George, when his Majesty 
visited Ireland. Mrs. Prior and her basket were 
gone when we repaired to the drawing-room: 
haring been hunting all day, the hungry mother 
had returned with her prey to her wide-mouthed 
birdikins. Elizabeiii looked very pale and hand- 
some, reading at her lamp. And whist and the 
little tray finished the second day at Shrublands. 

I paced the moonlit walk alone when the family 
had gone to rest ; and smoked my cigar under the 
tranquil stars. I had been some thirty hours in 
the house, and what a queer little drama was 
unfolding itself before me ! What struggles and 
passions were going on here — what certamina 
and motiis ammorwm! Here was Lovel, this 
willing horse ; and what a crowd of relations, 
what a heap of luggage had the honest fellow 
to carry ! How that little Mrs. Prior was work- 
ing, and scheming, and tacking, and flattering, 
and &wning, and plundering, to be sure ! And 



112 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

that serene Elizabeth, with what consummate 
skill, art, and prudence, had she to act, to keep 
her place with two such rivals reigning over her. 
And Elizabeth not only kept her place, but she 
actually was liked by those two women! Why, 
Elizabeth Prior, my wonder and respect for thee 
increase with every hour during which I contem- 
plate thy character ! How is it that you live with 
those lionesses, and are not torn to pieces ? What 
sops of flattery do you cast to them to appease 
them ? Perhaps I do not think my Elizabeth 
brings up. her two children very well, and, indeed, 
have seldom become acquainted with young people 
more odious. But is the faulty hers, or is it For- 
tune's spite ? How, with these two grandmothers 
spoiling the children alternately, can the governess 
do better than she does ? How has she managed 
to lull their natural jealousy ? I will work out 
that intricate problem, that I will, ere many days 
are over. And there are other mysteries which 
I perceive. There is poor Mary breaking her 
heart for the butler. That butler, why does he 
connive at the rogueries of Mrs., Prior ? Ha ! 
herein lies a mystery, too ; and I vow I will 
penetrate it ere long. So saying, I fling away 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 113 

the butt-end of the fragrant companion of my 
solitude, and enter into my room by the open 
French window just as Bedford walks in at the 
door. I had heard the Toice of that worthy 
domestic warbUng a grave melody from his pantry 
window as I paced the lawn. When the femily 
goes to rest, Bedford passes a couple of hours 
in study in his pantry, perusing the newspapers 
and the new works, and forming his' opinion on 
books and politics. Indeed I have reason to 
believe that the letters in the Putney Herald . and 
Mortlake Monitor, signed " A Voice from the 
Basement," were Mr. Bedford's composition. 

*' Come to see all safe for the night, sir, and 
the windows closed before you turn in," Mr. Dick 
remarks. " Best not leave 'em open, even if you 
are asleep inside — catch cold — ^many bad people 
about. Eemember Bromley murder ! — ^Enter at 
French windows — ^you cry out — cut your throat — 
and there's a fine paragraph for papers next 
morning ! " 

" What a good voice you have, Bedford," I say; 
'* I heard you warbUng just now — a famous bass, 
on my word ! " 

" Always fond df music — sing when I'm clean- 

8 



114 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

ing my plate — ^learned in Old Beak Street. She 
nsed to teadli me/' and he points towards the 
upper floors. 

" What a little chap you were then ! — ^when yon 
came &r my proofs for the Museum,^* I remark. 

"I ain't a very big one now, sir; but it ain't 
the big ones that do the best work/' remarks the 
butler. 

^' I remember Hiss Prior saying that yon were 
as old as she wasV 

'^Hml and I scarce came up to her— eh — 
elbow." (Bedford had constantly to do battle 
with the aspirates. He conquered them^ but you 
could see there wa^ a struggle.) 

** And it was Miss Prior taught you to sing ? '' 
I say, looking him Ml in the face. 

He dropped his eyes — he could not bear my 
scrutiny. I knew the whole story now. 

" When Mrs. Level died at Naples, Miss Prior 
brought home the children, and you acted as 
courier to the whole party ? " 

"Yes, sir,** says Bedford. "We had the car- 
riage, and of course poor Mrs. L. was sent home 
by sea, and I brought home the young ones, and 
— ^and the rest of the &mily. I could say, Avantlf 



gg 
gt 



IN WmCH I PLAY THE SPY. 115 

avanti/ to the Italian postilions, and ask for des 
chevaux when we crossed the Halps — ^the Alps, — I 
beg your pardon, sir," 

" And you used to see the party to their rooms 
at the inns, and call them up in the morning, and 
you had a blunderbuss in the rumble to shoot the 
robbers ?'■ 

Yes," says Bedford. 

And it was a pleasant time?" 

"Yes," says Bedford, groaning, and hanging 
down his miserable head. " Oh, yes, it was a 
pleasant time." 

He turned away ; he stamped his foot ; he gave 
a sort of imprecation; he pretended to look at 
some books, and dust them with a napkin which 
he carried. I saw the matter at once. " Poor 
Dick!" says I. 

"It's the old— old story," says Dick. "It's 
you and the Hirish girl over again, sir. I'm only 

a servani, I know ; but I'm a * Confound it! " 

And here he stuck his fists into his eyes. 

" And this is the reason you allow old Mrs. 
Prior to steal the sherry and the sugar ? " I 



" How do you know that ? — ^you remember how 

8—2 



116 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

she prigged in Beak Street ?" asks Bedford, 
fiercely. 

" I overheard you and her just before dinner," 
I said. 

" You had better go and tell Level — ^have me 
turned out of the house. That's the best thing 
that can be done,'* cries Bedford again, fiercely, 
stamping his feet. 

" It is always my custom to do as much mischief 
as I possibly can, Dick Bedford," I say, with fine 
irony. 

He seizes my hand. " No, you're a trump — 
everybody knpws that ; beg pardon, sir ; but you 
see I'm so — so — dash ! — miserable, that I hardly 
know whether I'm walking on my head or my 
heels." . 

" You haven't succeeded in touching her heart, 
then, my poor Dick ?" I said. 

Dick shook his head. '' She has no heart," he 
said. " If she ever had any, that fellar in India 
took it away with him. She don't care for any- 
body alive. She likes me as well as any one. I 
think she appreciates me, you ^ee, sir ; she can't 
*elp it — ^I'm blest if she can. She knows I am 
a better man than most of the chaps that come 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 117 

down here, — I am, if I wasn't a servant. If I 
were only an apothecary — like that grinning jackass 
who comes here from Barnes in his gig, and wants 
to marry her — she'd have me. She keeps him 
on, and encourages him — she can do that cleverly 
enough. And the old dragon fancies she is fond 
of him. Psha ! Why am I making a fool, of 
myself? — I am only a servant. Mary's good 
enough for me ; she'll have me fast enough. I 
beg your pardon, sir; I am making a fool of 
myself; I fdn't the first, sir. Good-night, sir; 
hope you'll sleep well." And Dick departs to his 
pantry and his private cares, and I think, 
" Here is another victim who is writhing 
under the merciless arrows of the universal 
torturer." 

"He is a very singular person," Miss Prior 
remarked to me, as, next day, I happened to be 
walking on Putney Heath by her side, while her 
young charges trotted on and quarrelled in the 
distance. " I wonder where the world will stop 
next, dear Mr. Batchelor,and how far the march 
of intellect will proceed ! Any one so free, and 
easy, and cool, as this Mr. Bedford I never saw. 
When we were abroad with|poor Mrs. Lovel, he 



118 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

picked up French and Italiaxi in quite a surprising 
way. He takes books down from the library now : 
the most abstruse works — ^wprks that I couldn't 
pretend to read^ I'm sure. Mr. Bennington says 
he has taught himself history, and Horace in 
Latin, and algebra, and I don't know what besides. 
He talked to the servants and tradespeople at 
Naples much better than I could, I assure you." 
And Elizabeth tosses up her head heavenwards; 
as if she would ask of yonder skies how such a 
man could possibly be as good as herself. 

She stepped along the Heath — slim, stately, 
healthy, tall — her firm, neat foot treading swiftly 
over the grass. She wore her blue spectacles, but 
I think she could have looked at the sun without 
the glasses and without wincing. That sun was 
playing with her tawny, wavy ringlets, and scat- 
tering gold-dust over them. 

" It is wonderful," said I, admiring her, " how 
these people give themselves airs, and try to 
imitate their betters ! " 

"Most extraordinary!" says Bessy. She had 
not "one particle of humour in all her composition, 
I think Dick Bedford was right; and she had 
no heart. Well; she had fiEunous lungs, health; 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 119 

appetite^ and witL these one may get through life 
not uncomfortably. 

''You and Saint Cecilia got on pretty well, 
Bessy?" I ask. 

"Saint who?" 

" The late Mrs. L." 

** Oh, Mrs. Level : — ^yes. What an odd person 
you are ! I did not understand whom you meant/' 
says Elizabeth the downright. 

''Not a good temper, I should think? She 
and Fred fought?" 

" He never fought." 

" I think a little bird has told me that she was 
not averse to the admiration of our sex ?" 

"I don't speak ill of my friends, Mr. Batchelor ! " 
replies Elizabeth the prudent. 

" You must have difficult work with the two old 
ladies at Shruldands ? " 

Bessy shrugs her shoulders. " A little manage- 
ment is necessary in all families," she says. " The 
ladies are naturally a little jealous one of the other; 
but they are both of them not unkind to me in the 
main; and I have to bear no more than other 
women in my situation. It was not all pleasure 
at St. Boni&ce, Mr. Batchelor, with my uncle and 



120 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

aunt. I. suppose all governesses have their diffi- 
culties ; and I must get over mine as best I can, 
and be thankful for the liberal salary which your 
kindness procured for me, and which enables me 
to help my poor mother and my brothers and 
sisters." 

" I suppose you give all your money to her ? " 

" Nearly all. They must have it ; poor mamma 
has so many mouths to feed." 

" And notre petit cosur, B^ssy ? V I ask, looking 
in her fresh face. '* Have we replaced the Indian 
officer ? " 

Another shrug of the shoulder. "I suppose 
we all get over those follies, Mr. Batchelor. I 
remember somebody else was in a sad way too," — 
and she looks askance at the victim of Glorvina. 
" My folly is dead and buried long ago. I have 
to work so hard for mamma, and my brothers 
and sisters, that I have no time for such 
nonsense." 

Here a gentleman in a natty gig, with a high- 
trotting horse, came spanking towards us over the 
common, and with my profound knowledge of 
human nature, I saw at once that the servant by 
the driver's side was a little doctor's boy, and the 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 121 

gentleman himself was a neat and trim general 
practitioner. 

He stared at me grimly, as he made a bow to 
Miss Bessy. I saw jealousy and suspicion in his 
aspect. 

" Thank you, dear Mr. Drencher," says Bessy, 
" for your kindness to mamma and our children. 
You are going to call at Shrublands ? Lady Baker 
was indisposed this morning. She says when she 
can't have Dr. Piper, there's nobody like you." 
And this artful one smiles blandly on Mr. 
Drencher. 

** I have got the workhouse, and a case at Roe- 
hampton, and I shall be at Shrublands about two, 
Miss Prior," says that young doctor, whom Bed- 
ford had called a grinning jackass. He laid an 
eager emphasis on the two. Go to ! I know 
what two and two mean as well as most people, 
Mr. Drencher ! Glances of rage he shot at me 
from out his gig. The serpents of that miserable 
iBsculapittS unwound themselves from his rod, 
and were gnawing at his swoUen heart ! 

"He has a good practice, Mr. Drencher ? " I 
ask, sly rogue as I am. 

" He is very good to mamma and our children. 



122 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

His practice with them does not profit him mtich/* 
says Bessy. 

"And i suppose our walk will be over before 
two o'clock ? " remarks that slyboots who is walk- 
ing with Miss Prior. 

" I hope so. Why, it is our dinner-time ; and 
this walk on the Heath does make one so hungry ! " 
cries the governess. 

" Bessy Prior," I said, " it is my belief that 
you no more want spectacles than a cat in the 
twilight." To which she replied, that I was such 
a strange, odd man, she really could not under- 
stand me. 

We were back at Shrublands at two. Of course 
we must not keep the children's dinner waiting : 
and of course Mr. Drencher drove up at five 
minutes past two, with his gig-horse all in ia. 
lather. I, who knew the secrets of the house, 
was amused to see the furious glances which 
Bedford darted from the sideboard, or as he served 
the doctor with cutlets. Drencher, for his part, 
scowled at me. I, for my part, was easy, witty, 
pleasant, an4 I trust profoundly wicked and mali- 
ciotis. I bragged about my aristocratic friends to 
Lady Baker. I trumped her old-world stories 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 123 

about George the Fourth at Dublin with the latest 
dandified intelligence I had learned at the club. 
That the young doctor should be dazzled and 
disgusted was, I own, my wish ; and I enjoyed 
his rage as I saw him choking with jealousy over 
his victuals. 

But why was Lady Baker sulky with me? How 
came it, my fashionable stories had no effect upon 
that polite matron ? Yesterday at dinner she had 
been gracious enough : and turning her back upon 
those poor simple Bonningtons, who knew nothing 
of the beau monde at all, had condescended to 
address herself specially to me several times with 
an '' I need not tell you, Mr. Batchelor, that the 
Duchess of Dorsetshire's maiden name was De 
Bobus ; '* or; " You know very well that the 
etiquette at the Lord Lieutenant's balls, at Dublin 
Castle, is for the wives of baronets to — " &c. &c. 

Now whence, I say, did it arise that Lady Baker, 
who had been kind and fjEoniliar with me on Sun- 
day, should on Monday turn me a shoulder as 
cold as that lamb which I offered to carve for 
the fjBbmily, and which remained from yesterday's 
quarter ? I had thought of staying but two days 
at Shrublands. I generally am bored at country- 



124 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

houses. I was going away on the Monday morn- 
ing, but Lovel, wheu he and I and the children 
and Miss Prior breakfasted together before he 
went to business, pressed me to stay so heartily 
and sincerely that I agreed, gladly enough, to 
remain. I could finish a scene or two of my 
tragedy at my leisure ; besides, there were one or 
two little comedies going on in the house which 
inspired me with no little curiosity. 

Lady Baker growled at me, then, during lunch- 
time. She addressed herself in whispers and 
hints to Mr. Drencher. She had in her own man 
Bulkeley, and bullied him. She desired to know 
whether she was to have the barouche or not : and 
when informed that it was at her ladyship's 
service, said it was a great deal too cold for the 
open carriage, and that she would have the 
brougham. When she was told that Mr. and 
Mrs. Bonnington had impounded the brougham, 
she said she had no idea of people taking other 
people's carriages: and when Mr. Bedford re- 
ma]:ked that her ladyship had her choice that 
morning, and had chosen the barouche, she said, 
*' I didn't speak to you, sir ; and I will thank you 
not to address me until you are spoken to ! " She 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 125 

made the place so hot that I began to wish I had 
quitted it. 

" And pray, Miss Prior, where is Captain Baker 
to sleep," she asked, " now that the ground-floor 
room is engaged ? " 

Miss Prior meekly said, " Captain Baker would 
have^the pink room." 

" The room on my landing-place, without 
double doors ? Impossible ! Clarence is always 
smoking. Clarence will fill the whole house with 
his smoke. He shall not sleep in the pink room. 
I expected the ground-floor room for him, which — 
a^— this gentleman persists in not vacating." And 
the dear creature looked me full in the face. 

/* This gentleman smokes, too, and is so com- 
fortable where he is, that he proposes to remain 
there," I say, with a bland smile. 

** Haspic of plovers* eggs, sir," says Bedford, 
handing a dish over my back. And he actually 
gave me a little dig, and growled, "Go it — give 
it her ! " 

" There is a capital inn on the Heath," I con- 
tinue, peeling one of my opal favourites. "If 
Captain Baker must smoke, he may have a room 
there." 



126 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

"Sir! my son does not live at innsi," cries 
Lady Baker. 

" Oh, grandma! Don't he. though ? And wasn't 
there a row at the Star and Garter ; and didn't 
Pa pay uncle Clarence's bill there, though ? " 

" Silence, Popham ! Little boys should be seen 
and not heard," says Cissy. *' Shouldn't little 
boys be seen and not heard, Miss Prior ? " 

" They shouldn't insult their grandmothers* 
O my Cecilia — my Cecilia ! " cries Lady Baker, 
lifting her hand. 

'* You shan't hit me ! I say, you shan't hit 
me ! " roars Pop, starting back, and beginning to 
square at his enraged ancestress. The scene was 
growing painfol. And there was that rascal of a 
Bedford choking with suppressed laughter at tha 
sideboard. Bulkeley, her ladyship's man, stood 
calm as fate ; but young Buttons burst out in a 
guffaw; on which, I assure you, Lady Baker 
looked as savage as Lady Macbeth. 

" Am I to be insulted by my daughter's ser- 
vants ? " cries Lady Baker. '^ I will leave the 
house this instant." 

"At what ^ hour will your ladyship have the 
barouche ? ^^ says Bedford, with perfect gravity. 



IN WHICH I PLAY THE SPY. 127 

If Mr. Drencher had whipped out a lancet and 
bled Lady B. on the spot, he would have done 
her good. I shall draw the curtain over this sad 
— this humiliating scene. Drop, little curtain ! 
on this absurd little act. 



CHAPTER IV. 

A BLACK SHEEP. 

The being for . whom my friend Dick Bedford 
seemed to have b Bpecial contempt and sTeision, 
was Mr. Bnlkeley, tlie tall footman in attendance 
upon Lovel's dear mother-in-law. One of the 
caiiBes of Bedford's wrath, the worthy fellow 



A BLACK SHEEP. 129 

explained to me. In the servants' haU, Bulkeley 
was in the habit of speaking in disrespectful and 
satirical terms of his mistress, enlarging upon her 
many foibles, and describing her pecuniary difiS- 
culties to the many hahituSs of that second social 
circle at Shrublands. The hold which Mr. 
Bulkeley had over his lady lay in a long un- 
settled account of wages, which her ladyship was 
quite disinclined to discharge. And, in spite of 
this insolvency, the footman must have found his 
profit in the place, for he continued to hold it 
from year to year, and to fetten on his earnings, 
such as they were. My lady's dignity did not 
allow her to travel without this huge personage in 
her train ; and a great comfort it must have been 
to her, to reflect that in all the country houses 
which she visited (and she would go wherever she 
could force an invitation), her attendant freely 
explained himself regarding her peculiarities, and 
made his brother servants aware of his mistress's 
embarrassed condition. And yet the woman, 
whom I suppose no soul alive respected (unless, 
haply, she herself had a hankering delusion that 
she was a respectable woman), thought that her 
position in life forbade her to move abroad with- 

9 



130 LOyEL THE WIDOWER. 

out a maid, and this hulking incmnbrance in 
plash ; and never was seen anywhere, in watering- 
place, country housiB, hotel, unless she was so 
attended. 

Between Bedford and Bulkeley, then, there was 
feud and mutual hatred. Bedford chafed the big 
man by constant sneers and sarcasms, which pene- 
trated the other's dull hide, and caused him £ce- 
quently to assert that he would punch Dick's 
ugly head off. The housekeeper had frequently 
to interpose, and fling her matronly arms between 
these men of war; and perhaps Bedford was forced 
to be still at times, for Bulkeley was nine inches 
taller than himself, and was perpetually bragging 
of his skill and feats as a bruiser. This sultan 
may also have wished to fling his pocket-handker- 
chief to Miss Mary Pinhom, who, though she 
loved Bedford's wit and cleverness, might also be 
hot insensible to the magnificent chest, calves, 
whiskers, of Mr. Bulkeley. On this delicate sub- 
ject, however, I can't speak. The men hated each 
other. You have, no doubt, remarked in your 
experience of life, that when men do hate each 
other, about a woman, or some other cause, the 
real reason is nevei: assigned. You say, "The 



A blage: sheep. isj: 

conduct of such and snch a man to liis grand- 
mother— his belumoitr in selling that horse to 
Benson — ^his manner a£ broshing his hair down 
Ihe middle " — or what yon will, ^^juakes him so 
offensive to me that I can't endure him.'' His 
TerseSy there&re, are mediocre; his speeches in 
^Parliament are .utter fedluEes; his practice at 
ihe bar is dwindling ayery year; his powers 
{always small) are utterly leaving him, and he is 
repeating his con&unded jokes untQ ihsy qnit^ 
nauseate. Why, only about myself, and within 
these three days, I read a nice little article — 
ivritten in sorrow, you know, not in anger — rby our 
ominent confrere Wigging, deploring the decay 
of, &c. &c. And Wiggins's little article which 
was not found suitable for a certain magazine ? — 
Allans done/ The drunkard says the pickled 
salmon gave him the headache; the man who 
hates us gives a reason, but not the reason. 
Bedford was angry with Bulkeley for amusmg his 
mistress at the servants' table ? Tes. But for 
what else besides? I don't care — nor possibly 
does your worship, the exalted reader, for these 
low vulgar kitchen quarrels. 

Out of that ground-floor room, then, I would 

9—2 



132 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

not move in spite of the utmost efforts of my 
Lady Baker's broad shoulder to pnsh me out ; and 
with many grins that evening, Bedford compli- 
mented me on my gallantry in routing the enemy 

4 

at luncheon. I think he may possibly have told 
his master, for Loyel looked very much alarmed 
and uneasy when we greeted each other on his 
return from the city, but became more composed 
when Lady Baker appeared at the second dinner- 
bell, without a trace on her fine countenance of 
that storm which had caused all her waves to heave 
with such commotion at noon. How finely some 
people, by the way, can hang up quarrels — or 
pop them into a drawer, as they do their work, 
when dinner is announced, and take them out 
again at a convenient season ! Baker was mild, 
gentle, a thought sad and sentimental — tenderly 
interested about her dear son and daughter, in 
Lreland, whom she must go and see — quite easy 
in hand, in a word, and to the immense relief of 
all of us. She kissed Lovel on retiring, and 
prayed blessings on her Frederick. She pointed 
to the picture : nothing could be more melancholy 
or more gracious. 

" She go ! " says Mr. Bedford to me at night — 



A BLACK SHEEP. 133 

"not she. She knows when she's well oflf; was 
obliged to torn out of Bakerstown before she came 
here : that brute Bulkeley told me so. She's 
always quarrelling with her son and his wife. 
Angels don't grow eyerywhere as they do at 
Putney, Mr. B. ! You gave it her well to-day at 
lunch, you did though ! " During my stay at 
Shrublands, Mr. Bedford paid me a regular evening 
visit in my room, set the carte du pays before 
me, and in his curt way acquainted me sWith the 
characters of the inmates of the house, and the 
incidents occurring therein. 

Captain Clarence Baker did not come to Shrub- 
lands on the day when his anxious mother wished 
to clear out my nest (and expel the amiable bird 
in it) for her son's benefit. I believe an impor- 
tant fight, whi<sh was to come off in the Essex 
Marshes, and which was postponed in consequence 
of the interposition of the county magistrates, 
was the occasion, or at any rate the pretext, of the 
captain's . delay. "He likes seeing fights better 
than going to 'em, the captain does," my major- 
domo remarked. " His regiment was ordered to 
India, and he sold out : climate don't agree with 
his precious health. The captain ain't been here 



134 LOVEE THE WIDOWER. 

ever so long, not since poor Mrs. L.'s time, before 
Miss P. came here: Captain Clarence and bis 
sister bad a tremendous quarrel togetber. He was 
np to all sorts of pranks, tbe captain was. Not 
a good lot, by any means, I should say, Mr. 
Batcbelor." And here Bedford begins to laugh. 
"Did you ever read, sir, a farce called Baising 
ike Wind? There's plenty of Jeremy Diddlers 
now. Captain Jeremy Diddlers and Lady Jeremy 
Biddlers too. Haye you such a thing as half-a- 
(srown about you ? If you have, don't invest it 
in some folks' pockets— that's all. Beg your 
pardon, sir, if I am bothering you with talking." 

As long* as I was at Shrublands, and ready to 
partake of breakfiEist with my kind hosl and his 
children and their governess^ Lady Baker had her 
own breakfast taken to her room. But .when 
there were no visitors in' the house, she would 
come groaning out of her bedroom to be present 
at the morning meal ; and not unconmionly would 
give &e little company anecdotes of the departed 
saint, under whose invocation, as it were, we 
were assembled, and whose simpering efi^ looked 
down upon us, over her harp, and from the wall. 
The eyed of the portrait followed you about, as 



A BLACK SHEEP. 135 

portraits' eyes so painted will ; and those glances, 
as it seemed to me, still domineered over Loyel, 
and made Um qnail as they had done in life. 
Yonder, in the comer, was Cecilia's harp, with 
its leathern cover. I likened the skin to that 
drum which the dying Zisca ordered should be 
made out of his hide, to be beaten before the 
hosts of his people and inspire terror. Vovs 
concevez, I did not say to Lovel at breakfast, as 
I sat before the ghostly musical instrument, '' My 
dear fellow, that skin of Gordovan leather belong- 
ing to your defunct Gecilia-'s harp, is like the hide 
whichj^" &c. ; but I conflBss, at first, I used to have 
a sort of crawly sensation, as of a sickly genteel 
ghost flitting about the place, in an exceedingly 
peevish humour, trying to scold and command, 
and finding her defunct voice couldn't be heard-— 
trying to re-illume her extinguished leers and 
' faded smiles and ogles, and finding no one admired 
or took note. In the gray of the gloaming, in 
the twilight corner where stands^ the shrouded 
companion of song — wha^ is that white figure 
flickering round the silent harp ? Once, as we 
were assembled in the room at afternoon tea, a 
bird, entering at the open window, perched on the 



136 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

instrument. Popham dashed at it. Level was 
deep in conversation upon the wine duties with 
a member of parliament he had brought down . 
to dinner. Lady Baker, who was, if I may use the 
expression, "jawing," as usual, and telling one of 
her tremendous stories about the Lord Lieutenant 
to Mr. Bennington, took no note of the incident. . 
Elizabeth did not seem to remark it: what was 
a bird on a harp to her, but a sparrow perched 
on a bit of leather-casing ! All the ghosts in 
Putney churchyard might rattle all their bones, 
and woiild not frighten that stout spirit ! 

I was amused at a precaution which Bedford 
took, and somewhat alarmed at the distrust 
towards Lady Baker which he exhibited, when, 
one day on my return from town^ — whither I had 
made an excursion of four or five hours — I found 
my bedroom door locked, and Dick arrived with 
the key. "He's wrote to say he's coming this 
evening, and if he had come when you was away. 
Lady B. was capable of turning your things out, 
and puttmg his in, and taking her oath she 
believed you was going to leave. The long-bows 
JLady B. do pull are perfectly awful, Mr. B. ! 
So it was long-bow to long-bow, Mr. Batchelor; 



A BLACK SHEEP. 137 

and I said you had took the key in your pocket, 
not wishing to have your papers disturbed. She 
tried the lawn window, but I had bolted that, and 
the captain will have the pink room, after all, 
and must smoke up the chimney. I should have 
liked to see him, or you, or any one do it in poor 
Mrs. L.'s time — ^I just should ! " 

During my visit to London, I had chanced to 
meet my friend Captain Fitzb — die, who belongs 
to a dozen clubs, and knows something of- every 
man in London. " Know anything of Clarence 
Baker ? " " Of course I do," says Fitz ; " and 
if you want any renseignement, my dear fellow, I 
have the honour to inform you that a blacker little 
sheep does not trot the London pave. Wherever 
that ingenious officer's name is spoken — at Tat- 
tersall's, at his clubs, in his late regiments, in 
men's society, in ladies' society, in that expanding 
and most agreeable circle which you may call no 
society at all — a chorus of maledictions rises up 
at the mention of Baker. Enow anything of 
Clarence Baker! My dear fellow, enough to 
make your hair turn white, unless (as I sometimes 
fondly imagine) nature has already performed that 
process, when of course I can't pretend to act 



138 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Upon more hair-dye.'* (The whiskers of the in* 
dividual who addressed me, innocent, stared me 
in the £su36 as he spoke, and were dyed of the 
most nnblnshing pkrple.) ^* Clarence Baker, sir, 
is a young man who wonld have been invaluable 
in Sparta as a warning against drunkenness and 
an exemplar of it. He has helped the regimental 
surgeon to some most interesting experiments in 
deliriwm tremens. He is known, and not in the 
least trusted, in every billiard-room in Brighton, 
Canterbury, York, Sheffield^ — on every pavement 
which has rung with the clink of dragoon boot- 
h^els. By a wise system of revoking at whist he 
has lost games which have caused not only his 
partners, but his opponents and the whole club, to 
adniire him and to distrust him : long before and 
since he was of age, he has written his eminent 
name to bills which have been dishonoured, and 
has nobly pleaded his minority as a reason for 
declining to pay. From the garrison towns where 
he has been quartered, he h&B carried away not 
only the hearts of the miUiners, but their gloves, 
haberdashery, and perfomery. He has had con- 
troversies with Comet Green, regarding horse 
transactions; disputed - turf-accounts with Lieu- 



A BLACK SHEEP. 139 

tenant' Bro\m ; and betting and backgammon 
dififerences with Captain Black. From all I have 
heard he is the worthy son of his admirable 
mother. And I bet you even on the four events, 
if you stay three days in a country house with 
him, which appears to be your present happy idea, 
— ^that he will quarrel with you, insult you, and 
apologize ; that he will intoxicate himself more 
than once; that he will offer to play cards with 
you, and not pay on losing (if he wins, I perhaps 
need not state what his conduct will be) ; and that 
he will try to borrow money from you, and most 
likely from your servant, before he goes away." 
So saying, the sententious Fitz strutted up the 
steps of one of his many club-haunts in Pall Mall, 
and left; me forewarned, and I trust forearmed, 
against Captaui Clarence and all his works. 

The adversary, when at length I came in sight 
of him, did not seem very formidable. I beheld 
a weakly little man with Chinese eyes, and pretty 
little feet and hands, whose pallid countenance 
told of Finishes and Casinos; His little chest 
and fingers were decorated with many jewels. A 
perfume of tobacco hung round him. His little 
moustache was twisted with an elaborate gummy 



140 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

curl. I perceive that the little hand which twirled 
the moustache shook woefully : and from the little 
chest there came a cough surprisingly loud and 
dismal. 

He was lying on a so& as I entered, and the 
chndren of the house were playing round him 
** If yon are our uncle, why didn't you come to 
see us oftener ? " asks Popham. 

" How should I know that you were such un- 
coiiimonly nice children ? " asks the captain. 

*' We're not nice to you," says Popham. " Why 
do you cough so ? Mamma used to cough. And 
why does your hand shake so ? " 

'' My hand shakes because I am ill : and I 
cough becaTuse I'm ill. Your mother died of it, 
and I daresay I shall too." 

" I hope you'll be good, and repent before you 
die, uncle, and I will lend you some nice books," 
says Cecilia. 

" Oh, bother books ! " cries Pop. 

"And I hope you'U be good, Popham," and 
"You hold your tongue. Miss," and "I shall," 
and " I shan't," and " You're another," and " I'U 
teU Miss Prior,"— "Go and teU, ' telltale,"— 
" Boo " — ""Boo " — " Boo " — " Boo "—and I 



A BLACK SHEEP. 141 

don't know what more exclamations came tumul- 
tnously and rapidly from these dear children, as 
their uncle lay before them, a handkerchief to 
his month, his little feet high raised on thei so& 
cushions. 

Captain Baker turned a little eye towards me, 
as I entered the room, but did not change his easy 
and elegant posture. When I came near to the sofiEi 
where he reposed, he was good enough to call out: 

" Glass of sherry ! '* 

" It's Mr. Batchelor ; it isn't Bedford, uncle," 
Bays Cissy. 

**Mr. Batchelor ain't got any sherry in his 
pocket ; — ^have you, Mr. Batchelor ? You ain't 
like old Mrs. Prior, always pocketing things, are 
you ? " cries Pop, and fiJls a-laughing at the ludi- 
crous idea of my being mistaken for Bedford. 

" Beg your pardon. How should I know, you 
know ? " drawls the invalid on the sofa. " Every- 
body's the same now, you see." 

" Sir ! " says I, and " sir " was all I could say. 
The feust is, I could have replied with something 
remarkably neat and cutting, which would have 
transfixed the languid little jackanapes who dared 
to mistake me for a footman ; but, you see, I only 



142 JjQYEL THE WIDOWEIL 

thought of my xepartee some eight hours after- 
wards when I was lying in bed, and I am sorry to 
own that a great number of my best Jbonmots .have 
been made in that way. So, as I had .not the 
pungent remark ready when wanted, I can't say I 
said it to Captain Baker, but I daresay I turned 
very red, and said^ ^' Sir I ^* and— ;and in fact that 
was all. 

" You were goin* to say somethin' ? " Asked the 
captain, affably. 

** You know my .Mend, Mr. Eitzboodle^ I be- 
lieve ? " said I ; the fact is, I really did not know 
what to say. 

" Some mistake — think not." 

" He is a .member of the Flag Club," I re- 
marked, looking my young fellow hard in the face. 

'^I ain't. There's a set of cads in that dub 
that will say anything." 

" You may not know him, sir, but he seemed 
to know you very well. Are we to have any tea, 
children?" I say, flinging myself down on an' 
easy chair, taking up a magazine, and adopting 
an easy attitude, though I daresay my face was as 
red as a turkey-cock's, and I was boiling over 
with rage. 



A. BLACK SHEEP. 143 

Afi we had a very good breok&at and a profdse 
Inncheon at Shrublands, of course we could not 
support nature till dinner-time without a five 
o'clock tea ; and this was the meal for which I 
pretended to ask. Bedford, with his sHyer kettle, 
and his buttony satellite, presently brought in this 
refection, and of course the children bawled out 
to him — 

" Bedford — ^Bedford ! uncle mistook Mr. Batche- 
lor for you." 

^' I could not be mistaken for a more honest 
man. Pop," said I. And the bearer of the tea- 
urn gave me a look of gratitude and kindness 
which, I own, went fex to restore my ruffled 
equaninciity. 

" Since you are the butler, will you get me a 
glass of sherry and a biscuit ? " says the captain. 
And Bedford, retiring, returned presently with the 
wine. 

The young gentleman's hand shook so, that, in 
order to drink his wine, he had to surprise it, as 
it were, and seize it with his mouth, when a shake 
brought the glass near his lips. He drained the 
wine, and held out his hand for another glass. 
The hand was steadier now. , 



144 . LOVEL THE WIDOWEIL 

''You the man who was here before?" asks 
the captain. 

" Six years ago, when you were here, sir," says 
the bntler. . 

" What ! I ain't changed, I snppose ? " 

" Yes, yon are, sir." 

" Then, how the dooce do you remember me ? " 

" You forgot to pay me some money you bor- 
rowed of me, one pound five, sir," says Bedford, 
whose eyes slyly turned in my direction. 

And here, according to her wont at this meal, 
the dark-robed Miss Prior entered the room. She 
was coming forward with her ordinarily erect atti- 
tude and firm step, but paused in her walk an 
instant, and when she came to us, I thought, 
looked remarkably pale. She made a slight 
curtsey, and it must be confessed that Captain 
Baker rose up from his sofa for a moment when 
she appeared. She then sate down, with her 
back towards him, turning towards herself the 
table and its tea apparatus. 

At this board my Lady Baker found us assem- 
Hed when she returned from her afternoon drive. 
She flew to her darling reprobate of a son. She 
took his hand, she smoothed back his hair from 



A BLACK SHEEP. 145 

his damp forehead. ''My darling child/' cries 
this fond mother, ''what a pulse you have 
got!" 

" I suppose, because I've been drinking," says 
the prodigal. 

" Why didn't you come out driving with me ? 
The afternoon was lovely ! " 

" To pay visits at Richmond ? Not as I knows 
on, ma'am," says the invalid. " Conversation 
with elderly ladies about poodles, bible societies, 
that kind of thing? It must be a' doocid lovely 
afternoon that would make me like that sort of 
game." And here comes a fit of coughing^ Qver 
which mamma ejaculates her sympathy. 

" Kick — kick— killin* myself ! " gasps out the 
captain ; " know I am. No man can lead my life, 
and stand it. Dyin' by inches ! Dyin' by whole 
yards, by Jo — ho — hove, I am!" Indeed, he 
was as bad in health as in morals, this graceless 
captain. 

" That man of Level's seems a d insolent 

beggar," he presently and ingenuously remarks. 

" Oh, uncle, you mustn't say those words ! " 
cries niece Cissy. 

" He's a man, and may say what he likes, and 

10 



146 LOVBI, THE WmOWBB. 

80 will I^ when Tm a man. Yes, and FU say it 
now, too^ if I like/' orieB Master Popham. 

" Not to give me pain, Popham ? Will yon ? '* 
asks the goyemess. 

On which the boy says — " Well, who wants to 
hnrt yon, Miss Prior ?" 

And onr colloqny ends by the arrival of the 
man of the honse from the city. 

What I 'have admired in some dear women iff 
their capacity for quarrelling and for reconcihar 
tion. As I saw Lady Baker hanging round her 
son's neck, and fondling his scanty ringlets, I 
remembered the awfcd stories^ with which in 
former days she used to entertaia us. regarding 
this reprobate. Her heart was pincushioned with 
his filial crimes. Under her chesnut. front her 
ladyship's real head of hair was grey^ iia conse- 
quence of his iniquities. His precocious appetite 
had devoured the greater part of her jointure. 
He had treated her many dangerous illnesses with 
indifiTerence : had been the worst son, the worst 
brother, the most ill-conducted school-boy, the 
most immoral young man— the terror of house- 
holds, the Lovelace of garrison towns, the per* 
verter of young officers ; in: fiwt, Lady Baker did 



A BLACK SHEEP. 147 

not know how she supported existence at all under 
the agony occasioned by his crimes, and it was 
only from the possession of a more than ordi- 
narily strong sense of religion that she was 
enabled to bear her burden. 

The captain himself explained these alter- 
nating maternal caresses and quarrel? in his 
easy way. 

" Saw how the old lady kissed and fondled 
me ? " says he to his brother-in-lawji " Quite 
refreshing ain't it ? Hang me, I thought she was 
goin' to send me a bit of sweetbread off her own 
plate. Game up to my room last night, wanted 
to tuck me up in bed, and abused my brother to 
me for an hour. You see, when I*m in fevour, 
she always abuses Baker ; when %e'a in fayour she 
abuses me to him. And my sister-in-law, didn't 
she give it my sister-in-law ! Oh ! 1*11 trouble 
you ! And poor Cecilia — ^why, hang me, Mr. 
Batchelor, she used to go on — this bottle's corked, 
I'm hanged if it isn't — ^to go on about Cecilia, and 
call her .. . Hullo t " 

Here he was interrupted by our host, who said 
sternly — 

" Win you please to forget those quarrels, or 

10—2 



148 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

not mention them here ? Will you have more 
wine, Batchelor ? " 

And Lovel rises, and haughtily stalks out of 
the room. To do Loyel justice, he had a great 
contempt and dislike for his young brother-in-law, 
which, with his best magnanimity, he could not at 
all times conceal. 

So our host stalks towards the drawing-room, 
leaving Captain Clarence sipping wine. 

" Don't #go, too," says the captain. " He's a 
confounded rum fellow, my brother-in-law is. 
He's a confounded ill-conditioned fellow, too. 
They always are, you know, these tradesmen 
fellows, these half-bred 'uns. I used to tell my 
sister so; but she would have him, because he had 
such lots of money, you know. And she threw 
over a fellar she was very fond of; and I told 
her she'd regret it. I told Lady B. phe'd regret it. 
It was all Lady B.'s doing. She made Cissy throw 
the fellar over. He was a bad match, certainly, 
Tom Mountain was ; and not a clever fellow, you 
know, or that sort of thing ; but at any rate, he 
was a gentleman, and better than a confounded 
sugar-baking beggar out Eatclifif Highway." 

" You seem to find that claret very good ! " 



A BLACK SHEEP. 149 

I remark^ speakings I may say, Socratically, to my 
young friend, who had been swallowing bumper 
after bumper. 

" Claret good ! Yes, doocid good ! " 

"Well, you see our confounded sugar-baker 
gives you his best." 

"And why shouldn't he, hang him? Why, 
the fellow chokes with money. What does it 
matter to him how much he spends? You're 
a poor man, I dare say. You don't look as if 
you were over-flush of mofiey. Well, if you 
stood a good dmner, it would be all right— I 
mean it would show — you understand me, you 
know. But a sugar-baker with ten thousand a 
year, what does it matter to him, bottle of claret 
more — less ? " 

" Let us go in to the ladies," I say. 

" Go in to mother ! , I don't want to go in to 
my mother," cried out the artless youth. " And 
I don't want to go in to the sugar-baker, hang 
him ! and I don't want to go in to the children ; 
and I'd rather have a glass of brandy-and-water 
with you, old boy. Here, you! What's your 
name ? - Bedford ! I owe you five-and-twenty 
shillings, do I, old Bedford? Give us a glass 



150 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

of Schnaps, and I'll pay you ! Look here, 
Batchelor. I hate that sngar-haker* Two years 
ago I drew a bill on him^ and he wouldn't pay 
it— perhaps he would have paid it, hut my sister ; 
wouldn't let him. And, I say, shall we go and 
have a cigar in your room ? My mother's been 
abusing you to me like fun this morning. She 
abuses everybody. She used to abuse Cissy. 
Cissy used to abuse her — ^used to fight like two 
caiiS • . . • ' f 

And if I narrate this conversation, dear Spartan 
youth ! if I show thee this Helot maundering in 
his cups, it is that from his odious example thou 
mayest learn to be moderate in the use of thine 
own. ' Has the enemy who has entered thy mouth 
ever stolen away thy brains? Has wine ever 
caused thee to blab secrets; to utter egotisms 
and follies ? Beware of it. .Has it ever been 
thy friend at the end of the hard day's work, 
the cheery jcompanion of thy companions, the 
promoter of harmony, kindness, harmless social 
pleasure? be thankful for it. Three years. since, 
when the comet was blazing m th& autumnal sky, 
I stood on the chateau-steps of a great daret 
proprietor. " Boirai-je de ton vin, O comite ? '' 



A BLACK SHEEP. 151 

J. said, .addressing tibd Itumnary with the flaming 
:tail. Shall those generous hunches which you 
ripen yield their juices for me* moritv/ro ? It was 
a solemn thought. Ah ! my dear brethren ! who 
:knows the Order of the Fates ? When shall we 
pass the Gloomy Gates? Which of us goes, 
-which of us waits to drink those famous Fifty- 
eights ? A sermon, upon my word ! And pray 
why not a little homily on an autumn eve over 
a purple cluster? • « • If that rickety boy 
had only drunk claret, J warctoit you his tongue 
'^ould not have hkbbed, his hand would not have 
shaken, his wretched little brain and body would 
not haye reeled with feVer. 

" 'Gad," said he next day to me, " cut again 
last night. Have an idea that I abused Lovel. 
When I have a little wine on board, always speak 
my mind, don't you know. Last time I was here 
in my poor sister's time, said somethin' to her, 
don't quite know what it was, somethin' con- 
foundedly truo.and unpleasant I daresay^ I think 
it was about a fellow she used to go on with 
before she married the sugar-baker. And I got 
orders to quit, by Jove, sir — ^neck and crop, sir, 
and no mistake ! And we gave it one another 



152 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

oyer the stairs. Oh, my ! we did pitch in ! — And 
that was the last time I ever saw Cecilia — give 
you my word. A doocid unforgiving woman, my 
poor sister was, and between you and me, Batchelor, 
as great a flirt as ever threw a fellar over. You 
should have heard her and my Lady B. go on, 
that's all ! — ^Well, mamma, are you going out for 
a drive in the coachy-poachy ? — ^Not as I knows 
on, thank you, as I before had the honour to 
observe. Mr. Batchelor and me are going to play 
a little game at billiards." We did, and I won ; 
and, from that day to this, have never been paid 
my little winnings. 

On the day after the doughty captain's arrival. 
Miss Prior, in whose &ce I had remarked a great 
expression of gloom and care, neither made her 
appearance at breakfEist nor at the children's 
dinner. " Miss Prior was a little unwell," Lady 
Baker said, with an air of most perfect satis&c- 
tion. " Mr. Drencher will come to see her this 
afternoon, and prescribe for her, I daresay," adds 
her ladysjiip, nodding and winking a roguish eye 
at me. I was at a loss to understand what was 
the point of humour which amused Lady B., until 
she herself explained it. 



A BLACK SHEEP. 153 



t( 



My good sir," she said, " I tliink Miss Prior 
is not at all averse to being ill." And the nods 
recommenced* 

"As how?" I ask. 

" To being ill, or at least to calling in the 
medical man." 

" Attachment between governess and Sawbones 
I make bold for to presume ? " says the captain. 

" Precisely, Clarence — a very fitting match. I 
saw the afifair, even before Miss Prior owned it 
— that is to say, she has not denied it. She 
say'd she can't afford to marry, that she has 
children enough at home in her brothers 'and 
sisters. She is a well-principled young woman, 
and does credit, Mr. Batchelor, to your recom- 
mendation, and the education she has received 
from her uncle, the Master of St. Bohiface." 

"Cissy to school; Pop to. Eton; and Miss 
Whatdyoucall to grind the pestle in Sawbones' 
back-shop : I see ! " says Captain Clarence. " He 
seems a low, vulgar blackguard, that Sawbones." 

" Of course, my love ; what can you expect 
from that sort of "person?" asks mamma, whose 
own father was a small attorney, in a small Irish 
town. 



dSil L0:V3SL THE WIDOWER. 

'' I wish J had his .coufoiinded good health/' 
cries Clarence, conghing, 

" My poor darling ! " says mamma. 

I said nothing. And so Efizaheth was engaged 
to that great, broad-^shouldered, red-whiskered, ^ 
young surgeon with the huge appetite and the 
dubious A's ! Well, why iiot? What was it to 
me ? Why shouldn't .she marry him ? Was he 
not an honest man, and a fitting .match for her ? 
Yes. Very good. Only if I do love a bird or 
flower to glad me with its dark bhie eye, it is the 
first to fade away. If I have a partiality for a 

yoimg gazelle it is the first to ^psha ! What 

have-]; to do with this namby-pamby? Can the 
heart that has truly loved ever forget, and doesn't 
it as truly love on to the— stuff! I am past 
the* age of such follies. I might hiiive made a 
woman happy : I think I should. But the 
' fugacious years have lapsed, my Posthumus ! My 
Waist is now a good bit wider than my clfjeBt, and 
it is decreed that I shall be alone ! 

My tone, then, when next I saw Elbsabeth, was 
sorrowful — not angiy. Drencher, the young 
doctor, came punctually enough^ you imf be sura, 
to look after his patient. Little Pinhom, the 



A BLACK .SHEEP. 155 

cbildreii's maid, led the yormg pzaGtiiioiier smiling 
towards the schoohrQom regions. His creaking 
highlows sprang swiftly np the stairs. I happened 
to be in the haU, and surveyed him with a grim 
pleasure. "Now Jie is in the schoolroom," I 
thought. "Now he is taking her hand — it is 
very white — and feeling her pulse. And so on, 
and so on. Surely, surely Pinhom remains in 
the room?" I am sitting on a hall-table as I 
muse plaintiyely on these things, and gaze up the 
«tairs by which the Hakeem (great, carroty- 
whiskered cad !) has passed into the sacred pre- 
cincts of the harem. As I gaze up the stair, 
another door opens into the hall ; a scowling fstoe 
peeps through that door, and looks up the stair^ 
too. 'Tis Bedford, who has slid out of his pantiy, 
and watehes the doctor. And thou, too, my poor 
Bedford ! Oh ! the whole /World throbs with vain 
heart-pangs, and tosses and heaves with longing, 
unfiilfilled desires ! All night, and all over the 
vforld, bitter tears are dropping as regular as the 
dew, and cruel memories are haunting the pillow. 
Close my hot eyes, Jkind Sleep ! Do not visit' ity 
dear delusive images out of the Past ! Often your 
figure shimmers through my dreams^ Qlorvim^. 



156 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Not as you are now, the stout mother of many 
children — ^you always had an alarming likeness 
to your own mother, Glorvina — ^but as you were — 
slim, black-haired, blue-eyed — ^when your carnation 
lips warbled the Vale of Avoca, or the Angela* 
Whisper. " What !" I say then, looking up the 
stair, "am I absolutely growing jealous of yon 
apothecary ? — fool ! " And at this juncture, 
out peers Bedford's face from the pantry, and 
I see he is jealous too. I tie my shoe as I sit 
on the table; I don't affect to notice Bedford 
in the least (who, in fact, pops his own head 
back again as soon as he sees mine). I take my 
wide-awake from the peg, set it on one side my 
head, and strut whistling out of the hall door. I 
stretch over Putney Heath, and my spirit resumes 
its tranquillity. 

I sometimes keep a little journal of my pro- 
ceedings, and on referring to its pages, the scene 
rises before me pretty clearly to which the brief 
notes allude. On this day I find noted : " Friday, 
Jvly 14. — jB. came down to-day. Seems to 
require a great deal of attendance from Dr. — 
Row between dowagers after dinner.''^ "B.," I 
need not remark, is Bessy. " Dr.,'* of course, you 



A BLACK SHEEP. 167 

know. " Eow between dowagers," means a battle 
royal between Mrs. Bonnington and Lady Baker, 
such as not nnfreqnently raged under the kindly 
Level's roof. 

Lady Baker's gigantic menial Bulkeley con- 
descended to wait at the fieimily dinner at Shrub- 
lands, when perforce he had to put himself under 
Mr. Bedford's orders. Bedford would gladly have 
dispensed with the London footman, over whose 
calves, he said, he and his boy were always 
tumbling; but Lady Baker's dignity would not 
allow her to part from her own man; and her 
good-natured son-in-law allowed her, and indeed 
almost all other persons, to have their own way. 
I have reason to fear Mr. Bulkeley's morals were 
loose. Mrs. Bonnington had a special horror of 
him ; his behaviour in the village public-houses, 
where his powder and plush were for ever visible — 
his freedom of conduct and conversation before 
the good lady's nurse and parlour-maids — pro- 
voked her anger and suspicion. More than once, 
she whispered to me her loathing of this flour- 
besprinkled monster; and, as much as such a 
g^tle' creature could, she showed her dislike to 
him by her behaviour. The flunkey's solemn 



168; LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

eqnaaimity was not to be distarbed by any such 
feeble indications of dis^easure. From his 
powdered height^ he looked down upon Mrs. Ben- 
nington^ and her esteem or her dislike was beneath 
him. 

Now on this Fridays night -the 14th, Captain 
Clarence had gone to pass the day in town, and 
Qor Bessy made her appearance again, the doctor's 
prescriptions having, I snppose, agreed with hqr. 
Mr. Bulkeley, who was handing coffee - to the 
ladies, chose to offer none to Miss Prior, and I 
was amused when I saw Bedford's heel scrunch 
down on the flunkey's right foot, as he pointed 
towards the governess. The oaths which Bulkeley 
had to devour in silence must have been Mghtfdl* 
To do the gallant fellow justice, I think he would 
have died rather than speak before company in 
a drawing-Toom» He limped up and offered the 
refreshment to the young lady, who bowed and 
declined it. 

" Frederick," Mrs. Bennington begins, when 
the coffee-ceremony is oyer, " now the servants 
are gone, I must scold you about the waste at 
your table, my dear. What was the need of 
opening that great bottle of champagne ? Lady 



A BLACK SHEEP. 159 

Baker only takes two glasses. Mr. Batchelor 

9 

doesn't tonch it." (No, thank you, my dear 
Mrs. Bonnington : too old a stager.) ^' Why not 
haye a little bottle instead of that great, large, 
immense (me ? Bedford is a teetotaller. I suppose 
it is that London footmcm who likes it." 

*^ My dear mother, I hayen^t really ascertained 
his tastes," says Loyel. . 

" Then why not tell Biedford to open a pint, . 
dear ? " pursues mamma. 

" Oh, Bedford — ^Bedford, we must not mention 
hvmry Mrs. Bonnington ! " cries Lady Baker. 
'' Bedford is £Bbultless. Bedford has the keys of 
eyerything. Bedford is not to be controlled in 
anything. Bedford is to be at liberty to be rude 
to my servant." 

'' Bedford was admirably kind in his attendance 
on your daughter. Lady Baker," says Loyel, his 
brow darkening : '' and as for your man, I should 
think he was big enough to protect himself from 
any rudeness of poor Dick ! " The good fellow 
had been angry for one moment, at the next he 
was all for peace and conciliation. 

Lady Baker puts on her superfine air. With 
that air she had often awe-stricken good, simple 



160 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Mrs. Bonnington ; and she loyed to use it when- 
ever city folks or humble people were present. 
You see she thought herself your superior and 
mine : as de par le Tuonde there are many artless 
Lady Bakers who do. "My dear Frederick!" 
says Lady B. then, putting on her best MayfiEtir 
manner,-" excuse me for saying, but you don't 
know the — the class of servant to which Bulkeley 
belongs. I had him as a great favour from Lord 
Toddleby's. That — ^that class of servant is not 
generally accustomed to go out single." ' 

" Unless they are two behind a carriage-perch 
they pine away, I suppose," remarks Mr. Level, 
" as one love-bird does without his mate." 

"No doubt — no doubt," says Lady B., who 
does not in the least understand him ; " I only 
say you are not accustomed here — in this kind 
of establishment, you understand — ^to that class 

of " 

But here Mrs. Bonnington could contain her 
wrath no more. " Lady Baker ! " cries that in- 
jured mother, "is my son's establishment not 
good enough for any powdered wretch in England ? 
Is the house of a British merchant " 

" My dear creature — my dear creature ! " inter- 



A BLACK SHEEP. 161 

poses her ladyship, ''it is the house of a British 
merchant, and a most comfortable honse too." 

** Yes, as you find it,** remarks mamma. 

'' Yes, as I find it, when I come to take care of 
that departed angeVs children, Mrs. Bennington ! *' 
(Lady B. here indicates the Cecilian effigy) — " of 
that dear seraph's orphans, Mrs. Bonnington ! 
You cannot. You have, other duties — other 
children — a husband, whom you have left at 
home in delicate health, and who " 

'' Lady Baker ! " exclaims Mrs. Bonnington, 
'' no one shall say I don't take care of my dear 
husband 1 " 

"My dear Lady Baker! — my dear — dear 
mother ! " cries Loyel, ^plori, and whimpers 
aside to me, " They , spar in this way every 
night, when we're alone. It's too bad, ain't it. 
Batch?" 

'' I say you do take care of Mr. Bonnington," 
Baker blandly resumes (she has hit Mrs. Bon- 
nington on the raw place, and smilingly proceeds 
to thong again) : '' I sayyou do take care of your 
husband, my dear creature, and ihilt is why you 
can't attend to Frederick ! And as he is of a very 
easy temper, — except sometimes with his poor 

11 



162 LOVEL THE WIDOWXB. 

Cecilia's mother, — ^he allows all his tradesmen to 
cheat him ; all his servants to cheat him ; Bedford 
to be rade to everyhody ; and if to me, why not to 
my servant Bnlkeley, with whom Lord Toddleby's 
groom of the chambers gaye me the very highest 
character ? " 

Mrs. Bennington in a great flurry broke in by^ 
saying she was surprised to hear that noblemen 
had grooms in their chambers : and she thought 
they were much better in the stables : and when 
they dined with Captain Huff, you know, Frederick, 
hia man always brought such a dreadful smell of 

the stable in with him, that Here she paused. 

Baker's eye was on her; and that dowager was 
grinning a omel triumph. 

" He ! — ^he ! You mistake, my good Mrs. Ben- 
nington ! " says her ladyship. ** Tour poor 
mother mistakes, my dear Frederick. You have 
lived in a quiet and most respectable sphere, but 
not, you understand, not " 

** Not what, pray. Lady Baker ? We have Uved 
in this neighbourhood twenty years : in my late 
husband's time, when we mw a great deal of^ 
company f and this dear Frederick was. a boy at 
Westminster School. And we have paid for 



A BLACK SHEEP. 163 

eTeiything we have had for twenty years; and 
we have not owed a penny to any tradesman. 
And we may not have had powdered footmen, 
six feet high, impertinent beasts, who were rude 
to all the maids in the plaoe. Don't — ^I will 
speak, Frederick! But servants who loved ns, 
and who were paid their wages, and who — o— 
ho — ho — ^ho ! " 

Wipe yonr eyes, dear friends ! out with all your 
pocket-handkerchiefs. I protest I cannot bear to 
see a woman in distress. Of course Fred Level 
runs to console his dear old mother, and vows 
Lady Baker meant no harm. 

*^ Meant harm ! My dear Frederick, what harm 
can I mean ? I only said your poor mother did 
not seem to know what a groom of the chambers 
was I How should she ? '* 

" Come — come," says Frederick, " enough of 
this ! Miss Prior, will you be so kind as to give 
us a little music ? " 

Miss Prior was playing Beethoven at the piano, 
very solemnly and finely, when our Black Sheep 
returned to this quiet fold, and, I am sorry to say, 
in a very riotous condition. The brilliancy of his 
eye, the purple flush on his nosC; the unsteady 

11—2 



164 LOVBL THE WIDOWEB. 

gaity and uncertain tone of Yoice, told tales of 
Captain Clarence, who stumbled over more than 
one ehair before he found a seat near me. 

" Quite right, old boy," says he, winking at me. 
'' Cut again — dooshid good fellosh. Better than 
being along with you shtoopid-old-fogish.*' And 
he began to warble wild " Fol-de-rpl-lolls '* in an 
insane accompaniment to the music. 

" By heavens, this is too bad ! '* growls Level. 
" Lady Baker, let your big man carry your son to 

■ 

bed. Thank you, Miss Prior ! " 

At a final yell, which the unlucky young scape- 
grace gave, Elizabeth stopped, and rose from the 
piano, looking very pale. She made her curtsey, 
and was departing, when the wretched young 
captain sprang up, looked at her, and sank back 
on the sofa with another wild laugh. Bessy fled 
away scared, and white as a sheet. 

'' Take the bbute to bed ! " roars the master 
of the house, in great wrath. And scapegrace 
was conducted to his apartment, whither he went 
laughing wildly, and calling out, " Come on, old 
sh-sh-shugarbaker ! " 

The morning after this fine exhibition, Captain 
Clarence Baker's mamnra announced to us that 



A BLACK SHEEP. 165 

her poor dear snffering boy was too ill to come to * 
breakfast^ and I believe he prescribed for himself 
devilled drumstick and soda-water, of which he 
partook in his bedroom. Lovely seldom angry, 
was violentiy wrath with his brother-in-law ; and, 
almost always polite, was at break&st scarcely 
civil to Lady Baker. I am bound to say that 
female abused her position. She appealed to 
Cecilia's, picture a great deal too much during the 
course of breakfast. She hinted, she sighed, she 
waggled her head at me, and spoke about '^ that 
angel ** in the most tragic manner. Angel is all 
very well : but your angel brought in a tout 
propos ; your departed blessing called out of her 
grave ever so many times a day; when grand- 
mamma wants to carry a point of her own ; when 
the children are naughty, or noisy ; when papa 
betrays a flickering inclination to dine at his 
club, or to bring home a bachelor friend or two 
to Shrublands ; — ^I say your angel always dragged 
in by the wings into the conversation loses her 
effect. No man's heart put on wider crape than 
Level's at Cecilia's loss. Considering the circum- 
stances, his grief was most creditable to him : but 
at breakfast, at lunch, about Bulkeley the footman. 



166 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

« 

abont the barouche or the phaeton^ or any tram* 
pery domestic perplezity, to have a Dem irUerdt 
was too much. And I obseryed, with some in- 
ward mUs&dion, that when Baker uttered her 
pompous funereal phrases^ rolled her eyes up to 
the oeiliilg^ and appealed to that quarter, the chil- 
dren ate their jam and quarrelled and kicked their 
little shins under the table, Lovel read his paper 
and looked at his watch to see if it was omnibus 
time ; and Bessy made the tea, quite undisturbed 
by the old lady's tragical prattle. 

When Baker described her son's fearful cough 
and dreadfully feverish state, I said, " Surely, 
Lady Baker, Mr. Drencher had better be sent 
for ;" and I suppose I uttered the disgusting dis- 
syllable Drencher with a fine sarcastic accent ; for 
once, just once, Bessy's grey eyes rose through 
the spectacles and met mine with a glance of 
unutterable sadness, then calmly settled down 
on to the slop-basin again, or the urn in which 
her pale features, of course, were odiously dis- 
torted. 

*^ Tou will not bring anybody home to dinner, 
Frederick, in my poor boy's state ? " asks 
Lady B. 



A BLACK SHEBP. 167 

"He may stay in his bednxSm, f suppose?" 
replies Level. 

" He is Cecilia's brother, Frederick I *' cries the 
lady. 

"Conf " Lovel was beginniag. What was 

he abont to say ? 

" If you are going to confound yonr angel in 
heayen, I haye nothing to say, sir ! ** cries the 
mother of Clarence. 

*^ Parbleu, fnadamef^' cried Loyel, in French; 
^* if he were not my wife's brother, do you think I 
would let him stay here ? " 

" Parly Frangais f Ouif oui, oui I " cries Pop* 
^^ I know what Fa means ! " 

" And so do I know. And I shall lend uncle 
Clarence some books which Mr. Bennington gaye 
me, and " 

*' Hold your tongue all ! " shouts Loyel, with a 

Btamp of his foot. 

" You will, perhaps, haVe the great kindness to 
allow me the use of your carriage — or, at least, 
to wait here until my poor suffering boy can be 
moyed, Mr. Loyel ? " says Lady B., with the airs 
of a martyr. 

Loyel rang the bell. " The carriage for Lady 



168 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Baker — at her ladyship's honr, Bedford : and the 
cart for her luggage. Her ladyship and Captain 
Baker are going away." 

" I have lost one child, Mr. Lovel, whom some 
people seem to forget. I am not going to murder 
another ! I will not leave this house, sir, unless 
you drive me from it by force, until the medical 
man has seen my boy ! " And here she and 
sorrow sat down again. She was always giving 
warning. She was always fitting the halter and 
traversing the cart, was Lady B., but she for ever 
declined to drop the handkerchief and have the 
business over. I saw by a little shrug in Bessy's 
shoulders, what the governess's views were of th^ 
matter : and, in. a word, Lady B. no more went 
away on this day, than she had done on forty 
previouB days T^hen she announced her attention 
of going. She would accept benefits, you see, but 
then she insulted her bene&ctors, and so squared 
accounts. 

That great healthy, florid, scarlet-whiskered^ 
medical wretch came at about twelve, saw Mr. 
Baker and prescribed for him : and of course he 
must have a few words with Miss Prior, and 
inquire into the state of her health. Just as on 



A BLACK SHEEP. 169 

the previons occasion, I happened to be in the 
hall when Drencher went npstairs ; Bedford hap- 
pened to be looking out of his pantry-door : I burst 
into a yell of laughter when I saw Dick's liyid 
jEace — ^the sight somehow suited my savage soul. 

No sooner was Medicus gone, when Bessy, grave 
and pale, in bonnet and spectacles, came sliding 
downstairs. I do not mean down the banister, 
which Was Pop's &vourite method of descent, but 
slim, tall, noiseless, in a nunlike calm, she swept 
down the stieps. Of course, I followed her. And 
there was Master Bedford's nose peeping through 
the pantry-door at us, as we went out with the 
children. Pray, what business of his was it to be 
always watching anybody who walked with Miss 
Prior ? 

" So, Bessy," I said, " what report does Mr. — 
hem! — Mr. Drencher-^ give of the interesting 
invaUd ? " 

** Oh, the most horrid ! He says that Captain 
Baker has several times had a dreadful disease 
brought on by drinking, and that he is mad when 
he has it. He has delusions, sees demons, when 
he is in this state— wants to be watched." 

" Drencher tells you everything." 



170 LOYBL THE WIDOWEB. 

She says meekly : ^' He attends us when we are 
iU." 

I remark, mth fine irony: ^^He attends the 
whole £GuniIy: he is always coming to Shrub- 
lands ! " 

'^ He comes Yory often/' Miss Prior says> gravely. 

'^ And do you mean to say, Bessy," I cry, madly 
cutting off two or three heads of yellow broom 
with my stick — '' do you mean to say a fellow 
like that, who drops his A's about the room^ is 
a welcome visitor ? " 

"I should be very ungrateful if he were not 
welcome, Mr. Batchelor,*' says Miss Prior. ^^ And 
call me by my surname, please — ^and he has taken 
care of all my fiunily — ^and " 

'^And, of course, of course, of course. Miss 
Prior ! " say I, brutally ; *' and this is the way the 
world wags ; and this is the way we are ill, and 
are cured ; and we are grateful to the doctor that 
cures us ! " 

She nods her grave head. ^' You used to be 
kinder to me once, Mr. Batchelor, in old days — ^in 
your — ^in my time of trouble ! Tes, my dear, that 
is a beautiful bit of broom! Oh, what a fine 
butterfly!" (Cecilia scours the plain after the 



A BLACK SHEEP. 171 

tutterfly.) ^' Yon nsed to be tinder to me once — 
when we were both unhappy." 

" I was unhappy," I say, " but I survived. I 
was ill, but I am now pretty well, thank you. 
I was jilted by a false, heartless woman. Do you 
suppose there are no other heartless women in the 
world?" And I am confident, if Bessy's breast 
had not been steel, the daggers which darted out 
from my eyes would have bored frightful stabs 
in it. 

But she shook her head, and looked at me so 
sadly, that my eye-daggers tumbled down to the 
ground at once; for you see, though I am a 
jealous Turk, I am a very easily appeased jealous 
Turk ; and if I had been Bluebeard, and my wife, 
just as I was going to decapitate her, had lifted 
up her head from the block and cried a little, I 
should have dropped my scimitar, and said, 
^^ Come, come, Fatima, never mind for the present 
about that key and closet business, and Til chop 
your head oflf some other morning." I say Bessy 
disarmed me. Pooh ! I say. Women vrill make 
a fool of me to th^ end. Ah ! ye gracious Fates ! 
Gut my thread of life ere it grow too long. Sup- 
pose I were to live till seventy, uid some little 



172 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

"VTretdi of a woman were to set her cap at me? 
She wonid catch me — ^I Jmow she would. All the 
males of our £EumiIy have been spoony and soft, to 
a degree perfectly ludicrous and despicable to con- 
template • Well, Bessy Prior, putting a hand 

out, looked at me, and said — 

'^ You are the oldest and best friend I have ever 
had, Mr. Batchelor — the only friend." 

''Am I, Elizabeth?" I gasp, with a beating 
heart. 

" Cissy is running back with a butterfly." (Our 
hands unlock.) '' Don't you see the difficulties of 
my position ? Don't you know that ladies are 
often jealous of governesses; and that unless — 
unless they imagined I was — ^I was &YOurable to 
Mr. Drencher, who is very good and kind — ^the 
ladies at Shrublands might not like my remaining 
alone in the house with — ^with — ^you understand?" 
A moment the eyes look over the spectacles : at 
the next, the meek bonnet bows down towards the 
ground. 

I wonder did she hear the bump — ^bumping of 
my heart? heart! — wounded heart! did I 
ever think thou wouldst bump — bump again? 
" Egl — ^Egl — izabeth," I say, choking with emo- 



A BLACK SHEEP. 173 

tioh, " do, do, do yon — ^te — ^tell me — ^you don't — 
don't — don't — ^lo — ^love that apothecary ? " 

She shrugs her shoulder— her charming shoulder. 

" And if," I hotly continue, " if a gentleman 
— if a man of mature age certainly, but who has a 
kind heart and four hundred a-year of his own — '- 
were to say to you, ' Elizabeth ! will you bid the 
flowers of a blighted life to bloom again ? — ^Eliza- 
beth ! will you soothe a wounded heart ? * " 

'' Oh, Mr. Batchelor ! " she sighed, and then 
added quickly, ''Please, don't take my hand. 
Here's Pop." 

And that dear child (bless him !) came up at the 
moment, saying, " Oh, Miss Prior, look here ! 
Tve got such a jolly big toadstool ! " And next 
came Cissy, with a confounded butterfly. 
Richard the Third ! Haven't you been maligned 
because you smothered two little nuisances in a 
Tower ? What is to prove to me that you did not 
serve the little brutes right, and that you weren't 
a most humane man ? Darling Cissy coming up, 
then, in her dear, charming way, says, '' You 
shan't take Mr. Batchelor's hand, you shall take 
my hand ! " And she tosses up her little head, 
and walks with the instructress of her youth. 



174 LOVBL THE WIDOWER. 

" Ces enfcma ne comprennent guSre le Ffangtmy^ 
says Miss Prior, speaking very rapidly. 

"Aprea loncheJ"! whisper. The tauGt is, I 
was so agitated I hardly knew what the French for 
lonch was. And then onr conversation dropped : 
and the heating of my own heart was all the sound 
I heard. 

Lunch came. I couldn't eat a bit : I should 
have choked. Bessy ate plenty, and drank a glass 
of beer. It was her dinner, to be sure. Young 
Blacksheep did not appear. We did not miss 
him. When Lady Baker began to tell her story 
of George IV. at Slane Castle, I went into my own 
room. I took a book. Books ? Psha ! I went 
into the garden. I took out a cigar. But, no, I 

would not smoke it. Perhaps she many people 

don't like smoking. 

I went into the garden. *^ Come into the garden, 
Maud." I sat by a large lilac bush. I waited. 
Perhaps, she would come. The morning-room 
windows were wide open on the lawn. Will she 
never come ? Ah ! what is that tall form 
advancing ? gliding — ^gliding into the chamber like 
a beauteous ghost ? Who most does like an angel 
shoW; you may be sure 'tis she. She comes up to 






; f^H^ 









ss 



■i*''**i4ii 






A BLACK SHEEP. 175 

fhe glass. She lays her spectacles down on the 
mantel-piece. She puts a slim white hand over 
her anbnm hair and looks into the mirror. Eliza- 
beth; Elizabeth ! I come ! 

As I came up, I saw a horrid little grinning^ 
debauched face surge over the back of a great arm- 
chair and look towards Elizabeth. It was Captain 
Blacksheep, of course. He laid his elbows over 
fhe chair. He looked keenly and with a diabolical 
smile at the nneonsdons girl; and jast as I reached 
{he window, he cried out, ^^ Betsy BeUenden, by 
J(we f " 

Elizabeth turned round, gave a little cry, and 

^but what happened I shall tell in the 

ensuing chapter. 



CHAPTER V. 
IS WHICH I AM STUNQ BT A SERPENT. 

If, -when I beard Baker call ont Bess; Bellenden, 
and adjure Jore, he had nm forward and seized 
Elizabeth by the naiet, or offered her other per- 
Bonal indignity, I too shoold have ran forward on 
my side and engaged bim. Tbongh I am & stont 
elderly man, short in stature and in wind, I know 
I am a match for that rickety Uttle captain on his 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 177 

high-heeled boots. A match for him ? I believe 
Miss Bessy would have been a match for both of 
ns. Her white arm was as hard and polished as 
ivory. Had she held it straight pointed against 
the rush of the dragon, he would have fisdlen 
backwards before his intended prey: I have no 
doubt he would. It was the hen, in this case, 
was stronger than the libertine fox, and au besoin 
would have pecked the little marauding vermin's 
eyes out. Had, I say, Partlet been weak, and 
Beynard strong, I would have come forward: I 
certainly would. Had he been a wolf now, instead 
of a fox, I am certain I should have run in upon 
him, grappled with him, torn his heart and tongue 

9 

out of his black throat, and trampled the lawless 
brute to death. 

Well, I didn't do any such thing. I was just 
going to run in, — and I didn't. I was just going 
to rush to Bessy's side to clasp her (I have no 
doubt) to my heart: to beard the whiskered 
champion who was before her, and perhaps say, 
** Cheer thee — cheer thee, my persecuted maiden, 
my beauteous love — my B>ebecca ! Come on. Sir 
Brian de Bois Guilbert, thou dastard Templar! 
It is I, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe." (By the way, 

12 



178 LOVEIi THE WIDOWEB. 

though tiie fellow was not a TempU^', he was a 
Lincoln's Inn man, having passed twice through 
the Insolvent Gonirt there with infinite discredit.) 
But I made no heroic speeches* There was no 
need for Bebeeca to jump out of window and risk 
her lovely neck. How conld she, in fact, the 
French window being flush with the ground floor? 
And I give you my honour, just as I was crying 
my war-cry, couching my lance, and rudung a la 
rec<ms8e upon Sir Baker, a sudden thought made 
me drop my (figurative) point : a sudden idea 
made me rein in my galloping (metaphorical) 
steed, and spare Baker for that time. 

Suppose I had gone inP But for that sudden 
precaution, there might have been a Mrs. Batchelor. 
I might have been a bullied father of ten children. 
(Elizabeth has a fine high temper of her own.) 
What is four hundred and twenty a year, with 
a wife and perhaps half-a-dozen children ? Should 
I have been a whit the happier? Would Eliza- 
beth ? Ah ! no. And yet I feel a certain sort of 
shame, even now, when I think that I didn't go 
in. Not that I was in a Mght, as some people 
choose to hint. I swear I was not. But the 
reason why I did not charge was this : — 



I AM STUNG B7 A SEEFENT. 179 

Nay, I did charge part of the way, and then, 
I own, stopped. It was an error in judgment* 
It wasn't a want of courage. Lord George Sack- 
Tille was a brave man, and as cool as a encumber 
under fire. Well, he didn't charge at the battle of 
Minden, and Prince Ferdinand made the deuce 
and aU of a disturbance, as we know. Byng was 
a brave man, — and I ask, wasn't it a confounded 
shame executing him ? So with respect to myself. 
Here is my statement. I make it openly. I don't 
care. I am accused of seeing a woman insulted, 
and not going to her rescue. I am not guilty, 
I say. That is, there were reasons which caused 
me not to attack. Even putting aside the superior 
strength of Elizabeth herself to the enemy, — ^I 
vow there were cogent and honourable reasons 
why I did not charge home. 

You see I happened to be behind a blue hlac 
bush (and was turning a rhyme — ^heaven help us ! 
— ^in which death was only to part me and Eliza- 
beth) when I saw Baker's face surge over the 
chair-back. I rush forward as he cries "by Jov6." 
Had Miss Prior cried out on her part, the strength 
of twenty Heenans, I know, would have nerved 
this arm ; but all she did was to turn pale, and 

12—2 



180 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 



say, " Oh, mercy ! Captain Baker ! Do pity 
me!" 

" What ! you remember me, Bessy Bellenderi, 
do you ? '' asks the captain, advancing. 

'^ Oh, not that name ! please, not that name ! '* 
cries Bessy. 

" I thought I knew you yesterday," says Baker. 
" Only, gad, you see, I had so much claret on 
board, I did not much know what was what. And 
oh ! Bessy, J have got such a splitter of a head- 
ache." 

" Oh ! please — ^please, my name is Miss Prior. 
Pray ! pray, sir, don't." — 

"You've got handsomer ^ doocid deal hand- 
somer. Enow you now well, your spectacles oflf. 
You come in here— teach my nephew and niece, 

humbug my sister, make love to the sh . Oh ! 

you uncommon sly little toad ! " 

" Captain Baker ! I beg — ^I implore you," says 
Bess, or something of the sort : for the white hands 
assumed an attitude of supplication. 

"Pooh! don't gammon me/" says the rickety 
captain (or words to that effect), and seizes those 
two firm white hands in his moist, trembling palms. 

Now do you understand why I paused ? When 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 181 

the dandy came grinning forward^ with looks and 
gestures of &miliar recognition : when the pale 
Elizabeth implored him to spare her: — a keen 
arrow of jealousy shot whizzing through my heart, 
and caused me well-nigh to &11 backwards as I 
ran forwards. I bumped up against a bronze 
group in the gardens. The group represented 
a lion stung by a serpent. I was a lion stung 
by a serpent too. Even Baker could have knocked 
me down. Fiends and anguish ! he had known 
her before ? The Academy, the life she had led, 
the wretched old tipsy, ineffective guardian of a 
father — all these antecedents in poor Bessy's 
histoiy passed through my mind. And I had 
offered my heart and troth to this woman ! Now, 
my dear sir, I appeal to you. "What would you 
have done? Would you have liked to have such 
a sudden suspicion thrown over the being of your 
affection ? " Oh ! spare me — spare me ! " I 
heard her say, in clear — too clear — pathetic tones. 
And then there came rather a shrill ^^Ah!" 
and then the lion was up in my breast again; 
and I give you my honour, just as I was going to 
step forward — to step? — to rush forward from 
behind the urn where I had stood for a moment 



182 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

mih {humping heart, Bessy's ^^ Ah ! " or little cry 
-was followed by a whack, which I heard as clear 
'as anything I ever heard in my life; — and I saw 
the Httle captain spin back, topple over a chair 
heels up, and in this posture heard him begin to 
scream and cnrse in shrill tones. . • • • • 

Not for long, for as the captain and the chair 
tumble down, a door springs open ; — a man rushes 
in, who pounces like a panther upon the prostrate 
captain, pitches into his nose and eyes, and chokes 
his bad language by sending a fist down his 
naughty throat. 

" Oh ! thank you, Bedford ! — ^please, leave him» 
Bedford! that's enough. There, don't hurt him 
any more ! " says Bessy, laughing — ^laughing, upon 
my word. 

"Ah! wiU you?" says Bedford. "Lie stiU, 
you little beggar, or Til knock your head off. 
Look here. Miss Prior! — ^Elizabeth — dear — dear 
Elizabeth ! I love you with all my heart, and soul^ 
and strength — I do." 

" Bedford ! Bedford ! " warbles Elizabeth. 

" I do ! I can't help it. I must say it ! Ever 
since Bome, I do. Lie still, you drunken little 
beast ! It's no use. But I adore you, Eliza- 



I AM STUNG B7 A SEBPENT. 183 

beih ! Elizabeth 1 " And there was Dick, who was 
always following Miss P. about, and poking his 
head into keyholes to spy her, actually making love 
to her oyer the prostrate body of the captain. , 

Now, what was I to do ? Wasn't I in a most 
confoundedly awkward situation? ,A lady had 
been attacked — a lady? — the lady, and I hadn't 
rescued her. Her insolent enemy was overthrown; 
and I hadn't done it. A champion, three inches 
shorter than myself, had come in, and dealt the 
blow. I was in such a rage of mortification, that 
I should have liked to thrash the captain and 
Bedford too. The first I know I could have 
matched: the second was a, tough little hero. 
And it was he who rescued the damsel, whilst I 
stood by! In a strait so odious, sudden, and 
humiliating, what should I, what could I, what 
did I do? 

Behind the lion and snake there is a brick wall 
and marble balustrade, built for no particular 
reason, but flanking three steps and a grassy 
terrace, which then rises up on a level to the 
house-windows. Beyond the balustrade is a shrub- 
bery of more lilacs and so forth, by which you 
can walk round into another path, which also 



184 LOYEL T^ WIDOWEB. 

leads op to iiie Intae. So «« I had not eliargad — 
ah ! yroe is xa& I — as the hatiile ivas oif«r« I— I 
jttsi weai roniul tiutt slynhbeiy into the oth^ 
path, and so entes^ &e house, sniTiBg like 
Fortinhzas in Hamlet, whan ^veiybodj is dead 
and wpmwlmg, yon know, asid iha whole hnsiaess 
is done. 

Jbi^ was thei« to he so ^!kd to my shsaae, or 
to Bedfiird's hmds ? In that biief iab&rval, whikt 
I was walking round the hypath (jost to giro 
myself a prdi^ for entering woilj into the 
premises), this £artanate fdlow had ahsdately 
^igaged anotibier and laiger champion** TMs was 
no other Jhan Bolkeley, my Lady B/s ficst-dass 
attendant. When ilie captain lell amidst his 
screams and corses, he caUed &t Bolkdby: and 
that ixdhridoal made his appearanoe, with a little 
Scotch cap perched on his powdered head. 

''HnUol what's the row year?'' says' Gdliab, 
eotadng* 

''SiUilatbhdsgaaad! Hang him, MU him !" 
screams Oaptain BladEshoqp, rising with bleeding 
nose. 

'^ I say, what's iko zow year ?'* wAm the grena* 



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5 fellow li vd aopolntrly 

-J-^ .-r, n.v Lady B.'k ' ' '.^^^ 

lit* .* ::t J *'.'•. rjxptain fell *iir • 

^r?raiijs ..id curs-.^, ^e called for Bidkej- i 

vhat -I. -. •, ••!-.:h! luiui' . -.A appearance, with a . .'•le 

' . - '*'•• . ' . ^' powdered head. 

Hang him, kill bim ! " 
\ rising with bleeding 

■ , ^- ).?ar?" asks the grena- 



i 



Bedford to the Kescite. 



I AH 6TIJ9IG B¥ A ^!X3PSSST. ISS 

** Off ^mSi yom i!af» m^ t)efore % ladyi" calk 
out Bedfoid* 

«Hoff rnthmy cip! ycm he Uo " 

But he said no more, for little Bedford jmiiped 
some two feet ftonn the grooiidy «ad koodsed the 
cap off, so that a cloud of saabtoml -pomdsr 
fiHed &e worn mUt tiokt odows. 13ie immense 
frame t)f the gknt €ht»ok al tiik imFaU;: ** I will 
be the 4efifii ^)a yon, jnoa little beggar!" he 
granted vmi ; aad wm wAwaxiang to destroy Didc, 
jtxst as I entered m tbe cloud ^dbich his head had 
raised. 

** TH knock &e bniais as well as the powder 
out of your ugly head ! '- says Bedlord, ^ringing 
at the poker. At whidi juncture I entered. 

"What— what is this disturfMUice?" I say, 
advancing with an air of siin^ed rarprise and 
resolution. 

'' You git out of the way tifl I iXKxk his 'ead 
off! '* roars Bulkaley. 

*' Take up your cap, ear, «&d leave the room/' 
I say, still with the same elegant &rmaam. 

'* Put down that theve poker, yw cowaid ! " 
bellows the inensier <m bottpd wages. 

** Mies Prior !^ I say {like a diguified kypociite> 



186. LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

as I own I was), " I hope no one has offered you 
a rudeness?" And I glare round, first at the 
knight of the bleeding nose, and then at his 
squire. 

Miss Prior's &ce, as she replied. to me, wore a 
look of awful scorn. 

'' Thank you, sir," she said, turning her head 
over her shoulder, and looking at me with her 
grey eyes. ^* Thank you, lUchard Bedford ! God 
bless you ! I shall ever be thankful to you, wher- 
ever I am." And the stately figure swept out of 
the room. 

She had seen me behind that confounded 
statue, then, and I had not come to her ! tor- 
ments and racks I scorpions, fiends and pitch- 
forks ! The face of Bedford, too (flashing with 
knightly gratitude anon as she spoke kind words 
to him and passed on), wore a look of scorn as 
he> turned towards me, and then stood, his 
nostrils distended, and breathing somewhat hard, 
glaring at his enemies, and still grasping his 
mace of battle. 

When Elizabeth was gone, there was a pause of 
a moment, and then Blacksheep, taking his bleed- 
ing cambric £rom his nose, shrieks out, ^' Eall 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 187 

him, I say ! A fellow that dares to hit one in my 
condition, and when I'm down ! Bnlkeley, you 
great hnlking jackass ! kill him, I say ! " 

*^ Jest let him put that there poker down,, that's 
hall," growls Bulkeley. 

** You're afraid, you great cowardly beast ! You 
shall go, Mr. What-d'ye-call-'em — ^Mr. Bedford — 
you shall have the sack, sir, as sure as your name 
is what it is ! I'll tell my brother-in-law every- 
thing ; and as for that woman " 

** IS you say a word against her, I'll cane you 
wherever I see you. Captain Baker ! " I cry out, 

" Who spoke to you ? " says the captain, felling 
back and scowHng at me. 

" Who hever told you to put your foot in ? " 
says the squire. 

I was in such a rage, and so eager to find an 
object on which I might wreak my fury, that I 
confess I plunged at this Bulkeley. I gave him 
two most violent blows on the waistcoat, which 
caused him to double up with such Mghtftd con- 
tortions, that Bedford burst out laughing; and 
even the captain with the damaged eye and nose 
began to laugh too. Then, taking a lesson firom 
Dicky as there was a fine shining dagger on the 



188 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

table, used for the cutting open of reviews and 
magazines, I seized and brandished this weapon, 
and I daresay would have sheathed it in the 
giant's bloated corpus, had he made any move- 
ment towards me. But he only called o^t, '^ hi'll 
be the death on you, you cowards! hi'll be the 
death of both on you ! " And snatching up his 
cap from the carpet, walked out of the room. 

" Glad you did that, though,** says Baker, nod- 
ding his head. " Think Fd best pack up.'* 

And now the Devil of Bage which had been 
swelling within me gave place to a worse devil — 
the Devil of Jealousy — and I turned on the 
captain, who was also just about to slink away : — 

" Stop ! " I cried out — ^I screamed out, I may say. 

"Who spoke to you, I should like to know? 
and who the dooce dares to speak to me in that 
sort of way ? '* says Clarence Baker, with a plen- 
tifdl garnish of expletives, which need not be 
here inserted. But he stopped, nevertheless, and 
turned slouching round. 

" You spoke just now of Miss Prior ? *' I said. 
** Have you anything against her ? '* 

" What's that to you ? " he asked. 
. '^I am her oldest friend. I introduced her 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 189 

into this fisuuily. Dare yoa say a word against 
her?" 

" Well, who the dooce has ? 

" You knew her before ? " 

" Yes, I did, then." 

" When she went by the name of Bellenden ? " 

" Of course, I did. And what's that to you ? '! 
he screams out. 

'^ I this day asked her to be my wife, sir ! 
That's what it is to me !" I replied, with severe 
dignity. 

Mr. Clarence began to whistle. '^ Oh ! if that's 
it — of course not ! " he says. , 

The jealous demon writhed within me and 
rent me. 

" You mean that there is something, then ? " I 
asked, glaring at the young reprobate. 

"No, I don't," says he, looking very much 
firightened. "No, there is nothin*. Upon my 
sacred honour, there isn't, that I know." (I was 
looking uncommonly fierce at this time, and, I 
must own, would rather have quarrelled with some- 
body than not.) "No, there is nothin' that I 
know. Eyer so many years ago, you see, I used 
to go with Tom Papillion, Turkington, and two or 



190 LOYBL THE WIDOWER. 

tibree fellows, to that theatre* Dolphin had it. 
And we used to go behind the scenes — and — and 
I own I had a row with her. And I was in the 
wrong. There now, I own I was. And she 
left the theatre. And she behaved quite right. 
And I was very sorry. And I believe she is as 
good a woman as ever stept now. And the father 
was a disreputable old man, but most honourable 
-^I know he was. And there was a fellow in th^ 
Bombay service — a fellow by the name of Walker 
or WaDdngham — ^yes, Walkingham; and I used 
to meet him at the Cave of EEarmony^ you know ; 
and be told me that she was as right as right could 
be. And he was doosidly cut up about leaving 
her. And he would have married her, I dessay, 
only for his f&ther the general, who wouldn't stand 
it. And he was ready to hang himself when ho 
went away. He used to drink awfully, and then 
he used to swear about her ; and we used to chaff 
him, you know. Low, vulgarish sort of man, he 
was ; and a very passionate fellow. And if you're 
goin' to marry her, you know — of course, I ask 
your pardon, and that ; and upon the honour of a 

gentleman I know nothin' against her. And I 
wish you joy and all that sort of thing. I do now. 



I AM STUNG BT A SERPENT. 191 

really now ! " And so sayings the mean^ mis- 
chievons little monkey sneaked away, and clam- 
bered up to his own perch in his own bedroom. 

Worthy Mrs. Bennington, with a couple of her 
yonng ones, made her appearance at this juncture. 
She had a key, which gaye her a free pass through 
the garden door, and brought her children for an 
afternoon's play and fighting with their little 
nephew and niece. Decidedly, Bessy did not bring 
up her young folks well. Was it that their* grand- 
mothers spoiled them, and undid the governess's 
work ? Were those young people odious (as they 
often were) by nature, or rendered so by the neglect 
of their guardians ? If Bessy had loved her charges 
more, would they not have been better ? Had she 
a kind, loving, maternal heart ? Ha ! This thought 
— this jealpus doubt — smote my bosom : and were 
she mine, and the mother of many possible little 
Batchelors, would she be kind to them ? Would 
they be wilful, and selfish, and abominable little 
wretches, in a word, like these children ? Nay — 
nay ! Say that Elizabeth has but a cold heart ; 
we cannot be all perfection. But, per contra, you 
must admit that, cold as she is, she does her duty. 
How good she has been to her own brothers and 



192 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

sisters : how cheerfully she has giyen away her 
sayings to them : how admirably she has behayed 
to her mother, hiding the iniquities of that dis- 
reputable old schemer, and covering her impro- 
prieties with decent filial screens and pretexts. 
Her mother ? Ah! grands dieux ! You want to 
marry, Charles Batchelor, and you will have that 
greedy pauper for a mother-in-law; that fluff;^ 
Bluecoat boy, those hob-nailed taw-players, top- 
spinners, toffee-eaters, those underbred girls, for 
your brothers- and sisters-in-law! They will be 
quartered upon you. You are so absurdly weak 
and good-natured — ^you know you are — ^that you 
will never be able to resist. Those boys will grow 
up : they will go out as clerks or shopboys : get 
into debt, and expect you to pay their bills : want 
to be articled to attorneys and so forth, and call 
upon you for the premium. Their mother will 
never be out of your house. She will ferret about 
in your drawers and wardrobes, filch your haber- 
dashery, and cast greedy eyes on the very shirts 
and coats on your back, and calculate when she 
can get them for her boys. Those vulgar young 
miscreants will never Ml to come and dine with 
you on a Sunday. They will bring their young 



I AM STUNG BY A SEEPENT. 193 

linendraper or articled friends. They will draw 
tills on you, or give their own to money-lenders, 
imd unless you take up those bills they will con* 
sider you a callous, avaricious brute, and the 
heartless author of their ruiu. The girls will 
«ome and practise on your wife's piano. They 
vron't come to you on Sundays only ; they will 
always be staying in the house. They will alwajrs 
be preventing a tete-a-tete between your wife and 
you. As they grow old, they will want her to 
iake them out to tea-parties, and to give such 
entertainments, where they will introduce their 
odious young men. ' They s^ expect you to 
commit meannesses, in order to get theatre tickets 
for them from the newspaper editors of your 
acquaintance. You will have to sit in the badk 
Beat : to pay the cab to and from the play : to 
see glances and bows of recognition passing between 
them and dubious bucks in the lobbies: and to 
lend the girls your wife's gloves, scarfs, orna- 
ments, smelling-bottles, and handkerchiefs, which 
of course they will never return. If Elizabeth 
is ailing from any circumstance, they will get a 
footing in your house, and she will be jealous 
of them. The ladies of your own &mily will 

13 



194 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. ' 

quarrel with them, of course; and very likely 
your mother-in-law will tell them a piece of her 
mind. And you bring this dreary certainly upon 
you, because, forsooth, you fall in love with a fine 
figure, a pair of grey eyes, and a head of auburn 
(not to say red) hair ! Charles Batchelor ! in 
what a galley hast thou seated thyself, and what a 
femily is crowded in thy boat ! 

All these thoughts are passing in my mind, as 
good Mrs. Bennington is prattling to me — ^I pro- 
test I don't know about what. I think I caught 
some faint sentences about the Patagonian mission, 
the National schools, and Mr. Bonnington's lum- 
bago; but I can't say for certain. I was busy 
with my own thoughts. I had asked the awfiil 
question — I was not answered. Bessy had even 
gone away in a huflf about my want of gallantry, 
but I was easy on that score. As for Mr. Drencher, 
she had told me her sentiments regarding him ; 
and though I am considerably older, yet thought 
I, I need not be afraid of that rival. But when 
she says yes ? Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! Yes means 
Elizabeth — certainly, a brave young woman — ^but 
it means Mrs. Prior, and Gus, and Amelia Jane, 
and the whole of that dismal family. No wonder, 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 195 

with these dark thoughts crowding my mind, 
Mrs. Bohnington found me absent; and, as a 
comment upon some absurd reply of mine, said, 
"La! Mr. Batchelor, you must be crossed in 
love ! ** Grossed in love ! It might be as well 
for some folks if they were crossed in love. At 
my age, and having loved naadly, as I did, that 
pariy in Dublin, a man doesn't take the second 
fit by any means so strongly. Well ! well ! the 
die was cast, and I was there to bide the hazard. 
*What can be the matter? I look pale and 
unwell, and had better see Mr. D. ?* Thank 
you, my dear Mrs. Bennington. I had a violent 
— a violent toothache last night — ^yes, toothache ; 
and was kept awake, thank you. And there's 
nothing Itke having it out? and Mr. D. draws 
them beautifully, and has taken out six of your 
children's? It's better now; I daresay it will 
be better stiU, soon. I retire to my chamber: I 
take a book — can't read one word of it. I resume 
my tragedy. Tragedy? Bosh ! " 

I suppose Mr. Drencher thought his yesterday's 
patient would be better for a little more advice 
and medicine, for he must pay a second visit to 
Shrublands on this day, just after the row with 

13—2 



196 LOVEL THE WIDOWEK. 

the captain had taken place, and walked np to the 
upper regions, as his custom was. Yery likely he 
found Mr. Clarence bathing his nose there, and 
prescribed for the injured organ. Certainly he 
knocked at the door of Miss Prior's schoolroom 
(the fellow was always finding a pretext for enter- 
ing that apartment), and Master Bedford comes 
to me, with a wobegone, livid countenance, 
and a '' Ha ! ha ! young Sawbones is up with 
her!'' 

** So my poor Dick," I say, "I heard your 
confession as I was myself running in to rescue 
Miss P. from that YiUain." 

"My blood was hup," groans Dick, — "up, I 
heg your pardon. When I saw that young rascal 
lay a hand on her I could not help flying at him. 
I would have hit him if he had been my own 
father. And I could not help saying what was 
on my mind. It would come out ; I knew it would 
some day. I might as well wish for the moon as 
hope to get her. She thinks herself superior to 
me, and perhaps she is mistaken. But it's no 
use ; she don't care for me ; she don't care for 
anybody. Now the words are out, in course I 
mustn't stay here." 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 197 

" You may get another place easily enough with 
your character, Bedford ! *' 

But he shook his head. " Tm not disposed to 
hlack nohody else's hoots no more. I have another 
place. I have saved a hit of money. My poor 
old mother is gone, whom you used to be so 
kind to, Mr. B. Tm alone now. Confound that 
Sawbones, will he never come away? I'll tell 
you about my plans some day^ sir, and I know 
you'll be so good as to help me." And away goes 
Bick, looking the picture of woe and despair. 

Presently, from the upper rooms, Sawbones 
descends. I happened to be standing iH'the hall, 
you see, talking to Dick. Mr. Drencher scowls at 
me fiercely, and I suppose I return him haughty 
glance for glance. He hated me : I him : I liked 
him to hate me. 

"How is your patient, Mr. — ^a — Drencher?" I 
ask. 

'* Trifling contusion of the nose — ^brown paper 
and vinegar," says the doctor. 

'' Great powers ! did the villain strike her on 
the nose ?" I cry, in terror. 

" Her — ^whom ?" says he. 

"Oh — ah — ^yes — ^indeed; it's nothing," I say. 



198 LOVEL THE WID0WEJ5. 

smiling. The &Lct is I had forgotten ahont Baker 
in my natural anxiety for Elizabeth. 

" I don't know what you mean by laughing, 
sir?" says the red-haired practitioner. "But if 
you mean chaff, Mr. Batchelor, let me tell you I 
don't want chaff, and I won't have chaff!" and 
herewith, exit Sawbones, looking black doses at 
me. 

Jealous of me, think I, as, I sink down in>a 
chair in the morning-room, where the combat had 
just taken place. And so thou, too, art fever- 
caught, my poor physician ! What a fascination 
this girl" has ! Here's the butler : here's the 
medical man : here am I : here is the captain has 
been smitten — smitten on the nose. Has the 
gardener been smitten too, and is the page gnawing 
his buttons off for jealousy, and is Mons. Bulkeley 
equally in love with her ? I take up a review, and 
think over this, as I glance through its pages. 

As I am lounging and reading, Mons. Bulkeley 
himself makes his appearance, bearing in cloaks 
and packages belonging to his lady. " Have the 
goodness to take that cap off," I say, coolly. 

" You 'ave the goodness to remember that if 
hever I see you hout o' this *ouse I'll punch your 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 199 

hugly 'ead off/' says the monstrous menial. But 
I poise my paper-cutter, and he retires growling. 

From despondency I pass to hope ; and the 
prospect of marriage, which before appeared so 
dark to me, assumes a gayer hue. I have four 
hundred a year, and that house in Devonshire 
Street, Bloomsbury' Square, of which the upper 
part will be quite big enough for us. If we have 
children, there is Queen Square for them to walk 
and play in. Several genteel families I know, who 
still live in the jieighbourhood, will come and 
see my wife, aiid we shall have a comfortable, cosy 
little society, suited to our small means. The 
tradesmen in Lamb's Conduit Street are excellent, 
and the music at the Foundling always charming. 
I shall give up one of my clubs. The other is 
within an easy walk. 

No : my wife's relations will not plague me. 
Bessy is a most sensible, determined woman, and 
as cool a hand as I know. She will only see 
Mrs. Prior at proper (and, I 'trust, distant) 
intervals. Her brothers and sisters will learn to 
know their places, and not obtrude upon me or 
the company which I keep. My friends, who are 
educated people and gentlemen, will not object 



200 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

to visit me because I live over a shop (my grotmd 
floor and spacions back premises in Devonshire 
Street are let to a German toy- warehouse). I 
shall add a hundred or two at least to my income 
by my literary labour ; and Bessy, who has prac- 
tised frugality all her life, and been a good 
daughter and a good sister, I know will prove a 
good wife, and, please heaven! a good mother* 
Why, four hundred a year, plus two hundred, is a 
nice little income. And my old college friend, 
Wigmore, who is just on the Bench ? He" will,, 
he must get me a place — say three hundred a 
year. With nine hundred a year we can do quite 
well. 

Love is fall of elations and despondencies* 
The fature, over which such a black cloud of doubt 
lowered a few minutes since, blushed a sweet 
rose-colour now. I saw myself happy, beloved, 
with a competence, and imagined myself reposing^ 
in the delightM garden of Bed Lion Square on 
some smnmer evening, and half-a-dozen littJe 
Batchelors frisking over the flower-besfpangled 
grass there. 

After our little colloquy, Mrs. Bonnington, not 
finding much pleasure in my sulky society, had 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 201 

gone to Miss Prior's room with her young folks, 
and as the door of the morning-room opened now 
and again, I could hear the dear young ones 
scuttling about the passages, where they were 
playing at horses, and fighting, and so forth. 
Afber a while good Mrs. B. came down from the 
schoolroom. " Whatever has happened, Mr. 
Batchelor?'' she said to me, in her passage 
through the morning-room. " Miss Prior is very 
pale and absent. You are very pale and absent. 
Have you been courting her, you naughty man, 
and tiying to supplant Mr. Drencher? There 
now, you turn as red as my ribbon ! Ah ! Bessy 
is a good girl, and so fond of my dear childr^i. 
* Ah, dear Mrs. Bonnington,' she says to me — 
but of course you won't tell Lady B. : it would 
make Lady B. perfectly furious. ^ Ah ! ' says 
Miss P. to me, ^ I wish, ma'am, that my Uttle 
charges were like their dear little uncles and 
aunts — so exquisitely brought up!' Pop again 
wished to beat his uncle. I wish — ^I wish Frederick 
would send that child to school! Miss P. owns 
that he is too much for her. Gome, children, it 
is time to go to dinner." And, with more of thiss 
prattle, the good lady summons her young ones^ 



202 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

who descend from the schoolroom with their 
nephew and niece. 

Following nephew and niece, comes demure 
Miss Prior, to whom I fling a knowing glance, 
which says, plain as eyes can speak — ^Do, Eliza- 
beth, come and talk for a little to your Suthful 
Batchelor ! She gives a sidelong look of intelli- 
gence, leaves a parasol and a pair of gloves on a 
table, accompanies Mrs. Bennington and the young 
ones into the garden, sees the clergyman's wife 
and children disappear through the garden gate, 
and her own youthful charges engaged in the 
strawberry-beds; and, of course, returns to the 
morning-room for her parasol and gloves, which 
she had forgotten. There is a calmness about 
that woman — an easy, dauntless dexterity, which 
frightens me — nia parole d'lionneur. In that 
white breast is there a white marble stone in place 
of the ordinary cordial apparatus? Under the 
white velvet glove of that cool hand are there 

bones of cold steel ? 

i 

^' So, Drencher has again been here, Elizabeth?*' 
I say. 

She shrugs her shoulders. '' To see that 
wretched Captain Baker. The horrid little man 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 203 

will die ! He was not actually sober just now 
when he — ^when I— when you saw him. How I 
wish you had come sooner — to prevent that hor- 
rible, tipsy, disreputable quarrel. It makes me 
very, veiy thoughtful, Mr. Batchelor. He will 
speak to his mother — to Mr. Level. I shall have 
to go away. I know I must." 

"And don't you know where you can find a 
home, Elizabeth ? Have the words I spoke this 
morning been so soon forgotten ? " 

" Oh ! Mr. Batchelor ! you spoke in a heat. 
You' could not think seriously of a poor girl like 
me, so friendless and poor, with so many family 
ties. Pop is looking this way, please. To a man 
bred like you. what can I be ? " 

"You may make the rest of my life happy, 
Elizabeth ! '* I cry. " We are friends of such 
old — old date, that you know what my disposi- 
tion is." 

"Oh! indeed," says she, "it is certain that 
there never was a sweeter disposition or a more 
gentle creature." (Somehow I thought *she said 
the words " gentle creature " with rather a sar- 
castic tone of voice.) " But consider your habits, 
deau sir. I remember how in Beak Street you 



204 LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

used to be always giving, and^ in spite of your 
income, always poor. Ton love ease and elegance ; 
and haying, I daresay, not too much for yourself 
now, would you encumber yourself with — ^with n^e 
and the expenses of a household ? I shall always 
regard you, esteem you, love you as the best 
friend I ever had, and — void venir la mere dw 
vav/rienJ* 

Enter Lady Baker. " Do I interrupt a tete-a- 
tete, pray ? " she asks. 

"My benefactor has known me since I was a 
child, and befriended me since then," says Eliza* 
beth, with simple kindness leaming in her look. 
" "We were just speaking — I was just — ah ! — tell- 
ing him that my uncle has invited me most kindly 
to St. Boniface, whenever I can be spared ; and if 
you and the family go to the Isle of Wight this 
autumn, perhaps you will intercede vdth Mr. 
Level, and let me have a little holiday. Mary 
-will take every charge of the children, and I do so 
long to see my dear aunt and cousins! And I 
was begging Mr. Batchelor to use his interest with 
you, and to entreat you to use your interest to get 
me leave. That was what our talk was about.*' 

The deuce it was ! I couldn't say No, of course; 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 205 

but I protest I had no idea until that moment that 
our conversation had been about aunt and uncle 
at St. Boniface. Again came the horrible sus- 
picion, the dreadful doubt — ^the chill as of a cold 
serpent crawling down my back — ^which had made 
me pause, and gasp, and turn pale, anon when 
Bessy and Captain Clarence were holding colloquy 
together. What has happened in this woman's life ? 
Do I know all about her, or anything; or only just 
as much as she chooses ? Batch — Batch ! I sus- 
pect you are no better than an old gaby ! 

*' And Mr. Drencher has just been here and 
seen your son," Bessy continues, soMy ; " and he 
begs and entreats your ladyship to order Captain 
Baker to be more prudent. Mr. D. says Captain 
Baker is shortening his hfe, indeed he is, by his 
carelessness." 

There is Mr. Lovel coming from the ciiy, and 
the children are running to their papa ! And 
Miss Prior makes her patroness a meek curtsey, 
and demurely slides away from the room. With a 
sick heart I say to myself, " She has been — ^yes — 
humbugging is the word — ^humbugging Lady B. 
Elizabeth ! Elizabeth ! can it be possible thou art 
humbugging me too? '^ 



206 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Before Lovel enters, Bedford rapidly flits throngh 
the room. He looks as pale as a ghost. His face 
is awfoUy gloomy. 

*' Here's the governor come," Dick whispers to 
me. " If, must all come hont now — out, I beg your 
pardon. So she's caught you, has she ? I thought 
she would." And he grins a ghastly grin. 

" What do you mean ? " I ask, and I daresay 
turn rather red. 

" I know all about it. ' I'll speak to you to- 
night, sir. Confound her I confound her ! " and 
he doubles his knuckles into his eyes, and rushes 
out of the room over Buttons, entering with the 
afternoon tea. 

" What on earth's the matter, and why are you 
knocking the things about ? " Level asks at dinner 
of his butler, who, indeed, acted as one distraught. 
A savage gloom was depicted on Bedford's usually 
melancholy countenance, and the blunders in his 
service were many. With his brother-in-law Level 
did not exchange many words. Clarence was not , 
yet forgiven for his escapade two days previous. 
And when Lady Baker cried, " Mercy, child ! what 
have you done to yourself?" and the captain 
replied, " Knocked my face against a dark doo] 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 207 

made my nose bleed," Level did not look up or 
express a word of sympathy. " If tlie fellow 
knocked his worthless head off, I should not be 
sorry," the widower murmured to me. Indeed, 
the tone of the captain's voice, his ton, and his 
manners in general, were specially odious to 
Mr. Level, who could put up with the tyranny of 
' womeUj but revolted against the vulgarity and 
assumption of certain men. 

As yet nothing had been said about the morn- 
ing's quarrel. Here we were all sitting with a 
sword hanging over our heads, smiling and chat* 
ting, and talking cookery, politics, the weather, 
and what not. Bessy was perfectly cool and digni- 
fied at tea. Danger or doubt did not seem to 
affect Iter. If she had been ordered for execution 
at the end of the evening she would have made 
the tea, played her Beethoven, answered questions 
in her usual voice, and glided about from one to 
another with her usual dignified calm, until the 
hour of decapitation came, when she would have 
made her curtsey, and gone out and had the ampu- 
tation performed quite quietly and neatly. I admired 
her, I was frightened before her. The cold snake 
crept more than ever down my back as I meditated 



208 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

on her. I made such awfdl blunders at whist that 
even good Mrs. Boxmington lost her temper with 
her fourteen shillings. Miss Prior would have 
played her hand out, and never made a fault, you 
may be sure. She retired at her accustomed hour. 
Mrs. Bennington had her glass of negus, and with- 
drew too. Level keeping his eyes sternly on the 
captain, that officer could only get a little sheiry 
and seltzer, and went to bed sober. Lady Baker 
folded Level in her arms, a process to which my 
poor friend very humbly submitted. Everybody 
went to bed, and no tales were told of the morn- 
ing's doings. There was a respite, and no execu- 
tion could take place till to-morrow at any rate. 
Put on thy night-cap, Damocles, and slumber for 
to-night, at least. Thy slumbers will not' be cut 
short by the awful Chopper of Fate. 

Perhaps you may ask what need had J to be 
alarmed? Nothing could happen to me. I was 
not going to lose a governess's place. Well, if 
I must tell the truth, I had not acted with entire 
candour in the matter of Bessy's appointment. 
In recommending her - to Level, and the late 
Mrs. L., I had angered for her probity, and so 
forth, with all my might. I had described the 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 209 

respectability of her family, her father's campaigns, 
her grandfather's (old Dr. Sargent's) celebrated 
sermons; and had enlarged with the utmost elo- 
quence upon the learning and high character of 
her xmcle, the Master of Boniface, and the deserved 
regard he bore his niece. But that part of Bessy's 
biography which related to the Academy I own I 
had not touched upon. A quoi bon? Would 
every gentleman or lady like to have everything 
told about him or her ? I had kept the Academy 
dark then; and so had brave Dick Bedford the 
butler; and should that miscreant captain reveal 
the secret, I knew there would be an awful com- 
motion in the building, t should have to incur 
Level's not unjust reproaches for suppressio veri, 
and the anger of those two viragines, the grand- 
mothers of Level's children. I was more a&aid 
of the women than of him, though conscience 
whispered me that I had not acted quite rightly 
by my friend. 

When, then, the bed-candles were lighted, and 
every one said good-night, " Oh ! Captain Baker," 
say I, gaily, and putting on a confoundedly hypo- 
critical grin, ** if you will come into my room, I 
will give you that book." 

14 



210 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

" What book ? " says Baker. 

*' The book we were talking of this morning." 

" Hang me, if I know what you mean," says 
he. And luckily for me, Lovel, giving a shrug of 
disgust, and a good-night to me, stalked out of the 
room, bed-candle in hand. No doubt, he thought 
his wretch of a brother-in-law did not well re- 
member after dinner what he^ had done or said in 
the morning. 

As I now had the Blacksheep to myself, I said 
calmly, "You are quite right. There was no 
talk about a book at all. Captain Baker. But I 
wished to see you alone, and impress upon you 
my earnest wish that everything which occurred this 
morning— mind, everything— Oioxdi be considered 
as strictly private, and should be confided to no per- 
son whatever — ^you understand ? — to no person.' 

" Confound me," Baker breaks out, " if I 
understand what you mean by your books and 
your * strictly private.' I shall speak what I 
choose — ^hang me ! " 

" In that case, sir," I said, " will you have the 
goodness to send a friend of yours to my friend 
Captain Fitzboodle ? I must consider the matter 
as personal between ourselves. You insulted, and 



I AM STUNG BY A SERPENT. 211 

tis I find now, for the second time— a lady whose 
relations to me you know. You have given neither 
to her, nor to me, the apology to which we are 
both entitled. You refuse even to promise to be. 
silent regarding a painful scene which was occa- 
sioned by your own brutal and cowardly behaviour; 
and you must abide by the consequences, sir ! you 
must abide by the consequences ! " And I glared 
at him over my flat candlestick. 

" Curse me ! — and hang me ! — and," &c. &c. &c. 
he says, " if I know what all this is about. What 
the dooce do you talk to me about books, and 
about silence, and apologies, and sending Captain 
Fitzboodle to me ? I don't want to see Captain 
Fitzboodle — great fat brute ! I know him perfectly 
well." 

"Hush!" say I, "here's Bedford." In fact, 
Dick appeared at this juncture, to close the house 
and put the lamps out. 

But Captain Clarence only spoke or screamed 

louder. "What do I care about who hears me? 

That fellow insulted me already to-day, and I'd 

have pitched his life out of him, only I was down, 

and I'm so confounded weak and nervous, and just 

out of my fever — and — and hang it all ! what are 

U— 2 



212 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

you driving at, Mr. What's-your-name ? " And 
the wretched little creature cries almost as he 
speaks. 

'^ Once for all, mil you agree that the ajBfair 
about which we spoke shall go no farther?" I 
say, as stem as Draco. 

" I shan't say anythin' about it. I wish you'd 
leave me alone, you fellows, and not come botherin'* 
I wish I could get a glass of brandy-and-water up 
in my bed-room. I teU you I can't sleep without 
it," whimpers the wretch. 

" Sorry I laid hands on you, sir," says Bedford^ 
sadly. " It "wasn't worth the while. Go to bed^ 
and I'll get you something warm." 

"Will you, though? I couldn't sleep without 
it. Do now — do now ! and I won't say anythin' — 
I won't now — on the honour of a gentleman, I 
won't. Good night, Mr. "What-d'-ye-call — ." And 
Bedford leads the helot to his chamber. 

*' I've got him in bed ; and I've given liim a 
dose ; and I put some laudanum in it. He ain't 
been out. He has not had much to-day," says 
Bedford, coming back to my room, with his fsice 
ominously pale. 

'' You have given him laudanum ? " I ask. 



I AM STUNG BY A SBBPEXT. 213 

'^Sawbones gave him some yesterday, — told 
me to give him a little — forty drops," growls 
Bedford. 

Then the gloomy major-domo pats a hand into 
each waistcoat pocket, and looks at me. '' You 
want to fight for her, do you, sir ? Galling out, 
and that sort of game ? Phoo ! " — and he laughs 
acomfoUy. 

^' The little miscreant is too despicahle, I own/' 
say I, " and it's absurd for a peaceable fellow like 
me to talk about powder and shot at this time of 
day. But what could I do ? " 

"I say it's she ain't worth it," says Bedford, 
lifting up both clenched fists out of the waistcoat 
pockets. 

" What do you mean, Dick ? " I ask* 

** She's humbugging you, — she's humbugging 
me, — she's humbugging eyeiybody,," roars Dick. 
'' Look here, sir ! " and out of one of the clenched 
fists he flings a paper down on the table. 

"What is it?" I ask. It's her handwriting. 
I see the neat trim lines on the paper. 

" It's not to you; nor yet to me," says Bedford. 

" Then how dare you read it, sir ? " I ask, all 
of a tremble. 



214 LOVEL THE WIDOWER* 

" It's to him. It's to Sawbones," hisses out 
Bedford. ' " Sawbones dropt it as he was getting 
into his gig; and I read it. I ain't going to 
make no bones about whether it's wrote to me 
or not. She tells him how you asked her to marry 
you. (Ha !) That's how I came to know it. And 
do you know what she calls you, and what he 
calls you, — that castor-hoil beast? And do you 
Imow what she says of you ? That you hadn't 
pluck to stand by her to-day. There, — it's all 
down under her hand and seal. You may read 
it, or not, if you like. And if poppy or man- 
dragora will medicine you to sleep afterwards, I 
just recommend you to take it. I shall go and 
get a drop out of the captain's bottle — I shall." 

And he leaves me, and the f&tal paper on the 
table. 

Now, suppose you had been in my case — ^would 
you, or would you not, have read the paper ? Sup- 
pose there is some news — ^bad news — about the 
woman you love, will you, or will you not, hear 
it? Was Othello a rogue because he let lago 
speak to him ? There was the paper. It lay there 
glimmering under the light, with all the house 
quiet. 



CHAPTER TI. 

■CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 

NBIEIJB KT 
osoBi^ Lec- 

P TET3E ! I 

see, as per- 
Fectly as if 
fon were sit- 
ting opposite 
X) me, the 
icom depict- 
id on your 
Qoble connte- 
Qance when, 
yoa read my 
confeBBion 
that I, 
Charles Bat- 
chelor. Esquire, did horglarioTisly enter the pre- 
mises of Edward Drencher, Esquire, M.E.C.S.I. 
(phew! the odious peetle-grinder, I neyer could 



216 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

bear him!) and break open, and read a certain 
letter, his property. I may have been wrong, but 
I am candid. I tell my misdeeds ; some fellows 
hold their tongues. Besides, my good man, con- 
sider the temptation, and the horrid insight into 
the paper which Bedford's report had already given 
• me. "Would you like to be told that the girl of 
your heart was playing at fast and loose with it, 
had none of her own, or had given hers to another ? 
I don't want to make a Mrs. Bobin Gray of any 
woman, and merely because ^' her mither presses 
her sair" to marry against her will. '*If Miss 
Prior,'* thought I, "prefers this lint-scraper to 
me, ought I to balk. her? He is younger, and 
stronger, certainly, than myseK. Some people 
may consider him handsome. (By the way, what 
a remarkable thing it is about many woaisen, that, 
in affairs of the heart, they don't seem to care or 
understand whether a man is a gentleman or not.) 
It may be it is my superior fortune and social 
station which may induce Elizabeth to waver in 
her choice between me and my bleeding, bolusing, 
toothdrawing rival. If so, and I am only taken 
from mercenary considerations, what a pretty 
chance of subsequent happiness do either of us 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 217 

stand! Take the vaccinator, girl, if thou pre- 
ferrest him ! I know what it is to be crossed in 
love already. It's hard, but I can bear it! I 
ought to know, I must know, I will know what is 
in that paper ! " So saying, as I pace round and 
round the table where the letter lies flickering 
white under the midnight taper, I stretch out my 

hand — ^I seize the, paper — I well, I own it — 

there — ^yes — I took it, and I read it. 

Or rather, I may say, I read that part of it 
which the bleeder and blisterer had flung down. 
It was but a fragment of a letter — ^a fragment — 
oh! how bitter to swallow! A lump of Epsom 
salt could not have been more disgusting. It 
appeared (from Bedford's statement) that iSscu- 
lapius, on getting into his gig, had allowed this 
scrap of paper to whisk out of his pocket — ^the 
rest he read, no doubt, under the eyes of the 
writer. Very fikely, during the perusal, he had 
taken and squeezed the Mse hand which wrote the 
lines. Very likely the first part of the predovs 
document contained compliments to him — ^from 
the horrible context I judge so — compliments to 
that vendor of leeches and bandages, into whose 
heart I daresay I wished ten thousand lancets 



218 LOVEL THE WIDOWER, 

might be stack, as I perused the False One's 
wheedling address to him ! So ran the document. 
How well every word of it was engraven on my 
anguished heart ! If page three, which I suppose 
was about the bit of the letter which I got, was as 
it was — ^what must page one and two have been ? 
The dreadful document began, then, thus ; — 

" dear hair in the locket, which I shall 

ever wear for the sake of him who gave ii" — 
(dear hair! indeed— disgusting carrots! She 
should have been ashamed to call it '* dear hair ") 
— " for the sake of him who gave it, and whose 
had temper I shall pardon, because I think ill 
spite of his faults, he is a little fond of his poor 
Lizzie ! Ah, Edward ! how could you go on so 
th6 last time about poor Mr. B. ! Can you imagine 
that I can ever have more than a filial regard for 
the kind old gentleman ? " (II etait question de 
moi, ma parole d'honneur. I was the kind old 
gentleman !) " I have known him since my child- 
hood. He was intimate in our family in earlier 
and happier days ; made our house his home ; and, 
I must say, was most kind to all of us children. 
If he has vanities, you naughty boy, is he the only 
one of his sex who is vain ? Can you fancy that 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 219 

snch an old creature (an old mvff, as you call him, 
you wicked, satirical man !) could ever make an 
impression on my heart ? No, sir ! *' (Aha ! So 
I was an old muff, was I ?) " Though I don't 
wish to make you vain too, or that other people 
should laugh at you, as you do at , poor dear 
Mr. B., I think, sir, you need but look in your 
glass to see that you need not be afraid of such a 
riyal as that. You fancy he is attentive to me ? 
If you looked only a little angrily at him^ he 
would fly back to 'London. To-day, when your 
horrid little 'patient did presume to offer to take 
my hand, when I boxed his little wicked ears and 
sent him spinning to the end of the room — ^poor 
Mr. Batch was so frightened that he did not dare 
to . come into the room, and I saw him peeping 
behind a statue on the lawn, and he would not 
come in until the servants arrived. Poor man ! 
We cannot all of us have courage like a certain 
Edward, who I know is as bold as a lion. Now, 
sir, you must not be quarrelling with that wretched 
little captain for being rude. I have shown him 
that I can very well take care of myself I knew 
the odious thing the first moment I set eyes on 
him, though he had forgotten me. Years ago I 



220 lOYEL THE WIDOWER. 

met him, and I remember he was equally rude 
and tip9 •'" 

Here the letter was torn. Beyond ^^Ups"ii 
did not go. Bat that was enough, wasn't it? 
To this woman I had offered a gentle and manly, 
I may say a kind and tender heart — I had ofGsred 
four hundred a year in funded property, besides 
my house in Devonshire Street, Bloomsbury — 
and she preferred Edward, forsooth, at the sign 
of the Gallipot : and may ten thousand pestles 
smash my brains ! 

You may £Emcy what a night I had after reading 
that scrap. I promise you I did not sleep much. 
I heard the hours toll as I kept vigil. I lay 
amidst shattered capitals, broken shafts of the 
tumbled palace which I had built in imagination — 
oh ! how bright and stately ! I sate amongst 
the ruins of my own happiness, surrounded by the 
murdered corpses of innocent-visioned domestic 
joys. Tick — tock! Moment after moment I 
heard on the clock the clinking footsteps of 
wakeftd grief. I fell into a doze towards morning, 
and dreamed that I was dancing with Glorvina, 
when I woke with a start, finding Bedford arrived 
with my shaving water, and opening the shutters* 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOB. 221 

When he saw my haggard &ce he wagged his 
head. * 

" You have read it, I see, sir," says he. 

" Yes, Dick," groaned I, out of bed, " I have 
swallowed it." And I langhed I may say a 
fiendish langh. '' And now I have taken it, not 
poppy nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syraps 
in his shop (hang him) will be able to medicine 
me to sleep for some time to come ! " 

^' She has no heart, sir. I don't think she 
cares for t'other chap much," groans the gloomy 
bufler. " She can't, after having known tuf " — 
and my companion in grief, laying down my hot- 
water jug, retreats. 

I did not cut any part of myself with my razor. 
I shaved quite calmly. I went to the fEimily at 
breakfast. My- impression is I was sarcastic and 
witty. I smiled most kindly at Miss Prior when 
she came in. Nobody could have seen from my 
outward behaviour that anything was wrong within. 
I was an * apple. Could you inspect the worm 
at my core! No, no. Somebody, I think old 
Baker, complimented me on my good looks. I 
was a smiling lake. Gould you see on my placid 
surface, amongst my sheeny water-Hlies, that a 



222 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

corpse was lying under my cool depths ? " A bit 
of deyiUed chicken ?" *' Nq, thank you. tBy the 
way, Loyel, I think I must go to town to-day." 
"You'll come back to dinner, of course?" 
"Well— no." "Oh, stiiflf! You promised me 
to-day and to-morrow. Eobinson, Brown, and 
Jones are coming to-morrow, and you must be 
here to meet them." Thus we prattle on. I 
answer, I smile, I say, " Yes, if you please, 
another cup," or, "Be so good as to hand tlie 
muffin," or what not. But I am dead. I feel 
as if I am under ground, and buried. Life, and 
tea, and clatter, and muffins are going on, of 
course ; and daisies spring, and the sun shines 
on the grass whilst I am under it. Ah, dear 
me ! it's very cruel : it's very, very lonely : 
it's very odd ! I don't belong to the world 
any more. I have done with it. I am 
shelved away. But my spirit returns and flitters 
through the world, which it has no longer any- . 
thing to do with : and my ghost, as it were, comes 
and smiles at my own tombstone* Here lies 
Charles Batchelor, the Unloved One. Oh ! alone, 
alone, alone! Why, Fate! didst ordain that I 
should be companionless ? Tell me where the 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. . 223 

Wandering Jew is, that I may go and sit with 
him. Is there any place at a lighthouse vacant ? 
Who knows where is the Island of Juan Fer- 
nandez ? Engage me a ship and take me there 
at once. Mr. B. Crusoe, I think. My dear 
Bobinson, have the kindness to hand me over 
your goatskin cap, breeches, and umbrella. Go 
home, and leave me here. Would you know who 
is the soUtariest man on earth ? That man am I. 
Was. that cutlet which I ate at breakfast anon, 
was that lamb which Msked on the mead last 
week (beyond yon wall where the unconscious 
cucumber lay basking which was to form his sauce) 
— I say, was that lamb made so tender, that I 
might eat him? And my heart, then? Poor 
heart! wert thou so softly constituted only that 
women might stab thee ? So I am a Muff, am I ? 
And she will always wear a lock of his " dear 
hair,'' will she ? Ha ! ha ! The men on the 
omnibus looked askance as they saw me laugh. 
They thought it was from Hanwell, not Putney, 
I was escaping. Escape ? Who can escape ? I 
went into London. I went to the Clubs. Jawkins, 
of course, was there ; and my impression is that 
he talked as usual. I took another omnibus, and 



224 . LOVEL THE WIDOWEE. 

went back to Putney. " I will go back and reTisit 
my grave," I thongbt. It is said that ghosts 
loiter about their former haunts a good deal when 
ihey are first dead ; -flit wistfully among their old 
Mends and companions, and I daresay, expect to 
hear a plenty of conyersation and friendly tearful 
remark about themselyes. But suppose they 
return, and find nobody talking of them at all ? 
Or suppose, Hamlet (P^re, and Boyal Dane) comes 
back and finds Claudius and Gertrude very com- 
fortable oyer a piece of cold meat, or what not? 
Is the late gentleman's present position as a ghost 
a yery pleasant one ? Crow, Cocks ! Quick, Sun- 
dawn ! Open, Trap-door ! AUons : it's best to 
pop underground again. So I am a Muff, am I ? 
What a curious thing that walk up the hill to* 
the house was! What a different place Shrub- 
lands was yesterday to what it is to-day! Has 
the sun lost its light, and the flowers their bloom, 
and the joke its sparkle, and the dish its savour ? 
Why, bless my soul ! what is Lizzy herself — only 
an ordinary woman — fireckled certainly — incor- 
rigibly dull, and without a scintillation of humour: 
and you mean to say, Charles Batchelor, that your 
heart once beat* about that woman? Under the 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOB. 225 

intercepted letter of that cold assassin^ my heart 
had fallen down dead, irretrievably dead. I 
remember, apropos of the occasion of my first 
death, that perpetrated by Glorvina — on my second 
visit to Dublin — ^with what a strange sensation I 
walked under some trees in the Phoanix Park 
beneath which it had been my custom to meet 
my False One Number !• There were the trees 
— there were the birds singing — there was the 
bench on which we used to sit— the same, but 
how difierent ! The trees had a different foliage, 
exquisite amaranthine; the birds sang a song 
paradisaical ; the bench was a bank of roses and 
fresh flowers, which young Love twined in fragrant 
chaplets around the statue of Glorvina. Boses 
and fresh flowers? Bheumatisms and flannel- 
waistcoats, you silly old man ! Foliage and Song? 

namby-pamby driveller! A statue? — ^a doll, 
thou twaddling old dullard ! — a doll with carmine 

cheeks, and a heart stuffed with bran ^I say, 

on the night preceding that ride to and from 
Putney, I had undergone death — ^in that omnibus 

1 had been carried over to t'other side of the 
Stygian Shore. I returned but as a passionless 
ghost, remembering my life-days, but not feeling- 

16 



226 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

any more. Love was dead, Elizabeth ! Whj^ 
the doctor came, and partook freely of limch, and 
I was not angry. Yesterday I called him names, 
aoid hated him, and was jealons of him. To-day 
I felt no rivalship ; and no envy at his success ; 
and no desire to supplant him. No — I swear — 
not the slightest wish to make Elizabeth mine if 
she would. I might haye cared for her yester- 
day — ^yesterday I had a heart. Psha ! my good 
sir or madam. Ton sit by me at dinner. Perhaps 
you are handsome, and use your eyes. Ogle away. 
Don't balk yourself, pray. But if you fency I 
care a threepenny-piece about you — or for your 
eyes — or for your bonny brown hair — or for your 
sentimental remarks, sidelong warbled — or for 
your praise to (not of) my face — or for your satira 
behind my back — ah me ! — ^how mistaken you are ! 
Peine perd/tie, ma chere dame! The digestiv©* 
organs are still in good working order — ^but the 
heart ? Caret. 

I was perfectly civil to Mr. Drencher, and, indeed^ 
wonder to think how in my irritation I had allowed 
myself to apply (mentally) any sort of disagreeable 
phrases to a most excellent and deserving and 
good-looking young man, who is beloved by the 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 227 

poor, . and has won the just confidence of an 
extensive circle of patients. I made no sort of 
remark to Miss Prior, except about the weather 
and the flowers in the garden. I was bland, easy, 
rather pleasant, not too high-spirited, you under- 
stand. — ^No: I vow you could not have seen a 
nerve wince, or the slightest alteration in my 
demeanour. I helped the two old dowagers; I 
listened to their twaddle; I gaily wiped up with 
my napkin three-quarters of a glass of sheny 
which Popham flung over my trowsers. I would 
defy you to know that I had gone through the 
ticklish operation of an excision of the heart a 
few hours previously. Heart — ^pooh ! I saw Miss 
Prior's lip quiver. Without a word between us, 
she knew perfectly well that all was over as regarded 
her late humble servant. She winced once or twice. 
While Drencher was busy with his plate, the grey 
eyes cast towards me interjectional looks of puzzled 
entreaty. She, I say, winced ; and I give you my 
word I did not care a fig whether she was sorry, or 
pleased, or happy, or going to be hung. And T 
can't give a better proof of my utter indifierence 
about the matter, than the fact that I wrote two 
or three copies of verses descriptive of my despair* 

15—2 



228 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

They appeared^ you may perhaps remember, in 
one of the annuals of those days, and were gene- 
rally attributed to one of the most sentimental 
of our young poets. I remember the reviews 
said they were " replete with emotion," " fall of 
passionate and earnest feeling," and so forth. 
Feeling, indeed ! — ^ha ! ha ! " Passionate out- 
bursts of a grief-stricken heart ! ** — Passionate 
scrapings of a fiddlestick, my good friend. 
" Lonely," of course, rhymes with " only," and 
*' gushes " with " blushes," and " despair " with 
^'hair," and so on. Despair is perfectly com- 
patible with a good dinner, I promise you. Hair 
is fiedse : hearts are fedse. Grapes may be sour, 
but claret is good, my masters. Do you suppose 
I am going to cry my eyes out, because Chloe's 
are turned upon Strephon? If you find any 
whimpering in mine, may they never wink at a 
bee's-wing again. 

When the doctor rose presently, saying he 
would go and see the gardener's child, who was 
ill, and casting longing looks at Miss Prior, I 
assure you I did not feel a tittle of jealousy, 
though Miss Bessy actually followed Mr. Drencher 
into the lawn, under the pretext of calling back 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOB. 229 

Miss Gissjy who had ran thither without her 
bonnet. 

" Now, Lady Baker, which was right ? you or 
I?" asks bonny Mrs. Bonnington, wagging her 
head towards the lawn where this couple of inno- 
cents were disporting. 

" You thought there was an affair between Miss . 
Prior and the medical gentleman," I say, smiling. 
" It was no secret, Mrs. Bonnington ? " 

" Yes, but there were others who were a little 
smitten in that quarter, too," says Lady Baker ; 
and she in turn wags her old head towards me. 

" You mean me ? " I answer, as innocent as a 
new-bom babe. "I am a burnt child, Lady Baker; 
I have been at the fire, and am already thoroughly 
done, thank you. One of your charming sex jilted 
me some years ago ; and once is quite enough, I 
am much obliged to you." 

This I said, not because it was true ; in fia.ct, it 
was the reverse of truth ; but if I choose to lie 
about my own affairs, pray, why not? And though 
a strictly truth-telling man generally, when I do 
lie, I promise you, I do it boldly and well. 

''If, as I gather firom Mrs. Bonnington, Mr. 
Drencher and Miss Prior like each other, I wish 



230 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

my old friend joy, I wish Mr. Drencher joy with 
all my heart. The match seems to me excellent. 
He is a deserving, a clever, and a handsome young 
fellow; and I am sure, ladies, yoij can bear witness 
to her goodness, after all you have known of her.'* 

" My dear Batchelor," says Mrs. Bennington, 
still smiling and winking, "I don't believe one 
single word you say — not one single word ! " And 
she looks infinitely pleased as she speaks* 

'^Oh!" cries Lady Baker, "my good Mrs. 
Boimington, you are always match-making — don't 
contradict me. You know you thought " 

" Oh, please don't," cries Mrs. B. 

" I will. She thought, Mr. Batchelor, she 
actually thought that our son, that my Cecilia's 
husband, was smitten by the governess. I should 
like to have seen him dare ! " and her flashing 
eyes turn towards the late Mrs. Level's portrait, 
with its £a.ded simper leering over the harp. "The 
idea that any woman could succeed that angel 
indeed ! " 

" Indeed, I don't envy her," I said. 

" You don't mean, Batchelor, that my Frederick 
would not make any woman happy ? " cries the 
Bonnington. "He is only seven-and-thirty, very 



'!*r» 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 231 

young for his age^ and the most affectionate of 
<3reatiires. I am snrprised, and it's most cruel, 
and most unkind of you^ to say that you don't 
envy any woman that marries my boy ! " 

^'My dear good Mrs. Boimington^ you ^te 
misapprehend me/' I remark. 

" Why, when his late wife was alive," goes on 
Mrs. B., sobbing, ^' you know with what admirable 
sweetness and gentleness he bore her — ^her — ^bad 
temper — excuse me. Lady Baker ! " 

" Oh, pray, abuse my departed angel ! " cries 
the Baker ; '^ say that your son should many and 
forget her — say that those darlings should be made 
to forget their mother. She was a •woman of birth, 
and a woman of breeding, and a woman of fanuly, 
and the Bakers came in with the Conqueror, 
Mrs. Bennington " 

"I think I heard of one in the court of Pharaoh," 
I interposed. 

''And to say that a Baker is not worthy of a 
Level is pretty news indeed ! Do you hear that, 
Clarence ? " 

"Hear what, ma'am?" says Clarence, who enters 
at this juncture. *' You're speakin' loud enough — 
though blesht if I hear two sh-shyUables." 



232 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

" You wretched boy, you have been smoking ! " 

" Shmoking — haven'ij I ? " says Clarence with a 
laugh ; " and I've been at the Five Bells, and I've 
been having a game of billiards with an old friend 
of mine," and he lurches towards a decanter. 

" Ah ! don't drink any more, my child ! " cries 
the mother. 

" I'm as sober as a judge, I tell you. You leave 
so precious little in the bottle at dinner, that I 
must get it when I can, mustn't I, Batchelor, old 
boy? We had a row yesterday, hadn't we? No, it 
was sugar-baker. I'm not angry — ^you're not angry. 
Bear no maUsh. Here's your health, old boy ! " 

The unhappy gentleman drank his bumper of 
sherry, and, tossing his hair off his head, said — 
" Where's the governess — ^where's Bessy Bellen- 
den? Who's that kickin' me under the table, I 
say?" 

" Where is who ? " asks his mother. 

"Bessy Bellenden — the governess — that's her 
real name. Known her these ten years. Used to 
dansh at Prinsh^s Theatre. Bemember her in the 
corps de ballet. Ushed to go behind the shenes. 
Dooshid pretty girl ! " maunders out the Jiipsy 
youth ; and as the unconscious subject of his mis- 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 233 

chieYOUB talk enters the room, again he cries out, 
" Come and sit hy me, Bessy Bellenden, I say ! " 

The* matrons rose with looks of horror in their 
faces. "A hallet dancer ! " cries Mrs. Bennington. 
* ' A ballet dancer ! ' * echoes Lady Baker. * * Young 
woman, is this true ? " 

" The Bulbul and the Roshe— hay?" laughs the 
captain. ''Don't you remember you and Fosbery 
in blue and shpangles ? Always all right, though, 
Bellenden was. Fosbery washn't : but Bellenden 
was. Give you every credit for that, Bellenden. 
Boxsh my earsh. Bear no malish — no — no — 
malish! Get some more sherry, you — whatsh 
your name — Bedford, butler — and I'll pay you 
the money I owe you;" and he laughs his wild 
laugh, utterly unconscious of the eflfect he is pro- 
ducing. Bedford stands staring at him as pale 
as death. Poor Miss Prior is as white as marble. 
Wrath, terror, and wonder are in the countenances 
of the dowagers. It is an awfiil scene ! 

" Mr. Batchelor knows that it was to help my 
family I did it," says the poor governess. 

"Yes, by George ! and nobody can say a word 
against her," bursts in Dick Bedford, with a sob ; 
'^ and she is as honest as any woman here." 



234 JJOYSL THE WIDOWER. 

'^ Pray, who told yon to pat yonr oar in ? " cEies 
the tipsy qaptain. 

"And yon knew that this person was on the 
stage^ and yon introdnoed her into my son's 
fiunily? Dh, Mr. Batehelory Mr. Batohelor, I 
didn't think it of yon ! Don't speak to m^, miss ! " 
dies the flnrried Bennington. 

"Yon hronght this woman to the children of my 
adored Cecilia ? " calls ont the other dowager. 
'^ Serpent^ leave the room! Padk yonr tronks, 
viper! and qnit the honse this instant. Don't 
tonch her^ Cissy. Come to me^ my hiessing. Go 
away, yon horrid wretch ! " 

" She ain't a horrid wretch ; and when I was ill 
she was veiy good to ns/' breaks in Pop, with a 
roar of tears : " and yon shan't go. Miss Prior — 
my dear, pretty Miss Prior* Yon shan't go ! " and 
the child mshes np to the governess, and covers 
her neck with tears and kisses. 

" Leave her, Popham, my darling hiessing ! — 
leave that woman ! " cries Lady Baker. 

"I won't, yon old beast! — and she aha-a-ant 
go. And I wish yon was dead — and, my dear, 
yon shan't go, and Pa shan't let yon ! " — shoata 
the boy. 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOB. 235 

" Ob> PophAin^ if Miss Prior has been naughty. 
Miss Prior must go ! *' says Cecilia, tossing up her 
head. 

*^ Spoken like my daughter's child! " cries Lady 
Baker: and little Cissy, haying flung her little 
stone, looks as if she had performed a very 
Tirtuous action. \ 

" God bless you. Master Pop,— 7you are a trump, 
you are ! '\ says Mr. Bedford.* 

'^ Tes, [that I am, Bedford ; and she shan't go, 
shall she ? " cries the boy. 

But Bessy stooped down sadly, and kissed him. 
*' Tes, I must, dear," she said. 

" Don't touch him ! Come away, sir ! Come 
away from her this moment ! " shrieked the two 
mothers. 

" I nursed him through the scarlet fever, when 
his own mother would not come near him,"' says 
Elizabeth, gently. 

"I'm blest if she didn't," sobs Bedford—" and 
— ^bub — ^bub — bless you. Master Pop ! " 

" That child is wicked enough, and headstrong 
enough, and rude enough already! " exclaims Lady 
Baker. "I desire, young woman, you will not 
pollute him farther ! " 



236 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

^' That's a hard word to say to an honest woman, 
ma'am/' says Bedford. 

"Pray, miss, are you .engaged to the butler, 
too ? " hisses out the dowager. 

*' There's very little the matter with Maxwell's 

child — only teeth What on earth has 

happened ? My dear Lizzy — my dear Miss Prior — 
what is it?" cries the doctor, who enters from the 
garden at this juncture. 

" Nothing has happened, only this young woman 
has appeared in a new character ^^^ says Lady Baker. 
"My son has just informed us that Miss Prior 
danced upon the stage, Mr. Drencher ; and if you 
think such a person is a fit companion for your 
mothers and sisters, who attend a place of Christian 
worship, I beKeye— I wish you joy." 

" Is this — ^is this — ^true ? " asks the doctor, with 
a look of bewilderment. 

" Yes, it is true," sighs the girl. 

"And you never told me, Elizabeth?" groans 
the doctor. 

" She's as honest as any woman here," calls 
out Bedford. " She gave all the money to her 
family." 

"It wasn't fedr not to tell me. It wasn't fair," 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 237 

sobs the doctor. And he gives her a ghastly part- 
ing look, and turns his back. 

" I say, you — Hi ! What-d'-you-call-'em? Saw- 
bones ! " shrieks out Captain Clarence. " Come 
back, I say. She's all right, I say. Upon my 
honour, now, she's all right." 

''Miss P. shouldn't have kept this from me. 
My mother and sisters are dissenters, and very 
strict. I couldn't ask a party into my fjGonily who 

has been — ^who has been 1 wish you good morn- 

ii^g> " says the doctor, and stalks away. 

* ' And now, will you please to get your things 
ready and go, too ?" continues Lady Baker, *' My 
dear Mrs. Bennington, you think " 

" Certainly, certainly, she must go ! " cries 
Mrs. Bennington. 

" Don't go till Level comes home, miss. Tliese 
ain't your mistresses. Lady Baker don't pay your 
salary. If you go, I go, too. There ! " calls out 
Bedford, and mumbles something in her ear about 
the end of the world. 

" You go, too; and a good riddance, you inso- 
lent brute ! " exclaims the dowager. 

" Oh, Captain Clarence ! you have made a pretty 
morning's work," I say. 



238 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

" I don't know what the doose all the sherry — 
all the shinty's about/' says the captain, pla'yiiig with 
the empty decanter. " Gal's a very good gal — ^pretty 
gal. If she choosesh dansh shport her family, why 
the doosh shouldn't she dansh shport a &mily?" 

'' That is exactly what I recommend this person 
to do," says Lady Baker, tossing up her head. 
"And now I will thank you to leave the room. 
Do you hear ? " 

As poor Elizabeth obeyed thia order, Bedford 
darted after her; and I know ere she had gone 
five steps he had offered her his savings and every- 
thing he had. She might have had mine yester- 
day. But she had deceived me. She had played 
fast and loose with me. She had misled me about 
this doctor. I could trust her no more. My love 
of yesterday was dead, I say. That vase was 
broken, which never could be mended. She knew 
all was over between us. She did not once look 
at me as she left the room. 

The two dowagers — one of them, I think, a 
little alarmed at her victory — ^left the house, and 
for once went away in the same barouche. The 
young maniac who had been tiie cause of the 
mischief staggered away, I know not whither. 






CECILIA'S SUCCESSOB. 239 

About four o'clock, poor little Pmhom, the 
child's maid, came to me, well nigh choMiig with 
tears, as she handed me a letter. *' She's goin' 
away — and she sayed both them children's lives, 
she did. And she've wrote to yon, sir. And Bed- 
. ford's a-goin'. And FU give wamin', I will, 
too ! " And the weeping handmaid^i retires, 
leaving me, perhaps somewhat frightened, with 
the letter in my hand. 

** Dear Sir," she said — " I may write yon a line 
of thanks and fieurewell. I shall go to my mother. 
I shall soon find another place. Poor Bedford, 
who has a generous heart, told me that he had 
given you a letter of mine to Mr. D. I saw this 
morning that you knew everything. I can only say 
now that for all your long kindnesses and friend- 
ship to my fiunily I am always your sincere and 
grateftd— E. P." 

Yes : that was all. I think she wai^ grateful. 
But she had not been candid with me, nor with 
the poor surgeon. I had no anger : &r from it : 
a great deal of regard and goodwill, nay admira- 
tioih, for the intrepid girl who had played a long, 
hard part veiy cheerfully and bravely. But my 
foolish little flicker of love had blazed up and gone 



240 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

oat in a day; I knew that she never conld care 
for me. In that dismal, wakeful night, after read- 
ing the letter, I had thought her character and 
stoiy over, and seen to what a life of artifice and 
dissimulation necessity had compelled her. I did 
not blame her. In such circumstances, with such 
a family, how could she be frank and open ? Poor 
thing ! poor thing ! Do we know anybody ? Ah ! 
dear me, we are most of us very lonely in the 
world. You who have any who love you, cling to 
them, and thank God. I went into the hall 
towards evening: her poor trunks and packages 
were there, and the little nurserymaid weeping 
over them. The sight unmanned me; and I 
believe I cried myself. Poor Elizabeth ! And 
with these small chests you recommence your 
life's lonely voyage ! I gave the girl a couple of 
sovereigns. She sobbed a God bless me! and 
burst out crying more desperately than ever. 
Thou hast a kind heart, little Pinhom ! 

" ' Miss Prior — to be called for.* Whose trunks 
are these?" says Level, coming from the city. 
The dowagers drove up at the same moment. 

'^ Didn't you see us from the omnibus, Frede- 



iiiiin- 



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t 

r.' 












t 'l. 



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'^ 



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V 






L. ' 



^> . V .'15 



CECILIA'S SU'CCESSOE. 241 

rick?" cries her ladyship, coaxingly. "We fol- 
lowed behind you all the way ! '' 

" We were in the barouche, my dear,'* remarks 
Mrs.'Bonnington, rather nervously. 

" Whose trunks are these ? — what's the matter ? 
— and what's the girl crying for ? " asks Level. 

" Miss Prior is a-going away," sobs Knhom. 

"Miss Prior going? Is this your doing, my 
Lady Baker ? — or yours, mother ? " the master of 
the house says, sternly. 

" She is going, my love, because she cannot 
stay in this family," says mamma. 

"That woman is no fit companion for my 
angel's children, Frederick ! " cries Lady B. 

" That person has deceived us all, my love ! " 
says mamma. 

"Deceived? — ^how? Deceived whom?" con- 
tinues Mr. Level, more and more hotly. 

" Clarence, love ! come down, dear ! Tell 
Mr. Level everything. Come down and tell him 
this moment," cries Lady Baker to her son, who 
at this moment appears on the corridor which was 
round the hall. 

"What's the row now, pray?" And Captain 
Clarence descends, breaking his shins over poor 

16 



242 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

Elizabeth's trunks, and callrng down on them his 
usual maledictions. 

"Tell Mr. Level where you saw that — ^that 
person, Clarence ! Now, sir, listen to my Cecilia's 
brother ! " 

" Saw her — saw her, in blue and spangles, in 
the Rose and the BuUml, at the Prince's Theatre 
— and a doosed nice-looking girl she was too ! " — 
says the captain. 

" There, sir ! " 

"There, Frederick!" ciy the matrons in a 
breath. 

" And what then ? " asks Level. 

" Mercy ! you ask, What then, Frederick? Do 
you know what a theatre is ? Tell Frederick what 
a theatre is, Mr. Batchelor, and that my grand- 
children must not be educated by " 

"My grandchildren — my Cecilia's children," 
shrieks the other, "must not be poll-luted by '* 

"Silence ! " I say. " Have you a word against 
her — ^have you, pray. Baker ? " 

"No. 'Gkid! I never said a word against 
her," says the captain. " No, hang me, you 
know — ^but " 

"But suppose I knew the fact the whole 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 243 

time ? " asks Loyel, with rather a blash on his 

• 

'cheek. ^'Suppose I knew that she danced to 
give her family bread ? Suppose I knew that she 
toiled and laboured to support her parents, and 
IrotherS; and sisters ? Suppose I know that out 
of her pittance she has continued to support them? 
Suppose I know that she watched my own children 
through fever and danger ? For these reasons X 
must turn her out of doors, must I? No, by 
Heaven !— No ! — ^Elizabeth ! — ^Miss Prior I — Come 
down ! — Come here^ I beg you ! " 

The governess arrayed as for departure at this 
moment appeared on the corridor running round 
the hall.. As Lovel continued to speak very loud 
and resolute, she came down looking deadly 
pale. 

Still much excited, the widower went up to her 
and took her hand. '^Dear Miss Prior!" he 
fiaid — '' dear Elizabeth ! you have been the best 
friend of me and mine. You tended my wife in 
illness, you took care of my diildren in fever 
and danger. You have been an admirable sister, 
daughter in your own family — and for this, and 
for these benefits conferred upon us, my relatives 
— my mother-in-law — would drive you out of my 

16—2 



244 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

doors! It shall not be! — ^by Heavens, it shall 
not be ! " 

You should have seen little Bedford sitting on 
the governess's box, shaking his fist, and crying 
"Hurrah!" as his master spoke. By this time 
the loiid voices and the altercation in the ha]l 
had brought a half-dozen of servants from their 
quarters into the hall. " Go away, all of you ! '* 
shouts Level; and the domestic posse retires, 
Bedford being the last to retreat, and nodding 
approval at his master as he backs out of the room. 

" You are very good, and kind, and generous, 
sir," says the pale Elizabeth, putting a hand- 
kerchief to her eyes. "But without the con- 
fidence of these ladies, I must not stay, Mr. Level. 
God bless you for your goodness to me. I must, 
if you please, return to my mother." 

The worthy gentleman looked fiercely round 
at the two elder women, and again seizing the 
governess's hand, said — " Elizabeth ! dear Eliza- 
beth ! I implore you not to go ! If you love tiie 
children " 

" Oh, sir ! " (A cambric veil covers Miss Prior's 
emotion, and the expression of her face, on this 
ejaculation.) 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 245 

**If you love the children," gasps out the 
widower, " stay with them. K you have a regard 
for — for their father" — (Timanthes, whete is thy 
pocket-handkerchief?) — "remain in this house, 
with such a title as none can question. Be the 
mistress of it." 

" His mistress — and before me ! " screams Lady 
Baker. " Mrs. Bonnington^ this depravity is 
monstrous ! " 

"Be my wife! dear Elizabeth," the widower 
continues. "Continue to watch over the children, 
who shall be motherless no more." 

" Frederick ! Frederick ! haven't they got us ? " 
shrieks one of the old ladies. 

"Oh, my poor dear Lady Baker! " says Mrs. 
Bennington. 

" Oh, my poor dear Mrs. Bennington ! " says 
Lady Baker. , 

"Frederick, listen to your mother," implores 
Mrs. Bennington. 

" To your mothers ! " sobs Lady Baker. 

And they both go down 9n their knees, and I 
heard a boohoo of a guffaw behind the green- 
baized servants' door, where I have no doubt 
Mens. Bedford was posted. 



246 LOVBL THE WIDOWER. 

'' Ah ! Batchelor^ dear Batchelor, speak to him ! '* 
cries good Mib. Bonny. "We are praying this 
child; Batchelor — ^this child whom yon nsed to 
Imow at College, and whe;i he was a good, gentle^ 
obedient boy. You have influence with my poor 
Frederick. Exert it for his heart-broken mother's 
sake ; and you shaU have my bubble-uble-essings, 
you shall." 

" My dear good lady/* I exclaim — not liking to 
see the kind soul in grief. 

" Send for Doctor Straightwaist ! Order him 
to pause in his madness/^ cries Baker; "or it 
is I, Cecilia's mother, the mother of that murdered 
angel, that shall go mad." 

" Angel ! AUons, 1 say. Since his widowhood^ 
you have never given the poor fellow, any peace. 
You have been for ever quarrelling with him» 
You took possession of his house; bullied his 
servants, spoiled his children — you did. Lady 
Baker." 

"Sir," cries her ladyship, "you are a low, 
presuming, vulgar man ! Clarence, beat this rude 
man!" 

" Nay," I say, " there must be no more quarrel- 
ling to-day. And I am sure Captain Baker will 



CECnJA'S SUCCESSOR. 247 

not molest me. Miss Frior^ I am delighted that 
my old friend should have found a woman of good 
sense, good conduct, good temper — ^a woman who 
has had many trials, and borne them with veiy 
great patience — ^to take charge of him, and make 
him happy. I congratulate you both. Miss Prior 
has borne poveriy so well that I am certain she 
will bear good fortune, for it is good fortune to 
become the wife of such a loyal, honest, kindly 
gentleman as Frederick Loyel.*' 

After such a speech as that, I think I may say, 
liberavi animam. Not one word of complaint, 
you see, not a hint about " Edward," not a single 
sarcasm, though I might have launched some 
terrific shots out of my quiver, and have made 
Level and his bride-elect writhe before me. But 
what is the need of spoiling sport ? Shall I growl 
out pf my sulky manger, because my comrade gets 
' the meat ? Eat it, happy dog \ and be thankful. 
Would not that bone have choked me if I had 
tried it? Besides, I am accustomed to disap- 
pointment. Other fellows get the prizes which 
I tiy for. I am used to run second in the dreary 
race of love. Second ? Psha ! Third, Fourth. 
Qiils sgais-je f There was the Bombay captain in 



248 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Bess's early days. There was Edward. Here is 
Frederick. Go to, Charles Batchelor; repine not 
at fortune ; but be content to be Batchelor still. 
My sister has children. I will be an uncle, a 
parent to them. Isn't Edward of the scarlet 
whiskers distanced ? Has not poor Dick Bedford 
lost the race — ^poor Dick, who never had a chance, 
and is the best of us all ? Besides, what fun it 
is to see Lady Baker deposed : think of Mrs. Prior 
coming in and reigning over her ! The purple- 
faced old fury of a Baker, never will she bully, 
and rage, and trample more. She must pack up 
her traps, and be off. I know she must. I can 
congratulate Lovel, sincerely, and that's the fact. 

And here at this very moment, and as if to add 
to the comicality of the scene, who should appear 
but mother-in-law No. 2, Mrs. Prior, with her 
blue-coat boy and two or three of her children, 
who had been invited, or had invited themselves, 
to drink tea with Level's young ones, as their 
custom was whenever they could procure an invi- 
tation. Master Prior had a fine *'copy" under 
his arm, which he came to show to his patron 
Lovel. His mamma, entirely ignorant of what 
had happened, came fawning in with her old poke- 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 249 

bonnet, her old pocket, that vast depository of all 
sorts of stores, her old umbrella, and her usual 
dreary smirk. She made her obeisance to the 
matrons, — she led up her blue-coat boy to Mr. 
Lovel, in whose office she hoped to find a clerk's 
place for her lad, on whose very coat and waistcoat 
she had designs whilst they were yet on his back : 
and she straightway began business with the 
dowagers — 

" My lady, I hope your ladyship is quite well ? " 
(a curtsey.) "Dear, kind Mrs. Bennington! I 
came to pay my duty to you, mum. This is 
Louisa, my lady, the great girl for whom your 
ladyship so kiudly promised the gown. And this 
is my little girl, Mrs. Bonnington, mum, please ; 
and this is my big Blue. Go and speak to dear, 
kind Mr. Level, Gus, our dear good friend and 
protector, — ^the son and son-in-law of these dear 
ladies. Look, sir, he has brought his copy to 
show you ; and it's creditable to a boy of his age, 
isn't it, Mr. Batchelor ? You can say, who know 
so weU what writing is, and my kind services to 
you, sir — and — ^Elizabeth, Lizzie, my dear I where's 
your spectacles, you — ^you " 

Here she stopped, and looking alarmed at the 



250 . LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

group, at the boxes, at the bluBliing Lovel, at the 
pale countenance of the governess, ^' Gracious 
goodness ! " she said, *^ what has happened ? Tell 
me, Lizzy, what is it ? " 

"Is this collusion, pray?" says ruffled Mrs» 
Bennington. 

" Collusion, dear Mrs. Bennington ? " 

" Or insolence ? " bawls out my Lady Baker. 

" Lisolence, your ladyship ? What — ^what is it ? 
What are these boxes — ^Lizzy's boxes ? Ah ! " the 
mother broke out with a scream, " you've not sent 
the poor girl away ? Oh f my poor child — ^my 
poor children ! " ' 

"The Prince's Theatre has come out, Mrs. 
Prior," here said I. 

The mother clasps her meagre hands. "It 
wasn't the darling's fault. It was to help her 
poor father in poverty. It was I who forced 
her to it. ladies ! ladies ! — don't take the 
bread out of the mouth of these poor orphans ! '^ 
— and genuine tears rained down her yellow 
cheeks. 

Enough of this,'* says Mr. Level, haughtily. 

Mrs. Prior, your daughter is not going away, 
Elizabeth has promised to stay with me, and never 



it 



CECaiIA*S SUCCESSOR. 251 

to leave me — as governess no longer, but as — " 

and here he takes Miss Prior's hand. 

"His wife! Is this — ^is this true, Lizzy?" 

gasped the mother. 

** Yes, mamma," meekly said MissElizabeth Prior. 
At this the old woman flung down her umbrella, 

and uttering a fine scream, folds Elizabeth in her 
arms, and then runs up to Level : " My son ! my 
son ! " says she (Level's face was not bad, I pro- 
mise you, at this salutation and salute). " Come 
here, children ! — come, Augustus, Fanny, Louisa, 
kiss your dear brother, children ! And where are 
yours, Lizzy? Where are Pop and Cissy? Go 
and look for your little nephew and niece, dears : 
Pop and Cissy in the schoolroom, or in the garden, 
dears. They will be your nephew and niece now. 
Go and fetch them, I say." 

As the young Priors filed off, Mrs. Prior turned 
to the two other matrons, and spoke to them with 
much dignity : *^ Most hot weather, your ladyship, 
I'm sure ! Mr. Bennington must find it very hot 
for preaching, Mrs. Bennington ! Lor t there's 
that little wretch beating my Johnny on the stairs. 

r 

Have done. Pop, sir ! How ever shall we make 
those children agree, Elizabeth ? " 



252 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

Quick, come to me, some skilfal delineator of 
the British dowager, and draw me the counter 
nances of Lady Baker and Mrs. Bonnington ! 

" I call this a jolly game, don't you, Batchelor, 
old boy?" remarks the captain to me. "Lady 
Baker, my dear, I guess your ladyship's nose is 
out of joint." 

" Cecilia — Cecilia ! don't you shudder in your 
grave ? " cries Lady B. " Call my people, 
Clarence— call Bulkeley — call my maid ! Let me 
go, I say, from this houi^e of horror ! " and the 
old lady dashed into the drawing-room, where she 
uttered, I know not what, incoherent shrieks and 
appeals before that calm, glazed, simpering por- 
trait of the departed Cecili^. 

Now this is a truth, for which I call Lovel, his 

lady, Mrs. Bonnington, and Captain Clarence 

Baker, as witnesses. Well, then, whilst Lady B. 

was adjuring the portrait, it is a fact that a string 

of Cecilia's harp — which has always been standing 

in the comer of the room under its shroud of 
i 

Cordovan leather — a string, I say, of Cecilia's 
harp cracked, and went off with a loud bong, 
which struck terror into all beholders. Lady 
Baker's agitation at the incident was awful ; I do 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 253 

not like to describe it — ^not having any wish to 
say anything tragic in this narrative — though that 
I can write tragedy, plays of mine (of' which 
envious managers never could be got to see the 
merit) I think will prove, when they appear in my 
posthumous works. 

Baker has always averred that at the moment 
when the harp-string broke, her heart broke too. 
But as she Uved for many years, and may be alive 
now for what I know ; and as she borrowed money 
repeatedly from Level — ^he must be acquitted of 
the charge which she constantly brings against 
him of hastening her own death, and murdering 
his first wife Cecilia. "The harp that once in 
Tara's Halls '' used to make such a piteous feeble 
thrumming, has been carted off I know not 
whither; and CeciUa's portrait, though it has 
been removed from the post of honour (where, you 
conceive, under present circumstances it would 
hardly be apropos), occupies a very reputable posi- 
tion in the pink room upstairs, which that poor 
young Clarence inhabited during my visit to 
Shrublands. 

All the house has been altered. There's a fine 
organ in the hall, on which Elizabeth performs 



234 . LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

sacred music yeiy finely. As for mj^ old ropm, 
I will trouble you to smoke there under the 
present goyemment. It is a libraiy now, wiili 
many fine and authentic pictures of the Lovel 
family hanging up in it, the English branch of the 
house with the wolf crest, and Gore a la Umve 
far the motto, and a grand posthumous portrait 
of a Portuguese officer (Gandish), Elizabeth's late 
father. 

As for dear old Mrs. Bennington, she, you may 
be sure, would be easily reconciled to any live 
mortal who was kind to her, and any plan which 
should make her son happy; and Elizabeth has 
quite won her over. Mrs. Prior, on the deposition 
of the other dowagers, no doubt expected to reign 
at Shrublands, but in this object I am not very 
sorry to say was disappointed. Indeed, I was 
not a little amused, upon the very first day of 
her intended reign — ^that eventfol one of which 
we have been describing the incidents — to see 
how calmly and gracefully Bessy pulled the throne 
firom under her, on which the old lady was 
clambering. 

Mrs. P. knew the house very well, and every- 
thing which it contained ; and when Lady Baker 



CECILIA'S SCCCESSOB. 255 

drove off with her son and her suite of domestics. 
Prior dashed through the vacant apartments, 
gleaning what had heen left in the flurry of 
departure — a scarlet feather out of the dowager's 
room, a shirt stud and a hottle of hair-oil, the 
captain's property. ''And now they are gone, 
and as you can't he alone with him, my dear, I 
must he with you," says she, coming down to her 
daughter. 

'' Of course, mamma, I must he with you," says 
ohedient Elizaheth. 

'' And there is the pink room, and the hlue 
room, and the yellow room for the hoys — and the 
chintz houdoir for me — I can put them all away, 
oh, so comfortahly ! " 

'' I can come and share Louisa's room, mamma," 
says Bessy. "It will not he proper for me to 
stay here at all — until afterwards, you know. Or 
I can go to my unde at St. Boniface. Don't you 
think that will he hest, eh, Frederick?" 

"Whatever you wish, my dear Lizzy!" says 
Level. 

" And I daresay there will he some little altera- 
tions made in the house. Tou talked, you know, 
of painting, Mr. Lovel : and the children can go 



256 LOVEL THE WIDOWER. 

to their grandmamma Bonnington. And on our 
return when the alterations are made we shall 
always be delighted to see youy Mr, Batchelor — 
our kindest old friend. Shall we not, a — 
Frederick?" 
-" Always, always," said Frederick. 

*' Come, children, come to your teas," calls out 
Mrs. P., in a resolute voice. 

" Dear Pop, I'm not going away — ^that is, only 
for a few days, dear," says Bessy, kissing the 
boy ; " and you will love me, won't you ?" 

"All right," says the boy. But Cissy said, 
when the same appeal was made to her : " I shall 
love my dear mamma!" and makes her new 
mother-in-law a very polite curtsey. 

" I think you had better put oflf those men you 
expect to dinner to-morrow, Fred?" I say to 
Level. 

" I think I had. Batch," says the gentleman. 

" Or you can dine with them at the club, you 
know?" remarks Elizabeth. 

" Yes, Bessy." 

" And when the children have had their tea I 
will go with mamma. My boxes are ready, you 
know," says arch Bessy. 



CECILIA'S SUCCESSOR. 267 

'' And you will stay, and dine with Mr, Loyel, 
won't yon» Mr. Batchelor?" asks the lady. 

It was the dreariest dmner I ever had in my 
life. No undertaker eonld be more gloomy iihan 
Bedford, as he served ns. We tri^d to talk poli- 
tics and literature. We drank tqo mudi, purposely. 
Nothing would do. '^ Hang me, if I can stand 
this, Lovel/' I said, as we sat mum over our third 
bottle. *' I will go backy and sleep at my chambers^ 
I was not a little soft upon her myself, that's the 
truth. Here's her health, and happiness to both 
of you, with all my heart." And we drained a 
great bumper apiece, and I left him. He was very 
happy I should go. 

Bedford stood at thie gate, as the little pony- 
carriage came for me in the dusk. '^God bless 
you, sir," says he. '' I can't stimd it ; I shall go 
too." And he rubbed his hands over hfs eyes. * 

He married Mary Pinhom, and they have emi- 
grated to Melbourne; whence he sent me, three 
years ago, an affectionate letter, and a smart gold 
pin from the diggings. 

A month afterwards, a cab might have been seen 
driving from the Temple to Hanover Square : and 
a month and a day after that drive, an advertise- 

17 



258 LOVEL THE WIDOWEB. 

ment might have been read in the Post and 
Times : " Married, on Thursday, 10th, at St. 
George's, Hanover Square, by the Beverend the 
Master of St. "BonifiAce College, Oxbridge, uncle 
of the bride, Frederick Lovel, Esquire, of Shrub- 
lands, Boehampton, to Elizabeth, eldest daughter 
of the late Captain Montagu Prior, E.S.F." 

We may hear of Loyel Makbted some other 
day, but here is an end of Loyel the Widoweb. 
Valete et plaudite, you good people, who have 
witnessed the little comedy. Down with the 
curtain; cover up the boxes; pop out the gas- 
lights. Ho! cab. Take us home, and let us 
have some tea, and go to bed. Good night, my 
little players. We have been merry together, and 
we part with soft hearts and somewhat rueful 
countenances, don't we ? 



' the end. 



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