Presented to the
LIBRARY of the
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
from the Estate
FRANCES ELEANOR TROLLOPE,
THAT UNFORTUNATE MARRIAGE," "BLACK SPIRITS AND WHITE,
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,
NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
|)uljl:s!jers in (Drftmarg to Ifcr JJlajcstn tlje
[All Rights Reserved.]
' j\ LIBRARY
ENDERBY COURT so designated in the
county guide-books, but always spoken of
by Westfield folks emphatically as " the
Court" was so near the village as to furnish
die inhabitants of the latter with a perpetual
interest in looking out of the window. The
South Lodge stood within a few yards of
the village street, and was the medium of
communication between Enderby Court and
the great high-road leading all the way to
London, if one should choose to pursue a
tolerably straight course southward ; and,
more immediately, to the railway-station at
Westfield Road, from whence travellers could
VOL. I. I
reach town by a more devious, but far
Few days passed, when " the family "
was at the Court, without furnishing to
attentive Westfield some spectacle worth
the gazing at. Strangers might not, indeed,
have discovered much to interest them.
But then Westfield eyes looked understand-
ingly on the personages who moved in and
out at the South Lodge, whereas to strangers
they would have appeared but as unexplained
Thus, Mrs. Jackson, seated in the shop
of the village grocer and general dealer, from
whence she commanded a view of the road
nearly up to the lodge-gates, observed,
without preamble, as one quite sure of her
"Well, whatever my lady could see in
her to let her be so thick with Miss Enderby,
/ don't know ! "
" Oh, well, I suppose my lady had her
reasons. Should you say Miss Enderby is
exactly thick with her, d'ye think ? " answered
'Mr. Pinhorn, the grocer. He was tying up
a packet of tea for Mrs. Jackson, and looked
up at her with his large head and fat face
inclined deprecatingly to one side, and a
conciliatory smile on his countenance. For
Mrs. Jackson disdained cheap tea, and
bought only the " best mixed at three shil-
lings," and was not to be roughly con-
" Well, you can use your own judgment,
Mr. Pinhorn, whether my expression is cor-
rect," returned Mrs. Jackson, with tolerant
The grocer followed her glance above
and beyond the collection of miscellaneous
articles in the little shop-window, and
watched two young girls who were walking
side by side through the village street, and
were engaged in seemingly earnest con-
"That looks pretty thick, don't it?"
added Mrs. Jackson triumphantly. " There
they go, one's hand on the other's shoulder,
as familiar as it might be sisters. And talk,
talk, talk ah ! it isn't jaw as is wanting in
that family, nor yet cheek to carry it off.
But whatever my lady could see in her,
Mr. Pinhorn rubbed his hands and smiled
again. " Well, she's a a rather nice figure,"
he ventured to observe; "and a on [the
whole what one might call an uncommon
pretty young creature, don't you think ? "
" Pretty ! Ah, that's what all you fools of
men are took in with.'*
Mr. Pinhorn shook his head mournfully,
as though admitting the soft impeachment
on behalf of his sex, while he insinuated a
personal disclaimer by murmuring, " There
is some as are partial to a good-looking
" Handsome is as handsome does, Mr.
" That's very true, to be sure very true,
indeed," rejoined Mr. Pinhorn, sweeping with
his hand some fragments of tea from the
counter into a tin canister. " But they say
the young lady's very clever too. Remark-
able clever by all I hear."
"Oh, clever enough, I'll be bound. So
was her father before her. So's her uncle,
for that matter. Jackson says Lawyer Shard
would be hard f to beat for 'cuteness. Any
one can see for theirselves that he's as
cunning as Old Nick. And shifty !
Ah, he has more turns and shifts than a fox.
He managed all our business for us when
Jackson's uncle died in testite."
"In Texas?" said Mr. Pinhorn, doubt-
" No, no ; in testite. That's as much as
to say that he hadn't made no will, and my
husband was heir-at-law. Jackson would
have Lawyer Shard ; for, says he, * if you
must pay an attorney, choose an out-and-
outer.' That's what Jackson says."
" Every one allows Mr. Shard is a good
lawyer. And Sir Lionel giving him a good
many jobs to do is a guarantee, as you may
say. It stands to reason Sir Lionel would
have his law of the best, being that he can
pay the best price for it."
" Yes ; but law's one thing, and taking up
with people and being so thick with 'em's
another. I often think if my lady had lived,
she'd have thought different when the girls
begun to grow up, and have put a stop
to such familiar goings on between Miss
Enderby and Lucy Marston."
" But we can't suppose but what Sir
Lionel is a good judge of what is suitable for
his daughter, can we ? " Mr. Pinhorn spoke
in a soft, insinuating tone, trying to steer
between the Scylla of disrespect towards the
Court and the Charybdis of disgusting a
' 'Well, it isn't very likely as 7 shouldn't
have proper feelings towards the family.
That you never can suppose, Mr. Pinhorn ! "
Mr. Pinhorn's countenance expressed no
very ardent conviction as to the propriety of
Mrs. Jackson's feelings ; but he said, " Oh,
dear no ! " and rubbed his hands feebly.
" Me as has lived pretty nigh ten years at
the Court, housemaid with three under me,
till I married ! And you're not the man to
repeat my words in any quarter where it
might cause unpleasantry. That you never
would do, Mr. Pinhorn! "
" Oh, dear no ! " said Mr. Pinhorn
" Not as I need to be afraid of anything
my fellow-creatures has it in their power to
do against me ; my trust being elsewhere, and
Jackson having property in the Funds all
made over to me every penny by will, drawn
reg'lar, and witnessed, and locked up in
Lawyer Shard's strong box. And if it
pleased the Lord to caJl Jackson away this
night, his mind would be quite easy about
me, as I've considered it my duty to take
care he wasn't worritted by worldly matters
in his latter days."
This prophetic reference to herself as a
widow with property in the Funds was a
mere tactical diversion, intended to impress
on the grocer the expediency of being civil
to a customer who might be expected to con-
sume the " best mixed " for a long time to
come. Having made it, Mrs. Jackson again
descended to a colloquial strain.
11 I've seen a good deal in my time, of the
way that Lucy Marston has wormed herself
in with Miss Enderby. For you can't play
off your sly games on a young woman under
other women's noses, and think to keep 'em
in the dark. No, Mr. Pinhorn ; that you
never can do."
Mr. Pinhorn smiled a little dubious smile,
and answered with timid jocularity,
" Some of the ladies are so sharp-
specially about each other that they see
more than ever was, or is, or will be ; don't
they, now ? "
" I can't speak for others, Mr. Pinhorn.
But I know something about high people
come straight from Lord Percy H umber-
stone's to the Court, and lived there ten year,
with three under me, till I married and I'm
no Radical. I hate your upstarts. Jackson
always votes Blue. I'm all for the nobility,
Mr. Pinhorn ; but what I say is, if you are
high, keep high. It's easy enough to pick
up low people, but it ain't so easy to put 'em
down again. Something '11 stick to your
fingers, as sure as ever you touch 'em.
However, I never was one to talk and prate.
Open your eyes and shut your mouth has
been my principles. There's two fourpenny
bits and ;i threepenny. The quarter of tea's
ninepence, and I want twopence out."
Mr. Pinhorn took twopence from the till,
and proceeded to wrap the coins genteelly in
" There'll be changes at the Court before
long," continued Mrs. Jackson, nodding her
head emphatically, with the consciousness
of imparting important information. " Sir
Lionel's sister-in-law is coming to keep
house for him, and to look after Miss
" Keep house ! " echoed Mr. Pinhorn,
with a startled face ; for he received some
valuable patronage from good-natured Mrs.
Griffiths, the housekeeper at Enderby
" Oh, she won't weigh out the sugar and
soap, if that J s what you're thinking of, Mr,
Pinhorn ! She's my late lady's sister, Lady
Charlotte Gaunt. They was Head's
daughters, both on 'em, Mr. Pinhorn. And
by what I've heard when I was at the Court,
this one is very high in her manners. A
great beauty too, in her time. They do say
she wasn't best pleased when Lady Jane
married Sir Lionel Enderby."
io MADAME LEROUX.
"Lor!" exclaimed Mr. Pinhorn, with
bated breath. " What in the world for ? "
Mrs. Jackson compressed her lips and
shook her head. " Sir Lionel is a very good
gentleman, and a very rich J un. But that's
not everything, Mr. Pinhorn. When you
belong to the real old aristocracy, you have
your own ideas, and you dorit want to
connect yourself with railway irons and canals
and navvies, and such, and no more notion
of your great-grandfather than the sparrow
on the housetop. You cant say you do,
Mr. Pinhorn ! "
" Dear me ! " said Mr. Pinhorn.
" At the same time, when you've over-
stayed your market, and are not so young as
you was for my late lady wasn't such a
chicken when she married, and this one's
older than her a good bit and as poor as a
church-mouse poor and proud as the saying
is you may be glad enough of free quarters
in a grand house like Enderby Court, and
leave to play first fiddle into the bargain ; you
won't deny but what you may, Mr. Pinhorn!"
"Ay, ay! Indeed! Well, to be sure!
MADAME LEROUX, n
Nothing more I can do for you this morning,
Mrs. Jackson ? "
" No, no ; that's about all, and plenty,
too ! We do spend a lot o' money on tea.
But Jackson and me, we can't abide trash.
None of your dish-wash for us. And it's
good for trade. As I often say to Jackson,
when he looks a little sour over the accounts
at the week's end, ' How do you expect the
shopkeepers to live ? ' I say. ' It's a provi-
dence for 'em that there's folks as need not
deny theirselves their comforts. There's the
Vicar, now, with his wife and all them
children why, I question if they get a taste
of butcher's meat every day. And more
dripping than butter to their bread, if all
tales is true. But I've always been used to
everything of the best. Wish you good
morning, Mr. Pinhorn."
Mrs. Jackson, who was a small, meagre,
hatchet-faced woman, very neat in her attire
and alert of gait, marched briskly out of the
shop, while Mr. Pinhorn, meditatively re-
placing the canister on its shelf, muttered
under his breath,
12 MADAME LEROUX.
" You re a sharp-tongued one, you are !
A woman like that makes a man humbly
thankful that he's been spared."
For Mr. Pinhorn was a bachelor.
But although Mrs. Jackson's opinion of
Lawyer Shard might be expressed with
special acrimony, it was more or less shared
by all the inhabitants of the village. Mr.
Marston had settled in Westfield when Lucy
was a baby not yet two years old. He had
succeeded to the business of a local solicitor
who had a respectable connection in the
county. When he had been about five
years in Westfield his wife died. Although
Mr. Marston had always maintained a chill
reserve towards his neighbours, which pre-
vented any real intimacy between them and
his family, yet, during his wife's last illness,
Mrs. Arden from the Vicarage called fre-
quently with offers of assistance in nursing
and so forth ; and, after Mrs. Marston's
death, Mrs. Goodchild, the doctor's wife,
invited the motherless little Lucy to stay for
a while in her house. But these advances
being coldly, though civilly, declined, the
MADAME LEROUX. 13
result was to widen, rather than decrease,
the distance between the lawyer's family and
The feeling of hostility against the
Marstons thus occasioned for there are few
things less easily pardoned by our fellow-
creatures than the manifestation of our ability
to do without them was not mitigated when
it presently became known that Lucy
Marston had been invited to stay on a visit
.at Enderby Court, and when she came to be
a familiar inmate of the schoolroom there,
.and a playfellow of Miss Mildred Enderby.
Mildred was the only child of Sir Lionel and
Lady Jane Enderby. She was a shy, back-
ward child, whose delicate health gave her
parents some anxiety, and who had never
left her mother's side for a day since her
birth. Lady Jane had seen little Lucy
Marston just by chance, and had been struck
by her pretty face and bright manner. But,
what was more to the purpose, Mildred had
taken a strange liking at first sight to the
little girl who came forward to shake hands
with an unembarrassed smile, and who
i 4 MADAME LEROUX.
chatted to her of her doll, and her garden,,
and her pets, as frankly as though they
had been familiar friends. To many shy
natures, the absence of shyness in another is
a potent charm. It was so with Mildred
Enderby. She begged that Lucy might be
invited to the Court, and the impression
made by this first visit was such that the
little girl soon became a frequent guest there.
It was soon found that as Mildred's spirits
grew more cheerful in this new companion-
ship, her health also improved. By de-
grees she overcame the languor which
had threatened to make her a chronic
invalid ; and she grew up to be a healthy,
although not robust, young girl.
Lady Jane always, in her own mind,
dated this improvement in her daughter's
health from the beginning of her acquaintance
with Lucy Marston, and this would have
sufficed to make her welcome the child to
the house. But Lucy contrived, moreover,
to win her ladyship's personal regard. The
death of the child's mother, however serious
a misfortune it might have been in other
MADAME LEROUX. 15
respects, had undoubtedly assisted her pro-
motion to a familiar place in the household
at the Court. Lady Jane Enderby was much
too great a lady to be afraid of compromising
acquaintances ; but still, it was convenient
that her daughter's playfellow and protegee
should have neither mother, sister, nor other
female relative who might possibly have
attempted to be encroaching.
There was, indeed, an aunt of Lucy's in
Westfield, her mother's sister, married to a
Mr. Shard. But Mrs. Shard was not a
person with whom Lady Jane was likely
ever to come into contact. Her husband had
been a very poor and struggling attorney in
a large manufacturing town. Mr. Marston,
at his wife's solicitation, gave this brother-in-
law some employment in his office, and, after
a while, allowed him to buy a small share in
the business, The two sisters had not met
for many years ; and when they did meet,
Mrs. Marston experienced a blank sense of
disappointment. Mrs. Shard was not the
sister Sarah whom she had remembered, or
imagined. The two women differed as two
1 6 MADAME LEROUX.
plants from the same parent stock may differ
by being transplanted, the one into sunshine
and rich earth, the other into a poor soil and
a harsh climate. Mr. Shard, however, made
himself acceptable in the office ; and when a
stroke of paralysis, from which he never
wholly recovered, although he survived it
upwards of a year, disabled Mr. Marston
from taking as large a share as formerly in
carrying on his profession, Shard assumed
the whole of the active work.
Twelve years had passed between the
arrival of the Shards in Westfield and the
day on which Mrs. Jackson delivered her
critical opinions on the social proprieties in
Mr. Pinhorn's shop. And the years had
made changes in that quiet little village.
Death, whose dark waters corrode all the
shores of life, had carried away Mr. Marston
and Lady Jane Enderby within a few months
of each other. The former succumbed to a
second stroke of paralysis, and the latter
caught cold at the first Drawing Room of a
very bleak season, and died, after a fort-
night's illness, from inflammation of the lungs.
Mr. Marston's death made a more seri-
ous revolution in Lucy's life and prospects
than commonly results even from the loss of
a parent. She was abruptly informed by
Mr. Shard that she was not the daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. Marston, but had merely been
adopted by them in her infancy. Child
though she was, the revelation was a severe
blow to her. She was, however, too young
to understand the full significance of the
facts that Mr. Marston had died without
making a will, and that she was not legally
entitled to inherit a penny that had belonged
to him. She did not, indeed, pay any heed
to those considerations. The Shards were
not unkind to her. But what, above all,
overcame the sense of forlornness which had
at first oppressed her was the affectionate
kindness of the family at Enderby Court.
Lady Jane had a long conversation with
Mr. Shard about the girl. Mr. Shard satis-
fied her ladyship that Lucy was the child of
a Mrs. Smith, who had been lodging in a
remote farmhouse in Cumberland at the time
of her confinement. The infant was a post-
VOL. I. 2
1 8 MADAME LEROUX.
humous child ; its father, an officer in the
merchant-service, having- been lost at sea.
Mrs. Smith had shown her landlady a news-
paper giving an account of the wreck, and
had appeared to be as was but natural
plunged in a state of gloomy despondency.
Owing to some circumstances which did not
seem to have been very rigidly examined
into, she was unable to keep the child with
" The fact was, I believe, that she had to
earn her living as a governess," said Mr.
Shard; "and of course she could not get
an engagement with a young infant on her
hands. The child was left at nurse in the
farmhouse where it had been born, and a
small sum paid for it every month. My
sister-in-law, the late Mrs. Marston, saw the
child when she and Marston were spending
a summer holiday at the farmhouse. (Mar-
ston at that time was practising the law in
Carlisle.) She was passionately fond of
children, and always lamenting that she had
no family of her own. She took a wonder-
ful fancy to the little girl, and, in short, asked
MADAME LEROUX. 19
her husband's leave to adopt it. Mr. Mar-
ston, when he had heard what I have told
your ladyship of the child's birth, consented,
on condition that the mother should bind
herself to give it up entirely into his hands,
and let him and his wife be altogether as a
father and mother to it. Some little corre-
spondence passed on the subject, and the
matter was arranged.
" I could show you Mrs. Smith's letter to
Mr. Marston he always preserved it care-
fully if your ladyship chose."
Her ladyship did choose it. Indeed, she
would have chosen always to be informed of
every minute circumstance in her neighbour's
lives, being charitably desirous to assist and
amend them, and innocently convinced of
her own power to do both, if they would but
lay the case before her.
" This is a hard letter," observed Lady
Jane, when she had perused the note (it was
little more) signed " C. Smith." " She
seems to have had very little struggle or
compunction in giving up her child to
20 MADAME LEROUX.
"Well, you see, my lady, she was evi-
dently unable to bring it up herself, and she
had all sorts of testimony of the highest kind
to Mr. and Mrs. Marston's character and
position. As a matter of fact, she was doing
a very good thing for the child."
Lady Jane thought of her own petted
daughter, and her maternal heart yearned
over the poor little waif.
" Is this woman living ? " she asked.
" We really do not know, Lady Jane.
She may be dead, or she may have gone
abroad, or she may have married again, for
she was young and good-looking. The
Marstons lost sight of her years ago, they
told me. The truth is that poor Mrs. Mar-
ston had no wish to keep up any connection
with Mrs. Smith, from an uneasy fear lest
little Lucy might some day be taken from
her. She idolised the child."
" She was a good woman, and had a
mother's heart," pronounced Lady Jane, in a
stern and magisterial tone ; the sternness
being due to the thought in her mind that
Mrs. Smith could not have been a good
MADAME LEROUX. 21
woman, and had certainly not owned a
Lady Jane was further moved to indigna-
tion by two circumstances : First, that Mr.
Marston had not thought fit to tell her the
truth about little Lucy ; and, second, that he
had failed to make proper testamentary pro-
vision for the child. Mr. Shard hastened to
assure her ladyship that he fully intended to
carry out what he doubted not were his late
brother-in-law's intentions, and to look upon
himself merely as the steward of Mr. Mar-
Eton's property for Lucy's benefit.
"You had better draw up some legal
paper, securing her ; and you had better do
it at once, Mr. Shard," said Lady Jane,
peremptorily. "We have just had a solemn
example of the precariousness of life."
" Yes, indeed ; it is a warning I shall
take to heart," answered Mr. Shard, piously.
" Your ladyship would be surprised, though,
to learn how little property poor Marston
leaves behind him. His private affairs are
in sad confusion. I have been astonished
shocked, I may say to find how unmethod-
22 MADAME LEROUX.
ical he was in keeping an account of his>
expenditure ; how rash he was in making
investments ; how many bad debts he had !
And yet he was an excellent lawyer, Lady
Jane. I don't know a sounder lawyer than
he was. Ah! we are sadly weak and im-
perfect creatures, the best of us."
Lady Jane, in parting from Mr. Shard,,
again laid imperative injunctions on him to
lose no time in making some legal provision
for Lucy. " I hope, Mr. Shard, that when I
return from town, I shall find everything
properly drawn out," said she.
But she never did return from town.
Her lifeless body was brought down, and
laid with all pomp and circumstance in the
vault in Westfield churchyard, where she
had desired to be buried. But the active
spirit of Lady Jane Enderby was known
there no more.
AFTER Lady Jane's death Lucy passed more
time than ever at the Court. Their sorrow
drew the two children closer together ; they
shared the lessons of Miss Feltham, the
governess, and, indeed, had almost all things
in common. Mr. and Mrs. Shard, whom
Lucy continued to call her aunt and uncle,
encouraged in every way an intimacy likely
to be so valuable in the future, and which
Mr. Shard already considered useful to him-
self as well as to his niece.
It has been stated that the family were
not popular with their neighbours ; but Mr.
Shard was less generally disliked than his
late brother-in-law. His manner had none
of the self-sufficing reserve which had
offended Westfield in Mr. Marston ; and the
24 MADAME LEROUX.
reputation for some craft and unscrupulous-
ness, which he speedily acquired, certainly
did not diminish the number of his clients,
although it attracted them from a lower social
class than that which had patronised his pre-
decessor. Many persons were of Mr. Jack-
son's opinion, as reported by his wife that
if you do employ an attorney you should
endeavour to get an out-and-outer. Mr.
Jackson, indeed, had once still more forcibly
expressed this view, when, being dissuaded
from employing Lawyer Shard, on the
ground of the latter's sharp practice, he dis-
dainfully retorted that " he shouldn't think
much of a chimney sweep as was afraid of
blacking his hands." Still, even this flatter-
ing estimate of Mr. Shard's professional
abilities was scarcely calculated to endear
him personally to his clients, nor to mitigate
the jealousy excited by Lucy Marston's fami-
liar intercourse with the family circle at the
Court. As a matter of fact, this intimacy
did not extend to her uncle and aunt, who
were quite as great strangers in Sir Lionel's
household as any other persons of their own
MADAME LEROUX. 25
station in Westfield. But Westfield was not
sure of that, and Westfield had little chance
of having its curiosity on the subject satisfied
by Mr. Shard, since it appeared that his
humble readiness of manner was essentially
as uncommunicative as his late brother-in-
law's chill reserve. There was, too, the cir-
cumstance that as Mr. Jackson put it, with
some implied disparagement of the late part-
ner's legal gifts and acquirements " if old
Marston did give you a answer, he just said
the truth right out, plain and short ; whilst
Shard could talk for hours and you wouldn't
know what to believe at the hend."
Things, however, continued to go on
smoothly enough, until Mildred Enderby was
fifteen, and her friend Lucy a little over
seventeen years old. At this time an unex-
pected event happened unexpected, at any
rate, by the Shards. It was arranged that
Lady Charlotte Gaunt should come to live at
Sir Lionel and his sister-in-law had not
been on particularly cordial terms with each
other during Lady Jane Enderby 's married
26 MADAME LEROUX.
life. But after Lady Jane's death, the Gaunts
said how sad it was for that girl, an only child
and an heiress, to be left without any female
guidance, save that of old Miss Feltham, the
governess. And, moreover, they thought
although they did not so loudly say that it
would be an uncommonly good thing for
Charlotte to be installed as mistress of a
rich man's household, and thus relieve her
own side of the family from the necessity of
helping out her miserably scanty income.
For some time, however, Sir Lionel took no
heed of hints, or even direct persuasions, on
this score. But when Mildred was about
fifteen, he made one of his rare journeys to
London, and met Lady Charlotte Gaunt ,
whom he had not seen for several years.
The result of his interviews with his sister-
in-law was that her ladyship was invited to-
make Enderby Court her home, and to
assume the care of her niece, now on the
borderland between childhood and woman-
On leaving Mr. Pinhorn's shop, Mrs.
Jackson walked so briskly that she soon
MADAME LEROUX. 27
overtook the two young ladies of whom she
had been talking. They had been joined by
Miss Feltham, the governess, a grey-haired
lady, who had been many years at the Court,
As Mrs. Jackson was passing them with
a little curtsey, Miss Feltham accosted
" How do you do, Hannah ? " said she,
" I'm pretty well, ma'am, thank you."
" And how is Mr. Jackson's rheumatism ?' r
" Jackson's much as usual, ma'am. But,
as I tell him, he has a deal to be thankful
" I hope he feels that, Hannah ? "
" Well, ma'am, he do get captious about
his joints. But as I say to him, 'Jackson,'
I say, ' if you can't use your joints, you've got
a good easy-chair under you, and a good fire
to sit by, and if you was to be called away
this night, you've made provision for them as
you leave behind, and what a balm that is to>
the spirit ! ' "
Then turning to Mildred Enderby, she
continued, " I don't ask how Sir Lionel is,.
28 MADAME LEROUX.
Miss, because I saw him out in the carriage
yesterday, and I thought he looked wonder-
ful consider! ng. "
" My father is, I believe, really better and
stronger than he was last year."
" Thanks be, Miss ! I'm sure we had
ought to pray that the Lord may preserve
him and all the nobility with grace, wisdom,
and understanding." Then, addressing her-
self again to Miss Feltham, as an auditor
more capable than the young lady, of appre-
ciating her discourse on graver themes, she
said, " Terrible upsetting times we do live in,
ma'am. A fellow came canvassing Jackson
only last week for the 'lection of a member
of Parliament for our Division. And who
in the world, do you suppose, Miss Feltham,
as them Radicals want to set up ? Ruggles,
of Nettlethwaite, the butcher's son ! "
" Oh ! yes ; I have heard of Mr. Ruggles.
He is a gentleman of very advanced views,
" Advanced! It's all very fine for 'em
to talk about advancing, but I want to know
where we're a-going to ; and so does Jackson.
MADAME LEROUX. 29-
This fellow belongs to a a carcase, I think
they call it."
" Perhaps a caucus, Hannah," suggested
Miss Feltham, smiling gravely.
" Perhaps so, ma'am. But it might ha'
been a carcase, for old Ruggles was a
butcher. And a decent man he was, too.
Catch him setting up for a member o 5 Parlia-
ment ! However, the son has come in for
all old Ruggles' money, and nothing will da
but he must go spouting up and down the
country, gabbling about the rights of the
people, all to coax silly folks to send him up
to Parliament so as he may show off and get
his name printed in the newspapers. I've
no patience ! Jackson would arguey it out
with him. I don't see much good in argy-
ments, myself; nor I never was one to talk
and prate. But Jackson well, I suppose,,
through not having the use of his joints, it
makes him fond of talking. As for me, I
should ha' sent the fellow off with a flea in
his ear, and wasted no words on him. But
Jackson, he says, in a rambling kind o' way r
1 I've always voted blue,' he says, 'and I
30 MADAME LEROUX.
shall continue to do so, unless you can show
me good reason to the contrairy.' ' Oh, but/
says this canvassing chap, ' the Blues '11
bring forward a arrystocrat ; and surely you
don't want to be represented by a arrysto-
crat !' 'Why not?' says Jackson. 'Why,'
says the fellow, ' because it wouldn't be a
real representation ; because they're tyrants
and oppressors ' begging your pardon, Miss
Enderby 'and because the upper classes
can't never understand the real wants of the
people.' ' Oh, can't they ? ' says Jackson,
* well p'raps they can't, but I was head
groom at Lord Percy Humberstone's for
twenty year, and I found I always knew a
deal more about my horses than my horses
knew about each other,' says Jackson. Well,
the man stared like one dumbfounded. But
I says to him, 'you mustn't mind Mr. Jack-
son's far-fetched sayings as nobody can make
head or tail of. But, though he may talk
wide of the mark, you'll find you won't get
him to vote any way but Blue.' And, of
course, when I put it to him clear like that,
he saw 'twas no use, and took hisself off."
MADAME LEROUX. 31
" But I think Mr. Jackson made a very
good answer," exclaimed Lucy Marston.
" You're very kind, Miss," returned Mrs.
Jackson, with an inflexible face; ''but, of
course, I know very well that Jackson do
sometimes talk wide o' the mark, and gets
hold of far-fetched sayings, as it isn't every
one can understand what he's driving at.
But, as I tell him, it doesn't matter; he
hasn't got to earn his bread by 'cute talking ;
he can pay them as makes their living by it.
Every one to his trade." And, with a
curtsey directed exclusively to Miss
Enderby, Mrs. Jackson proceeded on her
"What a tongue that woman has !" ex-
claimed Lucy, looking after her with a
half-amused, half- petulant expression of
"Oh, poor Hannah!" said Miss Feltham.
" Yes ; she is rather too fond of talking.
But, my dear Lucy, she is an excellent
creature ; she has the opinions and principles
of a good servant of the old school. I wish
there were more like her. Lady Jane had a
32 MADAME LEROUX.
great esteem for Hannah, as I remember
very well. She is one of those persons who
have a kind of feudal feeling towards her
To this no reply was made ; but Lucy's
bright eyes sparkled, and she made a little
impatient movement of the head. And, pre-
sently, when she and Mildred were out of
Miss Feltham's hearing, she whispered
11 I don't know whether Mrs. Jackson's
feelings are feudal or not, but I think she
has about as little reverence in her as it is
possible for a human being to have."
" What, Hannah ? " cried Mildred. " I
thought Hannah was a model of reverence ! "
Lucy shook her head. " Her nature is
too small and too sour," she said. " You
might as well expect to make cream cheese
out of buttermilk."
Then the two girls entered the house to-
gether, and joined Miss Feltham and Sir
Lionel in the library, where they were accus-
tomed to assemble during the half-hour
Sir Lionel Enderby, second baronet of
MADAME LEROUX. 33
that name, was a man of slightly-built frame,
tall and meagre, who, for the greater enjoy-
ment of his life, had persuaded himself that
he was a chronic invalid. This character,
once established, enabled him to follow his
own inclinations, which were towards seden-
tary amusements. He collected books ; he
even read some of them ; and had an expen-
sive taste in bindings. He, therefore, felt
himself fully justified in alleging his "studies"
as an excuse for neglecting, not only fox-
hunting, but nearly all other social duties.
His late wife, Lady Jane, had resigned
herself very cheerfully to living much less
in the world than is usual for a woman of
her rank and wealth. She had never been
a beauty, and, therefore, w r as not tempted
by vanity to mix with Society. She had
but a moderate delight in the company of
her country neighbours, and a still more
moderate opinion of their social importance ;
but she did enjoy reigning over the Enderby
estates, and being incomparably the greatest
lady of whom Westfield had any personal
cognisance. Her rule, though absolute, was
VOL. i. 3
34 MADAME LEROUX.
beneficent. She had a conscientious sense of
her responsibilities, and was sincerely sorry
for everybody who had the misfortune to
differ from her. She was not a woman of
brilliant talents ; but Westfield had never
been known to complain on that score ; and
the cleverest person in the world could not
have provided sounder wine, stronger beef-
tea, or more substantial flannel petticoats
than the mistress of Enderby Court distri-
buted to all who needed them. Lady Jane
would have scorned to cheapen her charities.
Every gift that came from her hands could
be relied on as being thoroughly good of its
kind. And, perhaps, it was this genuine-
ness, quite as much as her generosity, which
attached her humbler neighbours to her, and
made them sincerely regret her death. For
Westfield folks did not live by bread alone
any more than the rest of the world.
Sir Lionel was quite willing to continue
his late wife's benefactions, provided he were
not called upon to make any active exertions
in the matter. So they fell into the hands of
Miss Feltham and Mrs. Griffiths, the house-
MADAME LEROUX. 35
keeper, and the poor and the aged were not
mulcted of their alms ; although the sick got,
perhaps, less physic, and everybody less good
advice, than in her ladyship's time. The
news that Lady Charlotte Gaunt was com-
ing to be mistress of Enderby Court was
naturally considered very important in
the village, and there was great curiosity to
know whatever could be known about a
person who was likely to be so influential
.among them for years to come.
Within the Court itself the interest was,
of course, as great, and the curiosity not
much less. Miss Feltham had not seen
Lady Charlotte for years not since the days
when she had been governess to Lady Jane,
the youngest of the family and Mildred
Jhad never seen her at all.
THE person who felt most aggrieved by the
new arrangement was Miss Feltham. The
poor lady was deeply mortified ; but she was
so habitually gentle, and so far from assert-
ing any claims of her own to consideration,
that few things would have more astonished
Sir Lionel than to be told that Miss Feltham
was suffering from wounded pride. It is
certainly not a bad way of securing some
measure of attention to our feelings to make
the disregard of them immediately disagree-
able to every one near us. But this was a
method Miss Feltham had never practised.
As she sat in the library awaiting the sum-
mons to luncheon, and working at her em-
broidery, just as she had done daily for so
many years, she was thinking, with mingled
MADAME LEROUX. 37
regret, apprehension, and bitterness, of the
deceased Lady Jane, the coming Lady Char-
lotte, and the prospect of being superseded
.and thrust aside from the place she had
-quietly occupied since the death of Sir
Lionel Enderby's wife.
Sir Lionel, leaning back in his large easy-
chair, was making notes with a pencil on the
margin of a bookseller's catalogue received
that morning. Mildred was standing in the
embrasure of a window, playing with a pet
spaniel, which was too fat and too lazy to do
more than languidly wag his tail in acknow-
ledgment of her caresses ; and Lucy Mar-
ston had perched herself on the library steps
with a book, which, apparently, absorbed all
At length Sir Lionel dropped the cata-
logue which he had been holding before his
face, and gave to view a pale countenance,
with a straight nose, light blue eyes, and thin
grey hair, brushed back from a high, narrow,
and retreating forehead. His mouth, uncon-
cealed by beard or moustache, had an odd
little querulous pucker in it when shut, as
3 8 MADAME LEROUX.
though a disagreeable effort were necessary
to bring the lips together. But when he
smiled, its expression was not without
"Where is Lucy didn't she come in
with you ? " he asked, looking first at Miss
Feltham and then at his daughter.
"Yes, Sir Lionel, she did," returned
Miss Feltham. " There she is."
" Where ? " inquired Sir Lionel, looking
round the room as far as his range of vision
extended. But his range of vision did not
comprise the step-ladder on which Lucy had
seated herself, for the sufficient reason that it
was behind his chair.
" Lucy ! " cried Mildred. " Come down
and show yourself! Of course, you're full
fathom five deep in some stupid book or
"No, I'm not," protested Lucy. "At
all events, not so deep but that I heard every
word you have all been saying."
Whereat Mildred laughed, a fresh child-
like laugh, and answered, " Not a bit of it !
Father was asking if you had been brought
MADAME LEROUX. 39
back to luncheon, and where you were ; and
you didn't hear a syllable ! "
Lucy sprang down, and came forward,
book in hand, to where Sir Lionel could see
her. " I beg your pardon, Sir Lionel," she
said. " Did you speak to me ? "
" No, my dear. Don't disturb yourself.
Enjoy your book. What is it ? "
Lucy showed him the volume in her
"H'm! Schiller. The ballads, eh? I
don't read German."
" Yes, Sir Lionel ; the ballads."
" Ha ! Have you looked at the latest
criticism on Schiller in the Areopagus ? "
" Ah, it's very clever very well worth
reading. They demolish Schiller as a great
poet, that is to say. You had better look at
" I'm afraid I think I like Schiller best
undemolished," answered Lucy, with a de-
precating little smile.
" Ay, ay, but that's weak, Lucy. The
student must seek for truth above all things.
40 MADAME LEROVX.
He should preserve that a that serene
balance of the faculties which raises him
which buoys him up, as it were into the
intellectual empyrean. Miss Feltham, it is
now nearly six minutes past two ! And
yesterday also luncheon was between four
and five minutes late. The cook must be
told that this will not do. Nothing is worse
than unpunctuality in serving meals. If I
were a man in strong health, who simply felt
hungry, it would be irritating enough. But
for a feeble digestion like mine, it is very
serious. It upsets me altogether. I really
Oh ! luncheon at last ! Come along, Miss
Feltham. Warner" (to the butler) "you
will beg Mrs. Griffiths to be good enough to
see that this kind of thing does not happen
again. The consequences to my health
might be extremely grave. Eh ? The
library time-piece is fast ? Then why is it
allowed to be fast ? It is somebody's busi-
ness to regulate it, I presume. I set my
watch by it this morning ; and thus, you see,
everything is thrown out! Miss Feltham, I
recommend you to try these salmon cutlets.
MADAME LEROUX. 41
It is a remarkable thing, and shows the
peculiarity of my case, that I never find
salmon, in the form of cutlets, disagree with
me : which is fortunate, as I am particularly
fond of it cooked in that way. No ; no
sherry, Warner. Give me some dry cham-
pagne. I shall touch no other wine to-day.
I must be a little careful."
Luncheon was nearly over, when a
servant brought in an envelope which he
handed to the butler, who gravely presented
it to Miss Feltham. She glanced at it, and
looked across the table at Sir Lionel. " A
note, eh ? " said the latter, " for me ? If you
will be good enough to keep it for the
present, I will open it in the library by and
by, if you please."
" It is a telegram, Sir Lionel."
"Oh! A telegram? Well, I believe I
may venture to open it at once. It is not as
though it had arrived before luncheon. Bring
it to me, Warner. I suppose, Miss Feltham,
that this is from Lady Charlotte/'
It was from Lady Charlotte, and an-
nounced her arrival at Enderby Court for
42 MADAME LEROUX.
the following day ; that is to say, a week
sooner than she had been expected.
Lady Charlotte seemed to have a taste
for telegraphing, even although there were
nothing so pressing in her missives but that
they might have been communicated by the
post. Miss Feltham was made nervous by
this shower of telegrams, but Sir Lionel
seemed rather to enjoy the arrival of these
frequent messages. The slight excitement
of reading them amused him, and it was an
excitement which cost him nothing. No
trouble to himself could result from them.
Lady Charlotte would never, he was well
persuaded, think of anything so preposterous
as requiring him to take active exertion of
mind or body on her behalf.
"Well, Miss Feltham," he said, "Mrs.
Griffiths must be told to have Lady Char-
lotte's apartments prepared for to-morrow
evening. Your aunt will be here to dinner
" How she changes her mind ! " exclaimed
Mildred. " It was settled that she was not
to come before Wednesday."
MADAME LEROUX. 45,
" Circumstances have changed, my dear ;;
and, like a wise woman, she has changed her
mind in accordance with them. Lord and
Lady Grimstock are going down to the
country sooner than was expected, and no
doubt their house in town will be shut up."
" I think they ought to have considered
that they might inconvenience other people
before they changed all the arrangements at
a moment's notice."
" They know, I presume, that the arrival
of one guest at Enderby Court can scarcely
cause us any inconvenience," replied Sir
Lionel, with complacent jocularity. " Mrs,
Griffiths is pretty sure to have something in
the larder ; and I believe she will have
no difficulty in furnishing a pair of clean
" Oh, of course, father, I wasn't thinking
of that sort of thing. Of course, there are
always plenty of dinners and beds ! "
" Dinners and beds and such matters are
not quite so abundant, of course, everywhere
as at Enderby Court, my dear Mildred, "
observed Miss Feltham. " But, naturally r
44 MADAME LEROUX.
Lady Charlotte knows all about the house-
hold she is coming to."
Miss Feltham spoke very gently; but it
cannot be denied that there was a faint spice
of malice in her little speech for the house
of Grimstock was not unacquainted with
poverty and until the marriage of the pre-
sent Earl, who had won a wife with some
fortune, they had had to struggle with debt
" Tell me something about Aunt Char-
lotte, father," said Mildred. "What is she
" Like ? Oh a she has been very
handsome, you know ; quite a beauty."
" Yes ; I know. But now what is she
like now ? "
" Well, she is tall, like your dear mother.
All the Gaunts are tall. And she is fair, I
think. Yes ; she would be called fair. And
and really, Mildred, you must not besiege
me with questions. You will see her to-
morrow. I must have absolute repose of
mind for half-an-hour after luncheon, or I
shall be quite upset."
MADAME LEROUX. 45
Upon this Sir Lionel withdrew to the
library, and the household understood per-
fectly well that he was not to be disturbed
on any pretext until he should ring his bell.
Miss Feltham and the two girls repaired
to the schoolroom, which was their favourite
sitting-room. It had none of the bare, bleak
aspect which such an apartment often wears.
One side of it was lined with bookshelves,
It contained an excellent pianoforte. A few
flower paintings by Miss Feltham made
agreeable islands of colour on the grey wall-
paper. The girls had collected there, by
degrees, various articles of furniture, more or
less pretty and luxurious. And Miss Felt-
ham's special chair, with its delicate chintz
cushions, was almost as comfortable, although
not so stately, as Sir Lionel's in the library.
Mildred nestled herself down on a stool
close to the governess's knee, and said, coax-
ingly, " Now, you tell me about Aunt Char-
lotte, Elfy dear!" (Elfy was a pet name
which had originated in Mildred's attempts
to say " Feltham," when she was barely four
years old.) "And, please, don't begin by
46 MADAME LEROUX.
saying that Aunt Charlotte was a beauty
once upon a time, because I seem to have
heard that ever since I could walk and talk."
Miss Feltham remained silent for a
minute, and then answered hesitatingly, "It
is so long so many, many years since I
saw Lady Charlotte, my dear."
Lucy Marston rose up quietly, and went
towards the door.
" Where are you off to, Lucy ? " cried
" Only to get some fresh flowers for our
big bowl. Don't you see those are nearly
all withered ? " And Lucy slipped out of
Mildred was about to call her back, but
Miss Feltham checked her. " Lucy is quite
right," she said. " She has too much deli-
cacy of feeling to listen to what I might say
to you about your aunt. Not that there are
any secrets at least, none that I know,"
added Miss Feltham, under her breath.
"Secrets!" echoed Mildred. "Well, I
suppose not ! But Lucy is one of us as
much as you are !
MADAME LEROUX. 4?
A slight flush tinged the governess's pale
face as she answered, " You must be pre-
pared, my dear, for Lady Charlotte Gaunt's
taking rather a different view from yours,
both of Lucy Marston and myself."
" Different ! A different view ! How
-different ? "
" My dear, it would be only natural, you
know, if she did."
Mildred pondered for a minute or two,
and then asked, " Is Aunt Charlotte disagree-
The question was put so suddenly and
directly as quite to startle Miss Feltham,
who, on her side, had been meditating
silently. " What who who says so ? " she
" I think," returned Mildred, " that if she
does not very soon love both you and Lucy
she must be very disagreeable indeed."
Miss Feltham was evidently flurried out
-of her usual soft composure of manner. She
urged on Mildred the duty of receiving her
aunt with proper respect, and of cherishing
only the kindest thoughts of her. But all
Miss Feltham's desire and it was sincere
to make her think dutifully and favourably
of her aunt, could not efface Mildred's strong
impression that the governess herself re-
garded Lady Charlotte with fear, and with
something like repulsion.
THE next morning Sir Lionel drove out
alone with his daughter he never allowed
more than one person to accompany him in
his drives ; alleging that the effort of con-
versing with any one on the opposite seat
was distressing to him and Lucy was left to
spend the forenoon with Miss Feltham.
Lucy had announced her intention of
going home that evening. Mildred had
exclaimed at first, " Oh ! you mustn't go
away to-night. You must stay and see Aunt
But when Lucy replied that Lady Char-
lotte would naturally prefer to have her first
evening alone with the family, and would not
like to have a stranger thrust upon her in the
moment of her arrival, Mildred did not in-
VOL. i. [ 49 ] 4
50 MADAME LEROUX.
sist, as she might have done before her con-
versation with Miss Feltham ; although she
had by no means familiarised herself with,
the idea that Lucy could be looked on as a-
stranger by any inmate of Enderby Court.
Miss Feltham, as she sat in the school-
room working at her embroidery, was think-
ing of the past. Memories which had long
lain dormant revived. Lady Charlotte had
entirely passed out of her life for many years ;
but, in the prospect of seeing her once more,
Miss Feltham seemed to live over again the
days when she had been governess to Lady
Jane Gaunt, and when the elder sister had
been the imperious and idolised beauty, to-
whose supposed advantage the other mem-
bers of the family were sacrificed so far as
it was in the power of her doating mother to
sacrifice them. So full was Miss Feltham's
mind of these thronging recollections, that
they overflowed at her lips. " It wz//seem
strange to meet Lady Charlotte again ! " she
Lucy Marston, who was copying some
passages for Sir Lionel's commonplace book,.
MADAME LEROUX. 5!
looked up from her book, and said, " You
have not seen her for a long time ? "
" Not for more than eighteen years. She
was very handsome, but she never had the
charm at least, not to me of dear Lady
Jane. There never was anyone like Lady
Jane," said the governess, with genuine
" Except Mildred ! "
" Except ah, well, of course, Mildred is
little more than a child. But I am in great
hopes that she may grow up to be such
another woman as her mother."
There was a silence, during which Lucy
turned over the leaves of her book, and made
one or two extracts, and Miss Feltham plied
Then the latter, evidently pursuing her
previous train of thought, said, "It does
seem singular that she should never have
married ; so undoubtedly handsome, and so
much admired as she was ! I suppose she
was too proud, and looked too high. Al-
though at one time I thought and I wasn't
the only one to fancy it that she had an
52 MADAME LEROUX.
attachment which certainly could not be
Lucy pushed her book a little to one side
and raised her head to listen, being attracted
by the prospect of a love-story.
And by degrees Miss Feltham related
how there had been a bright, good-hurnoured,
high-spirited young fellow, a school-friend of
her brother's, who was supposed to have
found favour in the eyes of the haughty and
imperious Lady Charlotte Gaunt.
" He was pleasant and lively enough, my
dear ; but nothing very special nothing that
you would have thought likely to attract such
a person as Lady Charlotte, who was used to
the very highest people. For he came of a
quite middle-class family, and was not dis-
tinguished in any way. Sometimes I think
the charm was just his careless high spirits,
and his easy way of treating all the family as
though he had known them all his life. He
was never in the least forward or impudent.
He was a gentleman in manners and edu-
cation, if not by birth. Only you saw in a
moment that he stood in awe of nobody.
MADAME LEROUX. 53
And then, to be sure, Lady Charlotte would
naturally begin with a prejudice in favour of
any one whom Mr. Hubert Gaunt liked.
This brother was the only person who seemed
to have much influence over her,; for she
certainly was most tremendously self-willed
and scornful. But if there was any reverence
in her nature, I think Mr. Hubert was the
only one who called it forth. He was deeply
religious. All the Gauntswere sound Church
people ; but Hubert was a kind of saint. He
took Holy Orders, and every one said he
would be a shining light and a pillar of the
Church. But he was cut off in the
prime of his early manhood, by a putrid
fever, which he caught in visiting the sick
" But how was it about Lady Charlotte's
attachment ? " asked Lucy. These rambling
reminiscences did not interest her. She
wanted the love-story. " Was the gentle-
man very much in love with her ? "
" Oh, I don't know that there was an
attachment at all ! I should be sorry to
assert it. I know nothing positive," said
54 MADAME LEROUX.
Miss Feltham, hastily. And then she fell
silent, with a disturbed face.
Lucy, after waiting a moment, returned
to her occupation. But presently Miss Fel-
tham's impulse to speak of the old memories
and the old feelings which were so unwontedly
stirred within her overcame her habitual
timid reticence, and she began again. This
time Lucy was careful not to startle her
with questions, but let her reminiscences
flow on uninterruptedly in their own discur-
" Certainly I cannot say that I ever
thought young Rushmere cared half as much
about Lady Charlotte as she cared for him
which seems very extraordinary when one
comes to think of it all, for she was
high above him in every way ; and, as for
beauty she was acknowledged to be the
most beautiful girl in society the year she
was presented, and for several seasons after-
" People don't always fall in love with the
most beautiful women they see," said Lucy,
MADAME LEROUX. 55
" No ; I suppose not. Besides, one
woman seems the most beautiful to this
person, and another to that. Now, I never
admired Miss Graham myself. But she was
admired. Gentlemen admired her. I always
believed in my own mind that Mr. Rushmere
admired her very much."
" I suppose she was a friend of Lady
Charlotte's ? " ventured Lucy, cautiously.
" Well yes ; in a way. She was a
humble sort of companion she was an
-orphan. I have an idea that she was the
child of a bailiff or steward, or some one who
had been employed by my lord on his pro-
perty in the north of England. However
that may be, I found her in the family
when I first went there as governess to Lady
Jane ; and, certainly, she was very clever,
and had a good many accomplishments.
She had been at school in Paris, and
spoke French admirably; indeed, she had
a great gift for languages. I never knew
any one with the same facility except Jrour-
As she spoke, Lucy raised her eyes and
56 MADAME LEROUX.
met those of Miss Feltham fixed upon her
with an odd, puzzled look,
" It's very singular," said the latter.
" There must be some association of ideas
which seems to have just flashed on me
and escaped. I have lost a link some-
where. What could I have been going
to say ? Or was it only some recollec-
tion which I had nearly seized, and
which went out like a spark into the
All this she. said musingly, and still
looking at the young girl, who had now
turned her eyes on to the slips of paper
which she was numbering and laying in
" Then did Miss Graham teach French
since she knew it so well ? " said Lucy, com-
posedly ; and chiefly with a view to draw on
Miss Feltham to talk more.
" What, at Lady Grimstock's ? Oh, dear
no. She was very young : several years
yourtger than Lady Charlotte. No ; she was
just a demoiselle de compagnie, and was Lady
Charlotte's special prottgte. I did not like her y
MADAME LEROUX. 57
I confess. I never could like her," pursued
Miss Feltham, thoughtfully. " I wonder if I
did her injustice ! "
" No ! " answered Lucy, boldly. Then,
with an affectionate smile, she added, " I
don't know anything about Miss Graham, but
" Ah, my dear, that is very kind. But I
may have been uncharitable ; perhaps more
then than I should be now. Yet I must
confess that I thought she set herself ta
attract Mr. Hubert Gaunt in a way which
well, perhaps I was wrong, and yet Lady
Grimstock was uneasy about it at one time
I know she was. Only, as Lady Charlotte
chose to take her under her especial
patronage, nobody dared to hint a word
" It seems to have been a very compli-
cated position ! " exclaimed Lucy. " It re-
minds me of that song of Heine's, where
they are all at cross purposes, loving the
" Oh, my dear, don't quote Heine ! A
dangerous writer ! And yet," she added,
5 8 MADAME LEROUX,
under her breath, " it was very like that.
Der Andre liebt eine Andre ! "
"Well, and what was the end of it all ?"
asked Lucy, after a somewhat prolonged
" The end of it ? "
" What became of Mr. Rushmere ? "
" Oh, the end of it, as far as he was con-
cerned, was that he was ordered away rather
suddenly to join his regiment in India, and he
dropped out of sight. I believe there came a
rumour very shortly that he had been badly
injured when tiger-shooting, and obliged to
leave the army. But whether any of the
Gaunt family knew the particulars or not,
they were too full of their own trouble at the
time to give much thought to a stranger ; for
Mr. Hubert fell ill and died of fever, as I
told you. It was a great blow to them all.
But Lady Charlotte seemed to feel it more
than any one. She was a changed woman
.after her brother's death altogether broken
" And Miss Graham?"
" Miss Graham fell into ill health, and
MADAME LEROUX. 59
went away to some distant kinsfolk in
Northumberland or Scotland, I never knew
exactly where it was, but I remember that
Lady Charlotte was interested in her to the
last, and made arrangements for her journey,
and all that. Then the next year Lady Jane
was presented, and came out in society ; my
services were wanted no longer, and I got
another situation. It was years before I saw
any of them again."
" Not until you came here to educate
" Not until then. But dear Lady Jane
had not lost sight of me. She always wrote
now and then. Ah, there never was such a
staunch constant friend as she was ! " Then,
looking round the room with eyes brimful of
tears, she murmured, " Dear old schoolroom,
I have been very happy here."
The words were not necessarily sad, but
the tone in which they were uttered gave
them almost the significance of a farewell.
There was a feeling in Lucy's heart, also,
that a chapter of her young life was being
^closed. To-morrow a new reign would
60 MADAME LEROUX.
begin, and a change that would affect them
all. And whether the change were for good
or ill, the old conditions could return never*
At seventeen that is not so mournful a
thought as at fifty-five. Neither was Lucy
so depressed as Miss Feltham. Still, the
girl was conscious of a vague feeling of ap-
prehension ; and the future looked rather
blank. She finished her task for Sir Lionel
in silence, and then taking the volume from
which she had been copying in her hand,
she said playfully, " You will bear witness,
Miss Feltham, that I am now going to put
my book back in its place on the library
' 'Yes, my dear; you were always atten-
tive to rules. I wish dear Mildred were as
" And I may as well say good-bye now,
Miss Feltham. I don't think Sir Lionel will
want me ; because there will be no time
before luncheon, and he never works after
it. So I will just walk home. I shall be in
time for their early dinner."
MADAME LEROUX. 61
" Is there anything you want carried to
" Nothing more than I can carry myself
in my bag. Good-bye, dear Miss Feltham."
" Good-bye, my dear." Then the gover-
ness kissed the girl's forehead, and said,
" You have been a very good, sweet pupil ;
and a pupil to be proud of, Lucy."
Again there was a tone of more solemn
farewell than the occasion seemed to require.
Lucy Marston had gone backwards and for-
wards a score of times between her uncle's
house and the Court without even saying
11 Good-bye." But now Miss Feltham
seemed, by her parting words, to recognise
that the old relations between them had
come to an end.
Lucy arrived at Shard's house about half-
an-hour before the hour of their early dinner.
She was not received with any flattering
warmth. Her uncle was employing that
time of leisure in reading the newspaper ;
and her aunt repeated over and over again
that she had not expected to see her before
the end of the month, and that she could not
62 MADAME LEROUX.
comprehend why in the world she had left
the Court so much sooner than had been
All this was uttered in a querulous tone ;
not that Mrs. Shard felt herself especially
aggrieved by Lucy's appearance, but her
habitual manner was that of a person who,
having long struggled under a cruelly heavy
burthen, was now called upon to endure the
" I hope it is not inconvenient to you,
Aunt Sarah, but a telegram came from Lady
Charlotte, announcing her arrival for this
evening, and I thought she might consider
it intrusive, if I thrust myself among them in
the first moment of her arrival"
" Why, I never heard of such a thing,
Lucy ! Never ! To make a stranger of
yourself in that way, when Enderby Court
has been more your home than this has, for
years and years ! It's almost like flying in
the face of Providence ! "
" But you know, Aunt Sarah, I am not
really one of the family. I ought not to*
encroach on their kindness."
MADAME LEROUX. 65;
At this point Mr. Shard looked up from
his newspaper, and, without any preliminary
salutation, inquired whether Sir Lionel, or
any of the family, had hinted a wish to get
rid of her ; and being answered that, on the
contrary, she had been pressed to stay, and
that Sir Lionel had made her promise to re-
turn to the Court in good time on the follow-
ing day, to proceed with some work she was
doing for him, Mr. Shard nodded, said, "All
right," and resumed reading an article on the
state of the Money Market, without taking,
any notice of her.
The house now inhabited by Mr. and
Mrs. Shard had been the house of Mr. and
Mrs. Marston. But the Shards' mode of life
was very different from that of their prede-
cessors. Mrs. Shard had been so long sub-
jected to pinching poverty, that she looked
upon all expenditure beyond the merest
necessaries as dangerous extravagance ; while
her husband, so long as his bodily needs
were satisfactorily provided for, contented
himself very well without the embellishments
of life. In Mrs. Marston's time the draw-
'64 MADAME LEROUX.
ing-room had been made pretty, and was
daily occupied. It was now shut up, and
only opened to be cleaned ; or on Sunday
afternoons in the summer time, when Mrs.
Shard sometimes sat there with a big family
Bible open on the table before her. The
dining-parlour was used all day as the one
sitting-room, Mr. Shard, when he desired
privacy, withdrawing to a small room behind
the office, where he had a few law books,
and a fire-proof safe let into the wall. The
dining-room was not large, and its atmo-
sphere would have been improved by the
more frequent admission of fresh air, and its
.appearance by the removal of the only adorn-
ments which Mrs. Shard had contributed to
its furniture. These consisted in rectangular
pieces of a coarse, whitey-brown material,
which, in their original condition, must have
looked liked the towels supplied to a peni-
tentiary, but which Mrs. Shard had em-
broidered with worsted of dingy colours, and
had spread over the backs of chairs and on
the cushions of a small settee which stood in
MADAME LEROUX. 65
All these things had doubtless undergone
no change since Lucy had last seen them,
little over a fortnight ago, yet they now
struck her as being more sordid, gloomy, and
vulgar. The truth was that she was looking
at them with different eyes. The thought
scarcely articulate, but still active in her
mind that it might henceforth be her lot to
live entirely among these surroundings, and
to endure Aunt Sarah's daily and hourly
companionship, made the demeanour of Mr.
and Mrs. Shard appear to her unusually dis-
agreeable ; all their defects were suddenly
intensified, like objects seen through a
powerful magnifying glass. Mrs. Shard's
black net cap which she wore because it
was more economical than a white one Mr.
Shard's coarse mouth, the puckers round his
eyes, and his untidy, lank, grizzled hair,
much in need of the shears, assumed a new
hideousness. Little peculiarities and vul-
garities which, last week, would have made
her smile, now came very near to making her
These emotions, however, were naturally
VOL. I. 5
66 MADAME LEROUX,
quite unsuspected by the Shards. Lucy was
never very talkative in their company, and
neither of them had a sufficiently strong
interest in her to observe that her quietude
to-day was a different quietude from that to
which they were accustomed.
Mr. Shard, for his part, gave his un-
divided attention to his dinner. When that
was finished, and a tumbler full of cold gin
and water had been placed on a little table
at his elbow, he began to question Lucy in a
high-pitched squeaky voice, which contrasted
oddly with his tall, large -jointed person.
Why was Lady Charlotte to arrive earlier
than had been expected ? Was Sir Lionel
put out about it ? Did Miss Enderby seem
pleased at the idea of her aunt's coming f
and so forth. Then, with a cunning look
out of his half-closed eyes, what sort of a
report did Miss Feltham give of Lady Char-
lotte Gaunt ?
''What sort of report ? " repeated Lucy r
" Oh, I know she lived governess at the
Countess of Grimstock's. That I know for
MADAME LEROUX. 67
a fact. So she must know all about this
" She was not Lady Charlotte's gover-
ness," answered Lucy. " Her pupil was
Lady Jane, who was several years younger
than her sister."
" Oh ! ah ! yes ; I see. This one would
be out of the schoolroom already. Still,
living in the same house with people, you
can always find out a great deal about them.
Does she say, now, whether this lady is like
her sister ? "
" I should imagine not. Lady Charlotte
was a great beauty, they say."
" Ah ! I think I've heard so. Well, Lady
Jane Enderby wasn't a beauty, certainly ! "
Here Mr. Shard indulged in a kind of
voiceless chuckle. But, suddenly checking
it, he added, gravely, "A most excellent
lady ! Truly pious. * We ne'er shall look
upon her like again.' "
At the word "pious " Mrs. Shard uttered
a mournful sound, with closed lips, which
might best be described, perhaps, as a mild
and long-drawn moo. She was, however,
68 MADAME LEROUX.
very far from intending to suggest anything
ludicrous ; and merely meant to convey her
profound sense of Lady Jane Enderby's
" But I wasn't thinking only of looks,"
pursued Mr. Shard. " I wanted to know if
you had picked up anything about this one's
ways and temper, and likes and dislikes.
Useful knowledge, Lucy ; useful know-
ledge ! And Miss Feltham might impart a
good deal of it, if she would, I'd lay a
" Miss Feltham has not even seen Lady
Charlotte Gaunt for eighteen years," an-
swered Lucy coldly. She was well resolved
not to betray a word of Miss Feltham 's
confidence ; and Mr. Shard's remarks dis-
gusted her unspeakably.
" I cant think why Lucy came off in that
way ! " put in Mrs. Shard, shaking her head
over the stocking she was darning. "It
looks so strange ! Just as if she wasn't fit
company for Lady Charlotte. I had no idea
she'd leave the Court before the end of the
month ; not the least idea of it."
MADAME LEROUX. 69
" You ' can't think ? ' You've been told
why she came away ! " rejoined her husband
Then turning to Lucy, " I dare say you
were right. You know them, or ought to,
by this time. And if Miss Feltham is close
I don't blame her for it. Of course she
wants to keep her place, and it's dangerous
to tattle why, you're 'cute enough to find out
how the land lies for yourself. You've got
the length of Sir Lionel's foot anyway. And
that's a great thing. And Miss Enderby is
devoted to you ; and that's a greater. It's
my belief," concluded Mr. Shard, in a tone
meant to be complimentary and encouraging,
" that if you play your cards commonly well,
you'll come round Lady Charlotte as well as
the rest of 'em."
This and similar speeches had the effect,
unforeseen, and indeed unimaginable, by Mr.
Shard, of making Lucy, for the first time
in her life, shrink from returning to Enderby
By degrees the first tingling sensation of
surprise, and shame, and indignation wore
70 MADAME LEROUX.
off. But there remained a heavy sense of
nervous depression, which not even a night's
sleep the restorative sleep of youth and
health could entirely remove. And she
lingered so long the next morning, under the
pretext of setting her clothes in order, in
her own room, that Mildred grew tired of
waiting for her return to Enderby Court, and
appeared herself at Mr. Shard's house in
quest of her.
Mrs. Shard hastened upstairs to the bed-
room, where Lucy was listlessly looking
through drawers, and hanging up dresses,
and breaking off at intervals to stare vaguely
out of the window.
" Well, Lucy, perhaps another time you
may not think me so foolish. I said I could
not understand why you left the Court in that
abrupt way, and now here's Miss Enderby
come for you herself ! "
Mrs. Shard supported herself against the
mantelpiece, and panted laboriously. Her
thin form, deeply-sunken eyes, and pale
yellow skin gave her a painful aspect of ill-
health. And yet she never behaved 'as an
MADAME LEROUX. 7 1
invalid, and was always active in her house-
" I am very sorry you should have had
to run upstairs, Aunt Sarah," said Lucy,
pushing forward a chair. " Pray sit
down a moment ! You have hurried too
" Miss Enderby is in the drawing-room,
and the pony-carriage is at the gate,"
answered Mrs. Shard, reproachfully.
Lucy ran down the stairs, and into the
drawing-room. It was at the back of the
house, and opened on to a garden which, in
Mrs. Mars ton's time, had been famous for its
standard roses, but which now produced little
besides cabbages and onions. The disused
room struck chill and damp. The furniture
was swathed in coarse cotton wrapping ; and
a stiff, wiry, yellow gauze veiled the long
mirror at the end of the room opposite to the
window. Mildred was standing forlornly in
the middle of the floor, looking out at the
cabbages, and at a collection of Mr. Shard's
flannel shirts drying on a line at the bottom
of the garden.
72 MADAME LEROUX.
" Oh, Mildred, dear!" exclaimed Lucy r
kissing the girl's fair fresh cheek.
" And oh, Lucy, dear! What a nice
young person you are, not to have come near
us all this morning ! I suppose if I had not
appeared to fetch you, you would never have
returned at all ! "
" I was just getting ready to come, dear,"
" Put your hat on. I got leave to drive
down to fetch you, and orders to bring you
back by force if necessary. Do make
haste ! "
" That's what I told her, Miss Enderby,"
said Mrs. Shard, who had now entered the
room. " I mentioned that the carnage was
at the gate, and that the groom was holding
the ponies' heads." Then as soon as Lucy
had gone away to make ready for the drive,
Mrs. Shard said, " I don't know whether you
would condescend to take any refreshment.
Miss Enderby, would you ? "
11 Oh, thank you so much," answered
Mildred, blushing violently at being asked
to " condescend ; " " but I really don't want
MADAME LEROUX. 73:
anything. It is very kind of you, indeed, to
offer it. I hope you will forgive me for
disturbing you at this hour."
" We consider it an honour, Miss En-
derby Mr. Shard and myself. I'm only-
sorry you should have had the trouble of
coming for Lucy. I said to Mr. Shard,
'Jacob,' I said- Oh, here is Mr. Shard."
There was Mr. Shard, who had hurried
from the office, profuse in bows, welcomes,,
apologies, and inquiries all in a breath.
" I hope I see you well, Miss Enderby ;
and Sir Lionel ? It is most kind of you to
come for Lucy. You will understand that a
natural delicacy of feeling made her reluctant
to intrude I trust her ladyship is none
the worse for her journey ? It must be a
heartfelt pleasure to you, indeed, to have the
society of so near a relative of your honoured
mother. Ah, dear me, dear me, what an
admirable lady she was ! We ne'er shall
look upon her like again, Miss Enderby.
Indeed, I made that very remark, in those
very words, to my wife and niece yesterday,,
as Lucy can tell you. Well well, we can't
74 MADAME LEROUX.
help our feelings. I've no doubt Lady
Charlotte would be the first to appreciate
ithem. Here is Lucy. Now, I won't venture
to detain you. I'm a plain unpolished man,
but I believe I am right in thinking it
the best politeness to speed the parting
guest. I am sure you don't want to waste
any more time here. Allow me, Miss
Mr. Shard conducted Mildred very shy
.and shame-faced under all this eloquence
to the carriage, and waited bare-headed in
the sunshine until the grey-haired groom had
given the reins to his young mistress and
mounted to his place behind her.
"Good-bye, my dear Lucy! good-bye,
good-bye ! "
Mr. Shard continued to bow and to wave
his hand until the carriage was lost to sight
at a bend in the road ; when, with an abrupt
and complete change of demeanour, he
turned round, thrust his hands into his
pockets, and, softly whistling, walked back
io the office.
IT was with the sensation of having
obtained a reprieve, that, on entering the
library at Enderby Court, Lucy Marston
found its only occupants to be Sir Lionel and
Miss Feltham. She was half ashamed of her
own cowardice. And yet it was a relief to
find everything as usual ; everything peace-
ful, home-like, and familiar. The governess
sat in her accustomed corner with her
embroidery ; and Sir Lionel was seated at
his own special writing- table, which was
strewn with books and papers in a dis-
Sir Lionel's "studies" were not confined
to any one branch of learning or literature.
Indeed, the "study" in hand might usually
be ascertained by knowing what was the
[ 75 ]
76 MADAME LEROUX,
latest addition to his library in the shape of a
rare or costly work. A remarkably fine copy
of Spence's " Polymetis " was among his
recent acquisitions ; and Sir Lionel (tempted
by that facile and seductive form of literature
which consists in registering other people's
utterances on the subject of somebody else's-
work) was about comparing and collating a
variety of passages relating to sculpture from
Latin authors. These he intended to throw
together into an erudite article for a local
antiquarian magazine printed in the county
town. But he had hitherto got no farther
than taking down several volumes, and
making a few pencil-marks on the margins
Almost as soon as he saw Lucy, he
begged her to be kind enough to copy out
forthwith the marked passages on separate
sheets of paper.
11 There are still three-quarters of an
hour before luncheon," he said, looking at
his watch. " Thank you, my dear."
For Lucy had promptly set herself to her
task ; and was sorting and arranging the
MADAME LEROUX. 77
books and papers which lay littered about
"It will greatly facilitate my labours to
have assistance in the mechanical part of the
work. I find that my mental processes to
be at all clear and vigorous require absolute
bodily repose. The mere act of w r riting
often disturbs them. Well, well, I must not
-complain. As Dr. Goodchild says, if I had
Jiad to choose between a sharp sword and a
strong scabbard, I should have chosen the
sword. It would be best to have both, of
course. But if I must choose, I should
certainly have chosen the sword."
Whereupon Sir Lionel sank into his
arm-chair ; opened a volume that was placed
on the moveable reading-desk affixed to it ;
laid a pencil beside it, ready to his hand ; and
devoted himself to his mental processes.
Lucy wrote on diligently until the silvery
chime of the library time-piece announced
the luncheon hour. At its sound, she laid
down her pen, and looked at Sir Lionel, who
at the same moment had risen from his seat,
.and was saying to Miss Feltham :
78 MADAME LEROUX.
" Probably Lady Charlotte will lunch in
her own room, since she is not down yet.
Perhaps we had better "
He was interrupted by the opening of the
door, and the entrance of Lady Charlotte
Gaunt just as the first strokes of the gong
began to boom through the hall.
" Oh, good morning, Lady Charlotte, I
hope you have rested well ? I began to think
that, perhaps, you were not coming to
He offered his arm to his sister-in-law as-
he spoke, and she answered, during their
passage from the library to the dining-room,.
." In that case I should have let you
know. I would not have kept you waiting a.
moment. I know your accurate punctuality
of old. '
" Necessity in my case, I'm sorry to say.
Not that punctuality is not desirable always,
But in my case it is positively commanded
by my physicians. Any irregularity in the
hours of eating such little food as I am
able to take produces the most disastrous
MADAME LEROUX. 79-
As soon as the whole party were seated
at table, Sir Lionel said graciously, " Lady
Charlotte, I must present my private secre-
tary to you. You didn't know I had a
private secretary ? Oh, dear, yes ; and a
most admirable one ! Miss Lucy Marston."
Lucy coloured under the cold and
scrutinising look which Lady Charlotte gave
in return for her modest bow. But in an
instant, as the girl's eyes met her own, the
expression of Lady Charlotte's face changed
and broke up, as it were, like an- image in
water suddenly troubled. There was per-
plexity in it, and something like pain, and an
almost fierce haughtiness.
"What name did you say?" she asked,,
speaking a thought quicker than was habitual
" Miss Lucy Marston, Mildred's dearest
friend, and a great pet with us all," answered
Lucy looked at him with a grateful smile,
and then looked back at Lady Charlotte.
But the latter turned away her face as she
-So MADAME LEROUX.
" Miss Marston was not here last night
when I arrived ? "
" No," broke out Mildred, eagerly ; "she
had gone away to her uncle's, and I had the
trouble of bringing her home this morning
for this is her real home. But she is a very
self-willed person, and I have some difficulty
in keeping her in order, I assure you. But,
Aunt Charlotte, you must not call her ' Miss
Marston.' We shan't know whom you are
talking about. Lucy is Lucy at Enderby
Lady Charlotte smiled indulgently on her
niece ; and then, turning to Sir Lionel,
quietly remarked in her rather slow and
" Mildred has poor dear Jane's eyes the
Gaunt eyes. Really blue eyes are rare ;
what are called so, have very often no pure
colour in them."
Lucy felt chilled, as though a cold breeze
had blown over her. Lady Charlotte's
manner seemed to her to express very
plainly that her ladyship did not think it
worth while to bestow any further attention
MADAME LEROUX. 8r
on Miss Lucy Marston. No one else, how-
ever, seemed struck by this. Mildred, at all
events, was evidently unconscious of her
aunt's having any such meaning ; and Sir
Lionel's attention had been attracted else-
where, for there happened to be a very
favourite dish of his on the table. It was a
sweetbread dressed with a peculiar white
sauce, which his chef professed to have in-
vented. With this dish Sir Lionel made a
point of drinking one glass of some specially
fine Sauterne, which he was proud of ; and
to-day the wine was in perfect condition. He
was habitually polite, but the sweetbread and
the Sauterne might be credited with some
share in the peculiar urbanity with which, in
reply to Lady Charlotte's remark, he an-
swered that the more Mildred resembled her
mother's family, in every respect, the better
he should be pleased.
" My daughter cannot do better than
imitate the example before her," said Sir
Lionel. " Lady Charlotte, permit me to
recommend you this Chateau Yquem ; I
should like your opinion of it. I don't know
VOL. i. 6
82 MADAME LEROUX.
whether Grimstock cares very much about
his cellar ? A man who is obliged to live so
much by rule as myself must look upon his
wines from what I might call the pure Art
point of view. It is not a question of per-
sonal indulgence. I have found out, by
observation and experience, what I may take
with impunity, and what is forbidden. And
I will tell you a curious fact, showing the
delicate adjustment of our tastes and instincts
to our needs if we were but wise enough to
attend to them, instead of being coarsely
guided by mere gluttony. In most instances,
certain combinations which agree perfectly
with my health are precisely the combina-
tions which my cook has arrived at, simply
with the aim of pleasing the palate! And
yet my digestion is, Dr. Goodchild says, the
most delicate he ever met with in the whole
course of his practice ! "
During the utterance of this gastronomic
philosophy, Miss Feltham's thoughts had
been busy with the past ; and she seemed to
be completing aloud a sentence begun men-
tally, as, bending slightly forward, she said,
in a low. earnest voice,
MADAME LEROUX. 83
"And I never heard what became of
Miss Graham. Do you know if she is still
living, Lady Charlotte ? "
The next moment seeing Lady Char-
lotte's pale face flush, and then grow slowly
paler than ever she repented of having
asked the question so abruptly. She ought,
she told herself, to have considered that
Caroline Graham was connected with many
remembrances which must be sad and painful
to Lady Charlotte Gaunt the death of her
favourite brother ; the departure of Ralph
Rushmere ; even the end of Lady Char-
lotte's youth and beauty and social triumphs :
for she had never been the same woman
since. People said that she had been
crushed by her brother Hubert's death. But
Miss Feltham had long secretly suspected
that the loss of Ralph Rushmere had preyed
upon her with a sorrow all the keener be-
cause, in her pride, she hid it ; pressing it
resolutely inward to pierce her heart, as a
thorn pierces the flesh. Miss Feltham felt
deeply self-reproachful. But Lady Char-
lotte, whatever her inward emotions might
84 MADAME LEROUX.
have been, answered with perfect self-posses-
sion, " Certainly she is living. Why should
she not be ? You are living. I am living.
And she is my junior."
" Oh, yes ; of course she is a great deal
younger than I. I asked only because when,
she left Lady Grimstock she was not in good-
Lady Charlotte withdrew her eyes from
Miss Feltham's nervous face, as she an-
swered, " She was ill. But she was suffering
in mind more than in body. She had great
troubles bitter troubles."
" Dear me ! I had never heard ! I
am sorry to hear it ! "
" I do not think you were ever a great
friend of Caroline's, Miss Feltham," answered
Lady Charlotte, regarding the governess with
a slow, expressionless glance which was in-
The governess felt the tone, rather than
the words, of this little speech to be offen-
sive, and replied to it with a good deal of
quiet dignity. u No, Lady Charlotte; it is
quite true that I never was a great friend of
MADAME LEROUX. 85
Miss Graham's. A 'great friend' is a great
word. Nevertheless, I am sorry to hear that
she had bitter troubles. At any rate, she
had the consolation of a friendship far more
valuable than mine could ever have been.
I know that you were consistently good to
" The Gaunts are not apt to be fickle in
their friendships," put in Sir Lionel.
" I am sure I have reason gratefully to
say so," answered Miss Feltham.
" Caroline Graham has no obligations to
me," said Lady Charlotte, speaking in a
resolute way, and as though she were re-
hearsing something she had deliberately
made up her mind to say. " Her affection
her devotion, to me and mine, deserve all,
.and more than all, I ever had it in my power
to do for her."
Mildred, vaguely remembering having
heard her mother mention a Caroline Gra-
ham, who was a pretty girl long ago in the
days of her mother's own youth, began to
question her aunt about her. But Lady
Charlotte checked her. " I have not seen
86 MADAME LEROUX.
her for years, Mildred. We do not meet. I
know her to be in an honourable position,
and doing well. If she were in need or
trouble to-morrow, and I could help her, she
would ask me. She would have a right to
ask me. That is enough for us both."
Then, turning to her brother-in-law, she
said, " Now you must not make ceremonies,
Lionel. I have informed myself as to your
habits, and Mrs. Griffiths tells me that you
retire into the library after luncheon, and are
not to be disturbed until you ring. You
must do as you are accustomed to do. I
have plenty to occupy me during the next
two hours. In the first place, I have desired
Mrs. Griffiths to show me all over the house,
I mean to visit it thoroughly. I must make
myself acquainted with the sphere of my
duties, you know ; for I don't hold with
constitutional government for a household :
Queen Log, with a responsible Cabinet of
upper servants. I intend to be a real chate-
laine after the fashion of my great-great-
Sir Lionel, with a murmured word or two
MADAME LEROUX. 87
about the sad necessity a valetudinarian was
under of submitting to live by rule, mildly
resigned himself to the decrees of Fate ;
and soon fell peacefully asleep in his arm-
chair, with a fine old folio wide open on the
reading-desk beside him.
Then said Lady Charlotte to her niece,
" I will have some tea in my own room at
five o'clock, Mildred ; and you must come to
me then, and we will have a quiet chat to-
gether, and get better acquainted with each
other. You and I are to be very dear friends,
you know, my child." Lady Charlotte
lightly stroked the girl's hair, and looked
down at her with a smile, and a softened
gleam from the steel-grey eyes, which made
Mildred all at once understand why it was
that every one who had known her aunt in
the past days had retained an impression of
her remarkable beauty. " Meanwhile/' pro-
ceeded Lady Charlotte, " I dare say Miss
Feltham can find something for you to do. I
suppose you have some lessons ? reading,
and so on ? Do you draw still, Miss Felt-
ham ? I remember your flower-pieces. I
88 MADAME LEROUX.
must pay you a visit in the schoolroom to-
The servants had withdrawn before this
time, but, on Lady Charlotte's ringing the
bell, the butler promptly appeared. " Tell
Mrs. Griffiths," said Lady Charlotte, " that I
am ready, and shall be glad if she will be
good enough to attend me at once."
Warner, who was already much impressed
by her ladyship's authoritative air of com-
mand, obeyed this order with considerably
more alacrity of movement than was custo-
mary with him ; and, when Lady Charlotte
left the room a tall, majestic figure, in long
trailing black robes Miss Feltham, and
Lucy, and Mildred, caught sight through the
open door of Mrs. Griffiths, keys in hand,
and clad in her purple silk gown, making a
" I see now what everybody meant," said
Mildred, after watching her aunt out of the
room. " She must have been splendidly
handsome ! "
If her eyes had not been exclusively
occupied with Lady Charlotte, they might
MADAME LEROUX. 89
have been struck by the expression on the
faces of her two companions. Miss Feltham's
mild placidity had given place to a nervous
puckering of the forehead, and a strained
pressure of the lips together ; while Lucy
.seemed literally overshadowed, as though by
the twilight of a physical eclipse, which
quenches all colour and sparkle. But Mil-
dred noticed nothing of all this ; and had she
noticed, would not have understood. What,
she would have asked, had Aunt Charlotte
said or done to alarm or depress any one ?
And the question might not have been easy
to answer. Nevertheless, a painful impres-
sion had been made. Miss Feltham was
conscious that she had been entirely set
aside ; and she remembered, shrinkingly, the
ruthless self-will of the spoiled young beauty
of former days. Lucy had no such experi-
ence to guide her ; she had never been sub-
jected to harshness or tyranny. But she was
by nature both more observant and more
sensitive than the good old governess. And
.she had, moreover, some share of that imagi-
native insight which supplies the place of
90 MADAME LEROUX.
experience, and reaches the unknown from
the known. No trait in the little scene just
enacted escaped her ; the cool ignoring that
Miss Felthani had for years been holding a
responsible position in Enderby Court ; the
absolute disregard for any habits which the
household (excepting only Sir Lionel) must
have formed during all these years ; the
almost naif assumption that their life must
begin entirely anew, since she, Lady Char-
lotte Gaunt, was adjusting herself to a new
place in the world all these things Lucy
Marston saw clearly and felt keenly. She
saw, too, what was utterly invisible to Miss
Feltham the touch of absurdity in it all ;
and, in spite of her real anxieties, enjoyed it.
There is no greater generator of oxygen in
the moral atmosphere than a sense of
But her lips were locked both as to the
tragic and the comic aspect of the situation.
Not for the world would she have said a
word to check Mildred's growing admiration
for her aunt. On this point Lucy and Miss-
Feltham understood each other thoroughly.
MADAME LEROUX. 91
and were quite at one. So they all three
repaired to the school-room, as usual ; where,,
while Mildred practised a sonata, Lucy-
worked off some of her mental excitement by
writing at Sir Lionel's interminable extracts
for more than an hour and a-half.
IT was noticed by the servants at Enderby
Court that Lady Charlotte took good care to
pay attention to Sir Lionel's habits, and was
even complaisant to his whims. And they
.attributed her deference to that species of
wisdom figuratively described as knowing
which side your bread is buttered. But they
were wrong in taking so crude and simple a
view of the matter. These domestic critics
are, indeed, frequently misled by failing to
get a correct focus for their observations, and
go on seeing wrong with great sharpness.
Lady Charlotte's conviction of the im-
portance of the Gaunt family in the scheme
of creation invested even their remotest con-
nections with some rays of reflected dignity
in her eyes. And Sir Lionel was by no
MADAME LEROUX. 95
means a remote connection. He had married
a Gaunt ; his daughter had the Gaunt blood
in her veins. There had been a time when
Jane's marriage had been viewed by her
sister as a derogation from her rank. But
this view had been softened partly by time
and experience, partly by circumstances which
had made it turn out better than Charlotte
had at first anticipated. In the meantime
Grimstock had made an unexceptionable
match. He had married a well-dowered
young lady of good birth. Not, indeed, one
who boasted quite so ancient and splendid
a genealogy as his own. " Where," asked
Charlotte, " was a bride to be found who
could meet him there on equal terms ? " But,
at all events, the pedigree of the direct heir
to the earldom would be blemished by no
mesalliance. And then Adelaide had clone
her duty very satisfactorily. Lady Grim-
stock was the mother of three sons, and the
succession was safe. This happy state of
things rendered Jane's unequal marriage a
matter of comparatively small moment in her
94 MADAME LEROUX.
Lady Charlotte had a good deal of sym-
pathy with Sir Lionel's ailments, which she
was far from supposing to be imaginary.
One of the characteristics on which she
prided herself was the possession of almost
unbroken health. She had as fine a consti-
tution as her well-made and vigorous frame
seemed to promise. Only one malady ever
assailed her, and that but at long intervals,
.and under the pressure of mental disturbance.
This was a severe form of nervous headache.
The attacks had begun immediately after her
brother Hubert's death, and were supposed
to have been originally caused by the shock
of it. But her own fine health did not ren-
der her sceptical as to the invalid condition
of Sir Lionel. The Gaunts had splendid
health ; but one could not expect that sort of
constitution in every one !
On the whole, Lady Charlotte was well
satisfied with the state of things which she
found at Enderby Court. In the first place,
Mildred was charming fresh- hearted, affec-
tionate, with an air of native refinement, and
a great deal prettier than was necessary for
MADAME LEROUX. 95
so great an heiress. With Sir Lionel, too,
his sister-in-law was very well content. He
was evidently willing to yield up all domestic
authority to her, provided his own habits and
comforts were in no way interfered with.
Their two departments would run in parallel
lines, and there was no fear of their intersect-
ing each other. As regarded material well-
being, the home was a far more luxurious
one than Charlotte Gaunt, great lady though
she were, had ever inhabited. There were
only two points which she objected to. And
the objection grew stronger as the days went
by and she saw more of the inner life of the
The first point was the continuance of
Miss Feltham in the position of Mildred's
governess ; the second was the familiar pre-
sence of Lucy Marston.
Miss Feltham had never been a favourite
with Lady Charlotte, whose mind had been
unconsciously prejudiced against her by a
person who had at one time wielded enor-
mous influence over the spoiled and self-
willed beauty namely, her humble protegee
96 MADAME LEROUX.
and dependant, Caroline Graham. But, itr
justice to her, it must be said that Lady
Charlotte conscientiously thought Miss
Feltham unequal to the task of finishing
Mildred's education. The governess was
old-fashioned and humdrum, and her music
especially was lamentably below the modern
standard. But there would doubtless be no-
difficulty in getting rid of Miss Feltham.
She must be kindly dismissed pensioned off,
if necessary. Lionel would not grudge that.
The case of Lucy Marston was somewhat
different Although Lady Charlotte would
not have admitted it, even to her own
thought, she was possessed by a violent pre-
judice against the girl. That she disliked
her, she did admit. But Lady Charlotte
did not call her dislike a prejudice. There
were reasons for it. She disapproved en-
tirely of the footing which this village
attorney's daughter held at Enderby Court-
She was treated absolutely as Mildred's
equal which was absurd and unjust to the
girl herself, who could not hope to go through
life in that social position. The thing must
MADAME LEROUX. 97
be put a stop to. Instinctively, Lady
Charlotte felt that this task would be far
more difficult than getting rid of poor old
Miss Feltham. Sir Lionel, as well as his
daughter, had taken a great fancy to the girl.
There was a jealous consciousness at the
bottom of Lady Charlotte's mind that, in a
struggle, Lucy's influence both with father
and daughter might possibly prove stronger
than her own. And the consciousness em-
bittered her, and, at the same time, made
her more and more resolved that Lucy
Marston must go. What was it, after all,
that poor Lucy had done to incur so much
hostility ? She had inspired a dislike at first
sight. Something in her face the frank,
unfearing expression of her eyes, the waving
dark lock of hair on her forehead every-
thing about her was displeasing to Lady
Charlotte. " I certainly have taken a strong
.antipathy to the girl," said Lady Charlotte to
herself. She had great faith in the correct-
ness of her own instincts ; and would se-
riously declare that she had always found
them to be unerring.
VOL. I. 7
9 8 MADAME LEROUX.
During the first few weeks after her
arrival, Lady Charlotte was too much
occupied in other ways to bestow much
personal attention on the inmates of the
schoolroom, who were thus left very much
to their own devices, and undisturbed by
innovations. Lady Charlotte had to return
the visits of the neighbouring families who
had called on her. She had greatly relieved
Sir Lionel's mind by declining all evening
invitations, and by assuring him that she
intended to mingle with their neighbours no
more than the barest civility required. The
calls, however, must be returned by Lady
Charlotte in person ; and she was conse-
quently a good deal away from Enderby
Court during the long and lovely afternoons
of the latter spring, which followed her
And besides these social duties, Lady
Charlotte was making herself acquainted with
the denizens of Westfield. Having asserted
her supremacy over the domestic department
of her brother-in-law's domain, she turned
her attention to the outside retainers ; humble
MADAME LEROUX. 99
tenants, pensioners, and, in short, all those
persons in the village who depended more or
less for their prosperity on the sunshine of
that centre of their earthly system, Enderby
Lady Charlotte for the most part made
her expeditions into Westfield alone. She
had procured from Mrs. Griffiths, the house-
keeper, a list of Lady Jane's pensioners, and
also many particulars about the inhabitants
of all classes ; from Dr. Goodchild, and Mr.
Arden, the Vicar, down to bed-ridden Goody
Bloxham. But in the course of her investiga-
tions in the village she heard of Mr. Jackson,
as a man crippled by rheumatism, whose wife
had been a servant at the Court, and a
favourite with Lady Jane.
" And," said one of her informants, " my
lady did send old Mr. Jackson a powerful lot
o' doctor's stuff every year. Why, the lini-
ments, first and last, would ha' filled that
there horse-trough ! Ah, she was a real good
lady, was Lady Jane. She giv' me some-
thing to rub my leg with for a sprain once,
and it made me holler again, it did ; it pricked
ioo MADAME LEROUX.
so. She had a feeling 'art for the poor and
This grateful soul having indicated
the whereabouts of the Jacksons' cot-
tage, Lady Charlotte betook herself
The day being bright and sunny, the
front door of the cottage stood open. It gave
access immediately into a little parlour, where,
notwithstanding the summer-like temperature,
a fire was burning brightly in the grate.
The hearth, and all the ironwork about the
fireplace, were speckless. Everything in the
room showed an extraordinary degree of
cleanliness ; as well as a formal and rigid
neatness which was almost painful. The
furniture was ranged stifHy round the walls.
A flowered drugget which covered the floor
was crossed by narrow tracks of oil-cloth
leading from the front-door to the hearth ;
and, in another direction, to a second door.
And woe be to the dust-laden foot which
should venture to stray from these paths of
rectitude and plant itself on the drugget in
Hannah Jackson's view ! A small round
MADAME LEROUX. 101
table was drawn up close to the fire. Within
easy reach of it stood a deep arm-chair,
covered with bright chintz, and made com-
fortable by several pillows and cushions in
patchwork cases ; and in the chair, dressed in
a loose warm coat, and with a patchwork
counterpane drawn over his knees, sat the
master of the house smoking a clay pipe.
Here, indeed, he passed the greater part of
his waking hours.
Thomas Jackson had a well-proportioned
head and face, with rather handsome, rough-
hewn features ; black hair, but little grizzled
despite his sixty odd years ; a smooth-shaven
mouth and chin, and very keen, twinkling,
dark eyes. On the appearance of Lady
Charlotte's majestic figure in the doorway,
and in answer to her inquiry, " Is this Mr.
Jackson's house ? " he put his pipe away on
the hob, touched his forehead with his fore-
finger, and explained apologetically that he
was unable to rise from his seat without
" Don't disturb yourself," said Lady Char-
lotte. " I know you are an invalid. My
io2 MADAME LEROUX.
sister took an interest in your case. I am
Lady Charlotte Gaunt. "
" No need to tell me that, my lady,"
answered Jackson, motioning to a chair.
"Won't your ladyship please be seated?
No fear of you being taken for anything
but a Gaunt, my lady ; and a thorough-
bred 'un ! "
Lady Charlotte bestowed a very gracious
smile on the old man, as she sat down in a
Windsor chair on the opposite side of the
fireplace. " Have you known any other
members of my family besides Lady Jane
Enderby ? " she asked.
"'Oh, yes, my lady ; before I went to
Lord Percy Humberstone's where I lived
head-groom for twenty year I was at Squire
Parkinson's in the North (I'm Yorkshire my-
self), and the Earl of Grimstock, your late
father, my lady, used to be there a great deal.
He and Squire Parkinson used to go down
to Doncaster together for the autumn
meetings, and never missed the Leger for
years. And his son, too the present Earl
would coom very often when he was a
MADAME LEROUX, 103
young gentleman at Oxford. Good judge of
a horse he was, too, for his years."
The smile on Lady Charlotte's face grew
considerably less beaming than before. Her
late father's fondness for horseflesh had
notoriously plunged his family into difficulties,
and his son and heir had at one time bade
fair to follow his example. However, Lady
Charlotte cleared her brow, and inquired
about Mr. Jackson's rheumatism. She had
not her sister's medical lore ; but she quite
approved of Lady Jane's zeal in physicking
her poorer neighbours. It was the kind of
knowledge which became a great lady.
Mr. Jackson answered briefly, that he
knew he wasn't likely to be much better in
this world. But he didn't grumble. He had
the use of his eyes still, and of his ears ;
and to a certain extent of his hands. The
privation he felt most keenly was that he
should never more be able to back a horse
again. For many a year he had half lived
on horseback. However, a man ought to
shut his mouth, and make the best of the
goods that were left to him. And with this,
io 4 MADAME LEROUX.
Mr. Jackson evidently intended to dismiss
the subject of his own ailments.
"You must let me know if I can da
anything for you. I have come to live at
Enderby Court, as I have no doubt you
know ; and to supply, as far as I can, my
sister's place to my niece, Miss Enderby."
" Yes, my lady ; and what a sweet young
lady she is ! "
" Do you see her often ? "
" Well, not very often ; but sometimes she
does take a walk down this way past our
house ; and as I ,sit here morning, noon, and
night; no fear of me missing her. When it's
warm weather I see her from the door; when
it's cold, I'm wheeled up to the window, and
I often say 'tis as pretty as a pictur to see
them two lovely young creatures together."
"What two young creatures?" asked
Lady Charlotte, haughtily. But she knew
perfectly well what would be the answer.
" Miss Enderby's young friend, my
lady Miss Lucy Marston. 1 thought you
must have seen her. But if you haven't,
you will soon, my lady ; for she's a prime
MADAME LEROUX. 105;
favourite with Miss Enderby, and with Sir
" Begging your pardon, my lady," said a
thin, deliberate voice. " I hope you'll excuse
Jackson : though why ever he didn't call me
when he saw your ladyship coming in is more
than I know. He has his bell on the table
close under his hand ; and let me be high or
let me be low kitchen, wash'us, yard or
even in the bit of horchard as far up as the
pear-tree, I never fail to hear that bell, and
you can't say as I do, Jackson."
With that Mrs. Jackson came forward
and made a curtsey. She was rigidly neat
as usual ; nevertheless, she thought it neces-
sary to apologise to Lady Charlotte for
appearing before her in her working apron.
" If a man will have taturs for his dinner r
they must be washed ; and you can't wash
'em specially not at that sink in the scullery,
which I'm sure, if Sir Lionel could but see it,
he'd give orders to have it set to rights ; but
you might as well whistle to the winds as
speak to Mr. Bates, the steward, if you want
a shilling laid out on the cottage you cant
io6 MADAME LEROUX.
wash taturs without some slopping and
messing, and 'tis no use to say you can,
" All right, lass, I was going to call
thee ; but my lady hasn't been here many
" An' I hope you haven't been tiring her
ladyship out with your chat ? Of course, my
lady, when a man has lost the use of his
joints, there's allowances to be made. But
every one can't feel the same as a wife ; and
no call that they should neither."
While she was speaking, Mrs. Jackson
brought forward a little wooden footstool
which she dusted (quite superfluously) with
her apron, and placed under the visitor's feet.
Lady Charlotte barely noticed this
civility. Her mind was intent on another
" No," she answered, " Mr. Jackson has
not tired me at all. He was just speaking*
I think, of a young lady who was allowed
to play with my niece when they were
Jackson detected something hostile in her
MADAME LEROUX. 107
tone, and would have replied with caution,
but Hannah at once struck in :
"Oh! he's been mentioning that Miss
Marston, has he, my lady ? Well, it seems
to me, the men talks and thinks about her
more than she's worth ; and much good may
it do her ! There's that old Mr. Pinhorn
he keeps the grocer's shop, my lady, in the
village ; and I've nothing to say against his
grocery. We buy the best, Jackson and me,
and you'd better charge a fair profit on your
goods than sell cheap rubbish as isn't fit to
throw to the pigs. But in some things he's
a weak fool, is Pinhorn I believe the men
Mr. Jackson received this sweeping
generalisation from the particular instance of
Mr. Pinhorn, with perfect philosophy. His
eyes twinkled a little more than usual as
he observed calmly, in a rolling bass under-
"Ah, lass, the men's poor imperfect
creatures ! Tis a pity but what thou hadna'
been consulted in the making of 'em."
" I'm sure, my lady," continued Mrs.
io8 MADAME LEROUX.
Jackson, "all us Westfield folks is glad to
know there's a lady at the head of Enderby
Court again. Miss Feltham, the governess,
is a very worthy lady, no doubt, and under-
stands her books and her studies, as is only
fitting when she's paid to teach 'em ; but
she ain't one to have authority on her
shoulders ; and Jackson must say the same,
if he is to speak the truth."
" Me ! I say nought o' th' sort," growled
Jackson, in his deep sot to voce.
" We all have a great respect for Miss
Feltham," said Lady Charlotte. " But, of
course, now that my niece is growing
Lady Charlotte left her sentence thus
imperfect ; but her intonation implied that
she had fully finished all she intended to
" That's what / say, my lady ! " exclaimed
Mrs. Jackson ; speaking with her usual de-
liberate acidity of manner. " And it's very
little better than a fortnight ago, as I was
saying to Pinhorn in his own shop, and him
standing behind the counter maundering
MADAME LEROUX. 109
about Miss Marston being such a pretty
figure, as incoherent as a man could talk, I
says to him, 'Children is children, and my late
lady knew what was right and proper. But,
Mr. Pinhorn,' I says, ' Miss Enderby's grow-
ing up, and it's my belief if Lady Jane was
here to see, she wouldn't approve of such
familiar goings on between her daughter and
Mr. Jackson here interrupted his wife
with a grunt of disapproval.
" There, pull up, lass ! Pull up ! My
lady don't want to know what you said to
Pinhorn, nor yet what Pinhorn said to you."
" I ask pardon, my lady, if I've said too
much," said Mrs. Jackson in her dry, un-
moved way. " I never was one to talk and
prate, and so any one in Westfield, or as far
as Westfield Road, or at Lord Percy Hum-
berstone's, where I lived before I came to
the Court, could tell your ladyship. There's
others in the village sees what I see. Only
me having lived at the Court, and always in
the best houses, and being used to high folks,
my lady, and understanding what is due to
1 1 o MADAME LERO UX.
them, I know well enough that Miss Pel-
tham hasn't got strength of mind to keep
Lucy Marston in her place. But, of
course, it will be different now your lady-
" Of course," said Lady Charlotte, care-
lessly, with an air of condescending tolera-
But Hannah Jackson was cunning enough
to see that her words had been approved,,
not merely tolerated ; and to form a keen
guess, moreover, that Lady Charlotte's tole-
ration of what was unwelcome to her would
not be very elastic. Hannah began to hope
that she should get her sink in the back
kitchen altered at Sir Lionel Enderby's ex-
pense ; and her imagination set to work on
other improvements in the cottage, for ob-
taining which Lady Charlotte's influence
might avail her. She went on to speak of
the late Mr. Marston and of Jacob Shard ;
delivering her opinion that for " 'cuteness"
the latter was far superior to his predecessor.
" And if a lawyer ain't 'cute, what is he ? '"
said Hannah, tightly setting her thin lips.
MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 1
" Ah, Shard's a good lawyer," put in Mr.
Jackson. " He's not soft i' th' upper story,
isn't Shard. And there's no shilly-shally
about Shard. He goes about his work
through thick and thin, over hedge and ditch.
And if you do go to law that's the way to do
it, in my notion. If you're bent on keeping
your shoes shiny, you'd better not walk
through a ploughed field ! "
' 'You'll excuse Jackson, my lady," said
Hannah, as their guest rose to go away,
" That's his way of talking rambling on
wide of the mark. As if Lawyer Shard had
anything to do with ploughed fields ! Of
course / make shift to understand what he's
driving at ; but it isn't every one as does."
And with many thanks for the honour of the
visit, she curtseyed the great lady to the
Lady Charlotte walked meditatively up
the village street. At the door of his office
stood Mr. Shard, who had been furtively
watching her progress for some time, but
who pretended to be taken by surprise when
she passed, and pulled off his hat in a
ii2 MADAME LEROVX.
nervous, flurried way, as a man might do
who was suddenly brought face to face with
his sovereign. Lady Charlotte returned his
bow by a movement of her head. It was
neither ungraceful nor ungracious. To
those who frankly prostrated themselves
before her, Lady Charlotte was bonne
Princesse. That this man, whoever he might
be, should respectfully salute her, was per-
fectly natural ; the Westfield people were
beginning to know her by sight. But in the
moment of passing the garden gate, a few
paces further on, her long-sighted grey eyes
read the inscription on a brass plate affixed
to it u J. Shard, Solicitor."
FOR Mildred the sweet spring days imme-
diately following Lady Charlotte's arrival
had been tmcloudedly delightful. Her at-
tachment and admiration for her aunt in-
creased daily ; and in truth Lady Charlotte
was always at her best with Mildred, and the
pleasant placid life she had been leading with
her dear old governess and her still dearer
friend flowed on undisturbed.
Lucy, too, recovered from the depression
and anxiety which Lady Charlotte's coming
had at first caused her. She felt, indeed, for
she was too sensitive and quick-sighted not
to perceive it, that she had failed to attract
her ladyship's approval. And she smiled in
a rather melancholy fashion when Mildred
declared, in all good faith, that she was sure
VOL. i. [ IJ 3 ] 8
ii 4 MADAME LEROUX.
Aunt Charlotte liked Lucy very much
already, and would soon love her as much
as the rest of the family loved her. But
Lucy was content to compound for cool dis-
regard, if only Lady Charlotte would leave
her alone ; if she were only not hostile !
"Well, after all," said Lucy confiden-
tially to Miss Feltham one day, some three
weeks after Lady Charlotte's arrival, "you
see there have been no changes made. I
confess I was nervous."
The governess shook her head. She
was thinking of herself, and of how the new
regime would affect her.
" I hope all may continue to go on
smoothly," she said. " But the Gaunt family
are all very determined in following out their
own ideas ; and I think I may, of course,
be mistaken, but I think that Lady Char-
lotte has some plan in her head about
Mildred which well, she will certainly carry
it out, whatever it is ; so it is worse than
useless to meet troubles half way, and to
" There has been no change," Lucy had
MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 5
said. And yet she might have applied to
Enderby Court the words of the poet's
apostrophe to Rome, and have exclaimed,
" Thou art no more
As thou hast been ! "
Sir Lionel was as kind as ever, but she
saw him far more rarely than formerly. The
little services she had been in the habit of
doing for him copying, arranging papers,
making extracts were no longer performed
in the library under his own eye. Lady
Charlotte sat with Sir Lionel in the library
during that hour before luncheon, when the
family had been wont to assemble there.
And Lady Charlotte had caused it to be
understood that she considered the school-
room the proper place for Miss Marston to
do her writing in. Lucy had been accus-
tomed to deck the schoolroom gaily with
fresh flowers, and had been allowed to gather
freely for that purpose from conservatory and
hot-house, as well as from the parterres in
the garden on the south side of the house.
But now Mr. Campbell, the head-gardener,
n6 MADAME LEROUX.
informed her, with the utmost gentleness and
civility for Mr. Campbell was a kind man,
and Miss Marston was a great favourite with
him "that my leddy didn't just like having
the exotics taken to fill the vases in the
schoolroom." Lucy was used to dance along'
the stately corridors, and up or down the
great staircase, with a light and careless step,
often singing as she went. Now her gait
was sobered, and her voice was hushed ; for
one could never tell when that tall figure in
its black robes, cashmere or silk, satin or
velvet, according to the hour and season, but
always black, might come sweeping out of
some side-door, and strike a chilly awe into
She had not returned to her uncle's house
since the morning when Mildred had brought
her thence in triumph. But one morning,
needing some articles of clothing which had
been left at Mr. Shard's, she took the oppor-
tunity of Mildred's being absent with Lady
Charlotte on an excursion in the neighbour-
hood, and went down to her uncle's house.
Mrs. Shard was busied in taking down
MADAME LEROUX. 117
her husband's flannel shirts from the lines
stretched across the garden where Mrs. Mar-
ston's standard roses had once flourished.
"La, Lucy, is that you ?" said her aunt,
panting and pressing one hand to her side,
as with the other she dragged a heavy
clothes basket along the gravel path.
" Yes, Aunt Sarah. But is there no one
to assist you ? Where is Betsey ? Let me
help you to lift that basket ! "
" Lucy ! Not likely, and you in that
French merino as good as new ! How did
you come here ? Walking ? "
" No, Aunt Sarah. I had to fetch some
clothes, and they sent me here in a pony-
" Oh ! Well, you've not come back to
stay, at any rate. Let the basket be, Lucy.
Betsey will be here directly. And if she
isn't, that's not work for you. A pretty
thing if the man that drove you from the
Court was to see you lugging and hauling at
a basket full of damp shirts ! "
It occurred to Lucy as odd that her aunt
should express no unwillingness to be seen
1 1 8 MADAME LEROUX.
herself thus occupied. But she only laughed,
" I should not in the least mind his seeing-
"Ah! There it is, Lucy!" rejoined her
aunt, mournfully shaking her head. " But /
should mind. And your uncle would be
almost beside himself. Well, I'm glad you
haven't come back to stay."
Lucy's face flushed for a moment ; and
then as the colour faded, she asked, slowly,
" Should you find it so very disagreeable
to have me here, Aunt Sarah ? "
" Oh, Lucy, you ought not to talk in that
way ; agreeable and disagreeable, that's not
the question. We've all got to do our duty,
and not follow our sinful fancies. As to
agreeable, whenever I'm particularly pleased
about anything it isn't often I begin to be
pretty sure there's something wrong in it."
With which cheerful and inspiriting pro-
fession of faith, Mrs. Shard put the last
shirt into the basket, and, with the assistance
of Betsey, who had now appeared, carried it
into the house.
MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 9
Lucy stood motionless in the midst of
the untidy garden, The paths were moss-
grown. The beds were rank with weeds.
Nearly all the flowers were dead ; and those
which remained had lost their beauty, and
taken a hopeless, straggling, broken-down
air. A small summer-house where Lucy
could dimly remember sitting with the gentle
woman whom she had called mother, reading-
words printed in large black letters from a
book full of coloured pictures, had fallen into
absolute ruin. A pretty rustic table which
had stood there lay shattered on the floor ;
and the seat had been broken up for fire-
No one wanted the summer-house ; no
one used it ; not a penny would be spent on
keeping up anything so unprofitable. The
sun shone brightly on the ruined garden, and
a small bird, perched on a lilac tree that
overshadowed the summer-house, set up a
joyous little warble. The tears gushed into
Lucy's eyes. A sense of desolation came
upon her ; and she felt as if all the roses of
her young life had withered.
i 20 MADAME LEROUX.
She hastily dried her eyes, and hid away
her handkerchief on hearing her aunt's voice
calling to her. " Lucy ! Lucy ! " cried Mrs.
Shard, appearing at the drawing-room
window. " Oh, do come in, Lucy! Think
of keeping the servant from the Court, and
the carriage, and the ponies, while you stand
mooning there ! I cannot understand why
you do it. I really cannot. And here's
your uncle come in from the office. He
wants to say a word to you."
"Oh, how d'ye do, Lucy?" said Mr.
Shard. "Just step into the parlour for a
moment, will you ? "
Lucy obeyed. Her uncle entered after
her. Mrs. Shard was there already, select-
ing from a pile of garments such as needed
buttons, or tapes, or any housewifely repairs.
" Well ! And how do you get on up
yonder ? " said Mr. Shard, briskly.
" Get on ? I oh, very well."
" Oh, you do ? Well, that's right, that's
right. I fancied from Lady Charlotte's
manner but that's all right ; all right ! "
" Have you seen Lady Charlotte, uncle ?"
MADAME LEROUX. 1 2 1
asked Lucy, with innocently expressed sur-
" Oh, to.be sure ! Oh, dear, yes ! Seen
her ? Rather ! What do you think of her
ladyship walking in, and sitting herself down
there on that sofa, and chatting for half an
hour ? She hadn't mentioned it, h'm ? Seen
her! Oh, Lord, yes!"
" Betsey was ironing, so I opened the
door to her," said Mrs. Shard. " I knew in a
minute who it was ; for I had seen her about
in the village. But she didn't know me. ' Is
your mistress at home?' she said. And when
I told her I was Mrs. Shard, she was quite
taken aback, and begged my pardon. I sent
for your uncle ; for, of course, I am not used
to entertain grand people. I have had hard
duties all my life, and a struggle to get 'em
done. But I always knew this world was a
vale of woe, so I expected nothing better
that's one mercy ! "
" Oh, yes," resumed Mr. Shard. " Her
ladyship came in, and sat herself down on
that identical sofa, and talked for the best
part of half an hour. I gave her plenty of
122 MADAME LEROUX.
rope, of course only just put in a word now
and then to keep her going. And I think
I've pretty well got her measure ?" Mr. Shard
chuckled inwardly, and puckered up his eyes
with an expression of sly satisfaction.
Lucy was lost in wonder at this act of
condescension on the part of Lady Charlotte ;
and tried unsuccessfully to picture her
conversing for half an hour with Mr. and
" Now I'll just give you a wrinkle or two,
Lucy," said Mr. Shard. " You know the
family better than I do, I grant ; and you've
been brought up with Miss Enderby like a
sister. (A great advantage ! A wonderful
advantage for you if you have the sense to
play your cards well.) But, all the same, you
are very young. You know nothing of the
world. Now, I am not very young ; and
there are very few games that would surprise
me. I know human nature."
" Ah-h-h ! " murmured Mrs. Shard not
very distinctly ; for she had a shirt-button in
her mouth. " The old Adam ! >J
" Yes ; and the old Eve too ! Though
MADAME LEROUX. 12$
she is a puzzler," retorted Mr. Shard ; and
creased up his face more than ever, in enjoy-
ment of his own wit. Then all at once
becoming perfectly serious, without ?ny
appreciable stage of transition between mirth
and gravity, he added, " Look here, Lucy 1
Lady Charlotte in some ways is a cleverer
woman than her sister Lady Jane wasn't an
eagle, exactly. But I'll tell you what ; she's
a deal easier to well, to gammon, than
Lady Jane was."
Lucy remained silent for a moment.
Then she said in a low voice, " I think you
are mistaken in supposing it would be easy
to deceive Lady Charlotte. But, in any
case, I need not consider that question, as I
certainly have no intention of trying to
" Tut, tut ! Deceive her ! No ; of course
you don't want to cheat her out of a five
pound note, nor to steal her watch. No, no ;
when I say she is more open to well, to
gammon, than Lady Jane, I simply mean
that she has a tremendously high opinion of
herself to be worked on. People of her sort
1 24 MADAME LEROUX.
are like the Irishman's pig, that could only
be got to Limerick by persuading him he
was being driven to Cork. Nine times out
of ten you can make 'em believe they're
going to Cork. Now I saw in a brace of
shakes that Lady Charlotte would swallow
any amount of koo-too that you could
administer to her. Very well ! I've no
objection. She came in here with her
bristles a little bit up I don't know why-
Perhaps she didn't know why. It's as likely
as not. But she went away as sleek as satin."
Then, very sharply and suddenly, " How
does she treat you ? "
" Treat me ! I have seen very little of
Lady Charlotte. She does not come into the
" I dare say ! But you are no fool. You
can tell chalk from cheese when you like, as
well as any girl of your years that I know e
Is Lady Charlotte pleasant and affable when
you do meet her ? In a word, is her manner
kind to you ? "
" Not very," answered Lucy, after an
MADAME LEROUX. 125
To an ingenuous young nature, the ques-
tion direct is almost irresistible, and draws
out the truth as a magnet does the needle.
"Ah! Not very kind ? That's exactly
what I guessed ; so you see I was pretty
keen-sighted, eh ? Now I'll tell you why she
hasn't been as kind to you as the rest of the
family are ; the reason is that she is jealous."
" Jealous ? Oh, Uncle Jacob, excuse me,
but that is really absurd ! "
" Fair and softly ! There's various kinds
of jealousy. Lady Charlotte wants to be
A i with everybody first with Sir Lionel
first with her niece first with the scullery-
maid and the cow-boy. She finds you here
a ready-made favourite. Well, she doesn't
like that. She finds Miss Mildred very fond
of you, and praising you up to the skies, and
she doesn't like that. Thirdly, you haven't
koo-too'd to her enough, and she doesn't
Lucy was unspeakably pained all the
more that she recognized some grains of truth
in what Mr. Shard said. Still she was sure
that he took a distorted view of the case.
126 MADAME LEROUX.
" Indeed, Uncle Jacob," she said, eagerly,
" it is not like that. Of course, I have been
properly respectful to Lady Charlotte ; and
of course, she does not desire servility. It
would revolt her."
" Would it ? " interpolated Mr. Shard,
shutting one eye, and elevating the opposite
" I mean of course, my being at the
Court can make no difference to her, any
more than if I were a pet spaniel. She she
has not taken a liking to me. I can see that.
But it will make little difference. I am too
insignificant for Lady Charlotte to bestow
much attention on me. That is all."
There was a pause, during which Mr.
Shard appeared to meditate, with his thumbs
stuck into the armholes of his waistcoat, his
legs stretched out before him, and his face
turned up towards the ceiling, as he leaned
back in his chair, and Mrs. Shard droned on
in one of her peculiar soliloquies a kind of
hortus sicciis of words, with all the sap and
colour dried out of them.
" It's what we must all make an account
MADAME LEROUX. 127
to endure. This is a world of sorrows, and
nobody's free. The high have their troubles
the same as the low, which gives the believer
a peace of mind that passes all under-
Mr. Shard withdrew his eyes from the
ceiling, sat upright, struck his open hand two
or three times lightly, but sharply, on the
table, and said,
" Now, Lucy, attend to me. I'm going
to give you good advice. That's all I have
to give, but it's valuable, if you have the
sense to take it. You must flatter Lady
Charlotte, and wheedle her, and put your
pride in your pocket, or else the good days at
Enderby Court are all over for you. Do
you understand ? I can't have you quarrelling
with the people at the Court !"
"Quarrelling!" Lucy burst out, aghast
at the word.
" Let me finish. I can't waste my time.
I left off in the middle of some office business
on purpose to come in and talk to you. It
won't suit me for you to lose the favour of
the Court. We should all be under a
128 MADAME LEROUX.
cloud together if you were to displease
" How can I help it ? What can I do ? "
murmured Lucy. The tears had by this time
overflowed her eyes, and her quivering lips
were nearly beyond her control, in spite of
the strong effort she made to command them;
" I'll explain what you can do. You can
behave as if you thought Lady Charlotte
Gaunt was the pivot on which everything
turns in Enderby Court or in the universe
if you like ! You can't overdo it. You must
be humble and patient. If you are a little
afraid of her in reality, no harm in that. In
fact, all the better. But let her see it. Don't
skulk off, and be shy out of sight and out of
mind. It isn't too late yet to bring her round,
if you will make the effort. But it will cost
an effort, because the first impression has
been an unlucky one."
All this Mr. Shard said with an intent and
frowning face, emphasising the clauses of his
speech with sharp raps of his open palm on
the table. Then, rising to his feet, he added,
in a lighter and more good-humoured tone,
MADAME LEROUX. 129
" Come, come, Lucy, pluck up a spirit !
I'll back your wits against my lady's, if you
give them fair play. Good-bye, my dear.
Don't be downcast ! Lord bless me, some
girls have to fight their battles all alone, and
here you have me to help you and give you a
hint at any moment. Good-bye, my dear. I
must be off. And, Lucy" turning round
waggishly, with his hand on the knob of the
door " don't forget to let her fancy she's
going to Cork ! Ha, ha, ha. Good-bye, my
dear child. Tell her she's going to Cork,
and you may drive her anywhere ! "
IT was half-past six o'clock in the evening ;
some clouds which had overspread the sky
as the sun declined, made the spring twilight
duskier than usual ; a bright fire burned in
the school-room. It was the interval of re-
pose before dressing for dinner. Active
occupations were suspended ; it was too
dark to see to read within the room, and yet
there was still so much grey daylight outside
the windows as made the idea of the lamp
seem impertinent. It was a lazy, pensive,
pathetic hour, such as affects some natures
with melancholy, like the chiming of distant
Miss Feltham was not much susceptible
to such influences. She was only melancholy
when she had some real cause to make her
MADAME LEROUX. 131
so, she was fond of saying with an implied
assumption of superiority over those vague
persons who were made melancholy by causes
which they could not clearly define. She
was not melancholy at this moment, for the
work of the day was done ; she was reposing
in her own special chair, and she was listen-
ing, with closed eyes, to Lucy, as she softly
played remembered fragments of Beethoven
wandering on from one to another, and
binding them together with an instinctive
touch of art. Miss Feltham's consciousness
plunged from time to time into that delicious
dreamy state which is the nearest possible
approach to knowing that you are asleep and
enjoying it ! She was just losing this sense
of enjoyment, and was falling asleep in
earnest, when the sound of a subdued and
measured voice woke her as effectually as if
it had been the peal of a trumpet. The
voice was Lady Charlotte's, and it said,
" You have no lights here yet."
Lucy, in sheer nervousness started up
from the piano like a detected culprit.
132 MADAME LEROUX.
" Oh, Aunt Charlotte, is that you ? " cried
Mildred. Mildred was the only person in
the house absolutely free from awe or sub-
jection in her aunt's presence. " Oh, do come
in ! This is delightful ! You are just in
time to hear Lucy play." She took her
aunt's hand and drew her towards the seat
opposite to Miss Feltham's. " No lamps yet,
please. It still wants half an hour to dress-
ing time. Let us be happy and lazy. I love
music in the twilight don't you ? Go on r
Lucy stood perfectly still beside the
piano. Miss Feltham half rose, and offered
her chair to the visitor.
" No, no ; I will not allow you to move.
Miss Feltham," said Lady Charlotte, in her
low, guttural tones. "I am quite happy
here," and she took the seat her niece had
There was a short silence, while Mildred
nestled down on the rug near her aunt.
Then she called out again, "Go on playing,
Lucy ! Why do you stand there like a
ghost ? "
MADAME LEROUX. 133
11 Perhaps it may disturb Lady Charlotte,"
answered Lucy, hesitatingly.
Mildred laughed, as she exclaimed, " Lucy
is suck a goose sometimes ! You wouldn't
believe, Aunt Charlotte, that she is as diffi-
dent about what she can do as if she were a
perfect dunce." Then in a lower, confiden-
tial tone, " She does play so beautifully ! You
Lucy lingered a second, as if she thought
that Lady Charlotte might yet say some
gracious and encouraging word. None
came, and the girl sat down to play
with a pain at her heart. She played
that lovely little melody from Schumann's
" Kinderscenen" which the composer has
named Erinnerung, and she played with an
intensity of feeling that astonished her new
" Now, is that not lovely, Aunt Char-
lotte ? " said Mildred.
" You have an unusual amount of expres-
sion," said Lady Charlotte. The words
were words of praise, but the tone in which
they were uttered was so indescribably
i 3 4 MADAME LEROUX.
almost insolently cold and indifferent,
that Lucy felt something like a physical
" Oh, but you haven't half heard her yet,
Aunt Charlotte ! " cried Mildred, delighted,
" That is charming, but of course it is only a
simple little piece ; she can play more bril-
liant things. Go on, Lucy ! "
Lucy sat like a statue.
" Lucy ! Are you asleep ? "
"No, dear ; but I do not think Lady
Charlotte wishes me to play again." The
gathering twilight veiled Lucy's flushed
cheek and glittering eyes, but there was a
thrill in her voice which told of emotion. In
a word, her temper was roused she was
indignant. Not an intonation of Lady Char-
lotte's disdainful voice had escaped her ; she
understood her words and her silence equally
well. This treatment was not only ungene-
rous, but flagrantly unjust. She resolved that
her fingers should not draw another sound
from the instrument in Lady Charlotte's pre-
sence, except at Lady Charlotte's express
MADAME LEROUX. 135
This was not only imprudent enough to
have made Mr. Shard tear his hair at such
folly, could he have known of it, but it was,
of course, unbecoming a model young lady.
Poor Lucy was far enough from being a
model ; she was capable of hot anger, and of
" Oh, really ! This is too funny ! " said
Lady Charlotte, languidly. She, too, per-
fectly understood the little duel that was
going on. But Mildred did not understand
it at all.
" Of course she wishes you to play again.
Don't you, Aunt Charlotte ? How can you
be so silly, Lucy ?" said Mildred.
Lucy did not stir.
The elder woman felt that this kind of
struggle of obstinacy, such as might have
taken place between two school-girls, was too
undignified for her to persist in. She had so
much the superior position, that she could
lose nothing by yielding.
" Miss Lucy Marston, will you be so very
obliging as to play once more ? I hope that
is sufficiently categorical ? " she said, with a
136 MADAME LEROUX.
little laugh, which made the words sting like
" What shall I play ? " asked Lucy, in a
ft What can you play ? " returned Lady
Charlotte. " I suppose you know nothing of
the great modern schools of pianoforte
music ? "
" As for instance ? " answered Lucy, still
in a glow of indignant anger.
" Brahms, for instance ! "
Without a word Lucy dashed into the Bal-
lade in D, by that composer. And although
it is to be feared that temper was answerable
for several wrong notes, it undoubtedly im-
parted considerable spirit to the performance.
" There, Aunt Charlotte ! " exclaimed
Mildred, radiant with affectionate pride in
" You have very considerable dispositions,
as the French say, for the pianoforte. Of
course, there is some want of finish of
school. Who has taught you ? " said Lady
Charlotte, in the same distant tone of bore-
dom, that she had spoken in before.
MADAME LEROUX. 137
" I grounded her," Miss Feltham de-
clared, complacently. " I don't profess to be
a brilliant pianist, but I did ground her
thoroughly. She has only had a few finish-
ing lessons from the music-master at S :
(naming the county town).
" Really ! " murmured Lady Charlotte.
Then, with the air of a person whose
patience and condescension have been tried
to the utmost, and who turns for refreshment
to a more congenial subject, she said, " And
now, Mildred, let me hear you play."
" Me ! Oh, Aunt Charlotte, I'm noc
worth listening to."
" My dear child, you are worth my listen-
ing to. Do you suppose I came here to be
amused as at a concert ? I want to put you
through your paces ; to find out where you
" Oh ! Very well, Aunt Charlotte. Let
me see ! I only know one piece by heart
that piece Lucy taught me, you know,
And Mildred sat down obediently, and
played through a simple composition in a
138 MADAME LEROUX.
style which certainly did not rise above
" Thank you, dear Mildred. I see. You
will probably never be a very dashing pianist.
But one can scarcely tell yet. It is all un-
developed. At all events, you play like a
gentlewoman ; quite unaffectedly. And as
to languages, now ? " pursued Lady Char-
lotte. " French, I presume, you are fluent
in ? And German ? "
Miss Feltham began to fidget nervously
in her chair. This was evidently intended
to be a serious kind of examination ! Lady
Charlotte conducted it with as cool an indif-
ference to Miss Feltham's presence as though
the governess were a casual visitor, in no
way responsible for Mildred's education.
Mildred answered with placid frankness
that she did not speak either language
fluently; and that she could not read two
pages of German without a dictionary.
" How is this, Miss Feltham ?" inquired
Lady Charlotte. " You know German well !
You were educated in Germany, if I re-
member rightly ! "
MADAME LEROUX. 139
" Oh, it isn't Elfy's fault if I don't speak
German like a Hanoverian," interposed Mil-
dred. " Lucy speaks it beautifully. She
has a wonderful ear for languages."
It was the same with everything else,
To all her aunt's questions about her studies
Mildred returned very modest reports of her
own proficiency, but invariably added that
Lucy excelled in everything she undertook.
These replies were not calculated to soothe
Lady Charlotte. They even irritated Miss
Feltham, who could not help saying every
now and then
" Mildred, you really underrate what you
can do!" Or, "You cannot compare your
progress with Lucy's, who is three years
But Mildred refused to avail herself of
any excuses of this kind, and answered with
" Yes ; but you know, Elfy, that Lucy
was far in advance of what I am now when
she was fifteen."
Besides the admiring loyalty to her
friend, which was thoroughly genuine, it
1 40 MADAME LEROUX.
must be owned that there was a little touch
of spoilt-child perversity in Mildred's per-
sistent praises of Lucy. She perceived
although by no means realising the intensity
of the sentiment that Aunt Charlotte was a
little jealous of Lucy's superiority in all the
accomplishments they had studied together.
It gave her a sense of power not more
serious or weighty than that of a kitten with
a ball to find that she could move this
stately Aunt Charlotte, whom everybody was
in awe of, by these little strokes of her paw.
So she made them. Such enjoyment of a
mild kind of mischief is by no means un-
common in very placid natures, and is not
at all events, it is not at Mildred's age in-
compatible with a great deal of simplicity.
That evening marked a distinct stage in
the growth of Lady Charlotte's antipathy to
Lucy Marston. No doubt the antipathy
would have grown in any case. Such senti-
ments do not remain stationary. But that
special evening made an epoch from which
to reckon. It had also a result which was
unlucky for Lucy it set Lady Charlotte's
MADAME LEROUX. 141
conscience very much at ease by justifying"
her dislike of the girl.
Lucy Marston in a few years' time would
become intolerable. Already her ascendancy
over Mildred was much to be regretted. It
was a great pity that the girl was so entirely
different, in good sense and right feeling,
from the Shards. But, of course, she had
been fatally spoilt at the Court. The only
remedy was to remove her from it as soon as
Mr. Shard, whose entire deference to her
opinion had impressed her ladyship very
favourably, had expressed his willingness to
put Lucy in the way of earning her bread
away from Westfield, if Lady Charlotte
" It is to be desired in her own interests,
I should say," Lady Charlotte had answered ;
" since you tell me she has no inheritance to
" Not a penny, not a penny, my lady 1
My wife and I have been at considerable
charges on her account already. I don't
complain of that. We wish to do what our
142 MADAME LEROUX.
religious feelings prompt, but our means are
inadequate. Westfield is a poor little place,
and if it wasn't for some small employment
which Sir Lionel is good enough to give me
now and then, I don't know how I should
get on, I hope your ladyship will be so kind
as to say a word for me in season ? Your
patronage would be highly valued and grate-
The kind of bargain thus implied was
perfectly well understood on both sides ; and
Lady Charlotte began to consider how she
could approach the subject with Sir Lionel.
It would be very simple to go straight to
him and desire him to dismiss Miss Marston
from his house. Lady Charlotte had no lack
of arguments in her own mind to support
such a course ; but she would not risk failure.
She would wait awhile, and exercise a little
diplomacy ; meanwhile she would certainly
say a word to her brother-in-law in favour of
She took the opportunity of doing so one
afternoon when they were out driving to-
gether. Sir Lionel was in a peculiarly happy
MADAME LEROUX. 143
frame of mind. He had that morning re-
ceived a courteous request from a famous
Oxford don to be allowed to see certain
marginal annotations made in an edition of
y^Eschylus by a very great classical scholar
a German professor, now deceased. The
annotations had been known to exist, and
the volume had been traced from a great
book sale to Sir Lionel Enderby's library.
" The volume is one of very considerable
value in itself," said Sir Lionel. "The great
Stanley edition of 1664 in folio ; and these
notes make it, of course, unique. There is
some risk in sending it to Oxford."
" Why should you do that ? I would,
if I were in your place, simply have the
notes carefully copied, and forward them.
In that way you would be running no
" No, no, no," murmured Sir Lionel,
" That would not be the same thing to Dr.
Lux by any means. He wants to see the
notes on the very page where they stand ; to
compare the text. Oh, I understand all that.
A fellow-feeling, you know ! As a student
144 MADAME LEROUX.
myself a student who has acquired some
little scholarly reputation I can only re-
spond fully and freely to such an appeal
To do less would be churlish."
In a word, Sir Lionel was so delighted
with the incident, that Lady Charlotte began
to fear it would be impossible to secure his
attention for any other topic during their
drive. But, at length, having postponed the
subject she had at heart with a degree of
patience which would much have astonished
any one who had only known her in her
wilful and imperious girlhood she managed
to make a diversion.
" Great wealth is a great burthen/' said
she, " and involves anxieties and respon-
sibilities which the vulgar never can under-
stand. But certainly it is among the
privileges of wealth to have such a library
" It is not wholly a question of wealth,
my dear Charlotte " (he had dropped the use
of her title by his sister-in-law's express re-
quest). " Not wholly that. My own library
has really, when one comes to think of it,
.MADAME LEROUX. 145
cost a very moderate sum in proportion to
" Of course you have men of business
stewards agents people of that sort, on
whom you can entirely rely ? " said Lady
Charlotte, rather quickly. She had got out
of the library with a handsome compliment,
and she wanted to shut the door behind her,
" Eh ? Oh, yes ; oh, certainly. Mr.
Bates is a very capable man."
" He is only the steward, is he not ?
Is there no one of more authority I
mean whose duties and responsibilities
are more extended what is called an
agent ? "
" No. There is no need of any one else.
The landed property is not large. It lies
almost in a ring fence. From the way in
which my father made his money, the bulk
of my fortune is naturally not in land. He
bought this place, and rebuilt and re-chris-
tened the house when they gave him the
Sir Lionel always spoke of his origin
VOL. T. 10
146 MADAME LEROUX.
with the most absolute truthfulness and
simplicity, when the subject arose.
" Of course there must be a great deal of
law business to be done," said Lady Char-
lotte, after a very short pause.
" Well, not much on the Westfield pro-
perty a few leases, and odds and ends. Of
course I am only speaking of this estate.
As to my other investments, all my business
is transacted by Smithers and Tuck, of
Lincoln's Inn Fields."
" Yes ; of course that is different. There
is a lawyer in the village, a man of the name
of Shard, who seems to have the reputation
of being a good working man of business."
" Shard ? Oh, yes. We know all about
Shard. A very inferior man to his late
partner and predecessor, poor Marston."
" Inferior ? In what way ? "
" Well in every way, I should say,
Marston was a man of very pleasing pre-
sence, and good address. This fellow, as it
will not take you long to discover, if you
ever come across him, is quintessentially
coarse and vulgar."
MADAME LEROUX. 147
" I have come across him. I have spoken
" Oh ! Well, then, you don't need my
information on that point," returned Sir
" Have you ever seen much of these
people? the Marstons and the Shards?"
asked Lady Charlotte.
"Well no; not personally. Marston
was a very shy, reserved man : peculiarly so.
As to this Mr. Shard, I don't suppose I have
spoken to him five times in my life. Of
course, I always salute him when I see him,
and so on. But you know my health has
never allowed me to mix actively with the
" Do you know, Lionel," said Lady Char-
lotte, after a pause, " I think you scarcely do
the Shards justice. Since you tell me you
know so little of them personally, I may ven-
ture to say so to you. Of course, the man is
unpolished. But one does not expect high
breeding. But both he and his wife have a
good deal of right feeling."
" Have they ? Well I'm glad to hear
148 MADAME LEROUX.
it," replied Sir Lionel, good-naturedly, but a
little absently. He was mentally composing
his letter to the Oxford don.
"And a very proper sense of the ad-
vantage they derive from your patronage.
Mr. Shard is an energetic man in his busi-
ness ; not afraid of hard work, evidently."
Her ladyship did not consider the mo-
ment opportune for mentioning that Mr.
Shard was so little afraid of work as to have
given her several broad hints that he would
be glad to undertake a considerable portion
of Mr. Bates' business in addition to his own.
" If you will do me the favour to come
into the library, Charlotte," said Sir Lionel,
as they drove up the avenue leading to
Enderby Court, (( I will show you the rough
draft of my letter to Dr. Lux. That is to
say if it interests you at all ? "
" It interests me very much, indeed,"
answered Lady Charlotte. She was pleased,
and she would have been still better pleased
had she known the fact that, four weeks ago
that rough draft would certainly have been
submitted to Lucy Marston.
THE correspondence with the Oxford don
led to an unexpected incident. Sir Lionel
in his letter had given Dr. Lux a general
invitation to inspect his library and to be his
guest, should circumstances ever bring him
into the neighbourhood of Westfield ; and
Dr. Lux, taking the baronet at his word,
wrote in reply that, happening to find himself
in Sir Lionel's county, he would have the
pleasure of presenting himself at Enderby
Court on such and such a day, if that day
Sir Lionel was fluttered at first by the
idea of receiving a stranger. But when
Lady Charlotte had shown him that he need
be subject to no trouble or constraint ; when
she had promised to explain to Dr. Lux the
150 MADAME LEROUX.
precarious condition of Sir Lionel's nervous
system; and when she had finally volunteered
to assume all the care of entertaining the
visitor whenever Sir Lionel should get
bored she begged pardon, she meant when-
ever Sir Lionel should feel over-fatigued
then he began to consider the matter com-
placently. " Of course, it is a distinct com-
pliment, his coming," said Sir Lionel. " I
am conscious of that. The books well,
there is nothing in my library of such
extreme rarity at all events, nothing in his
special line of study as to tempt a scholar
of his eminence unless he looked forward
to something besides, eh, Charlotte ? "
Lady Charlotte fully thought that the
Oxford gentleman did look forward to some-
thing besides. And she was on the point of
saying that Dr. Lux naturally would feel
sure of splendid entertainment in the house
of the wealthy owner of Enderby Court,
when Sir Lionel saved her from that blunder
by adding, " No doubt he perceived from my
letter that he was not coming absolutely into
Rceotia. There is a certain freemasonry
MADAME LEROUX. 151
between the learned or I should rather say,
perhaps, between students of every degree.
Do you think he can have seen my little
monograph on Amwell Abbey in the County
Antiquarian Magazine ? Ecclesiastical archi-
tecture is a hobby of his, I believe. Possibly
I might ; if I were feeling strong enough,
drive him over to the ruins some day while
he is here. I could illustrate my views on
the spot, and it might interest him."
Lady Charlotte encouraged him in form-
ing pleasing anticipations of the visit. She
did not now disbelieve in the delicacy of her
brother-in-law's health, any more than she
had done at first. But during the weeks she
had passed in his house, her observations
had caused her to think that he led too
sedentary and monotonous a life, which made
him fanciful and hipped; and that nothing
would be better for him than to have his
spirits roused by a little congenial society.
And then, moreover, this break and change
in their lives would furnish a good oppor-
tunity for carrying out a plan which she had
been gradually maturing in her mind ever
152 MADAME LEROUX.
since that little scene with Lucy in the
She wrote privately to Lady Grimstock r
begging her to invite Mildred to Grimstock
Park. She guardedly explained to Adelaide
that she wished to wean her niece from the
close companionship of a girl of inferior
birth, with whom, since her mother's death r
she had been allowed to become intimate.
The invitation came by return of post.
Lord and Lady Grimstock would have much
pleasure in welcoming their niece ; and they
were delighted to do anything to please
Charlotte. It is so much more exhilarating
to do little favours now and then or even
great favours than to be called on periodi-
cally for assistance, the granting of which
comes to be looked on as no more than your
duty, and the withholding of which would
be considered an injury. Certainly the
Grimstocks had never expressed any joy
over the payment of the quarterly allowance
which the Earl disbursed to eke out the
miserable little annuity secured to Charlotte
under her mother's marriage settlement.
MADAME LEROUX. 155
" I don't say you can refuse to continue
it, Reginald," Lady Grimstock would say to-
her husband ; " but it is a drag, and there
are the two younger boys to be thought
But now Charlotte had ceased to draw
her allowance, and Adelaide was really glad
of the opportunity of proving that she had
the kindest feeling towards her husband's
sister personally, and that it was only her
poverty which she had objected to.
"Aunt Adelaide has taken time enough
to think about inviting me ! " said Mildred,
when the news and the letter were communi-
cated to her. " I don't believe I have ever
been in her house, except once, when I was
a little baby. I have heard mamma say she
took me there."
Lady Charlotte undertook to explain this
in a conciliatory and almost coaxing manner.
Lady Grimstock had been occupied with the
care of her own babies ; she and Lord
Grimstock had spent some time abroad for
the sake of their second boy, who had been
sickly ; since their return to England, Lady
154 MADAME LEROUX.
Grimstock had been constantly in mourning
for the death of near relatives.
" I am very sorry she has had so much
trouble," answered Mildred; "but I don't
think I want to go to Grimstock Park."
It did not, however, cost Lady Charlotte
very much trouble to change the girl's mind
on this point. She spoke of Lord Grim-
stock's peculiar affection for her mother.
Jane had always been his favourite sister
(and here Mildred's memory of things her
mother had said to her corroborated her
aunt's words). She said that he would feel
hurt and surprised if his niece showed her-
self cold and wanting in family feeling ; she
praised Adelaide's gentle manners ; but the
most attractive bait of all was the nursery full
of children. Mildred adored little children,
and the account of the three boys, the eldest
of whom was only ten, and the toddling,
three-year-old girl, was fascinating.
" I should certainly like to see my little
cousins," she said, at length. " If they had
but asked Lucy as well, I dare say I might
-enjoy the visit."
MADAME LEROUX. 155
Lady Charlotte had sufficient self-
command to make no answer to this ; but
later in the day, when Lucy and Miss
Feltham were both present, Mildred again
expressed her wish that Lucy had been
included in the invitation to Grimstock Park.
There was a blank silence. Miss Feltham
stole a glance at Lady Charlotte, and imme-
diately afterwards snapped her embroidery
silk, and tried to re-thread the needle with
unsteady fingers. Then Lucy said
" It was not very likely they should
do that, Mildred ; and I don't want their
It would have been wiser to say nothing.
But the expression on Lady Charlotte's face
goaded her to speak. She must protest
.against the suspicion plainly implied in that
glance from one girl to the other, and that
disdainful half-smile, that she had been
hinting this idea to Mildred.
" Oh, but that's nonsense, dear," replied
Mildred, in her placid, soft voice. " You
would come with me, and we should have
such fun with the children together ! I dare
156 MADAME LEROUX.
say Lady Grimstock would Aunt Charlotte!
I have a great mind to write and ask Aunt
Adelaide if I may not bring Lucy with me."
Lady Charlotte shrugged her shoulders
and raised her eyebrows. Lucy started up.
" I hope you will do nothing so absurd,
Mildred," she exclaimed, hotly; "and if you
do, I tell you beforehand that nothing shall
induce me to go to Lady Grimstock's with
you." And, with flushed cheeks, she hurried
out of the room.
Truly Jacob Shard had lamentably
wasted his wisdom on a person capable of
playing so blindly into her adversary's
There was no difficulty in obtaining Sir
Lionel's consent to Mildred's visit. There
were very few things he would have refused
to his daughter ; and perhaps Lady Charlotte,
in preferring the request to Sir Lionel, attri-
buted to her niece some of her own eagerness
on the subject. However, Mildred was, at all
events, willing to go. Her constitutional
shyness with strangers was not alarmed by
the prospect of meeting a large party at
MADAME LEROVX. 157
Grimstock Park. She had been assured that
she would be the only guest, and that, more-
over, she would have full permission to spend
as much of her time as she chose in the nursery.
Miss Feltham had had some faint
expectation of being asked to accompany
Mildred to Grimstock Park ; but she was
told by one of the upper servants that Lady
Charlotte had made arrangements for Mrs.
Griffiths to escort Miss Enderby and her
maid to her uncle's house.
Upon this, the governess at once made
up her mind to employ the period of her
pupil's absence in going to see her married
sister in Kent, with a view to provide a
retreat for herself in the event of her leaving
Enderby Court. Although, even in her
private meditations. Miss Feltham made this
contingency hinge upon an "if," yet at the
bottom of her mind she was convinced that
her going was merely a question of time, and
that Lady Charlotte was resolved to replace
her. Miss Feltham was not particularly wily
or interested, but her struggle with the world
in her youth had taught her some art of self-
158 MADAME LEROUX.
defence. And what self-defence can there be
for a weak creature set to find its own-
provender to eat and not to be eaten in
this carnivorous and pugnacious world of
ours, except cunning ? So she resolved to
endure a very great deal of mortification
rather than voluntarily relinquish her
situation. If Sir Lionel dismissed her, he
would probably feel bound to do something
handsome for her ; if she dismissed herself,
the provision might not be quite so hand-
some. She believed, from words and hints
let fall even during Lady Jane's lifetime, that
the family intended sooner or later to give
her a retiring pension ; and she did not
intend to jeopardise it by any imprudent
display of feeling. Lady Charlotte snubbed
her, ignored her, and superseded her in a
variety of ways. That was painful, but a
good annuity would certainly afford consider-
able compensation. During the week or two
of Mildred's absence Miss Feltham would
run down to Margate and see her sister, who
was married to a respectable chemist and
druggist in that town.
MADAME LEROUX. 159
So the elderly governess was absorbed in
weaving her own plans and building her own
castles, with the egotism indispensable for
" And what shall you do with yourself,
Lucy?" asked Mildred, on the eve of her
departure, when the two girls were alone
together in the schoolroom. Then, before
an answer could be given, she added, " I
know, though ! You will just go and bury
yourself in the library, as soon as I am not
here to make you frivolous, and drag you
into the fresh air. Warner will have to dig
you out of a mountain of books when he
announces dinner. And then in the evenings
you will sit and drink in all the learned talk
between father and the Oxford pundit, just as
I should gobble up strawberries and cream ! "
" If I am buried, it will be under a pile of
half-darned stockings. And I shall spend
my evenings in drinking in Aunt Sarah's
moving narrative of what she said to Betsey,
and what Betsey said to her, and what Mr.
Shard said when she told him what Betsey
160 MADAME LEROUX.
"What!" cried Mildred, " are you going
to your uncle's ? Why don't you stay at
home here ? "
" My uncle's house is home, Mildred ; all
the home I have. And Lady Charlotte
thinks I had better be there."
"Did she say so?" asked Mildred,
staring at her friend in evident perplexity.
" Not in so many words. But Lady
Charlotte has several ways of making herself
Mildred stood silently pondering for a
minute. Then she said, " Do you know,
Lucy, I am afraid you are unjust to Aunt
Charlotte. You speak sometimes as if you
" I I like her as much as she likes me/
answered Lucy, with a quivering attempt at
The other girl continued to look at her
quite gravely. All at once she drew near,
and put her arm round Lucy's shoulder.
" You are not jealous of Aunt Charlotte,
are you, dear ? " she asked.
"No, no, Mildred; don't think that!
MADAME LEROUX. 161
Indeed it is not that ! " said Lucy, keeping
her face turned away, but putting up her
right hand to grasp Mildred's left, which lay
on her shoulder.
" Because you know, dear," Mildred went
on, " that nobody in the world could make
me leave off loving you. It is natural that
I should like Aunt Charlotte, you know. She
is my dear mother's own sister. And,
besides, she is very kind and affectionate to
" Of course, of course ! " said Lucy, hastily.
She turned her face to her friend now, and
tears were trembling on her eye-lashes.
" Don't think me so mean so ungrateful
such a poor, spiteful creature, as to grudge
Lady Charlotte your affection. If she does
not like me "
" But she does, Lucy ! Why should she
not ? Of course, she likes you ! "
Lucy shook her head, and continued,
" If she does not, it is no crime. I have
plenty of faults. But you love me, don't
you, dear ? I shan't care for for anything,
if you stick to me, Mildred."
VOL. I. II
1 62 MADAME LEROUX.
" Stick to you ! To be sure I shall stick
to you ! Why do you say that ? "
" It is not an elegant or romantic phrase,
certainly. But it is just what I mean. I
feel so lonely sometimes. I seem to belong
The grasp on her shoulder tightened.
"You belong to me," said Mildred. "We
will love each other all our lives long. I am
not so clever as you, Lucy ; nor so good ; nor
so anything, except staunch. But I 'am
staunch. You are my sister. I am not
The two children the elder of them was
little more than a child kissed each other.
Lucy's cheeks were wet, but Mildred was
quite dry-eyed, and her lips were set with a
determined firmness, the like of which Lady
Charlotte had not yet beheld on that young
face. It was a look which Miss Feltham
knew, although she had seen it but seldom.
Whenever it did appear in a conflict of their
wills, the governess habitually drew off her
forces, and retreated from the field in good
MADAME LEROUX. 163
How many a time afterwards, and in how
many different circumstances, Lucy remem-
bered those, simple words, " You are my
sister. I am not changeable ! " And saw
once more the fair childish face, with its
intent blue eyes, and soft lips pressed
together ! There was a bowl full of tea-
roses on the table ; and all her life
long the scent of tea-roses brought before
her a picture of Mildred Enderby. But
more unlikely things a chance word, a verse
of poetry, the sight of a passing face in the
street would send the electric spark of
memory flying through a hundred links to
illuminate that scene the two young figures
holding each other's hands ; the afternoon
sunshine throwing dancing shadows of chest-
nut-leaves on the smooth, grey wall of the
schoolroom ; and, through the open window,
the opulent repose of lawn and flower-garden,
bounded by the upward slope of the park,
with its blue wooded vistas.
THE next day Mildred departed, but Lucy's
departure was very unexpectedly prohibited
by Sir Lionel. The Baronet came down to
breakfast with the family, contrary to his
custom. He was quite alert. Not only his
daughter's journey was an exciting novelty,
but there was Dr. Lux's arrival in prospect.
Sir Lionel had taken the energetic resolu-
tion of driving down with Mildred to the
station, and bringing back Dr. Lux, who
was to arrive by the train which carried her
As they sat at breakfast, Miss Feltham
said some words which caught Sir Lionel's
" Eh ? What ? " said he, almost sharply.
4 'What is that about Lucy's going to her
MADAME LEROUX. 165
uncle's ? Nonsense ! Lucy must stay here,
and help to entertain Dr. Lux."
Miss Feltham coloured as if she had
been detected in something disgraceful.
Lucy turned pale, and cast down her eyes.
Mildred laughed and exclaimed, " There !
What did I tell you, Lucy ? Of course you
will stay at the Court."
Lady Charlotte had the courage of her
opinions, and stood to her guns. " I pro-
mised Mr. and Mrs. Shard when I saw them
the day before yesterday, Lionel, that their
niece should stay with them during Mildred's
absence/' she said, speaking with the air
which had become habitual, and almost
unconscious, with her, of uttering a fiat, from
which there could be no appeal.
But Sir Lionel, on his side, had passed
the greater part of his life without being
thwarted, and it seemed quite a matter of
course to him that he should have his own
way. " No, no, no," said he, smiling amiably
on Lucy ; " I cannot do without my private
secretary, especially while Dr. Lux is here."
Lady Charlotte made an effort to keep
1 66 MADAME LEROUX.
her temper and to achieve her aim. " I
don't know what Mr. and Mrs. Shard will
say if " she began. But her brother-in-
law did not let her finish her sentence.
" What should they say ? It will not
make the smallest difference to them !
But if you are scrupulous about having given
your word, Charlotte, send down one of the
men to Mr. Shard with my compliments :
' Sir Lionel's compliments, and he has ar-
ranged for Miss Marston to remain at the
Court.' That will be quite sufficient." Sir
Lionel slightly waved his hand, as having
settled the matter. Just as he rose from the
table his eye fell on Lucy's face. He paused,
and said kindly, " You are not unwilling to
stay, are you, my dear ? "
Lucy looked at him wistfully. " No, Sir
Lionel, if if you think I can be useful.' 1
"That's right, that's right Warner,
give orders that the carriage is ready in good
time to take us to Westfield Road. Any-
thing like hurry at the last moment upsets
me altogether. And see that Mrs. Griffiths
and Miss Enderby's maid set off first, in the
MADAME LEROUX. 167
omnibus, with the luggage ; Sam had better
drive them. Send round to the stables eh ?
You have sent ? No matter ; send again.
Bid them be particular to be punctual.
Stay ! The coachman had better bring the
carriage round five minutes before the time
named previously, whatever that was."
The unwonted movement and bustle
roused even the fat spaniel from his apathy.
He came sniffing round Mildred, and wag-
ging his tail with a doubtful air, as not
having quite made up his mind whether
the occasion were one for rejoicing or woe.
But all the while Mildred stood in the
great entrance-hall quiet and smiling, and
holding Lucy's hand fast clasped in hers.
Lady Charlotte, who had been giving orders
to the maid, suddenly turned and saw them
thus. Something like a pang of hatred
towards Lucy shot through her heart. She
began to charge her niece with messages for
Lord and Lady Grimstock, drawing her
apart, so as to detach her from Lucy, who,
indeed, spontaneously retreated into the
background at Lady Charlotte's approach.
368 t MADAME LEROUX.
Then the carnage dashed up to the door,
and in another moment all was bustle and
movement. When Sir Lionel did exert
himself, his energy took the form of fuss and
fidget. He was helped on with his light
overcoat ; a certain cushion was placed at a
certain angle on his seat in the carriage. He
hurried everyone as though there were not
a second to spare, although it was quite
certain that if they started at once they
would have to wait at least a quarter-of-an-
hour in the station at Westfield Road.
" Come, Mildred ! Come, my love ! " he
cried, waiting impatiently at the carriage-
door to hand her in.
"Good-bye, Aunt Charlotte," said Mil-
dred, embracing her. " Good-bye, Elfy ; auf
imedersehen ! Yes, father, here I am ! ' :
She stepped into the carriage; Sir Lionel
followed her. Just as Warner was closing
the door she called out, " Where is Lucy I
want Lucy ! "
A slight figure came flying down the
steps, bare-headed, with outstretched hand.
Mildred seized the hand, and, quite regard-
MADAME LEROUX. 169
less of Lady Charlotte's warning cry, stooped
over the side of the carriage and kissed
Lucy's upturned face, at the very moment
when the horses started. A flash of the
bright harness the grinding of wheels the
swiftly retreating thud of hoofs on the gravel
of the drive and they were gone.
Lady Charlotte walked through the hall,
where a group of servants lingered, and
where Miss Feltham timidly made way for
her to pass, looking like Ate. When she
reached the foot of the staircase, she glanced
back over her shoulder and said, sharply
" Why do you leave that door open ? Let
it be shut."
There was an instant's pause. Then
Warner said: "The hall door, my lady?
Yes, my lady immediately. Miss Marston
is still outside on the drive, my lady."
Lady Charlotte faced round for a moment.
" Miss Feltham," she said, " will you be good
enough to intimate to Miss Marston that I
cannot allow the whole household to be kept
dancing attendance on her caprices ? " Then
her ladyship's majestic back and sweeping
1 70 MADAME LEROUX.
draperies slowly disappeared up the stair-
Miss Feltham hurried out on to the great
steps. " Lucy ! " she called, in a subdued,
anxious voice. " Come in ! You are keeping
Warner there, and and Lady Charlotte
desires that the door should be shut. Lucy ! "
But Lucy stood some paces down the
drive, shading her eyes with her hand, and
watching the carriage as it dwindled in the
distance. In a few seconds it reached a turn
in the avenue, a gleam of sunshine glittered
on it as it followed the curving line behind
the trees and disappeared. Then she
dropped her hand and walked wearily back
to the house. Mr. Warner stood awaiting
her, still holding the door, and as she came
in, he made her a bow. Mr. Warner, though
always respectful, as became a butler of his
dignity, was not in the habit of making bows
to Miss Marston, but he chose to enter
a protest against Lady Charlotte's harshness.
He made some rather severe observations
to Mr. Campbell, the head gardener, over a
moderate glass of toddy that evening, on
MADAME LEROUX. 171
the subject of her ladyship's demeanour to
Lucy Marston, and, in the course of these
confidential criticisms, he used one or two
unparliamentary epithets, such as "cata-
maran," which, it is to be feared, were
intended to apply to Lady Charlotte Gaunt.
Indeed, his view of that august patrician was
singularly like Mr. Pinhorn's view of Hannah
Jackson in one respect in suggesting,
namely, a heartfelt expression of gratitude for
having been spared the trials of matrimony.
Lucy's heart was too full to notice any of
these things. She wandered into the school-
room, and thence into the pretty chamber
next to Mildred's, which had been called
" Miss Marston's room " almost as long as
she could remember. Then she laid her
hand on the lock of the library door, and
drew back with a nervous fear lest Lady
Charlotte might be there. Miss Felthamwas
in her own apartment, packing and preparing
for her journey. All at once Lucy put on
her hat, and determined to sally out into the
village. She had thought of an errand she
could do there. It would be an object for
172 MADAME LEROUX.
her walk ; some occupation to save her from
sitting down alone to think, which she knew
would, in her present mood, result in
weeping. She inquired of Warner (still
chivalrously protesting, in his own mind,
against the persecution by catamarans of such
a pretty and pleasant-spoken young creature
as Miss Lucy Marston) if any message
had been sent to Mr. Shard according to Sir
Lionel's directions ; and being answered in
the negative, volunteered to carry it herself.
Her way lay past Dr. Goodchild's house ;
and there, issuing forth from the surgery,
she met Mr. Edgar Tomline. This young
gentleman was known to the postal
authorities of Westfield (in their official
capacity) as Edgar Tomline, junior, Esquire ;
but by the inhabitants generally was alluded
to as "Ted," "Teddy Tomline," or "that
there young Tomline," according to the rank
and age of the speaker. He was Dr. Good-
child's assistant, and the bete noire of certain
of the doctor's patients. These were sundry
poor and aged persons, mostly women.
They would not on any consideration
MADAME LEROUX. 173
knowingly have swallowed a draught or
bolus of young Tomline's preparing, being
convinced that at his tender years he could
not fitly be entrusted with the mixing of a
black draught or a cough syrup ; and being,
moreover, haunted by the grim idea that, in
the pursuit of experimental science, young
Tomline would be utterly reckless as to the
risk of poisoning a lone widow woman, or a
superannuated farm-labourer. These pre-
judices were utterly groundless. Edgar Tom-
line was twenty four years old, and as capable
of weighing, pounding, and mixing as Dr.
Goodchild himself. Neither to put aside
any other considerations was his ardour for
therapeutics of so consuming a nature as to
make him oblivious of the existence of the
coroner. But he was neither engaging in his
appearance nor popular in his manners.
He was tall and large-jointed, with a
brick-coloured beardless face, very light blue
eyes, and almost flaxen hair. Big as he was,
his clothes always seemed too loose for him,
and were generally shabby and the worse for
wear. He was a North-country man, and
174 MADAME LEROUX.
his accent was a favourite theme of ridicule
with the youth of Westfield who were
extremely sensitive to any divergence from
the local methods of mispronounciation. But
such as he was, Edgar Tomline, junior, was
as romantically in love with Lucy Marston as
if he had been the graceful and accomplished
hero of a novel, in the dim days when a hero
was expected to be handsome and charming,
and a heroine to behave with modesty and
keep a civil tongue in her head.
He had, perhaps, not spoken to Lucy
more than a dozen times in his life, and he
had never spoken to her alone. As to her
having any knowledge of his worship, the
very thought of her discovering it would
make him cold with terror whenever he was
in her presence ; although in the solitude of
his chamber over the surgery at Dr. Good-
child's, he rehearsed the most moving scenes,
wherein he declared his passion in eloquent
language, and she, with a low-voiced ex-
clamation of " Oh, Edgar ! " or something
equally delicate and appropriate, hid her face
upon his shoulder.
MADAME LEROUX. 175
Meeting her now, however, unexpectedly
face to face, he stopped, pulled off his hat,
retreated a step or two, and then stood
stock still, staring at her as if she had been
a Gorgon rather than the beautiful lady of
"How do you do, Mr. Tomline ? " said
Lucy, looking kindly at him. She always
looked and spoke kindly to him, for she had
an idea, or, rather, an instinct, that he was
sometimes lonely and home-sick, and always
a great deal more sensitive than he looked.
Her voice made his nerves vibrate like
the strings of a fiddle to the bow. But he
could only stand there awkwardly, with his
battered old wideawake in his hand, kicking
one clumsy boot against the other, and
answer in his North-country accents,
" I'm pretty well, Miss Marston, thank
you. I hopejj/0^W pretty well."
She paused a moment, for he stood right
in her path, as solid, and to outward appear-
ance as stolid, as a bullock, and then asked,
with a little smile,
41 Which way are you going, Mr. Tomline ?"
i y6 MADAME LEROUX.
"Oh, I beg pardon, Miss Marston, for
standing in your gate ! I I was going
He brought out this assertion with a
half-shamefaced, half defiant air of conscious
guilt ; for, in truth, he had been just starting
in the opposite direction. But he was deter-
mined not to risk losing the chance of
walking a few yards side by side with Lucy
Marston. A girl equally in love, and equally
bashful, would have turned away smiling, and
perhaps, cried afterwards over the lost oppor-
tunity. But, apart from pride of sex, which
in the woman's case would have prompted
retreat, and in his, suggested advance, there
was a certain brute-force about Edgar
Tomline's way of wishing what he wished
an intent singleness of purpose which was
constitutional. He had plenty of complex
motives and contradictory thoughts in his
brain it had learnt to argue, to doubt, and
consequently to fear and weigh consequences.
But by temperament he never jibbed any
more than a draught-ox.
With a burning face and beating heart he
MADAME LEROUX. 177
accommodated his great strides to Lucy's
steps, and marched along the road beside
her, between the clipped hedges, broken at
intervals by a garden gate, or the rough-cast
flank of a labourer's cottage. He hardly
dared to look at his companion, and yet he
was intensely conscious of every detail of
her graceful presence from the dark waves
of hair escaping from one side of her hat,
to the thick, little, country-made boots that
encased her neat feet.
In very pity for his shyness Lucy talked
to him ; and by degrees led him to speak of
his home a great stone-built farm-house on
the edge of a wide moor ; and of his father,
a yeoman, very proud of his long pedigree,
and very disdainful of folks who hankered
after cheap finery material or social. He
talked of his five sisters, all well married
here and there in their own country-side ;
of his brother, who was the heir to the farm,
his father's right hand already, and one of
the best judges of cattle in the whole
country. And then he spoke of his mother ;
and at the mention of her name his heart
1 78 MADAME LEROUX.
seemed to overflow with love. She was the
most notable of housewives, never seen on
week-days without a great bunch of keys
hanging to her girdle, and mistress of every
detail of indoor labour throughout the farm.
Her poultry were models, her garden a
wonder of bloom in that rugged climate.
But beyond and above all that, she was a
woman of fine imagination, loving poetry,
and reading it in her few and hard-earned
hours of leisure, with intense enthusiasm.
It was at her intercession that Edgar had.
been allowed to follow his own bent, to study
at Edinburgh, and to throw himself into the
profession of medicine. All at once the
young man stopped short. It was the
prosaic circumstance of meeting the baker's
cart which suddenly checked the flow of his
speech, and brought his thoughts back to
Westfield from the breezy uplands and low
oak-panelled chambers of his home, where
they had been wandering with the delicious
consciousness of Lucy's presence mingled
with it all like a fragrance.
" I I beg your pardon, Miss Marston.
MADAME LEROUX. 179
I don't know why I bother you with all this.
It can't interest you," he said.
" Oh, yes, it does," she answered gently.
" I always like to hear of homes where
people love each other."
At this moment they reached the Jack-
sons' cottage, and were seen from the open
doorway by Mr. Jackson, who hailed Tom-
line aloud, and then raised his forefinger to
his forehead in honour of Lucy. " You've
got something for me from the doctor,
haven't you ? " said Jackson.
" Yes," growled Tomline sulkily ; for he
would have to go in and deliver the little
packet he had undertaken to convey, and
thus terminate abruptly his walk with Miss
Marston. But the next moment he could
have hugged Mr. Jackson to his heart, for
the old man said,
4 'Wouldn't you walk in and rest for a
minute, Miss Marston ? I think the sight o'
you would do me more good than all the
doctor's stuff. 'Twould be like a sunbeam in
the room. And I allus say the sun's the
best doctor goin' for the rheumaticks."
i8o MADAME LEROUX.
Lucy glanced into the little parlour. She
had a repugnance to meeting Hannah Jack-
son ; but, as Hannah was not there, she
entered. She could pass ten minutes there
as well as anywhere else. There was ample
time still to carry her message to the Shards ;
and any diversion which took her mind away
from her own sad thoughts was welcome.
She came in, and seating herself in the
Windsor chair which had had the honour of
holding Lady Charlotte not very long before,
" You must not put down your pipe on
my account, Mr. Jackson. It does not annoy
me, and I know it is a comfort to you."
After a little polite show of reluctance,
Jackson resumed his pipe. "Ah," said he,
" I was a sawney talking about the sight of
you being as good as sunshine. A sweet
kind young lady like you is a vast deal better
than sunshine for cheering a man up." He
had a great deal too much native tact to
venture a compliment to her beauty of
which, however, Mr. Jackson was a professed
admirer. As he looked again at her young
MADAME LEROUX. iSr
face, paler than usual, and noticed the down-
cast eyes, and the drooping curve of the
mouth, he muttered to himself, " Eh, but it's
more like moonbeams than sunbeams to-
day ! I reckon the poor young lass has been
bothered." Then, addressing the doctor's
assistant, he said, " Well, Mr. Tomline, and
how are you ? And have you good news
from Ravenshaw ? You must know, Miss
Marston, that Mr. Tomline's father and me's
old acquaintance. I was often up at his
place when I lived wi f Squire Parkinson ;
and I've bought a horse of him before now.
Ah, he's a grand man, Is Mr. Tomline, of
Ravenshaw. One of th' owd sort. And the
mistress, she's a grand woman. This young
chap ought to go down on his marrowbones
night and morning, and thank the Lord for
such a father and mother."
" I am sure Mr. Tomline appreciates his
parents," said Lucy, looking at the young
man with a smile which made him dizzy.
" We were just talking about them."
Jackson's keen black eyes glanced from
one to the other, and he formed a shrewd
1 82 MADAME LEROUX.
conclusion as to the state of Edgar Tom-
" Nay, lad, thou hasn't the ghost of a
chance," said Mr. Thomas Jackson to him-
self. "She's made of a deal too fine
and delicate stuff for thy wear. Something
i' the homespun line would be about thy cut.
And yet the poor lass has but a blue look-
out of it ; what with Shard, as would skin a
flint, and grind the orphan's bones to make
his bread, and what with my lady, who
wastes no love on her if all tales be true.
She might do worse, poor lass ! Tomline of
Ravenshaw is a warm man." Then, after
another keen glance at Lucy's face, " But it
won't do. She'll never have thee, Ted
Tomline ; and thou's just scorching the
great blundering buzzing wings o' thee for
nought ! "
Lucy sat resting and rather silent, while,
the two men talked of Edgar Tomline's
home and the wild moorland beyond it,
which both agreed in considering far finer
than anything which the midland and
southern counties had to show. "Talk o J
MADAME LEROUX. 183
scenery," said Jackson, in his rolling bass,
" where'll you find such a gallop straight on
end mile after mile over the heather, the
ground like a spring-board under your horse's
hoofs, and the wind whistling past your face
with a sting in it that makes a man feel as
though he could jump over the moon."
Edgar was pleased that Miss Marston
should hear the praises of his home and his
family from a disinterested witness, and
encouraged the old man in his garrulous
reminiscences. For Jackson, like most York-
shiremen of his class, although he could be
dumb as a fish on occasion, had nevertheless
a tremendous power of holding forth when
once he gave the rein to his tongue. All at
once Lucy's attention, which had wandered,
was attracted by hearing the words " Lib-
" Do you know that place ? " she asked,
" Eh ? For sure, I know it well enough,
Miss Marston. It's not above five miles
from Squire Parkinson ; and we don't think
much of five miles in that part of the
i8 4 MADAME LEROUX.
country. But Mr. Tomline here must know
it better than me ; for it's almost within sight
of his father's house."
" Yes, yes ; I know it," said the young
man, eagerly. " A farmhouse in a hollow,
with a bit of a burn running past it. I've
fished there many a time as a boy. Have
you any interest in Libburn, Miss Mar-
ston ? "
M I think/' answered Lucy, simply, "that
that is the name of the place where I was
EDGAR TOMLINE was charmed and surprised
by the discovery that Miss Marston's birth-
place was within half-a-mile of his own home.
So keenly did it interest him, that he was
partly consoled by it for Lucy's going away
alone, which she did almost immediately. He
was thus left free to question old Jackson.
How was it that Miss Marston had been born
at Libburn Farm ? He had supposed her
parents to have been Westfield people.
Jackson gave what information he could ;
it was not copious. Of course, the fact had
been divulged in Westfield that Lucy Mars-
ton was an adopted child ; the whole village
knew it very shortly after it had been made
known to Lady Jane Enderby. Not that
she ever mentioned it outside her own home,
1 86 MADAME LEROUX.
but Mr. Shard had no motive for concealing
it. On the contrary, he wished it to be pub-
lished for various reasons, one being that he
might get all the credit that was to be had
for continuing to maintain the girl. Some
persons felt curious to know how it was that
Mars ton had not provided for his adopted
daughter by will ; others supposed he might
have made some other arrangement for her
benefit. Many were puzzled to understand
where the bulk of Mr. Marston's property
went to for it was taken for granted that he
had left property behind him. But it was
not a subject on which it would have been
quite easy or agreeable to question Jacob
Shard. Lady Jane Enderby, indeed, had
not hesitated to do so ; but very few persons
had the courage of Lady Jane, nor, to do her
justice, the same warm interest in the orphan
child. It was nobody's business. Once the
Vicar, urged on by his wife, had ventured to
make a few inquiries on Lucy's behalf. It
was after the funeral of Lady Jane, and
when the little girl had gone to stay at the
Court with Mildred Enderby. Mr. Shard
MADAME LEROUX. 187
had been all frankness, all friendliness, all
gratitude for the Vicar's kindly interest in
Lucy, and had, very reluctantly but was it
not his duty to speak the truth ? confided to
Mr. Arden, as he had confided to Lady Jane,
how lamentably lax and unmethodical poor
Marston had been in all money matters.
And he even confessed that, the affairs of
the estate being now pretty nearly wound up,
it appeared on documentary evidence that
Marston had debts to the firm, for which no
assets were forthcoming. A small sum of
ready cash had been found in his late part-
ner's private dispatch-box, and that sum Mr.
Shard begged to assure the Vicar should be
considered by him as a sacred deposit to be
devoted to Lucy's use ; and while he, Jacob
Shard, lived, she should never want. He
talked fluently and rapidly, and if the result
was to leave no definite statement of facts on
the Vicar's mind, but merely a general im-
pression that the Shards had been- rather
unfairly burthened with the maintenance of
one who was no kith or kin to them, that
probably arose from Mr. Arden's being a
[88 MADAME LEROUX.
rather slow-minded man, whose apprehension
had not kept pace with the lawyer's voluble
eloquence. And in any case, what could he
do ? It was clearly nobody's business.
Various distorted and exaggerated ver-
sions of all this had got abroad in the village,
and been canvassed long ago. But Mrs.
Jackson, after greedily listening to all the
current versions of the story, had selected
various details from each, and combined
them all into one legend, which she adopted
and clung to it having the unique advan-
tage of presenting everybody concerned, in
the most unfavourable light possible.
To young Tomline, who had not been in
the place a twelvemonth, and who, in any
case, was not likely to hear much local
gossip, Lucy's little history was quite new.
He was still eagerly drinking in all that old
Thomas could tell him, when Mrs. Jackson
appeared on the scene She had been
marketing, and carried a flap basket in her
hand. Mr. Edgar Tomline she greeted with
scant courtesy. He was a subordinate, and
a person of no consequence. Moreover,
MADAME LEROUX. 189
Hannah assuming that he had come to visit
her husband in his professional capacity
privately resented Dr. Goodchild's sending
" his young man." They paid their doctor's
bills punctually ; and Mrs. Jackson was of
opinion that the inferior skill of the assistant
ought to be exclusively exercised on pauper
Her husband did not mend matters by
insisting on her bringing out a jug of ale for
their visitor. Hospitality was one of the
many points on which Mr. and Mrs. Jack-
son's views differed ; and one of the few on
which the husband insisted on having his
The ale was brought, and Tomline, taking
a short briar-wood pipe from his pocket,
began to smoke. If there were no more
particulars to be learnt about Lucy Marston,
it was, at any rate, delicious to hear the sound
of her name, and to be able to pronounce
it himself over and over again.
" We were just talking, Mr. Jackson and
I, about *"
The young man had got thus far, when
190 MADAME LEROUX.
Jackson interrupted him. " Have another
glass, Mr. Tomline," he said. " Good sound
tipple it is, though I say it. And if I thought
you wouldn't tell the doctor, I'm blessed if I
wouldn't have a drop myself."
" Worst stuff in the world for rheumatic
affections," answered Tomline, shaking his
To his surprise, Mrs. Jackson here inter-
posed by bringing a second glass from a
cupboard, and filling it up for her husband.
" That's as it may be," she said, tartly.
" It takes a many years before a doctor
can understand everybody's symptoms. And
some on 'em makes mistakes to the end of
the chapter. And as to its being good tipple,
it had ought to be that, seeing as we .pay the
best price and deal with the best brewers,
and have a cask over at our own expense-
rail to Westfield Road and carrier to this
very door whenever we want one ; and that
you know as well as me, Jackson. None o'
your public-house beer for me ! I say no-
thing against the ' Enderby Arms,' and
I daresay they know how to suit their
MADAME LEROUX. 191
customers. But I've been used to a good
cellar, and I can't put up with the second
best, and 'twould be no use for you to expect
I should, Jackson."
It was, in fact, this conviction of the
superiority of her own ale over that retailed
at the village inn which had decided Mrs.
Jackson to indulge her husband with a glass
of the forbidden liquor. It was less harrow-
ing to her feelings that he should drink it
than that it should be bestowed unprofitably
on young Tomline.
The latter, quite unconscious of these
sentiments, finished his glass, and smoked on
for awhile in silent meditation, staring at the
At length, raising his eyes to Mr. Jack-
son's, he said, "When I write home, I'll ask
my mother if she remembers who the people
were that were living at Libburn Farm
eighteen years ago. My mother might, per-
haps, have heard something about that Mrs.
Smith, who "
At this point Edgar Tomline's speech
was interrupted by a direful crash. A sudden
192 MADAME LRROUX.
movement of Mr. Jackson's elbow had over-
turned the jug, which fell in fragments on
the hearth, while the ale trickled from be-
neath the fender and meandered over the
sacred drugget. Hannah started up in
"Good laws a mercy, Jackson," she ex-
claimed, " however come you to be so out-
rageous clumsy ? Look at that hearth, fresh
stoned and scoured only this very morning !
Who's to keep a place clean and decent wi'
men messing and smashing about like so
many wild beasts ? I dunno, I'm sure, but
what it would please some folks best to live
in a pigstye at once ! There's some men as
their stomachs seem fairly to rise against a
duster ; and bathbrick or a damp birch
broom is poison to 'em."
Mrs. Jackson, who had been gathering
up the fragments of her jug, here broke off
to run into the kitchen for a cloth to wipe
up the ale. And the instant her back was
turned, her husband, whose face had been
expressing deep concern, dashed with com-
punction, exhibited a remarkable change of
MADAME LEROUX. 193
countenance. He made a hideous grimace
at young Tomline, who had risen from his
seat when the catastrophe occurred, and
motioned him with his hand to come nearer.
" I'm very sorry," said Tomline, looking
.at him in some perplexity.
" Oh, dang th' old crock ! What does it
matter if I'd broke half-a-dozen on 'em ?
Not that I'm fond o' wasting my brass
neither," added Mr. Jackson, with evident
sincerity. " But, look here, lad ! Put your
head down and be looking at the hearth !
There ! Listen to me ; least said soonest
mended. If you want to talk about a cer-
tain person, talk to me. My old woman has
her likes and dislikes, and she ain't fond of
the yes ; no doubt you're in the right of it,
Mr. Tomline, th' ale won't stain. Oh, here's
the missus. Mr. Tomline thinks there'll be
no mark on thy drugget, lass ! "
But Mrs. Jackson was far too irate t:o
condescend to any polite assumption of re-
spect for Mr. Tomline's consolatory opinion.
Her mood was tragic and impatient of trifling.
As she knelt down to rub at the carpet,
VOL. i. 13
194 MADAME LEROUX.
she resumed the monologue temporarily
interrupted, while her husband, with one
final warning gesture, finger on lip, over her
unconscious back to the young man, puffed
at his pipe, and resigned himself to listen.
" Ah ! Mr. Tomline may think what he
pleases, but it's only them as has a houseful
o' their own understands what furniture is.
Lodgings won't teach you. No ; nor yet
board and a bedroom in a doctor's house.
You have to toil and moil, and rub and scrub
to keep things decent, and then see a parcel
o' men- folks ramping and and champing
over the place like wild bulls of Basan,
smashing the middle jug of a set, and pour-
ing out the best bitter ale like water over
your own clean hearthstone, before you can
enter into a person's feelings that has furni-
ture o' their own."
Mr. Jackson groaned sympathetically.
" Well," said he, " we've escaped wi' our
lives, lass ; and thafs summat ! "
Whether or no irony were a good rheto-
rical figure to employ against Mrs. Hannah
Jackson, depended on one's aim in using it.
MADAME LEROUX. 195
If the speaker's object were merely to relieve
his own feelings with impunity, it was an
admirable one. But if intended as a weapon
of offence, it was by no mean's effective ; for
it must be allowed that to have one's ironical
hyperbole taken literally, and contemptuously
treated as a manifestation of weak reasoning
powers, is, to say the least, disconcerting. It
did not, however, disconcert Mr. Jackson,
who grinned to himself as his better half
answered loftily, " That's but a poor kind of
an excuse for ockardness, Jackson, to say
you've got off without killing yourself. And
there has been cases of folks losing their
lives through breakages. When I was at
Lord Percy Humberstone's, a child in the
village tumbled down with a glass bottle in
its hand, and cut itself that bad, as they
thought it would ha' bled to death."
Edgar Tomline, as he left the cottage
and walked down the village street, was in-
tent on what he had heard about Lucy. On
the whole, if his hopes had received no sub-
stantial encouragement, yet his spirits were
raised by what he had learned. Hopes,
196 MADAME LEROUX.
indeed, he could scarcely be said to have
consciously entertained. But hope pervades
our desires, as subtly as air pervades our life.
It seemed to him that Lucy's orphanhood
brought her somehow nearer, and more
within reach. His imagination made de-
lightful pictures of Lucy at Ravenshaw. His
father would admire her beauty and her
sweet, lively ways. But his mother would
be best able to appreciate her. And how
her heart would warm to the motherless girl !
Perhaps she might even remember Lucy's
own mother at Libburn Farm. Edgar did
not enjoy thinking of Mrs. Smith, who
seemed to have given up her child in a very
hard and heartless fashion.
In thinking it over, he understood why
old Jackson had warned him not to talk of
Lucy's mother. Mrs. Jackson was an ill-
natured woman at the best, and it needed no
exceptional amount of ill-nature to find fault
with a mother who abandons her child to
strangers. And perhaps, too, there were
scandalous rumours about Mrs. Smith. Very-
little seemed to be known of her antecedents,
MADAME LEROUX. 197
even by the Marstons ; and Westfield is not
the only place in the world where the un-
known, far from being assumed to be mag-
nificent, is set down as reprehensible.
The young man was sufficiently "canny "
and cautious to hold his tongue to the village
gossips. But he wrote a letter that same
evening to his mother, asking her, in as light
and unemphatic a tone as he could achieve,
if she chanced to remember anything of the
former tenants of Libburn Farm, and of the
lady who gave birth to a little girl while
lodging there some eighteen years ago.
Meanwhile the subject of these thoughts
and speculations had proceeded on her
errand to Mrs. Shard's house, and had been
received there by Aunt Sarah with a mien
somewhat more dismal than usual.
"It's no use to talk to me, Lucy," she
said ; " I can't enter into the ins and outs of
things like those who have had nothing to do
all their lives but talk and read and do fancy-
work. I have had hard duties to do, and I
have done them ; but I've never had time for
conversation, nor understanding the ways of
198 MADAME LEROUX.
great people, and it won't be expected of me
in the Kingdom of Heaven, that's one
comfort. All I know is that your uncle isn't
pleased with the way you manage at Enderby
Court. He says you haven't made a good
impression on Lady Charlotte ; and why in
the world you don't do it, when you know
how important it is, I can't think, I really
This was not an exhilarating style of
discourse, and after the emotions of the
morning, poor Lucy felt it very difficult to
forbear bursting into tears from sheer
nervous depression. But when Mr. Shard
came home, he proved to be in a
sufficiently good humour; and, to Lucy's
great relief, he spared her a lecture
on the best method of managing Lady
" I have been at the station at Westfield
Road," said he, rubbing his hands as his
manner was when pleased ; "and there was
Sir Lionel seeing his daughter off. Oh
dear, yes ; Sir Lionel himself, to be sure. To
be sure. They were a deal too early; had to
MADAME LEROUX. 199
wait twenty minutes for the train. So I had
a little chat with the baronet. Very affable
he was too. Very affable indeed." Then,
turning to Lucy, he said, " I had heard about
this Oxford gentleman coming down to stay
at the Court. Got it out of Mrs. Griffiths.
Mrs. Griffiths and I have become quite
chums since I saw you last. I've been able
to help her in a little matter about an
investment of hers. She was going to make
ducks and drakes of her money putting it
into some bogus company they'd bamboozled
her about. She even paid a deposit on some
shares ha, ha, ha ! But as I happened to
know something about the concern through
my cousin in London, I just warned her in
time. Couldn't get back the deposit though !
No go. They're a deal too sharp for that,
thank ye ! " And here Mr. Shard chuckled
with sympathetic admiration. " But I saved
her from a bad mess ; and she's very grateful
and chatty, and tells me a good deal that's
worth knowing. So you see, Lucy" with
sudden solemnity "that we ought never
to neglect helping our fellow-creatures when
200 MADAME LEROUX.
there's the smallest chance of their being able
to help us again."
" I am glad you saved Mrs. Griffiths from
losing her money," said Lucy quietly ; " she
is a very good old soul."
" She's a regular old simpleton," assented
Mr. Shard, with a nod, as though the two
phrases had been synonymous. " And / never
let my pride stand in the way of business ;
I'd hob and nob with any one of the servants-
at the Hall if I thought they could be
" Ah, to be sure ! " murmured Mrs. Shard,
" * Pride goeth before a fall, and a haughty
spirit before destruction.' We're all worms
and mire, and when once you're sure of that
you have peace of mind."
Lucy, perhaps from not having reached
this comfortable conviction, was decidedly
mortified by the idea which Mr. Shard had
presented to her imagination of his " hobbing
and nobbing" with the servants at the Court ;
and she said, somewhat stiffly, that it was
good to be kind to all people, but surely not
necessary to be familiar.
MADAME LEROUX. 20 r
"Ah, that's your mistake, Lucy,"
returned Mr. Shard, without the least
temper, but in a tone of almost contemptuous-
pity ; "that's where you've got on the wrong
side of the hedge with Lady C., through
being too stuck up and high-flown in your
notions. However," shrugging his shoulders,
and raising his hands with the palms
outwards, " I'm not going to waste my time
going over all that ground again. I gave
you good advice, and did my best for you,
and now I'm going to do my best for myself;
don't make any mistake about that. If I
hadn't heard from Mrs. Griffiths something
about this Oxford Dr. What's-his-name, I
shouldn't have been able to make myself so
agreeable to Sir Lionel, and I should have
lost a chance. As it was, by a little judicious
soft-sawder in the right place, I pleased him,
and got him to listen to me, and did myself
a good turn. And who's the worse for it ?
I don't know what's the good of Providence
laying opportunities in our way if we ga
about with our noses in the air, and are too-
proud to pick 'em up ! "
202 MADAME LEROUX.
There was a silence, broken only by a
prolonged sniff from Mrs. Shard. She shook
her head over some kitchen towels she was
marking, and brought down a hot iron on
them every now and then with a hopeless
kind of flop, as though she were emphasising
the vanity of all sublunary things.
" Do you know, Uncle Jacob," said Lucy,
at length, " that Sir Lionel has asked me
to remain at the Court during Mildred's
absence ? "
"Yes," answered Mr. Shard, in a high-
pitched tone of voice. "Yes ; Miss Enderby
mentioned it. All very well, Lucy ; so much
the better. Make hay while the sun shines,
if you can. It's your own look out
entirely ; I shan't interfere. But as far
as / and my affairs are concerned, I've
taken matters into my own hands, and don't
mean to trouble you." And Mr. Shard,
sticking his hands into his pockets, elevated
his eyebrows and his shoulders as well as his
voice, by way of expressing that he divested
himself of all further interest in Lucy's
behaviour at the Court.
MADAME LEROUX. 203
This resolution on her uncle's part was a
great relief to her mind, and she left the
Shards' house somewhat more cheerful than
when she had entered it a thing which
had rarely happened of late.
But this little elation of spirits did not
las: long. She was presently bowed down
by shame and confusion in listening to Sir
Lionel's account of his interview with Mr.
Shard at Westfield Road. " I assure you,
Charlotte," said the good, simple gentleman,
"that I felt I had done Mr. Shard some
injustice. Understand me, my dear Lucy, I
allude to my judgment of your uncle's
manner merely his manner. He is no kin
to our late esteemed friend Marston, and
therefore it will not, I trust, hurt your
feelings if we admit among ourselves that
Mr. Shard's manner is not at first sight
prepossessing. But I was surprised, Char-
lotte, to find that he takes a great interest in
all our local antiquities, and only regrets that
his business leaves him so little time for
studying them. He knew all about my
papers on Amwell Abbey, however, which
204 MADAME LEROUX.
he was good enough to say he had read
with delight as well as instruction. He had
heard, too, of Dr. Lux's visit ; he regards it
in a light far too flattering to my humble
acquirements, but still in short, I find my
neighbours look on me as a student whose
reputation sheds some lustre on Westfield."
" I told you," answered Lady Charlotte,
with a kind of calm triumph, "that Mr.
Shard was a man of very sound sense and
right principles. I am glad you had the
opportunity of speaking with him."
During all this Lucy endured an agony
of shame and misery, and, by her silence and
her downcast looks, gave Lady Charlotte
occasion to remark privately to Sir Lionel
what a pity it was that Miss Marston seemed
to have no feeling of attachment for the
Shards, who had been so good to her.
MOVEMENT and change of any kind propa-
gate themselves. The innovation of Dr.
Lux's visit to Enderby Court brought a great
many unforeseen consequences in its train.
In the first place, Sir Lionel discovered that
a break in the routine to which he had so
long accustomed himself, injured neither his
health nor his comfort, while it gave him con-
siderable gratification in various ways. But
then, certainly, this was due to his sister-in-
law's presence. It was a great thing to have
a lady at the head of his household who
could take upon herself to entertain such a
guest as Dr. Lux. Neither Miss Feltham
nor Lucy Marston would have been equal to
that responsibility !
Sir Lionel would not, perhaps, have
206 MADAME LEROUX.
thought so before Lady Charlotte's arrival ;
but he was beginning to see many things
with her eyes. He was a man of the sort
with whom other men are apt to become
impatient, but who was sure to be under
some guiding feminine influence throughout
his life. Since his wife's death he had gradu-
ally come to rely very much on Lucy Mar-
ston, young as she was. He was quite
unconscious how much he had leant on her
intelligence and quickness of perception in
what he was pleased to term his " literary
work." But Lady Charlotte was rapidly
usurping poor Lucy's place as his literary
counsellor. It cannot be said that Sir Lionel
altogether enjoyed the change. With all her
wish to please him, she was by nature too
inflexible and too well persuaded of her own
superiority to be an agreeable substitute for
Lucy, with her youthful submission to his
judgments, and her rapid intuition which
helped him to form them. But even the
most uncompromising selfishness finds itself
compelled, by the nature of things, to make
some compromises, and Sir Lionel's selfish-
MADAME LEROUX, 207
ness was far from being of the most uncom-
promising kind ; what was supremely dis-
agreeable to it was a struggle.
To Dr. Lux, Lady Charlotte made her-
self very charming. Dr. Lux was a dry,
saturnine little man, of whom his inferiors
were apt to be afraid, and with whom many
of his equals found it not altogether easy to
be on friendly terms. But his asperities
were wonderfully smoothed down by his
reception at Enderby Court ; and, above all,
by the absence of anything which could be
construed into rivalry. Neither Dr. Lux's
pugnacity nor his jealousy were excited
by poor Sir Lionel, whose pretensions to
scholarship he treated with a kind of amused
But with Lady Charlotte he was honestly
delighted. Her rank had some share in the
impression she made on him, but a far
greater charm lay in the ease of her high-
bred manner. There was a subtle flattery in
seeing so aristocratic a woman, who had
reigned in the world of fashion, listening to
his conversation with an air of pleased defe-
2oS MADAME LEROUX,
rence. Dr. Lux had had his triumphs, and
had been for years accustomed to supremacy
over a great many of his fellow-creatures ;
but elegant and patrician women had not
been among them. It was a delightful
novelty to find himself achieving anything
like social success; and success in a new
direction is always enchanting, for it widens
the horizon of our possibilities.
Of Lucy Marston the Oxford don took
very little notice ; and had he been asked to
describe her, would probably have said that
she was a silent, shy, pale little girl. For the
atmosphere of constraint in which Lucy was
living effectually quenched her brightness.
To be playful or cheerful, or even simply
natural, in Lady Charlotte's presence, was
becoming impossible to her. If she ventured
a little speech in her old vivacious, familiar
manner, it was met by her ladyship either in
stony silence or with a cool, curt, matter-of-
fact reply, which was equally crushing. She
scarcely ever saw Sir Lionel except at table
or during the hour or two which he some-
times passed after dinner in the drawing-
MADAME LEROUX. 209
room, in honour of his guest. And she
never saw him alone. Her occupation, so
far as he was concerned, was gone. She
wandered aimlessly about the house and
gardens, and passed hours in dreamily
playing remembered fragments on the piano
in the deserted schoolroom.
It was a dreary time, and none the less
so because the girl, incredulous of deter-
mined and systematic unkindness, would
sometimes reproach herself with her discon-
tent, and almost persuade herself that there
must be some undetected fault in her own
temper or character which made it so appa-
rently impossible to her to win Lady Char-
lotte's approbation. But if, impelled by this
idea, she made any little attempt to be use-
ful or companionable to Lady Charlotte, it
was so icily repulsed that she was perforce
thrown back on solitude during the greater
part of her waking hours.
The only ray of light came from Mil-
dred's letters. Mildred was well, and was
enjoying herself, and was enchanted with the
nursery full of little cousins, of whose won-
VOL. i. 14
210 MADAME LEROVX.
clerful sayings and doings she narrated a
great deal in writing to her friend. One or
two of these baby-stories Lucy repeated to
Sir Lionel one day at luncheon, thereby
arousing a strong feeling of jealousy in Lady
Charlotte, to whom Mildred had not written
with equal copiousness.
Dr. Lux's visit, originally intended to last
only two days, was extended to a week ; and
before he left Enderby Court he had made
a suggestion to Sir Lionel, which at first
appeared to the latter quite startling in its
boldness, but with which he familiarised
himself more quickly than might have been
expected. This suggestion was that Sir
Lionel should visit Italy and Greece. It
arose from the mention of Sir Lionel's
articles on the Polymetis.
"Why," said Dr. Lux, "should his host
not visit the great sculpture galleries, and
see the great temples for himself." He pro-
fessed himself astonished that a man of such
cultivated and classical tastes should not
have done so long ago.
" But, my dear sir," answered Sir Lionel,
MADAME LEROUX. 211
almost gasping, " you forget my wretched
health the precarious state of my nervous
system ! "
" No, indeed, Sir Lionel ; on the con-
trary, I am inclined to think that the change
and pleasurable excitement would be of im-
mense benefit to you."
" I was in Italy as a young fellow," said
Sir Lionel, with a peevish little puckering of
the mouth. " I passed a winter in Florence,
and saw the lakes. But I remember the
cooking was atrocious. At that time of my
life I cared more for a good dinner than I
do now ; but I was better able to digest a
bad one. I'm afraid I'm afraid it wouldn't
do, eh, Charlotte ? "
Seeing that the project had originated
with Lady Charlotte, it was not likely that
she should find any insurmountable diffi-
culties in carrying it out. It had darted into
her mind as a luminous idea, which, if it
could become an accomplished fact, would
facilitate several other plans that she had in
view. And she had frankly begged Dr.
Lux to suggest it to her brother-in-law.
212 MADAME LEROUX.
And it must be understood that Lady
Charlotte had fully persuaded herself that
change of air and scene would be very
beneficial to him. So the first seed of the
project was dropped into Sir Lionel's mind
by Dr. Lux at a favourable moment, and it
Dr. Lux's visit was over he had de-
parted with many pressing requests that he
might have the pleasure of receiving Sir
Lionel at Oxford, and a warm recommenda-
tion to try a winter in Rome but still
Mildred did not return.
Lady Grimstock wrote to beg that she
might remain awhile longer, and she herself
was evidently quite willing to do so.
" Adelaide is behaving very nicely," said
Lady Charlotte to herself.
And she forthwith wrote to her sister-in-
law, laying great stress on the advantage to
Mildred of breaking off sundry intimacies,
and forming new and suitable friendships.
Lady Charlotte had quite made up her
mind that Miss Feltham must be got rid of;
and she had been considering how best to
MADAME LEROUX. 213
broach the subject to Sir Lionel, when the
opportunity arose out of a conversation
begun on a totally different subject.
She and Sir Lionel were alone in the
library, when the latter, who had been sitting
for some time with closed eyes, said abruptly,
and in a querulous tone
" I should be poisoned by the hotel food ;
it would kill me. And there are certain
things which no one can prepare to suit me
Lady Charlotte betrayed no surprise,
.although she felt a good deal, and even more
satisfaction, at discovering how much Sir
Lionel's mind had evidently been dwelling
on the idea of foreign travel. She answered
calmly, in her usual slow accents
" Why not take Philippe with you ? It
is so obvious that you ought not to run any
risk which can be avoided, that I wonder we
did not think of it before."
"Oh, / thought of it the moment Dr.
Lux suggested my going abroad," said Sir
Lionel, naively. " But, you see, it would
involve having a whole establishment."
2i 4 MADAME LEROUX.
" Of course you would take your own
man with you in any case ? " said Lady
Charlotte, after a brief, meditative pause.
" Oh, of course ! I could not possibly do
without Brooks ; personal attendance from
strangers is unspeakably disagreeable to me.''
" Exactly. Well, would it not be the
best plan to hire a suite of rooms, and let
Philippe engage such subordinates as might
be necessary ? The Grimstocks were in an
hotel at Rome. But I feel sure that the
other mode of living would suit you better."
And so the matter was discussed more
and more in detail, until, at length, Sir
Lionel said, suddenly
" Why should we not all go ? You would
not object to a winter in Italy, would you,
Charlotte? and I think Mildred might
By dint of talking it over, Sir Lionel had
come to picture his daily life abroad ; and
directly that was brought clearly within range
of his imagination, he perceived that nothing
less than transporting the chief part of his
household with him would secure his comfort.
MADAME LEROUX. . 215
This proposition was received by Lady
Charlotte with enthusiasm. It cut the knot
of many difficulties ; and she took care not to
let her brother-in-law's purpose cool before
she had persuaded him to pension off Miss
Her next step was to summon Mr. Shard
to speak with her privately. She informed
him of Sir Lionel's intention to spend the
winter abroad, and advised him to lose no
time in finding some other home than
Enderby Court for Miss Marston ; adding
that it was clearly his duty to put the girl in
the way of earning her own livelihood.
" I speak quite frankly to you, Mr.
Shard," she said, " and I repose some con-
fidence in you by doing so."
Mr. Shard declared himself highly
honoured, and greatly interested and edified
by hearing Lady Charlotte's view of the
case, which she propounded instructively.
Great would have been her amazement
could she have guessed that Mr. Shard had
at one time balanced in his mind whether he
should play off Lucy against her ladyship ;
216 MADAME LEROUX.
pitting Lucy's influence with Mildred against
Lady Charlotte's with Sir Lionel ; and that
he only abstained from that attempt on being
convinced that Lucy was entirely unfitted to
carry it out.
Having, however reluctantly, come to
this conclusion, Jacob Shard was not the
man to let any weak scruples prevent him
from going over with bag and baggage to
the other side. If Lucy had been able to
take advantage of her opportunities, he
would have helped himself by helping her ;
and he would by no means have grudged her
any social superiority achieved in playing the
game for their mutual benefit. What he was
greedy of was solid cash. Other ambitions
were infirmities which he could smile at, and
profit by. He had long ago read Lady Char-
lotte like a book. He perceived her wishes
with regard to Lucy, and understood her
motives far more clearly than she acknow-
ledged them to herself.
" It's just a jealous antipathy," said Mr.
Shard, in his own mind. " When the girl is
out of her sight, my lady can persuade herself
MADAME LEROUX. 217
that she is acting from wisdom and high
principle, and all manner of fine things. But
directly she sees her again, she feels she hates
her ; and it's infra dig. for Lady Charlotte
Gaunt to hate a little nobody like Lucy
Marston ; and knowing that makes her hate
her all the more than ever."
Mr. Shard had made a successful attempt
to curry favour with Sir Lionel during their
interview at Westfield Road Station. And
he had to a great extent won over Mrs.
Griffiths by his timely assistance in the
matter of the fraudulent shares. But these
were subsidiary aids. It became clearer and
clearer to him as the weeks went on, that
Lady Charlotte was rapidly becoming the
ruling influence at Enderby Court, and
that, in order effectually to propitiate Lady
Charlotte, he must send Lucy away. There
were other reasons which made him not
averse from doing so. If she remained in
Westfield, it was just possible that, some day
or other, an account of Mr. Marston's affairs
might be demanded of him. And although
Mr. Shard was firmly resolved to resist any
ai8 MADAME LEROUX.
such demand, there being no one who had a
right to insist on it, yet he would rather not
be asked any questions. Moreover, if Lucy
were cut adrift from Enderby Court, and
remained in the village, she would expect to
be wholly maintained by him. And, pre-
posterous as such a pretension appeared to
him, he knew very well that many persons in
Westfield would look on it as the most natural
thing in the world.
Mention has been made of Mr. Shard's
cousin in London, from whom he got the
information which proved so useful to Mrs.
Griffiths. This man, Adolphus Hawkins by
name, belonged to a species whose existence
is possible only in great cities. He had no
ostensible trade or profession ; but he had a
dingy little den, called "the office," on the
ground-floor of the house he inhabited in
Great Portland Street, where among other
mysterious affairs he transacted business as
the agent of a Loan Society. Such, at least,
was his present position. But he now and
then enjoyed sudden bursts of prosperity,
followed by equally sudden eclipse ; and he
lived in the daily expectation of making his
fortune by a brilliant stroke of luck. He was
a man of superior education and address to
Jacob Shard, and had married a very different
woman from his cousin's wife. The two men
had more than once been useful to each other,
and had, therefore, continued to be on friendly
terms, although their intercourse had been
limited to an occasional brief interview in
Hawkins's office whenever Mr. Shard found
himself in London.
On leaving Lady Charlotte, Mr. Shard at
once repaired to his own private den, and
then and there wrote the following letter,
addressed to Adolphus Hawkins, Esquire :
" DEAR DOLPH,
"You have so many irons in the fire r
that I think you may be able to help me in
the following matter. I want to find employ-
ment for a young girl about eighteen. First-
rate accomplishments, accustomed to swell
society, but would take almost anything as a
beginning. A small premium would be paid,
if she could be got into a good school as
220 MADAME LEROUX.
teacher. You could charge a stiff percentage
on the transaction. Answer by return if this
would be at all in your line, and in case we
see our way to business I could take a run up
to town to speak with you. Perhaps Mrs.
Hawkins might know of something which
would suit. The girl is an orphan without a
farthing in the world, and must earn her own
bread and cheese. Yours, " J. S."
THE answer to Mr. Shard's letter to his
cousin arrived without loss of time ; and he
at once had another interview with Lady
" I don't let the grass grow under my
feet, my lady," said he, with an air of triumph,
" But there will be some expense attending
the affair. Londoners are keen after the main
chance very ! And I don't altogether blame
them, Lady Charlotte. We must all live ;
and doing professional work gratis is too
expensive a luxury for a poor man ha, ha,
Mr. Shard here suddenly checked his
laugh, and plaintively wagged his head, as
he added, with a sigh
" But it is a luxury it is a great luxury!"
[ "I ]
222 MADAME LEROUX.
as though regretting that he himself was
debarred from enjoying this pure delight.
" I have told you," replied her ladyship,
"that we shall be willing to meet any reason-
able charges in order to place Miss Marston
in a respectable position."
" ' We shall be willing ! ' " repeated Shard
to himself. " That means that my lady finds
the will and Sir Lionel the cash ; which is a
fair division of labour ! " and he chuckled to
himself and rattled the halfpence in his
pockets as he walked homeward.
That evening Lady Charlotte surprised
Lucy by requesting her, when they rose from
the dinner-table, to remain in the drawing-
room, as she wished to speak with her. Ever
since Dr. Lux's departure, Lucy had taken
the habit of retiring to the schoolroom after
dinner, and there spending the hours until
bedtime in solitude.
This proceeding, although in some re-
spects it was a great relief to Lady Charlotte,
did not meet with her approbation. It
struck her as offensively self-asserting. Miss
Marston ought to have asked permission to
MADAME LEROUX. 223
absent herself. But, in truth, whatever, poor
Lucy did, or left undone, was sure to be dis-
tasteful to Lady Charlotte ; and Mr. Shard
whose shrewd comprehension of low motives
was only matched by his obtuse incapacity
for believing in lofty ones had been literally
correct when he judged that Lady Charlotte's
dislike to Lucy was embittered by her lurking
shame at feeling it.
" You will not object to spare me half an
hour, Miss Marston ? " said her ladyship,
when Lucy was about to slip out of the
"Oh, no! I I should like to remain.
I would always remain if I thought '
Lucy stopped short, finding it difficult to
finish her sentence.
" I shall not detain you long," said Lady
Charlotte, ignoring the girl's embarrassment.
Lucy seated herself, and there was a brief
pause. At length Lady Charlotte said, " Do
you mind telling me what are your plans for
the future ? "
Lucy was conscious of looking blankly at
her interlocutor. Thoughts seemed to be
224 MADAME LEROUX.
crowding each other in her mind, but she
was unable to find the right word to express
any one of them.
" Perhaps," said Lady Charlotte, some-
what less icily, "you have not formed any
definite ones ? "
" I I have lately been trying to think of
the future. I dare say I ought to have done
so sooner. I have been too much of a child
hitherto ; of course, I am not really a child."
" You are very young, but no, certainly
not a child. I understand that you have no
fortune nothing to depend upon ? "
" I have no money at all. My father-
Mr. Marston meant to provide for me ; I
am quite sure it was not his fault. But when
my Uncle Shard came to look into his
accounts he found them in great confusion,
and he says there is nothing for me."
" Well, that is a pity ; but it is not a
unique case. And you have the advantage
of a good education, which is a little capital
" Lady Jane was very good to me,"
answered Lucy. A catching in her breath
MADAME LEROUX. 225
warned her that any attempt to continue the
sentence would cause her to break down ;
and she resolved not to break down before
Lady Charlotte if it were possible to avoid it.
" I have undertaken to speak to you, at
Mr. Shard's request," said Lady Charlotte,
" and to tell you that it is very probable we
that is, Sir Lionel, and Mildred, and I
shall spend next winter abroad."
Lucy turned a little paler, and looked up
quickly, but said nothing.
" Miss Feltham will not accompany us ;
Sir Lionel thinks it time that she should rest
from her labours. She will probably go to
live with some of her own family, and retire
from teaching altogether."
Lady Charlotte pausing here, Lucy asked
her, "Is that what my uncle wished you to
say to me ? "
" He wished me to make you understand
that Enderby Court w r ill be shut up for the
" I understand that," answered Lucy.
Something in her tone irritated Lady
Charlotte. She threw back her head in her
VOL. i. 15
226 MADAME LEROUX.
haughtiest fashion as she replied, "Mr. Shard
also begged me to tell you that I had given
him my advice as to what had best be done
for you. He is a very respectable and
sensible man, and I did not refuse ; but I
warned him that my approval would probably
not weigh with you." She stopped here, as
if expecting Lucy to protest ; but the latter
remaining silent, her ladyship went on. " Mr.
Shard asked me what I thought of your
getting a situation as teacher in a good
school. I told him I thought the idea an
excellent one. Beyond that, of course, I
cannot interfere. Your own view of the
matter you will, no doubt, communicate to
Mr. Shard ; I have told you what he
Lucy rose up from her chair. " I wish
to earn my bread," she said, clasping her
hands together, and speaking in a low,
strained voice. " I mean to earn my bread/'
" One moment, if you please !" exclaimed
Lady Charlotte, stretching out her finely-
modelled hand and arm, from which the
black-lace sleeve fell back in the movement.
MADAME LEROUX. 227
" I have complied with Mr. Shard's request
Now I wish to say something from myself.'*
Here she made a long pause, keeping her
hand stretched out to detain Lucy, and her
eyes fixed thoughtfully on the carpet. Now
that her will was about to prevail, she would
fain have said a word of kindness to the
girl. Victory for her own views, plans, and
caprices must be gained at all costs. But
that once achieved, she had no delight in
inflicting pain. And she felt herself ill-used
if outward submission to her will were ac-
companied by an internal protest against it.
At length she looked up, and said, speak-
ing in a far gentler manner than before, "My
niece is much attached to you, and I am
willing to believe the attachment is mutual.
Indeed, I am sure that you are very fond of
Mildred. It would be strange if you were
" It would be incredible, Lady Charlotte.
No one could believe it."
" Nevertheless, your paths in life must
inevitably diverge as the years go on. I do
not say that you will never meet ; but,
228 MADAME LEROUX.
naturally, it is impossible that you should be
Lucy bent her head without speaking.
" Now, Mildred is much younger than
you are, and not so well able to realize the
necessity you are under of of establishing
yourself in some respectable situation. If
you wish to spare her unavailing regrets, you
will make the best, and not the worst, of the
position. I presume you understand me?"
added Lady Charlotte, after vainly waiting
some seconds for a reply.
"Yes; I believe I thoroughly understand
" No doubt it will be painful to you to
leave Enderby Court. I quite enter into
that feeling. You may rely upon it that Sir
Lionel and I will always be ready to assist
you and to promote your welfare."
But Lucy, although she could make a
sacrifice, was unable to pretend that it was
no sacrifice at all. Her indignation against
Lady Charlotte flamed out suddenly. One
word of appeal ad misericordiam would have
touched Lady Charlotte at that moment, and
MADAME LEROUX. 229
might have changed the whole course of sub-
sequent events. But Lucy was far too hotly
indignant to make it. She stood up opposite
to the great lady, pale and trembling with
emotion, but quite undaunted.
" I know I may rely on Sir Lionel's kind-
ness, I have known it all my life," she said,
Lady Charlotte absolutely made an effort
of self-control, and replied, with mildness
" And you do not think that I also wish
to befriend you ? "
" I cannot tell a falsehood. You have
never been kind to me, Lady Charlotte ; 1
think you have treated me harshly and un-
justly. But you need not be afraid that I
shall ever say so to Mildred, or that I shall
try to make her more unhappy than she must
be at first in parting from me. I love her
too well for that. It would be very mean and
selfish to complain to her of what she cannot
help. I am not ungrateful by nature I know
I am not ; but I feel no gratitude to you,
Lady Charlotte, for throwing me a kind word
now, just at the last, after having acted so
230 MADAME LEROUX.
cruelly as you have done ; and I do not
believe you care one straw what becomes of
And Lucy marched out of the room with
head erect and eyes flashing-, to burst into a
passion of bitter tears inside the locked door
of her chamber.
But she did not lack courage, and after
the first outbreak of feeling she resolved to
look the future steadily, if not cheerfully in
the face. It was no hardship to earn her
bread; it seemed to her, indeed, a far happier
lot than to pass her days as an inmate of the
Shard household. They should all see that
she was neither selfish nor cowardly. She
would make no appeal for sympathy ; she
would beg for no man's compassion. She
behaved with a firmness that surprised Mr.
Shard. The truth was, that her indignation
against Lady Charlotte helped her marvel-
lously to keep a brave front. She could
harden herself against hardness but a
tender word, or a loving look, would have
broken the poor child down.
It does not concern this chronicle to
MADAME LEROUX. 231
inquire particularly what law business de-
manded Mr. Shard's presence in London
two days after his second interview with
Lady Charlotte. That he had some, appeared
by the fact of his charging the cost of his
journey, among other items, to two or three
clients doubtless to their ultimate advan-
tage. But he also had a private and personal
motive for going to town at this period, and
for visiting his cousin Adolphus in his
" office" at Great Portland Street.
Mr. Shard travelled light on these occa-
sions a small bag of some black glazed
material, which he carried in his hand,
usually comprising the whole of his luggage.
In this easy marching order he appeared in
Great Portland Street, where his cousin
made him welcome in the dark den on the
ground floor, and regaled him with a feast
of reason and a flow of London porter from
.a pewter pot.
The popping of champagne corks had
been heard there often enough ; but the
present was a season of temporary eclipse
with Mr. Hawkins. That gentleman, how-
232 MADAME LEROUX.
ever, with the true instinct of hospitality,,
shared whatever liquor was going with his
friends, quite regardless of ostentation.
Partly, no doubt, from a more genial
temperament, and partly, also, from the habit
of a life whose motto and practice was Carpe
diem, Mr. Hawkins never indulged in those
minutiae of covetousness and avarice which
occupied so large a share of Mr. Shard's
attention. He was greedy enough in theory,,
but in practice his greed was a sieve, through
which small sums were sifted and disap-
peared ; and in which no big golden nuggets
had as yet been caught although Mr.
Hawkins was sanguine of netting thousands
of pounds sterling by every fresh speculation.
Herein, as in most other characteristics,
he differed entirely from our friend Jacob
Shard. Mr. Hawkins had begun his educa-
tion at Eton, and although it had been
abruptly broken off before he was sixteen,
yet some flavour of those days still clung to
him. He had passed many years of his
youth on the Continent (whither his father, a
wine merchant in a large way of business,,
MADAME LEROUX. 235
had retired after a bankruptcy which his
angry creditors had called fraudulent), and
Adolphus spoke French and Spanish
In person, also, the two cousins were
sharply contrasted : their only point of re-
semblance being in the shape and colour of
their light grey eyes, and a way of creasing
up the lower eyelid when they smiled or
laughed. Shard was tall, loose-jointed, and
shambling ; dishevelled about the head, and
grimy about the hands. Hawkins was of the
middle height, compactly built, close cropped
as a soldier, clean-shaven as a comedian,
and with white, well-cared-for, rather flaccid-
looking hands, on whose fingers he wore one
or two handsome cameo rings.
The convivial stage of their interview
was not reached until after office hours. Up
to four o'clock, once a week, the agent and
secretary to the Pelican Beneficent Private
Loan Society was bound to attend to the
business of that admirable institution. This
day happening to be Wednesday the same
which Mr. Shard had chosen for his visit
234 MADAME LEROUX.
his cousin bade him ensconce himself in a
corner, and gave him a copy of the day
before yesterday's Times to beguile his half-
hour of waiting. But Shard, hidden behind
the printed sheet, watched with unwinking
keenness every detail of the several inter-
views which he witnessed.
While he sat there, as many as half-a-
dozen persons, carrying little yellow account
books, dropped in. These were the last
stragglers. The great bulk of visitors had
come and gone long ago. Almost all the
borrowers belonged to the shabby-genteel
classes ; but they exhibited a great variety
of character and demeanour. Some who
brought the full interest on their loan de-
posited it with a heavy sigh and wistful
look on the ledge of Mr. Hawkins's desk.
Others held whispered conversations with
him, pleading for time. Most of them had
a harassed, depressed, and hopeless look, as
they turned to leave the office. But one
stout lady, very florid of face and dazzling
in attire, volubly declared her inability to
pay what she owed within thirty shillings^
MADAME LEROUX. 235
and announced her intention of " making it
hot " for somebody if she were hardly
" Don't tell me about directors and
boards, Mr. 'Awkins," said this dame,
" that's all gammon, and you know it, and I
know it, and you know that I know it. The
whole plant is a speculation of the old party
in Lamb's Conduit Street, and he's board,
and treasurer, and auditor, and director, and
everything else. Talk of Jews ! I pity any
poor innocent Jew that falls into his claws
and clutches, that's all -I know ! Pretty kind
of usury, ain't it ? Somewhere about a
hundred and fifty per cent. I should think,
when you come to reckon up his charges for
the books worth about twopence-halfpenny
a gross, to look at 'em ! and the secretary
that's you, Mr. 'Awkins ; but I daresay you
don't get fat on it. Trust our friend in Lamb's
Conduit Street for that ! and stamps, and
stationery, and inquiries, and reports, and all
manner of humbug. I was a fool to have
anything to do with your blessed Pelican
cormorant's more like it! I've paid up fair
236 MADAME LEROUX.
and square so far, and if I'm thirty shillings
short this month, I don't care who knows it.
And if our friend in Lamb's Conduit Street
tries to put the screw on, or come any of his
games with me, I'll tell my husband, and
he'll write to the papers and show up the
whole caboodle ; and old Shylock won't like
that, for certain good reasons best known to
himself, and so you may tell him, Mr.
'Awkins, with my compliments." And the
angry woman, whose eloquence had flushed
her cheeks with a glow which made her
rouge superfluous, flounced out of the little
back room, and along the passage, and out
at the front door, which she closed with a
vigorous bang, that made the house vibrate.
Shard looked out from behind his paper,
screwing up his eyes, and drawing up his
shoulders with the action of a man trying to
dodge a blow. " Who's your friend ? " said
he. " Powerful speaker, and no mistake ! "
Mr. Hawkins smiled slightly, as he
gathered up his papers and locked them in
his desk. " She's the wife of a publican," he
answered, "and by no means a bad sort of
MADAME LEROUX. 237
woman. She has a scapegrace son by a
former marriage, and came to us to borrow
twenty pounds unknown to her present hus-
band, to help the lad out of a tight place.
One way and another she has paid the loan,
principal and interest, twice over. But she
appears to be getting tired of the Pelican's
playful ways. I don't think our friend in Lamb's
Conduit Street will get much more out of
Mrs. Bruin that's her euphonious name."
" I suppose, then, that what she said
about the company consisting of one man is
pretty true, eh ? "
Hawkins nodded carelessly.
" It must be a snug sort of business for
a quiet party of retiring habits to be a Bene-
ficent Pelican," observed Shard, thoughtfully.
" It's an infernally low sort of business to
be a Beneficent Pelican's secretary," returned
his cousin. " However, that's the last of
'em for to-day, please the pigs ! And now I
can attend to you quietly."
Mr. Hawkins had already written to
Westfield, stating that he had no doubt of
being able to find a suitable place for Lucy ;
238 MADAME LEROUX.
and he now repeated this assurance, setting
forth how many advantages his extensive
connection gave him for this purpose. "My
wife has occasionally given lessons herself in
very first-class quarters," he said ; " and you
couldn't have a better introduction than hers.""
This was all very well ; but Shard desired
to know how soon the matter was likely to
"Is there any particular hurry?" asked
"Well, yes, there is," answered his
cousin ; for it had been understood, if not ex-
pressed, between himself and Lady Char-
lotte that it was desirable to get Lucy away
before Mildred's return to the Court.
" Who is the girl ? " asked Hawkins.
"An orphan, whom my wife's sister and
her husband chose to adopt, and then left on
my hands without a penny to bless herself
" Oh ! No relation of yours ? "
" None in the world. It's rather hard on
me. I've been at a good deal of expense
for her as it is, one way and another. How-
MADAME LEROUX. 239
ever, as long as the family at the Court
our big people down at Westfield were
there, she was, to a considerable extent, off
my hands ; for they took a good deal of
notice of her, and had her there for weeks
at a time. But they're going abroad, and
she's left high and dry ; so it is absolutely
necessary to get her something to do.
Charity begins at home. I've plenty to do
with my hard-earned income without sup-
porting other folks' children that are neither
kith nor kin to me."
" Of course ! " assented Mr. Hawkins,,
with a keen, quick glance at the other man.
Then he added, after an instant's hesitation,
" I suppose there's nothing wrong with the
girl in any way ? "
" Wrong with her! What should be
wrong with her? She's as good a girl as
ever breathed ; and a perfect lady into the
bargain. I tell you she's an intimate friend
of the biggest swells in the county."
" All right, all right ! "
" First rate education, too, as I wrote to
you. Mrs. Hawkins needn't be afraid of
240 MADAME LEROUX.
cutting a bad figure by recommending her ;
don't make any mistake about that ! It'll be
a feather in her cap, I can tell you. School-
mistresses don't often have a chance of
getting hold of such a first-class kind of
girl as Lucy."
" Lucy, eh ? What's her other name ? "
" Smith," answered Mr. Shard. " Lucy
Smith. That was her parents' name, and
the only one she's a right to."
" Good safe name, Smith," observed Mr.
Hawkins, carelessly. Then, after a little
silent reflection, he said, " Look here ! Why
shouldn't the girl come to us at once ? My
wife would look after her for a week or two ;
and she's sure to be able to place her within
that time. Safe as the day! Indeed, two
or three opportunities have offered already.
But Marie is particular. She'll pick and
The fact was that the premium offered in
one of Mr. Shard's letters had been so hand-
some that Hawkins was unwilling to let the
affair slip through his fingers. He knew
his cousin well enough to feel sure that the
MADAME LEROUX. 241
money would not come out of his pocket ; and
if there were rich people in the background,
the connection might be a valuable one.
Shard jumped at the proposal. And the
only part of the negotiation which remained
to be concluded was the sum to be paid to
the Hawkins's for their services. As to this,
a good deal of haggling ensued. The price
asked for Lucy's board was agreed to with-
out much difficulty. But the percentage on
the premium to be paid for Lucy's reception
into a good school was the subject of a
tougher battle. And let it not be supposed
that Jacob Shard was fighting to spare Sir
Lionel's purse. No one had more liberal
ideas than he on the subject of other people's
expenditure. But he intended to get some-
thing for himself out of the transaction ; and
reflected, with great justice, that the more
the Hawkins's had, the less would remain
for him !
However, after some discussion, they
came to terms, and the bargain was struck.
And then Mr. Hawkins invited his cousin to
come upstairs and see " Marie."
VOL. i. 1 6
As the two men ascended the stairs to the
first-floor, the sounds of a piano, brilliantly
played, were heard ; and it was, moreover,
evident that some one was dancing there.
The music and the dancing stopped simul-
taneously, as Mr. Hawkins threw open the
It was a good-sized room, with furniture
which had once been handsome, but was
sadly the -worse for wear. The chairs, and
one or two light tables, were pushed back
against the wall, so as to leave a clear space
in the middle of the room.
At the piano was seated a pretty woman
of about thirty years old, with a piquant
little turned-up nose, and a wide, fair fore-
head, from which the hair was drawn back,
MADAME LEROUX. 243
and piled in elaborate coils and curls of
shining bronze on the top of her head.
This style of head-dress, which displayed
the smooth brow, together with a pair of
widely opened, light blue eyes, gave her face
an engaging expression of almost infantine
candour. Her dress, of a dark green woollen
material, was plain, but admirably cut ; and
on her plump white fingers sparkled several
The two persons whose dancing had
been thus suddenly interrupted by Mr.
Hawkins's entrance stood in the centre of the
room ; the lady's hand still on her partner's
shoulder. The said partner was a slender,
gracefully-built man, with remarkably small
and delicate hands and feet. His dark,
mobile, and intelligent face was lighted by
a pair of singularly brilliant eyes which
sparkled underneath a bush of wavy jet
black hair. The lady was a girl little over
twenty. Her face was plain, and of an
Asiatic type high cheek-boned, wide across
the temples, sallow in colour, and with
narrow dark eyes set somewhat obliquely in
244 MADAME LEROUX.
the head. But her figure was exquisitely
proportioned, and she was remarkably
Jacob Shard thought this a very queer
trio, and glanced furtively from one to the
other, in some embarrassment. But there
was no trace of embarrassment in any other
member of the party.
" Oh it's you, Uncle Adolphe !" said the
girl. " I was just trying to teach Zephany
the new waltz step. If he goes to this big
City ball to-morrow, he ought to know it."
" Sorry to interrupt such important
business," returned Mr. Hawkins.
And then he said a few words in Spanish
to the man, who laughed, showing a magni-
ficent range of white, short, faultlessly even
teeth, and retired to one of the long windows
opening on to a balcony, where the young
lady presently joined him. The lady at the
piano rose, and came forward.
" This is my cousin, Jacob Shard, Marie/'
said Hawkins. " I don't remember whether
you have ever met my wife, Shard ? "
Mrs. Hawkins bowed, smiled, and held
MADAME LEROUX . 245
out her pretty hand. " How do you do ? I
am very glad to see you," said she, speaking
with the faintest imaginable foreign accent.
" Mr. Shard and I have been settling
that affair about the young lady who wants
to be a teacher," said her husband.
" Oh yes?"
" I had to drive a hard bargain on your
behalf, Marie, I can tell you ! " pursued Mr.
Hawkins, jocularly. " I told him the matter
was chiefly in your hands ; and that you
would expect a proper remuneration for your
trouble. But Shard, here, is an awful
screw ! "
" I wish you were an awful screw,
Adolphe. / am, or I don't know what would
become of us," observed the lady, in flute-
" There, you see I was right ! Marie
insists on her bond," said Hawkins, with an
amused smile at his cousin.
" Dame ! Je crois bien ! " exclaimed
" My cousin doesn't speak French, my
dear. And " with a glance at Shard's
246 MADAME LEROUX.
startled face " I think you had better stick
to English in talking with him, or he may
fancy you're saying I don't know what ! "
There was a general burst of laughter at
this ; for it was clear Mr. Shard had mistaken
the lady's exclamation for an English
expletive not commonly obtruded on ears
Shard was confused. These people
puzzled him. They were of a kind which
had hitherto not come within his experience.
Mrs. Hawkins, however, exerted herself to
set him at his ease ; and, to a great extent,,
she succeeded. Her method was simple.
She displayed a sustained interest in hearing
Mr. Shard talk about himself.
At length he declared he must go, having
a business appointment in Gray's Inn ; and
Mr. Hawkins volunteered to walk part of the
way with him. " And," said he, "since you
don't return to the country to-night, come
back and eat a bit of dinner with us at eight
o'clock. Marie will expect you."
" Oh, yes ; I hope you will come. As
to what you would call dinner, I cannot
MADAME LEROUX. 247
promise. But there will be something to
eat and something to drink," said Marie,
"And by that time Fatima will have
finished her dancing lesson, and be ready to
talk to you about your prottgde, Miss Lucy
Smith. The two girls will make friends, I
have no doubt."
The cousins went down stairs together,
after Shard had willingly promised to return
at eight o'clock. "Have a weed?" said
Hawkins, stepping into his office and rum-
maging out a bundle of cigars from beneath
some papers in a drawer. " I think you'll
say that's an uncommonly neat article.
Never paid duty ; but that don't spoil the
" What a remarkably charming woman
your wife is, Dolph ! " said Mr. Shard, as he
struck a light.
" Right you are ! She's an uncommonly
gifted creature, is Marie. Terribly lost, poor
girl, in our present position. But we mean,
in the words of the poet, to * Wait till the
clouds roll by,' and between you and
24.8 MADAME LEROUX.
me, I don't think we shall have to wait
" Is Mrs. Hawkins an Englishwoman ? "
"Oh, yes; English born. But she was
educated in Paris."
" And that young lady Miss what was
it you called her ? "
Mr. Hawkins was biting at the end of
his cigar and answered through his teeth,
" Oh, Fatima ? Connection of Marie's by
the father's side. Indian blood in her veins,
as you can see. Confound these matches !
They're all damp."
Mr. Shard's curiosity was not yet
appeased, and he pursued his interrogations
as the tw r o men walked along the street
together. u I suppose," said he, peering
sideways at his cousin, " that's she's engaged
to that foreign gentleman ? "
Hawkins burst out laughing. " Engaged !
Lord bless your heart, nothing of the sort !
Zephany's old enough to be her father, and
has known her ever since she was in short
petticoats. Besides, Fatima must marry a
man with some money, if she ever marries
MADAME LEROUX. 249
at all. And Zephany is at the present
moment down on his luck. He's lodging
with us. Very clever fellow. I'll go with
you to the end of the street."
After walking a few paces, smoking in
silence, Shard inquired, "What nation does
he belong to ? "
"Humph! Well, that's rather a puzzle.
There's a Hebrew strain in him ; and I
fancy a little Arab. But his father was a
German ; mother a Spaniard ; born at
Gibraltar ; brought up in Europe, Asia,
and Africa generally ; speaks sixteen
languages. You must settle his nationality
" Sixteen languages ! " echoed Shard in
" Ten of 'em like a native. Bye-bye !
See you at eight."
Mr. Hawkins waved his hand and turned
away. Jacob Shard proceeded towards
Gray's Inn with his mind a good deal
bewildered. He was familiar with a great
many varieties of the respectable classes;
and with not a few of the criminal ones. But
250 MADAME LEROUX.
Bohemia was as utterly unknown to him as
the other side of the moon. Its inhabitants,
on this first view of them, appeared to have
agreeable manners, and to be given to
hospitality. Their easy exercise of this
virtue would have excited his contempt more
strongly had he not recollected Dolph's
keenness about the bargain, and Marie's
frankly-expressed determination to get all
she could out of it.
Then he thought of the dancing lesson ;
of Fatima, with her Asiatic face and out-
landish name ; of Dolph's stormy interview
with Mrs. Bruin downstairs, while his wife's
jewelled fingers were rattling through a
brilliant waltz in the drawing-room ; and the
upshot of his meditations was formulated in
the following sentence, which he repeated to
himself more than once :
" Take 'em in the lump, they're as rum a
lot as I ever came across in my life ; if not
rummer ! "
This opinion was not modified by the
entertainment he found awaiting him at eight
o'clock. The table was spread in a parlour
MADAME LEROUX. 251
on the ground-floor, behind which was the
office. The furniture in this room, like that
in the drawing-room, had once been costly ;
but was now desperately shabby, soiled, and
worn. Nevertheless the cloth was white, and
the table appointments although no two
articles appeared to belong to each other
looked bright and clean ; and there was a
goodly array of bottles on the sideboard.
Fatima, who entered the room, just as
the company was sitting down to table,
appeared with a flush on her sallow face,
due to the action of the kitchen-fire.
"There was rather short commons,"
explained the mistress of the house, not at
all apologetically, but just as she might have
remarked that it had begun to rain. " And
Fatima volunteered to make us an omelette
au jamb on. It's one of the things she doe s
best. I hope you can eat it, Mr. Shard,
because there is nothing else except some
cold roast mutton. Oh, yes ; by the way,
there is half a terrine of pate 1 de foie gras
somewhere in the sideboard. Get it out r
will you, Adolphe ? "
Marie presided over this heterogeneous
repast with as much graceful self-possession
as though it had been a dinner complete
enough at all points to satisfy the eyes of
Mrs. Grundy and the palate of Brillat
She had changed her dress ; and looked
very charming in a black silk gown made
open at the throat, and sparingly trimmed
with some very fine old lace. Fatima was
much shabbier ; but she, too, had smartened
her attire, and wore a knot of scarlet ribbon
in the wonderfully massive plaits of her blue-
The man whom Shard had seen in the
morning was present, and was introduced as
Monsieur Ferdinand Zephany. And when
they were half-way through dinner, there
entered a big, bullet-headed Irishman, with
cropped hair and a heavy moustache, who
looked like a private of dragoons, but who
was, it appeared, a literary and artistic
character, of versatile talents, rejoicing in
the name of Harrington Jersey. But this,
.as Mr. Hawkins explained in a whisper to
MADAME LEROUX. 253
his cousin, was not his real appellation,
" Merely a nom de guerre, you know.
Sounds well. I fancy his father was called
Mulrooney. But I'm not sure, and it don't
The new comer was bidden to take a
plate and knife and fork for himself from the
sideboard ; which he did in an easy, matter-
of-course way. The servant-maid had dis-
appeared after bringing in the dishes, and
the guests were left to help themselves and
each other to the food before them.
The novelty of the scene, and of the
society, did not prevent Mr. Shard from
eating a very sufficient dinner. There was
plenty of variety in the liquors furnished.
Besides bitter beer and stout, there were
several odd bottles of wine of different
vintages, and finally, with some excellent
black coffee which Fatima slipped out of
the room to prepare with her own hands
there was handed round a bottle of old
Cognac by way of liqueur.
Mr. Shard grew quite hilarious towards
the end of the repast. The food and drink
^ 54 MADAME LEROUX.
had been very much to his liking, and he
was not fastidious as to the manner of
serving it. But what diffused a peculiar
glow of satisfaction over the whole entertain-
ment was the fact that he was partaking of it
.gratis : Mr. Shard being persuaded that the
true secret of convivial enjoyment is to feast
at some one else's expense.
But he was not too much engrossed with
his dinner to listen to all that he could catch
of the conversation going on around him.
One name which he heard mentioned very
frequently was that of a certain Frampton
Fennell, whom Mr. Jersey appeared to hate
undisguisedly. Mrs. Hawkins twitted Jersey
with being jealous of this person, and there
was a good deal of jesting and sparring
" Who's this, now, eh ?" asked Shard, of
his neighbour Fatima, who answered his
questions with perfect civility.
"A critic," said Fatima.
" Oh ! Great man, eh ? "
" No ; he does not write for any
important publication. I shouldn't think it
MADAME LEROUX 255
matters much what he says. Only Jersey
and he always quarrel."
"Is it jealous?" burst out Mr. Jersey's
robust tenor voice, at this moment. " Me
jealous of Frumpy Fennell ? Faith, Mrs.
Hawkins, if you'd tell him that, you'd ad-
minister the biggest lump of blarney that's
ever gone down even his greedy gullet."
" You ought not to abuse him, when you
know there is such a great friendship
between him and the Leroux," said Marie,
smiling archly at him across the table.
" Friendship, indeed ! 'Tis all on one
side then, like the Bridgenorth election ! No,
no ; he may brag as he likes, but Madame
has far too much brains to be taken in by
that vapouring vain little villain. She's the
cleverest woman I ever met with in all my
life present company always excepted."
" Oh, you need not make that exception,
I don't set up to be clever."
" I beg your pardon, Mrs. Hawkins/'
answered Jersey, gravely, "but you misunder-
stood me. 'Twas Fatima I was thinking of."
There was a general laugh at Marie's
256 MADAME LEROUX.
expense, in which she joined with perfect
good humour. " I had agac^d you, and tit
for tat is all fair," said she, shrugging her
" Hear, hear!" cried Jacob Shard, in a
high-pitched falsetto. " Capital ! That's the
way to take things ! " Then in a lower key,
confidentially to his neighbour, "A woman
with temper and tact like your aunt's might
do any mortal thing she'd a mind to."
" Marie is my cousin," corrected Fatima.
" Cousin, is she ? But I thought you
called Dolph ' Uncle !'"
''Yes; because he is so much older than
either of us."
'"Oh, that's it, is it? Well, your cousin
is superior to the generality of her sex in one
respect if you'll excuse me for saying so.
Women are apt to be huffy. That's a great
weakness. There's no greater obstacle to
making your way in the world than being
huffy. But Mrs. Hawkins knows better.
Remarkably charming woman, indeed ! And
this clever lady they're talking about now
I'd lay a wager she's not cleverer than your
MADAME LEROUX. 257
cousin ! this Madame Looroo, or whatever
they call her who may she be ? "
" Madame Leroux ? She is a very
brilliant woman. Every one says so. She's
at the head of a fashionable school."
" Oh ! Widow, I conclude, from their
talking about her admirers, eh ? "
Poor Fatima's experience of life in the
Hawkins' household had taught her to look
on the truth as something dangerous and
disintegrating something which might blow
them all into the air like gunpowder, if
rashly uncovered, or handled without due
precautions. She already had some mis-
giving that she had been too frank.
Therefore, instead of making any categorical
answer to Mr. Shard, she made a little
movement of the head, which he might
interpret as he pleased, and murmuring
something about seeing to the lights in the
drawing-room, she rose from her chair and
quietly left the room.
The rest of the evening passed in a
manner equally agreeable to Mr. Shard.
When the company went upstairs, there
VOL. i. 17
258 MADAME LEROUX.
was music. Mrs. Hawkins sang French
chansonnettes with a tiny thread of voice,
but with great expression and vivacity.
Mr. Jersey gave them some of Moore's
Irish ballads, and Fatima played the
piano with verve, although not much
This concert might not have proved so
enjoyable to Mr. Shard, but for the circum-
stance that he was allowed to smoke while
he listened to it. All the men smoked Mr.
Jersey a meerschaum, Mr. Hawkins a cigar,
and Zephany a delicately fragrant cigarette.
It certainly was rather a shock to the lawyer
to see Marie and Fatima each accept a
cigarette from Zephany's case, and proceed
to smoke it with perfect nonchalance. But
he set down the proceeding to foreign
manners, and condoned it.
It appeared to him, from all the con-
versation he heard, that the Hawkins's
acquaintance comprised a great number of
accomplished and distinguished persons.
He had no criterion by which to judge their
pretensions, and was credulous enough in
some departments of human thought. The
two conditions which at once aroused his
hostile suspicion were being required to
believe in noble motives, and being asked
IT was the middle of July, and Mildred
Enderby was still at her uncle's house, Grim-
stock Park, where she received a letter from
Lucy. Mildred had written to her friend
on first hearing the news of her approaching
departure from Westfield (which had been
conveyed to her by Lady Charlotte, and
strongly tinged with Lady Charlotte's view
of the matter), a letter full of reproaches
and sorrow, and wonder and affection. Why
did Lucy go away ? How could she bear to
leave them ? and so on ; and ending by be-
seeching her to return forthwith to Enderby
Court, which was, and always should be, her
This epistle would scarcely have been
allowed to depart without some comments
[ 260 ]
MADAME LEROUX. 261
had it been written within the sphere of
Lady Charlotte's personal influence. But
Lady Grimstock did not interfere with her
niece's correspondence ; nor, in truth, trouble
herself at all about the matter.
The letter had been sent, under cover, to
Mr. Shard, who duly forwarded it ; and the
reply to it cost Lucy some tears and much
careful weighing of words. She had quite
understood the force of Lady Charlotte's ap-
peal to her to " make the best, and not the
worst, of the position." It was an implied
admission of her power. But there was no
fear that Lucy should seek to use it, at the
cost of making Mildred unhappy or bringing
jars and discords into Sir Lionel's peaceful
Therefore, in writing her letter, she had
done her best to put her position in the
pleasantest and most cheerful light.
"You must not talk of never being
happy without me," she wrote. " Of course
you will be happy. We shall both be happy.
What has been done is right, and will be for
the best. I have no right to be idle and
262 MADAME LEROUX.
useless, even if I wished it which I don't.
Remember that I am a waif and a stray,
with no valid claim on any human being
whom I know. I am not bemoaning myself,
mind ! I know how many good things have
come to me for which I ought to be grate-
ful for which I am grateful. Among the
good things I reckon the will to work and
the opportunity of working. But the best
good thing of all is a dear, dear sister Mildred,
who loves me. Besides, we are not so far
divided! It seemed a much more terrible
distance from Westfield to London than it
does from London to Westfield ! Is there
not a penny post in the land ? And the rail-
way would carry you to me, or me to you,
in less time than you often spend in an after-
noon's drive. Really, I am ashamed when
I catch myself thinking of this as a serious
"It is too early yet to tell you much of
my new life ; but I will say at once for I
know exactly what you are thinking and
feeling that Mr. Hawkins, in whose house I
now am, is not in the least like Mr. Shard
MADAME LEROUX. 263
neither in looks, nor manner, nor education,
nor so far as I can judge on a brief
acquaintance in character, does he resemble
him, although they are relations. Mrs.
Hawkins is much younger than her
husband very pretty, very engaging, and
not at all vulgar ; and there is a girl called
Fatima, whose room I share, and who is
very good-natured. I have found out by
asking the question that her due style and
title is Miss Loring. But nobody seems to
call her anything else than Fatima. They
all talk French admirably well ; and there is
a gentleman staying in the house who is a
wonderful linguist ; and they have a tolerable
piano, on which I may practise as much as I
like. So I shall be able to rub up my small
acquirements and keep, them bright and
shining for immediate use directly any
judicious schoolmistress has the penetration
to discern my merits and snap me up.
" Of course, everything here is very
different from Enderby Court ; but it is
amusing to see so much that is new. The
Hawkins's know a great many people who
264 MADAME LEROUX.
write, and paint, and sing, and play I mean?
whose profession it is to do those things.
And of course that is all very interesting^
to a country mouse like me !
" Good-bye, dearest Mildred! I will
write to you again soon. You must address
me as Miss Smith ; that is my own name,
you know. I found that Mrs. Hawkins
knew me by no other. Perhaps Mr. Shard
feared that if I kept his brother-in-law's
name I might make some claim on him as
his niece, or his wife's niece! In any case, I
am more than willing to bear my parents'
name, humble as it is ; I am not ashamed
" God bless you, dear. Pray, pray do-
not fret, or be uneasy about me ; I am quite
well, and eager to begin work. If the people
I have met hitherto are fair specimens, the
world cannot surely be so hard and cruel as
it is painted ! For every one is very kind tc*
me. Your ever faithful and affectionate
But although she thus put the best face
MADAME LEROUX. 265:
she could on the matter, she had, neverthe-
less, felt most drearily forlorn on her first
introduction into the household in Great
She had reached it about eight o'clock in
the evening, having driven there alone from
the railway station. There was some tea and
cold meat prepared for her in the dining-
room, over which refreshment Fatima pre-
sided, looking rather glum and distraite.
Mrs. Hawkins had had a private box given to-
her, and was gone to the play ; Mr. Hawkins-
left many apologies for not having gone to-
the station to meet Miss Smith, but he had
been unexpectedly called away on business.
Lucy was rather relieved at first to find
a girl near her own age, and gratefully ac-
cepted the tea which she proffered. But
although Fatima was too intrinsically sweet-
tempered to be sulky, she was obviously not
quite at her ease ; and, moreover, she was
dressed in attire such as Lucy was well con-
vinced, from the whole style and aspect of
the house, was not her ordinary style of
266 MADAME LEROUX.
At length, struck by a sudden idea, Lucy
said, " Why are you not at the play ? Were
you not invited to go ? "
" Oh, yes ; I could go. There's room in
Marie's box ; but "
" But you stayed at home on my ac-
count ? "
" Oh, it doesn't matter. Uncle Adolphe
said you would think it so strange to be left
quite alone the very first moment you arrived.
I don't mind, really," added Fatima, with
a genuinely amiable smile illumining her
" But I mind very much. I am so sorry !
I suppose it is too late for you to go now ? "
" Oh, no ; I could go Zephany would
take me, I'm sure. But no, never mind ;
I'll stay with you. It doesn't matter, really."
Lucy, however, settled the question by
declaring that she was tired, and should go
to bed forthwith ; and she begged Fatima to
lose no time in setting off to the theatre. " I
would not for the world you should lose such
a pleasure on my account," she said, warmly.
A visit to the theatre was not quite the
MADAME LEROUX. 267
entrancing delight to Fatima which it seemed
in Lucy's imagination. Nevertheless, Fatima
was but twenty ; amusements had a great
deal of zest for her still ; and it was by no
means a matter of course that she should be
allowed to accompany Marie on all occasions.
"It's awfully nice and good of you ! " she
-exclaimed gratefully. " And I shan't forget
it. See if I do ! "
" I suppose," said Lucy, with a shade of
hesitation, " that Mrs. Hawkins will think it
all right for you to go under the escort of
of Zephany ? "
She had no idea whether Zephany were
male or female, a friend, a servant, or a
Fatima opened her long Oriental black
eyes as widely as they could be opened. " Of
course ! " she answered, in a tone of complete
astonishment. " Zephany takes me every-
where when he has time, and I can get
hold of him. And he's at home now. I
heard him come in."
Then Fatima volunteered to show Lucy
lier room. " At least," she said, " you will
268 MADAME LEROUX.
have to share mine, if you don't mind ; for
the other bedroom is not furnished. Marie
had a bed put in my room for you. Shall I
tell Mary Ann to carry up some hot water
for you ? "
In a few minutes Fatima had wrapped
herself in a white opera cloak which had
once been whiter and Lucy heard her run
downstairs and tap at a door on the floor
below ; and then the sound of a man's voice,
and presently the wheels of a cab driving
away from the street-door.
Lucy was really tired, from the unusual
strain and excitement of the day ; making a
railway journey alone was an entirely new
experience for her. But when she put out
her candle, and lay down in the little cheap
iron bedstead provided for her, she remained
sleepless for hours, listening to the noise of
London, and, as it were, watching the images
which seemed to arise capriciously in her
At first she kept seeing over again in
imagination the new scenes among which she
found herself; the dingy dining-parlour im-
MADAME LEROUX. 269
perfectly lighted by one small lamp ; the
shabby passage with its worn oil-cloth ; the
stairs entirely carpetless above the drawing-
room floor ; and the vision of a slatternly
servant-maid toiling up them with a flaring
candle guttering in one hand, and a broken-
spouted jug of hot water in the'other. Then
the room in which she lay : untidy, poorly
furnished, and yet saved from being repulsive
by its perfect cleanliness, and the sense of as
much fresh air as was procurable in Great
Portland Street being admitted into it freely.
Then the countenance of Fatima, with her
smooth broad sallow face, and Asiatic eyes,
and the flash of ivory when she smiled. But
through her brain, coming and going without
any control from her volition, under all, she
was sensible of a dull heartache.
The feeling of being utterly alone was
the most immediately oppressive of all her
troubles, and seemed, at moments, to suffo-
cate her like a nightmare. But she shut her
eyes, and clasped her hands, and prayed,
until peace, and the sense of an unseen Pre-
sence, fell upon her like dew upon a flower ;
270 MADAME LEROUX.
and when Fatima came softly upstairs about
half an hour after midnight, she found her
lying in a deep, quiet slumber.
" She's very pretty," murmured Fatima,
gazing at her. " And she's nice, too. I wish
she was going to stay with us. At any rate,
I hope she w T on't go to that horrid Madame
Leroux. I detest her ! "
By which it may be seen that Fatima's
good nature, though wide, was not unlimited;
and that her sympathies were not bestowed
The next day Lucy, having with some
difficulty secured an interview with Mr.
Hawkins for he was full of some new pro-
ject, and declared himself to be immersed in
most important business ventured to tell
him how eager she was to begin w r ork, and
to express a hope that some place would
soon be found for her. He assured her that
II negotiations were pending;" and, as he
added, " I trust, Miss Smith, you are not so-
uncomfortable as to object to passing a week
or ten days with us ? " she felt it would be
ungracious to show too much impatience.
MADAME LEROUX. 271
She privately resolved to wait a fortnight, if
need were ; and if, at the end of that period,
she had no engagement, to write to Mr.
Shard and beg him to intervene.
Meanwhile she would work at her music
and languages, and be as cheerful as circum-
stances would permit. Sad, indeed, must the
circumstances be which can quench hope and
the joy of living at eighteen years old !
Her temperament was naturally bright
and buoyant ; and she found a good deal of
amusement in studying the manners and
customs of the novel world around her.
The impression which she herself made
on the Hawkins household varied in the
case of each individual composing it. Mr.
Hawkins pronounced her a charmingly
pretty girl, and unmistakably a lady. Fatima
said she was " lovely, and a dear." Mrs.
Hawkins admitted that she vias gentille, but
thought she had too much of a daisy-and-
buttercup air about her; and could not
believe her transparent truthfulness and
candour were quite genuine, since she could
be close enough on some points, when it
.272 MADAME LEROUX.
pleased her. But Zephany disposed of this
" Nonsense, Madame," said he brusquely.
" That's a speech unworthy of a clever woman
like you. Miss Smith has a sincere nature ;
but she is neither weak nor silly, and she can
hold her tongue when she sees occasion."
Zephany, indeed, was a declared champion
and admirer of Lucy's behind her back. In
her presence he was never complimentary ;
but he rendered her substantial assistance in
her studies, volunteering to correct her Ger-
man exercises and talk German with her.
Lucy at first hesitated to accept his help, and
privately consulted Mr. Hawkins as to what
.she ought to do. "He is a teacher of
languages, you tell me, and of course, not
rich," she said; "and I have some qualms of
conscience about taking up his time."
But Mr. Hawkins reassured her : "You
need not scruple. Zephany is not given to
gush. If he says he wants to help you, he
means it. And, as to his not being rich
well, I have known things at a very low ebb
with Zephany very low indeed. But, in
MADAME LEROUX. 273
one respect, I consider his circumstances to
be enviable : he does not owe a farthing in
the world. And," added Mr. Hawkins with
an ingenuous sigh, "just think what a
luxury that must be ! "
The ways of life in Great Portland Street
were somewhat slipshod, the hours irregular,
and the master and mistress as erratic as
meteors. There were many evidences of
want of cash, and yet there were no signs of
any such pinching and saving as Lucy had
witnessed at the Shards'. The table was
always plentifully covered, although the
quality of the viands varied, in a fitful way,
from salmon, young ducks, and some costly
French or German vintage, down to slices of
ham from the cook-shop and bitter beer in
Fatima would often be commissioned to
cook something in a hurry, as on the occa-
sion of Mr. Shard's visit ; and her perform-
ances were respectable, albeit rather mono-
tonous ; for, like certain drawing - room
pianists, her repertoire was limited. But
now and then Lucy could never understand
VOL. i. 1 8
274 MADAME LEROUX.
whether from sheer caprice or some distinct
motive Marie would tie on a big apron, slip
her sparkling rings into her pocket, roll up
the sleeves from her round white wrists, and
plunge down stairs into the kitchen ; whence
there was sure to emerge on such occasions
one, or perhaps two, exquisitely dainty
But Marie would not always take that
trouble. It happened more than once that
her husband, having invited some one to
lunch or sup with them, whom he particu-
larly desired to please, begged her to pre-
pare some part of the entertainment herself.
But, as often as not, she would calmly refuse;
and, when once she had said " No," neither
arguments nor prayers could move her.
"Pas du tout, mon cher" she would say
sweetly. " I am not a cook. I will not
scorch my face and ruin my complexion for
jour gr os lourdauds from the City. If they
are hungry, feed them on beefsteaks."
At first Lucy found it very embarrassing
that all these little domestic scenes were
enacted openly in her presence ; and, which
MADAME LEROUX. 275
was worse, that Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins
would alternately appeal to her from each
other, as thus :
" Now, don't you consider it most unkind,
Miss Smith ? I put it to you as an impartial
witness. Marie knows the vital importance
of pleasing old Bliftkins man of immense
influence in the City (Bliffkins, of Bliffkins
and Mugg) she knows that, if Bliffkins
would only let his name be printed on a cer-
tain prospectus, the project I have in hand
would turn out a tremendous, overpower-
ing, colossal success, and make all our for-
tunes ; and yet she will not stir a finger to
help me. How do you stigmatise such
heartlessness, Miss Smith ? It is enough to
make a man precipitate himself into the
Thames. By Heaven, it is!" And Mr-
Hawkins would slap his brow and stride
tragically up and down the room.
"Ah! but listen, Miss Smith," Mrs.
Hawkins would retort, with her forehead
perfectly smooth, and a becoming little
dimple in full play at the corner of her
mouth. "What do you think of Adolphe
276 MADAME LEROUX.
expecting me to turn servant, and slave for
these vulgar creatures, after he has wasted
all my money, as well as his own, in
ridiculous speculations ? If I had my dot,
we should be very well off without Bliffkins.
Besides, it is all a delusion of Adolphe's.
Bliffkins will do nothing for him. Ah,je les
connais ious, vos Bliffkins, allez ! "
This sort of thing in the beginning
distressed Lucy unspeakably. But when/
she found that similar scenes, far from
causing domestic ruin, and shattering Mr,
and Mrs. Hawkins's lives, as she in her
innocence had anticipated, did not even
involve any serious loss of temper, nor
impair for five minutes the serene amiability
of their behaviour to each other, she ceased
to take the matter to heart.
A singular kind of candour reigned in the
whole family a sort of sincerity turned
inside out. For it seemed to Lucy that they
often revealed what it would have been more
dignified to keep secret, and concealed what
it would have been more honest to disclose.
MR. AND MRS. HAWKINS held more than one
council as to what was to be done with Miss
Lucy Smith. Marie was bent on placing her
with Madame Leroux ; her husband did not
take up this notion so warmly. " I cannot
think why you should hesitate about it,
Adolphe," said his wife ; " it is a chance in a
thousand for the girl a first-rate connection,
and a charming woman ! "
" Ye yes; but "
"Well? But what?"
" Madame is charming in certain ways,
and to certain people. But I am not sure
that she would be charming to a young
teacher quite in her power."
" In her power ? Nonsense ! It is not a
question of buying a slave, but of hiring an
L m ]
278 MADAME LEROUX.
assistant. If the young lady is not satisfied
she can go away ; we shall have done all we
undertook to do."
" That is true, of course. But still "'
"You see, Miss Smith is not quite of the
ordinary stamp of teachers, such as Madame
has been used to employ. She knows
nothing of the world, and she has been
brought up in certain ideas. Little little
pious frauds, let us say, might scandalise
"And if they did scandalise her, what
business is that of yours ? But really I don't
believe your Miss Smith is such an imbecile
as you seem to think her. Besides, look
here, Adolphe ; I know our friend is
in need of a little ready money just now,
"She generally is."
" Of course she is ! That is as much as
to say she is a civilised human being. And
she will accept a smaller premium with Miss
Smith than she has a right to demand."
" Will she ? And then, to be sure, what
MADAME LEROUX. 279
you say is quite true. If Miss Smith does
not like the place, she can leave it."
A few days later, Mrs. Hawkins
announced that Madame Leroux was com-
ing to supper on the following evening,
in order chiefly to see Miss Smith, and to
conclude her engagement.
" I have asked Frampton Fennell and
Harrington Jersey to meet her," said Mrs,
Hawkins. " I only hope they won't challenge
each other to single combat for the sake of
her beaux yeux. All the men go crazy about
1 'Not quite all," observed Zephany, who
happened to be present.
" Ah, bah! you are no rule; for you
never go crazy about anybody," returned
Marie, placidly. " And I hope, Fatima, that
you won't prejudice little Smith against
Madame Leroux by any of your nonsensical
dislike to her. This is a question of business
It is very important that the girl should get
this place ; and if I find you attempting to
put a spoke in the wheel I shall be
2 8o MADAME LEROUX.
Zephany looked at her attentively with
his bright, keen eyes, but said nothing.
Lucy was greatly excited by the news of
the schoolmistress's approaching visit, and
nervously anxious to please her. In reply to
her questions, Mrs. Hawkins said that
Madame would probably wish to hear her
play, and speak French, but that no doubt it
would be all right.
" Oh, do you think it will ? " asked Lucy,
eagerly. " I shall be nervous."
" You need not be afraid, Mademoiselle,"
said Zephany, encouragingly, "/can answer
for your French and German ; and Mrs.
Hawkins, who is a very good judge, assures
me that you play very well."
Zephany at first had declined to join the
supper party ; but when Lucy said, frankly
''Oh, I am so sorry! It would give me
courage to see you there," he changed his
mind, and consented to appear among them.
" My good friend, you will turn that girl's
head if you don't take care," said Mrs.
Hawkins to him, when Lucy had left the
MADAME LEROUX. 281
"No!" answered Zephany, in the loud,
almost fierce, tone which he used, not in
anger, but whenever he was earnest and
emphatic. "It is too well ballasted with
brains to be blown about by foolishness and
"Your modesty may mislead you, mon
ther" replied Mrs. Hawkins, looking at him
through her half-closed eyelids, and smiling.
" I am not so modest as you think,
Madame. I know there are girls who would
jump to the conclusion that I wanted to
make love to them if I said a kind word, and
would be charmed to think so, even of a poor
devil like me, turned forty years of age, and
giving lessons at half-a-crown an hour. But
Mademoiselle Lucy is not of that sort. Don't
alarm yourself! I know my ground."
Marie was not in the least angry or
offended ; she merely shrugged her shoulders
and reflected privately that in some things
men were all equally foolish ; and that
Zephany, with all his acuteness and
experience, had formed as exaggerated an
idea of Miss Smith's lily-like candour as
282 MADAME LEROUX.
Adolphe had who was always soft and silly
about women and children.
The preparations for the supper party
were of a more luxurious character than
usual. Mr. Hawkins, by means of some of
his mysterious transactions in the City, had
latterly been flush of money, and whenever
this was the case, Marie insisted on spending
it without delay. The larger part of the
expenditure generally took the shape of
jewellery not so much for her personal
adornment (although she affected no un-
feminine indifference on this score) as
because diamonds and emeralds are a form
of portable property peculiarly well calculated
to elude the researches of the Court of
On the festal evening, a diamond brooch
(bought a bargain, second-hand) sparkled
amid the old lace at her throat, and seemed
to have lent some of its lustre to her child-
like blue eyes. She was in very good looks
and good spirits. Fatima, on the contrary,
was not as cheerful as usual at the beginning
of the evening ; and there were traces of
MADAME LEROUX. 283;
tears on her eyelids. But she recovered her-
self before very long. It was contrary to the
traditions and practice of the Hawkins family
to be dull or sad for the past or the future,
when there was an hour's enjoyment to be
had in the present.
The first guest to arrive was Mr. Har-
rington Jersey. He loomed magnificent in
full evening dress, with a hothouse flower in
his coat, and his moustaches stiffly waxed.
" Goodness, Jersey, what a swell you
are ! " exclaimed Fatima, when he entered
" What's all this for ?" asked Mrs. Haw-
kins, giving him one hand, and pretending
to shade her eyes with the other. " Vous
etes tblouissant ! "
Lucy, seated modestly in a corner,
amused herself in trying to imagine what
Miss Feltham's feelings would be if she
could witness this mode of receiving a guest
in ordinary evening clothes.
" The fact is," said Jersey, " I'm going
on somewhere else, later. I know you don't
require me to dress ; but I thought "
284 MADAME LEROUX.
" Oh, don't apologise. You look lovely ! "
Jersey regarded himself gravely in the
chimney-glass, and seemed to be somewhat
of his hostess's opinion. " How d'ye do,
Sheik ? " he said, saluting Zephany, on whom
he had, long ago, bestowed this sobriquet.
It hit off happily enough the subtle pecu-
liarity of Zephany's manner the something
indefinably untamed about the man, which
was perceptible to a quick observer, and
which differentiated him from the ordinary
products of Western civilisation.
Zephany showed his magnificent teeth
for a moment, as the Irishman's big hand
swallowed up his own slender brown one.
There was a liking between the two men,
who were friends after their fashion.
" I've just seen that ass, Frumpy Fennell,
at the Mountebanks," said Jersey, after he
had been seated a short while.
" Is Fennell a member of your club ? "
asked Mr. Hawkins.
" I'm sorry to say he is. And I'm not
the only one who is sorry. But fellows had
not the courage to keep him out, and they
MADAME LEROUX. 285
must put up with him. It's wonderful how
he'll clear a room. The Tories ought to hire
him to assist the police in my own happy
native island. Give him the run of his
tongue, and he'll disperse any mob in five
minutes. His fellow-creatures flee from
before his face."
" Mr. Fennell is coming here to-night,' r
observed Marie, in her quiet, silvery tones.
" No ! You don't mean it ? "
" Yes I do ; so you had better get your-
self into a better frame of mind about him
4 ' What's the matter with Fennell ?" said
Mr. Hawkins good-humouredly. " I think
he's rather good fun."
" A vicious monkey may be good fun
behind the bars of his cage at the Zoo ; but
one doesn't thirst to enjoy his society in
" Oh, come, come, Jersey ! Fennell isn't
a monkey. He's a very clever fellow in his
" He's such a conceited little beast ! And
so envious ! "
286 MADAME LEROUX.
"f like him very much," said Marie,
smiling. " He has sent me two private
boxes and several stalls this season ; and I
won't hear him run down.' J
" I suppose he has been abusing some-
thing of yours, in the newspapers," said
"Well, he has ; but it isn't that that riles
me ! The fellow's too insignificant, and the
things he writes for are too second-rate, for
it to matter a straw what he says of me.
But what I can't stand is his poking it
down your throat like Mrs. Squeers with the
brimstone-and- treacle, and pretending to be
astonished that you don't like ! He told me
just now when I cut up rather rough over
some strictures he volunteered on my Society
Ballads, 'Songs of the Tea-Kettle ' that the
ruin of high - class criticism was private
partiality ; and that, for his part, he was
always ready to express the most unfavour-
able opinion of his dearest friends in the
interests of Art ! "
" How very quaint ! " exclaimed Lucy,
almost involuntarily ; and then blushed in
MADAME LEROUX. 287
some confusion at having put in her
" Quaint, do you call it, Miss Smith ?
On my conscience, that's as mild and
charitable a way of putting it as I ever
heard ! "
" Bah ! " exclaimed Zephany, contemp-
tuously. " Any of us can abuse our friends.
There's nothing in that ! Will he praise his
enemy in the interests of Art ? "
" By Jove, I wish I'd thought of saying
that to him ! "
A loud double-knock at the street-door at
this moment made Lucy's heart beat quickly.
The new-comer, however, was not Madame
Leroux, but Mr. Fennell, who shortly ap-
peared at the door of the drawing-room.
He was a pallid, meagre, fretful-looking
young man of about thirty, with light reddish
hair, and a feeble straggling moustache of
the same hue. He was very near-sighted ;
and wore a pince-nez, which, whenever he
wrinkled up his nose disdainfully (and he
wrinkled it up rather frequently) fell off, and
had to be replaced. He wore a morning
288 MADAME LEROUX.
coat, and coloured trousers, and looked in
angry surprise at Jersey.
"I must apologise to you, Mrs. Hawkins,"
he said. " I didn't dress. I thought "
"You are quite right, Mr. Fennell," re-
plied Marie, graciously. " You have done
as I asked you. That is the best fotitesse."
Fennell, who had been looking very sour
and discontented, smoothed his ruffled plum-
age at these words, and still more at the way
in which they were said.
" I confess I thought so," he answered ;
" and, now you say so, I know it."
His manner conveyed an affectation of
supercilious indifference to mankind in
general ; but, as he spoke, his eyes were
continually roving from one to another of his
audience, in the restless effort to judge of
the effect which he was producing. He and
Jersey exchanged a cool nod.
" I didn't know you were coming here to-
night," said Fennell.
" And I didn't know you were coming
here to-night," said Jersey.
Which interesting statements of fact
MADAME LEROUX. 289
comprised all the conversation that took
place between them during the rest of the
" Thank you so much, Mr. Fennell," said
Marie, " for sending me a box for the new
" I enjoyed it so much."
Fennell bowed again, slightly elevating
" Don't you think it very good ? "
" Well I I'm afraid not. You see it all
depends on one's point of view."
" Oh, yes ; I daresay you, who are so
clever, can see fe a great many defects. But
it was praised in the Jupiter, and in the
Areopagus, wasn't it ? "
Mr. Fennell smiled sarcastically.
" My dear madam," said he, " with us,
who are behind the scenes, that circumstance
cannot weigh a grain not the hundredth
part of a grain."
" The whole system of contemporary
criticism," began Mr. Fennell, fixing his eye-
VOL. i. 19
2 9 o MADAME LEROUX.
glass firmly on his nose, and assuming a
commanding position on the hearthrug, " is
founded on a fundamental misconception of
the functions of the critic. He should be
Rhadamanthine ; he is human."
4< Well, but there isn't much harm in that,
is there ? " said Mr. Hawkins with a con-
" Not much harm ? But there there's
what they have brought public opinion to!
My dear sir, do you not perceive that in
certain cases the suppressio veri is equivalent
to the suggestio falsi, and that a man should
not hesitate to crush "
" Good gracious ! who is to be crushed ?
I hope it isn't me, because I have none of
the humble virtues of the herb of the field,
and I shouldn't be any the better for crush-
ing," said a full rich voice from the doorway,
and the next moment Madame Leroux came
forward with a rapid step, her hands held
out, scattering salutations right and left as
she entered the room.
There was a suggestion of life, and
warmth, and enjoyment in her face, her
MADAME LEROUX. 291
voice, her swift, but perfectly graceful, move-
ments. Her figure was perhaps a little too
full for symmetry, and her features were
irregular ; but the contour of the cheeks,
and chin, and rounded throat was firm and
clear. She had the complexion of a true
brunette, with a skin of smooth, fine texture.
If the rich glow on her cheeks and lips were
helped by art, it was art of a very delicate
.and finished kind. Her eyebrows and eye-
lashes were nearly black, and the eyes be-
neath them of a bluish grey. A quantity of
curling brown hair clustered round her fore-
head, and was drawn at the back of the head
into a careless knot, from which the ringlets
here and there escaped, and fell in free,
graceful curves, like the tendrils of a vine.
Lucy gazed at her in speechless admira-
tion and surprise. " Why did no one tell
me that Madame Leroux was so handsome?"
she whispered to Fatima.
But Fatima merely answered in a dry
tone, " You haven't seen her by daylight
" Oh, Fatima, that is nonsense ! A
292 MADAME LEROUX.
woman with that face must be strikingly
handsome by any light ! "
" Y yes ; I suppose she is handsome,"
admitted Fatima, grudgingly. " And she
certainly does look marvellously young for
" Her age ! Why, how old is she ? "
" How old should you suppose her to
be ? "
" Twenty-five," said Lucy, innocently.
The other girl laughed. " Some people
say she will never see forty-five again. But
Marie thinks she is about thirty-seven."
Meanwhile the subject of these whispered
remarks was keeping up a lively sort of
monologue to the circle that surrounded her ;
interspersing her speech every now and then
by a little low, rippling laugh.
" I thought I never should get away,"
she was saying. " My old Fraulein, the
German governess, who has been with me
for ages, and never had a day's illness
being, indeed, one of those hard, dry, useful
people, who seem to be made of wood, like
a cheap doll took it into her head to have
MADAME LEROUX. 293
the tooth-ache, and went off to bed at seven
o'clock, leaving me plantte, with no one but
myself to preside over the tea-table, a thing
I detest. Then a British matron insisted
on interviewing me to expound the peculiar
character of her daughter's mind, which is
shy, sensitive, timid, and requiring the utmost
delicacy of treatment to develop its latent
lustre the girl being simply a ninny- -une
dinde, ma chere I But one had to listen and
look sympathetic. After tea I could not
stand it any longer. I felt as if my brain
was rapidly softening in the unrelieved
society of les jeunes meess. So I rushed into
a cab, leaving the whole establishment to
the care of Providence and the Metropolitan
police-constables and me voila ! "
" Oh, we should have been too dis-
appointed if you had not come," said Mrs.
Her husband, Jersey, and Fennell, were
standing in an admiring group round
Madame Leroux, and were so placed as to
fence her off from the two girls who sat
together at the other end of the room.
294 MADAME LEROUX.
Zephany had remained somewhat in the back-
ground, sitting on a chair turned hindside
foremost, resting his elbows on the back of it,
and staring attentively at Madame Leroux.
" Isn't she a delightful creature?" said
Mr. Fennell in Zephany's ear. " Wonderful I
Such verve, such vivacity ! I never saw
anything like her, never ! "
" I've seen something like her "
" Where ? "
" At the Gymnase, in Paris, twenty years
ago," answered Zephany ; his eyes fixed with
unwinking gravity on Madame Leroux.
Perhaps she caught something of what
he said ; for she turned round rather sharply,
and the colour deepened perceptibly in her
cheeks. " Oh, bon soir, Zephany," she said,.
" I hadn't seen you."
He stood up, made her a bow, and sat
down again in silence.
Mrs. Hawkins whispered to her guest,
and passing her arm through Madame
Leroux's, drew her apart to one of the win-
dows, where they conversed in a low tone,
" I'll accept your verdict as to the piano,"
MADAME LEROUX. 295
said Madame Leroux. " We have professors,
you know. She will have to grind with the
practising. As to her French and German
well, one knows the sort of thing. I'm
resigned. Eh ? A really good accent.
That's a marvel ! Is she English pur sang ?
What's her name ? Smith ! English enough,
certainly. Well, my dear, I must shut my
eyes and open my mouth and take what
Fortune sends me ; for, frankly, I'm hard up.
If she is prepared to pay down her premium
in hard cash, I'll say nothing about her
board. We generally charge that for the
" You can have the money the day after
to-morrow, if you like," said Mrs. Hawkins.
"I'm running a risk, you know, Marie."
" How ? "
" I have always kept an impassable bar-
rier between the school and my life outside
it. I have never allowed any of my teachers
to be acquainted with my own friends. One
is obliged to submit to prunes and prism in
one's trade ; but, really to carry prunes and
prism into one's private life ! "
296 MADAME LEROUX.
" No, no, my dear," said Marie, quickly;
" it's all right. No need to gener yourself.
The girl is as quick and bright as a needle.
She has been with us ten days, and has quite
adapted herself to our ways. She will
understand how to hold her tongue. She's
an orphan, quite alone in the world. Some-
one is paying this premium for her out of
charity. She's dying for you to take her,
and more than willing to do as she's bid."
"Bon! V a pour Miss Smith! But I
must have the money at once, understand."
" Just step into my room and write a line
that I can inclose to the girl's guardian ; and
I have no doubt he will send a cheque by
return of post."
The two ladies withdrew for a few
minutes, and when they returned, Mrs.
Hawkins went up to Lucy with a congratu-
latory smile. " There ! " she said, holding a
sheet of note-paper before the girl's eyes.
" The negotiation is concluded. Consider
" No ! Really ? Oh, Mrs. Hawkins, I
am so glad ! But how ? She hasn't
MADAME LEROUX. 297
said a word to me ! Hasn't heard me play,
" Madame takes my word for all that.
I have only to send this letter to Mr. Shard,
and all will be settled."
Lucy looked eagerly at the few words of
neat, small, foreign-looking writing ; and saw
the signature at the bottom of the page,
" Caroline Graham Leroux."
" THIS is the young lady," said Mrs. Haw-
kins, leading Lucy up to Madame Leroux.
Lucy bowed nervously ; but the elder
woman, instead of returning her salutation r
stood gazing at her with a singular, dreamy,
far-away look, as if she were lost to all
It passed in a few seconds, however, and
gave place to a glance of cool inspection.
" You have no experience, I think ? You
have never taught ? " she said.
" No, madame ; but I am most anxious
to do my best. With a little direction, I
think I shall soon be able to "
" Oh, I dare say you will ; the duties are
not very difficult. Fraulein Schulze will put
you in the way." Then, with another
MADAME LEROUX. 299-
thoughtful look at the girl's downcast face,,
she turned away. " Where does she come
from ? " she asked abruptly of Marie.
" From Eastfield no, Westfield a
village somewhere in the Midland counties.
Her uncle, or uncle-in-law, is Adolphe's-
cousin a Mr. Shard."
Marie did not very accurately remember,
if she had ever been told, the exact nature of
Lucy's connection with the Shards, which
she would have considered practically un-
important. The amount of the percentage
she would be able to secure for herself out
of the premium was important ; and as to
that she was perfectly clear.
" Ah ! Bien ! " said Madame Leroux,
passing her hand over her forehead once or
twice, with the action of brushing something
away. After that, she took no further notice
of Lucy throughout the evening ; seeming,,
indeed, to forget her existence altogether.
Lucy was thus free to watch her unob-
served, which she did with a strange mixture
of feelings. She was vexed with herself for
not being more elated at her success ; and
300 MADAME LEROUX.
yet it had all come about so differently from
what she had expected. Her chief anxiety
had been caused by the doubt whether her
.acquirements would reach the standard
required by the mistress of a " first-rate
finishing school," as Mr. Hawkins described
it. But all that part of the business had
been passed over as if it were of trifling
consequence. To be sure, Mrs. Hawkins
had guaranteed her efficiency ; but she re-
membered that, in discussing various schools,
Mrs. Hawkins had by no means seemed to
think that her unsupported recommendation
would suffice to secure an engagement in any
" Well, certainly," said Lucy to herself, at
length, "it is absolutely perverse to be dis-
contented because I have succeeded too
easily ! " And she resolved to be duly
thankful and content.
But such resolutions are more easily
made than kept.
She was conscious of a little sinking of
the heart when she contrasted as she could
not help doing the idea she had formed
MADAME LEROUX. 301
beforehand of the accomplished and clever
head of a first-rate school with the reality
before her. She had never imagined anyone
even distantly resembling Madame Leroux.
Madame was a great deal more brilliant, a
great deal more handsome, possibly a great
deal more clever but she was not Lucy's
Then, too, the question kept persistently
recurring to her mind ever since she had
read the signature to the letter could this
lady, who called herself Caroline Graham
Leroux, be the same Caroline Graham of
whom Miss Feltham had talked to her at
Enderby Court ? Her mind inclined, now to
an affirmative, now to a negative, answer, but
rested satisfied with neither. Caroline Gra-
ham, although not so common as as Lucy
Smith, for instance was not so unusual a
name but that it probably was borne by a
great many women having no connection
with each other. And yet she could not
help fancying that some touches in Miss
Feltham's description seemed to apply to
this lady. When she remembered these, she
.302 MADAME LEROUX.
shrunk from admitting the possibility that
the demoiselle de compagnie and her own
future employer might be one and the same
person. And yet, on the other hand, Caro-
line Graham must surely have had some
fine qualities to draw forth so emphatic a
tribute of regard as Lady Charlotte had
uttered at Sir Lionel's table.
Over and over again she told herself that
she would not trouble her head with any
more speculations on the subject ; and over
and over again the question returned with
the persistence of a haunting- tune.
At length she suddenly resolved to ask
Mrs. Hawkins if she had ever heard Madame
Leroux speak of the Earl of Grimstock or
his family. She put her question very
quietly, speaking close to Mrs. Hawkins's
ear ; but that lady looked round quickly to
see if Madame Leroux were listening, as she
" Tchut ! don't talk about them to her.
Madame hates the sound of their name ! "
" Hates the sound of their name ?"
" Yes, they behaved very badly to her
MADAME LEROUX. 303
when she was a young girl turned her out
of the house, and maligned her, and "
" Oh, indeed, that is not true! There is
some mistake!" exclaimed Lucy, impulsively.
" Oh, I'm positive there was something
of the kind. II y avail des histoires. But I
know nothing about it. I was a child at the
time. Only I remember that Caroline wrote
to people she knew in Paris, where my
family were living at the time, making out
her own case. But do you know Lord
Grimstock ? " asked Mrs. Hawkins, looking
at her with mild curiosity.
She did not display much surprise.
Strong emotions were not in Marie's line.
One of the traits in her, which many persons
found most captivating, was the innocent
serenity of her manner. It was far from
being dull or stagnant ; but reminded one of
the cheerful course of a clear, shallow little
brook, which ripples and breaks itself now
and again against some weed or pebble, just
sufficiently to escape monotony, and to catch
the play of the sunbeams. Such, at least,
was the impression made on strangers,
304 MADAME LEROUX.
particularly on strangers of the male sex
unless, indeed, they happened to be creditors
anxious for the payment of a long-standing
bill, in which case they were liable to find
Mrs. Hawkins's graceful insouciance rather
"No, I do not know Lord Grimstock,"
answered Lucy, with a pained, perplexed
expression on her face. " But I know some-
one I was told a lady who had been
governess in the family "
"Ah! You should not attach any im-
portance to that sort of thing, my dear Miss
Smith ! Generally people's stories are not
true. And if they are, it generally don't
It was hopeless to attempt any further
explanation to, or expect any further elucida-
tion from, Mrs. Hawkins. Lucy had heard
enough to make her feel sure that Madame
Leroux was the Caroline Graham who had
once lived as a petted favourite in the Gaunt
But how could it be that she should
" hate the sound of their name," while Lady
MADAME LEROUX. 305
Charlotte made it a point of honour to praise
her devotion to the family ?
It was perplexing beyond measure.
Lucy could not content herself with Mrs.
Hawkins's philosophy. But the advice
which that lady presently gave her was
doubtless sound ; and had at least this merit
by no means common to all friendly
council that it was possible to follow it.
" Listen, Miss Smith," Marie had said
amiably. " I will give you a valuable hint.
Madame Leroux demands, above all things,
discretion in her subordinates. You are
not likely to spread cancans in the school.
You have too much sense. That kind of
thing is not only vulgar, but bete. But I
would advise you to say as little as possible
about Madame, good or bad. It is so safe
to hold one's tongue ! and so easy ! But I
grant that if one once begins to talk, it is
not at all easy to stop short just at the right
Lucy glided back to her place near
" Well, what do you think of her now ? "
VOL. i. 20
306 MADAME LEROUX.
asked the latter, with her eyes fixed on
" She seems to have most brilliant spirits.
I had scarcely imagined that a schoolmistress
with all her weight of responsibility could
be so merry ! But I suppose she enjoys
getting out of school as much as any of her
' Oh, yes," answered Fatima, bitterly,
" No doubt she will be very different in
Douro House, Kensington, to-morrow. She
has a daylight manner as well as a daylight
" I wish," said Lucy, to change the
subject, "that Mr. Frampton Fennell would
give us the conclusion of his lecture on
criticism. I think he is very amusing. But
surely he must be more than half in joke
most of the time ! "
" Neither Fennell nor any of the other
men will trouble themselves to amuse us
while Madame Leroux is here. She will
take care of that. Just look ! None of
them are taking the least notice even of
MADAME LEROUX. 307
Madame Leroux was seated at the oppo-
site side of the room in a low chair near the
fireplace. On the hearthrug in front of the
empty grate, and with his elbow on the
mantelpiece, stood Mr. Frampton Fennell,
conspicuously absorbed in looking at and
listening to her ; to her right hand, and a
little behind her chair, sat Harrington Jersey,
next to the sofa on which his hostess was
placed ; and facing Madame, were Mr. Haw-
kins and Zephany, the latter still resting his
arms on the back of his chair, and still
gravely regarding Madame Leroux.
She was keeping them all in play with
the adroitness and ease of an Indian juggler
with a handful of balls. She no more
allowed the attention of any one of the four
men to wander from her than the Indian's
lithe hand allows one of his glittering globes
to fall to the ground. Now and then one
might seem to be on the point of eluding
her; but she was sure to catch him with
triumphant dexterity, and to give him a
graceful toss into the air, which made him
fancy he was flying by his own impulse.
3o8 MADAME LEROUX.
It was a curious game for a disinterested
spectator to watch. But poor Fatima looked
on with a sick sinking of the heart, for she
had suffered from it. A year ago she had
fancied that Jersey cared for her. Perhaps
it was his naturally soft and caressing manner
towards women which had misled her ; per-
haps he had really felt some tenderness for
the girl, whose amiable and unselfish temper
he had had many opportunities of appre-
ciating, and whose undisguised and admiring
belief in his talents was certainly very agree-
able. Poor little Fatima had allowed her-
self to fall over head and ears in love with
the good-humoured Irishman ; and, for a
while, was perfectly happy in her day-
But one day, Madame Leroux chancing
to meet Jersey at the Hawkins's, all Fatima's
cloud-castles were shattered and dispersed
with ruthless celerity.
" I wouldn't mind at least, I wouldn't
complain," said Fatima, to herself, " if it
were a question of his happiness. But she
cares not a straw for him. She has taken
MADAME LEROUX. 309
him away from me for I think he did like
me just to gratify her insatiable vanity.
And when once that is accomplished, she
will never give a second thought to either
of us ! "
But all these things Fatima proudly kept
in her own heart, and spoke no word of
them. Untrained, untutored, living among
unscrupulous people and shifty ways, she yet
was sound at the core, and had wholesome
womanly instincts. And although she fre-
quently outraged the conventional proprieties,
there was not a man in all her miscellaneous
acquaintance who would willingly have
offended Fatima by so much as a light
Peals of laughter now broke from the
group near the fireplace, where the rest of
the company had become the mere spectators
of a sort of duel between Madame Leroux
and Zephany. Zephany had been giving
her his attention, it was true ; but she was
sensible that it was not a wholly admiring
attention. He remained inflexibly grave at
many of her sallies. He was cool, quiet,
310 MADAME LEROUX.
and critical. Caroline Leroux's mettle was
roused. Ruthlessly audacious, archly playful,
airily vivacious " everything by turns,
and nothing long " she addressed herself
to extract a compliment from him, to extort
a laugh, to compel him to admire her
on some ground or other, no matter
Gradually his icy manner thawed ; he
grew warm in the contest ; she provoked
him to answer her sharply once or twice,
and then made as if she were mortified by
his harshness. She assumed such an air of
being hurt, humbled, and out of countenance
at his superiority in word-fence, that he fell
into the trap, and began to relent, to
apologise, to soften what he had said. Upon
this, she suddenly turned round with feline
swiftness, and administered two or three
pitiless coups de patte, in the shape of sar-
castic mockery ; her eyes dancing, her red
lips smiling in triumph.
It was so clever, so unexpected, so
frankly audacious, that Zephany, after a
second's pause of dismay, burst into a
MADAME LEROUX. 311
genuine, almost boyish, laugh. He got up
from his chair and kissed her hand.
" Madame," said he, "I beg for quarter!
You are invincible and irresistible."
At this moment supper was announced,
and Mr. Hawkins advanced to offer his arm
to Madame Leroux, but she declined ; she
would accept no escort but Zephany's. They
.all rose together, laughing and talking.
Madame Leroux put her arm through
Zephany's, and turned her head coquettishly
over her shoulder to speak to the others, who
were following in her wake.
" It's just like that delightful picture of
Carpaccio's that I once saw in a little out-of-
the-way church in Venice," she said. " Saint
George has subdued a basilisk such a queer,
grim, tragi-comical monster ! and holds him
in a leash ; and one sees that the saint is a
great deal prouder of his capture than he
would have been of the beautifullest beast in
creation. When one has bagged a basilisk
one holds him tight."
"And one lashes him hard," added
312 MADAME LEROUX.
The whole party descended the stairs in
unceremonious disorder ; and the two girls
remained behind in the drawing-room abso-
Lucy looked at her companion. " Do
you think they mean us to have any supper ?' r
she said, quietly. " Shall we go ?"
To her surprise, the tears were stand-
ing in Fatima's eyes, and she exclaimed,
" Oh, to think of Zephany ! The idea of
his breaking down and condescending to
flatter her ! and he knows better ! " Then
she muttered, in a lower tone, " I think the
woman is a witch ! "
But the next moment her face brightened
wonderfully, for Harrington Jersey appeared
at the door.
"Fatima! Miss Smith!" he called.
" What are you doing here ? I am sent to
bring you downstairs."
"We were coming," answered Lucy.
" Please to take Fatima, Mr. Jersey. There
is not room for us to go together ; I will
MADAME LEROUX. 315,
To Jersey it mattered very little which of
the two girls he escorted ; but when Fatima
looked up at him, radiant with delight, as she
placed her hand on his coat-sleeve, he was
touched, and said
" We haven't had a chat together this
ever so long, have we, Fatima ? You must
sit next me. It will be quite like old times."
The supper was an excellent one. Marie
had taken the matter into her own hands \
and when she did so, the question of expense
was never allowed to interfere with enjoy-
ment. Indeed, she held it, moreover, to be
a sound maxim of domestic economy, " That
which you have eaten and drunk, your credi-
tors cannot deprive you of."
As the wine went round, Mr. Hawkins
waxed eloquent on the extraordinary fortunes
that were to be made with a sum of from
one hundred and fifty to three hundred
pounds to start with ; and bemoaned the
" cursed spite" of Fate which seemed to
have ordained that the people who knew
how to speculate never should have any
money, while the people who had money
3i4 MADAME LEROUX.
never understood how to speculate. Jersey
became more tender in his manner to Fatima,
and dropped his voice lower and lower as he
talked into her willing ear. And even Mr.
Fennell was impelled to bestow so much
attention on his neighbour, Lucy, as con-
sisted in addressing a good many profound
observations to her, which no one else
appeared to be at leisure to listen to.
" I presume," said he, adjusting his eye-
glass, and assuming a lofty air, "that you
have not read much poetry."
"Why?" asked Lucy demurely.
"Eh? Why what?"
" Why do you presume that I have not
read much poetry ? "
As Mr. Fennell had really had no reason
on earth for saying so, beyond his vague and
general notion that whosoever he happened
to be conversing with would probably be in
a position to require enlightenment from him,
he was a little taken aback at this.
"Oh well! ahem! young ladies of
your age are not generally . However,
I was about to remark that the distinct
MADAME LEROUX. 315
degradation of our literature in general, and
our poetry in particular, is to be traced to the
lax and weak indulgence of the critics."
" Is it, indeed ? But then one cannot
help asking, ' are literature and poetry in so
very degraded a state ? ' '
"As to that, there cannot be a doubt."
" Not the shadow of a doubt. Imagine
a fellow like the man at the other end of the
table publishing a volume of poems ! "
" Mr. Jersey ? Oh, yes ; I know. They
are only little vers de socidte, ' Songs of the
" Well, I assure you, Miss a Miss "
" Exactly ! I assure you, Miss Smith,
that that wretched little volume is full of
errors in taste, in syntax, in prosody ! "
Lucy was tempted to inquire why her
old friends orthography and etymology were
omitted from the list ; but she forebore.
"It contains specimens of every form of
barbarism, solecism, and cacophony of which
English verse is capable."
3i6 MADAME LEROUX.
" Dear me ! That sounds very dreadful."
" But does any one boldly say so in print?
Not at all. Jersey has the reputation of
being * a good sort of fellow,' and so his
friends in the press, if they do not actually
belaud him and some do ! some even da
that ! leave him alone, and the public taste
is systematically degraded. So little is con-
scientious sincerity on these points understood
or appreciated, that when I myself, not many
hours ago, made some rather searching
strictures on the * Songs of the Tea-Kettle/
Jersey became angry absolutely lost his
temper ! The great standards of Art are as
nothing ; one must spare one's friends' sus-
ceptibilities, forsooth ! "
" But don't you think that the reviewers
who praised Mr. Jersey's book may really
have liked it ? "
This suggestion appeared so utterly wild
to Mr. Fennell that he disdained to reply to
it, except by a scornful smile which had the
effect of sending his eyeglass with a crash
into his plate.
Mrs. Hawkins now made a sign to Fatima,
MADAME LEROUX. 317
rose from the table ; and Lucy, seeing
this, rose also.
" Are you going?" asked Mr. Fennell.
" I suppose so," answered Lucy, looking
hesitatingly at Mrs. Hawkins. It was not
the custom in that household for the men to
remain at table after the ladies. They usually
followed the foreign fashion, and all with-
drew together. But now Mrs. Hawkins
kept her place at the head of the table, and
held out her hand to Lucy.
" Good night, Miss Smith," she said, with
her usual sweetness.
" Good night," said Lucy.
It was clearly intended that she should
go ; and, accordingly, she moved quietly
towards the door. Fatima, followed her
with more reluctant steps, and they went
" I know what that's for," said Fatima.
" That's Madame Leroux's doing. She
detests the society of young girls. They are
going to smoke now."
" Well, surely it is no injury that we are
not allowed to partake of their smoke. I am
3i8 MADAME LEROUX.
very glad to be out of it, and very willing to
go to bed."
Fatima was vexed at being deprived of
another hour of Jersey's society. But on the
whole, she was far happier than she had been
for a long time. He had been so kind, so
sweet to her ! And he had scarcely looked
at Madame Leroux all supper-time.
Lucy lay down with the full intention of
collecting her thoughts and reviewing the
situation. Could it be really she, Lucy
Marston, who had been spending the even-
ing among all those strange people, and who,
moreover, was engaged as a teacher in the
school of Madame Leroux, formerly Caroline
Graham ? The very sound of her own old
name seemed to belong to a far-away time.
But when she closed her eyes, pictures
of End.erby Court and the village crowded
into her mind. She thought not only of
Mildred, but of many persons who had been
familiar figures in her daily life, but for whom
she had no special regard. Among those
was Edgar Tomline. He had known the
house where she was born ; and she wondered
MADAME LEROUX. 319-
if any memories remained among the people
there of her own mother that mother who
was like a phantom to her imagination, but
of whom she had thought more and more of
late in her friendless isolation.
At length she fell asleep ; and, towards
morning, dreamt that Madame Leroux, look-
ing steadfastly at her, had changed into a
basilisk ; and, trembling and oppressed, she
woke to see the dingy dawn of London show
its yellow face at her window, and begin
the first day of the new life that lay before
END OF FIRST VOLUME.
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