LEADS TO A SMALL SKIRMISH BETWEEN ROSE AND EVAN
Lady Jocelyn belonged properly to
that order which the Sultans and the Roxalanas of
earth combine to exclude from their little games, under
the designation of blues, or strong-minded women:
a kind, if genuine, the least dangerous and staunchest
of the sex, as poor fellows learn when the flippant
and the frail fair have made mummies of them.
She had the frankness of her daughter, the same direct
eyes and firm step: a face without shadows, though
no longer bright with youth. It may be charged
to her as one of the errors of her strong mind, that
she believed friendship practicable between men and
women, young or old. She knew the world pretty
well, and was not amazed by extraordinary accidents;
but as she herself continued to be an example of her
faith: we must presume it natural that her delusion
should cling to her. She welcomed Evan as her
daughter’s friend, walked half-way across the
room to meet him on his introduction to her, and with
the simple words, ‘I have heard of you,’
let him see that he stood upon his merits in her house.
The young man’s spirit caught something of hers
even in their first interview, and at once mounted
to that level. Unconsciously he felt that she
took, and would take him, for what he was, and he
rose to his worth in the society she presided over.
A youth like Evan could not perceive, that in loving
this lady’s daughter, and accepting the place
she offered him, he was guilty of a breach of confidence;
or reflect, that her entire absence of suspicion imposed
upon him a corresponding honesty toward her. He
fell into a blindness. Without dreaming for a
moment that she designed to encourage his passion
for Rose, he yet beheld himself in the light she had
cast on him; and, received as her daughter’s
friend, it seemed to him not so utterly monstrous
that he might be her daughter’s lover. A
haughty, a grand, or a too familiar manner, would have
kept his eyes clearer on his true condition.
Lady Jocelyn spoke to his secret nature, and eclipsed
in his mind the outward aspects with which it was warring.
To her he was a gallant young man, a fit companion
for Rose, and when she and Sir Franks said, and showed
him, that they were glad to know him, his heart swam
in a flood of happiness they little suspected.
This was another of the many forms
of intoxication to which circumstances subjected the
poor lover. In Fallow field, among impertinent
young men, Evan’s pride proclaimed him a tailor.
At Beckley Court, acted on by one genuine soul, he
forgot it, and felt elate in his manhood. The
shades of Tailordom dispersed like fog before the full
South-west breeze. When I say he forgot it, the
fact was present enough to him, but it became an outward
fact: he had ceased to feel it within him.
It was not a portion of his being, hard as Mrs. Mel
had struck to fix it. Consequently, though he
was in a far worse plight than when he parted with
Rose on board the Jocasta, he felt much less of an
impostor now. This may have been partly because
he had endured his struggle with the Demogorgon the
Countess painted to him in such frightful colours,
and found him human after all; but it was mainly owing
to the hearty welcome Lady Jocelyn had extended to
him as the friend of Rose.
Loving Rose, he nevertheless allowed
his love no tender liberties. The eyes of a lover
are not his own; but his hands and lips are, till such
time as they are claimed. The sun must smile on
us with peculiar warmth to woo us forth utterly-pluck
our hearts out. Rose smiled on many. She
smiled on Drummond Forth, Ferdinand Laxley, William
Harvey, and her brother Harry; and she had the same
eyes for all ages. Once, previous to the arrival
of the latter three, there was a change in her look,
or Evan fancied it. They were going to ride out
together, and Evan, coming to his horse on the gravel
walk, saw her talking with Drummond Forth. He
mounted, awaiting her, and either from a slight twinge
of jealousy, or to mark her dainty tread with her
riding-habit drawn above her heels, he could not help
turning his head occasionally. She listened to
Drummond with attention, but presently broke from
him, crying: ’It’s an absurdity.
Speak to them yourself I shall not.’
On the ride that day, she began prattling
of this and that with the careless glee that became
her well, and then sank into a reverie. Between-whiles
her eyes had raised tumults in Evan’s breast
by dropping on him in a sort of questioning way, as
if she wished him to speak, or wished to fathom something
she would rather have unspoken. Ere they had
finished their ride, she tossed off what burden may
have been on her mind as lightly as a stray lock from
her shoulders. He thought that the singular look
recurred. It charmed him too much for him to speculate
The Countess’s opportune ally,
the gout, which had reduced the Hon. Melville Jocelyn’s
right hand to a state of uselessness, served her with
her brother equally: for, having volunteered his
services to the invalided diplomatist, it excused
his stay at Beckley Court to himself, and was a mask
to his intimacy with Rose, besides earning him the
thanks of the family. Harry Jocelyn, released
from the wing of the Countess, came straight to him,
and in a rough kind of way begged Evan to overlook
‘You took us all in at Fallow
field, except Drummond,’ he said. ’Drummond
would have it you were joking. I see it now.
And you’re a confoundedly clever fellow into
the bargain, or you wouldn’t be quill-driving
for Uncle Mel. Don’t be uppish about it will
‘You have nothing to fear on
that point,’ said Evan. With which promise
the peace was signed between them. Drummond and
William Harvey were cordial, and just laughed over
the incident. Laxley, however, held aloof.
His retention of ideas once formed befitted his rank
and station. Some trifling qualms attended Evan’s
labours with the diplomatist; but these were merely
occasioned by the iteration of a particular phrase.
Mr. Goren, an enthusiastic tailor, had now and then
thrown out to Evan stirring hints of an invention
he claimed: the discovery of a Balance in Breeches:
apparently the philosopher’s stone of the tailor
craft, a secret that should ensure harmony of outline
to the person and an indubitable accommodation to
the most difficult legs.
Since Adam’s expulsion, it seemed,
the tailors of this wilderness had been in search
of it. But like the doctors of this wilderness,
their science knew no specific: like the Babylonian
workmen smitten with confusion of tongues, they had
but one word in common, and that word was ‘cut.’
Mr. Goren contended that to cut was not the key of
the science: but to find a Balance was.
An artistic admirer of the frame of man, Mr. Goren
was not wanting in veneration for the individual who
had arisen to do it justice. He spoke of his
Balance with supreme self-appreciation. Nor less
so the Honourable Melville, who professed to have discovered
the Balance of Power, at home and abroad. It was
a capital Balance, but inferior to Mr. Goren’s.
The latter gentleman guaranteed a Balance with motion:
whereas one step not only upset the Honourable Melville’s,
but shattered the limbs of Europe. Let us admit,
that it is easier to fit a man’s legs than to
compress expansive empires.
Evan enjoyed the doctoring of kingdoms
quite as well as the diplomatist. It suited the
latent grandeur of soul inherited by him from the great
Mel. He liked to prop Austria and arrest the Czar,
and keep a watchful eye on France; but the Honourable
Melville’s deep-mouthed phrase conjured up to
him a pair of colossal legs imperiously demanding their
Balance likewise. At first the image scared him.
In time he was enabled to smile it into phantom vagueness.
The diplomatist diplomatically informed him, it might
happen that the labours he had undertaken might be
neither more nor less than education for a profession
he might have to follow. Out of this, an ardent
imagination, with the Countess de Saldar
for an interpreter, might construe a promise of some
sort. Evan soon had high hopes. What though
his name blazed on a shop-front? The sun might
yet illumine him to honour!
Where a young man is getting into
delicate relations with a young woman, the more of
his sex the better they serve as a blind;
and the Countess hailed fresh arrivals warmly.
There was Sir John Loring, Dorothy’s father,
who had married the eldest of the daughters of Lord
Elburne. A widower, handsome, and a flirt, he
capitulated to the Countess instantly, and was played
off against the provincial Don Juan, who had reached
that point with her when youths of his description
make bashful confidences of their successes, and receive
delicious chidings for their naughtiness rebukes
which give immeasurable rebounds. Then came Mr.
Gordon Graine, with his daughter, Miss Jenny Graine,
an early friend of Rose’s, and numerous others.
For the present, Miss Isabella Current need only be
chronicled among the visitors a sprightly
maid fifty years old, without a wrinkle to show for
it the Aunt Bel of fifty houses where there
were young women and little boys. Aunt Bel had
quick wit and capital anecdotes, and tripped them
out aptly on a sparkling tongue with exquisite instinct
for climax and when to strike for a laugh. No
sooner had she entered the hall than she announced
the proximate arrival of the Duke of Belfield at her
heels, and it was known that his Grace was as sure
to follow as her little dog, who was far better paid
for his devotion.
The dinners at Beckley Court had hitherto
been rather languid to those who were not intriguing
or mixing young love with the repast. Miss Current
was an admirable neutral, sent, as the Countess fervently
believed, by Providence. Till now the Countess
had drawn upon her own resources to amuse the company,
and she had been obliged to restrain herself from
doing it with that unctuous feeling for rank which
warmed her Portuguese sketches in low society and
among her sisters. She retired before Miss Current
and formed audience, glad of a relief to her inventive
labour. While Miss Current and her ephemerals
lightly skimmed the surface of human life, the Countess
worked in the depths. Vanities, passions, prejudices
beneath the surface, gave her full employment.
How naturally poor Juliana Bonner was moved to mistake
Evan’s compassion for a stronger sentiment!
The Countess eagerly assisted Providence to shuffle
the company into their proper places. Harry Jocelyn
was moodily happy, but good; greatly improved in the
eyes of his grandmama Bonner, who attributed the change
to the Countess, and partly forgave her the sinful
consent to the conditions of her love-match with the
foreign Count, which his penitent wife had privately
confessed to that strict Churchwoman.
‘Thank Heaven that you have
no children,’ Mrs. Bonner had said; and the
Countess humbly replied:
‘It is indeed my remorseful consolation!’
‘Who knows that it is not your
punishment?’ added Mrs. Bonner; the Countess
She went and attended morning prayers
in Mrs. Bonner’s apartments, alone with the
old lady. ‘To make up for lost time in Catholic
Portugal!’ she explained it to the household.
On the morning after Miss Current
had come to shape the party, most of the inmates of
Beckley Court being at breakfast, Rose gave a lead
to the conversation.
’Aunt Bel! I want to ask
you something. We’ve been making bets about
you. Now, answer honestly, we’re all friends.
Why did you refuse all your offers?’
‘Quite simple, child,’ replied the unabashed
‘A matter of taste. I liked twenty shillings
better than a sovereign.’
Rose looked puzzled, but the men laughed, and Rose
’Now I see! How stupid
I am! You mean, you may have friends when you
are not married. Well, I think that’s the
wisest, after all. You don’t lose them,
do you? Pray, Mr. Evan, are you thinking Aunt
Bel might still alter her mind for somebody, if she
knew his value?’
’I was presuming to hope there
might be a place vacant among the twenty,’ said
Evan, slightly bowing to both. ‘Am I pardoned?’
‘I like you!’ returned
Aunt Bel, nodding at him. ’Where do you
come from? A young man who’ll let himself
go for small coin’s a jewel worth knowing.’
‘Where do I come from?’
drawled Laxley, who had been tapping an egg with a
‘Aunt Bel spoke to Mr. Harrington,’ said
‘Asked him where he came from,’
Laxley continued his drawl. ’He didn’t
answer, so I thought it polite for another of the twenty
to strike in.’
‘I must thank you expressly,’
said Evan, and achieved a cordial bow.
Rose gave Evan one of her bright looks,
and then called the attention of Ferdinand Laxley
to the fact that he had lost a particular bet made
‘What bet?’ asked Laxley. ‘About
A stream of colour shot over Rose’s
face. Her eyes flew nervously from Laxley to
Evan, and then to Drummond. Laxley appeared pleased
as a man who has made a witty sally: Evan was
outwardly calm, while Drummond replied to the mute
appeal of Rose, by saying:
’Yes; we’ve all lost.
But who could hit it? The lady admits no sovereign
in our sex.’
‘So you’ve been betting
about me?’ said Aunt Bel. ’I ’ll
settle the dispute. Let him who guessed “Latin”
pocket the stakes, and, if I guess him, let him hand
them over to me.’
‘Excellent!’ cried Rose.
’One did guess “Latin,” Aunt Bel!
Now, tell us which one it was.’
‘Not you, my dear. You guessed “temper."’
‘No! you dreadful Aunt Bel!’
‘Let me see,’ said Aunt
Bel, seriously. ’A young man would not marry
a woman with Latin, but would not guess it the impediment.
Gentlemen moderately aged are mad enough to slip their
heads under any yoke, but see the obstruction.
It was a man of forty guessed “Latin.”
I request the Hon. Hamilton Everard Jocelyn to confirm
Amid laughter and exclamations Hamilton
confessed himself the man who had guessed Latin to
be the cause of Miss Current’s remaining an old
maid; Rose, crying:
‘You really are too clever, Aunt Bel!’
A divergence to other themes ensued,
and then Miss Jenny Graine said: ‘Isn’t
Juley learning Latin? I should like to join her
while I’m here.’
‘And so should I,’ responded
Rose. ’My friend Evan is teaching her during
the intervals of his arduous diplomatic labours.
Will you take us into your class, Evan?’
‘Don’t be silly, girls,’
interposed Aunt Bel. ’Do you want to graduate
for my state with your eyes open?’
Evan objected his poor qualifications
as a tutor, and Aunt Bel remarked, that if Juley learnt
Latin at all, she should have regular instruction.
‘I am quite satisfied,’ said Juley, quietly.
‘Of course you are,’ Rose
snubbed her cousin. ’So would anybody be.
But Mama really was talking of a tutor for Juley,
if she could find one. There’s a school
at Bodley; but that’s too far for one of the
men to come over.’
A school at Bodley! thought Evan,
and his probationary years at the Cudford Establishment
rose before him; and therewith, for the first time
since his residence at Beckley, the figure of John
‘There’s a friend of mine,’
he said, aloud, ’I think if Lady Jocelyn does
wish Miss Bonner to learn Latin thoroughly, he would
do very well for the groundwork and would be glad
of the employment. He is very poor.’
‘If he’s poor, and a friend
of yours, Evan, we’ll have him,’ said Rose:
‘we’ll ride and fetch him.’
‘Yes,’ added Miss Carrington,
’that must be quite sufficient qualification.’
Juliana was not gazing gratefully
at Evan for his proposal.
Rose asked the name of Evan’s
friend. ‘His name is Raikes,’ answered
Evan. ’I don’t know where he is now.
He may be at Fallow field. If Lady Jocelyn pleases,
I will ride over to-day and see.’
‘My dear Evan!’ cried
Rose, ’you don’t mean that absurd figure
we saw on the cricket-field?’ She burst out
laughing. ’Oh! what fun it will be!
Let us have him here by all means.’
‘I shall not bring him to be laughed at,’
‘I will remember he is your
friend,’ Rose returned demurely; and again laughed,
as she related to Jenny Graine the comic appearance
Mr. Raikes had presented.
Laxley waited for a pause, and then
said: ’I have met this Mr. Raikes.
As a friend of the family, I should protest against
his admission here in any office whatever into the
upper part of the house, at least. He is not
We don’t want teachers to be gentlemen,’
‘This fellow is the reverse,’
Laxley pronounced, and desired Harry to confirm it;
but Harry took a gulp of coffee.
‘Oblige me by recollecting that
I have called him a friend of mine,’ said Evan.
Rose murmured to him: ‘Pray
forgive me! I forgot.’ Laxley hummed
something about ‘taste.’ Aunt Bel
led from the theme by a lively anecdote.
After breakfast the party broke into
knots, and canvassed Laxley’s behaviour to Evan,
which was generally condemned. Rose met the young
men strolling on the lawn; and, with her usual bluntness,
accused Laxley of wishing to insult her friend.
‘I speak to him do
I not?’ said Laxley. ’What would you
have more? I admit the obligation of speaking
to him when I meet him in your house. Out of
it that ‘s another matter.’
‘But what is the cause for your
conduct to him, Ferdinand?’
‘By Jove!’ cried Harry,
’I wonder he puts up with it I wouldn’t.
I’d have a shot with you, my boy.’
said Laxley. ’But neither you nor I care
to fight tailors.’
‘Tailors!’ exclaimed Rose.
There was a sharp twitch in her body, as if she had
been stung or struck.
‘Look here, Rose,’ said
Laxley; ’I meet him, he insults me, and to get
out of the consequences tells me he’s the son
of a tailor, and a tailor himself; knowing that it
ties my hands. Very well, he puts himself hors
de combat to save his bones. Let him unsay it,
and choose whether he ’ll apologize or not,
and I’ll treat him accordingly. At present
I’m not bound to do more than respect the house
I find he has somehow got admission to.’
‘It’s clear it was that
other fellow,’ said Harry, casting a side-glance
up at the Countess’s window.
Rose looked straight at Laxley, and
abruptly turned on her heel.
In the afternoon, Lady Jocelyn sent
a message to Evan that she wished to see him.
Rose was with her mother. Lady Jocelyn had only
to say, that if he thought his friend a suitable tutor
for Miss Bonner, they would be happy to give him the
office at Beckley Court. Glad to befriend poor
Jack, Evan gave the needful assurances, and was requested
to go and fetch him forthwith. When he left the
room, Rose marched out silently beside him.
‘Will you ride over with me,
Rose?’ he said, though scarcely anxious that
she should see Mr. Raikes immediately.
The singular sharpness of her refusal
astonished him none the less.
‘Thank you, no; I would rather not.’
A lover is ever ready to suspect that
water has been thrown on the fire that burns for him
in the bosom of his darling. Sudden as the change
was, it was very decided. His sensitive ears were
pained by the absence of his Christian name, which
her lips had lavishly made sweet to him. He stopped
in his walk.
’You spoke of riding to Fallow
field. Is it possible you don’t want me
to bring my friend here? There’s time to
Judged by the Countess de Saldar,
the behaviour of this well-born English maid was anything
but well-bred. She absolutely shrugged her shoulders
and marched a-head of him into the conservatory, where
she began smelling at flowers and plucking off sere
In such cases a young man always follows;
as her womanly instinct must have told her, for she
expressed no surprise when she heard his voice two
‘Rose! what have I done?’
‘Nothing at all,’ she
said, sweeping her eyes over his a moment, and resting
them on the plants.
‘I must have uttered something that has displeased
Brief negatives are not re-assuring to a lover’s
‘I beg you Be frank with me, Rose!’
A flame of the vanished fire shone
in her face, but subsided, and she shook her head
‘Have you any objection to my friend?’
Her fingers grew petulant with an
orange leaf. Eyeing a spot on it, she said, hesitatingly:
’Any friend of yours I am sure
I should like to help. But but I wish
you wouldn’t associate with that that
kind of friend. It gives people all sorts of
Evan drew a sharp breath.
The voices of Master Alec and Miss
Dorothy were heard shouting on the lawn. Alec
gave Dorothy the slip and approached the conservatory
on tip-toe, holding his hand out behind him to enjoin
silence and secrecy. The pair could witness the
scene through the glass before Evan spoke.
‘What suspicions?’ he asked.
Rose looked up, as if the harshness of his tone pleased
‘Do you like red roses best,
or white?’ was her answer, moving to a couple
of trees in pots.
‘Can’t make up your mind?’
she continued, and plucked both a white and red rose,
saying: ‘There! choose your colour by-and-by,’
and ask Juley to sew the one you choose in your button-hole.’
She laid the roses in his hand, and
walked away. She must have known that there was
a burden of speech on his tongue. She saw him
move to follow her, but this time she did not linger,
and it may be inferred that she wished to hear no