Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

cut down in the forests of that Republican “All day the wheels are droning, synonym for financial solidity and moral

Their wind comes in our faces,

Till our hearts turn-our heads with pulses strength, Honduras.

burning, Although the furniture is heavy, the sun

And the walls turn in their places." shine of May—actually a fine day in May, without any east wind-streaming through The absence of education, the rough words, the windows, the bright colours of painted rough food, harsh treatment-it is not pleasglass and exotic flowers dazzling enough to ant even for a wealthy and respected baronet be painted too, the small clear fire in the to recall these things. Therefore, and not, grate, and the white breakfast cloth, make I believe, with any desire to hide his former the room cheerful by itself. It would be poverty and its depths, which indeed only cheerful, you feel, even if it were weighted enhanced his present greatness, Sir Jacob by the presence, the solitary presence, of the did not go into details when he spoke of his great Sir Jacob himself, portly, important, childhood. self-sufficient.

The most important thing about their It is nine o'clock in the morning, and there education was, they both learned a lesson are already two in the breakfast-room, Julian which our boys are more and more in all Carteret, Sir Jacob's ward, and Rose Es- classes of society learning. Forty or fifty comb, Sir Jacob's niece. Stay; not two years ago it was not even understood. people ; only one, as yet. Only Julian Car- Consider the importance of it. It was the teret, reading the paper at one of the three great, the precious, the never-to-be-sufficientwindows,

ly-impressed-upon-a-child Duty of Discon

tent. That the present position was a hard There were once two Escomb brothers. one; that it might be improved ; that in this The name of the elder was Jacob, that of the fair realm of England there is a career open younger Peter. They were the children of a to every one provided he is discontented factory hand; they were put into the mill as with his lot—that was the lesson which the soon as they could be of any use. They two brothers learned. It stimulated one to were, by some accident, a little better edu- study, to work, to invention, to enterprise, as cated than most of the children round them. he grew older; it only fell upon the other There was not much book-learning for them, like a dull clog round his neck, making him to be sure, but they learned something ; per- uneasy under his burdens, and unable to haps their father was a man with ambitious shake them off. In a word, the elder, Jacob, tendencies, whose development was checked advanced in life; the younger, Peter, save by drink ; perhaps they had a mother who that he became a foreman, remained where cared for her boys beyond the care of most he was. That is generally the way with Lancashire factory women ; this point in the things; the same teaching produces entirely history of the two Escombs is obscure, and different effects. What made Jacob rich, has never been cleared up by any voluntary only made his brother unhappy. revelations on the part of Sir Jacob. “I Both brothers married. Peter led to the have made my own way in the world,” he is altar a woman in the same station of life as not ashamed to own. “I began with no himself. He imparted to her his grand sething, not even a good education. My father cret of discontent, and they both lived in was a poor man ; my grandfather and all great unhappiness together for twenty years. before him are unknown to me." That was They had several children, but what with bad the general confession which any Christian smells and bad milk, the infants all died exmight make. To go into particular confes- cept one, a girl, whom they named Rose. sion, to poke about in one's memory for the Rose was a bright, healthy girl, who at thirdetails of forgotten poverty, the squalid teen or so was rather a hoyden, which mathouse, one of a row of wretched red brick tered little in those circles ; fond of playing monotonous houses ; the evenings, when the with John Gower, who was two or three men were in drink and the women all speak- years older than herself, whenever John ing together on the curbstone, in that Shrews' could find time to play with her ; not plagued Parliament, or Viragos' Convention, which with much learning, but sharp and clever. met on every fine evening; the days in the Before she was fourteen, something-say factory, where

those bad smells—carried off both her pa

rents, besides a whole batch of friends. In tentment, and just now full of malice, which fact, half the street migrated to the other is French for fun, because the owner hears world as if with one consent. Those smells steps in the room, and knows whose the were really too overpowering. Anything was steps are, and waits for what acrostic readers better than a continuation of such a nuisance; call more light, that is to say, for information so they all went away, leaving their children, of what the owner of the steps has done, husbands, wives, and friends behind. Old and where she has been, and what she thinks young went away together. Among those who about things in general. The steps are, in stayed behind was little Rose Escomb, whose fact, those of Rose. She wears a ridinguncle, the grand and prosperous Jacob, sent habit, because she has just returned from her for her to be educated under his own super- early ride in the Park. A pretty girl, a very intendence, and to be adopted by him. Jacob, pretty girl, indeed ; a girl calculated to make now exalted to the rank of baronet, married the hearts of young men to dance, and the a good deal later than his brother Peter. In pulses of fogies to quicken ; a girl of ninefact, it was not till he was past forty that he teen, the age when womanhood and girlhood began to think of the step at all. He was meet, and one feels the charms of both; the already a wealthy and well-considered man, innocence and freshness of the one, with the with plenty of that Discontent hanging about assurance and self-reliance of the other. him still. He chose his wife for prudential It is Rose Escomb's second season. I do rather than for amatory considerations. He not know what hearts she broke in her first found a certain widow with a property, all campaign, but I do know that she came her own, of thirty thousand pounds in the out of it scatheless herself. Perhaps Julian Funds. She was his own age, of good family Carteret, who went through it with her, connections, of good temper, with an ex- knows the secret of her escape. Not that tremely high opinion of herself, and with they are lovers ; not at all ; but they have excellent manners ; just the woman to put been a good deal together for the last year at the head of his table. The money was and a half or thereabouts. Julian belongs to all settled upon herself.

the house, in a way; it is a great thing for Lady Escomb took a great fancy to her him to sleep in the house when he pleases, niece, this half wild uneducated girl from to dine there if he pleases, to feel that lunLancashire. She sent her to school, the cheon is spread for him as well as for Rose best school she could find. She was kind and Mrs. Sampson, who is Rose's chaperon to her in the vacations; and had the good in ordinary ; also, it is not unpleasant to feel sense when she died, which unhappy event a kind of protectorate over the girl, acquired took place a year or two before the time of by this constant companionship. But in my story (that is, about the year 1874), to love? Rose would be the first to laugh at leave all her money to Rose, on the sole such a notion; to laugh first, and to become condition that she married with the consent a little thoughtful afterwards, because, when of Sir Jacob. If she failed to keep that you come really to think of it, Julian is very condition, the thirty thousand pounds were nice, much nicer and cleverer than most all to go back to her husband.

young men.

But then Julian is-well, noAll this brings me back to the breakfast- body at Campden Hill even looks on Julian room on Campden Hill, and we will take Carteret as a marrying man. He is Sir the opportunity, Julian Carteret being there Jacob's ward, too ; and it matters nothing, of alone, of looking at him.

course, to Rose whether he marries or whether A strong face, you would say; a face with he does not. regular features, and those not weak; clear- Julian became Sir Jacob's ward through a cut nostrils, square forehead, firm lips, and a second-cousinship, or something of that kind, square chin, which is perhaps a little too with Lady Escomb. He is, like Rose, an long; the hair curly and short, after the orphan, and Sir Jacob is his guardian and fashion of the time, a heavy moustache and sole trustee. By the terms of an uncle's will shaven chin, with short, square whiskers ; he has an allowance of five hundred pounds dressed in the regulation style, which is that a year until his twenty-fifth birthday, when of the last year of grace, one thousand eight he is to come into full possession of the hundred and seventy-six. A good-natured very handsome fortune of seventy thousand face, too, brimming over with peace and con- pounds which his father was good enough to save up for him. The extension of the “Tell me, blindfold, what you have been period of wardship until five-and-twenty is reading,” says Rose. “Repeat the leading explained in the will. “And whereas it is article by heart.” my desire that my nephew and heir, Julian “ That is very easy, because, in this paper, Carteret, shall not have the excuse of ex- it is always the same thing. England is to treme youth to plead should he waste his be swallowed up by the Russians first, the patrimony in debauchery or folly, and be Germans next, and the French afterwards. cause I hope he will use the four years be- What little remains of us will be taken by the tween twenty-one and twenty-five in the Japanese. acquisition of sound and useful knowledge " That is rubbish," said Rose, taking the in gaining experience and prudence, and in handkerchief from his eyes. “Do you like laying down a plan for the future conduct of this rose? I just picked it in the conservahis life, I will that his fortune should be held tory." in trust for him by Sir Jacob Escomb, Bar- “ The manliness is go out of Englishonet, and shall not be handed over to him men,” Julian went on in a sing-song tone, until the day when he arrives at his twenty- “the honesty out of English merchants, the fifth birthday. And until that date he shall enterprise out of English brains, the fair day's receive the sum of five hundred pounds a work for a good day's pay can no longer be year, paid quarterly, from the said Sir Jacob got out of English workmen, and-ah! this Escomb, Baronet."

is more dreadful than anything else—the As a student, perhaps, Julian Carteret has beauty of English girls is a thing of the past." not been an unqualified success.

He went

"I wonder if it pays to write that kind of through Cambridge quietly and without any thing?" said Rose ; " because, you know, it kind of distinction : he was called to the bar is too desperately silly. And yet some people two years after taking his degree, but he did must believe it ; otherwise, I suppose, the not propose to practise, and had but a limited very clever men who write for newspapers acquaintance with the English law: he had would not have written it. Tell me, sir, is the travelled a good deal : he had a great many beauty gone away from-me?” friends, and very few enemies, which is the There was no need to reply. If there was general rule with good-natured men : his any exception wanted by which to prove the aims, if he had any, lay in the direction of rule of the pessimist paper, Rose Escomb personal ease and comfort: he abhorred would have furnished that exception. She trouble or worry : he despised benevolence has thrown off her hat, and her light hair, blue as he saw it in Sir Jacob Escomb: and he eyes, sunny face, and slender figure are well would fain have lived in a land where there set off by the black riding-habit, which bewere no poor people, 110 noisy people, no comes her so well. In her hand she carries canting people, no active people : where a rose-bud, which she is “trying on" in her the servants should move noiselessly : where hair, at her neck, in her waist, wherever a there should be plenty of Art accessible : girl can stick a rose. and where he could set up his lathe and work Julian rises slowly-he is a very lazy young quietly. For the one thing this young man man—and surveys his guardian's niece with cared for in the way of work was mechanism. indolent gratification. Perhaps if he did not He was a born mechanic. Reuben Gower, see her every day there might be a little more Sir Jacob's secretary, often compared his vivacity in his tone : hand, which was broad and strong, with his “For a picture, Rose,” he says, “for a own. Both, he said, were the hands of me- single picture of a young lady, I don't know chanics. And he could do cunning things where to find a better study than you. You with his lathe.

would do for one of those things which they Rose sees him sitting in the window, and sell in shops-young lady-you know--colsteals softly so that he shall not see her-oured photograph. You might be tapping but he does see her, or rather feels that she is at a door with a letter in your hand; or in the room and near him-and throws her standing on a chair, with gracefully trailing handkerchief over his eyes. “I know that skirt, to feed a bird ; or musing in a garden, is Rose,” said Julian, lazily, behind the also with a letter in your hand—'Yes, or handkerchief. “No one but Rose could no?' or in a field, blowing off the petals of have the impudence to blind my eyes.” a daisy— Is it he?' or in any of the attitudes

[ocr errors]

which you see in the shop-windows. A girl " What studies !” laughed Rose. might win fainter praise than that, Rose. wicked pretender !” You would look well in a picture, but I like “ My uncle did not specify my studies, so you out of a picture best."

I chose them to please myself. From eight“ Thank you for so much,” said Rose. een to twenty-one I studied at Cambridge : “How is it you are up so early, Lazy Law- there I learned how men look at things, and rence?"

how they talk about them ; also I learned “Woke," he replied, with a faint yawn. how to play whist, racquets, tennis, and loo “Remembered, all of a sudden, that you -all athletic and valuable games ; learned would be going for your morning canter; to row—a most useful accomplishment ; thought I would go too-sunny day-breezy learned to bet—a safeguard against rogues in the Park-freshen a man; got up-came and turf-sharpers; and forgot what I had down. Thought better of it when I was down learned at school, down to examination-point —thought of the fatigue. Been reading the —that was a good deal of useless informapaper instead.”

tion well got rid of. I also learned how to “ You are really a Lazy Lawrence. What get into debt." are you going to do all day—sit on the sofa “Go on, most industrious of students.” and think about what the paper says ?” “At twenty-one I came up to town. I

“ Fulfil the condition of my uncle's will,” have since learned very little, because the he replied solemnly—" I am going to study.” University of Cambridge, rightly and intelliShe laughed.

gently used, as I used it, really does, as they “ His uncle gives him all his fortune on say, finish one's education. After three years the condition that he studies until he is five there, I had no more to learn. But one can and twenty."

put into practice what one has learned. To “ And he does study."

satisfy the clauses of the will I became a law" In order that he may choose his career student, and have never since opened a lawat a comparatively mature age.”

book; and, to get through the time, I have “He has chosen his career,” says Julian, been globe-trotting—all round the world in sitting down again.

a hundred and twenty days. Now the time “ Have you really, Julian?” She is sur- has come, and with it the career—the Time, prised by the announcement. "What is it? the Man, and the Career.” Are you going to be a great statesman, I “Well ?" wonder, or a great lawyer, or a great--no,

"The Career, Rose, is—to do nothing-a you can't be a great theologian!"

Nothing-doer—a Waster of the golden years “No,” said Julian, “no ; I do not think -an Idler by profession. Other men may shall be a great theologian.

become members of Parliament, and sit up “ A great philanthropist, perhaps, like-" all night listening to dreary talk, and for

“Like your uncle, Sir Jacob? No, no; their pains get abused by the papers-not I hardly think I should look well on a plat- Julian Carteret ; other, men may waste their form spouting to the waxy faces of Exeter time writing books, and for their pains get Hall. Why are good people always wax-and-down-cried and misrepresented by the critics putty-faced? You shall guess my career, -not Julian Carteret; other men may wade Rose."

through dull law-books and wrangle in courts "I cannot, Julian. Give it me by weekly of law, and for their pains scrape money instalments in double acrostics, with a prize together to spend after the time of enjoyat the end of the quarter, and a big diction- ment has gone by—not Julian Carteret ; ary to guess the words with, and I will try.” others may work and pile up money in trade

“ Listen, then ; maiden, hear my tale." for their children to spend—not Julian CarJulian sat as dramatically as the position al- teret. And then, there is the new profeslows. “I was to prolong my studies till sion—that of the man who goes about doing twenty-five. It wants three weeks to my goodtwer.ty-fifth birthday-you know how hard I “ Julian, you must not sneer at philanhave studied-then I come into my fortune-thropy.” which does not look, by the way, nearly so Doing good : standing on a platform to big now as it did when one was further off talk ; getting up after dinner to talk ; giving -and I choose my career.”

money and supporting societies ; mixing with the snuffy women who want to hel- it won't do without one little alteration. You lup,' as they call it ; talking their cant with see, Rose-you see-you see, it never does the broken-down adventurers who live on do to live alone—not good for man, as you the charitable world ; content to enjoy such have often read—and I want, to complete a reputation as that kind of thing can give the ideal life—a partner !" pah! the unreality of it, my dear Rose, the Rose was startled. unreality of it !”

“I must go and take off my riding-habit,” " But there are exceptions, Julian--my she said. uncle, for instance

“Not for a moment, dear Rose. How “Oh, your uncle, of course." Julian long have you been staying with your uncle?

| laughs a little short laugh. Everybody Six years since you came here-wild-eyed, knows what a good man he is. But I can- timid Lancashire lass of fourteen ; and since not follow him, even at a distance. No, your last home-coming from school a year Rose; my career will be, to do good to my- and a half. We have been together, you and self alone. I shall have a town house —not I, pretty well all that time. Do you think a very big one-one of the houses, say, in you know me well enough, Rose-well Chester Square ; and I shall go away every enough for me to put one more question to winter to Sicily, to Southern Italy, to some you u?" of the places where there is no winter, but, She was silent, and he took her hand. instead, a season where the sun is only plea- “One more question, dear Rose. You santly warm and the flowers are sweetest. know what it is going to be. Could you be There I shall live undisturbed by cackle, my partner in that ideal life ?" cant, or care, amid such art as I can afford, She hesitated ; then she looked at him and such artistic people as one can get to with frank, clear eyes, which went straight gether, and so by their help gather from to his heart. every hour its one supreme rapture. I shall “Julian, I could not live that life that you live for pleasure, Rose ; all the rest is a have sketched—a life without either sympaflam-a humbug--a windbag-whatever you thy or duty." like !"

“ You would not be happy with me—and " Julian, that is a selfish life. You must with love ? Speak, dear; tell me the truth." not forget the duties. I won't say anything “I should be-O Julian !”—he drew her about doing good, Julian, if you dislike the gently to himself, and her head fell upon his phrase ; but there are the poor, whom we breast—"I should be too happy ; I should have always with us.”

forget the people from whom I sprang. You “Yes," he replied irreverently," that is know who my father was, Julian-a poor just what I dislike. The poor! They be- mill-hand once, and never more than a forelong to a different world: they work, we man. I belong to the poor : I must do what play; they wake up tired and go to bed more I can for my own class. I am only a jay tired, we wake up refreshed and go to bed dressed in borrowed plumes-only half a happy; they toil for their masters, we neither lady." toil nor spin. We are like the lilies of the “Is that all, dear Rose ? You are afraid field. There is but one life in this world for of the ideal life? Why, you could never, all of us, rich or poor. Make the most of it : never go back to the old Lancashire days ; you who are rich, get what you can out of you have grown out of them; you no more every moment; let there be no single day belong to the people now than I do." unremembered for lack of its distinctive joy; “ But still I am afraid of your ideal lifekeep your heart shut to the suffering which all enjoyment.” you do not see and did not cause ; never "Then I give up my ideal life. Let it all think of the future"

go-art, pictures, sunny slopes of Sicily, vine“Oh, Julian,” Rose interrupted him, “is yards, villagers dancing, flowers, and contathat the creed of a Christian ? "

dine. Rose and love are worth them all. We Julian shrugged his shoulders.

will live in England if you like, even through « Je suis philosophe,he said. "Well, the east wind, and I will give you a cheque but there is one thing wanting in my life, Rose. for your poor people every day. That is what I have planned it all out, and í find that Sir Jacob says is the only way to practise

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »