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BY THE AUTHOR OF “DENIS DONNE," &c.
CHAPTER VII. WOMAN'S FRIENDSHIP. rendered him not by any means intoleraut to It has been said that Kate Galton was an the complainer. Harold was aware that, were active woman, little disposed towards reclining his own deeds brought to light and his life even in the most graceful of attitudes when carefully analysed, he would be found to have there were none near to see her.
With a done less good in his generation than even wider scope in the world, and as the wife of John Galton. But he felt that there was no an utterly different husband, this activity of need to impress this fact upon his cousin, since hers might have been turned to good account. she had not displayed sufficient acumen to disAs it was, the arena of ambition was closed cover it for herself. Therefore he was comto her, for she was simply the wife of a country passionately tolerant to John Galton's ignogentleman whose name was unknown beyond minious career and satisfaction in the same, the limits of his own parish, and whose fame and sublimely resigned to having honours rested solely on “ Beelzebub” and his invari- thrust upon him that he did not at all deserve. ably early crops.
In a measure, he sympathised with and Kate told herself and Harold Ffrench that understood Kate's vain-glorious desire to be a she “bad missed her vocation ” in marrying something, not better and higher, but more John Galton. She thought that she had a talked about, more before the world, than she diplomatic mind, and that she would have For in his own lazy way he, too, had had been a charming repository for any man's state his hopes and ambitions, and he had girded and political secrets. “I'm so sympathetic, fiercely at fate when they had failed.
But, you see,” she would say in her not unfrequent after all, a woman's ambition must ever be a moments of confidence with her cousin, “ and poor small thing, he judged ; and therefore, I can always expand to the occasion. I ought whether it were realised, or whether it failed, to be other than I am, in fact.”
was of little consequence : it could do no “ There I heartily agree with you," he lasting harm. would reply, leaving Kate in a state of uncer- Really in Kate's case he had good reason tainty as to whether he agreed with the spirit for supposing this ; for Mrs. Galton had amor the letter merely of her statement respect- bitions whose name was legion, and they ing herself.
failed her continually, and she bloomed while “I seem to have nothing to live for ; it's the memory of them was green just as if impossible to stir John up to do anything.” nothing had happened. Harold himself was
“ What should he do, save breed another a permanent disappointment to her, and he two-year-old to run for the Two Thousand ? knew it. Yet not even the vanity of which Let John alone, Kate ; when country gentle- he possessed an average share could make men get stirred up, as you call it, they him believe that he was thought of by Mrs. develop into pragmatic, egotistical, twaddling Galton as aught but a possible cause of sensaprigs. You wouldn't have him go about and tion of some sort in the future ten minutes adorn country-town platforms with his flowers after his exit from her presence, if another of ungrammatical oratory, and his honest, agreeable man appeared. stupid face, would you ? And what other Just now, however, he was the cause of vent would his enthusiasm find if you did stir indignation vexing her soul continually, for him up to feel any ?”
she was up in lodgings in Piccadilly with her * There is the sting ; his orations would be husband, and Harold Ffrench was aware of ungrammatical, and his face is honest, but the fact, and still he abstained from seeking stupid. If he were other than he is, I should her presence. It was hard on her, cruelly not be so anxious for him to prove himself hard on her; for Mr. Galton insisted on something higher than he seems.
patronising the local tailor, a man who lived Why can't you take him as he is, and be in the market-town nearest to Haversham, and content ?” Harold Ffrench would say ; but his coats, one and all, had a ruck in the back despite this affected toleration towards his that was horribly suggestive of the country cousin's husband, he was far from unpleasantly and all its abominations to her. It was good conscious that her complaint of John was broad-cloth that John Galton wore, but the an implied acknowledgment of his (Harold cut of it was a maddening thing to the woman Ffrench’s) superiority, and this consciousness who bore his name and leant upon his arm
in the haunts of fashionable men in that year to the Siddons, Kembles, and Kean, to the
He marred the effect of her own invariable disadvantage of the former. Then exquisite toilettes, and made her miserable.
rest he took her to Greenwich, and He took the edge off the Great Exhibition, showed her the Hospital (for an appointment and made her doubt, for the first time in her to which he yearned), and partook of luncheon life, whether the many stares which were with an old comrade who was eloquent on the directed towards her were of unmixed admi- delights of the place and the advantages ration or not. After three or four days' derivable from a residence in it.
He was a endurance of this agony she could bear it no plethoric old gentleman, this late comrade of longer.
her papa's, who grunted and swore a great “I will write to Harold Ffrench,” she said dcal more than was necessary, Theo thought ; to herself on the impulse of the moment, but but he appeared to be admirably contented she thought better of that presently. Mr. with his position, which Theo’s experience of Galton had not suggested that she should old naval officers taught her was a remarkable write to her cousin, even about that opera- thing. box of which mention had been made.
“No place like it for a man with a family, “I will take you there, Kate ; never mind sir,—10 place like it ; to live rent-free in a bothering your cousin ; he seemed to me to palace is something after knocking about all want to shake us off. Country cousins, you one's life, eh, Miss Leigh ?” know, are not always agreeable, are they ?” “I don't think that it's too much after
“I hope Harold does not look upon me as knocking about all one's life,” Theo replied a country cousin,” Kate had retorted indig- dubiously. nantly ; but still she had said no more about “You don't, ch? you don't. My dear young writing to Harold, for John Galton was one lady, let me tell you that it is the highest who would foist his society on no man, and reward the Service offers us, an appointment he would not make the suggestion without here, and that a man doesn't get it for nothing,
to . “I "
get that Miss Theo Leigh here,” she said to In her heart Theo thought that no man had
herself one morning when she was languidly seen so much service or done such doughty adorning herself for a sacrificial saunter under deeds as her father. His old comrade's satisconjugal auspices, "and then, John is always faction in the boon bestowed savoured, she so good-natured, and such a fool, that he will thought, of disparagement to her father's claim soon propose bringing them together again." to it.
The young lady had yet to learn that Rather than not hare the society of the man the old gentleman who grunted and swore held at all, she would have used Venus herself to a different tone to outsiders to that which lure him into her presence. Mrs. Galton's those within the gates were accustomed to scruples about abolishing Venus as soon as hear from his lips. She did not know this, so she ceased to be necessary as a lure would she only said, have been few, as may be supposed. So now “I suppose papa will have it, then.” she resolved to bribe Harold to come to her “You'll find the society here delightful,” by promising him a sight of Theo, little caring one of the daughters of the house observed what came to Theo through the means.
with animation. Theo had mentioned that Theo, meanwhile, had been struggling very she lived in a dull little village ; it was pleahard to live in the present and think alone of sant to the daughter of the house to point the the future, and forget as much as might be difference in the places in which they were forgotten of the past. She had her reward running the best years of their respective in finding the present slightly fatiguing, but
She then went on to give Theo a pleasantly so, and the future not a blank by list of the names and number of the families any means ; the wound that she had received resident at the time, and Theo remarked that was deep, but it was, as has been said, a clean there seemed “ to be a great many ladies." cut, and the edges did not fester and fret her The daughter of the house tried to look as constantly.
if she had never thought this fact a drawback Nevertheless, sensible girl and dutiful to the delights of the place before. daughter as she was, she did occasionally feel " There are a good many ; yes, certainly, that other companionship than her father's there are a good many ; of course,
don't would have been desirable. He exerted him- like ladies' society, you won't think such a self much to give her pleasure, wearied himself number of girls in the place any recommendadaily for hours in that fairy palace in Hyde tion.” Park, and nightly at the theatres where he “Ladies' society in moderation I like, but distracted Theo by comparing modern actors such a number ! Papa, you mustn't come
here, I should feel ashamed of myself for wards, when the habit of Greenwich Hospital adding to such a heavy brigade," Theo said was no longer upon her. laughingly to Mr. Leigh, whose heart was She had other cause for wonderment when heavy at the thought of not being there already, she reached her temporary home in the living in “rooms in a palace rent-free, and lodgings in Great George Street, Westminster, having as many barrels of small beer as he that night, for on the table in the drawing, liked at cost-price.” He was making up his she found the card of “Mrs. John mind to “memorialise” again for the next Galton." The unsolved problem of how Mrs. vacancy, and looking at his old comrade atten- Galton, his cousin, had found her out, kept tively, in order to detect whether there were | Theo awake the whole night, and ill prepared any signs of dissolution about that hale but her for bearing the burden and heat of the aged man, who fathomed the motive of the following day. attentive gaze, and resented it by being haler With the nine-o'clock post that day came and heartier than before, out of sheer opposi- an explanation in the form of an epistle from tion.
Mrs. Leigh, acquainting her daughter with the They made the tour of the place after lun- gratifying fact of the kindest letter having cheon, went into the Chapel, and were brought been received by her from Mrs. Galton, asking up by the rope before the viper and bundle of so particularly for Theo's address in town, and sticks, and into the Painted Hall, where they wishing so much to see her. “I answered it duly dislocated their necks and got head- at once," the mother wrote, “and I should aches in the cause of art, and into the wards not be surprised to hear that she has been to and kitchens.
call upon you already ; she seems to be a very These latter places deepened Mr. Leigh's sweet-tempered domestic woman; she says admiration for the "mag-nificent scale on she wishes that Houghton and Haversham were which everything was done, for he was in an nearer to each other, in which case she should admiring mood, and thoroughly believed that ask me to have an eye to her dear little the height of naval bliss was to be found here. daughter during her absence. As a mother," But aged seamen feeding are pleasanter on she feelingly remarks, “I can enter into the canvas than in real life. Theo was quite continual anxiety she experiences while away ready to believe in the place also, but the from the dear child. It is not often,” Mrs. gastronomic odours on this hot June day did Leigh sagaciously added, “ that a young and not increase her faith in this paradise to which beautiful woman such as Mrs. Galton, is she, fate and the Admiralty willing, was to be so devoted a mother as she appears to be.” consigned.
(Some few weeks after this, Theo showed her But there is a great charm about this place mamma's letter to her fascinating friend in a after all, -at least there soon was to Theo. moment of blind admiration and unlimited It is utterly unlike every other place ; and confidence, and the fascinating friend perthis characteristic of singularity always will formed a mental pas of pleasure at having "so tell in the end. The library and the librarian; successfully hoodwinked the old lady.”) the feudal observances of banging a gong at On Mrs. Galton's card was a pencilled statesunset, and barring out visitors at nine ; the ment of an intention to call on Miss Leigh at solemn sorry state that is maintained ; the three o'clock on the following day. Before pertinacity with which certain benches are that hour came, Theo had woven a vision of guarded from the contaminating touch of those Harold Ffrench accompanying his cousin; inwho “don't belong to the place,”—all these deed his figure was the promineut one in the things struck her, and caused her to expe- pattern, and Mrs. Galton fell into position as rience a throb of the same sort of feeling that merely an accessory, the cause of an effect made her father linger in the machinery which should banish thoughts of all beside department at the Exhibition ; for, as that itself. modern sage Dundreary says, human nature She inducted herself into the blue muslin for “likes to wonder."
the first time this day. The sight of the frills She did wonder; wonder greatly about many had been painful to her hitherto ; they had things that she saw and heard. Amongst been hemmed that day when she got her “woeful other things she wondered whether Queen prick,” poor child, and they possessed the balMary looked down and smiled upon her work, samic quality of making the wound smart. and whether William was as well satisfied with So just in this one thing she had been indulit as he has cause to be with the majority of gent to her weakness, and she congratulated the acts of his reign ? At least, I am not herself on this indulgence now, when she put sure that the wonderings took the form of those it on in all its freshness towards solemnising precise words at the time, but she did after- with all due splendour the advent of her expected guests, and saw that she looked very and becomingly await the arrival of possible well in it.
devotees. She would not go out at all this day. When It never occurred to Theo to seek relief from she had deemed that it was all over, and that the tedium by taking up woman's universal she should never see him again, she had been
She was not one who could most wisely patient, most bravely determined find partial oblivion in a thimble, and alleviaon doing just as she had ever done. But this tion for much in the wielding of that useful sudden revulsion, this relighting of the torch little weapon, by aid of which many women of hope, upset her philosophy, and though she keep ennui, even despair, at bay. The girl was resolved to meet and greet him as a friend, - far from being muscular or coarse in her tastes nothing more, never anythiug more,—still till or appearance ; still a needle never looked the time of such meeting came she could but quite at home in her slender restless hand; she let agitation reigu supreme.
had no liking for the most customary of all It was a long dull morning that Theo passed feminine occupations. in the drawing-room of their lodgings. It Cut off, therefore, by habit from this resource; would have been better for her had she gone cut off by circumstances from others that were to the Admiralty with her father, as he had more congenial ; Theo sat all the morning in invited her to do ; but she had refused this idleness, and though Satan did not find some slight diversion, fearing that three o'clock would mischief for her idle hands to do, the fiend come upon her like a thief in the night, and Imagination had a rare time of it, waved on by that they would come and go and miss her, the recently relighted torch of Hope. and make no further attempt. Such a cata- She had tutored herself into the belief that strophe was of too horrible a nature to be she should not be very impatient even if three lightly brought upon herself, therefore she suf- o'clock passed and they came not. But the fered her papa to go off to a possible interview schooling was unnecessary, for with the striking with the First Lord alone.
of the hour mingled the souud of a resolutely It was not a hopeful room to contemplate, plied knocker, and presently Mrs. Galton alone with the prospect before you of spending several came into the room. hours in it by yourself, that drawing-room in “I am very punctual, am I not?” Mrs. Galthe house in Great George Street. Everything ton asked, as she was shaking hands. “I in it was for show and not for use, and the always keep my word.” And so, to do her jusshow was not fair to look upon.
tice, she did in some things ; she never broke an undesirable carpet on the floor, a dark-green small promises to casual acquaintances ; when ground with branches of red trees strewed all Kate Galton ruptured a faith it was a fine big over it, and those branches stood out so well one invariably. from the green that one involuntarily stepped “ It is very kind of you to have taken the high in order to avoid catching in and tripping trouble to find me out,” Theo replied ; her over them; there were papier mâché stands knees were trembling with excitement and dissprinkled with a lavish hand about the apart appointment, and, despite her efforts, her eyes ment, and these supported busts of Byron and i rolled towards the door and rested there lingerScott and Shakespeare (the latter with an evi- ingly. Kate Galton quite understood why dent predisposition to water on the brain), and they did so, and resolved to punish this folly glass shades full of wax fruit and flowers. The lightly in some way or other. Theo Leigh chairs, too, were of an order from which one conceiving a genuine passion for a man she would turn with loathing and disgust when (Kate) had elected to honour with an elastic fatigued mentally or bodily, for they were regard, was a person to be abased when she heavy hot velvet; and if one deposited one's had served the contemplated purpose. self upon one of them with anything like velo- “Ah, I see you looking ; but little Katy is city, clouds of dust arose and rendered all things not with me, nor is my husband, for a obscure for many minutes. When to this is marvel." added the fact, that the French clock on the “Oh, I know that you did not bring your mantel-piece was addicted to loud ticking, and little girl up; I was not looking for her,” Theo being always an hour too slow or four hours said honestly; and Mrs. Galton's brow clouded too fast by reason of its purposeless minute per- ever so slightly as she weighed t':e probabilities petually catching in a feeble kind of way in of Theo having heard thus much from Harold its stumpy hour-hand, it will readily be be- Ffrench. lieved that the room was not hopeful—that it “Have you seen my cousin, then, lately ?" was, on the contrary, decidedly disheartening. she asked. It was not at all a room in a corner or por- Theo shook her head and said "No." tion of which Theo could enshrine herself “Ah, I thought it was most extraordinarily
negligent of him, if he had seen you, not to have young lady's gentle indication of a wish to told me, knowing, as he does, how anxious I sacrifice inclination to duty; and Mrs. Galton am to see a great deal of you while in town, fathomed the cause of this acquiescence, and and in the country too, I hope ; but Harold again resented it in the innermost recesses of is so forgetful that, after all, I ought not to have her mind.
I been surprised if it had escaped his memory.” “Little fool! to nurse hopes of Harold in
This speech was designed to show Theo how such a way,” Kate thought, even while she absolutely unimportant a thing she was in was saying :Harold Ffrench's eyes, and also that Mrs. Gal- "Let us leave the decision to your mamma. ton's intercourse with her cousin was incessant I will write to her about it, and if she will and familiar. It failed in achieving the first trust you with me you need have no scruples object, for Theo did not believe that she was about staying. Mr. Galton will be obliged to forgotten by or utterly unimportant to the man return to Haversham, but we shall never lack who had seemed to love her so warmly but the an escort with my cousin Mr. Ffrench in other day. But the latter and equally natural town. I do not like to think of your going implication she firmly credited. Why should back after only three weeks' experience of this she have doubted it, indeed ? It seemed to exceptional year.' her to be in the order of things that Mrs. Gal- Theo glowed at the prospect. ton and her cousin Harold should be much “ It is very kind of you, very kind indeed, together. Theo had not begun to fear that to a stranger such as I am.
I shall enjoy there was either sin or shame in the combina- staying with you above everything, but it does tion, or to suspect it of being other than right, seem a great thing for you to do for such a proper, highly desirable, and extremely natural. recent acquaintance.”
“ And what have you been doing ?” Mrs. “Not at all. I have no sisters, no cousins, Galton asked, after a few desultory remarks no grown-up daughters” (she tinkled out a that did not bear upon anything in particular, a little laugh here at the preposterousness of and shall therefore be suffered to pass unre- the notion of her having grown-up daughters). corded. “I suppose you have seen the prin- “Perhaps when Katy's of a fit and proper age to cipal things that are going on ; isn't it a won- be given her chance, I shall be disinclined for derful season ?”
society, and shall be glad of some friend doing “It is my first experience of one; of course for her what I am going to do for you." Then it is wonderful to me ; but I am not in the Kate rose up to go, and added, Mind, Miss vortex, you know."
Leigh, that you reward me by marrying bril“Ah, how should you be in the vortex with liantly at the end of the season ; my protégée's no chaperone save your papa ? I forgot that glories will be mine, remember.” when I asked you what you had been doing. “Papa, papa!” Theo cried, when her father I have ebbed away from London society since came home from that interview with a suave my marriage, but I do know some people still, First Lord, who made him happy even while reand it would give me great pleasure to take fusing him all he asked," Mrs. Galton has you wherever I go myself.”
asked me to stay with her; she's going to reTheo-thanked Mrs. Galton for the kindly main entirely on my account and take me disposition evinced, but it was all she could do, everywhere, though Mr. Galton won't be able for she was beginning to develop the idea that to,—that is to say, Mr. Ffrench will, you know, a little more was said than was meant on all instead. Will you let me go
?" occasions. It is unpleasant to accept warmly “I don't quite understand the case. When a conditional invitation and then to discover do you want to go to her ? ” that the inviter did not intend to go quite so “Not while you can stay here with me, far in the matter as you in your innocence papa ; not till you go back, dear ; but then I imagined from the manner.
thought--that is, she thought that you would “It would really give me great pleasure to i let me go and stay with her and see a little have you with me, Miss Leigh; do you think more of what is going on; and she would take you could persuade your papa to leave you me to parties, she says.” with me when he returns ?”
“I know so little of the woman, and what Theo tried to say that she thought she I do know I don't like." "ought to go home with papa" firmly, and “ That's mere prejudice, papa; she's the she failed. The thought that she would surely sveetest, kindest woman ; I wish you could see Harold Ffrench at his cousin's house would have seen her to-day, you wouldn't have been arise, and it caused her resolution to totter, able to help liking her ; even if you can't let Mrs. Galton felt persuaded of Theo's acquies- me go to her, don't say a word against her, cence in the proposed scheme, despite that | please."