« ZurückWeiter »
and after that he went. She accompanied him to the top of the stairs, and from thence showered blessings on his head, till she heard the lock of the door closed behind him. When he was altogether gone she unlocke! an inner drawer in her desk, and, taking out an uncompleted rouleau of gold, added her brother's sovereigus thereto. The sum he had giren her was exactly wanted to make up the required number of twenty-five. Ste counted them half-a-dozen times, to be quite sure, and then rolled them carefully in paper, and sealed the little packet at each end. “Ah,” she said, speaking to herself, “they are very nice. Nothing else English is nice, but only these.” There were many rolls of money there before har in the drawer of the desk ;—some ten, perhaps, or twelve. These she took out one after another, passing them lovingly through her fingers, looking at the little seals at the ends of each, weighing them in her hard as though to m?ke sure that no wrong had been done to them in her absence, standing them up one against another to see that they were of the same length. We may be quite sure that Sophie Gordeloup brought no sovereigns with her to England when she came over with Lady Ongar after the earl's death, and that the hoard before her contained simply the plunder which she had collected during this her latest visit to the * accursed ” country which she was going to leave.
But before she started she was resolved to make one more attempt upon that mine of wealth which, but a few weeks ago, had seemed to be open before her. She had learned from the servants in Bolton Street that Lady Ongar was with Lady Clavering, at Clavering Park, and she addressed a letter to her there. This letter she wrote in English, and she threw into her appeal all the pathos of which she was capable.
Mount Street, October, 1864 DEAREST JULIE,—I do not think you would wish me to go away from this country for ever,-for ever, without one word of farewell to her I love so fondly. Yes ; I have loved you with all my heart,—and now I am going away,- for ever. Shall we not meet each other once, and have one embrace? No trouble will be too much to me for that. No journey will be too long. Only say, Sophie, come to you Julie.
I must go, because I am so poor. Yes; I cannot live longer here without having the means. I am not ashamed to say to my Julie, who is rich, that I am poor. No; nor would I be ashamed to wait on my Julie like a slave if she would let me. My Julie was angry with me, because of my brother! Was it my fault that he came upon us in our little retreat, where we was so happy ? Oh, no. I told him not to come. I knew bis coming was for nothing,—nothing at all. I knew where was the heart of my Julie !- my poor Julie! But he was not worth that heart, and the pearl was thrown before a pig. But my brother—! Ah, he has ruined me. Why am I separated from my Julie but for him? Well; I can go away, and in my own countries there are those who will not wish to be separated from Sophie Gordeloup.
May I now tell my Julie in what condition is her poor friend ? She wil remember how it was that my feet brought me to England,—to England, to which I had said farewell for ever,—to England, where people must be rich like my Julie before they can eat and drink. I thought nothing then but of my Julie. I ste pred not on the road to make merchandise,—what you call a bargain,about my coming. No ; I came at once, leaving all things, --my little affairs,-in confusion, becanse my
Julie wanted me to come! It was in the winter. Oh, that winter! My poor bones shall never forget it. They are racked still with the pains which your savage winds have given them. And now it is autumn. Ten months have I been here, and I have eaten up my little substance. Oh, Julie, you, who are so rich, do not know what is the poverty of your Sophie !
A lawyer have told me,-not a French lawyer, but an English,—that somebody should pay me everything. He says the law would give it me. Ile have offered me the money himself,-just to let him make an action. But I have said, -No. No ; Sophie will not have an action with her Julie. She would scorn that; and so the lawyer went away. But if my Julie will think of this, and will remember her Sophie,--how much she have expended, and now at last there is nothing left. She must go and beg among her friends. And why? Because she have loved her Julie too well. You, who are so rich, would miss it not at all. What would two,—three hundred pounds be to my Julie?
Shall I come to you? Say so; say so, and I will go at once, if I did crawl on my knees. Oh, what a joy to see my Julie! And do not think I will trouble you about money. No; your Sophie will be too proud for that. Not a word will I say, but to love you. Nothing will I do, but to print one kiss on my Julie's forehead, and then to retire for ever; asking God's blessing for her dear head.
Lady Ongar, when she received this letter, was a little perplexed by it, not feeling quite sure in what way she might best answer it. It was the special severity of her position that there was no one to whom, in such difficulties, she could apply for advice. Of one thing she was quite sure, that, willingly, she would never again see her devoted Sophie. And she knew that the woman deserved no money from her; that she had deserved none, but had received much. Every assertion in her letter was false. No one had wished her to come, and the expense of her coming had been paid for her over and over again. Lady Ongar knew that she had money,--and knew also that she would have had immediate recourse to law, if any lawyer would have suggested to her with a probability of success that he could get more for her. No doubt she had been telling her story to some attorney, in the hope that money might thus be extracted, and had been dragging her Julie's name through the mud, telling all she knew of that wretched Florentine story. As to all that Lady Ongar had no doubt; and yet she wished to send the woman money!
There are services for which one is ready to give almost any amount of money payment-if only one can be sure that that money payment will be taken as sufficient recompence for the service in question. Sophie Gordeloup had been useful. She had been very disagreeable,--but she had been useful. She had done things which nobody else could have done, and she had done her work well. That she had been paid for her work over and over again, there was no doubt; but Lady Ongar was willing to give her yet further payment, if only there might be an end of it. But she feared to do this, dreading the nature and cunning of the little woman,lest she should take such payment as an acknowledgment of services for which secret compensation must be made,—and should then proceed to further threats. Thinking much of all this, Julie at last wrote to her Sophie as follows:
Lady Ongar presents her compliments to Madame Gordeloup, and must declire to see Madame Gordeloup again after what has passed. Lady Ongar is very sorry to hear that Madame Gordeloup is in want of funds. Whatever assistance Lady Onga might have been willing to afford, she now feels that she is prohibited from giving any by the allusion which Madame Gordeloup has made to legal advice. If Madame Gordeloup has legal demands on Lady Ongar which are said by a lawyer to be valid, Lady Ongar would strongly recommend Madame Gordeloup to enforce them.
Clavering Park, October, 186—,
This she wrote, acting altogether on her own judgment, and sent off by return of post. She almost wept at her own cruelty after the letter was gone, and greatly doubted her own discretion. But of whom could she have asked advice ? Could she have told all the story of Madame Gordeloup to the rector or to the rector's wife? The letter no doubt was a discreet letter ; but she greatly doubted her own discretion, and when she received her Sophie's rejoinder, she hardly dared to break the enrelope.
Poor Sophie ! Her Julie's letter nearly broke her heart. For sincerity little credit was due to her ;—but some little was perhaps due. That she should be called Madame Gordeloup, and have compliments presented to her by the woman,—by the countess with whom and with whose husband she had been on such closely familiar terms, did in truth wound some tender feelings within her bosom. Such love as she had been able to give. she had given to her Julie. That she had always been willing to rob ka Julie, to make a milch-cow of her Julie, to sell her Julie, to threaten her Julie, to quarrel with her Julie if aught might be done in that way;-to expose her Julie; nay, to destroy her Julie if money was to be so made;
all this did not hinder her love. She loved her Julie, and was brokenhearted that her Julie should have written to her in such a strain.
But her feelings were much more acute when she came to perceive that she had damaged her own affairs by the hint of a menace which she had thrown out. Business is business, and must take precedence of all sertiment and romance in this hard world in which bread is so necessary. Of that Madame Gordeloup was well aware. And therefore, having given herself but two short minutes to weep over her Julie's hardness, she applied her mind at once to the rectification of the error she had made. Yes; she had been wrong about the lawyer, certainly wrong. But then these English people were so pig-headed ! A slight suspicion of a hint, such as that she had made, would have been taken by a Frenchman, by a Russian, by a Pole, as meaning no more than it meant. “But these English are bulls; the men and the women are all like bulls,-bulls !"
She at once sat down and wrote another letter; another in such an ecstasy of eagerness to remove the evil impressions which she had made, that she wrote it almost with the natural effusion of her heart.
DEAR FRIEND,—Your coldness kills me.-kills me! But perhaps I have deserved it. If I said there were legal demands I did deserve it. No; there are none. Legal
demands! Oh, no. What can your poor friend demand legally? The lawye:he knows nothing; he was a stranger. It was my brother spoke to him. What should I do with a lawyer ? Oh, my friend, do not be angry with your poor servant. I write now not to ask for money,-but for a kind word; for one word of kindness and love to your Sophie before she have gone for ever! Yes; for ever. Oh, Julie, oh, my angel ; I would lie at your feet and kiss them if you were here. Yours till death, even though you should still be hard to me,
To this appeal Lady Ongar sent no direct answer, but she commissioned Mr. Turnbull, her lawyer, to call upon Madame Gordeloup and pay to that lady one hundred pounds, taking her receipt for the same. Lady Ongar, in her letter to the lawyer, explained that the woman in question had been useful in Florence ; and explained also that she might pretend that she had further claims. “If so," said Lady Ongar, “ I wish you to tell her that she can prosecute them at law if she pleases. The money I now give her is a gratuity made for certain services rendered in Florence during the illness of Lord Ongar.” This commission Mr. Turnbull executed, and Sophie Gordeloup, when taking the money, made no demand for any further payment.
Four days after this a little woman, carrying a very big bandbox in her hands, might have been seen to scramble with difficulty out of a boat in the Thames up the side of a steamer bound from thence for Boulogne. And after her there climbed up an active little man, who, with peremptory voice, repulsed the boatman's demand for further payment. He also had a bandbox on his arm,-belonging, no doubt, to the little woman. And it might have been seen that the active little man, making his way to the table at which the clerk of the boat was sitting, out of his own purse paid the passage-money for two passengers,--through to Paris. And the head and legs and neck of that little man were like to the head and legs and
our friend Doodles, alias Captain Boodle, of Warwickshire.
SHOWING HOW THINGS SETTLED THEMSELVES AT THE RECTORY. Then Harry's letter, with the tidings of the fate of his cousins, reached Florence at Stratton, the whole family was, not unnaturally, thrown into great excitement. Being slow people, the elder Burtons had hardly as yet realized the fact that Harry was again to be accepted among the Burton Penates as a pure divinity. Mrs. Burton, for some wecks past, had grown to be almost sublime in her wrath against him. That a man should live and treat her daughter as Florence was about to be treated ! Had not her husband forbidden such a journey, as being useless in regard to the expenditure, she would have gone up to London that she might have told Harry what she thought of him. Then came the news that Harry was again a divinity,--an Apollo, whom the Burton Penates onght only to be too proud to welcome to a seat among them !
And now came this other news that this Apollo was to be an Apollo indeed! When the god first became a god again, there was still a cloud upon the minds of the elder Burtons as to the means by which the divinity was to be sustained. A god in truth, but a god with so very moderate an annual income ;-unless indeed those old Burtons made it up to an extent which seemed to them to be quite unnatural! There was jos among the Burtons, of course, but the joy was somewhat dimmed by these reflections as to the slight means of their Apollo. A lover who was not an Apollo might wait; but, as they had learned already, there was danger in keeping such a god as this suspended on the tenter-hooks of expectation.
But now there came the further news ! This Apollo of theirs had really a place of his own among the gods of Olympus. He was the eldest son of a man of large fortune, and would be a baronet ! He had already declared that he would marry at once ;—that his father wished him to do so, and that an abundant income would be forthcoming. As to his eagerness for an immediate marriage, no divinity in or out of the heavens could behave better. Old Mrs. Burton, as she went through the process of taking him again to her heart, remembered that that virtue hai been his, even before the days of his backsliding had come. A warmhearted, eager, affectionate divinity,--with only this against him, that be wanted some careful looking after in these, his unsettled days. “I really do think that he'll be as fond of his own fireside as any other man, wbta he has once settled down," said Mrs. Burton.
It will not, I hope, be taken as a blot on the character of this mother that she was much elated at the prospect of the good things which were to fall to her daughter's lot. For herself she desired nothing. For ber daughters she had coveted only good, substantial, painstaking husbands, who would fear God and mind their business. When Harry Clarering had come across her path and had demanded a daughter from her, after the manner of the other young men who had learned the secrets of their profession at Stratton, she had desired nothing more than that he and Florence should walk in the path which had been followed by her sisters and their husbands. But then had come that terrible fear; and now had come these golden prospects. That her daughter should be Lady Clavering, of Clavering Park! She could not but be elated at the thought of it. She would not live to see it, but the consciousness that it would be so was pleasant to her in her old age. Florence had ever been regarded as the flower of the flock, and now she would be taken up into high places,---according to her deserts.
First had come the letter from Harry, and then, after an interval of a week, another letter from Mrs. Clavering, pressing her dear Florence to go to the parsonage.
“We think that at present we all ought to be together," said Mrs. Clavering, " and therefore we want you to be with